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Evangel Tabernacle | January 20, 2019

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Life’s Too Short

Life’s Too Short

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Key Text – Psalms 90:9-12 (NIV)

V9- All our days pass away under your wrath; we finish our years with a moan.

V10- The length of our days is seventy years – or eighty, if we have strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.

V11- Who knows the power of your anger? For your wrath is as great as the fear that is due you.

V12- Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

A famous cathedral in Europe is known for its three arched doorways that lead from the vestibule into the sanctuary. Over the right entrance, these words are carved into the marbled archway:

“All that PLEASES is but a moment.”

Over the left entrance, leading worshippers into the sanctuary are chiseled these words:

“All that TROUBLES is but a moment.”

Visibly etched over the main archway, leading down the center aisle, is this inscription:

“All that is IMPORTANT is eternal.”

Rev. Lily Lim - Life's Too ShortThe message is clear for all who enter the sanctuary. All that is temporal is ultimately trivial. What is truly important in the present is that which will be important ten thousand years from today.
This engraved message, chiseled over the center aisle, is the central theme of Psalm 90. In life, we become concerned with what is passing away, that which troubles or pleases only momentarily. Unfortunately, we are then most prone to lose sight of what is eternal. This psalm is transcendent (inspirational), towering over time and eternity, written to remind us that what matters most in life is not the temporal but the eternal, not the physical but the spiritual, not the visible but the invisible. In other words, all that truly matters is eternal.
The inscription above this psalm reveals it to be written by Moses – the only psalm written by the aged prophet. The setting for this psalm is out there on the desert during Israel’s wanderings. You recall that when the people of Israel came from the bondage of Egypt, they were led first to Mount Sinai where God gave them the Law. Then they went up to enter the Promised Land; but, instead of entering it, they turned back to that frightful desert. For thirty-eight years they wandered in the desert – until that generation died. Moses saw a lot of people die – over two million of them – and his psalm is the psalm of death. While in the wilderness for forty years, the people of God were living in ignominious (humiliating) defeat, disappointment, death and despair. In the midst of these difficult circumstances, Moses lifted up his heart to heaven in order to anchor his soul to God. He looked to God afresh that he might reestablish his eternal perspective.
Psalm 90 teaches us that God is eternal. Man is nothing but dust. At the end of man’s days, God who created man out of dust (Gen 2:7), is the one who returns back to dust. God formed man out of the earth and breathed into him the breath of life. God is sovereignly governing the length of man’s life, the number of his days being preordained and divinely determined.
From the perspective of God’s infinite eternality, a thousand years of human history is a mere twenty-four-hour day, quickly passing away. A thousand years for man is like a short three-hour watch in the night. Even if you live as long as Methuselah lived, almost a thousand years, you wouldn’t be very much. Life is so brief compared to eternity. That is how short mortal man’s days are. Man is transitory, but God is eternal.

This morning, I would like to share with all of you the third in the series of “Life” Evangelistic Service – LIFE’S TOO SHORT.

(I) Life’s Too Short

Psalm 90:5a- You sweep men away in the sleep of death…

Men’s lives are swept away by God in DEATH, as if being ushered along by powerful floodwaters. Alive for only a fleeting moment, man soon closes his eyes in the sleep of death. This sobering end is appointed not by man but by God.
Illustration

A funny story is being told of a man who was hit on the head and fell into a deep coma. He stayed there for a long time. People thought he was dead so they sent him to a funeral home and stuck him in a coffin. At two o’clock in the morning, all alone in this dimly lit room, he sat up and looked around. “Good night,” he said. “What’s going on? If I’m alive, why am I in a casket? And if I’m dead, why do I have to go to bathroom?”
Psalm 90:5b-6-they are like the new grass in the morning-though in the morning it springs up new, by evening it is dry and withered.

In the desert conditions, the early morning dews caused small twigs of grass to grow. But when the noon sun blazed, it withered and perished. So it is with man, who always lives under the constant sentence of death.

Illustration

There are two fixed points in our lives: birth and death. Death is especially unbendable. One astute writer used these words to describe what we’ve all felt. “This frustrates us, especially in a time of scientific breakthrough and exploding knowledge, that we should be able to break out of earth’s environment and yet be stopped cold by death’s unyielding mystery. An electro-encephalogram may replace a mirror held before the mouth, autopsies may become sophisticated, cosmetic embalming may take the place of pennies on the eyelids and canvas shrouds, but death continues to confront us with its black wall. Everything changes; death is changeless.

We may postpone it, we may tame its violence, but death is still there waiting for us. Death always waits. The door of the hearse is never closed. Dairy farmer and sales executives live in death’s shadow, with Nobel Prize winner and prostitute, mother, infant, teen and old man. The hearse stands waiting for the surgeon who transplants a heart as well as the hopeful recipient, for the funeral director as well as the corpse he manipulates. Death spares none.”

The statistics on death are quite impressive – one out of one people die. Life’s short. Whether you live for a year or longer, we all still have to die. The sentence of death is upon every man.

Man responds to the brevity of life in two ways – one negative and the other positive

(II) Man’s Response

1. Let Us Eat and Drink,  For Tomorrow We Die

1 Corinthians 15:32b – If the dead are not raised, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.’

It is the nonchalant attitude, “Hey, life’s too short not to let your hair down and enjoy a little.” It is exactly like what this bumper sticker read, “Don’t take life so seriously. You won’t get out of it alive.”
There are many people in the world who believe there is no life beyond. They believe “the fate of sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts; for all is vanity. All go to one place; all are from the dust, and all turn to dust again. Who knows whether the spirit of man goes upward and the spirit of the beast goes down to the earth? So I saw that there is nothing better than that a man should enjoy his work, for that is his lot; who can bring him to see what will be after him” (Ecclesiastes 3:19-22). In other words, they believe that their spirit is annihilated like the animals when they die.

The man who thinks that this life is all, and that there is nothing to follow it, may well say, “Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die.” The Bible itself quotes those who speak like that, “Come,” they say, “let us get wine, let us fill ourselves with strong drink; and tomorrow will be like this day, great beyond measure” (Isaiah 56:12). Solomon of Ecclesiastes, who held that death was extinction wrote, “There is nothing better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and find enjoyment from his toil” (Ecclesiastes 2:24). Jesus himself told about the rich fool who forgot eternity and took as his motto, “Eat, drink and be merry.” (Luke 12:19).
Illustration

Classical literature is full of this spirit. Herodotus, the Greek historian, tells of a custom of the Egyptians. “In social meetings among the rich, when the banquet is ended, a servant carries round to the several guests a coffin, in which there is a wooden image of a corpse, carved and painted to resemble nature as nearly as possible, about a cubit or two cubits in length. As he shows it to each guest in turn, the servant says, “Gaze here, and drink and be merry, for when you die, such will you be.”

E.g.

Thucydides tells how, when the mortal plague came to Athens, people committed every shameful crime and eagerly snatched at every lustful pleasure because they believe that life was short and they would never have to pay the penalty.

Take away the thought of a life to come and this life loses its values. Take away the idea that this life is a preparation for a greater life to follow and the bonds of honor and morality are loosened. It is useless to argue that this should not be so and that men should not be good and honorable simply for the sake of some reward. The fact remains that the man who believes that this is the only world, tends to live as if the things of this world are all that matter.
Ecclesiastes 7:4 (NIV) – The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure.

LB – Yes, a wise man thinks much of death, while the fool thinks only of having a good time now.

Here, we are called a fool if all we could think of for this short life is having a good time, investing our hearts in the house of pleasures. You are a fool if you are hedonistic (pleasure seeking).
Ecclesiastes 11:9-10 (NIV) – Be happy, young man, while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know that for all these things God will bring you to judgment.

Solomon is resonating the motto of every youth today –“It’s wonderful to be young! Youth is a fleeting moment. Life’s too short! Enjoy every minute of it! Do all you want to; take in everything.” “But, [yes, there is a big BUT in Solomon’s words] – realize that you must account to God for everything you do.” The young people only go for the first part of Solomon’s advice but they ignore the second part.

If your attitude towards the brevity of life is one of hedonism, then be assured, there are painful consequences awaiting you.
E.g.

Raymond is eighteen years old and lives in Baltimore, Maryland. His parents divorced when he was fourteen and Raymond is involved in everything you can think of – smoking, drinking, drugs – even drug dealing. He moves from house to house, crashing with various friends, and has struggled to hold even the most basic jobs. When he looks at the direction his life has taken, he expresses regret, “When I first went to high school, my understanding was like, “Wow, I’m young! This is the time to party. It’s high school, everybody’s supposed to party in high school.” “I don’t know,” he says, “I wish I wouldn’t have thought that.” Raymond insists that he is not going to do drugs forever. He plans to sober up, gets his GED and move on with life. Someday, he hopes to own a car dealership and sell BMWs. To help keep his dream alive, he subscribes to DuPont Registry, a magazine about luxury cars, houses and boats. When he’s older, he plans to go to church more too.

“I think about my future a few times a week,” he says. “What do I want to do with my life? Do I want to sit around and be a pothead all my life?” No, he says. And so why not change now? “I don’t know,” Raymond replies. “I’ve thought about it but I kinda look at this as the summer to have fun and party, ‘cause I’m eighteen years old, and I don’t have to worry about living under my mom’s roof, so I can be out as long as I want. So I’m like, “This will be a summer for fun; I’m gonna party and have fun this summer.’ Then after that I just want to sober up and be clean and get my life together and straighten up.” Raymond’s view of life reflects the thinking of so many in our generation. Like many teens, he figures that he has plenty of time. He doesn’t know that life is too short. He thought that at any point in the future, he can decide to clean up, grow up and pick up his life as if nothing happened. But every hedonistic lifestyle has its consequences sooner or later.

E.g.

Another teenager after hearing the story of Raymond, with tears in his eyes, told his leaders, “I’m Raymond. The story you told is exactly who I was.” He explained that he had done well in school when he was a teenager. His high school had a three-class structure for each grade and he was in the top class every year. Because school was going so well, he thought he was free to party and experiment with drugs. But more than twenty years have passed and he is still struggling with the repercussions. “I thought the teen years were my time to party,” he said. “And I’ve been paying the price every since. I don’t want teens today to make the same mistake.
The Times Magazines (Nov 1 2010 issue) reports on Teen Brains on Drugs. This is what it reports: “Excessive drinking and substance use can temporarily impair mental abilities, but these effects may be longer lasting in adolescent. Teens who use alcohol or drugs heavily show delayed or incomplete development of frontal-brain regions responsible for regulating attention and decision-making; alcohol seems to be particularly detrimental to planning skills while pot affects memory.”

If you want to embrace a hedonistic lifestyle in light of the brevity of life; if you want to just eat, drink and be merry in this life, you can’t be merry for long for there is the judgment awaiting you in the form of lasting and painful repercussion. A wasted life also faces divine judgment. The worst is to lose your soul simply because you do not live out the life God created you to be.

Illustration

In the movie, Papillon, the main character was a criminal who was imprisoned for life for crimes against the French state. The movie portrayed the dreams he had while in prison. In one dream, he stood before a tribunal for a crime. He pleaded with the judge that he was not guilty for the crime for which he was being tried. The judge replied that he was not being tried for that crime, but for a crime that is most heinous crime of the human race. Papillon asked what crime it was. The judge replied, “The crime of a wasted life.” Papillon wept, “Guilty, Guilty.” The judge pronounced the sentence of death.
God does not measure what we bring to Him. He weighs it. “By Him actions are weighed” (1 Samuel 2:3).

Young people, what actions are you engaging in right now with your short mortal life? A life of eating, drinking, and being merry, chasing fiesta from one town to another; indulging in all kind of pleasures you ever know –sex, smoking, drugs, thrills, adrenaline rush, a life of anarchy; a life of rebellion? If so, you have missed out on the reason why you are born into this world.

2. Teach Us To Number Our Days

V8- You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence.

Here Moses explains that God has set our iniquities before Him. The repeated complaints and rebellions of the children of Israel in the wilderness tested God’s longsuffering. God saw what Israel did and knew what Israel intended to do. No secrets are hidden from Him. Secret sins, hidden on earth, are fully exposed in the blinding light of God’s holy presence. Nothing is hidden from the Lord. Dr Lewis Sperry Chafer used to say that secret sin on earth is open scandal in heaven. The angels are watching you; they see what you do down here.

God saw that the twenty-year olds would be close to sixty when the nation returned to Kadesh-Barnea and Moses saw eighty years as the limit for humans. He died at 120 and Joshua at 110 and King David was only 70 when he died. Sin takes its toll on the human race and we no longer see life-spans recorded like those in Genesis 5. We don’t like to think much about the wrath of God, but every obituary in the newspaper is a reminder that “the wages of sin
is death” (Rom 6:23).
E.g.

An old woman writes an poem like this
The Golden Age
I get up each morning, dust off my wits;
Pick up the paper and read the obits,
If my name is missing, I know I’m not dead;
So I eat a good breakfast, and go back to bed.

V9- All our days pass away under your wrath; we finish our years with a moan.

We finish our years like a “sigh/moan” and marvel that it all went by so fast!. All man’s days pass away under the divine wrath. Human life is short-lived because it is spent under God’s judgment upon man’s sin. This consuming wrath sentences men to live under the sure end of divine judgment.

V10- The length of our days is seventy years – or eighty, if we have strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.

Even the most God-fearing of men have only a limited time to live on earth. For some, an average life span is 70 years. For others, it is eighty years due to strength. The best that man has to show for his short life is trouble (i.e. hard work), sorrow, disappointment and then, death.
Somebody jokes that if you make it to 80 years, you sure are going to have a lot of rheumatism and arthritis. If you live for 80 years, it is going to be uphill all the way. We talk about coming to the “sunset” of life, but it is when you start going uphill, not downhill.
E.g.

This is what an old man describes about his sunset years, about how everything changes and how it has become an uphill climb for him:- “Everything is farther than it used to be. It’s twice as far from my house to the station now, and they’ve added a hill which I’ve just noticed. The trains leave sooner, too, but I’ve given up running for them because they go faster than they used to. Seems to be they’re making staircases steeper than in the old days. And have you noticed the small print they’re using lately? Newspapers are getting farther and farther away when I hold them. I have to squint to make out the news. Now it’s ridiculous to suggest that a person my age needs glasses, but it’s the only way I can find out what’s going on without someone reading aloud to me and that isn’t much help because everybody seems to speak in such a low voice I can scarcely hear them. Times are changing. The material in my clothes, I notice, shrinks in certain places. Shoelaces are so short they’re next to impossible to reach. And even the weather’s changing. It’s getting colder in winter, and the summers are much hotter than they used to be.

People are changing too. For one thing, they’re younger than they used to be when I was their age. On the other hand, people my own age are so much older than I am. I ran into my roommate the other night and he had changed so much he didn’t recognize me. “You’ve put on weight, Bob,” I said. “It’s this modern food,” Bob replied, “it seems to be more fattening.” I got to thinking about poor Bob this morning while I was shaving. Stopping for a moment, I looked at my own reflection in the mirror. You know, they don’t use the same kind of glass in mirrors anymore.”

V11- Who knows the power of your anger? For your wrath is as great as the fear that is due you.

Who takes to heart the full intensity of God’s holy anger against sin? The truth is, no one gives God the fear that is rightly due him. No one understands God’s fierce wrath nor responds in fitting reverence due the Lord.
E.g.

Five days ago, God showed me the lives of a group of people who have left our church (because they choose drinking and smoking over our discipline) in Jeremiah4-6, “For my people are foolish, they know me not; they are stupid children, they have no understanding. They are skilled in doing evil; but how to do good they know not” (Jer 4:22). God showed me even if he were to “smite them, they would not feel the anguish. They refuse to take correction and they have made their faces harder than rock and refuse to repent” (Jer 5:3) They are deluded in their thinking about God, “He [God] will do nothing; no evil will come upon us, nor shall we see sword or famine. The prophets will become wind; thy word is not in them” (Jer 5:12).  God said, “I set watchmen [pastors] over you, saying, Give heed to the sound of the trumpet (warning of judgment)! But they said, ‘We will not give heed.’ (Jer 6:7). “Hear this, O foolish and senseless people, who have eyes, but see not, who have ears but hear not. Do you not fear me? says the Lord; Do you not tremble before me?…..But this people has a stubborn and rebellious heart; they have turned aside and gone away.

They do not say in their hearts, ‘Let us fear the Lord our God, who gives the rain in its season, the autumn rain and the spring rain, and keeps for us the weeks appointed for the harvest.” (Jer 5:21-24). “Therefore, hear, O nations, and know, O congregation, what will happen to them…Behold, I am bringing evil upon this people, the fruit of their devices because they have not given heed to my words; and as for my law, they have rejected it” (Jeremiah 6:18-19). I declare to you what the Lord has shown me about this group of people who choose the hedonistic lifestyle over God’s ways. In a few years, you will witness the fulfillment of this prophecy which God has revealed to me about them. God told me that the words He put into my mouth about them will be like fire and they would be like wood and the fire would consume them (Jer 5: 14).

V12- Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

In response, Moses petitioned God, “Teach us to number our days.” That is, man must be taught by God to number his days here on earth because they are few. In other words, ask God for wisdom to become better students and stewards of our time and opportunities. We number our years, not our days but all of us have to live one day at a time and we do not know how many days we have left. We must therefore ask God to help us weigh them and value them. Once each person numbers his days, only then will he be able to present to God a heart of wisdom. Man must be careful not to waste his life in temporal frivolities but to invest it for eternity. A successful life is composed of successful days that honor the Lord.
Application

An old adage says, “Aim at nothing and you will hit it every time.” So it is with life. A misdirected life is a wasted life. In order to hit the target of God’s will, one must live for what is truly important and will stand the test of time. One must choose to live for what will be vastly important ten thousands years from today. One must live for God and his eternal kingdom today. Only a life lived for God will be a truly satisfied life. Living for the world, independent of God, yields an empty and hollow existence. A round world will never fit into a triangular heart that was made for God and God alone.

This psalm is a passionate plea, calling us to live every day with an eternal perspective. Every person has only so much divinely allotted time during his stay on earth, an amount of time sovereignly determined by God. The message is clear: Life’s too short. Redeem the time. Use time wisely. Invest it carefully. There are only two things going out of this world- the Word of God and the souls of men. One must pour his or her life wisely into these eternal realities.

Life’s really too short. You can live like a fool- eat, drink and be merry and tomorrow we die, without God or you can live like a wise man- numbering your days wisely, laying up for yourselves treasures in heaven not riches on earth. Wisely investing your life requires living in the light of eternity. It necessitates living with an eternal outlook on all of life.

My Testimony

Rev. Lily Lim |Life's Too Short | SermonAs I observe the trend in my Ang family, I realize we have very short life span. My eldest brother died at the age of 40; my second brother at the age of 39; my third brother at the age of 55 and my dad at the age of 62. My eldest nephew recently passed away at the age of 44. Yes, the thought does cross my mind that I might inherit the gene of a short lifespan like them. But then, I have this faith – If I give my life to God and let God use me for His eternal purpose, God may extend my life longer here on earth because I am profitable to Him.

In the event, God sovereignly decides to take my life earlier than I thought, I still have no regrets or fear of dying because I thank Him for saving me at the age of 18 and calling me into the mission field, full time at the age of 24. Since then I have been serving Him wisely and investing my youth, energy and talent in eternal realities. I know if I were to die today, the souls that God has used my life to touch since I was born again in 1988 will follow me to heaven. Even if God were to summon me home right now, I have no regrets, because He knows that He has become my reason for my living. Today I may not be holding any honorable profession of the world but I don’t consider myself a loser. I count my life a very successful one because my life is composed of successful days honoring and serving God with all I have and with all I am. That is a life worth living despite its brevity.

End of Sermon
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