Damariscotta Baptist Church
Tuesday, July 17, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

06/04/17 Sermon - What are Your "Core" Beliefs?

“What are Your “Core” Beliefs?”

Ecclesiastes 5:1-20


There are three things in this chapter on which Solomon offers advice:

> Take worship seriously

> Do not be amazed at injustice

> Do not love money

For all of Solomon’s “under the sun” thinking, when it came to his thinking of God, Solomon understood where humans stood and where God stood.


God is to be seen as taking worship seriously and therefore so should we.


It is interesting that Solomon had people going to worship and listening, not talking. He told them to remember that God is in heaven and humans are on earth. I am not sure we take enough time to “listen” to God while we are in worship?

Somehow we have come to think that worship is an action verb, rather than a state of being. I wonder if it is both? Can we “be” in worship?

Maybe we spend too much time filling in the space during worship that we don’t allow time for us to we hear God speaking? The Quakers practice “waiting worship” or “unprogrammed worship” or what is commonly called, “Meeting for Worship” where the order of service is not planned in advance, is predominantly silent, and may include unprepared vocal ministry from those present.

I think the concept of finding time to listen to God is worth pondering.


Solomon also gave a warning to those who decided to make a vow to God. They had better be prepared to fulfill it. Making a vow to God was a common practice for the Israelites. Moses had written a law concerning vow making, in Deuteronomy 23: 21-23,


21 If you make a vow to the Lord your God, do not be slow to pay it, for the Lord your God will certainly demand it of you and you will be guilty of sin. 22 But if you refrain from making a vow, you will not be guilty. 23 Whatever your lips utter you must be sure to do, because you made your vow freely to the Lord your God with your own mouth.


Jesus had something to say about the law of making vows, in his Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5


33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ 34 But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.


We are not bound to coming up with promises to God because Jesus paid the price of all the mistakes we have and will make. But the underlying idea behind Solomon’s stating one should keep their vow is still relevant. Solomon’s main teaching behind these statements was “to fear God.” When one doesn’t fear God, one doesn’t think about what they say. They are not concerned with the consequences or how they may look or sound. James gives a similar exhortation in chapter 1, verse 19:


19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,


Next, Solomon looked around and realized that the poor had it rough. They were oppressed and justice and righteousness were constantly violated. Solomon was a realist. He knew that ultimately one was better off if they were wealthy. He understood that he was living the good life.

He also understood that humanity had a way of establishing a human hierarchy and that we shouldn’t be surprised when we see it in action.


Solomon doesn’t give any advice to better the situation of the poor, but he does offer advice to those with money.

 

“Don’t love it.” Why?

Verse 10,

“Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.”

Ain’t that the truth?

Solomon goes on to say, that the more you acquire, the more you will acquire people who want it. And the only benefit you really get is to “look” at it. And although it may be nice to look at, it will not be fulfilling.

 

Solomon still remains hung up on the idea that for those who work hard and obtain great wealth they can’t take it with them when they die.  It seems that Solomon can swallow the fact that we come into the world with nothing, but Solomon continues to lament that we have to leave the same way, especially after working so hard to obtain what one has, to him, having to leave it behind is unfair.

But when you take into account the poor oppressed people, in verse 8, who were treated unjustly and whose rights were denied, because they were poor.

Exactly just how unfair is it?

Loving money and wealth, rather than loving God and your neighbor is a problem. A problem that Solomon will continue to wrestle with throughout Ecclesiastes.

At the end of this chapter, Solomon concludes that it is best for one to accept one’s lot in life and do their best to live life in moderation. Knowing that God is not only the one who gives life, but He is also the one who gives gifts. All that we are and have is from God. That statement may be easy to say, but not always easy to accept,

in our heart.

And I believe that is because our hearts are often full of core beliefs that get in the way of our resting in the trust that God has our life under control all of the time.

Solomon wrote throughout his book of how the foolishness forms in the hearts of humans. Solomon’s words reveal how the core beliefs we have established from a young age, influence our thoughts and actions and thus influence our current thinking and determine our emotions and behaviors.

Many of you may understand what I am saying. I suspect if I were to ask those of you who we honored today for attending this church for over 50 years, if there are things we do today that your parents would be shocked at happening in the church,

you could come up with a few things. Women coming to church dressed in slacks or pants may be one thing?

I suspect there are some core beliefs that you hold on to, and may even argue for, not because they are correct, but because they have been a part of your life and that is just the way things are supposed to be. You were taught those core beliefs from your parents and they are so ingrained in your being that you don’t often realize they are there. Until, perhaps, they come into a conflict with someone else’s core beliefs.  Often, many of the battles found in churches today stem from someone’s core beliefs being challenged.

Solomon saw fear as being the motivator that causes us to hold on to our core beliefs. Healthy fear could help to establish a core belief. For example, when we are attentive and listen with a heart centered on honoring God, we will be obedient. Healthy fear can be a good motivator by keeping us from impulsive thoughts and actions.  

So how does one keep from responding to the core beliefs that keep us from being obedient to God?

We need to examine our core beliefs. Are our core beliefs:

> Centered on trusting God

> Able to accept forgiveness of sin

> Holding steadfast to the Word of God

 

If they are, we will delight in obeying God and will not delight in doing things that are against Him. If we want hope for the future, we are told that we need to hold on to those core beliefs:

> that we can trust God,

> we can receive forgiveness for our sins and

> when all else fails, God’s Word is faithful and will                  bring us that hope.

 

And that hope is manifested in the Lord’s Supper. Eugene Peterson puts it this way in Colossians 1:27

The mystery in a nutshell is just this: Christ is in you, so therefore you can look forward to sharing in God’s glory. It’s that simple.

It may be simple, but that doesn’t mean it is “easy.”

I suspect that is one of the reasons Jesus told his disciples that whenever they could to remember the Lord’s Supper, By repeating what Jesus said to his disciples before He was to be crucified for our sins, we strengthen the core beliefs

> that we can trust God,

> we can receive forgiveness for our sins and

> when all else fails, God’s Word is faithful and will                  bring us that hope.

 

Lord’s Supper