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THE KEY TO SUCCESS IN COLLEGE – AND IN LIFE

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Morning, November 25, 2007


You have come here this morning from many religious backgrounds. Most of you who are here for the first time have never been in a Baptist church service before. I want you to know that we welcome you. You are our guests, and we are glad you are here with us!

They call Disneyland “the happiest place on earth.” But they are wrong. This local, New Testament Baptist church is the happiest place on earth! And we are glad you came to be with us on this joyful occasion. And I believe we have something to say to you that will help you to become a better high-school or college student – and have a better and more successful and fulfilling life. My message this morning is “The Key to Success in College – And in Life.” So we are glad you are here. And we want to help you to do better in your high school and college studies – and in life itself. Listen to me this morning and you will get better grades in school, you will be a greater success in life, and you will be prepared for eternal life with God, both now and for all time.

We went out to the college campuses and high schools, and to places where young people gather, and we invited you to come. And you came! And we are glad you did! I hope that what I say to you this morning will help you to get better grades, and do better in high school or college. Thank you for coming! God bless you!

Now, I want you to turn in your Bible to our text this morning. It is found in the ninth chapter of the Book of Ecclesiastes, verse ten. Let us stand for the reading of God’s Word.

“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).

That verse gives us the key to success in many areas of life – including your classes at college or high school.

“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).

Dr. Gill said,

The phrase [“do it with thy might”] denotes intenseness of spirit, vigour of mind, activity and fervency; doing that which is good, cheerfully and diligently, and not in a negligent careless manner (John Gill, D.D., Exposition of the Old Testament, The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1989 reprint, volume IV, p. 610).

This morning we are going to apply this verse to three areas of life.

I. First, our text gives the key to successful study habits.

Many of you are in high school or college. You need to get better grades. How can you do it? The key to better grades is right in our text. Let’s stand and say it together out loud,

“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).

You may be seated. As Dr. Gill said, “It denotes intenseness of spirit, vigour of mind, activity and fervency; doing that which is good, cheerfully and diligently, and not in a negligent or careless manner” (op. cit.). Young people who tackle their studies this way will succeed! You will get better grades!

Pay attention to the words Dr. Gill gave and apply them to your homework: “Intenseness” – means straining to the utmost, earnestly and passionately, eagerly and intently, as intense study or thought. “Diligently” – means hardworking, busily at work, industrious, doing something with careful attention. “Fervency” – means warmth of devotion, glowing, impassioned. “Not in a negligent or careless manner” – means not indifferent, not unconcerned.

“Do it with thy might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).

That’s the way to study! That’s the way to get better grades!

Your business as a college or high-school student is to study. And the Bible says to be

“not slothful [not lazy] in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord” (Romans 12:11).

The greatest examples in the Bible were men who studied. The Apostle Paul was such a hard-working student that governor Festus

“said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad” (Acts 26:24).

When Paul spoke of the resurrection of Christ, the Roman governor thought that his great learning and scholarship had driven him insane! Paul did not deny that he was a hardworking scholar and student,

“But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness” (Acts 26:25).

The Apostle Paul is one of our great examples in the Bible. He worked hard at studying – and so should you. And Paul said,

“Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ”
      (I Corinthians 11:1).

We have a tendency to think that Christ was not much of a scholar, but we are wrong to think that. Jesus Christ was a very careful and dedicated student and scholar. When He was only a child, twelve years old, Mary and Joseph

“found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers”
      (Luke 2:46-47).

When Christ began His ministry,

“the Jews marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?” (John 7:15).

They were amazed that someone who had never attended one of the great rabbinical schools could explain the Bible as clearly as He did. Yes, His understanding came from God. But Christ emptied Himself and became one of us. He had to eat. He had to sleep. And He had to study – on His own – to humanly gain the knowledge that He displayed to the rabbis and to the people. These verses clearly show us that Jesus was a great scholar and a disciplined student. He was an “autodidact” – a man who taught Himself. Christ spent a great deal of time studying on His own. And the Apostle Paul said,

“Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ”
      (I Corinthians 11:1).

The key to becoming a good student is in our text,

“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).

Here are some pointers that will help you to have better study habits, and get better grades. I hope you will get a copy of this sermon and study these points carefully. You will be given a copy of this sermon after the service. Read these points over and over as you learn to study well.

1.  Set aside a specific time to study. Study as soon as you can when you get home from school. Don’t put it off.

2.  Study every day. Don’t wait to study right before the mid-term or final. Make it a habit to study every single day. Don’t waste any time. Sit right down and begin to study. Don’t “fool around” and waste time.

3.  Have a quiet place where you can study alone. The library is usually not a good place. People are walking around, and this distracts your mind. Find a quiet place and make it a habit to study there each day. Study in your home, in a quiet room, if at all possible.

4.  Do not play music while you are studying. Do not have the TV or computer on – unless you are using the computer to type. Do not talk on the phone while you are studying! Many do, but it won’t work! You won’t learn your lessons while sending e-mails and talking on a cell-phone. These are time-wasters that will prevent you from becoming a first-rate student.

5.  Take notes while you are reading. This will focus your mind. Take notes in the margin of the book you are reading, or on a piece of paper as you read. Keep the notes in the book you are studying, or you will lose them.

6.  Get up and walk around for 3 or 4 minutes every thirty minutes or so. But don’t make it longer than 3 or 4 minutes! Go outside or into another room for 3 or 4 minutes every thirty minutes or so. This will clear your mind. Then sit down and concentrate hard on studying for another thirty minutes. Study in thirty-minute blocks.

7.  Never miss church to study! If you follow the first six points I gave, you will never need to miss Sunday morning or evening, or even evangelism during the week. Study every day. Study several hours every Saturday. If you study during those hours, six days every week, you will never need to miss on Sunday. And coming to church is a means of grace. God promises to help those who put Him first in their lives. Christ said,

“Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you”
      (Matthew 6:33).

Your greatest enemy in becoming a good student is your own lazy, wandering mind. You must have God’s help to become a good student. I know that from personal experience. I flunked out of high school. I finally went back at night and barely got through. I went to college and flunked out again. I could only do well in a few subjects that interested me. But God had called me to preach, and I knew that I had to go through college to become a Baptist preacher. I didn’t know what to do – because I felt I couldn’t study well. I felt that I was too dumb to go to college, and yet I knew I had to go through college to become a Baptist preacher. I was in a terrible turmoil!

Then one day I got saved. I had been a lost Baptist. After I got saved, God gave me a verse of Scripture which has become my life verse,

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13).

Armed with that promise from God’s Word, I went back to school – at night – to Los Angeles City College. I worked forty hours a week in the daytime, and went to college at night. In the fall of 1964 I took two night courses, Psychology 1 and English 21. I made a “B” in psychology and an “A” in English! I went on to graduate from Los Angeles City College in 1968, and from Cal State L.A. in 1970. I worked forty hours a week in the daytime, and took every subject after 6:00 PM in the evenings. With the help of God, I learned how to study every chance I got, and to get much study done in a short time. And, I should add, I never missed church even once on Sunday morning and Sunday night – because I knew I needed God’s help to get good grades. I also did not miss very many prayer meetings and other activities in the church.

I then graduated from a three-year course at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, and then completed a doctoral degree at the United Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Marin County, and a Doctor of Theology degree at Louisiana Baptist Theological Seminary. Finally I was awarded an honorary Doctor of Literature degree by Louisiana Baptist University. I have written 15 books, and my handwritten sermons are then typed by Dr. Cagan and go out to thousands of people over the Internet in nine languages. I am still a student. I spend about 30 hours every week studying and writing.

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13).

And, young person, God can help you make good grades as well!

“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).

Sir Winston Churchill is one of my secular heroes. Like me, Churchill started out having a very difficult time with schoolwork. He barely made it through school, and never attended a university. But he became an autodidact. While doing military service in India he studied for hours every day and became a scholar of history. Churchill went on to become a great author, a statesman, and – in spite of a very serious speech impediment – he became the greatest public speaker of the twentieth century. He went on to write a six-volume history of the Second World War, and the four-volume work, A History of the English Speaking Peoples, and many other books. He won the Nobel Prize for literature. But he had to work hard to accomplish those things.

Churchill always wrote late into the night, usually until two o’clock in the morning. He had a little poem framed on his desk, and he often quoted it from memory.


The heights by great men, reached and kept,

Were not attained by sudden flight;

But they, while their companions slept,

Were toiling upward in the night.

   (“The Ladder of Saint Augustine”
      by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1807-1882)


Remember that quotation while you are “toiling in the night” with your schoolwork – fighting to learn a difficult subject.

“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).

II. Second, our text gives the key to living the Christian life.

“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).

I can only touch on this, but the Bible calls every Christian to be a worker, a joyful worker for the Lord! Jesus said,

“I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work” (John 9:4).

And we are called to follow His example. The Bible says,

“Study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you”
      (I Thessalonians 4:11).

Again, the Bible says,

“For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat”
      (II Thessalonians 3:10).

A true Christian always works hard! We are called to be busy, working people. No one who is capable of working should ever be on welfare! Welfare makes lazy slaves out of people – slaves to the welfare state! The Bible is plainly against unneeded welfare, brought on by laziness.

“If any would not work, neither should he eat”
      (II Thessalonians 3:10).

And we are called on to work in our Christian lives as well. The Bible says,

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Timothy 2:15).

We are called on to work hard as Christians. And this work includes the work of prayer, the work of soul-winning, the work of supporting and building up the local church, and the work of attending all the stated meetings of the church.

This is good. It brings us all together, working for God in the church. We have wonderful fellowship as we work for God! We don’t need special programs so people in the church will have something “to do.” We have what I call “the fellowship of the work”! It’s wonderful to be part of a church where everyone is working together for God! What a joy it is to be together in church, with our brothers and sisters in Christ, praying together, soul-winning together, studying the Bible together! That’s the reason we say to you, “Why be lonely? Come home – to church! Why be lost? Come to Jesus Christ and get saved!” Get saved. Get into this church. Go to work for God!

My wife Ileana is a wonderful example of this. She works from the minute she gets up until the minute she goes to bed. She works four nights a week in the church. She has worked beside me for more than twenty-five years, through some very difficult times. I don’t think we would even have a church if it were not for the work Ileana has done – often behind the scenes. She is a worker for God! I thought of her when I chose the text for this sermon,

“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).

That’s what my wife does – and that’s what you should do!

III. Third, our text gives the key to entering salvation.

I do not want you to think that salvation can be earned by good works. The Bible plainly tells us this is not true,

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

And yet there is a human element which, under the grace of God, enters the picture. A man or woman who is lazy about salvation will not find Christ.

You can stand outside the door of salvation for years. You can learn all about salvation without getting saved yourself,

“Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (II Timothy 3:7)

yourself. Wouldn’t it be awful to learn a great deal about salvation and then go to Hell – because you, yourself, never got saved? Wouldn’t that be a terrible thing?

To get saved, you have to earnestly desire salvation. You have to be serious about it and zealously seek it. We disagree with the hyper-Calvinist who may think that you can just wait, and you will be saved. That is wrong. Jesus said,

“Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able” (Luke 13:24).

You can “seek to enter in,” but that won’t help. You must “strive to enter in.” Salvation in Christ must be the thing that you really want, and you must “strive” to come to Jesus with all your heart.

“Every man presseth into it” (Luke 16:16).

If you sit idly by, waiting for something to happen, you will die in your lost state – and go down to Hell.

“Strive to enter in” (Luke 13:24).

“Every man presseth into it” (Luke 16:16).

Whatever you do, make plenty of time for God and especially for evangelism. Be wise enough not to let your work consume all your time and all your energy. If you do, you will fail to become a Christian.

Christ died on the Cross to pay the penalty for your sin. Christ rose from the dead, and is now in Heaven, at the right hand of God. But a knowledge of those facts of the gospel will not help you at all if you do not “strive” and “press” to enter into Christ.

Now look at the whole verse I have preached from this morning:

“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).

That simply means you will not be able to learn anything or do anything to help yourself (or anyone else) after you die. Learning is for now! Wisdom is for now! Salvation is for now! It will be too late after you die. Every step you take in life is a step toward the grave. Prepare now! Life is a preparation for the great final examination, when you die and stand before God at the Last Judgment.

Some day, perhaps sooner than you realize, your own life will be over. Then it will be too late to be saved. The Bible says,

“It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

Strive to find Christ now, while you can still be saved! Strive to come to Christ now, and be washed clean from your sin by His Blood. May God use this sermon to move you to do so. Amen.

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on “Sermon Manuscripts.”

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Ecclesiastes 9:3-10.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“It Is No Secret” (by Stuart Hamblen, 1908-1989).


THE OUTLINE OF

THE KEY TO SUCCESS IN COLLEGE – AND IN LIFE

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).

I.   First, the key to successful study habits, Romans 12:11;
Acts 26:24-25; I Corinthians 11:1; Luke 2:46-47;
John 7:15; Matthew 6:33; Philippians 4:13.

II.  Second, the key to living the Christian life,
John 9:4; I Thessalonians 4:11; II Thessalonians 3:10;
II Timothy 2:15.

III. Third, the key to entering salvation, Ephesians 2:8-9;
II Timothy 3:7; Luke 13:24; 16:16; Hebrews 9:27.