Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8, 11, 12. (NIV)
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live.
Hebrews 13:8 (NIV)
8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Romans 5:1-5 (NIV)
5 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
James 1: 2-4 (NIV)
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
- Bruce said that he used to think there were only two seasons – Football (which included his birthday) and Cricket (which included Christmas)!
- His recent personal seasons are a season of Operations and then a totally different season of overseas travel.
- Ministry seasons included victories, challenges, dreams fulfilled and dreams shattered. We need to live seasons in victory.
- New seasons demand flexibility and adaptability…. the old ways don’t work!
- Bruce read this morning of a man he have admired for many years who celebrated 50 years on from an incident in Vietnam which ushered in a new season for him. A tragedy that began and continues a season of triumph as he continues to minister to thousands.
- The incident Jim Roever celebrated, was when a Viet Cong sniper shot a grenade out of his hand in 1969 which, as it exploded, literally tore off his face.
- Thus began a new season, not of tragedy, but of transformed lives from his unique ministry particularly to teenagers lost in a world that judged them on how they look.
- Jim said his wife married a good looking guy and now she is married to a freak with a challenging face.
- His theme “I am proud of my scars and stripes”… proud to serve his country and his God. He could have shrivelled up but chose to rise to the challenge.
God is into seasons.
- In College this week we looked at the 400 years between the Old and New Testament and realised that God was preparing the world for the season of the entry of His Son into their midst. It was His timing.
- Israel had been so disgraced and humiliated by their idolatrous behaviour and subsequent domination by foreign powers, that they were so intent on being monotheistic. They descended into legalism and another form of bondage, religious bondage.
- Scribes made up ridiculous oral laws such as not spitting on the Sabbath. Women were not to look at their reflection in a mirror on the Sabbath. They put a new burden on the people and it brought them into religious bondage.
- They were ready for a Saviour, but not of the variety they expected. They did not expect a baby in a manger.
- They wanted another hero like Judas Maccabeas to rid them of the Roman rule – a hero who, for a short time, had given them autonomy as a nation. The people even named their children after him.
- But on the upside, Roman domination had also given them some religious freedom due to the Romans acceptance of any gods.
- Roman engineering had built roads which prepared the world for travel and thus allowed the spread of the message of Christianity to be birthed in Roman times.
God was getting things in place for this significant season of salvation.
- God prepares us for our seasons.
- God is in control of ALL seasons, both ours and the ones of the proportion of the incarnation of Jesus.
- No season is a surprise to God.
- Bruce continues to be surprised by the seasons of life that come his way, but God isn’t.
God is getting us ready for what He already has prepared for us.
- When we face seasons changing in our lives, we have options and decisions to make. We need fresh vision of the season of our Church life.
There are 3 main possible responses to new seasons:
- We can Oppose the season – a non-acceptance mentality, denial and anger at such change. We do not like change – we say ‘we never did it that way before!’
- We can Endure the season – a survival mentality, just try to get through it – isolate ourselves and tough it out! We don’t want to share with others. We want to stay the way we are.
- Or, we can Embrace the season – an optimistic, opportunistic, victorious mentality based on Romans 8:28 (NIV)
28 And we know that in all things God works for good to those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.
- God will do new things. He wants us to be prepared for new things.
- We are called to embrace the truth of God’s Word and embrace the season we find ourselves in.
- A season where “the steps of the righteous are ordered by the Lord”.
Psalm 37:23 (AMP)
The steps of a good and righteous man are directed and established by the Lord, and He delights in his way and blesses his path.
- New seasons come for Churches, organisations, families and individuals and often bring dramatic changes.
- God has created seasons in the natural and so it shouldn’t surprise us that we also face different life seasons. He has a great season for us. New seasons with exciting focus.
- If our days are numbered by God and “in all things He is working for our good”, and if He “ is the same yesterday, today and forever”, then new seasons should be welcomed and embraced, but often we just try to struggle through and survive, or fight the change and look back, like Lot’s wife, to what was.
Let’s look in more detail at our 3 options when seasons change.
You oppose your new season by:
- Living with regret – often defined as “torture of the mind”.
- If only I had… (you fill in the gaps). If this hadn’t happened …
- Living with unforgiveness. It’s the poison that we take to kill someone else! It affects us.
- The way we try to keep those who have hurt us in a trap, or the pit of unforgiveness. We make sure that it is still happening because we have to keep checking it regularly.
- This happens when we think our season is caused by another’s actions.
- Living without hope, which is an attitude of passive acceptance of a tough season. “Here we go again, another season of pain and lack”.
- Let go of unforgiveness and release ourselves from it.
You endure your season by:
- Ignoring the changes with a “head in the sand” mentality and denial.
- Pretending that sameness will prevail…trying to keep things in “the good old days”.
- The Jews longed for Egypt when their new season of exodus under Moses didn’t go the way they expected.
- The “good old days” of slavery in Egypt and the onions and leeks, started to look “good” through their distorted rear vision mirror view.
- Trusting in your own strength to get through – not realising that God is in every season we face!
- Refusing to adapt!
We are called to embrace our current season!
You embrace your season by:
- Seeing it as an opportunity to grow, thrive and to conquer your fears.
- Operating at new levels of faith – for us as a Church our building expansion brings new levels of faith for everyone.
- New levels of generosity and possibility. The enemy hates a move into something fresh.
- KEY: Fervently Seeking God in the new season. Not asking God “Why” but “What”….What is your purpose for me in this new season? What do I need to do?
- Develop new gifts and growing in the fruit of the Spirit.
1 Peter 4:7-11 (NIV) – Peter gives us practical advice for every season:
7 The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. 8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.
- Stay alert, focused and be sober minded so you can still pray effectively whatever the season. Take time away to be with God. Get to prayer meetings. Don’t be slack.
You must earnestly seek God’s face whatever the season.
We stay alert by “seeking first His Kingdom” when all around us cries out the opposite.
We need to MAKE time when this new season cries out “stay busy”.
- ABOVE ALL – Love deeply and genuinely! 1 Corinthians 13 – the Love passage. Love covers a multitude of sins. Make allowances. Love people. Don’t grumble.
- Maintain your hospitality despite your season’s demands.
This is a pretty specific instruction and perhaps very relevant to today’s fast paced nuclear family.
Bruce’s first Sunday in the Church which was to become their spiritual home when they lived in the U.S. in the 1990s, saw the Pastor ask the family following them out of the Church to look after them for lunch. They willingly did, and they became good friends.
- Now that’s obedient hospitality. It was spontaneous and made an impact on Bruce and Jan.
- It’s almost as if Peter was “seeing” our end time culture where hospitality takes a back seat to insular family life. e.g the joy of bringing Charlie (now a Christian) and Abdi (a Muslim) into Bruce and Jan’s lives. The 21yo boys spent time with them and had a very smelly room. They had to make concessions. God places the lonely in families.
- Keep on serving faithfully where possible, as this keeps us outwardly focused.
- Healthy bodies have all the parts working and carrying out their roles.
- Local Church is like that. If you are not serving in some capacity, both the body and you are missing out!
- The current danger of our “entertainment Church mentality”which puts an emphasis on performance of the main players (preachers, singers, musicians), rather than the service of everyone. Keep on serving. Satan wants to separate you from the body. We are all gifted.
- Declare God’s Word, especially when the storm is raging (“Raise a Hallelujah”).
- Prophesy the Promise – “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God”. Quote the Word to the circumstances, especially when the storm is raging.
- During the season that you find yourself in, whether it is a season of joy and fruitfulness, or pain and challenges, the Word of God maintains your perspective and builds faith.
- Declare the purposes of God. This takes you above your failings.
- Whatever your season, embrace it!
- Seek God and stay alert to His voice in it.
- Love and serve in it.
- Be hospitable in it.
- Loudly declare God’s Word in it.
- What season are you in today?
- A season of your salvation? A good season? A tough season? A confusing season?
- It’s time to triumph in your season……PRAY.
Suggestions for Discussion Questions
- What season are you in right now?
- New seasons demand flexibility and adaptability. Do you find it easy to do this?
- God has created seasons in the natural and so it shouldn’t surprise us that we also face different life seasons. How does this affect you?
- How do you declare the purposes of God?