"Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls."
1 Peter 1:8-9 (KJV)
1 Peter 1:8-9 (KJV)
Ecclesiastes 3 (ESV)
3 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
2 a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
3 a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
Life often gets the best of us. We find ourselves working our fingers to the bone man days, just to come home to a mailbox full of empty bills. Even if you escape the mailbox there are the inbox emails from the utility company just to remind you to check your mailbox for the bill that you already tried to forget about. Then there is that Sunday morning stroller, only it’s Tuesday morning and you needed to be at work about ten minutes ago. Now its Wednesday night Bible study time and you are just torn between staying home while feeling guilty, which will keep you from catching up on sleep; or going and feeling guilty about not getting extra sleep because you been an “unproductive employee” as of lately. This is the reality of life itself for most of us. We all face circumstances and trials if we serve the Lord Almighty. Did you really believe that the curse wouldn’t affect you or your family? Take the good times with the bad because it is all only for a season. Just as there are seasons in our great state of N.C. and in many or your areas, there are seasons in the spiritual realm as well. These seasons in the spiritual realm cause ripples in the physical realm. Many may be due to the seeds that we have sewn and some are just necessary for our path to align with God’s will in our lives. Whatever season you are going through, there is a time of hurt, happiness, guilt, blessings, life, death, and many in between. The seasons don’t discriminate between classes of people or even believer or non-believer. The seasons are relentless and will usher in change as soon as we feel as if we are comfortable. I pray that you find the following advice for handling the seasons in your life at the very least helpful and possibly a way to view the seasons of change differently than in the past.
Let me start this hard conversation first off with saying, “God doesn’t want us comfortable”. Sounds crazy right? This is the faith that allows us to be saved right where we are in life, allows us to come as we are, and gives us a clear path of communication to the God we serve. Why wouldn’t such an awesome God want us comfortable in our life which has been dedicated to living for Him? The reasons are countless, but let’s examine the greatest evangelist and founder of our faith: Jesus. This is a man (also God) who never stayed in one place after committing to ministry longer than a couple of weeks, but usually days. At the peak of His ministry He was so popular with public healing and preaching the Gospel that He couldn’t hardly even get away for just long enough to rest or pray (Luke 5:16). When He wasn’t busy dodging fanatical followers, He was avoiding attempts at His own life and ministry. Imagine being the guy who has to constantly look over your shoulder or come up with a wise come back to an insult that doesn’t contradict who you are in your faith. Most of our pastors deal with some of this on a daily basis, but we believe that they should be perfect. The truth is that none of us could handle what Jesus went through and most of us couldn’t even handle what our Pastors go through. So if the men of God suffer and struggle, why shouldn’t we? The only way for our faith to grow is to stretch it, much like many athletes build muscles. In order to have the capacity to add on the power of our faith, we need to exercise it often and stretch past our comfort zones (Isaiah 54:2, Philippians 4:13). This stretching may include working with people who we don’t normally associate with such as drug addicts, the poor, or those who have been publicly shamed. We need to get around other believers whose faith stretches us as well (Proverbs 27:17). Sometimes God may place these people in our paths on His accord. The greater the testimony that may result from an act of faith in God, the greater the sacrifice there will be (Acts 4:1-33). As a servant of God, I can attest to this very truth. As I have seen big blessings from God and even bigger promises of what is to come, I have also suffered the price that is paid to serve such an awesome God in this capacity. Just as Jesus was you will be slandered, cursed, mocked, ridiculed, and even stepped on in the eyes of man. Radical results in this world requires radical faith (Hebrews 11:6). Radical faith will push us to places we haven’t been before and may not ever go again. Trust in God wherever you are and depend on him to guide your steps. What we have to remember is that just like any other time in our life, this is a season. Many times God is testing us for what blessings are ahead if we are not properly prepared we could trip over our own toes. Don’t worry, the seasons of being uncomfortable don’t normally stay forever. Being uncomfortable is just like stretching the body. You tend to get more flexible over time and soon standing up and speaking in front of groups or serving trays to the homeless will be something that has become bit of a normal act for you. I call this the season of fall, because no matter what we dress in we will be uncomfortable. Long sleeves are too hot and when we wear short sleeves a cold front come in the land. Being uncomfortable is part of the growing process. Instead of fighting God, pray for His blessing so that you can see just how far He can stretch you all while giving Him the glory!
Some seasons affect us more than others. You have your seasons of transitions which tend to be short, such as spring or fall. Shortly after these seasons come to an end you have the ugly introduction of the next long season in life. Spring comes in just as its name and springs into action with new animal and plant life. Most of us even get a mood boost this time of the year as we are reminded of the warm beach breezes or the family cookouts on Easter weekend. This is comparable to the season in life when everything seems to be perfect. God is blessing us bountifully, our job is paying, our family loves and appreciates, and everyone’s health seems to be great. Don’t get comfortable in spring because it won’t be long before the heat of summer (life’s trials) come your way. When the excitement of spring is over, the true test of summer is right at our doorstep. Amongst the heat of a trial is where our outside shells are melted off and our character is exposed (1 Corinthians 3:10-15). God gets to show the world how close we really are to Him and how we react when life comes against us in true form. In fall we are once again reminded of the season of death not far ahead of us. It is in this season where we either show commitment to the Lord or turn our backs on him. Mostly everyone has a season of fall in their life where they are given the Gospel and the decision to follow God or not. This season of fall is short and brisk. It will not wait before giving in to the prevailing and life snatching winds of the winter. This will not be a season of waiting and pondering, but of quick life changing decisions that will affect you for eternity. The wrong decision could have your life out of control come the trying months of winter, for the coming season is not one for the faint of heart. Winter likes to announce itself with a ferocious burst of cold air that seems to draw life out of every living organism left from the warm summer months. Whole sections of country forests are deadened within a matter of days it seems. As we turn the next page in our lives it feels we are only left with despair and hopelessness. Many times this season is brought in our lives with the loss of a loved one, or maybe even the set back of a layoff from your job. This season is one of trial and tribulation. It will test you and harden you at times, but we must be careful not to let our hearts be hardened. We must remain warm hearted internally for Jesus. In the cold of winter it is important to remember we must remain at the fire to stay warm. We must be close to our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ through fellowship and we must draw even closer to our heavenly Father in Worship (Acts 4:32-33). Admiring God through even the lowest of seasons is a good way to be seen as faithful to His will for our life and not our own.
The most important thing to remember when going through one of these trying seasons in our life is remember that God is still God and He is still on the throne. Our God is a living God and he can grant life as well as take it. We must not place anything above Him, but also never live below our inheritance that our King has granted us even here on this earth. As many of you know, within the main seasons there are many patterns that will cause what I would call sub-seasons to occur in our life. Such things as blessings may occur even during a trial or death season in our life. It is during these times that we should give praises to our Lord by providing rain to a much drenched desert of faith. We need to be refilled as any other being on this earth and restored to a level where we can continue fighting the storm. Just as the potter knows his clay, God knows his children and their limits. So I encourage you, to embrace the seasons in your life. Embrace the change that God brings in order to “sharpen” us into the iron that Jesus would have us be to fight on the front lines of this spiritual battle. Love the good and happy seasons as they often seem short. Even the bad seasons should be cherished so that we may never lose sight of the lessons God has taught us in them. Hold God near and dear to your heart and never let go of the plan that God has for your life!
1 Corinthians 3:10-15 (ESV)
10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.
Acts 4:32-33 (ESV)
32 Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. 33 And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.
17 Iron sharpens iron,
and one man sharpens another
Philippians 4:13 (ESV)
13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Isaiah 54:2 (ESV)
2 “Enlarge the place of your tent,
and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out;
do not hold back; lengthen your cords
and strengthen your stakes.
Luke 5:16 (KJV)
16 And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed