Tis’ The Season
It is during this time of the year that I often begin to think about seasons. Deer season, turkey season, basketball season, and yes . . . Christmas season. We often talk about seasons even when we don’t realize it. When we talk about the weather we are actually talking about seasons. In fact, I think it is during this time of year that the most thought or attention is given to seasons, particularly the seasons of life. As the year begins to near a close many of you are already beginning to make plans and even resolutions for a new year. You may be filled with anticipation or perhaps dread at the thought of turning the last page of the 2008 calendar. Some of you are longing for a new season. Others wished the season they are in would never end.
The wisest man that ever lived spent some time thinking about seasons. You are no doubt familiar with his writings about the different seasons that we face. I would like to just read his opening remarks about seasons and then how he sums up his examination of seasons.
Ecc. 3:1 & 11
1 To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:
11 He has made everything beautiful in its time.
I wonder if Solomon ever talked to his dad, David, about seasons? David certainly thought about the topic. It must have been at the fore front of his mind because his very first Psalm deals with the topic.
1Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor standeth in the way of sinners,
Nor sitteth in the seat of scoffers:
2But his delight is in the law of Jehovah;
And on his law doth he meditate day and night.
3And he shall be like a tree planted by the streams of water,
That bringeth forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also doth not wither;
And whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
As we close out this year, I want us to talk about seasons for a few moments. Let’s examine what father and son teach us about the phases or seasons of life.
II. Seasonal Truths
a. You cannot pray away a season.
Ecc. 3:1 says that there is that there is a season for everything. It is time given. It is allotted. It is God ordained. We know that great seasons are from God because every good and perfect gift comes from the Father above. What we must also know is that tough seasons if not from God are at least allowed by God.
1 Corinthians 10:13 - 13No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.
James 1:2-4, 12 - 2Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. 3You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. 4So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. 12Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life.
You can, however, pray for help during a season. In fact, James tells us in verse 5, after telling us that we should let trouble do its work in us, to 5If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. He will help but seasons are set.
b. You cannot force a season to change.
You can’t make it any warmer outside. Try all you want. Worry all you want. Fast all you want. It is winter and you can’t do one thing about it. You can run from a season and try to avoid it, but you can’t change it. Many people run from winter. They take off to Florida, but the truth is it is still winter. And when we are talking about spiritual seasons all you do when you run is drag the season to your new location. I think a better plan is to embrace the season and learn from it.
You don’t even have to understand a season to learn from it and be changed for the good by it. Do you think Job understood why? In fact we know that he didn’t understand why. He questioned. Why me? What did I do wrong? He didn’t understand, but he did learn. You may not understand why you have to go through what you are going through, but try to learn from it.
c. Some seasons last longer than others.
If you are in a great season and this is the case you are happy. However, long seasons are not always good seasons. Have you ever been in a tough season or rough season and think that it will never end? David certainly dealt with this feeling. At least 18 times in Psalms David wished his season would change quickly. He expresses this by asking, “How long?” How long will you judge unjustly? How long will you hide God? How long will you wait God? How long will you allow my enemies to prosper? Some season seem too long, but all seasons will end.
Good seasons end. Ask the Israelites. They had been living a blessed life in Egypt due to Joseph, but Exodus 1 tells us that 8A new king came to power in Egypt who didn’t know Joseph. And just like that a good season comes to an end.
Bad seasons also come to an end. May seem like your bad season is decades long, but it will end. Job can testify to that fact. Joseph can testify to that fact. Daniel can testify to that fact. It will end.
1. The length of a season may indicate the importance of the
lesson that needs to be learned during that season. If you are
there a while you need to look around and find the lessons.
2. Our choices help determine the length of our seasons. Good
choices lead to longer good seasons. Bad choices can cause a good
season to turn to bad and can cause a bad season to continue.
d. Seasons will change. God will not. So don’t trust the season trust the God of the seasons! If you are in a prosperous season don’t trust the blessing. . . trust the blesser. If you are in a bad season focus on Him rather than on what is going on around you. In spite of the change you will endure you should expect Him to remain constant and sure. His faithfulness is not based on the season! That is why Job could say, “Though He slay me yet will I trust Him!” When you can’t trust your season you can trust Him!
e. All Seasons will be beautiful. How can you say that? You don’t know what I am going through. I didn’t say it, God did. The season you are in now may not seem beautiful. However, in the fullness of time the season will produce beauty. He makes every thing beautiful in its time. All things work together for your good. Fruit will be produced. Even painful seasons produce fruit! You shall prosper! You may just not recognize the beauty until after the fact. Will be . . . may not seem to be now, but one day will be – future tense. Time reveals beauty! Some of the stuff you went through 10 years ago or 5 months ago at the time seemed like the end of the world. Now you look back and not only laugh, but because of time you realize it was helpful and productive.
So since we know these truths we should be aware of the season we are in presently. Embrace and learn from the season. If it is a good season we should steward that season. If we are in a good season, don’t fear the change, but plan for the season to change. If we are in a bad season, keep the faith and the hope alive, and plan for the season to change.
III. Tough Seasons
I wished I could tell you that you won’t have to face any tough seasons in the New Year. I wished I could tell you that if you are in a tough season right now that when the calendar flips to 2009 all of your struggles will be over and a new season will begin. I can’t do that. What I can do is equip you to endure a tough season so that you can prosper and so that you can get to the good season.
1. Be careful who you listen to.
David gives us some good tough season advice. Don’t get counsel from the ungodly, the sinful, or the scoffer.
So often when things get tough we talk to crazy people. You are at wit’s end. Your life is in shambles and all they can do is offer you stupid a cliché like, “When the going gets tough the tough get going” or “Let go and let God” or “What doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger”. You leave saying yeah when I get stronger I am coming back to kill you! No help.
Then there are those folks who you listen to who think they know scripture, but really don’t so what they do is quote songs. The Bible says . . . “Don’t worry be happy.” “You got to know when to hold em and know when to fold em. Know when to walk away and know when to run.” The Bible says, “You got to pray just to make it today.”
Too many of us turn to people like that for answers. We must tune into people who will give us godly and sometimes painful counsel. Too many of us turn to our culture for answers during a tough time. Too many of us listen to folks whose value system doesn’t line up with God’s. Having a tough time financially and rather than listening to God who says to give and it shall be given. We don’t like that answer so we listen to someone who doesn’t know God or trust God and try to do what they say which is to hold on tight. Or invest in material things. So our season doesn’t change because we are in direct disobedience to God’s Word. We shouldn’t listen to folks who have been married 5 times when we need advice on our relationship. We shouldn’t listen to folks who can’t get along with anyone when we need advice on friendship.
David also tells us to make sure that when times are tough we must guard against listening to scoffers. We can’t afford to listen to negative talk. When times are difficult and we surround ourselves with scoffers, their lack of belief plants seeds of doubt in us. The word scoffer here literally means to make mouths at. In other words, these are folks who make faces at God’s promises. Mock God’s timing. Mock God’s promises. Ridicule God and you for trusting Him. If we sit with them (which in the original means to marry ourselves to them) their lack of faith rubs off on us.
Avoid this kind of person when the seasons are tough. Their negative attitude will cause you to remain trapped in the tough times!
2. Talk to yourself
When you are going through a tough season you may already be talking to yourself. Usually during the tough times the type of self talk we begin to engage in is self doubt or defeatism. However, David instructs us very clearly that the kind of self talk (which is what the word mediate means) that we must engage in is self talk based on God’s Word. When we are going through a tough season we must remind ourselves of what God says about us. If it is tough remind yourself that you are the apple of His eye. You are called, chosen, loved, favored, protected, the head and not the tail, more than a conqueror. David practiced this. Remember when he had lost his family to the Amalikites and all of his men wanted to kill him, David encouraged himself in the Lord! He meditated on what God had already done and on who he was in God.
What has God said about you? What promises have your received? Some of you just need to have a long, Bible based conversation with yourself. You have heard what everyone else has said. Now you need to go back and remind yourself of what God has said about you!
3. Stay planted
The final piece of advice that David gives for enduring a rough season is to stay planted. Relationship struggling? Stay planted. Spiritual life shaken? Stay planted in the church. Too often our struggles continue and the tough season is lengthened because we refuse to stay planted. Covenant brings blessing, but covenant also requires faithfulness and commitment. Covenant requires roots.
Your willingness to stay planted and rooted determines whether you prosper or not. As long as you are constantly pulling up roots you will not prosper. If we fail to stay planted we will continue to have a hard season. If you are not planted you wither and die. Part of Satan’s curse when he fell was that he goes to and fro. No place of rest. When you are in a tough season you will want to go to and fro. To offset that you must drive down roots. Roots to relationships, to the body, and to spiritual disciplines keep us connected to life. Without roots there is no life.
Your season may be tough . . . guard your ear. You may feel like you are barely making it through . . . talk to yourself. The season may seem dry and long . . . stay planted. If you endure you will prosper!
What season are you in? Pray for each other!