“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:”
“To every thing there is a season...” Last year toward the end of February we had 15 inches of snow. We put Christmas lights in the trees down through the yard so the kids could have a sledding party. The very next weekend the temperatures reached nearly 80 degrees. The next weekend we had a windstorm with thunder and lightening and cold winds blowing 60 miles per hour. Springtime is a season of change. Yellow daffodils are popping up to tell us we are heading towards springtime and soon all that will be left of winter will be the fond memories. Solomon said, “For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come…” (Song of Solomon 2:11 & 12)
“…and a time to every purpose under the heaven:” Just as we go through seasons during our lifetime, we also go through various times. In chapter 3 of Ecclesiastes Solomon mentions several of our times. He begins with the season of life, “A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;” (Ecclesiastes 3:2) Childhood has often been described as our springtime with winter being our old age. I want us to look at several of the times in our lives. Read the first eight verses of Ecclesiastes. If you have a special time you would like to share, I would love to read it and possibly share on our web page. mailto:Devotionsweb@aol.com
“A time to be born…” Ecclesiastes 3:2
We have a large family and we experienced new joy with the birth of each of our children. Each child is unique and they are all very different in their personalities, actions, and looks. You may have siblings that resemble you, but you know that you are very different on the inside, no matter how much you may look alike on the outside. With all the many children born all over the many regions of our earth no two are exactly alike. When we are born we cannot choose our face, our race, or our place of birth… but we can choose to accept God’s grace. Jesus told Nicodemus, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh: and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” (John 3:6 & 7) It is true that we are all different, but we all have a common thread, we must be born again to enter into God’s kingdom. You can’t remember anything about your natural birth. But can you remember your Spiritual birth? If you don’t know that you have been born again, please don’t wait too late. It is as easy as A, B, C. Accept that you are a sinner… Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ… and Confess with your mouth. “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10: 9 & 10) Have you been born again?
“…a time to die…” Ecclesiastes 3:2
One day in March, two years ago, my Dad came to see me at work. As he left he put his arm around my shoulder and said, “I love you.” That is the last memory I have of him, for he died in his sleep just a couple days later. We all will have a time to die. Hebrews 9:27 tells us, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:” Death may come quite suddenly, as it did with my Dad. We need to be prepared to meet God in the judgment. I believe my Dad was ready to meet his Lord. That gave me a blessed peace, even from the moment I received the phone call. Sure I cried that night, and I cried during the funeral, and there have been days that I miss him and have cried since then. But I know he is in heaven. I have the blessed assurance that I will see him again one day when it is my time to die. If you are suffering from the loss of a loved one, and you think they were saved, you can find comfort in knowing they are in heaven. Paul said in Philippians 1:21, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” We can live for Christ here on earth, and we can go to Christ when we die. What a blessed hope!
“…a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;” Ecclesiastes 3:2
I like gardens. I read in Genesis 2:8 that “the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden”. I wish I could have seen God’s garden. It must have been amazing. We can also look at God’s promise to Noah after the flood in Genesis 8:22, “While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.” In the spring we have seedtime and in the summer and fall we have harvest... God's promise. It will be time to plant very soon. God will send the rain and bright sunlight to help the gardens grow. Think about God's goodness. We have transportation capabilities now that enable us to eat fresh fruits and vegetables all year long so we may not fully appreciate the seedtime and harvest as much as past generations.
"A time to cast away stones..." Ecclesiastes 3:5
Yesterday I talked about planting gardens. Today I want to look at some of the preparation it takes before you can plant a garden. I remember many times during my childhood when my Dad would plow with the tractor and my sisters and I would walk through the rough ground picking up all the large stones. It seemed as though every time he plowed through he would uncover more rocks. It was our job to get those rocks out of the way. Jesus told us in the parable of the sower that "Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away." (Matthew 13:5 & 6) He explained this in verses 20 & 21, "But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended." There is a time to cast away those stones. Did you receive the Word in stony places? You may have accepted it joyfully, but have you grown since you got saved? Are there stones of pleasure taking so much of your time that you don't have time to dig deep in God's Word? Are the stones of the world calling you to fit in with them? Maybe you need to listen more to God's call so you won't be offended. Plow up some of the hard ground in your mind and see if you can find any stones that need to be cast away.
"...a time to gather stones together;..." Ecclesiastes 3:5
We often hear stories about the children of Israel crossing the Red Sea on dry ground. Sometimes we don't think about Joshua leading the people across the Jordan River. The LORD said, "And command ye them, saying, Take you hence out of the midst of Jordan, out of the place where the priests' feet stood firm, twelve stones, and ye shall carry them over with you, and leave them in the lodging place, where ye shall lodge this night...And Joshua said unto them, Pass over before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of Jordan, and take you up every man of you a stone upon his shoulder, according unto the number of the tribes of the children of Israel: That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones? That ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD;... and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever." (Joshua 4:3, 5-7) God wanted them to gather stones for a sign to their future generations. What does God want us to do to be a sign to those around us? I think one way is found in Galatians 5:22 & 23. We have already discussed the fruit of the Spirit... Love, Joy, Peace, Longsuffering, Gentleness, Goodness, Faith, Meekness, and Temperance. These are definitely ways others can see Christ through us. We can also read in the New Testament that Jesus is the Chief Corner Stone and "Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house,... to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ." (I Peter 2:5 & 6) Jesus is our foundation, and we are building on His foundation a spiritual house. It's time to gather stones. Is your life a Spiritual sign to lead others to Christ? Are you building up the name of Christ?
"A time to weep..." Ecclesiastes 3:4
Most of us know the shortest verse in the Bible..."Jesus wept." (John 11:35) Mary had come to Jesus at the death of Lazarus saying, "Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died." (John 11:32) The next verse tells us "When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping... he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled." There comes a time in all our lives to weep. When our friends and family are troubled and crying it is good for us to weep with them. We read in Luke 19:41 & 42, "And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, Saying, If thou hadst known... but now they are hid from thine eyes." Jesus wept over Jerusalem. He knew of the sorrow that would come. As Christians, we know that all who don't know our Savior before they die will spend eternity in hell. This should make us weep. Psalm 102:5 & 6 tells us "They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." How long has it been since you wept over a lost friend? It is time to weep.
"...a time to laugh..." Ecclesiastes 3:4
Television often shows Christians as "prune-faced" older people who never smile or enjoy life. That is such a terrible view of what Christians are supposed to be. We read in the scriptures over and over again that we are to rejoice in the Lord. And here we read that there is even a time to laugh. There is an old saying, "Laughter is the best medicine." When you are feeling really bad, down in the dumps, or sick it makes you feel better if someone you love makes you laugh. There are also times when embarrassing things happen, like falling down in front of others, when it helps to laugh. Think about it, you can cry, or you can laugh, and crying usually makes you feel worse. Laughing makes you feel better and laughter is contagious, thus another old saying, "Laugh and the world laughs with you". But just as there is a time to laugh, there are other times not to laugh. Don't ever laugh at other people. It is only through God's grace that you are the way you are. When the children laughed at Elisha, saying, "Go up, thou bald head..." two bears came out and killed them. (II Kings 2:23 & 24) There is a time to laugh, just make sure you laugh at the right time.
"A time to get..." Ecclesiastes 3:4
Today I want us to look at "a time to get" and I don't mean Christmas. Solomon, the writer of Ecclesiastes, also wrote Proverbs 4:7 which tells us what to get. "Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding." When God appeared to Solomon and said, "Ask what I shall give thee" Solomon replied, "Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people..." (II Chronicles 1:7 & 10) God granted Solomon's request and not only gave him wisdom and knowledge, but also said He would add riches, wealth, and honor." (verse 12) If you want to get wisdom and knowledge, ask God because "...the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding." (Proverbs 2:6) Read the book of Proverbs and you will learn that "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge" and "The wise shall inherit glory..." (Proverbs 1:7 & 3:35) While everyone else is trying to "get all they can and can all they get" spend your time getting wisdom and understanding. "For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared with it." (Proverbs 8:11)
"...a time to lose..." Ecclesiastes 3:6
If Family Feud polled Americans and asked them, "What would you most like to lose?" I think the number one answer would be "weight". Everywhere you look someone is coming out with a new diet. We are going to talk about losing weight, but another kind of weight. Hebrews 12:1 says, "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us," Those who run races practice with weights, but during the race they lay aside the weights. What are the weights that hinder us from running our race? "Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings" (I Peter 2:1) So, what are we to lose? All malice and anger, guile, hypocrisies, or pretending we are something we aren't. Then we are to lose all the envy we have for others, jealousy over who they are or what they have. And finally Peter says we are to lose all evil speakings. Have you spoken evil of someone today? Did you join in with others in criticism of someone you know? It is time for us to lose that weight and sin. We are not in a practice run in life. We have only one life to live for God.
"...a time to keep silence..." Ecclesiastes 3:6
This is the hardest time I have. Sometimes I don't know what to say and I blurt out the wrong thing. Other times I know, down in my heart that I shouldn't say something, and I say it anyway. I have to pray daily that God will show me when to keep my mouth shut. Proverbs 6 lists seven things that are an abomination to God. Three of those could be done away with if we only kept our mouth shut. "A lying tongue... A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren." (Proverbs 6:17 & 19) Those are all things that we should not say because they are wrong. There are other times when what we say may be truth, but it is just better not to speak. If I don't like the way someone has fixed her hair, I should keep silent. I don't have to tell everyone when I don't agree with his or her opinion. I should not join in on conversations that could hurt others. There are times when it is best not to say anything at all. I really like Proverbs 17:27 & 28, "He that hath knowledge spareth his words, ... Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding." Sometimes we just need to just bite our tongue and shut our lips.
"...a time to speak;" Ecclesiastes 3:7
Just as sure as there are times in our lives when we are to keep silent, there are also times we need to speak up. There are times we need to speak out against wrong-doing. If Christians don't take a stand for what's right, who will? There are other times we need to speak up about the hope that is within us. "But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:" (I Peter 3:15) Does your life show that you have Christ? Can those around you see a difference in you enough that they ask why you are so happy, or secure, or steadfast? We are also to be witnesses for Christ. He has saved us from an eternal hell fire, and we should try to lead others to His saving grace. It is important to know when to keep silent, but it is also important to know when to speak up.
"...a time to break down,..." Ecclesiastes 3:3
There may be things in our lives that need to be broken down. When Hezekiah became King over Judah "He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it..." (II Kings 18:4) He broke down the idols. We don't customarily have idols set up in our homes or yards, but we may have idols set up in our hearts. Are we putting anything in our life above Christ? If so, we need to break it down. He also removed the high places and cut down the groves. He took away the places where the Israelites met to worship their idols. Are there places that you are putting before God? Are you going to church during your time of worship? Or, have you found other places to go? King Hezekiah even broke down the brasen serpent of Moses because people were worshipping it. It is hard to understand, but there may be a part of your religion or worship that you are putting before God. We should not worship our church buildings. We should not sing or teach for the praise and glory of men. Is there something in your life that you need to break down?
“…a time to build up…” Ecclesiastes 3:3
Jesus said, “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock” (Matthew 7:24 & 25) You probably sang the song as a child, "The Wise Man Built His House Upon The Rock", and know of the foolish man who built upon the sand and his house fell. We must build on the right foundation. We have the promise from II Timothy 2:19, “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” Be wise and build on the foundation of God. Next, we are to build up each other. Hebrews 3:13 tells us to “…exhort one another daily…” Many times I have been guilty of tearing others down. We should build up our Christian brothers and sisters. Be kind to others. You never know how much it will mean to someone for you to say something nice to them.
“…a time to sew…” Ecclesiastes 3:7
My grandmother used to tell us the story of a time when my mother was very small and she picked up a thread and handed it to someone and they said she would grow up and love to sew. Well, she really did. She learned to use a pedal machine by the age of 10 and at 14 she was able to buy an electric sewing machine at a big discount by demonstrating the machine at Belks. She made almost all of our clothes growing up and she has sewed for many people, from babies to wedding dresses. We have the convenience of buying our clothes in today’s society, but there still comes a time to sew. I have a clothes dryer that eats the buttons off my clothes in a space around the door. We also get holes in our pockets that need sewing from time to time. It is good to know how to sew on a button, or hem a skirt. In Acts 9 we read the story of Dorcas who “was full of good works and almsdeeds.” (verse 36) She was sick and died. “Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him unto the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them.” (verse 39) Peter prayed and she lived again. I believe Dorcas had a gift and God used her to bless others. I believe my mother also has this gift. She has generously made dresses for widows and those in need. Has God given you a special gift? Are you using it for His glory?
“A time to rend…” Ecclesiastes 3:7
When Job’s three friends came to mourn with him and comfort him they rent, or tore, their clothes. “And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not, they lifted up their voice, and wept; and they rent every one his mantle, and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven.” (Job 2:12) When King Saul and his son, Jonathan, died in battle we are told in II Samuel 1:11 “Then David took hold on his clothes, and rent them; and likewise all the men that were with him:” There are other examples in the Bible when people rent their clothes in mourning. But as we begin to think about Easter, it brings to mind another time to rend. “Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.” (Matthew 27:50-53) First of all, the veil of the temple was rent. Before that time, only the priests could go into the “holy of holies”. But Christ is our High Priest so “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16) Ephesians 2:14 tells us that Christ Jesus “hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;” Next, Matthew 27 tells us there was an earthquake and the rocks rent and the graves opened. Jesus died to give us life. Because He lives, we can live.
“…a time of war…” Ecclesiastes 3:8
There are many times of war in the Old Testament. The children of Israel were at war with the Philistines when David slew Goliath, the giant. I Peter 2:11 warns us of war against the soul, “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;” We even read of war in heaven, “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.” (Revelation 12:7 & 8) The book of Revelation tells us how the wars will end. But until then remember the words of our Lord in Matthew 24:6, “And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.” We hear of wars daily on the news. Many of us know someone fighting in the war in the Middle East. We should pray for those in Iraq and the other battle stricken areas. We don’t know what they are going through. We don’t know the conditions they are living in, or the food or lack of food they have. Pray for them.
“…a time of peace.” Ecclesiastes 3:8
When I think of a time of peace, I think of the message the angels gave to the shepherds, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” (Luke 2:14) We try to spread the Christmas message of love, joy, and peace. But what about now? Can we find this peace in the midst of trouble and trials? David said in Psalms 4:8 “I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.” We can go to bed each night and sleep with the peace of God in our soul because we know the Lord is with us. Jesus told us “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27) You may have a stressed or troubled day, but let the peace of God rule your soul.
“…a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;” Ecclesiastes 3:5
Embracing was a greeting of affection in Bible days. We have an example in Genesis 29:13 “And it came to pass, when Laban heard the tidings of Jacob his sister’s son, that he ran to meet him, and embraced him, and kissed him, and brought him to his house…” Jacob went to his mother’s people to escape from his brother, Esau, and to find a wife. He fell in love with Rachel and served Laban seven years for her, but was tricked in a marriage to Leah, and served another seven years. After twenty years God told him to “return unto the land of thy kindred”. (Genesis 31:13) Laban chased after him and said, in verse 29, “It is in the power of my hand to do you hurt: but the God of your father spake unto me yesternight, saying, Take thou heed that thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad.” They had a time of embracing, and they had a time of separation. Jacob continued on his journey back home in fear of meeting Esau, whom he had cheated years before. He prayed, “Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children.” (Genesis 32:11) They finally met in Genesis 33:4, “And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept.” They had parted as enemies and met again as friends and brothers. We read again of a time of embracing in Jacob’s life in Genesis 48:10, “Now the eyes of Israel were dim for age, so that he could not see. And he brought them near unto him; and he kissed them, and embraced them.” He blessed his grandsons, and said his last words to his sons “And when Jacob had made an end of commanding his sons, he gathered up his feet into the bed, and yielded up the ghost, and was gathered unto his people.” (verse 33) Our lives are constantly changing. We make new friends, and old friends move on. And there comes a time for some to move on to glory. Life is too short to have enemies. Don’t hold grudges. Let your friends know you care about them, because there will come “a time to refrain from embracing.”
“A time to kill, and a time to heal…” Ecclesiastes 3:3
Jesus came to heal. Mark 3 tells us a story of Jesus and a man with a withered hand in
the synagogue on the Sabbath day. “And they watched him, whether he would heal him
on the Sabbath day; that they might accuse him… And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace.” (Mark 3:2 & 4) Jesus healed the man with the withered hand, which angered the Pharisees. God is good. God always does what is right, but it is not always in God’s will to heal. Sometimes God miraculously heals and we praise Him for that. But there are other times when our loved ones die. Many Christians of the past were killed for their faith. Stephen and John the Baptist are two New Testament examples. But Christ told us in Matthew 10:28, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Romans 8:31 & 32 tells us, “… If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” We need to pray for each other. Many are sick and some will be healed. We need to pray that God’s will be done.
“…a time to keep…” Ecclesiastes 3:6
One of the Bible verses my children learned when they were small was, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15) That is a simple verse to memorize, but sometimes hard to follow. We are told all through the Old and New Testaments to keep God’s commandments. In order to keep His commandments, it is necessary to know His commandments. Don’t just rely on the preaching and teaching you hear at church. Read the Bible yourself. Learn what God has to say to you personally. Pray that God will give you wisdom and understanding from His Word. In Deuteronomy 4:2 & 6 we read, “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you…Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding…” If you love Him, keep His commandments.
“…a time to cast away” Ecclesiastes 3:6
“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” (I Peter 5:6 & 7) Now is the time to cast away your cares and worries. When you bow under the mighty hand of God and realize that He is The God, and that He loves you so much He sent His Son to die for you, what problem or power could be greater? Nothing is greater than our God and His love for us. You may have physical problems, financial problems, family problems, or even Spiritual problems but nothing is greater than our God. We live under so much stress and pressure from our school and jobs, but God has offered us an answer. Cast your cares on Him. There is an old song that says, “Take your burden to the cross and leave it there.” Put God back in control of your life. Philippians 4:6 & 7 remind us, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God, And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” “Be careful for nothing” simply means “Don’t worry about it.” Cast your cares on Him, and experience His peace.
“…a time to mourn…” Ecclesiastes 3:4
When I think of Biblical examples of those who mourned, I think of King David. We can read in II Samuel 1:12 he mourned for those killed in battle, “And they mourned, and wept, and fasted until even, for Saul, and for Jonathan his son, and for the people of the LORD, and for the house of Israel; because they were fallen by the sword.” He mourned for his child that was born out of sin, to Bathsheba in II Samuel 12:16, “David therefore besought God for the child; and David fasted, and went in, and lay all night upon the earth.” Then when David’s son, Absalom, went away we are told “…David mourned for his son every day…So Absalom fled, and went to Geshur, and was there three years. And the soul of king David longed to go forth unto Absalom…” (II Samuel 13:37-39) Finally, when Absalom was killed in battle he mourned saying, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!” (II Samuel 18:33) He mourned so much that “…the victory that day was turned into mourning unto all the people: for the people heard say that day how the king was grieved for his son.” (II Samuel 19:2) David mourned for those killed in battle, for one that was sick unto death, and for a son that rose up against him and was later killed in battle. You may be mourning the death of a loved one. You may be mourning for someone who moved away, or is really sick. But you can take comfort in the words of our Lord, “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4) Christ can give you comfort and peace.
“…a time to dance” Ecclesiastes 3:4
I don’t dance. But we read in II Samuel 6:14 & 15, “And David danced before the LORD with all his might… So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet.” Psalm 150:3-6 tells us “Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp. Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs. Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals. Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.” God alone is worthy of our praise. Like I said, I don’t dance. But I shouldn’t let that stop me from praising the Lord. I enjoy music. I thank God for giving me some talent in singing and playing the piano. I try to use that talent to praise Him. Maybe you feel like God hasn’t given you a musical talent. Don’t let that keep you from praising Him. Find your talent. Use all you have been given for God’s glory.
“A time to love, and a time to hate…” Ecclesiastes 3:8
We read in Psalm 97:10, “Ye that love the LORD, hate evil: he preserveth the souls of his saints; he delivereth them out of the hand of the wicked.” The prophet Amos told the children of Israel to “Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate: it may be that the LORD God of hosts will be gracious unto the remnant of Joseph.” (Amos 5:15) So we see that there really is a time to love, and a time to hate. We are to love the Lord and that which is good. And we are commanded to hate evil. We are even given a list in Proverbs 6:16-19 of things that God hates. “These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.” So, what does God love? The greatest love that ever was… “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) With such an amazing love given to us, how can we not love Him?
“What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.” Psalm 56:3
I have always liked this verse, and I have claimed it often. We can trust in God when we are afraid. He has promised to never leave us nor forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5) We can also trust Him in time of trouble. Psalm 37:39 tells us “But the salvation of the righteous is of the LORD: he is their strength in time of trouble.” Also in Psalm 41:1 we read, “Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble.” Finally, I want us to see that Christ is our help in time of need. “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16) We have considered all the “times” of Ecclesiastes 3 and maybe you are in the midst of one of those times. But you may also be in the fearful, troubled, or needy times. Find hope in Christ Jesus. Trust in His Word. The book of Matthew ends with the words of our Lord, “…lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:20)
“…behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” II Corinthians 6:2
We are not promised tomorrow. Paul tells the Corinthians that “…now is the accepted time… now is the day of salvation.” I am afraid that lost sinners come to our churches and keep telling themselves that they will get saved “some day”. I have heard said that some want to “live their life first”. But that is so scary, because we don’t know what a day will bring. If you don’t know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, don’t put it off. Many people die in car accidents every day. They don’t get a “last chance” to make things right with God. If you are a Christian, stay “prayed up”. Live each day like it could be your last. We read in Revelation 10:6 that one day “…there should be time no longer”. Do you know where you will spend eternity?
“From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.” Matthew 16:21
This verse begins, “From that time forth…” We must look back at the preceding verses to see what has just happened. We can begin in verse 13 where Jesus asked his disciples, “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?” “And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:14-16) Jesus began to explain His death and resurrection to the disciples only after they knew who He was. I have heard people say that they just can’t understand what they read in the Bible. Or they cannot understand what Christianity is all about. I believe that lost souls are blind to the things of God. “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them… For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (II Corinthians 4:4 & 6) The world is in darkness, not knowing whom Jesus is. But Jesus told us to in Matthew 5:16, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Do you know who Jesus is? Do you understand how he suffered and died and rose again the third day to save lost souls? Why not trust Him now? Accept His salvation. If you are saved, then let your light shine to lead others out of the darkness.
“And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem” Luke 9:51
There was a recent letter in the newspaper about some people saying that Jesus did not know what was about to happen regarding His death. Jesus knew all that was about to take place. We read in Matthew 16:21 yesterday how Jesus explained to His disciples how He would suffer, die, and raise up again the third day. John 19:28 tells us plainly that even on the cross, just before His death, Christ still knew that the scriptures were to be fulfilled. “After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.” It is so amazing to me that “when the time was come… He stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem.” In His love for us, He willingly went to Jerusalem “when the time was come.” There was no surprise attack in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus knew that Judas would betray Him, yet He allowed Judas to travel with Him and His disciples. Jesus even said to Pilate, “…To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world…” (John 18:37) He willingly laid down His life for me. He died a cruel, horrible death to pay for my sins. “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1 & 2)
“And he said, Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples. And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; and they made ready the passover.” Matthew 26:18 & 19
Jesus said, “My time is at hand.” He knew this would be His last Passover meal on earth. He knew He was the Lamb of God. Paul says in I Corinthians 5:7, “…For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us:” The part that I notice about these verses is that even though Christ knew His time had come to be offered up, He kept the Passover. He told the multitudes in the Sermon on the Mount, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” (Matthew 5:17) He kept the law and fulfilled the words of the prophets. I have heard people say that if they knew this would be their last days on earth they would really “live it up”. But as Christians, the Holy Spirit lives within us, and we should always live holy. Paul tells us in Romans 12:1 & 2 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Jesus presented His body as our sacrifice, and we are to present our bodies a living sacrifice. Stay true to God even till the end.
“And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt…And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.” Matthew 26:39 & 44
Jesus asked Peter, James, and John to watch and pray with Him in the Garden of Gethsemane. He prayed but they slept, and He said, “the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41) He went again and prayed the second time, and then again He prayed the third time. Our scripture tells us that He prayed the same words. Have you ever been in so much sorrow that you prayed earnestly and kept repeating the same words over and over? Did you fall on your face before God and pray that God help you in your time of need? Have you ever felt that you could not talk to anyone but God? I know that God hears us when we pray the first time, but I don’t think it is wrong to keep praying the same prayer. In Luke 18:1-18 Jesus told a parable “that men ought always to pray, and not to faint”. There was a widow that went continually to the judge asking for his help regarding her adversary. “And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.” Then Jesus said, “And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily.” I believe God wants us to go to Him in prayer. Jesus also said, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”
(Matthew 7:7) There is always a time to pray.
“And the second time the cock crew. And Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. And when he thought thereon, he wept.” Mark 14:72
How many times have we failed our Lord? Here we find the sad times of failure when Peter denied knowing our Lord. But let us look back earlier in that night. Jesus had just told the disciples, “…he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.” “And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough.” (Luke 22:37 & 38) When the chief priests and Pharisees went to take Jesus we read, “Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” (John 18:10 & 11) Peter tried to take a stand against the chief priests. Jesus had just told them to take swords. But, Jesus had Peter to put away his sword. Peter still followed to see what was going on. Then he denied knowing the Lord and Luke tells us he “went out, and wept bitterly.” (Luke 22:62) We have all had times of failure. Whenever we try to stand in our own strength and might, we fail. We must put on the whole armor of God. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore…” (Ephesians 6:12-14) We all have times of failure. But, it is time for us to take a stand – with “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God”. (Ephesians 6:17)
“He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.” John 21:17
Peter had denied the Lord three times, and here after the resurrection Jesus asked him, “Lovest thou me?” three times. I have tried to imagine Jesus and the disciples there on the shore of the sea of Tiberias. There are several things I like about this story. They had toiled all night and caught nothing. Then Jesus told them to cast the net on the right side of the ship and they caught so many fish they could not pull the net in. And it must have been wonderful to have been asked by our Lord to “Come and Dine.” I can imagine Jesus lifting up his hands toward the sea and asking Peter, “Do you love me more than these?” He could have been asking, “Do you love me more than this place, with the wind and the waves and the sea gulls calling?” Then maybe Christ lifted his hand toward the ship, with their goods and tackle aboard and asked, “Do you love me more than these?” He could have been asking, “Do you love me more than your possessions?” Then maybe Christ reached down to the multitude of fish there on the shore and asked, “Do you love me more than these?” He could have been asking, “Do you love me more than your prize, your pay?” I don’t know that this is the way it was, but I think it is fitting for us to ask ourselves, “Do we love Him more than our place?” On the way to church on Sunday morning you can see people out mowing their yard, or painting their fence. Some spend their weekends at the lake or beach instead of in God’s house. Then we can ask ourselves, “Do we love him more than our possessions?” How many times have we seen people out washing their car instead of going to church? And last of all, do we love Him more than our pay? We are told in the scriptures that the love of money is the root of all evil. Peter had failed, but he was also forgiven. We see here a time of forgiveness and a time of love. Ask yourself the same question Jesus asked Peter. “Do you love Him more than these?”
“When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.” Acts 1:6 & 7
We began looking at different “times” five weeks ago with Ecclesiastes 3:1, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven”. We have discussed the “times” of our lives and some of the “times” of the Easter story. After the resurrection Jesus told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the promise of the Holy Ghost. When He appeared to them they asked if He was going to restore the kingdom. Jesus repeated the message He had given them earlier, “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.” (Mark 13:32 & 33) We don’t know the times or seasons of Christ’ coming kingdom. What are we to do till then? “Watch and pray.” We are also to be witnesses in the power of the Holy Ghost. Continuing in Acts 1:8 & 9, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.” Christ is coming back. We don’t know the time or the hour, so we should be ready at all times.