Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Times and Seasons

“Whoso keepeth the commandment shall feel no evil thing: and a wise man’s heart discerneth both time and judgment.” (Ecclesiastes 8:5)

God has times and seasons for every purpose, and as we learn how to cooperate with Him in these areas, we experience greater victory and peace in our lives.

When the Jews went into captivity in Babylon, God was very specific that there would be a season of time before He released them from their captivity. He instructed them to “settle in” and get comfortable because it would be seventy years before it was all over (Jeremiah 29:4-6, 10). He was explicit in what He wanted them to do in that season and those who obeyed experienced His blessing and favor, even while they were in a state of captivity.

Jesus spoke about times and seasons while He walked the earth, exhorting us to be sensitive to them (Matthew 16:2-3). After His resurrection, His disciples were eager for their land to be freed from Gentile occupation, and asked Him when this would take place, but Jesus redirected their attention to the season that they were in (Acts 1:6-8). Many of us are missing our present season by attempting to walk in a season that doesn’t pertain to us. What season does God have you in today? What has He asked you to do right now?

King David had a dream in his heart to build a house for the Lord. His heart was in the right place, but he didn’t have all the information, and even though David’s heart burned with passion to do this thing for the Lord, it wasn’t the proper time. David’s job was to prepare, and Solomon his son would build the house in the proper season (I Chronicles 17:3, 11-12).

In the book of Haggai, the Jews misread the season that they were in. They judged the season through their circumstances because the enemies of God had forbidden them from completing the work that had been started by God’s order (Ezra 1:1-4). For this reason they assumed that it wasn’t time to build (Haggai 1:2). God, however, sent a very different message through the prophet Haggai, telling them that it was indeed time to build, and that it had been since the days of Cyrus (Haggai 1:5-11). The season doesn’t change because circumstances change; in fact, the Jews suffered the consequences for being out of the will of God even though they had been unable to do what God had required (Haggai 1:6). When they got serious, God opened a door (Ezra 5:2, 6:7). Many times, all we have to do is get passionate enough to fight for what God has given us, and then He will help us (Matthew 11:12, James 2:20).

God is looking for a people that will follow and obey Him and not yield to the fear of men, nor seek their approval. He is looking for a people that will not be moved by circumstances, but will cooperate with His timing and judgment. When we live by the Spirit, others may consider us “weird” because God doesn’t
always move according to man’s parameters. We must let go of our “reputation” if we are going to walk with God and please Him (I Corinthians 7:23, Galatians 1:10, Hebrews 11:6).

Jesus walked in obedience to the Father at all times, regardless of the opinions of men, or the religious pressure of His day. When He was told that Lazarus was sick, He stayed right where He was until He heard the Father say, “Go...” He didn’t rush to Lazarus’ side to lay hands on him and heal him (John 11:6), even though He was urged to do so by Lazarus’ sisters. Can you picture this today? “I asked the preacher to come and pray, but he refused!” In fact, by the time Jesus got to Lazarus, Lazarus had died. God had a greater purpose, and Jesus told his disciples (who were too afraid to go anyway) “Are there not twelve hours in the day?” “…If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not…” (John 11:9-10). He was telling them to cooperate with the timing of God, and walk in the light of that season.

When God moves, we must move, when He stands still, we must stand still. In the wilderness, the children of Israel were led by a pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day; when the pillar moved, the whole camp moved, and when the pillar stood still, the camp stood still (Nehemiah 9:12).

King David had been King over Israel for a long time; he had fought many battles, and had earned the respect of his men and of the nation. He no doubt, at that point, felt entitled to stay behind and rest while all of his men went out to battle. However, he stood still in a season when he should have moved, and the devil was waiting for him there (II Samuel 11:1-2). Satan’s objective is to get us out of God’s timing and will through lies, deception, manipulation and pressure.

Several years ago, the Lord spoke to me, “Everything that I have for you is on the path that I have called you to walk.” In other words, if we abide on the path that God has laid before us, and obey the leading of the Holy Spirit, we will find everything that we need and desire along the way (John 15:4-5).

The way God moved and dealt with us in the past may be different from where He wants to take us now, and in the future. There are seasons of intense prayer and warfare, and then there are seasons of work, and seasons of rest. There are seasons of fellowship and there are seasons where we are hidden away with God. It’s important to stay on the cutting-edge of what God is doing right now. Being “on fire” for God means that we are content and faithful in whatever season that we are in. It’s not all about the “shout,” but rather in our faithfulness and obedience.

When God is finished with a particular thing, it’s over. Moses was used by God in a powerful and miraculous way, but there came a time when God said to Joshua, “Moses my servant is dead” (Joshua 1:2). The time in the wilderness was over, and the people were to follow Joshua into the promise, though many of them never let go of Moses. There are many today that have never let go of past leaders and moves of God. They want to swing from the chandeliers, roll around on the floor and run around the sanctuary when God wants them to sit down and listen, to learn of Him and “be still and know that He is God” (Psalms 46:10).

Martin Luther was used powerfully by God to restore revelation to the church that the just shall “live by faith.” However, the people, instead of receiving what God wanted to show them and then move forward into greater levels of maturity, they built a “shrine” unto it and called it the Lutheran Church, a thing that God explicitly condemned in scripture (I Corinthians 1:11-13, 3:3-5).

Now I’m not picking on Lutherans, you’ve got Catholics, Baptists, Pentecostals, Pentecostal Holiness, “Word of Faith,” Methodists, Presbyterians, and the list goes on. We label and categorize ourselves, splintering the body of Christ. This is not what God intended for His church, and is also the very reason that He hid the body of Moses from the children of Israel after Moses had died (Deuteronomy 34:5-6, Jude 1:9).

There are times of “doing” and times of “waiting,” and waiting can be just as important as “doing.” When we move when God says “move,” there is a reward, and when we wait when God says “wait,” there is an equal reward for obedience (I Samuel 15:22). The prophet Samuel told King Saul to wait and do nothing until He returned (I Samuel 13:8), but Saul grew impatient and forced himself to move before the proper time (Vs. 11-12). This act, coupled with several other incidences, cost him the Kingdom.

Satan will use any tactic that he can in order to pull God’s people out of the proper timing. We must continue to believe and do what God has told us to do regardless of the influence that comes from other people, our own reasoning and logic, emotional pressure, circumstances, or anything else that would come to abort God’s plan. It takes a strong man or woman of God to stand steadfast and not waiver, but strength is available from the Lord (Ephesians 6:10). God spoke to Joshua and commanded him to be strong and fear not; nor could he turn from the right hand or to the left, but he must abide in the proper timing and judgment of the Lord (Joshua 1:6-7).