Kingdom Come: Seasons

We now continue our message series, “Kingdom Come” where we learn what God’s Kingdom is like and how we bring it here on the earth.
Luke 17:20-21
Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is:
in your midst – NIV
within you – KJV
within you and among you and surrounding you – AMP
The intersection of where the Kingdom of Heaven meets earth is right here at the tip of our toes.
The past few weeks, we learned of just a few of the many, many treasures that God’s Kingdom provides.  This week, we’re reminded that the Kingdom of God is a kingdom of seasons.
We know that at creation, God created the universe in a way that we can tell time including the seasons.  He indicated that this was done not only for us to understand the natural seasons, but also supernatural seasons.
Genesis 1:14-19
14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. 16 God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.
This Hebrew word מוֹעֵד (mō·ād) is translated as seasons or sacred times or appointed times.  These are more significant than just the four natural seasons that we observe.  Jesus confirmed this in frustration in this account:
Matthew 16:1-4
1 The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven.
2 He replied, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ 3 and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. 4 A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” Jesus then left them and went away.
Understanding the seasons, or times, in which we are living is very important.  If we misunderstand the season in which we are living, then we can easily miss out on what God is desiring to do in and through our lives.
Too often, we live our lives by the Greek word chronos, which is what we think of as time.  Chronos time is just a measure of time.  We live our lives driven by our calendar of events and todo lists.  Work, practices, shopping, parties, these are what define our lives.
However, in the midst of our ordinary and routine lives, there is another Greek word for time, kairos.  Kairos is a specific point in time, an appointed time, an opportune time.  It was this timing that Jesus grew frustrated about with the Pharisees.  It was this timing of judgment that He warned us to keep watch for.  It was this timing that motivated Him to send the disciples in to retrieve a young donkey for the passover celebration.  It was this timing in which Jesus was tempted by Satan.  It was this timing that the demons told Jesus that had not yet come.  It was this timing in which Sara gave birth to Isaac.
In the midst of our ordinary and routine lives, God has supernatural appointments awaiting us, these kairos times.  He places us at exactly the right place at exactly the right time in exactly the right circumstances.  Paul wrote regarding this timing:
Colossians 4:5-6
5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
The opportunities with unbelievers here are these kairos times.  In fact, the King James Version translates kairos in this instance as redeeming the time.  How awesome is it to think that God would work in someone’s life to prepare them to receive His salvation and then orchestrate that you be right there at just the right time to give them this good news.  It was this kairos timing that was displayed when Philip came running beside the chariot of the Ethiopian eunuch.  It was this kairos timing that resulted in Esther saving a nation of her people.  God is rooting for you that strongly and trusts you with the salvation of someone, be ready for it!
There are tools everywhere for managing our chronos time.  There are calendars, clocks, and alarms of all sorts.  There are alarms that will shake your pillow, alarms of whale sounds, alarms that spray water on you, alarms that will do whatever it takes to get your attention.  However, it requires intentional prayer and listening at all times to the Holy Spirit’s leading to be aware of these kairos times.  These are treasured times that happen only once.  Moments where you with all of your uniqueness get to shine and be who you were created to be and do something only you can do.
This morning, we’re going to focus on the combination of these two concepts of time.  We’re learning the fact that there are times and seasons for everything!
Ecclesiastes 3:1-17
1 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.
9 What do workers gain from their toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. 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. 13 That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.
15 Whatever is has already been,
    and what will be has been before;
    and God will call the past to account.
16 And I saw something else under the sun:
In the place of judgment—wickedness was there,
    in the place of justice—wickedness was there.
17 I said to myself,
“God will bring into judgment
    both the righteous and the wicked,
for there will be a time for every activity,
    a time to judge every deed.”
What can knowledge, wisdom, and understanding can we gain from all of this, though?
1. Seasons Are Temporary (v. 1-8)
The only season that is eternal is eternity.  This truth is a great encouragement and hope for those struggling through seasons of war, death, sickness, weeping, and uprooting.  It gives hope knowing that these seasons will end and will bring new seasons of peace, life, healing, laughing, and growth.
This truth, however, has a warning for us as we also know that the enjoyable and pleasant seasons also have an end.  There are some seasons that we wouldn’t ever want to leave.  Our first child sleeping peacefully in our arms is a moment that we would love to stay in forever.  However, that child will also need to eat and be changed and be potty trained.  Although those aren’t exactly our favorite seasons, they are necessary seasons of growth and maturity.  If those seasons didn’t also come to an end, then we would have never entered into the new seasons when they walk their first step or say their first word or score their first touchdown or leave for their first day of college or marry the love of their life.
Just as leaving our Christmas tree up all year will not keep winter around (and we all know that person), so we cannot stop the seasons of life from changing.  We cannot remain nor return to the past, so we must move forward and embrace the new seasons as they arrive.
Philippians 3:13b-14
13b But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Although we all have a past, we also must remember that we all have a future.  Attempting to cling to the past or living today with only regrets for the past and no hope for the future will leave us broken and in pain.  God created us with the ability to only move forward in time, there is no reverse in life.
It is wise for us, then, to leave the past seasons in our past and to remain forward-minded.  We can learn from our past and allow it to be a tool to make us a better person today, but we cannot change it and should not allow it to define who we are today.  That season has come to an end and we would be wise to embrace the new season that it lead us into.  This leads us into our next point.
2. Enjoy Life (v. 9-13)
Whether pleasant or unpleasant, God has a purpose for every season of life.  With this in mind, we can learn to cherish and appreciate every season of life because we know that in the grand scheme of life, these seasons are all relatively short and pass quickly.  Even through difficult seasons of trail and of consequence, God has our best interest in mind.  These seasons form our character and shape us the most.  Although we are not defined by who we used to be, we are shaped by it.  All other seasons of life are easy to enjoy, but James gives us this wisdom:
James 1:2-4
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.
Also, though we must work hard in life, we must also remember to take time to enjoy the life that God has given us.  Solomon reminds us that to eat, drink, and find satisfaction in our toil is a gift from God.  He wrote that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and do good while we live.  Just as Solomon’s dad, David, wrote:
Psalm 118:24 (ESV)
This is the day that the Lord has made;
    let us rejoice and be glad in it.
To rejoice is a choice.  It’s easy to rejoice in the good seasons of life, but James challenges us to still consider the seasons of trials pure joy.  This is because the joy that we express during these seasons is a joy of true and pure worship because we are focused on the goodness and faithfulness of God alone and not on our earthly circumstances, for they give us no reason to rejoice.
No matter what season of life we find ourselves, we still can enjoy the life that we’ve received from God.  There is a divine purpose for them and even if that simply means that God is maturing and completing me, I still have reason to rejoice!  We should never be too busy making a living that we forget to make a life, to leave a legacy, to celebrate and enjoy life itself.
We should never allow ourselves to become so overwhelmed by the challenges of life to enjoy the incredible blessings in life and the beauty of God’s creation.
In fact, both the challenges of life and the victories of life lead us into our next point.
3. We Need Jesus (v. 14-17)
With so many uncertainties and changes in life, we acknowledge our need for something to anchor to that will get us through life’s many ups and downs.  That anchor is none other than Jesus, Himself!  We need to keep our eyes fixed on Him, the unchanging God; the only constant in life.
Hebrews 6:16-20
16 People swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. 17 Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. 18 God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. 19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20 where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.
We have hope in Jesus, a firm and secure anchor for our souls.  Although the storms of life may rage against us and try to destroy us, Jesus will use them to make us stronger and better when they pass and waves of peace follow them.
Solomon wrote that for every season and time, we would be called into account for our deeds.  In order to have this firm anchor in our lives, we must be obedient to do our part!  After all, we would not be held accountable for our lives unless we were the ones responsible and in control of them.  Jesus said:
Matthew 7:24-27
24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
Although we often do not know the season that we are in and the one that is to come, we can be certain of one thing.  Jesus is the beginning and the end.  For those who have put their faith in Him and remain obedient to His word, He brings great reward.  For those who have foolishly chosen to live their lives by their own opinion and rejected Jesus, a great crash.
Revelation 22:12-13
12 “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.
Jesus is the beginning and the end.  He is the anchor for every season of life.  He was, is, and is to come.  No matter what uncertainty life may bring our way, Jesus is certain to be there.  Whether it be our ordinary chronos times or those powerful kairos moments, Jesus is the one who holds them all.  Trust in Jesus, the beginning and the end!