Understanding Seasons

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: (Ecclesiastes 3:1)  

To everything there is a season.  “Season” simply means a period of time.  A season is a period of time for a certain activity.

We are in the full swing of the Christmas season.  It’s a period of time – a period of time when we, as Christians, focus on the birth of Christ. Although this period of time seems to lengthen each year, thanks to ambitious retailers, the Christmas season is roughly from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day.

My wife likes the football season.  It’s the period of time that runs from early fall to January.  In our household, there is some minor grieving after the Super Bowl because football season is over until the next September!

seasonsWhen you think of the seasons, you likely think of spring, summer, fall and winter.  I love spring and summer because I enjoy the sun and warm weather.  I know fall is beautiful, but I have a hard time enjoying it because I know what season is coming next!

Seasons are inevitable.  They are painted onto the canvas of creation.  They are ordered by God, Himself:

Genesis 1:14 (KJV) – 14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:

Gen 8:22 – While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease. KJV

How long will there be seasons?  As long as the earth exists there will be seasons.  It’s inevitable.  It’s inescapable.

In as much as seasons are inescapable and permanent, the seasons themselves are only temporary.  A season is just that – a season.  And whatever the season is, it will always change and a new season will come.

If you’re a scrooge and don’t like Christmas, be patient, the season will be over soon.  The decorations will come down and the Christmas music on the radio will change.

I hate the winter.  But during the cold I remind myself, “This, too, shall pass.” Spring will come.  80 degree days will return!  The only thing permanent about seasons is that the season itself is NOT permanent.

Hope

It’s important to understand seasons.  When you understand seasons, it brings you hope.  The understanding of seasons brings hope when I’m going through difficulty.  That understanding reminds me that my season won’t last forever.  That understanding brings me some comfort and encouragement.  I’m reminded that a new season will come.

Psalm 30:5… Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

I may be in a season of distress right now.   I may be weeping now – but it’s just a season!  It may be nighttime right now, but the light of dawn will come!

This understanding brings me hope.  If you don’t understand seasons, you might lose your mind.  You might give up and quit.  You might give in to the discouraging voice of the enemy that says, “Just curse God and die.

But if you understand seasons, then you say to yourself, “Morning will come.”  “I may be weeping now, but it’s just a season.  And, because you have that understanding, you press on!  You say to yourself:

  • I’m going to make it!
  • I’m going to persevere!
  • I’m going walk and not faint!
You’re Going to Make It!

I can make it if I know there is light at the end of the tunnel!  And that is what understanding seasons gives me: light at the end of the tunnel.  I can make it if I know my trial has an expiration date.

When you’re in the middle of a crisis, discouragement and hopelessness come knocking.  The enemy tells you to give up.  He says you’ll never make it.  He tries to get you to surrender your hope and faith.  But when you understand seasons, then you remind yourself that your trial won’t last forever. What I’m going through is tough, but I’m gonna to get to the other side of this storm.

Jesus told His disciples, ““Let us pass over unto the other side.”  Between here and seasonsthere, we’ll face a storm, but we are going to the other side.  The storm is just a season.  Remember –  the storm is only temporary.  No matter how fierce the winds and waves, they won’t last forever.  The sun is going to shine again.  The clouds will soon dissipate.

What are you telling me?  I’m giving you hope!  I’m encouraging you today to hold on to God and keep walking.  Whatever season you’re in, remember it won’t last forever.  Whatever adversity has you stressed, be faithful to God – you will come through.  The storm you’re braving has an end.

Affliction is Only for a Season

Remember what Paul told the Corinthians:

2 Corinthians 4:17 – 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory…

Our light affliction is but for a moment – a season.  It’s important to understand seasons.  Affliction doesn’t last forever.   It will pass.  Not only is affliction temporary, but affliction is working for me, not against me. (But that’s another message for another time!)

If I lived in Barrow, Alaska, I might lose my mind!  If I knew that it would never get above 30 degrees and that most days of the year it will be well below zero, then I’d probably go crazy.  In Indiana, I just remind myself as I’m scraping the ice and snow off my windshield, “It’s just a season.  Spring will come.”

Whatever difficulty you are going through, my friend, remember that it’s just a season.

~Matthew Ball

Philippians on Friday: Count it all Loss

Thanks again for reading this week’s, Philippians on Friday! In our last devotion we discussed Paul’s blistering condemnation of the Jews who trusted in their own works rather than the righteousness of Christ. This week’s passage is a continuation of that same theme:

Philippians 3:4-6:  Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

PhilippiansIn the proceeding verses, Paul called the Jew’s act of circumcision, simply the “concision.” He was pointing out the fallacy of thinking one can be righteous through the works of the flesh.

In today’s passage, Paul is saying if that were possible, then he of all people would qualify as righteous. If strict adherence to the Law could make one righteous, then Paul has us all beat!

…If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more…

What a Résumé!

Look at Paul’s résumé of good works:

  • Circumcised according to the law
  • A citizen of the nation of Israel
  • Of the tribe of Benjamin
  • A Hebrew of Hebrews
  • A Pharisee who was trained in the Law
  • Zealous for Judaism as demonstrated by his persecuting of the church
  • Blameless concerning his personal adherence to the Law

Do you realize what Paul is saying to the Philippians? No one could top Paul when it came to pointing to one’s own righteousness and good works. If one’s own righteousness made us holy in God’s eyes, then Paul would certainly qualify to stand justified before God. But look what Paul says:

But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ…

It’s About His Work Not Ours!

If a man’s own righteousness could save him, then Paul didn’t need Christ nor His Cross.  If confidence in one’s own works could justify, then Paul didn’t need a Damascus-road conversion.

Paul shares a joyous truth with the Philippians and each of us. We are saved by PhilippiansChrist’s work, not ours! We are saved by His righteousness, not ours. All our good works will never be enough to save us. We must have faith in Jesus Christ.  When we are born again of water and Spirit we are putting our faith in Jesus’ Death, Burial and Resurrection – We are trusting in what He has done!

Paul said, I count it all loss. What does that mean? All his attempts to be justified before God through his own works fell miserably short. Before his conversion it was gain to him – it was valuable to him. He trusted in those things.

But when He met Jesus Christ, his valuation of those things changed. What was valuable (gain) became loss. He counted those as dung – something utterly worthless and filthy.   He used to say, “Look what I have done!” Now he says, “Look what Christ has done!”

Holy living is our necessary response to Christ’s salvation, not our own attempt to earn it.

Paul was not boasting by listing his fleshly accomplieshments. He was actually doing just the opposite. Paul was showing the folly of trusting in human achievement. He was deliberately mentioning all his so-called accomplishments to show how that none of those things truly justified him in the eyes of God. He mentioned his accomplishments only to say:

If a man could be justified by his own works, then I would be considered justified.

But all those things that were feathers in my cap, I now count as loss. My confidence is in Jesus Christ. My righteousness is in Him.

Why a Loss?

Why did Paul consider his own righteousness as loss?

1 – It didn’t bring true justification

2 – It detracted from the power of the Cross and of faith in Jesus Christ

3 – It led to emphasizing the person rather than the Savior

4 – It bred hypocrisy and judgmentalism

5 – It actually lead Paul farther from God, not closer! (He persecuted the true church, not recognizing it was the Body of Christ)

Holy living is our necessary response to Christ’s salvation, not our own attempt to earn it.  If it were possible for a man’s own holiness to ever be sufficient, then Paul’s own righteousness certainly would have been sufficient.  But the apostle Paul trusted in “Nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.”  And so should we.

~Matthew Ball