Monday, March 22, 2010

Season 4: Winter

As we continue our study in Ecclesiastes chapter three, the final season is winter. During the final days of fall, the brilliant colors have gone and the leaves now have fallen away. The season of bearing abundant fruit is ended.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: 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 3:1,2

As the seasons change, the ‘sap’ or the life-blood of the plant begins to drop down lower and lower coming to rest during the winter in the plants’ root system. The top part of the plant, the part that can be seen, is left exposed for the necessary inspection and pruning of the branches. The old and dying growth is taken out by the farmer, to make room for the new growth in the spring. Meanwhile down in the root system of the plant the sap is stored, safely adding to and keeping the roots of the plant firmly secure.

It is during this first winter that the plant will either live or die; it all depends on the root system it has developed during those first three seasons of its life. So plants that have not developed the proper root system that is needed for the sap to do its’ work will die. Then as the farmer walks his field he will pull up the dead plant and toss it to the side to make room for another live one.

I have seen some plants that were planted on good ground: dug around, fertilized and watered that still never made it through the winter. And then there are others that I would think could not possibly live, that cling stubbornly to the rocks and come back year after year. What makes the difference? The answer can only be found within the plant itself.

It is the same with life. The wintertime of life or old age, is when all pretense has fallen away and the true character of the person is revealed for all to see. It is during this time of life that you can look back into your past and see your successes and your failures. To all that pass by, there may not seem to be that much activity going on. The body and the mind are working slower now; just as with the plant you read about earlier; the ‘sap’ or energy for life has been re-routed. The primary concern is maintaining the foundation, and keeping it secure.

To a Christian the main concern should be to make sure that the faith given to you holds firmly to the promise of the ‘farmer’ or ‘The Lord of the Harvest” who has told you he will return for you. Meanwhile you go about the business of continuing to study His Word, reaching out to others when possible. Time grows short.

Some Christians in this stage of life will only be able to cling to Jesus, the rock of their salvation; remaining steadfast until He comes for them: like the example of the tree stubbornly clinging to the rocks. Other Christians will be able to reach out and gain new understandings as they have more time to meditate on His Word.

To the Christian who has lived her seasons wisely in this life; knowing that this earth is only the journey and heaven is the destination you can be comforted and encouraged during this time.

There are facts that each Christian can be sure of.
The first fact is not one that any of us like to be reminded of: You can be sure that you will die from this earth, but only God knows the when.
You can be sure it will be at the time He has set and not before.
You can be sure you will die in peace, being able to say with the songwriter of old, “it is well with my soul”.
And finally, you can be sure you will die in victory! As the apostle Paul said “to die is gain”(Phillipians 1:21)

That is why he encourages you not to be sorrowful as others who have no hope. (1 Thess. 4:13) You may be sown in corruption, but you will be raised in incorruption. You may be placed in the ground in death but just as the seed in the ground is very much alive and being prepared for its’ entrance into this world: your Spirit is still very much active and alive, waiting for when Christ, the Lord of the Harvest will raise you again on the resurrection morning for your entrance into Heaven to begin your new life in your new body with Him.

God Bless,


Monday, March 8, 2010

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Season 3 - the Fall of our Lives

To me Fall is a beautiful time of year. Living here in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountians the colors this time of year can be spectacular.  I say can be: because the color of the leaves in fall depend on many of the conditions of the summer.Those conditions affect not only the colors of the leaves, but the fruit that comes from those trees and bushes as well.

 If there has been too little or too much rain, the colors are not as brilliant and the fruits can be few or not have good flavor or texture. Too much heat can bring problems to the fruit the tree bears and even affect the  condition of the tree. So you could say that the experiences and bounty of the fall depend greatly on what happens during the summer.

And so it is with the fall of your life. You hardly notice that you may be getting a little slower in your steps, there is so much still to do. You look around and your children are making their own decisions and starting into their own careers, their own schooling or their own families. This is the time when you will begin to see some of the fruits of your labor- for good or bad.

There are many verses in the Bible that teach of the sowing and reaping process, or for those not familiar with farming terms, God tells us that it is a fact of nature that if you plant corn,you can expect corn to come up. If you plant onions, you can be sure you won't be gathering roses from them,and that the amount of effort a person puts into their farming- how well you watch over and care for your crops- will determine what the outcome or the harvest will be.
"But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap bountifully." Galatians 6:7
 Although throughout the summer of your life you may have planted, or made decisions, about some things and you had an immediate harvest, or result;  the fall of life will be where the major harvest time begins for you.
This is the time when you will be able to see if you wisely put enough time and effort into the things that matter in life, or wasted that time on those things that do not.

 If you continue reading that passage in Galations on harvest time, you will see that God follows it with a warning in verse eight:
"Be not decieved; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."

It is in the next verse that He explains just what it is that he is talking about so there is no mistake. He tells you that if you live your life, thinking solely of yourself and how it will benefit you:  living  "in the moment" as I heard it called by a teenage unwed mother, then you will reap the harvest of your thoughtlessness. And ,as with this teenage girl, it always will affect more than just you. It will affect those around you as well. Her decision 'of the moment' affects a mother whose dreams for her daughter are drastically changed forever, there are the relationships of friends and family that change.The girl herself will change forever: whether she decides to have the baby and take on the responsibility of caring for it; or whether she decides to listen to the modern day teachings of abortion that promises to free her from the cares of responsibility, but fail to tell her of the high cost of guilt and loss that come with it.
Even if she decides to keep the child and raise it herself in love, she has a child that does not have the stablizing effect of a father in the home. Everyone loses something. It is the law of the harvest when you sow sparingly without thinking of the outcome.

Then later in verse 10 Jesus gives you a promise. In this promise He is speaking from the wisdom of experience. He is telling you that He knows life is not easy. He knows that making good sound decisions is hard at times and you may just want to run and hide from the responsibilities of the "summer". That is why verse 10 is so important:
"And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not."

Did you catch that?  'In due season'  God is saying: Yes, I know all this work is hard, and there are times you will not feel like going on. I have been there, done that, and got the T-shirt. (to put it in modern vernacular)
When I was in the garden of Gethsemane I was so tired! My strength was gone, I knew I had the hardest part ahead of me, and I needed help. I could not do it on my on, I turned to my heavenly Father for help and He gave me the strength to finish the work. I could have walked away right there, I could have said: "this is too hard", but I looked down the road to the harvest time and saw my reward. I saw you, and God gave me strength to continue. He'll do the same for you.
 Ask for help to continue to have the strength to work that field you have chosen, and God who is the "Lord of the harvest"(Matt. 9:38) will answer you.
The fall season of your life will be a more secure time if you remember the laws of harvest; and include the One who knows best as your councellor and guide.