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Understanding Seasons

Understanding Seasons

In the natural, we live life differently in summer than we do in winter. We are the same person, but what we wear, where we go, the sports we play, and the holidays we take are all subject to the season we are in.

As the natural seasons significantly impact our lives, so too do the spiritual seasons. The good news is, God doesn’t make the seasons difficult to recognise.

Psalms 1:1-3 (NIV) Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.

This scripture tells us clearly that you can be a blessed person who meditates on God’s Word day and night, and yet only yield fruit in season. In other words, there are seasons when blessed and biblical people do not see the fruit that they have sown in the form of seed!

And then it goes even deeper by telling us that godly people prosper in whatever they do! Do you see it? You can be in a season that is not producing fruit, and still be prospering in every area of your life. God wants to change the way that we measure outcomes in our lives.

In the natural, a farmer only plants seed in certain seasons. That same farmer also only reaps a harvest in certain seasons. A farmer knows that you don’t plant seeds in harvest season, nor do you harvest a crop in seed time.

Proverbs 20:4 (NIV) Sluggards do not plow in season; so at harvest time they look but find nothing.

If a farmer does not understand what is required in the different seasons, then frustration, disappointment and unfruitfulness is the result. How much more so for the people of God when it comes to kingdom matters! Understanding the seasons is made clear for us in His Word.

Not everything is budding and sprouting new life and growth all the time. Sometimes the season we find ourselves in is a season of preparing the soil, planting the seed, watering the seed and pulling out the weeds. The shift of measurement for many believers is this: These seasons are just as important as the seasons when we see the fruit, and we can prosper in God just as much in these seasons.

Is it possible that at times, the lack of fruit in our lives and ministry is because we have not ploughed in ploughing time? If we don’t plough, we won’t see a harvest. If we don’t plant seeds, we won’t see a harvest. If we don’t water and fertilise the seeds, we won’t see a harvest.

If we don’t become people of prayer, we won’t see a harvest of miracles. If we don’t become people of God’s Word, we won’t see a harvest of a transformed mind. If we don’t become people of faith, we won’t see a harvest of pleasing God.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NIV) There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.

Not recognising the season that we are in can be tragic. We all know that King David committed adultery and followed this up with murder. It is one of the most devastating stories in the Bible. But how did it start?

2 Samuel 11:1-2 (NIV) In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem. One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful.

David stayed home at a time when kings went off to war. As God’s appointed king, David was meant to be on the battlefield. Instead, he was at home resting. It was in this ‘out of position’ season that David was tempted and made some terrible decisions.

There are obvious indicators for us to recognise the natural season that we are in; we don’t have to strive to work it out. When it’s continually cold, it’s winter. When it’s hot all the time, it’s summer.

In the spiritual, God speaks clearly to those who position themselves to hear. People who humbly surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and continually saturate themselves in the Word will hear the still small voice of the Holy Spirit. Those who have a posture of heart that declares, “Not my will, but yours be done”, will know what season they are in.

If there is any doubt, the greatest way to discover the season is to focus on God. It might take some time, but that is because God is enjoying the time with us and He knows the power of having our attention on Him.

It’s time to be wise discerners of the seasons. It’s also time to be diligent to do what is needed in the God-ordained season. Understanding seasons empowers us to honour God and to flourish in life.

So, what is it the season for in your life?


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Transition

One of the most challenging things in life is being confronted with the need for change. Transition can be so difficult – yet it is common to us all.

The world is filled with disillusioned and broken people that did not understand the nature of transition and the changes that it brings. We all experience transition, but understanding the nature of change is critical to us continuing to run this race with honour and a sense of destiny.

Billy Graham once said: “Mountaintops are for views and inspiration, but fruit is grown in the valleys.”

A valley is but a place of transition between two mountaintops. It is that necessary terrain that takes us from the height achievable yesterday to the greater height achievable tomorrow. And yet, as we pass through it, it is there and there alone that the strength, the preparation, the enlargement of heart and spirit, the forging of deep inner strength necessary to scale that greater height is gained.

The definition of transition from the online dictionary is movement, or change from one position, state, subject, season, or concept to another.

It is in the transition of the valley that the fruit is grown, and the spirit of conquest is forged that empowers that person to scale the greater height. They do not scale that greater height in spite of the valley but because of it. That transition is a vital insert of time that empowers them for their future task. To be thankful for it is to gain from it that for which it was designed, to resent it is to gain only disappointment. Transition is empowering when embraced.

The Insecurity Of Change

Transition often means days of questions, of feeling insecure, days when you desperately need to refocus on God’s faithfulness and God’s integrity.  Your trust in Him must go to a new level in times of transition. Why? Because transition takes us from the familiar to the unknown, from the secure to the vulnerable. Psalm 23:4 tells us that God is with us, even in the darkest valleys and the most difficult times.

The reason why so many avoid transition rather than embrace it is that transition is scary! But transition is inevitable if we are to grow.

Transition touches all our lives at various moments and can touch every area of who we are and our personal world. It must. It is about the preparation of your heart for the new season of God. It is about your enlargement of spirit and faith, the creation of a deeper well of potential within you. Transition is about increasing your capacity for life!

If your season seems to have been unduly long or hard and you know that you have walked in intimacy with God and integrity with others, be encouraged with the knowledge that it is only longer because the commission is greater. It is not a time to allow discouragement but to look up with an expectant heart for the new chapter that God has been preparing you for.

Remember, the One Who holds your future, now directs your path. The Author of your change will also become your empowerment and sufficiency for that change. Your loving Father does not lead you there to see you struggle but to reveal Himself to you in a unique way. As you turn your gaze from the perplexity of the questions to the security of His love, you will find there is always that grace available for each new day.

 

A New Destination

A New Destination

Father wants to put fresh, new spiritual destinations in your heart, along with a compelling purpose for pursuing them. God has a new destination for you – this is a time to be listening!

Isaiah 43:19 Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

The Hebrew word ‘wilderness’ means, ‘a vast open field where cattle are driven’, ‘uninhabited land’, or ‘large tracts of open land and pasture’.

The picture is of someone herding cattle like a drover and discovering uninhabited, vast plains of land that are virgin territory. However, the thought is not that of dryness. Quite the opposite! ‘A road in the wilderness’ speaks of a place where there is an abundance of food for cattle. Settlers can come and prosper in a new land. The ‘wilderness’ speaks of new territory. Expansive new territory – a new destination!

Father clearly spoke to me one morning a number of years ago and said: “I want the rest of your life as a blank sheet of paper.” I was amazed, as I sincerely considered that was the case already. However, over a period of a few weeks He showed me how subtle the nature of our desires can be. Indeed, our view of the future can be influenced by our knowledge of the past. I had to discover a place of complete surrender, with no qualifications attached. What an incredible sense of anticipation then flooded my heart!

So, if you feel as though you are facing a wilderness, take courage. The promise of God is that He will give you a ‘road’ that will cause that wilderness to become accessible and a place of great fruitfulness.

Can I encourage each one of you to take some time aside to present yourself afresh before the Lord to hear from Him.  Bring your own blank sheet of paper to see what exciting new things He would write upon it for your future. Of one thing I am certain: He has a remarkable and fruitful new era for each one of us, if we dare to embrace it.

Never Too Late

Never Too Late

There are times when we feel like God is too late. Our challenges have become overwhelming, and that answer to prayer still hasn’t come. There is a depth of experiencing God in pain and travail that transcends anything we know in times of rejoicing.  These are the ‘wells in the desert’; the ‘treasures discovered in darkness’. These are the moments in which all pretence and all insincerity are stripped away; and in a state of spiritual and emotional nakedness, we stand before God unashamed and desperate for His love.

The intimacy possible in such times does not depend upon emotional highs nor sensations of well-being; it is a deep inner awareness of being loved by our Father, of being held in His embrace of unconditional acceptance and care.

When no argument is convincing, when no evidence is apparent, there comes the assurance of an unreasonable faith: ‘My Father loves me!’ The beauty and depth of character forged in such times will remain with us forever and will become a well of life for others to drink from, others who are questioning their time of difficulty or transition.

Friends, all of life is made up of seasons, and seasons demand a transition from one to the other, that insert of scary vulnerability.  Perhaps some of you can identify an area in which you are undergoing such a transition right now: vocation, marriage, ministry, finance, relationships, or even in who and what God wants you to be. For all of you, I have a word of encouragement from the Lord; and I want you to keep it before you.

It is never too late! You are birthing a new day of promise! God has not forgotten you, and you are going from bearing fruit to bearing extravagant fruit. Your promise is on its way and it is God’s intention that it will come right on time.

Jeremiah 33:1-3 (NKJV) Moreover the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah a second time, while he was still shut up in the court of the prison, saying, “Thus says the LORD who made it, the LORD who formed it to establish it (the LORD is His name): ‘Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’

Now, for some of you that feel your difficult season has gone on for a little too long and the devil has suggested it is too late now for you. In John 11, we read about Mary and Martha’s grief at the loss of their brother Lazarus. They thought it was too late!

John 11:21 (NKJV) Now Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”

It appeared that this was one transition that had gone on too long.  The subject had died! Martha is saying, “If you had only intervened earlier, we would not have gone through this death experience.” But Jesus declares that it is NEVER too late! Mary and Martha were about to witness a resurrection!

The Lord allowed this delay because Lazarus had not only a message to deliver but a message to become.  Jesus knew that when he came out of that tomb, he will be the message!  A message no one will be able to refute nor deny.

Friends, God always has a purpose.  We must learn to trust Him. It is never too late.

Trust and Let Go

Trust and Let Go

It is winter and the cold, crisp mornings awaken the senses and chase the fog from one’s brain.  As I yet again gaze out of my office window, my eyes take in the conifer still lush and green, and the deciduous tree whose nakedness is so stark in contrast.  There is one tree in particular that I have been looking at each morning, awaiting an event that seems determined not to occur.  It has lost its leaves completely except for six small reminders that stubbornly refuse to release the Autumn in which they flourished.

My first thoughts are those of admiration as I think of their ability to hang on and persevere. What is it that gives them that capacity to cling to the branch when no others can? It has been many days now that they have defied the elements of this season’s harsher days.

But this morning another thought came as I looked to find them still there: as amazing as their resilience is, is it not misguided? Is it not also true that whilst they occupy that one small spot on that tree, that nothing new can grow in their place?  In their magnificent endurance they are unwittingly postponing the coming of Spring.

For now, that is acceptable—for the time appointed for Spring has not yet arrived. But it will come. My friends, seasons are so important.  There is the season of perseverance, to cling to the loyalty of that which has been; and there is the season to recognise God’s awakening to a future promise. When that moment arrives, the act of greater courage is not perseverance or endurance but the trust that allows you to relinquish. Because there is a time for everything—including for uprooting and letting go. (Ecc 3:1-2)

Finally letting go of that which was once filled with promise but now lies dead and cold is often heart-rending and traumatic.  But it is vital to make way on the branch for the coming of the new buds of Spring.

In the simplicity of trust and an unreasonable faith in the Father’s love, open those hands and let go.  For a fleeting moment you may feel a wind of insecurity caused by a vulnerability of the unknown, but it will pass. In its place you will find a new awareness as the Holy Spirit whispers fresh thoughts of new days of promise.

Spring is on its way a little while from now, and the Gardener of our souls beckons us to make way for it with an open heart made ready by the relinquishing of the Autumn now gone. Trust in your Abba Father as you draw near to Him.

You can dare to trust and let go for He is worthy of that trust. Read more about making hard decisions in your life.