The story of Noah is a powerful reminder of the Sovereignty of God and the wages of sin. In a world that had forsaken God and given itself over to evil, we are told that of all the people living on the earth, only a man named Noah was righteous. God instructed him to build an Ark and then load pairs of animals of every species on earth. And finally he had Noah to bring his family on board and the Ark was closed. And rains came for the very first time on earth. And waters from the depths erupted from the earth until the entire world was flooded. And every living land creature that was not on the Ark drowned. It was God’s judgment on the sinful condition of the rebellious world.Our scripture reading picks up after the flood had subsided and Noah and his family and the animals were finally able to come out of the boat.
And Noah took time to worship God, offering sacrifices in thanksgiving to the God of his salvation.
And God made a covenant with Noah and through him with the human race that he would never again destroy the world by floods. And then God promised that the seasons would continue as long as the world existed.
In today’s world there is much clamor about the Climate changes. The ice caps on the North and South poles seem to be melting causing the seas to rise. Scientists tell us that the temperatures are rising and that we are experiencing the hottest average temperatures since records were being kept. There is disagreement as to whether the changing climates are a natural phenomenal or whether mankind is responsible for the change.
I have to tell you that I don’t have strong opinions about that. I do believe that a lot of the hype is politically motivated but I also believe that we have been entrusted by God to oversee the earth and that our actions do have consequences.
But this I do know: God has promised that as long as the earth endures there will be seasons—times to plant and times to harvest; winter times and summer times. And while there may be some variations in the weather, the seasons will continue.
We are in the process of changing seasons. The calendar tells us that summer lasts until September 21st, but we all know there is a definite shift that takes places with the end of August and the beginning of September. The summer vacation season ends. School has begun. Labor Day weekend is the one last vacation fling before we finally settle into the fall routine. And even though we may still have a few more weeks of hot weather, it won’t be long before the Gulf hurricanes spin rain clouds our way and the nights will cool down and the leaves will begin to change color.
Seasons come and seasons go. And life keeps pushing ahead. That is the way it has always been and that is the way it will always be until Jesus comes.
As I reflect on this promise of God of the continuing seasons, there are several scripture lessons that stand out to me.
I. EVERYTHING HAS ITS SEASON.
a. King Solomon very poetically described this principle in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8: There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens 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.
b. Just as Solomon points out, there are seasons for everything. And that means there are seasons in our own lives. We move quickly from infancy to toddler to children and then teens. Even in Adulthood we move from young adult to middle aged to senior adult. There was a time when the people I pastored considered me to be just one of their children. Now the children look at me as an old man. And what I was capable of doing when I was young has become much harder and even impossible in my senior years. After serving as a Hospice Chaplain for several years, I still take time to look at the obituaries in the newspaper. And more and more I see death notices of people my age and younger. It makes me realize that this season of my life is passing quickly.
c. And even our spiritual journey goes through seasons. Church growth experts tell us that we need to invest much of our resources into developing our children’s department. Recently I read an article about the seasons or periods in our childhood development of values: Sociologist Morris Massey has described three major periods during which values are developed.The Imprint Period Up to the age of seven, we are like sponges, absorbing everything around us and accepting much of it as true, especially when it comes from our parents. The confusion and blind belief of this period can also lead to the early formation of trauma and other deep problems. The critical thing here is to learn a sense of right and wrong, good and bad. This is a human construction which we nevertheless often assume would exist even if we were not here (which is an indication of how deeply imprinted it has become).The Modeling Period Between the ages of eight and thirteen, we copy people, often our parents, but also others. Rather than blind acceptance of their values, we are trying them on like a suit of clothes, to see how they feel. At this age we may be much impressed with religion or our teachers. You may remember being particularly influenced by junior school teachers who seemed so knowledgeable–maybe even more so than your parents.The Socialization Period Between 13 and 21, we are very largely influenced by our peers. As we develop as individuals and look for ways to get away from the earlier programming, we naturally turn to people who seem more like us.
d. And so we move through seasons in our lives as we move towards maturity.
e. Statistics tell us that the chances of our becoming a Christian decreases significantly from our teen years on.
f. The point is that there is a season for everything. And the season in which you currently find yourself is your best chance for making a decision to serve the Lord. The longer you postpone making that decision the less likely you are to do so. What is it that God is speaking to you about right now in your spiritual journey? Don’t delay obeying—now is the time of your season!
II. EVERYTHING MUST BE DONE IN ITS PROPER SEASON.
a. I was raised on a farm. I learned the importance of planting at the right time. There were several times over the years when we would have late spring rains. The bottom lands would flood and by the time it dried up it would be too late to plant our soybeans because they would not have time to develop and mature before the winter weather. So Dad would look for a different crop that would mature faster.
b. And there is a reason why we send our children to school while they are young instead of waiting until they are grown. The young mind learns more quickly, and by the time a person is grown the demands of life crowd out the time required for proper schooling.
c. And the reason God desires for you to make an early decision for Him is because the younger you are the more energy you have, the more time you have, the greater the potential for service you have.
d. Again I would point out that the season in which you find yourself is the best season you have to give your heart to Jesus and begin serving Him. He has a plan for you and our time on earth is limited. The proper season for you begins right this minute.
III. SEASONS END AS NEW SEASONS ARRIVE.
a. In sports while the season overlap there is a realization that the season is changing. Already the major league baseball teams are seriously making their run for the playoffs even as the preseason football games are beginning.
b. When God called me to the ministry, I enrolled in Bethany Nazarene College to get my education for the ministry. Four years later I graduated and moved into a pastoral position—first as a youth pastor and then as a lead pastor. While learning is a lifetime endeavor, I had moved from the season of preparation into the season of service. Now, I realize that season will be coming to an end in a few short years. And while in retirement I will still be serving, the season of retirement will bring changes.
c. In those years I served on the District NYI in various positions, even as the District NYI President for a few years. But there came a time when I had to pass that baton to some younger folks who were coming along. The season of my youth came to an end.
d. That reminds me of the fact that what I do for the Lord I must do quickly. There will come a time when I can no longer accomplish the things I would like to accomplish.
e. What is it that you think God wants you to do for the Kingdom? Don’t procrastinate—the time is drawing to a close. Jesus said, “Work while it is yet day; the night is coming when no man can work” (John 9:4).
IIII. EACH SEASON IS A PREPARATION FOR THE NEXT SEASON.
a. My development in my youth prepared me for the responsibilities of adulthood. My college years gave me the foundation for the preaching and teaching ministry to which God called me. My service as a youth minister gave me some essential training for the pastoral ministry.
b. And so it is that each stage or season of our life provides the preparation for the next stage or season. I think often of the passage in 2 Corinthians 1 that tells us that God comforts us so that we can be a comfort to others. What I experience today will help me to help someone else tomorrow.
c. A few weeks ago in one of the devotional books I read each day there was an illustration that really has stuck with me. It was about a storm that came through. A few days or weeks later someone asked what became of the storm. The flowers said, “Some of the storm is in me.” The green leaves said, “Some of the storm is in me.” The flowing brook said, “Some of the storm is in me.” The point was that if the storm had not come, the flowers and the leaves and the brook would not have existed. And in our lives, the difficult times that we experience produce in us that which we become. In Romans 5: 3-4 we read, “… we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance character; and character, hope.”
d. And while I think that as Christians what we are should be dictated by our desire to be like Christ and we should have our eyes on the future God has promised us, there is a sense that our past provides a foundation on which we build our lives.
V. WE MUST LIVE IN THE PRESENT SEASON BEFORE MOVING ON TO THE NEXT.
a. Here is the heart of what I want us to grasp in this message. We can only do what we can do today. It is what we do now that counts for eternity.
b. Paul in 2 Corinthians 6: 1-2 pointed out this truth by saying, “As God’s fellow workers, we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For He says: “In the time of favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” Behold, now is the time of favor; now is the day of salvation!.”And in Hebrews 4: 6 & 7 we read, “ Therefore since it still remains for some to enter that rest, and since those who formerly had the good news proclaimed to them did not go in because of their disobedience, 7 God again set a certain day, calling it “Today.” This he did when a long time later he spoke through David, as in the passage already quoted:“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”
In our Genesis 8 scripture God promised Noah. “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease’ (Genesis 8: 22). The implications are that the seasons will come and go until the end of time. And the reality is the seasons will quickly pass from one to another. In our journey though life the seasons rapidly change. We must not put off until tomorrow what God requires of us today. This season will soon pass.
Peter reminds us of the urgency of time in 2 Peter 3:9-10: But the Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.”
‘Tis the season—Have you surrendered your heart to Jesus and accepted Him as your Savior?
Our season is changing—What you do you must do quickly!