Monday, November 14, 2011

How To Weather the Seasons of Life

We recently did a fall theme for our ladies Fellowship.  Mrs. S.Eiben was so kind to do the devotional and did an excellent job.  She has given me permission to share it here. If you would like to see pictures of the meeting you can see them HERE.


HOW TO WEATHER THE SEASONS OF LIFE
Devotion by S. Eiben for Maranatha Ladies Meeting, October 22, 2011
It has been said that God can grow a mushroom overnight but He will take time to grow an oak or a giant sequoia…it took 13 years to get Joseph ready for the prime minister’s office in Egypt…Moses took 80 years in preparation for 40 years of service…David was a youth when anointed as King but it was years until he ascended on the throne…preparation takes time and toil…even the Lord was on earth for 33 years and had 3 years of public ministry. God has His times as well as His purposes. Our heavenly Father is not in a hurry as we are…maturity is a slow process – just as He has a purpose for each season He ordained, there is a time and a purpose in whatever season you find yourself in. (Rom. 8:28) (glorify Him)
Ecclesiastes 3:1 says “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the Heaven (read vs. 1-11) vs. 11 states “He hath made everything beautiful in His time: also He hath set the world in their heart so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.”
As a woman it is easy for me to look at my life in seasons, after all we have a season of adolescence, teenage years, college/singleness, married, childbearing years, etc. Some seasons are longer than others in our lives. I had a long season of singleness, but God used that season to prepare me. All seasons are for growth in our lives but not all seasons are for fruit. I am a Christian woman under construction; He is still working on me. (Philippians 1:6) To weather the seasons of life…I first need to have a walk with the Lord. I don’t want the Lord to have to drag me kicking and screaming – and after all He won’t because the Holy Spirit is a gentleman – He wants us to have a peaceful walk surrendered to Him. (Rom. 12:1,2) We all started walking physically at different ages just as we all started our Christian walk at different ages. (We were saved at different ages) – but at some point that walk had to become consistent. There must be an assurance in my walk…(1 John 5:12-15) I can know for sure that I am saved. I am of no use if I continually doubt my salvation. My walk needs to be purposed…(2 Peter 2:2) I am to desire the sincere milk of the Word that I may grow thereby…I am to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible says in Psalm 119 vs. 130 says “The entrance of thy words giveth life; it giveth understanding unto the simple.” “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119: 105) I read recently…I must come to God not for facts or knowledge but I must simply come to God to behold Him…to behold Him (emphasize)…to behold the beauty of His holiness. When is the last time you went to the Lord for no other reason than to behold your Lord? I need to plan my time with the Lord. Sometimes I may only have a few minutes, but the time I spend needs to be quality time, and it needs to be progressive. (Be a student of the Word – continually growing) (2 Peter 1:5 - 8). I need to be learning at His feet, and I need to keep my time with the Lord fresh. Don’t let it become dry…don’t get in a rut. As suggested by several ladies who have spoken at Ambassador…read chronologically through the Bible, perhaps read a particular study Bible and read the notes with it (ex. Matthew Henry Study Bible), read through the Bible, keep a journal of what you read and how it spoke to your heart, study a book of the Bible a month. Just recently I am doing a Bible study in Ephesians – what a blessing and encouragement to realize the riches I have in Christ. Take time to study His Word and as I do the mirror of God’s Word shows me what is lacking in my life as I behold Him. The uglies are revealed. Study of His Word also shows me what I have in Christ…get your focus on Him and as the hymn says the things of earth will grow strangely dim. . (Psalm 27:4, 2 Corinthians 3:18)
In seasons there is a pruning time or purging time – for the little tree that may not be so fun and often with me that is not fun either, but it is necessary for growth and for fruit that I might be a vessel unto honor that the Lord can use. I must deal with my weaknesses as well as the weeds. As the weaker vessel it is necessary that I get the proper amount of rest, eat right, and take care of myself especially as we grow older. (Prepare now for old age by taking care of yourself today) Eve was deceived in the Garden of Eden, and I must guard against deception by knowing the truth of God’s Word. When the whispers of my enemies (world, flesh, and Devil) come I must not listen to their lies but the Truth of God’s Word and hide it in my heart that I might not sin against Him. (Think Biblically about things in my life) (Psalm 119:11, Phil 4:6-8)
I must deal with the weeds in the seasons of my life…the weeds of sin. To weed according to Webster’s 1828 means to free from anything hurtful or offensive, to root out vice as to weed the hearts of the young. Hebrews 12:14, 15 says to “follow peace with all mean and holiness without which no man shall see the Lord: looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you and thereby many be defiled”…a thankful heart will drive away bitterness…We must give our hurts to God not nurse them and hold onto them. (2 Corinthians 10:5) What do we focus on… do we focus too much on the rain, the heat of the season – our trials, our weaknesses or do we make the most of what we have and learn to be content trusting God for the outcome. (1 Tim. 6:8; Phil. 4:11) (We know the end of the story – what awaits us)
And when the woes come…tell it to Jesus He is a Friend that’s well known. Through prayer we pour out our heart to the Lord (Psalm 62:8) and He lines us up with His will and shows us what needs to be purged. (Ps 51) Give all your burdens to Him… (Ps. 55:22, 1 Peter 5:7). Prayer is the weapon we have through all the seasons of our lives.
We must have a walk with God, deal with our weaknesses, pull out the weeds…take the woes to Jesus, next Focus on a wonderful Savior! (Ruth Chapter 1 & 2) Focus on our Kinsman Redeemer. Boaz was a mighty man of wealth as is our Heavenly Father…He owns the cattle on a thousand hills and the hills the cattle stands on. Boaz means in Him there is strength. Psalm 46:1 says, “God is our refuge and strength a very present help in trouble.” As you go through the seasons, don’t have an identity crisis and forget that you are a child of the King…a daughter of the King! We are spiritually rich in Christ (The book of Ephesians tells us this) and we are to draw upon those riches to live each day. Ruth Chapter 2:2 - she found grace, Ruth 2:3 “her hap was to light on a part of the field belonging to Boaz” – God’s providence at work…and it is continually at work in our lives even when we can’t see it, Ruth 2:8, “Then said Boaz unto Ruth, hearest thou not my daughter? Go not to glean in another field, neither go from hence, but abide here fast by my maidens…vs. 9 …have I not charged the young men that they shall not touch thee? And when thou art athirst, go unto the vessels, and drink of that which the young men have drawn.” (His protection and provision) Ruth 2:10 – “She fell on her face, and bowed herself to the ground, and said unto him, Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldst take knowledge of me, seeing I am a stranger.” Ruth 2:11 “It hath fully been shewed me, all that thou hast done unto thy mother in law”…(His knowledge of her)…our Lord knows everything about us…our fears, our failures, our foes, our fronts…He knows the very numbers of hairs on our head. Knowing all about us He still loved us and died for us (Rom. 5:8). Ruth 2:14 “And Boaz said unto her, At mealtime come thou hither, and eat of the bread, and dip thy morsel in the vinegar. And she sat beside the reapers: and he reached her parched corn, and she did eat, and was sufficed, and left.” (He fed her) Ruth 2:15, 16 “handfuls of purpose” – His provision. There was something in those handfuls. The Bible says He daily loadeth us with benefits. (Psalm 68:19) “In Boaz we see illustrated many of the excellencies of Christ. Boaz was a man of great wealth. vs. 1, he was compassionate to the stranger who had no claim on his favors vs. 8,9, He knew all about Ruth, even before she met him vs. 11, even as the Lord knows all about us even before we come to know Him. He served Ruth graciously, and all her needs were satisfied vs. 14, He granted her protection and prosperity for the future vs. 15, and 16…our home in Heaven…in the acts of grace we see a foreshadowing of our blessed Redeeming Relative’s mercies to us.” (BELIEVERS BIBLE COMMENTARY on RUTH 2:17)
The illustration is given…an undernourished boy was found on the city street and taken to a hospital. After the nurses had bathed him and dressed him, they put him to bed and brought him his dinner tray. Conspicuous on that tray was a large glass of milk. The boy’s eyes lit up as he reached for the glass, but them he paused and looking at the nurses, asked a question that broke their hearts: Can I drink all of it? It was obvious that back home there was never enough of anything. Too many Christians are living like paupers when Christ has made us rich! Isn’t it time we stopped living on substitutes and started drawing on the riches we have in Christ…. (taken from Warren Wiersbe’s book, Be Rich.)
ANOTHER illustration is given…she had gone down in history as “America’s Greatest Miser,” yet when she died in 1916, “Hetty” Green left and estate valued at over $100 million dollars. She ate cold oatmeal because it cost to heat it. Her son had to suffer a leg amputation, because she delayed so long in looking for a free clinic that his case became incurable. She was wealthy, yet she chose to live like a pauper. Eccentric, certainly! Crazy perhaps…but nobody could prove it…she was so foolish that she hastened her own death by bringing on an attack of apoplexy while arguing about the value of drinking skimmed milk! But like many Christians today - they have limitless wealth at their disposal and yet they live like paupers! (taken from Warren Wiersbe’s book, Be Rich.)
Focus on your riches in Christ…All through the book of Ruth we see the grace of God…. So we are to focus on a wonderful Savior that we might finish well. As Christian women we want to finish well…truly to everything there is a season…and one day our season to step into eternity will arrive…what will be said….I had not thought of this point until I was looking for a poem to use in this. Recently, in Christian Womanhood Class, Mrs. Beal has been talking about your life goals and purpose…sometimes it helps to have the end in mind… I don’t mean to be morbid but PICTURE YOUR FUNERAL, WHAT WILL BE SAID AND WHO WILL SAY IT…
Recently our neighbor died, in fact Gabe found him dead. He had to call the police, they had to break in the house, the coroner was called, etc. It was so sad…he had been dead for approximately 2 days…and we had tried to reach out to him as had several neighbors, but he kept to himself. What a sad situation…he is dead…an estranged family…the house sits there, the timers come on at night for the lights, his truck sits in the driveway…he is gone…life goes on around him…he was lost…. Our life needs to make an impact for Christ…not for ourselves, but that we may one day lay ourselves and all we have done at the foot of the cross.
Now let’s contrast that - Recently I came across these words written about a dear friend and saint….
“This dear lady was always a blessing to be around, her sincere smile and love for the Lord will not be forgotten…looking forward to seeing her again.”
“I was blessed to have her as a friend.”
She knew how to make all our hearts sing…she was a blessed and beautiful woman and it was easy to fall in love with her the moment you met her… she touched and changed many lives and will be missed”
“I never heard her say anything negative about another person or treat anyone ugly.”
“To suffer with a smile is rare to want so much for others in spite of her limitations…her earthen vessel may have declined but her spirit her unselfish love, her joy, her peaceful presentation of Christ continues to leave its mark on our souls. Oh that we may finish with her example embossed with the sweet and rich fragrance of Christ upon us as she left us with. Thank you for inviting me to know this lady.”
Ladies, the seasons will come and go in our lives and how we respond to the grace of God will make all the difference…just as in the book of Ruth there were three women and three different responses…ORPAH LEFT…NOAMI WAS BITTER (eventually she gets right)…BUT RUTH RESPONDED CORRECTLY AND CLAVE UNTO THE LORD….
These things could be said of the lady that I mentioned because she had a walk with the Lord, she dealt with the weaknesses and weeds, and she focused on a wonderful Savior. She wasn’t perfect just forgiven. I know these things because this lady was my Mother. During the time of losing my Mother I asked the Lord to shew me a token for good (Psalm 86:17) in all of it…I knew she was saved, I knew she was ready to go, and that I would see her again - The Lord in this taught me that I don’t need to be perfect I just need to walk by faith, be obedient, and allow Him to work in me - And I am very thankful that He allowed me to be with her in her last moments here on earth. (Notice the end of Psalm 86:17…because thou, Lord, hast holpen me, and comforted me.) What a blessing that we have the God of all comfort, that we know the God of all comfort…and in those seasons that truth becomes more real to us)
Miles Stanford in his book, Principles of Spiritual Growth puts it this way: “The development of the Divine life in the Christian is like the natural growth in the vegetable world. We do not need to make any special effort, only place ourselves under the conditions favorable to such growth. Only those who have sought to grow by effort and failed are in the position to appreciate the fact that God is the aggressor in the realm of development.”
“We can rest assured that the situation in which we find ourselves (and nowhere else) is the very place where God wants to meet us. It is here that we will grow into the likeness of Christ”. (taken from the book, Be Still My Soul by Elisabeth Elliot)
God does give that “cup of grace” for each day…He truly does give more grace as the burdens grow greater…(James 4:6) and He is faithful and will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. (1Corin. 10:13)
Hymn:
JESUS I AM RESTING, RESTING…
v1 - Jesus, I am resting, resting,
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.
Thou hast bid me gaze upon Thee,
And Thy beauty fills my soul,
For by Thy transforming power,
Thou hast made me whole.
v2 - O, how great Thy loving kindness,
Vaster, broader than the sea!
O, how marvelous Thy goodness,
Lavished all on me!
Yes, I rest in Thee, Belovèd,
Know what wealth of grace is Thine,
Know Thy certainty of promise,
And have made it mine.
v3 - Simply trusting Thee, Lord Jesus,
I behold Thee as Thou art,
And Thy love, so pure, so changeless,
Satisfies my heart;
Satisfies its deepest longings,
Meets, supplies its every need,
Compasseth me round with blessings:
Thine is love indeed!
v4 - Ever lift Thy face upon me
As I work and wait for Thee;
Resting ’neath Thy smile, Lord Jesus,
Earth’s dark shadows flee.
Brightness of my Father’s glory,
Sunshine of my Father’s face,
Keep me ever trusting, resting,
Fill me with Thy grace.
Refrain: Jesus, I am resting, resting,
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.

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