Thursday, 10 October 2013


Exeter Temple Message notes
Sunday 6th October 2013
As a farmer goes through each season, he must do the right things in each season to produce a crop.  The Bible supports the idea that what is true in the natural is also true in the spiritual.  There are seasons of the soul and if we can recognise where we are then we can do the right things so that the season we are in supports our fruitfulness and continuing life. 
1. Seasons are certain
The seasons of the soul mirror the four seasons that we know.  
It is a time of new beginning, of new things, of discovery. The most obvious time when this is true is when we first became Christians.  We have emerged from a past without knowing God’s salvation to a new world of hope and discovery. But we are mistaken if we think that this is the only time in our life when spring time happens. God continues to bring new revelation of his nature and his ways.
 In the church there are times when there is expectation in the air and anticipation that God is about to move and do a new thing among his people. 
Summer is a time of fruitfulness. Spiritually it relates to those times in our life when we feel especially close to God, when we see evidence of growth in our lives, when our service for God is bearing fruit.  It is also a time when we enjoy the great world that God has given us. Some people in churches start feeling guilty when they are happy and fail to communicate to the world that the church is a place of celebrations and good news.
Autumn is sometimes described as the season of “mellow fruitfulness” but we know it is also a time of preparation.  Unlike spring which prepares for new beginnings autumn is a time to prepare for endings. It is a time for clearing away as plants cease to produce fruit, for pruning and maybe planting seeds for next spring.   It is a time to protect plants that might be vulnerable to frosts. In our lives we know that there are times when we sense that God expects us to move on, to take stock, to arm ourselves for some battles ahead. 
Winter in our lives is the time when you don’t feel very alive, when it is hard to pray and when God can seem very far away.
It is a fact that there will be seasons in our spiritual journey.  Just recognising this  helps us to embrace the challenges of new opportunities, to enjoy the experience when we are closest to God but to avoid complacency, to be adaptable to change and prepared for the Lord’s discipline and not to despair when everything we have loved and enjoyed seems to be taken away.
2.      Seasons are passing
A Christian sometimes goes through a season of sorrow. Sorrow is also part of the Christian life. Sorrow may be due to loss of a loved one or disappointment of some fond expectation. But it is a passing season. God does not want us to get drowned in our sorrows. He wants to turn our sorrows into joy.
Sometimes we go through a season where we suffer the mockery of unbelieving friends and relatives or hostile enemies of the gospel. Sometimes we go through a humbling process allowed by God but our faithfulness and obedience will one day be honoured, if not in this life, in heaven itself. A Christian sometimes goes through a season of suffering. Suffering is part of the Christian life. We are strangers and pilgrims in a hostile world. Jesus said, “If the world hated me it will also hate you.” But we are promised great reward for our suffering. 
At other times we go through a season of shaking. When God’s people become careless and inattentive to him, God sometimes shakes them from their slumber. When people begin to rely on something or someone more than God it becomes a snare to them and God allows these false foundations to crumble in order to make his people put their trust in Him only.
A Christian sometimes goes through a season of scarcity. Sometimes before God can bring us to a place of abundance He has to allow us to go through a season of scarcity. This wilderness experience is a place of testing for us. When we pass the test the abundance of God is waiting for us.

3.      Seasons are productive 
Once God has fulfilled what He purposed for a season, He’ll move us into another season because we are heading somewhere with God.  The seasons are not just a rotation for the sake of it but to produce fruitfulness.
In John 15 we see God’s desire for increasing fruitfulness.  Jesus gives us a seasonal analogy of God’s work in our lives in John 15:2 “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that there will be even more fruit.”
The progression is there, fruit, more fruit and much fruit. 
Seasons have a purpose, which is why we should rely upon God to guide us through them rather than seek to avoid them.  
Sometimes we seek to by-pass a season.  Most of us would like at least spiritually to be in spring or summer all the time but the truth is that without autumn and winter there might be fruitfulness in the immediate but long term we will fail. 
We have an example in Jesus, in the way he conducted his ministry. 
At the height of his popularity, when hundreds were being healed and thousands hung on his every word, Jesus got in a boat and went away to the other side of the lake. At a time when the glory of God was revealed in him before three astounded disciples, Jesus made them go back down the mountain.  When the disciples urged Jesus to stay where he was loved and accepted, Jesus began to teach the disciples that he was going to die and to begin the journey to Jerusalem. The disciples resisted this at every turn.  The disciples clung on to summer and because they didn’t heed the autumn that Jesus wanted to take them through, when the winter of the cross came they were not ready. 
Many people make a new beginning and then they enjoy a time of feeling really close to God but they will not plough up areas of their life that are not under God’s discipline, or take time to add the nutrients of Bible truths to their minds through study and prayer. Sometimes God give us a promise. Then a long time lapses and the promise is not fulfilled. In our impatience, we rush ahead and try to help God fulfil His promise. We remember that Abraham and Sarah did this when it seemed that they would never have the son they had been promised.
When we miss a season, or get ahead of a season in our lives, we run the risk of not ever being able to capture all the things that were meant for us to acquire during that season.  There are no short cuts to maturity. Seasons are designed to mature us. When you try to ripen fruit quickly, it loses its flavour. 
You cannot pray away a season. Even Christians go through difficulties. Sometimes, we pray intensely that our difficulties will go away but God does not remove them. Some difficulties cannot be prayed away, our prayer should be for grace.
There are seasons we don’t want to go through but through those seasons we learn some things which we wouldn’t learn if you hadn’t gone through them.
God wants all of us to walk in harmony with him and learn the lessons God wants to teach us through the season we are in. 
If we are in a winter season spiritually we may feel guilty because we are not producing much. However this is a time to reflect and be restored.  The promise t is that spring will come.  Just because it is winter we don’t have to freeze to death.  When it is cold out we don’t just settle for being cold, we put on extra clothes, eat hot food and put the heating on.  Spiritually we can get into the warmth of Christian fellowship, clothe ourselves with the promises of God, and soak ourselves in worship and prayer.  If we are in a spring time experience we need to rejoice and not be fearful but wake up to what God is doing and embrace it.  We need to rejoice but not mistake this as summer.  It is a time to nurture and protect what is emerging in us. The evil one might actually leave us alone in winter because he is deceived by the apparent coldness of our spiritual life.  However as soon as he sees signs of life he gets active to crush it.  We should always get our armour on but when God is doing a new thing in our lives we need it on more than ever.  
When we are in summer we should enjoy it and praise God.  We should not miss the blessing because we know that autumn will come.  The saddest part of Christian mission is not when no-one responds to our efforts but when the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few because they left the field before time, thinking that the reaping was over. And harvest was left to rot.  We often think of the summer as the time to play but it is not so. It is the time when we are the most active spiritually. 
We don’t have to understand a season to learn from it and be changed for the good by it. Job didn’t understand what he went through but he did learn about God and himself through the experience.  Whatever season we are in we need to be very careful who we listen to.  Job had friends who gave him lots of advice which sounded very holy but was very wrong.  The word of God is our rock in any season.  The Bible gives us great insight into the lives of so many different people, who went through different seasons in their lives. They can help us.  
There are wise words from Paul found in Gal 6:9. He says, “Let us not be weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap if we faint not.” 

Remember seasons will change God will not. So don’t trust the season trust the God of the seasons! If you are in a prosperous season don’t trust the blessing, trust the God who blesses.  If you are in a bad season focus on Him rather than on what is going on around you.

God is good and God is faithful.

BIBLE STUDY                                                                                                                 
Look at Bible characters that experienced different seasons. 
John 1:3-30                                                                                                                      
What season would you say the woman was in after she met Jesus?
What was her life like before meeting Jesus? What season might she have been in?

Ruth 1:1-21                                                                                                                  
What season might Naomi have said she was in at this point in her life?  
Did life change?                                                                                                           
Look at Ruth 4:13-17    What season is this?

Acts 2:1-15, 40-42                                                                                                      

What season is Peter in here?
What else do you know about Peter’s life? What stories do we have of him in other seasons?  (John 21:15-19 John 6:60-69)

1 Kings 18:1-39 and19:1-18                                                                                        
What season was Elijah in during chapter 18?
What season was Elijah in during chapter 19?  Is this what you would expect after the success of chapter 18?
Pray and meditate about the following: 
a)      What season am I in personally and what do I have to do to benefit most from this season?
b)      What season are we in as a corps and what do we need to do together for benefit most from this season?

God bless
Alan and Carol