Reasons For The Season (Ecclesiastes 3)

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The climate has been changing with more cold weather on the brink. My friend Jim Myer and I used to commiserate about how much we disliked the cold and preferred the warmth of the sun and summer. In the colder months, I start dressing in layers.

  • When I worked at an outdoor construction site, I wore 7 layers (7 was perfect number, of course).
  • Most every day from Nov onward I wear at least 2 layers, if not 3. I’m serious.

And what trips me out is the young guys who go around winter wearing short sleeves, shorts, or even flip flops in the snow. Who are these people?!?

Life is filled with changing seasons. What is true seasonally can also be said spiritually. We must know what season we are in so we can respond accordingly. If not, then we could be working against the God orchestrated seasons of our life, and life can be that much more challenging.

Today’s message is titled “God Has A Reason For Our Season (Eccl 3). In this book, Solomon writes observations about the vanity of life. He offers few mandates but multiple musings. We are not commanded to do anything in this passage beyond exist in our life season and endure in trusting God. In today’s message, I’d like to muse with you about life present and future at SPBC.

EXAMINE      

Ecclesiastes 3:1-11

1  For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
2  a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
3  a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4  a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5  a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6  a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7  a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8  a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

9  What gain has the worker from his toil?
10  I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with.
11  He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.

12  I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live;
13  also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.
14  I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him.
15  That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already has been; and God seeks what has been driven away.

God is sovereign over every season.

There is one unshakable truth that is timeless, regardless of our circumstances: God is eternal and sovereign over every season. While seasons form and fade, God faithfully endures as our strength. God is the Creator of time, and He rules and regulates the moments of all our days, with nothing happening without His permission. 

Solomon provides the scope of God’s sovereignty – everything in and under heaven (v.1). Further, he lists 14 pairs of activities, which is twice the biblical number (7) of perfection and completion. Each pair comprises the range of human experience from birth to death, from war to peace, and everything in between.

The point of Solomon’s list is not to discern how to attain a season a blessing and avoid a season of burden. Instead, the point is rather for us to muse and marvel at the purposes of God, which we can only begin to understand.

Time is a treasured gift. We can waste time by numbering our complaints, or we can redeem time by counting our blessings. There are things that happen under heaven that will stress and test us. For those who do not know God, challenging circumstances may crush them. But, for people of faith, we can endure every circumstance because we know that God holds all things together and no purpose of His can be thwarted.

God is sovereign, wise, and good, and we must trust what He is doing in our life.   

  • Ecc 3:11, 14 “God has made everything in its time… he has put eternity into our heart… whatever God does endures forever, nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it so that people fear before him.”
  • Ecc 5:2 “God is in heaven, and you are on earth.”
  • Ecc 12:13-14 “The end of the matter; all has been heard, ‘Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.’”

Some practical applications of affirming God’s sovereignty.

  • Seek to serve not control. Many people like to make lists and know plans in advance; they try to organize and oversee all the details. While there is much wisdom in strategizing, there’s also contentment being a willing servant.  It would be nice if God shared His timeline with us, so we could know what and when. However, God doesn’t communicate His calendar with us in aim that we rely on Him.
    My examples…
    • Me planning Nica trips with Pastor Marty… then me going to DR with Marty planning.
    • Me with Youth Collective and three churches to share the roles has been refreshing.
    • Me with developing a team of Pastors/elders… also hoping to unite with BLC… wanting to share ministry and see God employ the body in diversity of gifts and talents.
    • 1 Sam 3:9 “Speak Lord, for your servant hears.”
    • Lk 1:38 “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord, let it be to me according to your word.”

  • Make prayer a priority. Since God is sovereign and we are not, then we must follow the Spirit in prayer.
    • Prov 20:24 “A man’s steps are from the LORD; how then can man understand his way?”
    • Ps 37:4 “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

  • Monitor your media. There are so many voices and messages being sent across screens and our eyesight each day. There is increasing research linking mental wellness with social media usage – higher usage results in decreased productivity, amplified anxiety, expanded unhappiness, increased amounts of negativity and even depression.
    – I’m finding myself hitting “unsubscribe” more frequently.
    The people of God do not need to buy into doom and gloom, but invest in faith, hope and love.
    • Prov 19:21 “Many are plans in the mind of man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”
    • Job 42:2 “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.”
    • Jer 32:17 “Ah Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.”

Growth occurs in every season.

Solomon’s 14 paired activities are a list of contrasts.

  • Birth and death
  • Planting and plucking up
  • Murder and heal
  • Break down and build up
  • Weep and laugh
  • Mourn and dance
  • Cast away and gather
  • Embrace and refrain
  • Seek and lose
  • Keep and give
  • Tear and sew
  • Silence and speaking
  • Love and hate
  • War and peace

The list shows the changing nature of seasons. If there’s one thing that stays the same, it is change. Seasons come and seasons change. And since seasons change, there is an implied understanding that growth can occur, which we see in Solomon’s contrasting list from the undesirable to the desirable.

Life is never on pause, even if it feels like it. God does not want us just to go through every season, but to experience growth in each season.

C.S. Lewis in The Chronicles Of Narnia speaks about a season under the shadow of evil reign as “always winter but never Christmas.” Many can live extended seasons of life in despairing and dark circumstances, with little hope for change. But one thing we must remember is that God ordains seasons to change.

  • Genesis 1:14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years
  • Psalm 74:17 You have fixed all the boundaries of the earth; you have made summer and winter.
  • Psalm 104:19 “God appointed the moon to mark the seasons. The sun knows its time for setting.
  • Ecclesiastes 3:1 “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.”
  • Daniel 2:21-22 He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; he reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him

The key to growing in every season is at least three-fold:

  • Knowing what is growing. 
    • Deuteronomy 11:14 “he will give the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the later rain, that you may gather in your grain and your wine and your oil.”
    • Jer 5:24 “the LORD our God gives the rain in its season, the autumn rain and the spring rain, and keeps for us the weeks appointed for the harvest”
    • Many kinds of fruit in season. 2 Sa 16:1; Jer 40:10; 48:32.
    • Galatians 5:19-23 “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control”


– – – > If something is growing that you don’t want, then dig up the root so it doesn’t return.

  • Work what you got (play the hand your dealt).
    • The wise are diligent in off season.  
      • Pr 6:8 “the ant prepares its bread in summer and gathers food in harvest”
      • Pr 10:5 “He who gathers in summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who brings shame.”
      • Pr 30:25 “the ants are a people not strong, yet they provide their food in the summer”
    • 2 Timothy 4:2 “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.”


– – – > Life isn’t fair, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be faithful or move forward.

  • Prioritize planting good seed in good soil
    • Psalm 1:3 “He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.”
    • Romans 6:21-23 “But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
    • Galatians 6:8 “For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.”

– – – > Family rites of passage mark growth in various seasons. Natural rites relate to school grade promotion, new abilities (this tall to ride this ride), driving, curfew, etc. But what are our spiritual rites of passage? What goals for each new season of life do you have? If we are not preparing our children, then we are failing our children.  – Value of AHG/TL
– – – > As adults, what is our next spiritual goal? Memorizing a passage / Sharing gospel / Teaching a class / Planting a new Bible Group 

APPLY/THINK

My son is potty training. He’s our 5th child to train, and it doesn’t get any easier. Each child has something different that works to motivate them, and just when you think you’ve found the magic motivation – setback! Recently, we gave Z a “potty watch” that has a music alarm every hour for him to check. He’s being conditioned to check the watch to see if its time.

Many of us are conditioned by the clock. We are chained to our cell phones and calendars, so much that our schedules can cause us to miss the spiritual. Before Jesus left earth, He left His followers a message about how to think about time. Jesus encourages us not to worry about timelines but to be life-lines for others.

Acts 1:7-8 “Jesus said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times (χρόνους) or seasons (καιροὺς) that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

In terms of seasons and time, there are two basic words to describe: Chronos & Kairos.

Chronos is time that can be measured. Chronos is time on the move; it keeps passing so that the present is quickly the past. It’s why the Bible speaks as life as a vanishing mist/breath (James 4). We measure chronos with clocks, calendars, schedules, and agendas. English translates chronos time with words like chronicle and chronology. A chronicle is an account of events and experiences in a sequence of time. A chronology is an ordered report of a timeline. Someone who has chronic illness has suffering for a long duration of time.

Kairos is time that is unique. Kairos is an opportunity, or a divine moment. But Kairos time is made up of Chronos, and we can miss kairos if we are not being faithful with chronos. Some examples may be

  • Pause when we look outside to magnify the God who sends rain/snow/fall/spring/summer/winter.
  • Linger with those you love: A sleeping child, embrace of a spouse, warmth and laughter of a friend.
  • Raising children and then you blink and you’re an empty nester.
  • Married life and without intended plan one is caretaking the other.
  • Talking with a friend, enduring a difficult time.
  • Find contentment in completion of tasks and projects from the God who gives strength, wisdom, and provision.
  • Living faith day to day while people watch your words and deeds.

Most of us rush past chronos in effort to discover kairos. However, if we want to find God in our moments, then we have to start being present in the mundane. Some ways we can be a lifeline:

  • Look for opportunities to neighbor: a conversation, an act of service to meet a need, pray for/with, invite to church person/online, share a meal, share Christ/Christmas.
  • Join our Advent reading[1] to focus on our current season.
  • Begin life that supersedes every season – eternal life in Christ (Jn 5:24)

[1] https://bible.com/p/35804939/68ce4e3553ce2908da054c43e66ba3e6

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