As mankind enters the third millennium, the pursuit of material things at the expense of spiritual is apparently relentless.
At the same time the world has become more dangerous and perplexing, polarised between conflicting ideologies, the way ahead is fraught with difficulty.
A Time for Everything looks at everyday human activity with the intent of helping to restore a spiritual dimension to daily life.
We believe that there is a God who has a purpose for His creation and who speaks to us through his Son and through his Word.
Genuine happiness, real hope and security for the future lie in responding to him and allowing him to reshape our lives.
Table of Contents
A Time for Everything
“There is a time for everything, and a
season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.”
Ecclesiastes Chapter 3v2-8
A Time to be Born
The miracle of new life, a time of celebration and joy, when pain and labour are forgotten.
Yet first innocence soon fades, as the unyielding cycle of life and death
repeats itself again.
A new miracle, a new birth is needed a new creation of men and women who put their faith in Jesus and trust him to give them new life. Jesus said:
“Everyone who does what is right has been born of him” 1John 2v29
“unless a man is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” John 3v5
Notes for “a time to be born”
|Genesis 1-2||The first few pages of the Bible describe the birth of the universe and the beginning of life on earth. They tell us that we are here as the result of a deliberate act of creation by an Almighty Creator.|
|Is 45:18||We are here for a reason, not by accident or a chance evolution. Life is meaningful, not meaningless.|
|We have a duty, a responsibility towards our creator which will give real purpose to our lives.|
|God has a plan for the world, to fill it with the glory of his character and wisdom. That plan requires a process of rebirth, a new creation, because the world has been corrupted by human evil.|
|We ourselves need to be reborn, remodelled for our place in the new world of the future.|
|The key to this divine plan is Jesus Christ, whose miraculous birth 2000 years ago is the pivotal point in human history. He is the first of this new creation.|
|We can be reborn by our faith in him. Baptism is the essential sign of that change of direction in our lives.|
A Time to Search
So many different religions, philosophies, sects… so many claims and counter-claims… so many people searching for truth… How much would we give to find it?
‘God’s word is truth’ is the claim the Bible makes for itself. Many have tested that claim, and been satisfied.
Here is the unique voice of divine authority, an unshakeable foundation on
which to build our lives…
“The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he sold everything he had and bought it.” Matthew 13v45
“seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Luke 11:9
Notes for “a time to search”
1 Tim 6:6-10
|Many spend their lives looking for happiness, for whatever they think may bring happiness – money, fame, success of some sort. Many are disappointed.|
||Through his Word, God promises happiness to those who seek for glory and honour through him. But can we trust that promise? How can we test it for ourselves?|
|John 17:17||Many religions make promises to their adherents – how can we find ‘the truth’?|
|11 Tim 3:14-17||It is our privilege to be able to read God’s Word, to search out its message, and to test it in our lives.|
|The consistent theme of human redemption (the ‘good news’), that runs through the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation, is unique evidence that this is God’s revelation to us.|
|1 Cor 3:11
|Only in Christ is salvation to be found. No other religion promises hope through a God-given redeemer.|
|1 John 4:1
|There are many false prophets and false spirits whose words we must test and reject.|
|1 Tim 4:7-8
|In finding ‘the truth’, we will find real happiness now and the prospect of perfect life in the future.|
A Time to Plant
All his history, man has wrestled with the soil, with weeds and blight, storm and drought – a successful crop needs care and nurture.
As people we grow, and growth is a struggle.
Jesus used plant growth as an illustration – a life, he said, that gives too much importance to material things will not grow; it will very soon be stunted:
“other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants…” Matthew 13v7
This “is the man who hears the word, but worries of this life and
the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.” Matthew 13v22
Notes for “a time to plant”
|Matt 13:1-23||Jesus told a parable about a sower. In his story, the seed represents the good news about God’s Kingdom, planted in our minds by God. This seed may not take root in us at all – it may take root but then be swamped by everyday things – or it may flourish and produce the right response, the fruit that God is looking for.|
|James 1:21-22Gal 5:22-23
|This process is under our control – we can let the ‘good news’ take root; we can encourage it to grow. The fruit it produces is a character like that of Jesus, a life modelled on his.|
|One day the harvest will come – God will look for fruit from us. Unfruitful plants, thorns and weeds will be destroyed.|
|In a similar Old Testament parable, God’s people, the Jews, are represented as a vine or a fig tree. The prophets of Israel foretold a time when this nation, unfruitful and long uprooted from its land, would be replanted in the Holy Land, and ruled by a new king sitting on the throne of King David – Jesus Christ.|
A Time to Weep
So much pain … so much suffering, injustice, hatred … how can God allow it?
If there is a God, why is the world sometimes so awful? Yet pain teaches us, brings us closer to others, nearer to God the world we live in is blighted by our sin –
God plans to change it, to change us.
pain is temporary –
God has promised to get rid of it…
“Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away” Isaiah 35v10
“There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” Revelation 21v4
Notes for “a time to weep”
|Gen 3:16-19||Human suffering stems directly from our disobedience to God; at present the whole of creation labours under the curse placed upon it by God in the beginning. Humanity is condemned by sin to a life of constant struggle against nature, ending in death.|
|Through this struggle our characters are formed. Through it we can come closer to God, as we are moulded into something better that gives him pleasure and that will bring us into his kingdom.|
|Jesus came to bring comfort, hope and joy to all who believe and trust in him.|
|Jesus himself was made perfect by his sufferings. When we suffer, we follow in his steps.|
|God is in no way responsible for moral evil, but uses good and evil circumstances to bring about his purpose. Man alone is responsible for war and conflict of all sorts.|
|When God’s plan is complete, pain and sorrow will disappear, and the whole creation will be filled with joy. When God’s plan is complete, pain and sorrow will disappear, and the whole creation will be filled with joy.|
A Time to Heal
Music is powerful to calm a mind in turmoil but healing the fractured mind is difficult, and often impossible.
Jesus had the power to heal both mind and body, the ‘evil spirit’, as well as the paralytic.
Jesus’ miracles of healing are not superstitious inventions, but signs of
his divine authority – the authority to bring relief and health to the human condition, to heal the rift between man and God.
“He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim freedom for the
captives, and release for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour…” Isaiah 61v1
“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree…by his wounds you have been healed.” 1Peter 2:24
Notes for “a time to heal”
||The Bible uses physical disease and disability as a symbol for moral weakness. Medical science has produced amazing advances in the treatment of physical and mental illness, but what is really needed is a remedy for our spiritual disease. Only this will produce a genuine improvement in the human condition.|
|Jesus’ miracles of healing were the proof of his authority to do something far more important – to remove our sins, and heal our sin-disabled nature.|
|This authority comes from God, who alone is able to change our nature.|
|Jesus offered himself as the perfect sacrifice for sin, the means by which our sins can be forgiven, our nature healed and restored.|
|Isa 35:6||When the earth is restored to its original beauty in God’s kingdom, all our diseases and disabilities will be removed. The rift between man and his Creator will be healed.|
A Time to Build
..more palaces of commerce?
…more temples to money?
…bigger warehouses, larger barns?
or to build trust, and faith, and hope? to build a life on a rock-solid foundation – a living house for God to live in.
“every one who hears these words of mine and puts then into practice
is like a wise man who built his house on the rock” Matthew 7v24
And Peter wrote:
“as you come to him (Jesus)…you also, like living stones, are being
built into a spiritual house” 1Peter 2v5
Notes for “a time to build”
|Dan 4:29-30||Building has always been a potent symbol of human power and wealth.|
|Gen 11:1-9||The story of building the Tower of Babel epitomises man’s pride in opposition to God.|
|Luke 12:13-21||Jesus’ parables show the stupidity of building bigger and better for an uncertain future.|
|Luke 6:46-49||He says we should build on his words – paying attention to them and putting them into practice. This will provide a rock-solid foundation on which to build our lives and characters.|
1 Cor 3:16-17
|God’s real house is not a temple or a church, but a collection of living people.|
|2 Cor 6:16
|Jesus is both the foundation stone and the highest capping-stone of that house.|
1 Pe 2:4-5
|We can be part of that house as living stones, and God will live in us for ever.|
|1 Kings 8:27-30
|In the ancient kingdom of Israel the temple was a symbol of God’s presence among his people. In the future Kingdom that God has promised a new Temple in Jerusalem will become the focus of divine worship for all nations.|
A Time to Uproot
Like healthy plants, we try to put down roots. In a world that changes so quickly, we look for what does not change – for stability and security.
God’s plan is the only hope for permanence and real stability in our lives –
How can we reject what we need so much?
If we do, it will be to our cost. Like unhealthy, unproductive plants, we will be uprooted.
“…every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire….not a root or branch will be left them.” Malachi 4v1
“every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots.” Matthew 15v13
Notes for “a time to uproot”
|The God of love and forgiveness is also a God of righteousness and justice.|
|Isaiah 2:12-17||God plans to restore the earth to its original beauty. Before this can happen, all human pride and rebellion must one day be uprooted.|
|The great Flood of Noah’s time was God’s judgement on a world that had rejected him, and was full of violence. Jesus says that ‘the last days’ will see a similar pouring out of God’s judgements on an equally godless and violent world; a world completely absorbed in material things.|
|Acts 17:30-31||Jesus is the one who has been appointed to judge the world in the future when he returns.|
11 Peter 3:12
|Those who put their trust in God will be protected from this future time of great trouble, and will live to enjoy a world purged of wickedness, restored to its original glory and beauty.|
A Time to Love
From short-lived ecstasy to life-long self- sacrifice, love takes many forms.
some are spurious and damaging – others bring great reward and satisfaction.
Devotion to Jesus is like a true marriage- a lifetime’s devotion to one person, to the exclusion of all others.
His sacrifice of himself for us is love beyond our understanding. To return that love means sacrifice on our part – but it will bring the greatest of rewards.
“My command is this: love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no man than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” John 15v12
“…let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth” 1John 3v18
Notes for “a time to love”
|Love is the principle that governs God’s relationship with his creation.|
|1 John 4:8
|God is himself the embodiment of love. This view of God is consistent throughout both Old and New Testaments.|
|God has shown the depth of his love for us by giving his own Son as a sacrifice to cover our sin.|
|Phil 2:5-11||Jesus’ love for God was shown by his submission to his Father’s will, his willing surrender of his life for us.|
|In the same way, our love for Jesus is expressed by our obedience to his commands and the surrender of ourselves to the needs of others.|
|1 Cor 13:4-7
|True Christian love is not self-centred, demanding or manipulative.|
|Rom 8:35-39||God’s love will triumph over our weakness.|
A Time to Throw Away
So many things that once seemed valuable are later found to be worthless –
things that we struggled for, planned for, saved for, are one day thrown away as rubbish.
True wealth, says Jesus, is not material things, but the riches of a good character.
They are not in a safe, or a bank, but stored with God, where they will never
tarnish, never devalue, never be thrown away.
Thus Paul wrote:
“Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily
entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” Hebrews 12v1
“…I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ…” Philippians 3v8
Notes for “a time to throw away”
|Life is precious – time is short.|
1 Tim 6:6-10
|We need to define what in our life is worthwhile and what is worthless, which goals are worth pursuing and which are not, otherwise our time and efforts will be wasted.|
|Material things are a gift from God. They are only of real value when dedicated to God’s service.|
|Matt 6:24||We cannot pursue material gain and the service of God – the two goals are incompatible.|
|Wealth is more likely to be a distraction and impediment to our spiritual life than a help. We need to clear our lives of unnecessary distractions in order to truly serve God.|
|Eccl 5:10-17||A life that is entirely focussed on material things brings no real happiness, satisfaction or security.|
A Time to Speak
The technology of communication is amazing – but the gift of speech is miraculous and unique, evidence of the image of God in which we were created.
God speaks to us through his Word, with clarity, purity and absolute truth.
As his children, we should learn to speak as he does, honestly, without profanity… and when our Father speaks to us, surely we listen. Peter, quoting the Psalms said:
“whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue
from evil and his lips from deceitful speech” 1Peter 3v10
and Paul wrote:
“let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt” Colossians 4v6
Notes for “a time to speak”
|Words, written and spoken, are the way we communicate with each other, and the way God communicates with us.|
|2 Tim 3:15-16
2 Pet 1:19-20
|The Bible claims to be God’s Word of Truth, the record of his dealings with humanity throughout history. That claim is too important to be ignored – we must test it for ourselves.|
2 Pet 3:5-7
|By God’s Word the Universe was created – he spoke, and it was done. By his command, the earth will be cleansed in the future.|
|Jesus is God’s Word in human form -God’s ultimate message to us. He has not only told us, but shown us what God is like, and therefore what we should be like.|
|2 Tim 4:2-5
|Our Creator has given us voices to use in his work, to spread his words, to bring hope to those in trouble, to praise him and pray to him.|
|When we speak, it should be as God’s children – with clarity, honesty and without profanity.|
A Time to Die
As the glow of autumn fades into the long sleep of winter, there is real hope for the future
The certainty for all those who follow Jesus is that, like him they will rise again –
restored to life by Jesus at his return and liberated from sin, they will live eternally in a new world of beauty and peace, the Kingdom of God. God promised through the prophet Hosea:
“I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from
death” Hosea 13v14
Though grieving at the death of her brother Lazarus, Martha full of faith answered Jesus:
“I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day” John 11v24
Notes for “a time to die”
|Death is the result of sin, a punishment from God for man’s disobedience.|
|1 Pet 1:18-19,
|Everybody sins, and so everybody dies. There is one exception – Jesus did not sin, and so escaped from death to become our saviour.|
|Romans 6:23||Eternal life will be God’s gift to those who seek righteousness.|
|1 Thess 4:16
1 Cor 15:1-28
|The original Christian hope of life after death is through the resurrection of the body to eternal life. This was the conviction of the faithful of the Old Testament (Job, Abraham, David, Daniel) as well as those of the New (Martha, Paul, Peter).|
|The idea of an inherently immortal soul that survives death is not based on scripture, but on pagan philosophy.|
|1 Tim 6:16||Only God is intrinsically immortal.|
|Baptism is a symbolic burial and resurrection. It joins us to Jesus as his brothers and sisters, and links us to all God’s great promises for the future.|
A Time for Peace
So longed for, so elusive… Peace among nations, peace at home inner peace – everywhere we need God’s help to create the right conditions for peace to flourish.
The promise of Jesus’ birth – ‘on earth peace’ – will soon become a reality on a world-wide scale.
Having confidence in the future will also bring us peace now in a troubled and restless age.
“I will extend peace to her like a river…” Isaiah 66v12
“He will be called…Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end” Isaiah 9v7
“Great peace have they who love your law” Psalm 119v165
Notes for “a time for peace”
|Love for God brings real peace of mind into our lives, no matter how difficult our circumstances.|
|Rom 5:1||Jesus as our mediator has reconciled us to God, and given us peace with him.|
|Isa 57:20-21||A world that, in God’s eyes, lies in wickedness, can never experience real peace. But God has promised a great change to come.|
|All God’s promises to his people anticipate a time of perfect peace in the future, when the earth will be full of God’s glory.|
|These promises will be realised when Jesus returns as the King of God’s Kingdom on earth, and all nations submit to his righteous rule.|
|The whole of Creation will share in this peace and harmony, which was intended by God in the beginning, but disrupted by Adam’s sin.|
|To prepare ourselves for a place in that future, we must promote peace now.|
“Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter; Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” Ecclesiastes 12v13
2000 years ago, Christians were a small minority sect ‘everywhere spoken
against’ (Acts 28:24).
Today, Christianity has won respectability, but at a heavy price. The vitality and many of the essential fundamental beliefs have been lost. There is a “time for everything” and now is the time to turn to the Bible and learn its message for yourself.
B.C. 900 – the book of Ecclesiastes is written by Solomon who inspired by God writes down these words of wisdom.
For anybody trying to make sense of life today, Solomon’s words are still as relevant as when they were first written!