Preaching the Gospel, Preparing a People

The Four Seasons of a Christian

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The Four Seasons of a Christian

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The Four Seasons of a Christian

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Each of the seasons of our spiritual life has a purpose and promise of possibilities while preparing us for what lies ahead. ……spring, summer, fall, and winter. While no two of us are exactly the same, there are similarities of growth and potential in each of us that we can share and learn from.

Sermon Notes

In the mid-eighties I moved from western Washington to southern California and for the next 10 years called it home.   The weather and scenery was vastly different from where I grew up and we would joke about how there were two seasons – Sunny and winter.

When I moved to Bend I was overjoyed to get three seasons, sunny while Hot, sunny while cold, and wet.  Amanda says that do have 4 seasons - almost winter, winter, still winter, construction season.

The seasons are supposed to represents 4 times of the year where life begins in the spring and ends in the winter.  This is the way the God created this earth and we often find patterns in nature that teach us about life.  Using that metaphor I would like to compare these 4 seasons to the life of a Christian.

The title of the sermon is:

THE FOUR SEASONS OF A CHRISTIAN

Each of the seasons of our spiritual life has a purpose and promise of possibilities while preparing us for what lies ahead.

……spring, summer, fall, and winter.

While no two of us are exactly the same, there are similarities of growth and potential in each of us that we can share and learn from.

I am a second generation Christian as my parents came into the church when I was just a kid.  Some of you came into the church as adults and some hear are third generation or more.  First generation Christians I have talked to usually have this Old-life/New-life story about coming into the Church.  God called them and let them know that everything they thought they understood about religion and the fate and future of the world was wrong.  They made a hard turn in their lives from where they were going to a new course following God.  The contrasts between their old life and new are stark and clearly defined.

For second generation Christians, You may have a sense of life before the church as well.  I have memories of keeping Christmas and Halloween.  Of being a part of the world and then coming into the truth and seeing that contrast but this would be with much younger eyes.  This was my perspective so I can relate in some ways to first generation people.

Some 2nd generation Christians were raised completely in the church and in this way they are similar to those of third and fourth generation.  This life is all they knew.  For them, there was no life before this for them to compare to.  It is these people that I have talked to that often have said that they didn’t have this big Aha moment.  I have heard many say they never felt that first love experience in the church.  But you don’t have to go to prison to know you don’t want that life.  You don’t have to take drugs to know that is no kind of life.  Hopefully you can learn without doing.

But regardless of how you came into the church, the one thing we all have in common is that we are spending the rest of our lives until Christ returns going through the seasons of Christian life. 

The first season of life for a Christian is:

Spring…New Life, New possibilities

As new life is born or blooms in the spring, so too the beginning of our lives as disciples of Christ is marked by new life.

2 Corinthians 5:17 2 Corinthians 5:17Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
American King James Version×
  17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 

Paul founded the Church and Corinth and then Ephesus immediately after so the words here in 2 Corinthians 5 go nicely with those he wrote to the church of Ephesus in Ephesians 4:17-19 Ephesians 4:17-19 17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you from now on walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, 18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: 19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over to lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
American King James Version×
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Ephesians 4:17-19 Ephesians 4:17-19 17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you from now on walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, 18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: 19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over to lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
American King James Version×
  17 This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind,  18 having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart;  19 who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.

The apostle John certainly understood this when he wrote many years later in 1John 1:7 John 1:7The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.
American King James Version×

1 John 1:7 1 John 1:7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleans us from all sin.
American King James Version×
  7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

It is a different way of life as Paul told the Romans in Chapter 8 verse 1.

Romans 8:1 Romans 8:1There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
American King James Version×
 NKJ There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

This is that time first Generations call first love.  You can’t get enough of studying and learning about God’s way of life.  It is so exciting to see truth in a sea of lies.

If you are not a First generation Christian then you may feel like you missed out on this part.  You always knew this way of life and it is the other way, the worldly ways that have some mystery in your minds.  This is why some have left the church over the years because they did not have the contrast that first gens have.

The life offered in the springtime of a Christian is unlike any life experienced in this world.  The Holy Spirit unlocks the mysteries of the universe and allows us to see the Word of God for what it really says.

Even though life as a disciple of Christ may bring hardships, the promise of the Kingdom will always be more than enough for me in this life. 

God calls people who can capture the vision of the Kingdom, just like the patriarchs, and hold onto that until Jesus Christ returns to bring that reality here.  The spring of our conversion is an exciting time, but it is only the beginning of our life as a Christian.

Summer… Make Hay while the sun shines (Be about our Father’s Business)

After we go through that exciting time of spring we come to summer.  This is where the real work of the church gets done.  We put the study and training to good use.  God has put a significant investment in us and He expects us to bear fruit.  In John 4:  we are reminded that Jesus came not just to pay the penalty of our sins, but to work.

John 4:34-36 John 4:34-36 34 Jesus said to them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. 35 Say not you, There are yet four months, and then comes harvest? behold, I say to you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. 36 And he that reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit to life eternal: that both he that sows and he that reaps may rejoice together.
American King James Version×
 34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.  35 “Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!  36 “And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together.

So this is the time to mature and ready ourselves for the harvest to come.  The Best way to do this is through our example as we see in Matthew 5:16 Matthew 5:16Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
American King James Version×

Matthew 5:16 Matthew 5:16Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
American King James Version×
  16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

We can never go wrong when we set a proper example.  If we spend these early profitable years serving one another you also can’t go wrong.  Get involved and see what needs doing.  This could be sharing your faith, but it could mean helping people however you are able.

One of the things that Millennials say when asked about the church is they want to be a part of the solution and not just talk about how bad it is.  How are we going to fix it?  Good Question…

Serving is a great start.  Jesus took great care in the way that he served his disciples on Passover.  He looked forward to this opportunity to serve fellow laborers in the faith.  Part of that work is growing ourselves so that we can be more of a help to the work.  What does Jesus Christ have in store for each of us and what are we doing in the summer of our lives to prepare for that calling….

It means doing a work and living a life worthy of the calling we have been called to live.

Fall …Shedding our leaves (Removing those things that won’t stand the winter)

Losing ones leaves are like letting go pride, and selfishness.  Losing the dying leaves and even branches that are not useful.  

When my parents went to the feast in the North east years ago they marveled at how well the 200 year old houses and farms that people still live in were so well preserved.  This took a lot of effort. 

When we went back east a few years ago and visited the Nation’s Capital we saw how they erected massive scaffolding around the capitol dome to fix centuries of problems.  If these problems weren’t addressed then that dome would not stand the test of time. 

When we are young we have our whole life ahead of us.  We tackle many challenges but often some flaws are left alone.  Too big to tackle right now.  We grow up with character flaws that work and family get in the way of fixing.  These flaws sometimes go unnoticed by us but not to other and certainly not to God.  Usually we don’t like to talk about our character flaws because the topic makes us self-conscience or makes us feel bad about ourselves.  But if we are going to accept eternity, we cannot hold onto those things that will ultimately bring us down if left unchecked.

The Apostle John, went through this type of pruning as he aged.  Remember as a young man, he and his brother had quite a reputation.  Turn over to Mark 3.

Mark 3:14-17 Mark 3:14-17 14 And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, 15 And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils: 16 And Simon he surnamed Peter; 17 And James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and he surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder:
American King James Version×
  14 Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach,  15 and to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons:  16 Simon, to whom He gave the name Peter;  17 James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James, to whom He gave the name (BOWEN-ERGEES) Boanerges, that is, “Sons of Thunder”;

The dictionary gives the Definition of this word Boanerges as a Fiery Preacher but the word origin from the Hebrew is “Sons of Thunder”

Luke 9:54-56 Luke 9:54-56 54 And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, will you that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? 55 But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, You know not what manner of spirit you are of. 56 For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.
American King James Version×
  54 And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?”  55 But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of.  56 “For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.”

The disciples each went through many hardships and even martyrdom but John matured over his life until ultimately he outgrew that nickname.  John was now the apostle of Love.  This is done when maturity readies us to remove the dead and dying part of our character to make room for new life and growth.  John did this.

As we have grown we have built both good traits and bad.  Good habits and bad.  We have filled ourselves with knowledge both good and bad.  Now, as we approach the winter of our lives, it is time to prune those things that will inhibit good growth.  To get rid of those things that will prevent us from baring good fruit.  Pruning is not easy.  Pruning is not fun.  But we must at this point in our Christian life be willing to allow God to show us what must go from our lives.  Now most pruning does not happen in the fall but after winter.  In winter nothing grows but simply waits for spring.

But a Christian in winter is not dormant so some pruning is in order if we are to reach full maturity.  That brings us to winter.  Not a time for dormancy but for vital participation with the flock.

Winter… Where Wisdom Reigns.

Like the trees in winter, without its foliage, age brings less hair on top and sometime none at all.  What’s there is gray but that’s not what matters.  A Christian’s life is never dormant, and this time especially. Does a Christian ever retire?  No.

True, we may slow down, yet we do not quit living the life of a Christian.  But it is a time where what we say is far more valuable than what we do. When someone of wisdom speaks, then we are foolish not to listen.  In wisdom there is life.

I recently watched an old western called the Tin Star.  It was about a very young sheriff who’s life is saved by a retired one.  The job, the young man is told, is not just about learning the skills, its about learning people and how to serve them.  Showing them confidence so they can trust you and back you up when you need them.  It was a terrific lesson on this season of life.  This is the final season of a Christian where you are pillars that hold the congregation together in good times and bad.  Wisdom needs to be shared.  When you pass a baton you don’t simply give a job to someone else, you mentor them. 

Think of the Abraham, Moses, David, or the Apostles.  Did any of them retire..  Were they more useful to God as they got older?

When we reach maturity it is time to share that with others.  Be that rock in the storm. Turn to Ephesians 4:

Ephesians 4:11-15 Ephesians 4:11-15 11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: 14 That we from now on be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
American King James Version×
  11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,  12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,  13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;  14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,  15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head – Christ –

We are all at different seasons in life.  I hope we can learn to appreciate one another no matter what the season.  We can share in the enthusiasm of those in spring and give them the benefit of our experience as they learn.  We can pass the baton to those in summer and mentor them so they can grow.  We can embrace the fall when we must lose the pride and embrace what is really important.  And we can learn from those in winter and glean from their wisdom.  No matter what the season, we can all dwell in harmony as we all look forward to the Kingdom ahead.