NORTHWEST FILIPINO BAPTIST CHURCH

Sermon

 

 

 

THE SEASONS OF OUR CHURCH LIFE

A message delivered by Rev. Godfrey A. Catanus on September 22, 2002 at the worship service of the Northwest Filipino Baptist Church.

There is a time for everything, and a season for everything 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 gather them,
  • a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
  • a time to search 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 3:1-8

The title of our message this morning is : " The Seasons of Our Church Life".

I thought it is relevant to speak about "seasons" because tomorrow, September 23, will be the first day of Autumn. It is my prayer to challenge our hearts that as the season moves and changes, that we become serious about our Christian life, and that as a church, we will understand the purpose why we are here, and why we do the things that we do.

OUR LIVES FOLLOW A FIXED PATTERN

Like the seasons of the year, our lives and our church life go on a motion of change that follows a fixed pattern. Like for instance, as our text this morning reminds us, there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven: For example, there is a time to be born, and a time to die.

SEASONS ARE FIXED BY GOD

We know that the seasons are fixed by God. We know that the patterns are fixed because of His purposes. Add to this, notice, that the pattern is irreversible. You don’t die unless you were born first. All of this come because everything in this world are ordered by God. This order in creation suggests the existence and reality of God. It is but foolishness and intellectual arrogance to deny this.

Now, there are four seasons in our year, namely summer, winter, autumn, and spring. I know that we can find corresponding applications from these in the Scriptures. However, this is not my intention this morning, Rather, I wish to share with you the seasons or times for us as a CHURCH. These are seasons of activities.

All of our activities fall within a fixed time. All of us have twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, 12 months in a year. With this in mind, it is therefore important that our activities must be planned so that we do the most important things in their order of priority.

Let me suggest four seasons or activities that are important in our life, and in the life of our church.

I. WE HAVE THE TIME TO WAIT. By this, I mean, A TIME TO PRAY.

I wait for you, O Lord; you will answer; O Lord my God. – Psalm 38:15.

I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. – Psalm 40:1.

But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me. - Micah 7:7

Because we are already at the last quarter of this year, we know that we have so much to catch up with. Some are our personal plans. Some are also the plans of the church: We need to catch up in our evangelism, discipleship, building maintenance, and many more. Yes, we need to be moving and doing. But important as these things are, we need to pause for a moment – we really need to PRAY.

DEFINITION OF PRAYER

The Westminster Cathechism defines PRAYER as " the offering up of our desires unto God for things agreeable to His Will in the name of Christ with confession of our sins and thankful acknowledgment of His Mercy."

Prayer is important in our lives and in the life of the church because:

1. This was what the disciples asked Jesus. They said, " Lord, teach us to pray."

(Luke 11:1). Notice that they did not ask, " teach us to sing, to preach, nor teach us theology", but they asked, " teach us to pray". Notice further, they did not even ask, " teach us HOW to pray", but "teach us to pray" – meaning, don’t just teach us the principles of prayer, but the PRACTICE of prayer!

2. Why did they ask Jesus this kind of question? I dare say, because they have
observed the importance of prayer in the life of Jesus.
He prayed all night before choosing the disciples - Luke 6:12-13.
He prayed earnestly in Gethsemane before the cross– Luke 22: 39-46
The Power of Jesus’ ministry was because of the power of his prayers’…
Unfortunately today, we don’t regard prayer as that important. You know what?
Prayerlessness is Sin – 1 Samuel 19:23
Some don’t pray – James 4:2
Many don’t know how to pray right – they pray wrongly – v. 3
 
Some pray, but their prayers will not be heard-
" If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened"
Psalm 66:18

" Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear." Isaiah 59:1-2

Oh, it is time and season to pray!

A.C. Dixon, says, " When we rely on organizations, we get what organizations can do; when we rely on education, we get what education can do; when we rely on eloquence, we get what eloquence can do, but when we rely on God, we get what God can do.

II. WE HAVE THE TIME TO WATCH – By this I mean it is always TIME TO WATCH HOW WE LIVE.

"The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins." 1 Pet. 4:7-8.

The apostle Peter is simply saying in these verses that these are the last times. Therefore, we need to live responsibly by practicing self-control and by being active in prayer. In these exhortations, Peter emphasized the PRIMACY OF LOVE in our relationships. Again, he said, ABOVE ALL – LOVE!

In these last days, we need to WATCH OUT HOW WE LIVE, BY NOT FAILING TO LOVE. You see, love is not an emotion. It is an ACT – AN ACT OF THE WILL. IT IS A DECISION THAT WE NEED TO MAKE.

Notice also what love can do. It covers the multitude of sins. This is a quote from Proverbs 10:12. This does not mean that we condone the wrong or the sins and try to cover them up. No! Instead, to cover the sin simply means NOT TO BROADCAST IT to the embarrassment and the destruction of one’s character or person. Love therefore is concerned about the PERSON and how he can be redeemed or restored.

Notice further in v.11. Peter says that Love should be also expressed by way of HOSPITALITY. That is, by the way we take care of strangers. Also, love should be expressed by the WAY WE TALK. WE should be speaking as though God Himself is speaking. And lastly, love must be manifested by OUR SERVICE. In all of these activities GOD MUST BE GLORIFIED.

III. WE HAVE THE TIME TO WEEP. By this I mean, a season of compassion for the lost. This is True evangelism.

"Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him. Psalm 126: 5-6

Again, notice the fixed order: You sow – you reap. You sow in tears – you reap songs of joy. The logic is obvious: If we don’t sow in tears – we do not reap joy!

WE surely want to reap joy, the joy of salvation of our families. We want our spouses to be saved, WE want our children to be saved. WE want our brothers and sisters to be saved. We want our friends and fellow workers to be saved. Oh what a joy when these things are fulfilled. But notice the requirements, WE NEED TO SOW IN TEARS.

When was the last time we sowed tears for the salvation of our loved ones? May I suggest, now is the time or season to WEEP so that in due time, we shall reap songs of joy!

IV. LASTLY, WE HAVE A TIME TO WORK. By this I mean, a time to serve God.

" As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work." John 9:4.

Brothers and sisters, I believe that our church does the work of God. The work of God is everything that we do to advance the kingdom and the glory of our God. Nothing is small if we do them for the Lord with a right motive.

Notice also that we need to do the work of God while it is day. While we still have the strength, while we are young, and while we still have the opportunity,

Jesus said, the night will come and we no longer can work. It can refer to the night of death- when we lose all the opportunity to serve God. And death may come at any moment. It can also refer to the night of the COMING OF THE LORD. When He comes, at the rapture, then all earthly opportunities will be gone. We who have believed in Christ will be taken up – and we will face Christ to make an accounting of what we have done for him.

So, we have the seasons of ACTIVITIES FOR OUR CHURCH, AND IN OUR PERSONAL LIVES. They are the seasons of PRAYER, OF LOVE, OF COMPASSION FOR THE LOST, AND FOR SERVICE FOR THE GLORY OF GOD.

By the way, they are always in season.

But let me conclude by saying that there is a time which is very important It is a TIME TO BE SAVED. The Bible says it is NOW.

" In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you. I tell you, NOW IS THE TIME OF GOD’S FAVOR. NOW IS THE DAY OF SALVATION." 2 Corinthians 6:2

If you have not yet accepted Jesus Christ as your personal savior, go to Him now.

Repent of your sins by saying to him, " I am sorry for the sins that I have committed, please forgive me. THANK YOU FOR DYING ON THE CROSS FOR MY SINS, AND I NOW TOTALLY DEPEND AND TRUST IN YOU AS MY ONLY SAVIOR AND LORD.

If you make this prayer in your heart, please write us. WE would be glad to know you and help you grow in your faith in Jesus Christ.