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In His Time


In His Time (1/20/19) Ecclesiastes 3:1-11  Galatians 4:4-6

A long time ago... in a galaxy far... far away... when I was a teenager (at least that’s how my children see it)... we had a youth choir that always sang on Sunday nights (during the evening worship service). And one of the songs we learned, and sang, was “In His Time.” I still catch myself singing the words from time-to-time...

“In his time, in his time... He makes all things beautiful, in his time. Lord please show me everyday, as you’re teaching me your way, that you do just what you say. In your time.” 

Our scripture from Ecclesiastes always reminds me of this song!  The writer of Ecclesiastes (who is sometimes called the Teacher or the Preacher) says the same thing... “for everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven... a time to be born, and a time to die... He has made everything beautiful, in its time.”

Of course, between those seasons... those moments... those times... there’s: 

Sorrow and joy... 

Victory and defeat...

We do our worst, and we do our best...

We build a good world, and we tear it apart... 

We love one another... and we’re careless with one another... 

We’re faithless more often than we’d like... and we’re faithful when it matters most...

“There is a time for everything...”

Wise is the person who knows what time it is... and great is the person who understands the seasons of life...

Wise are the ones who know when to praise the LORD and great are those who know when to fall on their knees in repentance...

Great is the man who sings the glories of God and wise is person weeps the tears of a sinner... 

“A time to weep, and a time to laugh;       a time to mourn, and a time to dance;”

Christians who honestly, truthfully strive to follow Christ - wrestle with both realities. To be both happy in the Lord, AND to grieve for the world.

Of course, we can’t help being happy in the Lord when we consider all the great things He has done!  God has blessed us with “grace upon grace.”  For great is the name of the LORD & He’s worthy to be praised!  Worship the LORD with gladness; come before his presence with singing!  All glory, laud, and honor, to Thee Redeemer King!   

And at the same time we weep... for the condition of the world around us... the apathy and cruelty all around us causes us to grieve for the world.  The true and honest Christian notices the heartache and tears of those around us. 

A Christian who is “happy” all the time is no Christian at all, but only a clown!  A preacher who preaches only joy is no preacher at all... but only an entertainer, a showman.  Yet... 

A gospel full of sorrow is no gospel at all... because there’s hope in God... there’s joy in Christ.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is both joy and sorrow! 

There’s joy in the LORD... there’s happiness in Christ, because we walk in his footsteps and carry his message of hope and redemption... having been redeemed and having experienced his mercies that are new every morning!  Of course, there’s great sorrow, too, as we bear the cross of Christ... and grieve with him as we face the realities of a sinful, broken world. 

“There is a time for everything...” 

Paul the Apostle understood times... the seasons of life.  In his former life - when he was known as Saul - when he thought he knew everything... a time when he looked down on everyone else... a time of rigidity and pride... who’s in and who’s out... who’s right and who’s wrong...

And then... Paul’s “season” after Christ!  That of an Apostle, late called, so to speak... as he met Jesus, not in the flesh, like the other Apostles did, but in the Spirit, on the road to Damascus, when his world came crashing down... and the times of his life were reset.

Paul knew the time... the season... it was a time of grace.

“In the fullness of time”, Paul wrote...

“When the time was just right... (the porridge neither too hot, nor too cold, but just right)... “God sent Christ to redeem those under the Law...”

And who could’ve known such things? 

But God’s time is God’s time... and when the time was right, God sent his son... not with splendor and glory, but with humility and commonness... born of a women, just like the rest of us... and under the law... the laws of religion and the laws of the state; physical laws of gravity and matter and time.

The laws are good, but they’re not good enough... because those who live by the law, and only by the law, never find the truth of life. It’s why Jesus so often confronted the Pharisees, the Lawyers of his day, saying, they “knew the letter of the law, but the spirit of the law was more important.”  Living by the letter of the law, living only by dos and don’ts, leads to a narrow and unhappy life.

Again: Laws are good, but not good enough... So Jesus came... born under the law... to redeem us from the law, that we might know the spirit of the law, which is love... grace... mercy... 

Of course, to learn the great truth of all law... the ultimate meaning of all things... the final purpose... to love one another as Jesus loves us... to love as God loves... to love our sisters and our brothers - for those who claim to love God, but cannot, or will not, love another, live in death, because they “know not God!” for God is love. 

So... What time is it?

Time for all kinds of things... sad and terrible things... happy and good things...

For us this morning, it’s time to lift our sights on high... it’s time to focus on Christ... to study his word and to ponder his life... to walk as disciples... 

It’s time to serve the Lord with gladness and joy and thankfulness... and it’s time to tremble before the cross... to weep with him... for a lost and broken world. 

Like John the Baptist (John 3:30), as he put it, “Christ must increase, I must decrease.” Christ must grow larger in our lives, as we grow a little smaller, for no one is quite so silly as a man who thinks he’s the measure of all things... and no one is greater than the one who’s made plenty of room for the One who loved us first, and loves us most. 

Amen!


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