You are probably familiar with Solomon’s “times” in Ecclesiastes 3: a time to be born, a time to die, a time to plant, a time to pluck up what is planted… There are also “times” for the church today: a time to worship, a time to testify, a time to evangelize, a time to gather, a time to stay the course, a time to change, a time to pray… and a time to get serious. Listen to Pastor Dennis’ sermon this week to understand the times for God’s church today.
Full sermons notes are available below.
What Time is It?
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die;
It’s strange to say that there is a time to die and that we know about it. But when you attend a funeral, that verse makes sense. We all have an appointed time and death is a part of life.
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
We don’t go plant a garden in August; if we did it would be a waste of time. Planting is done early in the spring and harvest in the fall. We have to know what time it is so we know what we’re supposed to be doing in that season of our lives.
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
There is a time to defend your family against threats and there is a time to help the wounded. There are people in the world who do not understand the appropriate time and they are out in the world now, killing others because they do not understand the difference.
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
We are intimately familiar with this because we are in a period of growth right now. We are building a new church building, but we must tear down the old before we can build up the new.
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
Laughter is good, but there is a time appropriate for weeping. When someone pours their heart out to you, weeping, weep with them. That would not be an appropriate time to laugh.
a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A word spoken in the right time and manner is more valuable than gold.
a time to love, and a time to hate;
We never hate people, but we may hate their evil actions.
a time for war, and a time for peace.”
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 ESV
There is a time to every purpose under Heaven, but how will we know what time it is?
The Times of the Church Today
There is a time for worship. We had a time in our church service for worship - this should not take place in our lives only in a song service at church, though. God has done so much and we need to thank Him for those things. Sometimes worship isn’t even a spoken word, it’s just an outpouring of our hearts. Worship tenderizes our heart and prepares it for the seed of the word of God. When we worship God, we take ourselves out of the center of our lives and put God in that honored position, upon the throne of our heart. That said, worship alone won’t get you anywhere - there must be a presentation of the Word. And the delivery of the Word, the manner of its delivery - is unimportant. A preacher is like a hypodermic needle - it’s the antibiotic inside it that really does the work and the needle is just there to get it where it needs to go.
There is a time for the church to testify. We can have a testimony service at church, but where the testimony is most needed is out in the world. Telling people about your redemption and that they can find that redemption themselves and have a change of heart is what our lives is all about. We don’t need to have a doctorate in theology to tell people about the word - we can just tell them about what God has done for us, in our lives. There’s something in your heart that will want to tell somebody else what Jesus has done for you - the Holy Spirit moving you to share and get it out. We carry around
There is a time to evangelize - a time to shift the focus from what happens inside the church to those outside. An evangelist isn’t just someone who goes from church to church preaching, it’s someone who shares faith with the world. The gospel is not about what we do here in church, it’s about what we do out in the world. There are a lot of people within our circle, in our little towns, who really don’t know about Jesus Christ. They might have heard of Him, but do they really know Him? We don’t have to be called to Africa to get the word to people who don’t know it - there are some right in our own back yards. The last word that Jesus gave to His followers was the Great Commission - go forth and spread the good news!
There is a time to gather - we collect money in tithing, we collect to get funds directed to people who cannot meet their own needs. We are called to the aid of widows and orphans. And we can gather our time, as well as our money and give of that precious resource, too.
There is a time to stay the course and a time to change. Moral standards and the principles of the Word will never change. In a world where the fine line between right and wrong is always shifting and grey and smeared, the Bible stands firm. The Bible warned that a day would come when good is called evil and evil is called good. We have to stay the course in these situations - if we know what the course is! Lust, greed, sex outside of marriage - these are all sins and always have been. But, it’s also true that grace hasn’t changed, bringing forgiveness from those sins. People cannot be healed of their sin unless they have been diagnosed, so they know they have it and the need to get it taken care of. We’re not there to beat people up about sin, we are there to help them find relief from it. We have to stay the course to the calling of the church - to go out and bring the Gospel to the world. Our mission hasn’t changed since Jesus ascended into heaven - not to spread a denomination, but to simply proclaim the name of Jesus. There is a time to change, too, though. God will change our hearts and then our habits will change - habits can be really tough to change and we often find we can’t do that on our own. But David asked God to create in him a clean heart - this is something God can do for us and then the habits will change. Sometimes we need to change our minds. We can change our minds without changing our morals… we get in the habit of seeing things only one way. Churches die every day and close their doors, often because they can’t find a way to change. They stick to their guns and then shoot themselves in the foot. Nostalgia can be the destruction of the church. The Gospel is so relevant and God has said He will do a new thing in the earth!
There is a time to pray. Preaching, teaching, worship without prayer is worthless. There is a time to work with our hands, but there is also a time to work on our knees, seeking after God. A phrase says, “Busy hands are no substitute for a bended knee.” Our busy work is just busy work if not led by God. There is a time to pray for your own needs and there is a time to put your needs aside and pray for another person. Sometimes, when you put yourself aside and pray for another, you’ll find God has taken care of your needs as well. There is a time to pray for healing in our bodies, a time to pray for our psychological needs - bondages that we get stuck in can be relieved, too.
For the believer, there is a time to get serious.
“Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”
Romans 13:11-14 ESV
We can’t afford to be asleep at the wheel. We can’t run on autopilot in our Christian lives. We have been given a light from the Father and we are called to let it shine among men.
For the unbeliever, there is a time to get saved.
“For he says, "In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you." Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”
2 Corinthians 6:2 ESV
What are you waiting for? To get your life sorted out and get in a good place? Good news: you don’t have to do that! God can fix those things after you come to Him.