DELIBERATELY PURSUING GOD
DISCERNING THE SEASONS
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
Every minister in time will learn painfully through experience when to speak, what to say and when being quiet is golden. Whether behind the pulpit, at someone’s house, in a counseling session or in a funeral home there are times we must discern what the Lord wants to say and when to keep our fleshly thoughts from babbling. We can rest assured that when it is time to speak, God’s wisdom will always know how to communicate because He is perfect in word, thought and deed. In His infinite ability to know everything all at once, He perceives when hearts are open to accepting His words and the power of silence. He is not always just trying to comfort and bring peace but seeks the divine appointment to bring conviction by provoking and challenging that can bring real change. The Lord is always aware of the opportunity and trying to get someone’s attention whether with the one doing the sowing or the field that is being prepared to be sown. When God’s timing is right the simplest words can penetrate through the darkest conscience and the Holy Spirit can transform a life forever. But when we are out of God’s timing our words of human emotion fall like an irritating screeching noise that actually repel the listener and can do more negative damage than good. What does this have to do with worship? Any pastor or leader involved with ministry must recognize the “green light” to proceed and the “season” of their own anointing to connect and effectively relay God’s message with that perfect word in that perfect moment. What do I mean by season?
Well, in Psalm chapter one, verse three we notice the writer using the analogy of a person being like a tree. “And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water (always spiritually nourished), that brings forth his fruit in his season; (has wisdom and discernment to operate in God’s timing) his leaf also will not wither; (he will stay enthused, joyful, strong and encouraged) and whatsoever they do will prosper” (success, integrity, respect and blessings). Picking ripe fruit has everything to do with timing so this insight has to do with making the right decisions at the right place at the right time. And all of this of course is directly connected to being led by the Holy Spirit. Sermons and songs are like medicine but if problems are like illnesses then how important is it to match up the right prescription with the right sickness? Learning to know God’s still small voice is like understanding Him diagnosing the people before and during the service. God is the great physician that knows what is wrong and prescribes the treatment while His servants administer the medication through the direction of the Holy Spirit. When the anointing flows God can touch the heart but without it – there are struggles. When there is an absence of sensitivity in the connection between the message and the messenger it is like two ships passing in the night. It is like a traveler without a GPS system who accidentally takes a detour and the congregation find themselves traveling down a road that might be scenic but does not take them where they need to go. “A man has joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!” (Proverbs 15:23)
It is a fact; we are not always on top of our game. Have you ever had times when you just felt out of sync and could not sense the anointing? These are times we need to realize that we are not to proceed with our agenda but be sensitive to what God may be trying to show us. Maybe in these cycles God is reminding us that He can use whoever He wants. And as a divine appointment we can allow someone else to minister that is in the season of their anointing. Knowing when to step aside is just as important as knowing when to step forward. For example worship leaders need to train others to lead and be sensitive to whom the hand of God is upon for that hour. The same is true with pastors that may feel they need to force and plow through a service but can just as easily call on another that God has given the Rhema word for that day. I would rather listen to a short message from God than a long lecture from a man that is operating from obligation. I Corinthians 14:26 say’s, “How is it then, brethren? When you come together, every one of you has a psalm, has a doctrine, has a tongue, has a revelation, and has an interpretation, let all things be done unto edifying” Verse 31, “For you may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.”
Seasons are not to be confused with our intelligence or talent to communicate. Our feelings are very misleading because they sometimes seem like a “hunch” or a guess about what God is doing or wants us to do. Spiritual timing is “knowing” God’s voice and not being afraid to act on it. The religious church service has a tendency to organize God completely out of the picture which in turn actually leaves very little need for spiritual discernment. In fact many leaders do not even think about leaving anything to a spontaneous “risk of the unknown” because it is more secure to plan ahead what they are going to do. The Lord has no desire to move in a service where someone else has already mapped everything out to coordinate with their program. We do not need a Bible Scholar to figure out this type of presentation makes it “their” service instead of His. For example even though we are to be filled with joy and excitement it does not necessarily mean that we should dance, run, shout and do cartwheels every time we come together. Many churches have gone to the extreme in both directions without finding the perfect balance of listening to God’s seasons. Incorporating a traditional format of doing anything exactly the same every time for the sake of emotional comfort can become a religious ritual whether it be a quiet Baptist or a shouting Pentecostal. God commands us to; “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine.” II Timothy 4:2 In other words never bypass an opportunity to speak truth whether it “feels” right or not. Just because people seem happy and are dancing, do not allow that to persuade you from bringing an urgent word of seriousness. Speak from God’s season not the way things appear.
There are also seasons of sorrow and that is ok. Jesus was a man of sorrows not just because He was born to be brutally murdered but because He could feel the weight of sin in the hearts of all mankind. We too can go from the joys of freedom and hope to the sadness from the burdens for the lost. This world is covered in thick darkness and there is much to be concerned about because people are dying and eternally perishing so there are times to weep and pray. Jesus is still feeling sorrow for this world and His thoughts and burdens are relayed through our spirit. There are seasons in the sensitive churches for fasting and interceding. It is time that churches come out of the “automatic pilot mode” and get into the real time awareness and sensitivity of God’s will. Church is not a planned performance like a Broadway show but an invitation from the Holy Ghost to reveal God’s mind for the hour. Until the people cry out for the revelation to know what God’s Spirit has to say to His churches they will continue in the deadness of a mundane ritual. Church should be the place to witness a spontaneous celebration of miracles and manifestations not a boring lecture. Those who only want to stick their toes in the water will carry on with mans definition of “normal” church but the ones who want more will abandon the “rock a bye baby” atmosphere and find refreshing rivers of living water.
Do you think missing the seasons has anything to do with our services being flat? Maybe people were standing at the gate and were having a difficult time proceeding into the court because they had not dealt with some walls that needed tearing down. Sometimes it is necessary to examine our heart and repent before we proceed into God’s presence because the spirit of heaviness is weighing us down and stealing our joy. There have been times I have come in with a prepared heart and ready to explode with full blown praise but felt the Holy Spirit holding me back. I eventually came to realize that I was trying to put the cart before the horse so to speak. A bound person cannot run and a shackled heart cannot lift their hands in praise. They must be set free “first” before they crawl into Fathers lap. Instead of waiting until the end of the service for an alter time to deal with the issues I believe many times we should make a way for the people to be cleansed first. Then the people can worship around God’s throne, receive His engrafted word and every blessing that He has for them throughout the entire service. “The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: He wakens me morning by morning, he opens my ear to hear as the learned.” Isaiah 50:4
The ministry is not one huge service or deed but a lifetime of serving with a super-natural commitment to feed His sheep regularly. Many times it is a thankless job because people seem to think there needs to be more of the spectacular. Humility allows the servant to ride the storms and stay steady because they remember an elderly person saying how much they appreciate the sermon or a little girl from the youth group that admires and respects their leadership. They are reminded how important it is to stay faithful and strong in order to “walk” out a divine calling. Abiding with God is loving people not just through an hour, a day or a night or even a week but through the journey of life. “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:9-10