A Closer Walk
Schools have started, or are starting. That means fall is approaching. Then winter will come with its snow and ice and cold. After that spring when everything will begin to turn green and start to sprout. Flowers will bloom, and fruit trees will blossom. Then comes summer. Crops grow and put on their seeds. Around Concordia and Cloud County the beginning of summer usually ushers in the wheat harvest. Then as the fall approaches the farmers wait for the weather to ripen their fall crops; the soybeans, the milo, and the corn. How did we get these different seasons?
"Then God said, 'Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years'," Genesis 1:14 NASB. So the lights in the heavens, the sun and the moon, determine our seasons. They also help us to track time; days, months, and years. Well, how long will this seasons thing last? "While the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night Shall not cease," Genesis 8:22 NASB. We have the assurance of Almighty God that as long as the earth remains, the seasons will remain. Seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat will remain.
Makes it easy to plan doesn't it? The farmer knows that if he is going to have a harvest of winter wheat in early summer, he must put the seeds in the ground in the fall. If he is going to harvest corn or soybeans in the fall, he must plant the seeds in the spring or early summer. Sometimes farmers will harvest their wheat, then immediately plant a fall crop on the same land. For those of us who aren't farmers, the fall tells us to find the snow shovels and make sure we have ice melt on hand.
“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing,” John 15:5 NASB. “By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples,” John 15:8 NASB. So we (you and I) are the fruit bearing branches of the Kingdom of God. When we are bearing fruit our Father in Heaven is glorified, and we are proving ourselves to be disciples of Christ Jesus. When does the apple tree or the peach tree bear fruit? In their season. It is highly unlikely we would find apples or peaches ready to harvest in January or February during the dead of winter. Why? Because they are out of season. There are reasons why it's called the dead of winter. As people, do we have seasons? Are there times when it will be hard for us to bear fruit?
From a human existence standpoint, it would seem that during times of trials or suffering bearing fruit would be very difficult. As we go through these times we try to understand what is happening to us, and why. If the Holy Spirit brings some sin or wrongdoing to our mind we should confess that and repent. But regardless, we should remember that our God is sovereign, and He is always making us more like Christ. So He molds us and shapes us into vessels of service for His Kingdom. Plus, the trials and sufferings that we go through uniquely equip us to minister to someone else who is going through the same or a similar situation. Then we end up bearing fruit in a different way than what we might have expected.
“I solemnly charge you...preach the word; be ready in season and out of season...”, 2 Timothy 4:1-2 NASB. The Apostle Paul tells his disciple Timothy (a pastor) to be ready to preach the word both in season and out of season. While we may not be pastors, we seemingly should be ready to minister or disciple both in season and out of season. In the case of the Apostle Paul, being imprisoned in a Roman jail would certainly be a season not to bear fruit. Yet, Paul bloomed where he was planted and wrote letters to three churches and one man. We know these to be the books of Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon. And they are referred to as “The Prison Epistles”.
While we will go through times where we may consider ourselves to be “out of season,” and ministering during these times could be difficult, we should be ready, in season or out of season, to minister or disciple for the Kingdom of God. “but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence,” 1 Peter 3:15 NASB.