Series: Don’t Die in The Winter!
Week of December 30, 2020–January 5, 2021
Aim: After studying this series students will know that “winter” is coming in their spiritual world the same as in the secular world. But a “winter” season is a season of preparation! Don’t die in the winter – spring is coming!
We all understand that our surroundings go through seasons, but what about the Christian? We know that the earth has four seasons winter, spring, summer and fall. Some seasons we like and others we just can’t wait for them to be over – much like the seasons we have in our walk with God. In our walk with God, there comes a season of blessing, and we do not want to leave it! But when the season of “God where are you?” hits, many times we are just praying that we can make it through.
There are also some things in certain season you can and cannot do! I really don’t know anyone who likes to go swimming in the dead of winter. . .but in the summer pools and beaches are full!
There are seasons in our walk with God. This series will focus on our action, and our reaction, in the winter seasons of our spiritual life.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NCV)
1 There is a time for everything, and everything on earth has its special season.
2 There is a time to be born and a time to die. There is a time to plant and a time to pull up plants.
3 There is a time to kill and a time to heal. There is a time to destroy and a time to build.
4 There is a time to cry and a time to laugh. There is a time to be sad and a time to dance.
5 There is a time to throw away stones and a time to gather them. There is a time to hug and a time not to hug.
6 There is a time to look for something and a time to stop looking for it. There is a time to keep things and a time to throw things away.
7 There is a time to tear apart and a time to sew together. There is a time to be silent and a time to speak.
8 There is a time to love and a time to hate. There is a time for war and a time for peace.
People tend to get more depressed, anxious, gain more weight and have less energy in the winter months than during any other time of the year! Going to work and arriving home in the dark, trying to pay off credit card debts accumulated from Christmas, the quickly approaching tax returns and maneuvering in the ice and snow packed roads has led many to experience feelings of hopelessness, self-loathing, isolation, anxiety, sadness and guilt. Have I mentioned Covid-19? Covid-19 has turned our “normal” life upside down! If you are like me. . .I can’t keep up with what day it is any more, let alone the date! To further exasperate these negative feelings is the fact that death rates are the highest in the months of November to January.
Yes, it is winter in the secular world! But, while it is winter in the secular world, some are suffering a “winter” in their spiritual world!
- What is a “winter” season in the spiritual world?
- A winter season is to have a love one strung out on drugs and not be able to do anything about it.
- A winter season is to get an eviction notice, or a foreclosure on your home, and not know where the rent money is coming from.
- A winter season is getting a pink slip from your job
- A winter season is getting a frightening diagnosis from your doctor.
- A winter season is to see a love one fighting covid-19 and you can’t seem to get an answer to your many prayers!
- Why Is A Spiritual Winter Necessary?
- When we are in a “spiritual” winter we must realize that it is testing time!
- God allows testing times. . .
- Not to hinder us but to help us.
- Not to hurt us but to make us holy.
- The Lord has a purpose in not allowing us to be fruitful all the time.
- A winter season destroys our pride in our own ability, and it reinforce our dependency and our sufficiency in God’s ability.
- “Spiritual” winter is a time for preparation!
- A fruit tree that is never pruned always produces small fruit and it is usually bitter.
- The same with a Christian. . .if He never tests us then we will produce little faith, plus we become bitter and not very useful for God!
Luke 6:44 (NLT) – A tree is identified by its fruit. Figs are never gathered from thorn bushes, and grapes are not picked from bramble bushes.
- But if you prune back the tree, it does bleed, and when it heals and spring comes then you begin to see large fruit, sweet and good for use.
John 15:1-2 (NIV) – 1“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.
- We can’t pray away God’s Winter Season!
Matthew 26:36-46 (NIV) – 36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.”. . . 39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” 40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. . . 42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”. . . 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing. . . 46 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”
- Remember: it is our response to God’s ability that forms responsibility!
- There is a purpose in these temporary inconveniences, test and challenges!
- They are to bring about a maturing of the children of God!
Romans 8:28 (NKJV) – And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
James 1:2-4 (NIV) – 2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
- Remember: Delays are not defeats in the Kingdom of God and His plan!
2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (MSG) – We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (ESV) – 16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (CEV) – 16 We never give up. Our bodies are gradually dying, but we ourselves are being made stronger each day. 17 These little troubles are getting us ready for an eternal glory that will make all our troubles seem like nothing. 18 Things that are seen don’t last forever, but things that are not seen are eternal. That’s why we keep our minds on the things that cannot be seen.
(4) We Need To Understand God’s Seasons
a) We know the four natural or physical season are: winter, spring, summer and fall.
ü Notice the trees go through four season every year yet only bear fruit in one season.
ü So that means there are three seasons in which NO fruit is produced.
b) Remember: Don’t make permanent decisions based on temporary circumstances!
ü Temporary circumstances do not always require action.
Psalm 46:10-11 (KJV) – 10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. 11 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.
- God is a God of ORDER
- He does everything by appointment
- An appointment is a “fixed” time or season
- An appointment is a meeting already set up!
Habakkuk 2:3 (NKJV) – For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though tarries, wait for it; Because it will surely come, It will not tarry.
- PLUS God has already made a way of escape!
1 Corinthians 10:13 (GNT) – Every test that you have experienced is the kind that normally comes to people. But God keeps his promise, and he will not allow you to be tested beyond your power to remain firm; at the time you are put to the test, he will give you the strength to endure it, and so provide you with a way out.
- God has pre-determined points to bring to pass His promises in our lives
- We need to be aware and have an inner awareness that makes us realize that in spite of temporary circumstances, God has a “present time deliverance”!
Ecclesiastes 3:1 (KJV) – To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
- When the Lord speaks a word into our lives, it’s like a seed!
- It takes time for the seed to sprout
- There is a process, there is a season or appointed time for it to sprout.
- If we really trust God, then we also know that: God knows when we have reached the time of germination!
- Our confidence is in God’s seed (God’s word)!
Zechariah 4:6 (NKJV) – So he answered and said to me: “This is the word of the Lord. . .‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ Says the Lord of hosts.
- If He declares a thing, it will surely come to pass.
ü And it came to pass is in the Bible 463 times!
· Old Testament – 398 times
· New Testament – 65 times
Genesis 7:10 (KJV) – And it came to pass after seven days, that the waters of the flood were upon the earth.
Genesis 8:6 (KJV) – And it came to pass at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made:
Genesis 8:13 (KJV) – And it came to pass in the six hundredth and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried up from off the earth: and Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and, behold, the face of the ground was dry.
ü It will come to pass but that doesn’t stop the enemy from trying to delay the fulfillment of what God has said.
Mark 4:15 (NLT) – The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message, only to have Satan come at once and take it away.
· One thing is sure – he cannot stop the promise to His children – they will come to pass!
ü Your blessing may not come in the way you thought it would – but it will come!
· It may be delayed but it will not be denied!
Philippians 1:6 (NIV) – being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
- We cannot allow past circumstances to abort our future opportunity!
- Life will always present broken places, broken pieces, struggles and seasons of conflict!
- It is our perspective on the season that either makes it enjoyable or miserable.
- Don’t die in the winter – spring is coming!
Romans 8:28 (NLT) – And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
PRAYER PRINCIPLE: Thank God for your training seasons so that we can be of better service to our Lord and Savior
SOCIAL JUSTICE PRINCIPLE: Explain to others how your winter season has been a blessing to you to be a blessing to others
EVANGELISM PRINCIPLE: Share with others the value of Christ experiencing the worse winter season ever for those that won’t necessarily appreciate it until it’s too late.
STEWARDSHIP PRINCIPLE: Our reflective giving helps others in their seasons of need.
DISCIPLESHIP PRINCIPLE: Although you may not appreciate the training, be thankful that you have been chosen to be treated as an heir not an orphan.
NEXT WEEK’S TITLE: No Cross, No Crown
SERIES: Don’t Die in the Winter
NEXT WEEK’S READING ASSIGNMENT: Matthew 15:21-28; Job 1; Jonah 1; Luke 10:30; 2 Corinthians 12:7; Matthew 3:16-17; Luke 19:10; Psalm 8:1; Psalm 24:7-10; Jeremiah 31:3; Ephesians 2:4-8; Psalm 89:6; Psalm 145:3-5; Romans 11:8; 2 Corinthians 9:8