As we step into Advent, and the winter season, Pastor Phyl asked us how many of us already have our Christmas decorations up. The tree, lights, tinsel… these are all fruits of the season, just as, in summer, the trees are full of leaves and blossoms.
Traditionally, we are always looking forward; always planning for the next season, but the thing is, we must be prepared to live in the season that we are currently in, whether that be: Spring, and the birth of new things, i.e. relationship, children, jobs, engagement, etc, or whether it is winter.
Pastor Phyl asked us which season of life we are in. The winter of life in unique in its barrenness. It can seem that life is so tough, and all we can do is hope for snow to cheer us up. What is going on in our lives in these times? The thing is, that even when we feel like everything is going wrong, and we can’t see a way out of it, or the good in it, God is still at work. He is at work through all of the seasons of our lives, even in winter.
Continuing, Pastor Phyl said that he would love to be a billionaire, and asked us the same thing, saying, “Imagine the good you could do.” There are a number of billionaires, today, who have taken “The Pledge”. They are effectively saying that they will become full time philanthropists, giving away huge sums of their money for the good of others.
There are also billionaires in the Bible. Abraham, and Solomon, for example, (who is described as ‘the richest man that ever lived’), yet they both still had ups and downs.
Pastor Phyl asked us again, which season of our lives are we in. In scripture, it says quite clearly that there is a time and a season for everything. However, it says quite clearly that work gives man meaning. The word ‘retirement’ is not in the Bible. To break life down to its basest meaning, we are born, we eat, we drink, we work, and we die. This is the reality of life.
It is because of this that we find ourselves asking what the meaning of life is. This is something that even Solomon, the richest man that ever lives, was asking. The thing is, that we must look to find meaning. We are designed to put in effort. We are designed to work.
We are lucky, in that we have seen a glimpse of the future. We know that Jesus is coming. We know that He has already saved us. Paul tells us in Philippians that he has learned to be content no matter which season he is in. We must learn to be content, too. The thing is, we need certain times and seasons in our lives. We need to be able to balance out the good and the not so good. In Paul, we see this lived out. He had pure contentment, regardless of the season he was currently going through.
Pastor Phyl then gave us three key points that Paul lived by, and this was how he was able to be content in all seasons:
Firstly, he lived a life of thanksgiving. He had an ‘attitude of gratitude’. By nature, we want to complain. Nothing is ever quite right for us and we can go through life feeling continually dissatisfied, but we must do as it says in scripture, and “Rejoice in the Lord always.” As an example, Pastor Phyl talked of Corrie Ten Boom, who said “I complained about my shoes until I saw a man with no feet.” This is key. We need to learn to just be thankful for what we have.
Secondly, we must eradicate a life of complaining. We complain about everything. Looking at this in modern terms, Pastor Phyl asked us what status updates do we make on social media. Are they thankful or complaining? It is so easy to complain, but it says in Ephesians 4, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” This simply put means that we must learn to not complain or put people down. We must give compliments to people, and just be a nice person. Kindness and compliments can go a long way; so what are we putting out into the world must be of utmost importance if we are to get through the bad seasons of life, along with the good. We must develop an effective perspective, just as Paul did.
Thirdly, we must live at peace. Can we be the very light of Christ in this world, even when the skies are dark and grey. Can we be His hands and feet in this world? We must learn to live a quiet life, simply being obedient to God, and His will in our lives. In Romans 12:18, it says “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” This is what we are called to do, and peace in our hearts can become goodwill to all men.
In closing, Pastor Phyl encouraged us to make the effort to be kind this season, and to be at peace with everyone, attempting to make everyone’s lives better. If we do this, then we, too can become like Paul, learning to be content, no matter what season we find ourselves in.
Scriptures: 1 Kings 4:31, Ecclesiastes 3-5, Ecclesiastes 5:18, Philippians 4:11, Philippians 4:4, Ephesians 4:29, Romans 12:18.