PULPIT TODAY SERMONS Robert D. Pace 1 Corinthians 10:12 (Illustration) It was a frigid February in Anchorage, Alaska where I had been invited to conduct a church revival. One afternoon... Read more →
From the beginning, God ordained time and created it as a vital part of our world. Time affects us both positively and negatively. We are pressured, squeezed, and even hampered by the lack of time. It wrinkles our skin, weakens our skeletal and muscular structure, and eats away those precious brain cells that keep our mind intact.
On the other hand, we are fortunate to live in a world marked by time. If we existed in a timeless dimension, without the division of days, weeks, months, and years we wouldn’t know if we were living in the past, present, or future. Time is the framework that gives us structure and points of reference. So time does have value. Despite how we feel about time, God wants us to know He fashioned it for our good. In fact, He has ordained special seasons to visit us that have eternal consequence. And God wants us to know something—“our times are in His hands.” God controls the clock of our life.
(Illustration) I have a friend, who for years, worked as an NFL clock operator. He even operated the clock for the 2006 Superbowl. On one occasion, with just a few seconds remaining in the game, the visiting team kicked a field goal. Bill let five valuable seconds tick off the clock, although in actual time it took only three seconds to run the play. The home field coach jumped all over Bill for allowing those two extra seconds to tick away. But Bill had done nothing wrong. The NFL rulebook states that no field goal shall consume less than five seconds when kicked outside the 40 yard-line. The clock operator, who controlled the time, was right!
I want you to know that the Divine Clock Operator knows what He is doing! You may assume ‘time is expiring’ and passing you by; but it isn’t! You aren’t stuck in a time warp, although it may seem like it. The Bible says, “[your] times are in God’s hands.”
As you read the Bible, you will notice the phrase, “at that time” or “the appointed time.” They occur repeatedly, and they identify the special moments God places on His calendar. God is so time conscious that Solomon said God ordains each event to occur at its appointed hour. Ecclesiastes 3 says, “[there is] a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot . . . a time to kill and a time to heal . . . a time to mourn and a time to dance . . . a time to search and a time to give up . . . a time for war and a time for peace.” Solomon enumerated twenty-eight “times and seasons” that pass before us with the earnest hope that his readers would value these appointed moments that God presents to them.
During the eternal stream of time, God has ordained specific moments of time that powerfully affect us. The stream of time is known as chronos, which indicates “time that is measured.” But another word the Bible uses for time is kairos. And kairos indicates “time that is filled with meaning and purpose.”
I’m sure you can identify your kairos moments. They are those pivotal occasions that shape and even transform us into what we are. That’s what I want to talk about today—the times when God intrudes upon the calendar of our life to make a difference. These moments can last from mere minutes, to many years. They can be pleasant or painful; ecstatic or excruciating. They can occur in front of the masses or on the backside of the desert. Christ’s life was filled with kairos moments:
The first was when He confounded the Scribes at the Temple. Can you imagine that? A 12 year-old perplexing doctors of the law! It was obvious that He was extraordinary.
His next pivotal moment was when He overcame Satan’s temptation in the desert.
Finally, His prayer at Gethsemane and His sacrifice on the Cross changed all of history.
Moses’ transformational moment occurred at the burning bush when God commissioned him to liberate Israel from Egypt.
Paul’s life-altering moment was when the Lord met him on the Road to Damascus and called him to be an apostle.
(Transition) Kairos moments appear in many ways, and each person here has had them. I have. One reason God orders these occasions is so we can know Him better. He ordains special seasons for us to pass though so we can learn more about Him.
I have experienced times of favor when God’s blessings abounded and my cup ran over. Conversely, I have endured times of leanness, when I had to skimp through life. But even then, I realized “God was my portion” and nothing was needed more than him! I know what it means to “miss the mark” and walk through a season of His discipline. Yet, I have experienced times when God extended His loving hand of mercy and I learned of unmerited grace when I least deserved it. But through whichever season I journeyed through, I discovered that God designed them all to glorify Him and reveal a wonderful aspect of His character.
You remember Job. He endured a trial that lasted for months, assailing every area of his life. He lost his health, children, and enterprising. When you read that story, it brings comfort because it’s evident that your suffering doesn’t compare to his. If Job can make it through, you can too. But God has used that narrative to teach us a deeper lesson, and it’s only when you get toward the end of the Bible that the apostle James explains what Job’s trial is about. James 5:11 says, “You have heard of the perseverance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings—that He is full of compassion and mercy.”
James said, “I want you to consider the outcome of suffering. God will always reward the faithful sufferer abundantly”! And when you read Job 42, you see why James said that. God restored Job with twice as much as he lost! Think about that: Twice as much! When Job’s trial ended, God rewarded him with 14,000 sheep, 6000 camels, 2000 ox, and 1000 female donkeys. He also blessed Job with seven more sons and three more daughters. I want you to understand the enormity of Job’s reward, because God is trying to show us something here:
If God were to give you 14,000 sheep, where would you put them? You would need acreage as far as the eye could see in order to provide for those sheep.
Then God says He blessed Job with 6000 camels. Owning a camel in the Old Testament is like owning a luxury car today, and Job had 6000 of them! And he needed acreage as far as the eye could see in order to provide for these creatures.
But then, God blessed Job with 2000 ox. I don’t think you want to graze ox with sheep or camels. So here again, that’s more acreage as far as the eye can see.
Finally, God blessed Job with 1000 female donkeys. So one more time, that’s more acreage as far as the eye can see!
Job’s trial reveals that God’s recompense always outweighs whatever we suffer for Him. So, it’s okay that you’re suffering today! If you will persevere, like Job, God will one day reward you with blessings as far as the eye can see!
(Transition) But God wants us to understand something else about these kairos moments. God gives us special moments so we can participate in His eternal plan of the ages.
God raised up Samson at just the appointed hour and anointed him with unearthly strength. Israel was safe from all their enemies as long as Samson guarded the secret of his power. A thousand Philistines were no match against Samson’s might and muscle.
Then on the other hand, God raised up a fragile girl named Esther, who was able to whisper just the right words to a foreign king who could avert Israel’s genocide.
And what about Daniel? God exiled this prophet to Babylon and then assigned him to counsel Nebuchadnezzar. He interpreted dreams and deciphered the handwriting on the wall. Daniel’s prophecies spanned the centuries and predicted the superpowers that would rule the world.
God gave each of these persons a special moment so they could participate in His eternal plan of the ages. And He uses people today for the same reason! He needs some to preach and others to provide. He needs some to intercede and others to uphold. But He needs each person to find their purpose and participate in His plan.
I want you to understand something about yourself. God ordained you to live at this time in human history! And He not only ordained you for this generation, He ordained the very location for you to live. Let me show you this from the Bible. In Acts 17, Paul preached in Athens, Greece. Hear his words: “God made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, (27) that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.” From the beginning of creation, God ordained you to live in the 21st Century. And God not only determined your time to live, He determined your place of habitation. Acts 17:27 says God did this because He wants men to seek Him, find Him, and participate in His plan. God has done everything possible to make Himself available and get us to work with Him.
Have you ever wondered why God chose the land of Israel as being the Promised Land? The land of Israel is a rocky, sandy, desert region located along the northern 32nd parallel. Its climate has but two general seasons in their calendar year—the hot, dry season and the cool, rainy season. Centuries ago, before modern irrigation, Israel totally depended on God’s providential mastery to govern their welfare. Protracted periods of draught ravaged their crops. But it was all part of God’s master plan. God situated Israel in the desert to make them dependent on His provision. God forced Israel to seek Him. And God has divinely situated you at this time and place on earth. You’re here to seek Him and work with Him. You have purpose for this time and God wants to use you.
How could I preach a message about divine timing without mentioning Joseph? Beginning at a young age God gave Joseph dreams of being used for a greater purpose. And his brothers despised him when he shared those dreams with them. If you’ve ever read the story of Joseph it’s easy to see the pain of his youth. His own brothers sold him into slavery! You can imagine how Joseph recoiled from it all. “Lord, not slavery! You said you would use me.” And God says, “Settle down, Joseph. I’m priming you.” And when Joseph gets to Egypt, Potiphar’s wife falsely accuses him, and he’s thrown in prison. Again, you can imagine Joseph’s prayer. “Lord, not bars and chains”! But God says, “Calm down, Joseph, I priming you.”
But it wasn’t long until Joseph gained the favor of the warden and he was running the compound. Now he had the keys to the gates and he could pick a midnight hour for a jailbreak. But by now, he knew that wasn’t God’s plan. He could hear God’s voice saying, “Be patient Joseph, I’m priming you.” And at the appointed hour, Pharaoh called for Joseph to interpret his dreams. His kairos had arrived, and Joseph interpreted them with pinpoint accuracy! He announced that Egypt would enjoy seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine.
Pharaoh knew the words were from God. That’s when he reached over, put a ring on Joseph’s finger, wrapped him in royal apparel, and said, “Joseph, you’re second only to me. You will help lead my people. Now I’m priming you, Joseph. You are now my Prime Minister”!
You see, “our times are in God’s hands”! They aren’t in yours or anyone else’s. It didn’t matter how much Joseph prayed for God to release him from trouble; Joseph couldn’t claim his destiny until God’s time for Him arrived. I want you to listen to Psalm 105. The Psalmist said, “[God] sent a man before them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave. (18) They afflicted his feet with fetters, He himself was laid in irons; (19) until the time that his word came to pass, the word of the LORD tested him.”
It wasn’t Joseph’s brothers or Potiphar or Pharaoh that controlled his destiny. God had a special moment of release for Joseph and it was right before the famine. The Divine Clock Operator had Joseph prepared for just the right hour. And God is preparing you for your hour. You have purpose. Just continue to trust God at every twist and turn of life.
(Transition) Sometimes like Moses or David or Simon Peter we fail God. But that doesn’t mean He is finished with us! Even when God chastens us for our failures, it doesn’t mean He won’t use us again. Psalm 30:5 says, “His anger is but for a moment, [but] His favor is for a lifetime.”
Let me assure you of something. God is the perfect Father and He knows exactly how to measure out discipline. There is a wonderful Psalm that shows us this:
Psalm 103:8-11 says, “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness. He will not always strive with us, nor will He keep His anger forever. He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities [Note that!]. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.”
When we fail God He doesn’t say: “Okay, you blew it. Now I’ll have to plague the rest of your life with what your sins deserve.” No! God operates out of love and mercy! Sure, there are consequences to our sins; we “reap what we sow.” But God governs from the Throne of Grace; not the Throne of Retribution or the Throne of Vengeance. Even after our failures God says, “I will not remain angry forever, I will show you mercy.” That’s God’s unalterable pledge! When we repent, He promises to deal with us according to the “sure mercies of David” and not according to our just deserts.
God had a plan for Moses even after he murdered a man.
He had a plan for David after he committed adultery.
He had a plan for Jonah after he ran from God’s call.
And God had a plan for Simon Peter after Simon denied the Lord of Glory at the Cross.
Even when we fail God, He is merciful! I can’t comprehend that, but God’s grace is greater than our failures. He simply wants us to “humble ourselves and pray and turn from our wicked ways” and give Him the opportunity to reveal His glory.
I know some people here are waiting on your special kairos. Maybe you haven’t understood why something hasn’t happened yet. Let me assure you, it will happen when God sovereignly decrees it.
(Transition) Remember, “Our times are in God’s hands.” That means, despite how disorderly life may be, God is still in control. I know from a human perspective that may be difficult to see, but that’s why God asks us to trust Him.
Along the ‘stream of time,’ adverse things happen. Somebody interferes with our life or intrudes upon our plans. Sometimes we blow it and assume God is finished with us. But we have to understand that “the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable.” God wants us to trust Him and march forward! There’s a reason you can believe that. It’s because the Bible says something important happened before this world began. It says, Jesus, “the Lamb of God was slain from the foundations of the world.” Before God “created the heavens and the earth” He determined the time for His Son to appear, redeem humanity, and pour forth grace and mercy.
Before the sun cast its light on earth or the constellations glittered from the night sky God determined that Christ would come to earth and become the timepiece of human history! He is the very One for whom time exists. The sun rises and sets and the moon waxes and wanes to the glory of Jesus Christ. As the preeminent figure of human history, He gives time its context and meaning. That means, if you are “in Christ,” saved by His work, He gives your life meaning too! God’s purpose for you doesn’t hinge on you “getting it all right.” You couldn’t do that if the world depended on it. The Good News is Jesus got it right, and when He got it right, the Heavenly Father transferred Christ’s perfection to you.
I want to close with an illustration:
(Illustration) Some of you might remember baseball’s 1996 ALCS between the Baltimore Orioles and the New York Yankees. The Orioles suffered a bitter defeat and lost a shot at the World Series when a twelve year-old boy reached over the right-field bleachers and snagged a fly ball from the waiting glove a Roberto Alomar. The incident led to a hostile argument with the umpires, but in the end, the Orioles had to cope with the call. Their whole season seemed to collapse on what the cameras clearly showed was fan interference. The Orioles never recovered from that moment. But you can!
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