To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven, Ecc. 3 v 1.
Oh God our Father,
We thank you that you are a God who knows all things
You know the times you have appointed for us and all mankind.
You do hold the whole world in your hands, and nothing can happen that you do not permit.
We thank you that you have shown your love for us by sending your Son Jesus to die for us,
And rise again, conquering death itself.
We thank you too, that you have sent your Holy Spirit to guide and encourage us to live in your according to your ways, and point us to that time when Jesus shall return and bring in a new heaven and new earth, Amen.
Time is a topic that has engaged the mind of every generation who has ever lived on earth. This has included great scientists and philosophers who have tried to understand its origins and meaning and ordinary people, like you and me, who try to get our timing for doing things right, and perhaps worry occasionally, that time seems to go too quickly. It was Virgil, the famous Roman poet, who made the observation in his poem ‘The Georgics’, ‘Tempus Fugit’ or translated ‘time flies’. Perhaps also time has taken on a new significance in these last weeks when many of us have found we have ‘time on our hands’ or are concerned about the timing of lifting lockdown; is it too early? Is it not early enough? We have lots of questions about time and timing.
One thing for certain is, as human beings, we have limited control of time and at the time of making decisions we cannot be a hundred percent sure of the outcome. It is not for nothing that James warns against arrogantly asserting what we are going to do in the future.
James 4 v 13 -15 reads: Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is a vapour that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.
This would all be a bit depressing and frightening but for one important truth. We are not left alone in the world to suffer the ravages of time over which we have little or no control. There is a creator God who is Lord of time because he is eternal. He has always been, is and always will be… with no beginning and no ending. Read just a few of the bible verses that tell us this:
Before the mountains were born
or You gave birth to the earth and the world
Even from everlasting to everlasting, you are God. Ps. 90 v 2
For a thousand years in Your sight
Are like yesterday when it passes by
Or as a watch in the night. Ps. 90 v 4
But you o Lord abide forever,
And your name to all generation’s Ps 102 v 12
“I am Alpha and Omega,” says the Lord God. “Who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” Rev. 1 v 8
Not only is he an eternal, creator God. He also loves us and has a plan that will bring us all back into relationship with him so that we can live in his presence for all eternity. There will be no more anxiety about time passing, about aging or dying (Isaiah 35 v 10, Revelation 21 v4,) This plan is being worked out at just the right time because God’s timing is always just right because he is Lord of time and knows the end from the beginning. (Isaiah 46 v 9-10)
We know he chose a time to bring the universe into existence, he chose a time to lead Israel out of slavery in Egypt and make them into a nation, he knew the right time to send the prophets to warn the Jews and encourage them with news of the coming Messiah, and most importantly he chose just the right time in history to send Jesus to die on the cross and rise again. In doing that Jesus took the blame and bore the penalty for the sins of mankind, so that if a person will turn away from what is wrong in their life, and believe in Jesus they will be forgiven and given a new life, no matter how they have lived up to that point. Jesus enables people to make a new start no matter what they have done, when they really want to be different. Jesus did that at just the right time as we are told in
Romans 5 v 6-8 For when we were still without strength, in due time, Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Yet there is still more for God to do to bring his plan for the world and the people who live in it, to its conclusion. A couple of months ago we celebrated Ascension Day, marking the day when the risen Jesus left this earth and returned to His Father in Heaven. At that moment the disciples, and all the disciples of Jesus who were to come, were given a promise through the two angels who attended. It was this
This same Jesus shall return in the same way that you saw him go, Acts 1 v 11.
The return of Jesus is referred to or explored in detail in nearly every book of the New Testament and also prophesied in the Old Testament. It is a reality that encourages us to live the sort of lives that will please Him, so we are ready at all times for his return. We don’t know when, so be very cautious about listening to people who want to give you dates, only God knows the time, and we can be assured it will be at just the right time, because He is the one who knows all things.
The weight of worry that comes with living in uncertain times when no one can tell us what is to come next is greatly relieved when we lift our weary heart and eyes off our current situation and turn to God who is in control and who is directing History towards that moment that we read of in
1 Thessalonians 4 16-17: For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus, we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.
And I don’t think any more needs to be said!
Prayers of Intercession
Father, as you have told us to, we come to pray for the nations and the leaders of nations. Lord we ask where governments deliberate and plan for life after the impact of the Coronavirus that the voice of wisdom and compassion will be heard. We pray that you will bless and prosper the work of those who follow that voice.
Father we pray for your mercy to be shown to those in the worst situations. We pray in particular for those trapped in refugee camps where insanitary conditions and poverty abound. We pray for those countries who are also devastated by war and unable to cope. We think of Yemen and Syria in particular. We pray for those who work to bring relief and in particular we pray that you will prosper the work of Barnabus Fund. We pray as well for all medical and ancillary staff across the world who have worked so tirelessly during this pandemic.
Lord we pray for the church in countries where she is under pressure or persecuted. Through your Holy Spirit enable her to shine as a light in a dark place. We pray for your Church here in Britain and the West. We ask that your Spirit will cause us to love and follow truth and resist deception. We do pray for our ministers Joseph and Peter and their families.
Lord we pray that you will give us listening ears and compassionate hearts ready always to do your will in every circumstance of life whatever the cost.
May the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the Love of God our father,
And the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
But with us all,
Now and evermore, Amen.