Solemnity and Joy- Ecclesiastes 3:1-4

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;


To every thing there is a season
A time to be born, and a time to die
A time to kill, and a time to heal
A time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh
A time to mourn, and a time to dance

We have been discussing the need for times of solemn reverence and also times of unfettered rejoicing. Is it any wonder that we would need both, given the fractured, dual-natured world we live in? As these verses illustrate, we pass through all manner of different experiences, the entire spectrum of good and bad. We get to welcome new babies but also bury old friends. We build things, but we must break things as well. We have times of health, but also times of pandemic. To deny an entire side of this reality for the other would be deluded.
Does living in the gospel give us a hope for a happy ending, and does that hope instill us with an abiding joy and peace? Yes, but Jesus still wept when Lazarus died. And are there times when we are treated unfairly, hurt and offended, some of us even killed unjustly? Yes, but Stephen still passed away rejoicing, surrounded by the glory of his God and Savior.
We are complex beings in a complex world. There is not only space for the entire spectrum of emotion within us, it is necessary for us to embrace them all. We should let each have dominion over its proper season.

Give Thanks- Time

I am grateful for time.

Time is a powerful commodity, the greatest currency in our lives, one that we spend at a regular rate. And if we observe where we have passively spent that time it will reveal to us the things that we love most. For more than words and commitments, the proof of our devotion is where we have dedicated our days and hours.

But we can also consciously spend our time on the things that matter most to us. This is the surest way to guarantee that those things receive the respect they deserve. We can even spend time on the things that don’t matter to us as much as we think they should. After enough time is spent on something, we inevitably form a powerful bond to that thing.

And spending time isn’t all. We can also invest it. Even a small contribution each day can yield a powerful profit. And slow and steady contributions of a person’s time have resulted in some of the greatest work this world has seen.

In short, time is the currency by which everything we do gets done. It allows us to take a our current situation and, through time, improve on it. Given enough time, we can become the sort of person we want to be.


Making Time for God- Summary

Many of us see the tragedies in the world, feel very discontented by them, and idly hoped that “someone would do something.” I certainly have had those moment myself, times where I vaguely wished for God’s help in the world, but at the same time was not actively making Him a part of my life.

Even then, I knew in my heart that God’s help is enacted through the people that strive to walk with Him. Therefore by not making Him a part of my life, I was actively disqualifying myself from being one of the instruments that I knew the world needed.

So maybe I don’t know how to cure all of the world’s problems. Maybe some of them I can’t do anything about. But I do know that there is some impact for good that I can do, and the only way to do it is if I am actively making time for God. This study helped me to explore why this is easier said than done, though, and what strategies we can employ to counter those obstacles.

Making Time for God is Just Hard

The most frustrating thing about not putting God first is that we feel like it should be an easy thing for us to do. We think that giving Him daily devotion and training our thoughts to be pure should simply be a matter of dedicating a few minutes to him and exercising some mindfulness. When we fail to achieve this, we start to think that there’s something wrong with us.
The simple, and hopefully encouraging, truth is that making time for God is not easy, and there is nothing wrong with us when we struggle to do it. We all live in a fallen world, one that is intent on crowding out things of a spiritual nature. The distractions of life are expertly subtle, cloaked so innocently that we don’t give them a second thought, and then they silently leech our time and energy from God.
Any opening in our lives is a vacuum that will be filled. In my own life I’ve noticed how I always seem to be subscribed to just enough YouTube channels to fill up all my available time. If ever I try to cut back, something instantly springs up to take its place. Something little, something innocuous, but something that isn’t God.
1 Corinthians 2:14- But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

We Are In Our Own Way

The problem with that “natural man” is that, well, it is natural. It is inside all of us without exception. There is a craving for the worldly distractions that each one of us is born with. It might manifest with different tastes, but each of those tastes can be easily indulged on this earth. Do you prefer lust? Do you desire recognition? Do you want a thrill? Gossip? Idle entertainment? Meaningless achievements? A never-ending chase for something new? It’s all here, take your fill, the supply will never run out!
In the end our problem doesn’t begin with the pornography or television shows or workaholic mentality. It’s that we don’t know how to just say “No!” to these things. We do not know how to master our selves, to meet our needs in healthy ways, to steer ourselves to something better.
We can’t make time for God because we can’t keep our own promises to ourselves. We can’t escape our sins and vanities because we don’t have the nerve to live without them.
1 Corinthians 3:3- For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?
Mosiah 3:19- For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord.

Putting God First Requires an Entirely New Us

And now we get to the bottom of it. This is why putting God first is so hard: because it requires a totally new version of ourselves, one where our spiritual self has defeat the carnal. But how can our spiritual self be powerful enough to defeat the carnal, except for by us having already putting God first in our lives?
It is a conundrum that is beyond us, a paradox that would halt us all, were a Savior not to intervene. We cannot lift ourselves by our own bootstraps…but he can lift us. He can pull us out of the water, because he alone can stand unsinking upon it.
Making time for God and becoming someone new are able to happen in one and the same moment with Christ’s help. Yes, at the start we lack the necessary self-mastery, but he will give us of his own. He asks us to choose one way that we can make God more a part of our lives, and if we sincerely try, then he will make up the difference and we can hold that change. And then another after that and another. The further we go, the less of a void he has to fill within us, the more we have been remade as him.
Making time for God isn’t just the first step along the way towards perfection, it is the entire journey.
2 Corinthians 5:17: Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Making Time for God- Question

The squeaky wheel gets the grease, and we have a lot of wheels squeaking in our lives! The smartphone chirps at us, social media rants at us, the television blares at us. Life is a dashboard full of meters constantly draining towards empty, and we rush about frantically trying to fill them all.

We’re afraid of losing things, of missing out, of leaving opportunities on the table. Our lives become machine-like, incessantly servicing all the many calls for our attention.

God, meanwhile, doesn’t squeak at us at all. He’s much too dignified to stoop to that level. This shows what great respect He has for us, but also makes it easy to lose sight of Him amidst the din of the world. Still He waits, patiently, for however long it takes. He waits for us to come to Him. Usually when we do, we’re the ones squeaking now. Squeaking in pain!

Well, God has grease for His in-pain, squeaky-wheel-children. He commiserates with us, then soothes us, and finally heals us. Then we, eternally grateful, skip away happily and promptly lose sight of Him once more. We’re caught back up in the world, we’ll come back when we’ve scraped our knees again.

It’s a way to live life, and I suppose it could be worse…but also it could be better. God invites us to make Him a more permanent fixture in our lives, to give Him time each and every day to heal and strengthen us. He offers to be with us every hour.

With this study we’ll consider how to push some of the world’s clutter off of our shelves and make space for God. We’ll examine what tricks the adversary uses to distract us from the things that really matter. Before we get started, though, I’d love to hear in what ways you’ve found yourself overwhelmed by the noise of the world, and how you were able to make a time and place for holiness.