It Takes Time

Speaker: M.Noorhoff

Matthew 13:1-30

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake.  Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. Then he told them many things in parables, saying: "A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.  Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop--a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. He who has ears, let him hear."  The disciples came to him and asked, "Why do you speak to the people in parables?"  He replied, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them.  Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.  This is why I speak to them in parables: "Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: "'You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.  For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.' But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it. "Listen then to what the parable of the sower means:  When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away.  The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.  But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown." Jesus told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.  "The owner's servants came to him and said, 'Sir, didn't you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?'  "'An enemy did this,' he replied. "The servants asked him, 'Do you want us to go and pull them up?' "'No,' he answered, 'because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them.  Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.'"

 Ecclesiastes 3:1@states Everything on earth has its own time and its own season. (CEV)

And in Philippians. 1:6 (LB) it says I am sure that God who began the good work within you will keep right on helping you grow in his grace until his task within you is finally finished on that day when Jesus Christ returns.

But why must it take so long at times.

So right from the beginning today Ifm going to ask you: Do you believe that if you follow Gods plan for your life you will be content and happy.

Do you really?

Do believe in his promise?

 Are you content?

Are you happy?

 On our path to the promised land there are many turns in the road each looking inviting each looking like it could be the way. How are we to know which one to take.

How are we to decipher what his plans for us are.?

 The bible give us our first hint

 "Be still, and know that I am God;

 It seems so simple- be still and know is that the best advice the bible can give about solving the problems in our life. Ifm completely confused those words in themselves donft explain anything they just expand the memory. What am I to do just nothing. How can I progress if I just sit still?

 How can you move forward unless you know which direction forward is.

When life takes us for a spin as it often does. It takes time for us to get our bearings again but often every direction seems just as right as the next.

 Or perhaps we are just in to much a hurry to get out of where we are to actually figure out where we are and where we must go.  I believe this is one of the main problems of the modern day world is that we have forgotten how to be still.

In this world of speed that we live in we expect instant everything whether it is e-mail, Mac Donaldfs, microwaves, express couriers etc. We have a need for speed. We have lost the art of patience and waiting. I years past this was simply an everyday part of life. One would wake up start the fire in the stove, go out and collect eggs from the chickens and milk the cows before one could eat. Everything simply took a lot longer then it does today. But that was okay because we knew it would come eventually. But most important is that people allowed time for everything

Today though if your hamburger takes more than 3 minutes or the person at the counter doesnft serve you immediately you start to feel a  anger swelling inside you. You expect quick service. You wake up get dressed have a quick breakfast and you are out the door to go to work. But say you canft find your keys well that takes off precious of the little time you have left for yourself to get to work

But you see God isnft like that

This is what I think it means when scriptures say  in 2 Peter 3:8

With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

 This is the patience of God which we are called to resemble.

 So next time you are feeling your impatience growing repeat those words

With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day

And take the time you are waiting to spend time with him

To be still and know.

Donft feel bad if you havenft been able to do this because truth be told few in the bible were able to do this either

Many didnft wait and there were consequences. Many turned to plan b and others paid the penalty.

In the morning bible study we are reading the book of Genesis and now we are focusing on the life of Abraham. And the discussion keeps coming down to a similar point. God promises Abraham canft wait a resorts to plan b with tragic results. The lord promises again and Abraham does the same. But the problems pile up And this is the father of faith?  God promised to lead Abraham to the promised land where he would give him as many decedents as grains of sand. Soon  after things got a little dry and Abraham decided to do it his own way and go to Egypt. There he made his wife pretend to be his sister out of fear that he may be killed. The Lord then sent a curse on the  pharaohs household and Abraham was released with more than he came with and you might think this was good. He went in and when he left he came out richer. But lets look a little farther down the road. Again Go promised that he and Sarah would have a child. But again they werenft patient and decided on plan b. Abraham was to lay with Sarah maid servant Hagar and though her Ishmael would be born. Hagar became proud and Sarah resented her and this caused strife between husband and wife. Ishmael was later born and eventually came to be the Arab nations. But wait a second. Hagar was Egyptian and came from Abrahams first step into plan b And it combined or allowed the second plan b. And this is what often happened when we step from the path the lord is leading us. The direction we a going often seems right and we donft bother to stop and reassess before going on

Plan b has its consequences even though you may not see them immediately you may even think you prospered from a step of the path

Be Still and know that I am God

The old testament is full of these stories

Abraham, Samson, Saul, David, Moses and many more and the new testament also has them as well Peter being the clearest example he was so anxious to go quickly that he forgot to just be still and know but he forgot and slowly sank into the water.

All this is true because it is not just about getting you somewhere but about making you into something. He is transforming you into that Christ-like character. Without the Character where or what you have doesnft matter

The Bible is filled with examples of how God uses a long process to develop character, especially in leaders. He took eighty years to prepare Moses, including forty in the wilderness. For 14,600 days Moses kept waiting and wondering, "Is it time yet?" But God kept saying, "Not yet." Contrary to popular book titles, there are no Easy Steps to Maturity or Secrets of Instant Sainthood. When God wants to make a mushroom, he does it overnight, but when he wants to make a giant oak, he takes a hundred years. Great souls are grown through struggles and storms and seasons of suffering. Be patient with the process. James advised, "Don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed."

Don't get discouraged. When Habakkuk became depressed because he didn't think God was acting quickly enough, God had this to say: "These things I plan won't happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, do not despair, for these things will surely come to pass. Just be patient! They will not be overdue a single day!" A delay is not a denial from God.

Remember how far you've come, not just how far you have to go. You are not where you want to be, but neither are you where you used to be. Years ago people wore a popular button with the letters PBPGINFWMY. It stood for "Please Be Patient, God Is Not Finished With Me Yet." God isn't finished with you, either, so keep on moving forward. Even the snail reached the ark by persevering!

While we worry about how fast we grow, God is concerned about how strong we grow. God views our lives from and for eternity, so he is never in a hurry.

Discipleship is the process of conforming to Christ. The Bible says, "We arrive at real maturity-that measure of development which is meant by `the fullness of Christ." Christ-likeness is your eventual destination, but your journey will last a lifetime.

So far we have seen that this journey involves believing (through worship), belonging (through fellowship), and becoming (through discipleship). Every day God wants you to become a little more like him: "You have begun to live the new life, in which you are being made new and are becoming like the One who made you."

Today we're obsessed with speed, but God is more interested in strength and stability than swiftness. We want the quick fix, the shortcut, the on-the-spot solution. We want a sermon, a seminar, or an experience that will instantly resolve all problems, remove all temptation, and release us from all growing pains. But real maturity is never the result of a single experience, no matter how powerful or moving. Growth is gradual. The Bible says, "Our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him."

Although God could instantly transform us, he has chosen to develop us slowly. Jesus is deliberate in developing his disciples. Just as God allowed the Israelites to take over the Promised Land "little by little", so they wouldn't be overwhelmed, he prefers to work in incremental steps in our lives.

Why does it take so long to change and grow up? There are several reasons.

We are slow learners. We often have to relearn a lesson forty or fifty times to really get it. The problems keep recurring, and we think, "Not again! I've already learned that! "-but God knows better. The history of Israel illustrates how quickly we forget the lessons God teaches us and how soon we revert to our old patterns of behavior. We need repeated exposure.

There is no growth without change, no change without fear or loss, and no loss without pain.

We have a lot to unlearn. Many people go to a counselor with a personal or relational problem that took years to develop and say, "I need you to fix me. I've got an hour." They naively expect a quick solution to a long-standing, deep-rooted difficulty. Since most of our problems-and all of our bad habits-didn't develop overnight, it's unrealistic to expect them to go away immediately. There is no pill, prayer, or principle that will instantly undo the damage of many years. It requires the hard work of removal and replacement. The Bible calls it "taking off the old self" and `putting on the new self. While you were given a brand new nature at the moment of conversion, you still have old habits, patterns, and practices that need to be removed and replaced.

Growth is often painful and scary. There is no growth without change; there is no change without fear or loss; and there is no loss without pain. Every change involves a loss of some kind: You must let go of old ways in order to experience the new. We fear these losses, even if our old ways were self-defeating, because, like a worn out pair of shoes, they were at least comfortable and familiar.

People often build their identity around their defects. We say, "It's just like me to be ..." and "It's just the way I am." The unconscious worry is that it I let go of my habit, my hurt, or my hang-up, who will I be? This fear can definitely slow down your growth.

Habits take time to develop. Remember that your character is the sum total of your habits. You can't claim to be kind unless you are habitually kind-you show kindness without even thinking about it. Your habits define your character.

As you grow to spiritual maturity, there are several ways to cooperate with God in the process.

Believe God is working in your life even when you don't feel it. Spiritual growth is sometimes tedious work, one small step at a time. Expect gradual improvement. The Bible says, "Everything on earth has its own time and its own season." There are seasons in your spiritual life, too. Sometimes you will have a short, intense burst of growth (springtime) followed by a period of stabilizing and testing (fall and winter).

What about those problems, habits, and hurts you would like miraculously removed? It's fine to pray for a miracle, but don't be disappointed if the answer comes through a gradual change. Over time, a slow, steady stream of water will erode the hardest rock and turn giant boulders into pebbles. Over time, a little sprout can turn into a giant redwood tree towering 350 feet tall.

Keep a notebook or journal of lessons learned. This is not a diary of events, but a record of what you are learning. Write down the insights and life lessons God teaches you about him, about yourself, about life, relationships, and everything else. Record these so you can review and remember them and pass them on to the next generation. The reason we must relearn lessons is that we forget them. Reviewing your spiritual journal regularly can spare you a lot of unnecessary pain and heartache. The Bible says, "It's crucial that we keep a firm grip on what we've heard so that we don't drift off."

Be patient with God and with yourself. One of life's frustrations is that God's timetable is rarely the same as ours. We are often in a hurry when God isn't. You may feel frustrated with the seemingly slow progress you're making in life. Remember that God is never in a hurry, but he is always on time. He will use your entire lifetime to prepare you for your role in eternity.