Timing is Everything

TimingListen to the podcast here.

When we were last in Proverbs before Thanksgiving, Solomon told us to seek guidance from others. Seek answers from God and get good counsel to confirm it. If something is weighing heavily on you and you think it’s from God, speak with someone that will provide you with solid, biblical, godly, and timely guidance from Scripture. There is rarely anything God gives us that must begin immediately. It took God six days to create the heavens and the earth and all that is within it. Paul spent years walking around Asia and Europe to get the message of Jesus out to the Gentiles and it took more than a century for Noah to build a boat. This morning, Solomon gives us several principles that stand alone.

Take the time to read Pro. 15:23-26.

There is a time and a place to speak. We’ve said before that not everything needs to be said and what does need to be said doesn’t necessarily need to be said right now. Solomon starts by saying, “A man has joy in an apt answer, and how delightful is a timely word.” This is definitely a feel good verse. It’s a verse suitable to put on a bumper sticker, Facebook meme, or e-card. But good things said can be off putting when they’re spoken at the wrong time. The wise person knows when to say that good word and when to remain silent. Notice that the perspective is from the giver of the good and timely words. We saw in the last Proverbs message that we should seek wise counsel and it’s from the perspective of receiving that counsel and the joy of getting good guidance. Here Solomon is talking about the blessing of giving that good guidance. It’s not a prideful thing in order for us to confirm how awesome we are. People sometimes come to me for advice and counsel. I know I give good advice because I just tell folks what the Bible says. I try to be persuasive, convincing, and confident in the words I say and it gives me joy and a good feeling that people are listening to the Bible. I get great joy in knowing that the Word is alive and able to help people that need its comfort, guidance, wise counsel, and all the other tangible things that come from within its living pages. You have that same opportunity to give the life changing bread of life!

Here’s another meme worthy quote. “The path of life leads upward for the wise that he may keep away from Sheol below.” The path of life is the same as the way is the same as the gate is the same as the road is the same as the highway. They’re all different ways of saying stay on the path that leads to righteousness. Stay on the path that leads to the Promised Land. Stay on the road that leads to eternity with God. The wise individual knows the dangers that lurk just off the path. When you stay on the path, you will keep away from Sheol, the place of the dead which lies below. Paul said, For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Phil. 3:20) He also said, “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” (Col. 3:1) Too often we think of earth as our eternal home and all our efforts are used to secure heaven on earth which just can’t happen.

Don’t be filled with pride. Solomon says, “The Lord will tear down the house of the proud.” There is a difference in parental pride and personal pride. Speaking to Jesus in Lu. 3:22 God said, “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.” That’s the idea of parental pride – it’s a delight or satisfaction in your children. Of course that can spill over fairly easily into personal pride when we think our kids are better than everyone else’s kids. It’s typically manifested in statements like, “My child would never do that.” Solomon is talking about an elevated sense of self-worth. It’s a theme repeated often in Scripture. Pride is the principle that it’s all about me. Ps. 34:3 says, “O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.” God is at the pinnacle of humanity; He is at the top of everything and does not take a back seat to anything that we consider important. When you magnify yourself over the Lord, you set yourself up in opposition to the first commandment that says, “You shall have no other gods before Me.” (Ex. 20:3) That’s what pride is, right? It’s the idea of self-centeredness. It’s the idea that the world revolves around you. Over and over God says, “It’s all about Me.” That’s what the first commandment is about.       That’s why we have a commandment against idolatry. The house of the proud will come crashing down. Maybe not physically, but that also might be true. God will do what He must to get people to acknowledge that He is what the universe revolves around. There is coming a day where everyone will recognize Jesus for who He is. “For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil. 2:9-11)

The house of the proud will be destroyed, “But He will establish the boundary of the widow.” Being a widow in Scripture is not always glamorous. There are special provisions given to widows because their primary source of support is gone. The church is supposed to, “Honor widows who are widows indeed.” (1 Tim. 5:3) For all the effort and work that goes into accumulating things here, all will be lost, but the boundary of the widow? God will expand her territory and take care of those that are oppressed and afflicted.

I want to hit one more principle. “Evil plans are an abomination to the Lord.” Remember abomination conveys the idea of rotting flesh. Those plans don’t have to come to fruition for God to be displeased. We’ve seen this before. Back in Pro. 6:18, having, “A heart that devises wicked plans,” is in the list of things God hates. Remember the heart is the seat of emotion. What comes out of the mouth reveals what’s inside the heart. When wickedness resides in the heart, evil thoughts and darkness result. When Jesus is in the heart, righteousness and goodness reside there. Because what’s in the heart flows out, the result is Jesus. “Pleasant words are pure.” By definition, goodness and righteousness are there because of Jesus and His working in your life. Jesus being Lord of your life leads to pleasant thoughts, which leads to pleasant words, which leads to pleasing Jesus and many of the people that cross your path. David said, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.” (Ps.19:14)

It’s good to be back in Proverbs. Be sensitive to when it’s best to talk and when it’s best to remain silent. Words used at the right time in the right place can bring great comfort and joy to others. Keep on the path of righteousness, don’t be prideful, and check your plans with God before putting them into play.


The Miracle of the Moment

You can listen to the podcast for this message here.

So I step up on the platform and get behind the pulpit and look at my watch and the people in the congregation for a full minute. I simply smile and look around. The people are nervously looking around at one another wondering what the heck. One minute has passed. (I admit it, I’m not ashamed. Every Christmas, Lifeway offers a special sermon series for pastors to use. I typically use them, but modify them for our congregation.) So a minute has passed. My watch tracks time. It has a second hand which moves every second. 60 seconds moves the big hand one step forward to mark the passing of a minute. It’s amazing how long one minute of silence seems and how short one minute is when you’re doing something you like.

There are 20 days until Christmas. That means there’s about 480 hours until we celebrate the birth of Christ. That’s 28,800 minutes to do all that needs to be done before Christmas arrives. There are presents to buy and wrap; parties to go to, people to visit and we only have 28,800 minutes left to get it done. Since there are only 28,800 minutes left, why did we just waste one precious minute sitting here doing nothing?

Gal. 4:4 says, But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law.

I want us to recognize not only the significance of one moment in time but also of the strategic nature of those moments. We would refer to this strategic nature of time as timing. Have you ever stopped to consider how important timing is to everything that exists? Timing is everything. The best time to start a diet is not around Thanksgiving. If a quarterback is off in his timing for just a split second, he could miss his receiver. Being delayed just a minute could result in missing your flight, or missing a major car accident. If your timing isn’t right, you could be stuck in interstate traffic on I-95. Parents can turn away for one minute and their child is nowhere to be found. C4 sent a team to Romania over Thanksgiving because the timing was right. One minute make a difference. One moment, one sixty-second interval of time, placed in just the right location can make all the difference in the world. It is very easy to get wrapped up in the busyness of the season and miss the miracle of Christmas. This month, I want to spend some time reflecting upon the significance of Christ’s birth.

Gal. 4:4 says, But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law.” Fullness means the appointed time. At just the right time God sent His Son. The reality of that moment in time is that most people missed the miracle of the moment. Most people did not recognize the significance of Jesus Christ. There was too much activity in Bethlehem. Few people knew there was a young girl out in a stable giving birth to the Messiah. They missed the moment and it’s still true for today

That moment was no coincidence. At just the right time in history Jesus was born. This was God’s plan, established from before the foundations of the world.  This was the perfect time. There was relative peace and stability in the region. There was a common language in the area. There was a network of roads that connected city with city and all roads led to Rome. The O.T. prophecies concerning the coming of the Messiah were completed. It was the right time and God sent His Son. The miracle of Christmas is not limited to the fact that God came at just the right time, but that He still comes today. God comes to us with what we need at just the right moment. Many people will go through the motions this season. They’ll endure the decorations, the parties, the busyness, but won’t experience the miracle of the moment. But some will get it; they’ll see the miracle and it will change them. God comes to us at just the right time. He’s there when you need Him. He knows what you’re going through. He knows what you need. His timing is perfect. When we are completely helpless, Christ still comes to us today.

It seems as if we are always waiting for just the right time to do something. To get married. Change jobs. Buy a house, have children. For just the right time to commit our lives to Christ. For just the right time to serve God. Titus 2:11-14 tells us, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.” Jesus came at just the right time . . . not early . . . not late. Mark 1:15 says, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

Today is the day. There is no time like the present. Now is the time to let God transform your life. Now is the time to live for Christ. Now is the time to serve God. One moment, one minute can change eternity. Right now is the moment. Right now the timing is perfect for you to live the life God wants you to live. You don’t need to wait any longer. You don’t have to get to a place where you think you’re good enough to serve Him. Choose to live for Him and serve Him now.

In the movie Jingle All the Way, Arnold Swartzeneggar plays Howard Langston, a workaholic mattress salesman that has little time for his wife and son. He forgets to purchase the hottest toy of the season for his son; Turbo-Man. Throughout the movie, he continues to miss opportunity after opportunity to purchase the action figure. His timing is off. Until that one moment; he is in the right time at the right place. He’s mistaken for the stuntman that was to play Turbo-Man in the Christmas parade. Langston goes on to save his son from the Turbo-Man’s nemesis: Demento. Timing is everything and God shows up jus when we need Him. This Christmas, don’t miss the miracle of the moment.