Today’s post is about the importance of God’s timing in your life. The timing of every detail of your life.
“There is a right time and there is a right way to do everything, but we know so little.” Ecclesiastes 8:6
This verse means that we can do the right thing at the wrong time or in the wrong way. It takes skill to know how to follow God’s timing. There is a rhythm to life.
Wise people learn how to cooperate with that rhythm. They know when to speed up and when to slow down. The more you grow as a follower of Christ the better you get at following God’s timing.
Spiritually, it’s called walking in the Spirit. We’re facing a brand new year next week and one skill to learn in this new year is how to cooperate with God’s timing.
The Bible has a lot to say about running. It talks about running the race of life. If you look at Jesus’ life and ministry, you will find that He had an incredible sense of urgency.
The Gospels use the word ‘immediately’ fifteen times to describe something Jesus did. He had a sense of urgency in His life. The Apostle Paul also had a sense of urgency.
“Run hard and fast in the faith.” 1 Timothy 6:12
“Run in such a way as to get the prize.” 1 Corinthians 9:24
“I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step.” 1 Corinthians 9:26
“…I run to win.” Philippians 3:12
There are times when God wants you to move very, very fast. The Bible also has a lot to say about going slow, about waiting, about taking your time and being patient.
In this new year, when does God want you to move fast and when does He want you to move slowly?
When Should I Move Fast This Year?
1. When God tells me to do something
The Bible is filled with instructions for life. They are called commands, precepts, or directives. Whatever you call them, God expects us to obey them. Parents, what if you told your child to do something and your child said, “I’ll think about it and get back to you.”
That doesn’t work because delayed obedience is disobedience. The same is true with God. When God says, “I’m telling you to do this,” and you say, “I’ll think about it.” Or even, “I’ll pray about it.” You’re being disobedient.
“Jesus said to them, ‘Come follow me.’ So Simon and Andrew, immediately left their nets and followed Him.” Mark 1:17-18
These men are walking away from their careers. They are leaving their jobs to follow Christ. The Bible says they did it immediately.
“Without delay, I hurry to obey your command.” Psalms 119:60
What has God told you to do that you still haven’t done? Has He’s told you to be baptized? Don’t put it off, do it now. Has He’s told you to spend time with Him every day? Do it now. Has He’s told you to start tithing off your income? Do it now.
Delayed obedience is disobedience.
2. When I need to ask or offer forgiveness
One of the biggest reasons you need to forgive quickly is for your own health. Your body is not designed to carry guilt, resentment, or shame. You’ve got to let it go.
When you hold on to guilt about what you have done to someone or you hold on to resentment about what someone else has done to you, it’s like drinking a bitter poison that will eat you alive.
“If you’re giving an offering at worship and suddenly you remember that someone has something against you, leave your offering and go immediately to that person and be reconciled. Then you can come back to worship and offer your gift.” Matthew 5:23-24
If you remember somebody you haven’t forgiven take care of it, immediately. Never use worship as an excuse to procrastinate or to delay. Obedience is the highest form of worship. What sin do you need to confess and ask God to forgive you for? Who do you need to forgive for wounding you?
God says not tomorrow, not next month, not next year, now!
3. When I feel tempted
This is a time to move out of a situation quickly. When you are tempted to do something that is not God honoring, here’s what you do.
Don’t argue with temptation. Never argue with temptation because you’re going to lose. Satan has been arguing for thousands of years longer than you and if you try to argue with the devil you’re going to lose.
The key to overcoming temptation is not to resist, but to run. Don’t argue, just get out of the building. Don’t fight it, flee from it.
“RUN away from all evil things…” 1 Timothy 6:11
“RUN away from the worship of idols…” 1 Corinthians 10:14
“RUN away from sexual sin…” 1 Corinthians 6:18
4. When I’ve made a promise to God
When you make a promise to God don’t delay. A delayed promise is an unfulfilled promise.
“When you make a promise to God, keep it as quickly as possible. He isn’t happy with foolish people. Do what you promised to do!” Ecclesiastes 5:4
What promise do you need to keep right now? Have you made a promise to share your faith with somebody or read through the Bible and never done it? Have you promised to start serving one of these days?
God blesses the person who keeps their promises to Him.
5. When I have an opportunity to do good
When you have the opportunity to do something good for somebody else, don’t delay. Every day God gives you opportunities to practice kindness. This year God is going to give you 366 opportunities to help people in your life who have an obvious need.
God gives you these little tests and asks “Are you going to do something about it when you have the opportunity?”
“Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, while it is in your power to act.” Proverbs 3:27
If you see somebody who needs help, do it right then. We put things off because we think the timing will be better later.
“If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done.” Ecclesiastes 11:4
If you wait for perfect conditions to start reading the Bible, perfect conditions to start tithing, perfect conditions to get involved in a ministry, you’re never going to get anything done. There are never perfect conditions on earth.
Now the reason why the Bible says hurry on these kinds of things is because you don’t have any guarantee of tomorrow.
Jesus says, “All of us must quickly carry out the tasks assigned to us by the Father who sent me because there’s little time left before the night falls and all work will come to an end.” John 9:4
You aren’t guaranteed tomorrow much less next year. So what did you intend to get done last year that you’re still saying, “I’m going to get around to it when the time is right.”
What do you need to get done now? What kind act have you been intending to do for your neighbor, but you still haven’t done it? What act of hospitality are you waiting on?
6. When God offers me salvation
Maybe you have been putting off stepping across that line of faith. You might intend to decide for Christ one of these days, but one of these days turns into none of these days.
Not to decide is to decide. When you say, “Not yet,” you’re saying “No” to Christ.
“God is ready to help you right now. Today is the day of salvation.” 2 Corinthians 6:2
So these are six things that God says to do quickly. When these things come up in your life in the new year, don’t wait, do them quickly.
When Should I Move Slowly This Year?
Not everything in life requires a fast response. There’s a rhythm to life. There are waves and seasons and cycles to life.
“It’s smart to be patient.” Proverbs 14:29
Sometimes you go fast and sometimes you go slow.
1. When I don’t have all the facts
Our culture thinks impulsiveness is cool. We worship spontaneity. We think that if you don’t think about it then it’s authentic, if you plan ahead then it’s inauthentic.
Have you ever heard someone say, “Just go with your gut.” That’s a terrible way to make a decision your gut is often wrong.
“The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, who can know it.” Jeremiah 17:9
You lie to yourself all the time. You tell yourself things are better than they really are. You tell yourself things are worse than they really are.
What you really need this new year is not to trust your gut. What you need is an objective source of truth beyond yourself. Something that you can rely on more than your feelings because your feelings often lead you in the wrong direction.
“Zeal without knowledge is not good; a person who moves too quickly may go the wrong way.” Proverbs 19:2
You get all excited to do something but don’t have the facts yet, that’s not good. How many people do you know that just want to make a decision, it doesn’t matter if it’s right or wrong.
“To decide before knowing the facts is shameful and stupid.” Proverbs 18:13
On your major decisions you want to get the facts not just rely on your gut. That’s why you need to slow down.
2. When I’m hurt or angry
When you are hurt, angry or depressed never make a major decision. Have you ever have made a bad decision when you were upset? We react, we retaliate, we respond before we really it think through and we often make the wrong decision.
“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” James 1:19
There’s a rhythm in that verse? Quick, slow, slow. Quick, slow, slow. If you do the first two the third one’s automatic.
“Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding. But he who is quick tempered makes foolish mistakes.” Proverbs 14:29
“The godly think before speaking.” Proverbs 15:28
Put your mind in gear before you put your mouth in motion. Especially when you are on social media. You don’t have to comment on everything you see there. Social media is full of angry, mad, argumentative people.
“Losing your temper causes trouble but staying calm settles arguments.” Proverbs 15:18
3. When making a major decision
You get in a hurry on a major decision and you’re headed into a brick wall. You get in a hurry to get married, change jobs or make a large purchase you’re headed into a brick wall.
These are decisions that should not be made in a hurry. These are thoughtful decisions that should take some time.
“Wicked people bluff their way through life but God’s people think before they take a step.” Proverbs 21:29
“Ponder the path of your feet then all your ways will be sure.” Proverbs 4:26
Ponder means carefully consider the direction of your life. You can’t ponder fast, you must go slow.
“Sensible people see trouble coming and avoid it but an unthinking person will walk right into it and regret it later.” Proverbs 22:3
You know the number one place for an impulsive, bad decision? In your spending, impulse buying. Buying on credit rather than saving for it and paying cash.
“Plan carefully what you do and you’ll have plenty. If you act too quickly, you will never have enough.” Proverbs 21:5
What does it mean to plan carefully in your spending? Planned spending is called a budget. The solution to impulsive buying is to nip it in the budget.
Here’s the question you need to ask: What do I need to do at the beginning of the year to get me where I want to be at the end of the year? Answering that question takes planning, it takes slow thinking.
4. When waiting for a seed I’ve planted to grow
The Bible talks a lot about sowing and reaping. You plant your seed and then you reap a harvest. This happens in every area of your life.
Plant kindness you reap kindness, plant joy you reap joy, plant gossip you reap gossip. Whatever you plant you will reap.
But there is always a delay between planting and harvest. You don’t put a seed in the ground and next day have an apple tree. There’s a delay between planting and harvest.
“There is a time for everything. And there is a season for every activity under heaven… There is a time to plant, and there’s a time to harvest… a time to scatter and a time to gather…” Ecclesiastes 3:1-5
Everything in life starts as a seed, an idea or a dream. Unless the seed is planted, nothing happens. Once you plant it, you don’t get to harvest it immediately.
You will always reap in a different season than you sow.
Some of you are being generous in an area and you don’t see generosity coming back to you yet. You will reap in a different season than you sow.
“Keep on sowing your seed for you never know which ones will grow, perhaps they all will.” Ecclesiastes 11:6
This year you can plant seeds of love, seeds of generosity, seeds of patience, seeds of kindness and financial seeds through giving to God.
And in the law of planting and harvesting, you always get back more than you planted.
If you are discouraged by the delay,
God says: “At the time I have decided, My words will come true. You can trust what I say about the future. It may take a long time, but keep on waiting, it will happen!” Habakkuk 2:3
There are times you need to go fast and there are times you need to go slow and trust God’s timing.
Let’s begin this new year with a prayer that Solomon prayed in 1 Kings 8:58.
“May God keep us centered and devoted to Him, following the life path that He has cleared, watching the sign post and walking at the pace and rhythms He laid down for our ancestors.”
There’s a pace and a rhythm in life. Sometimes you go fast and sometimes you go slow.
If you’ve never opened your life up to Jesus Christ, you need to start the new year with a new life. You need to do this now. Don’t go one more day without Christ on your side.
If you’ve never invited Jesus Christ into your life you can pray this:
Jesus Christ, come into my heart and life right now. I don’t want to wait another day to follow you. I ask you to forgive me of my sins and give me that new, eternal, abundant life that you offer to those who trust in you. I pray this in Jesus name, Amen.
Check back on your discussion from last week. What are some ways that you were able to let go of fear and latch onto hope last week? Have you identified some voices you need to stop listening to in 2020? What are you going to replace them with?
Hear the Word
“There is a right way and there is a right time to do everything, but we know so little!” Ecclesiastes 8:6
- What do you think the author means by the importance of the right timing and the right way of doing things in your life?
“Without delay, I hurry to obey your command.” Psalm 119:60 TEV
- Delayed obedience is disobedience and to hurry is good when it is related to obeying God. What has God told you to do that you haven’t promptly done? What is holding you back from obeying?
“Zeal without knowledge is not good; a person who moves too quickly may go the wrong way.” Proverbs 19:2 NLT
- We should not move fast in all that we do in life; there are times when going slow is ideal. Discuss when it is prudent to slow down. What is an area where you need to slow down?
“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” James 1:19 NIV
- There can be times when it is difficult to put these principles into practice. What are some situations in life when it is hard for you to follow these steps and how can you make it easier to obey this command?
God says “At the time I have decided, my words will come true. You can trust what I say about the future. It may take a long time, but keep on waiting – it will happen!” Habakkuk 2:3 (CEV)
- What hope do you find in this passage?
Read Ecclesiastes 3:1-5
- Discuss what God tells us in his word about his timing. Share your experience with God’s timing in your life. How do you trust even when it seems to take a long time?
“When you have made a promise to God, keep it as quickly as possible. He isn’t happy with foolish people. Do what you promised to do!” Ecclesiastes 5:4 TEV
- What promise have you made to God that you need to fulfill right now? How can you help one another take your next steps of obedience?
“May God keep us centered and devoted to him, following the life path he has cleared, watching the signposts, and walking at the pace and rhythms he laid down for our ancestors.” 1 Kings 8:58 MSG
- Pray 1 Kings 8:58 together in your group and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you and keep you aware of the signposts and path the Lord has cleared for you.
Tell Someone Else
Who can you share what you have learned in this lesson to help them either speed up or slow down?