What Is Time? ⏱

This subject came up today as I was visiting one of my hospice patients. I’m sure my colleagues would agree that we go there to provide physical, spiritual, and psychosocial care yet they teach us more than we can teach them.

Webster defines time as “the measured or measurable period during which an action, process, or condition exists or continues : duration; a nonspatial continuum that is measured in terms of events which succeed one another from past through present to future; the point or period when something occurs : occasion; an appointed, fixed, or customary moment or hour for something to happen, begin, or end <arrived ahead of time>; an opportune or suitable moment <decided it was time to retire> —often used in the phrase about time <about time for a change>; a historical period : age; a division of geologic chronology; conditions at present or at some specified period —usually used in plural <times are hard> <move with the times>; the present time <issues of the time>; lifetime; a season <very hot for this time of year>; rate of speed : tempo; the grouping of the beats of music : rhythm; a moment, hour, day, or year as indicated by a clock or calendar <what time is it>; any of various systems (as sidereal or solar) of reckoning time; one of a series of recurring instances or repeated.” I cut several portions of the definition out. God defines it a little differently. Considering the fact that God has no beginning, what is time to Him? Second Peter 3:8 says, “…with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” Time is strictly for man’s benefit to measure. 

While time is for our benefit so we can show up somewhere at the proper time or end things in a timely manner, we think that we can attempt to micromanage God’s “timing” since we can control our own to some degree. You can’t hurry God. He appoints times and seasons and controls them for our benefit. The next time you are getting impatient with God, remember He has your best interest at heart and knows what we need when we need it.

I’m going to be a bit unconventional as I end this post. I grew up on secular music. Most people younger than I know him as Darius Rucker. My generation knows him as Hootie. Here’s a throwback video from Hootie and the Blowfish about time.

New YouTube Messages…Finally

I was able to get a hold of two messages I preached in 2015 that I uploaded to YouTube. Prior to that, the most recent messages were from 2012. Feel free to go to YouTube.com/matthewwinters1980 to here these messages. “Restoring Your Hope” is about how God wants to restore your faith and His formula to do so. “What’s Your Power Source?” is a message about the power of the Holy Spirit to enable you to live the Christian life. May God use these to encourage you.

Good Ole Boy Religion

I live in the rural South where the concept of “good ole boys” is esteemed and considered downright spiritual. It is also an unspoken school of thought within denominations also. Pardon my bluntness, but the greatest brown-noser is the one who climbs the ladder and gets the accolades within many of our denominations, especially the more conservative ones. The more you’re against, the more spiritual you appear. Wear the suit, use the right words, carry yourself a certain way, and you are accepted. It seems the more genuine you are, the more you find yourself to not be accepted nor promoted within the denominational ranks.

I grew up in a denomination that is known to be more liberal. Because of these differences, I removed myself from that denomination to be a part of one that aligned more with the Bible. What I found was more man made religion and legalistic definitions of what makes a person spiritual. I ended up becoming what turned me off from evangelical Christianity as a teenager.

Through various circumstances and greater understanding of Scripture, I began to break free from the denominational trappings while still within a particular denomination. I was a misfit, but I did it. I did not worship the denominational idols nor seek the certificates and awards for giving the most to missions efforts, etc. I simply wanted to be a healthy, biblical child of God.

I know someone reading this today feels like he or she has to conform to what someone else told you rather than the Holy Spirit conforming you into the image of Christ. Break those legalistic denominational shackles and just get back to the Bible. Pray, get in the Bible, and allow God to change you. God never called you to be a good ole boy (or girl). He called you to be you under His life-changing power. So what if you have baggage. We all do. God will take the mess of your life and use it for His glory. The trash talkers will run their mouth about you but hold your head up high in full confidence that God cares more about you than you’ll ever imagine, and you never have to try to impress Him.

God Won’t Make You Love Him

“Love so undeniable, I can hardly speak Peace so unexplainable I can hardly think As You call me deeper still into love.” These lyrics from the song “Good, Good Father” are my absolute favorite. These few words say SO much about our God.

He does not force us to love Him, but His love strongly draws us. For this boy at the age of six, it was difficult to deny the love of God that was poured out on the cross for my sin. I knew that I needed what only He could provide. He drew me to Him at the age of six and draws me deeper into His love. Am I saying He loves me more now? Not at all! He loves me the same now as He did before I ever physically existed. 

God won’t make you love Him, but He will pursue you. You and I are the ones who make the choice to reject or embrace His love. 

As you tell others about their need for Christ, may I remind you that “the goodness of God leads to repentance” (Romans 2). We do have to point out sin, but we should emphasize the love that overcomes sin…that our good God made a way for us to be with Him when we deserved the worst. 

The love of God to a sinner like me is the most humbling thought. But God didn’t leave me in my sin. As He drew me, I moved toward Him. Will you draw deeper into the knowledge of His love?

I Can’t Quit

When the circumstances of my life were plummeting, I was like a deer in headlights. I had no clue what to do. I knew that divorce was imminent, and that divorced and pastor don’t do well in many circles. I immediately began to seek counsel. I was sure that all the “religious professionals” would tell me to quit and get a job scraping gum off school desks or something. The amazing thing was they all said, “Don’t give up on your calling!” For the first week, I was going to give up on ministry and simply exist until I died. Then came a breaking point. I told God that I will continue to serve Him, and if He didn’t want to use me then He could stop me. The way ministry is expressed in my life has taken on different expressions, but I still have not given up on my calling. The modern day Pharisees and Saducees may read this and criticize, but I can’t quit on what God birthed in my heart many years ago.

God has a word for some reader today. You are ready to quit on something God has put within you. It isn’t happening fast enough for you (I understand that feeling). God promised Abraham and Sarah that they would have a son named Isaac. He didn’t come fast enough. This is a word for me too. God follows through with His promises. We must be faithful, even when the timing kills us. All I know is I CAN’T AND WON’T QUIT!!!!!!!

I’m Changing the Order

I can’t tell you how many times I have prepared a message to preach and been divinely interrupted by God. I felt like a cook who prepared a meal, brought it out to the customer, and the customer changed his mind.

God is different. He is the Creator and Owner of all things, so He can change whatever He wills. You and I must be obedient.

Our problem is that we often have our plans and want God to bless them. He won’t do it. He’ll let us mess up, but He won’t bless something He didn’t order. 

What He wants from us is flexibility and a willingness to change whenever He redirects. Are you and I so determined to have our way that we push God out of the equation?

Here is what I have learned: Surrender! I don’t call the shots. Jesus Christ, my Commander in Chief, called me into His service when I was very young. For that reason, I obey His marching orders. Are you bold enough to join me? “The righteous are as bold as a lion” (Proverbs 28:1).

What to Do in the Midnight Hour

Have you ever been in a season of your life that seemed dark and hopeless? I think we could all say yes. In Acts 16, Paul and Silas were in a prison cell at midnight for obeying God. This just doesn’t seem fair. We feel the same way when hardships come our way. “It isn’t fair!” “Why did it happen to me?” “I don’t deserve this!”

Life isn’t fair, but Paul and Silas didn’t play the victim card. In their dilemma (the prison), God brought deliverance. When they could have whined and complained, they prayed and sang. An earthquake set them free, but they recognized their purpose for being in that prison. 

Their deliverance produces an open door for witness. The jailer’s job was to make sure no one escaped. At first thought, he was sure everyone was gone. By the providence of God, everyone stayed. When the jailer was preparing to kill himself, Paul and Silas were able to tell him how he could have a relationship with Jesus Christ. This resulted in the conversion of the jailer and his family.

You may be in a “prison” right now, but God wants to “deliver” you from your “dilemma” and open a “door” for His glory. 

If I could imagine a song that would Paul and Silas may have sung, it would have been this one below. May it escort you into the very presence of God.

Assuming Confidentiality

For many years, I have always abided by this rule: if someone tells me something, I keep it to myself unless I am given permission to tell. I used to think that was a general rule of thumb, but I quickly discovered that more people can’t wait to tell what you told them. It’s something called gossip. 

How does God feel about gossip? Notice what the Bible says: “He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets; Therefore do not associate with one who flatters with his lips” (‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭20:19‬ ‭NKJV‬‬). God tells us not to associate with those who gossip and flatter. We have to associate with some people outside of our choosing, but we should choose good company if we can. It definitely reduces drama.

If you gossip and flatter, God tells others to stay away from you. If you want people in your life, assume confidentiality when they tell you things. In my mind, it is just common courtesy. 

Time for Reopening

A few weeks ago, I made a decision to close out my Facebook ministries page (Matthew Winters: Encouraging the Church – http://www.facebook.com/Pastormatthewwinters). However, I receive quite a bit of traffic in the two weeks Facebook gives you before permanent deletion. With that in mind, I will keep it going. It is easy to get caught up in the numbers game, but I am trusting that God will use it even if it only reaches a few. I do have a number of people who follow that who do not follow me on any other social media. I want to use whatever means to minister encouragement to as many as possible. I encourage you to follow, invite friends, or just stop by once a month to see what’s going on. God bless you today as you have set this time aside for worship!