Have you ever walked through a situation in your life, and just wished you could have a “do-over?”  Yeah, me too.  We all have these moments, don’t we?  We get blindsided by life, frustrated by life, or just end up in a painful interaction with people on this planet, and through our hurts, or emotions, and just how jumbled up our hearts are things happen, we mess up, we say things we wish we wouldn’t, and make a situation worse that we were struggling with to begin with.  Ever been there?  Just walking away from a moment with someone thinking I wish I could do that over…or maybe just how or what just happened?   A lot of these situations just seem to blindside us…they seem to come out of nowhere, and we just aren’t prepared for those moments, and often in the heat of that moment, well, things happen, and we just wish we could hit rewind in those moments, take our words or actions back and try again, don’t we?  I don’t know about you, but some of the lowest moments I have had with people, or life in general seem to happen when I am already hurting, tired, and walking through something, just feeling empty, and that seems to be when more things in life pop up, and in that state, we can make the mess bigger than it already is.  It feels like at times like that, life should be thrown a penalty flag, and given a personal foul for piling on me when I’m already in a bad spot.  Can you relate to that in any way?  It’s interesting how life can seem to just sneak up on us, and hit us so hard at times, and while we know how we respond to life and people reveals so much about our spiritual maturity and emotional health, well we don’t always react well to things.

So, as we get started here today, I want you to think about your life for a moment.  Can you look back over your life and see moments of peace and moments of stress and intensity?  We don’t always like it, but life goes up and down, doesn’t it?  Forget moments, can you look back over your life and see different seasons?  Maybe some seasons where life was peaceful and great and other seasons of life that are so stressful, painful, and intense?  Can you think of some moments where you wish you could have a “do-over?”  Can you think of some times in your life when you were already struggling, maybe pushing through life completely exhausted or overwhelmed, or just in so much pain, and then something pops up and boom, you respond in a way you wish you wouldn’t have?  Yeah, me too.  But, what if I told you there was a way to be prepared so that WHEN this stuff hits your life again, it isn’t a blindsided hit that causes an unprepared, hurt, and emotional response but would put you in a place where you don’t need to go searching for a “do-over” but can respond in a healthier way and not compound things in your life through hurts and reactive responses to things, that maybe if we think about it shouldn’t be a total surprise.  You see the wise prepare their hearts for every season, so when the messy stuff hits, it is not a surprise, or shock, because we know the messy stuff hits.  We may not know the details or exactly what will come, but we know it will come.  The wise have invested in their heart condition and are prepared for life understanding as we all should that life hits and can hit hard.

Today we are continuing this Deeper Dive into Wisdom, where we are circling back to some of the more important and repeated subjects of Solomon’s Manual of Living, and I think you have seen over the last month or so why this is so important.  We spent two weeks looking at what a Godly Life really looks like, and then two weeks diving into the heart.  Something Solomon brings up all the time.  First, we spoke of the importance of the heart, and that your heart condition is seen, felt, and heard…you just can’t hide it.  Then last week Ken was talking to us about how our Spiritual Maturity is measured in how we respond to life and relationships, and he walked us through some great points on the challenges we face in relationships.  Those two talks lead us into what we are diving into today.  We want our hearts in a good spot and need to tend to them so that we can respond well to life and people, to do that we must continue this conversation on the heart and focus on one very specific idea, the wise prepare their hearts for every season of life.  Life isn’t sneaking up on them.  They understand how challenging life can be.  They grasp that there will be good times and bad, painful moments and joyous moments, they understand there are seasons of peace and seasons of adversity, this stuff doesn’t sneak up on them, and in their wisdom, they prepare for each season of life.   Today we are going to take a deeper dive into this awesome statement in Proverbs 20.  This is so big…

Proverbs 20:4 Those too lazy to plow in the right season will have no food at the harvest. NLT

I absolutely love this and find this to be a huge life lesson for every aspect of our lives, from our physical health to our emotional health, to our Spiritual Health, right down to our ability to connect and relate to people, and just navigate life, this is a major life lesson.  Now I know, not everyone here is a farmer, but this imagery is incredibly clear. I want you to truly think about this.  There is a time to plow the field and prepare it for harvest.  While everyone loves the harvest and the food that comes from it, not everyone is all that passionate about the mundane work of preparing the field and plowing it in the right season, so the food is ready when the time comes.  We all want the food from the harvest when we are hungry.  We don’t all want to prepare the field, do the work, and engage in the process that gets us to the things we all want.  We aren’t all aware or thinking ahead and preparing for things like the harvest. This is something we can relate to in many facets of our lives.

It’s interesting, we live in a world that really pushes the concept of living in the moment, don’t we?  Seize the day!  Carpe Diem!  Enjoy the moment, feed it, have fun, and blissfully roll on, letting tomorrow take care of itself.  Well, there is some fun in that, but if we aren’t prepared, aware, of what is to come, or just living in the moment, we live in a constant state of reacting to life, which is when we make tough times worse times, and find ourselves scrambling around, looking for “do-overs”.  The wise understand that there is a season or time for everything in life.  They understand that life is tough at times, even painful and chaotic.  While life still hurts and they still have emotions to deal with, life doesn’t sneak up on the wise, they prepare for it.  The unwise always seem to allow life to sneak up on them and end up looking for that “rewind button or do-over” but I want to ask you this.  While there will be moments that catch us off guard, if you really stop and think about it…as unpredictable as life is, and as often as it sneaks up on us…most of life is pretty predictable.

So, let me ask you a couple of questions that will help you see what I’m saying.  If you stay up late one evening watching movies and hanging out with your friends, should it truly surprise you that your next day of school or work is going to be difficult and that you will feel tired, grumpy, and off all day?  No, it shouldn’t but so often the alarm clock blaring the next morning does catch us off guard, doesn’t it?  On the physical fitness front, if you do not exercise and eat whatever you want, should it sneak up on you that you aren’t physically as fit as you were when you were exercising and eating healthy?  No, it shouldn’t but it often does, doesn’t it?  Should it really surprise you that relationships with people are difficult, messy, disappointing, and often painful?  No, it really shouldn’t but it often does!  How about I get super practical, should your taxes, your car inspections, and regular maintenance type things sneak up on us in life, no but so often they do.  If you spend all your money with no regard for saving your money, should it sneak up on you that you don’t have any money?  No, but so often it does, doesn’t it?  Let’s get deeper than that…should it sneak up on us in any way that life is hard, that our lives are spiritually opposed, and that our enemy is doing his best to take out our hearts each day?  Well as Christians, this should not sneak up on us, we should be prepared, but more often than not, we aren’t engaging God, we ignore the Spiritual War, and so often it feels like it comes out of nowhere and we just aren’t ready for things that we should see coming.  The wise understand that they must be prepared for life, or they will struggle.  I love this line from Solomon and think it is a profound truth for us all today.

Proverbs 20:4 Those too lazy to plow in the right season will have no food at the harvest. NLT

We have lots of reasons why we don’t feel the need to prepare or plow in the right season.  But this is something that becomes a major key to us experiencing our best lives possible.  Being prepared, and investing in our lives in the right seasons, we are ready for life as it happens.  When we talk about seasons, to a farmer we are talking about the weather and the rhythm of when to plant and grow crops but in life, we walk through different seasons as well.  Solomon talks about the concept of seasons a good bit and if you have spent any length of time on this planet you understand that life hits and goes up and down.  You have experienced different seasons in your life.  The longer you spend time on this planet the more seasons of life you experience.  Some are peaceful and wonderful, some are painful and frustrating, some are exciting and hopeful, and you hope they never end, and some are exhausting and overwhelming and feel like they will never end.  But we all walk through seasons in our lives, that we know…so this should be something we are ready for as well.  If we go to Ecclesiastes, Solomon once again talks about seasons but dives deeper into that thought from Proverbs 20:4.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. 2 A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. 3 A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up. 4 A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. 5 A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away. 6 A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away. 7 A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak. 8 A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace. NLT

For everything there is a season, there are beautiful seasons of life, new beginnings and painful seasons of death, and things ending.  There are good times and there are bad times in our lives.  You could be sitting here today walking through a very painful season of your life just wondering if you are going to get through another day.  If that is you, I’m so sorry you are walking through that right now.  You could be walking through an awesome season of your life just absolutely thrilled with how things are going, if that is you that is awesome, and we are happy for you…but wherever you are we must understand that one of the most important and predictable things in life is that life keeps happening…seasons come and go and they keep changing and we must be prepared for all that is to come, life shouldn’t sneak up on us.  Today I want to talk about how we prepare our hearts for whatever season hits our lives next, which is important because life goes up and down, seasons come and go, and those who want to experience a great harvest in their lives understand that they must prepare their hearts for things to come.  Here’s what is so interesting about that.  If you are walking through good times, you probably do not feel any urgency to prepare your hearts for a more challenging season.  If you are walking through a painful and difficult season you probably are too heartbroken or discouraged to even want to take care of your heart condition.  This is difficult, but so, so important because as unpredictable as life is, there is one thing we can predict, life keeps happening…

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: It goes on.” Robert Frost

As Solomon says, there is a time for everything, and seasons will come and go, but we must take care of our hearts.  Remember, “above all else,” the most important thing we can do is care for our heart conditions because it determines how our lives will go.  We prepare because we know confidently that life will go on, ups and downs will happen, and life, people, adversity, and different seasons will continue to hit us, and our response, health, and ability to connect well to God and others will come down to whether we have taken care of our hearts so we can be rewarded with the right harvest…in good times, and in painful and challenging times as well.  Just as if I want to run a race well, I shouldn’t be trying to get in shape the day of the race, or if I want to be fit for my summer vacation the day to go to the gym isn’t the day before the vacation, well when it comes to life, the importance of investing into our heart and spiritual condition is huge because life will hit, seasons will come and go, and we need to be prepared!  As unpredictable as life can be, the wise can predict it, the unwise do not prepare for the challenges they will face, and it only compounds their lives and the adversity they face.  Reactive living only makes the mess messier, the hard stuff harder, and the unwise find themselves searching for more and more “do-overs” while the wise won’t get it all right all the time, but are not living so reactively, they understand this life principle.  So how could we take this life principle and truly plant well in the right season to harvest well when we need to?

Proverbs 20:4 Those too lazy to plow in the right season will have no food at the harvest. NLT

Well with the time I have left, I want to walk you through the best way to care for your heart (prepare your field) so that we can reap an awesome harvest as needed, because new seasons, life issues, people stuff, none of the challenges of life should be sneaking up on us, and we want to get to this place where we don’t need to keep searching for the do-over button of life and frankly, the ways we care for our hearts and prepare our fields shouldn’t sneak up on us either!

Immerse Yourself in God’s Word

The best way to be prepared for all that life throws at you in any season is to engage God’s Word.  If we don’t make God’s Word a priority in our lives, we can’t expect our hearts will be prepared, or set on following Him.  For some of us, this study of Proverbs may be the first time we truly engaged God’s word with this much of a focus, and isn’t it amazing how it can truly lead and guide our lives as we immerse ourselves in it?  This is so important it truly can guide us!

Psalms 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.  NIV

But we can say it out loud here today, there are seasons or times in our lives where following God is a lot easier than other times.  There are parts of Scripture that may be easier to follow than others as well. I mean it’s one thing to follow God’s word and love others when they are treating you well, but it is a whole other thing when loving others means dealing with painful situations, forgiving, and giving back love.  There are times when it’s easy and times when it is not, but in the end, without God’s Word and truth to anchor to and guide our lives, we will struggle.

James 1:25 But if you look closely into the perfect law that sets people free, and keep on paying attention to it and do not simply listen and then forget it, but put it into practice — you will be blessed by God in what you do. GNT

Pour Out Your Heart To God.

You know David is known as the man after God’s own heart, and I think as Solomon’s father he instilled so much in Solomon that helped Solomon and all of us so much.  David most definitely immersed himself in God’s Word, and all through Psalms we get example after example of David urging us to and taking his own heart and pouring it out to God.  If we had more time we would work through some of the painful and challenging moments of David’s life, where you can see his heart was prepared for the intensity of the moment, David understood from painful mistakes and incredible perseverance and victories at times in his life the importance of engaging God’s Word and pouring our hearts out to Him…I love this line in Psalm 62.

Psalm 62:8 O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge. NLT

Can we take a second look at that Scripture, not only is David encouraging us to pour out our hearts to God, but to trust in Him, AT ALL TIMES!

Trust In God AT ALL TIMES!

There are some seasons of our lives where trusting God is just easier than others aren’t there?  There are times when life makes sense, or as Solomon says there is a time for laughing and a time for dancing and embracing…these are the times that trusting God makes sense…but the reality of life is there are other seasons too, aren’t there?  As Solomon says there are times to cry and times to grieve and mourn and these are much, tougher times to trust God…David himself has walked through incredibly great and incredibly painful times in his life…from winning victories over giants, and sitting as King of Israel, to falling to sin, being hunted down by Saul and his armies, and betrayed by his own son, to the grief and loss of family and friends…and yet, He encourages us to trust in God AT ALL TIMES.

I’m not sure there is a more challenging lesson to learn in life and quite frankly this is the lesson that I believe that God is pushing in on my mind and heart harder and harder…to trust Him in all things, at all times.  It is one thing to trust Him in the peaceful and happy seasons of our lives, it is a whole other thing to trust Him in the painful and challenging moments of life…when people hurt you, leave you, let you down, and reject you…when you stand in the yard watching your daughter drive away as she leaves the home to try life her way, as you get those scary calls in the middle of the night, from your children and you know they are in trouble and need dad, but our so far away, all you can do is pray and trust Him to care and protect them…or when things just don’t seem to go the way we want in life, with our careers, with our relationships, with our families, and loved ones…I mean, that is a whole other thing, isn’t it?  The way through is our time with God in His word, engaging Him, and getting to know Him at a level where we begin to wrap our hearts and minds around His great love for us…the more we immerse ourselves in His Word, the more we pour our hearts out to Him the more we can wrap our minds around Him, His love for us, His protection and provision, the more we can trust Him, AT ALL TIMES…the more prepared we are for life and whatever season we face next.  Trusting God at ALL times has some incredible benefits to our lives.  Trusting God is one of the last great hurdles to us experiencing our best lives possible on this side of Eternity because of these benefits that so few experience because trusting Him is so difficult!

When I trust in God at ALL times, I learn to stop working so hard and start learning to simply relax in being with God.  This is a very peaceful and amazing concept in faith when I truly trust in God, I don’t have to strive to be anything.   I don’t have to manufacture things that God already does.  Yes, I will be responsible and disciplined, but I don’t have to strive to be something someday, I can simply be and allow God to be God in my life!  I was reading through Psalms the other day and this really caught my eye…for so many of us we love God and in our passion, we want to constantly be improving and striving to be the man or woman God wants us to be someday but if I trust in God at ALL times I also can slow down, be still, and know who really runs the show…right?  We read Psalm 46:10 a lot and know this…

Psalms 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” NIV

For a lot of us, there is nothing more challenging than to be still, and just trust Him…we are in a discipleship class on Wednesday evenings right now and one of the things we are doing is taking some time to be quiet and still, and it’s incredible how challenging that can be for just a minute of our busy loud lives.  But I just lingered in this verse, because it is so challenging for so many of us, to simply be still…I started reading it in different versions of Scripture and I want you to check out how this reads in the New American Standard Bible…this was a new translation for me that really hit my heart!

Psalm 46:10 “Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” NASB

Wow!  Cease striving and know that I am God.  When I trust God, I will be still, I will cease striving, and know who is running the show!  This really leads to another great benefit of trusting God…and that is understanding that apart from Him I can do nothing!

When I trust God at ALL times, I learn who is in control and who is not!  So, I not only stop striving and can be still and allow God to be God, but I do so with the trust and understanding that I need to stay connected to Him, with Him we are good, but apart from Him I can do nothing!

John 15:5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” NLT

Listen, life hits and it hits hard.  It always surprises us, but it really shouldn’t.  The wise understand that as unpredictable as life is it is pretty predictable, it isn’t easy, life will keep happening.  There is a season and a time for everything, they understand that life goes up and life goes down, there are good times and bad times, joyous and lively moments, and extremely painful seasons of life too…and while we often wish we could avoid the tough stuff and just sit in the good stuff, that isn’t how life works…and we know that.  So, we need to ask ourselves what we are doing to prepare our hearts for what life brings to us next.  Here are some personal questions to answer as we close today.

  • What season of life do you find yourself in right now?    
  • Are there times in your own life when you feel focused on God and investing in your heart and other times when you have no focus or urgency to prepare your heart well?
  • Would you say that you live a reactive life?  Does life sneak up on you time and time again?  Should it?
  • Have you found yourself in moments of your life where you just needed a “do-over?”  We all have.
  • Do you immerse yourself in God’s word?
  • Do you pour out your heart to God?
  • Can you trust in Him AT ALL TIMES, in all seasons of your life or do you find that to be a challenge depending on your circumstances at that time, in that season?
  • What would you need to do, and what would you need to stop doing that could allow you to prepare your heart and stop living so reactively?

Listen we love you so much, and we want you to be prepared for all life throws at you because as much as we don’t know what will come next, we can predict one thing with certainty…life will keep happening…challenges will come, seasons will come and go…as unpredictable as life is, it is pretty predictable.  So, think this through.  Are you taking care of your heart?  Are you ready for the next thing life throws at you, the wise they understand that life is tough but they also understand and have the wisdom to prepare, so that when, not if but when the next season comes, they enjoy the benefits of a healthy heart even in their hurts and pain, and because they aren’t reacting but have a heart that is prepared they don’t make a hard life harder, or a painful moment more painful…I’m not sure there is a more profound thought than this one from Solomon, there is a season for everything, the wise understand, they prepare, and enjoy the harvest long before they are hungry.

Proverbs 20:4 Those too lazy to plow in the right season will have no food at the harvest. NLT