Saturday, August 1, 2015

come before winter

I know it is hot summer time.  I definitely know it is hot.  I just spent a few days in Hot Springs, Arkansas and it was hot!  Summer time definitely has it's share of hot weather. Here where I live, we also have added humidity.  I am ever thankful for my air conditioner.  Summer is one of our four seasons.  Summer is a time of growth in the crops.  As I sit here typing, I can look out the window at the corn fields that surround my house and see the changes that are taking place. I can also see a rose budding on my new rosebush and even some weeds that need to be pulled.  Summer is a time of growing and plenty. In the fall comes harvest.  My son loves watching the big tractors come and do the work of harvest. Next will come winter.
Winter is a time of dormancy. Trees and plants are dormant, hiding for the next time of growth.  They are buried in the dirt, life is hidden from view. Winter can be barren, hard and cold. It can be difficult.  In today's society, we can run to the grocery store and get groceries and food. In times past and in some areas of the world, winter means supplies are limited and you must have stored up for the winter.
Growing up, I remember my grandmother would have a huge garden in the summer.  She would take her harvest of vegetables and either can or freeze most of what she harvested. She had a pantry room lined with shelves. Those shelves would be filled with jars of green beans, corn, tomatoes and other things she had canned. She could feed her family for the winter.

Proverbs 6:6-11

Go to the ant, you sluggard!
Consider her ways and be wise,
7 Which, having no captain,
Overseer or ruler,
8 Provides her supplies in the summer,
And gathers her food in the harvest.
9 How long will you slumber, O sluggard?
When will you rise from your sleep?
10 A little sleep, a little slumber,
A little folding of the hands to sleep—
11 So shall your poverty come on you like a prowler,
And your need like an armed man.

Winter can be a time of trouble or struggle in our spiritual lives as well. We can have a spiritual winter. We all go through seasons in our lives.  We are reminded that we are to prepare for those times. In Proverbs it tells us to remember the ant and how she stores up.  Winter can be cold, barren and lacking in things we need or want.

In 2 Timothy 4:21 Do your utmost to come before winter. Paul was telling Timothy to come before winter. He also said in verse 9: Be diligent to come to me quickly;

Paul knew winter would be a hard time to travel.  He also knew winter would be harder to go through without support from a brother in Christ.  He needed Timothy to be there with him during winter.  He wanted Timothy to travel safely, but also to be with him during the long hard times of winter.  He needed encouragement and fellowship.
Paul had an understanding of preparing for winter.  After his conversion, he spent some time studying and pouring over the Word to prepare for ministry.  He spent time in prayer and fasting for the calling on his life.  He had even reminded Timothy to study the word of God. (2 Timothy 2:15)
Paul endured some tough times of persecution and imprisonment for the gospel's sake. He knew he could go through these tough, cold seasons because he had stored up the Word of God, faith in God and love of His Savior.    He had prepared for the tough times through times of plenty and growth.

Jesus prepared for his time of trouble, his winter. He was known for going off alone to pray. His most famous time of praying was in the Garden of Gethsemane. He went to pray and gain strength from the Heavenly Father for the extremely difficult time he knew was coming. He was going to be betrayed by his dearest friends and family, beaten, accused and killed by those he came to save.
He prepared for this season through prayer.

God does not ask us to pray, fast and study just to have control over our time. He does not ask us to do these things to show us that we are religious. He asks us to pray, fast and study to be able to endure the hard times. He wants us to store up the blessings, Word, strength and His Spirit in the good seasons so we can endure the hard seasons that come our way.  When we are preparing in the times of plenty, we know we can endure the hard times because we know God is our provider. We have spiritually stored up experiences with Him that will remind us that we can rely on Him and endure through the trials.  God will carry us through all our seasons.

Don't forget to store up for winter.  Prepare for winter.  Even if you feel like blessings are overflowing and abundance is yours, prepare for the times of trouble.  God will be with you in every season.

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