Archive for the ‘Harvest’ Tag

You Reap What You Sow   2 comments

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This is from the blog Vessels of Clay:

You have plowed iniquity; you have reaped injustice; you have eaten the fruit of lies. Because you have trusted in your own way and in the multitude of your warriors, therefore the tumult of war shall arise among your people, and all your fortresses shall be destroyed, Shalman destroyed Beth-arbel on the day of battle; mothers were dashed in pieces with their children.Thus it shall be done to you, O Bethel, because of your great evil. At dawn the king of Israelshall be utterly cut off. – Hosea 10:13-15 ESV

At times, even as believers, we are surprised at the outcomes of some of our decision making. We are somehow amazed that our lies have consequences. We are shocked when our love affair with materialism leaves us struggling with greed, envy, covetousness, worry and anxiety. We wonder why we are so angry, yet never connect the dots to our daily consumption of violence-filled media. We wrestle with lust, but never seem to associate it with the sexually explicit programming that fills our TV screens each and every night.

The Israelites were also oblivious to the cause-and-effect nature of their lives. So God made it clear to them: “you have cultivated wickedness and harvested a thriving crop of sins” (Hosea 10:13 NLT). In other words, they were reaping exactly what they should have expected. No surprises. Just the natural consequences of living their lives apart from God. They had consumed a daily dose of lies about everything. They had been told that God would not punish them for their sins because they were His chosen people. They had been promised that alliances with foreign powers would protect them from destruction. They believed that the gods of pagan nations were anything but false. But while a steady diet of lies may taste good going down and make you feel good for the moment, it will leave you spiritually weak, malnourished, and starving to death. 

Self-reliance and misplaced trust were behind the behavior of the Israelites. “Claiming to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:22 ESV). The prophet, Jeremiah, recorded a similar indictment from God against the people of Judah. “My people are foolish and do not know me. They are stupid children who have no understanding. They are clever enough at doing wrong, but they have no idea how to do right!” (Jeremiah 4:22 NLT). They thought they knew better than God. They rejected His commands and ignored His warnings. They lived life according to their own terms. They stopped trusting God and, instead, placed their hope in false gods. When things got tough and they found themselves threatened by outside forces, they turned to alliances with countries like Egypt. They refused to rely on God. He had become small, insignificant and insufficient to meet their needs. The God who had delivered them from captivity in Egypt and given them the land of Canaan had become too weak to meet their needs. They had long ago forgotten the words of David:

Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed; he will answer him from his holy heavenwith the saving might of his right hand. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright. – Psalm 20:6-8 ESV

Not only did they doubt God’s salvation, they denied His judgment. They really did not believe that they could fall. They were so confident in their status as God’s chosen people, that they believed they were invincible. And yet, they never seemed to recognize the fact that their protection by God was based on their obedience and faithfulness to him. He had warned them that disobedience would bring His discipline. Unfaithfulness would have consequences. So God gave them the bad news: “Now the terrors of war will rise among your people” (Hosea 10:14 NLT). Their army would be impotent. Their alliances would prove useless. Their fortresses and defensive measures would be insufficient. And their false gods would be exposed for what they were: non-existent and, therefore, no help in time of need.

The devastation would be horrific. Referring to a past battle, God warned them that their fall would be brutal and merciless: “as Shalman destroyed Beth-arbel on the day of battle; mothers were dashed in pieces with their children” (Hosea 10:14b ESV). The Assyrians were going to show no mercy. Their destruction of the nation of Israel would be complete and no one would escape their wrath. From king to commoner, priest to prostitute, the influential to innocent infants – all would feel the wrath of the Assyrians and the judgment of God.

These kinds of passages make us uncomfortable as believers. They paint a picture of God that seems to contradict our view of Him as loving, gracious, forgiving and merciful. But too often, our understanding of God can become one-dimensional. We prefer to emphasize His love while downplaying His holiness and hatred of sin. We find comfort in His grace, but don’t want to think about His righteous wrath and divine obligation to punish sin. In doing so, we diminish the value of the gift of His Son. But it is in understanding the severity of sin’s offensiveness to God and His just and righteous obligation to punish sin that we fully comprehend the magnitude of what Christ has done for us. “God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8 NLT). Jesus “was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God” (Romans 4:25 NLT). The inescapable reality was that “even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead” (Ephesians 2:5 NLT).

Our sin was real. God’s judgment against our sin was deserved. And yet He showed us mercy – in spite of our sinfulness. Grace does not diminish the gravity of sin. It actually reveals the amazing love of God as He provides a means of salvation that is capable of satisfying His wrath against sin. He gave His Son. It was the death of Jesus alone that could propitiate or satisfy the just judgment of God against the sinfulness of mankind. Nothing else would do. No other payment could have been made that would have paid the debt that was owed. So when we elevate God’s love while ignoring His wrath, we actually diminish the amazing nature of that love. He loved us in spite of us, not because of us.

And yet, we continue to sow and reap, sin and suffer, because we don’t fully appreciate the gravity of sin and the greatness of His grace. We justify our actions, rationalize our sinful behavior and then wonder why we reap discontentment, dissatisfaction, anger, joylessness, envy, greed, and immorality. It is an accurate understanding of the grace of God that should produce in us the fruit of righteousness. As God told the people of Israel, “Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love. Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the LORD, that he may come and shower righteousness upon you” (Hosea 10:12 NLT).

Discipline

Harvest   Leave a comment

This is from the blog Daily Meditation:

Job 24:6: They reap every one his corn in the field: and they gather the vintage of the wicked. (KJV)

The harvest is the culmination of all efforts in a planting season. Every farmer looks to the harvest. His labour is informed by the hope of harvest. Therefore, whatever time, resources or effort you put into your relationship with God will yield the harvest of increased expression of God through you, and stronger and better relationship with him.

Paul said that he plants and Apollos waters but it is God who gives the increase, bringing forth the harvest. His and Apollos’ efforts as fellow workers with God are based on the hope of harvest in the lives of the people, in the needed changes in their lives (1Corinthians 3:6-9).

Jesus described his life as a seed; saying except a corn of wheat falls to the ground and dies it abides alone; after it is sown, it brings forth much fruit (John 12:24). His life as a seed sown in the death on the cross brings the harvest of harvests of souls into the kingdom of God.

The psalmist says he plants the word of God in his life so that he will bring the harvest of righteousness. The sowing in the word starts a process, and the change within us is the harvest.

It will be a sad situation when there is the scarcity of the seed of Word of God. It happened in the time of Eli, when the bible says that the word of God was scarce and there was no open vision (1Samuel 3:1). There was spiritual starvation, since the word of God which was scarce is seed. If the seed is scarce, there will be not much planting going on and there will be starvation.

We need the word as we need food, with Job saying that he loves the word of God more than his necessary meal (Job 23:12). In the same way, we should recognise our intense need for spiritual sustenance from the word of God (Matthew 4:4).

The bible says that as the earth remains seedtime and harvest will not cease. So if we do not sow the word there will be no harvest of enhances spiritual blossoming.

There is more labour and time involved in the sowing and the processes leading up to the harvest than the harvest itself. Therefore between sowing and harvest we need endurance and patience. The bible says that we should follow those who through faith (the initial response to the promise) and patience (continued response to the promise) obtained the promise (Hebrews 6:12). When the promise (the word of God) was made that was the seedtime, when the realisation came, that was the harvest. The harvest does not immediately follow the sowing; there is a time lag involved. Nevertheless, harvest is inevitable as we continue being hopeful (Hebrews 6:17-19). (Both faith and patience emanates from hope [Hebrews 11:1, Romans 8:25, 1Thessalonians 1:3]). That will keep us on the path of doing what is needed to have a good harvest. Without hope, even after the sowing, there will be no harvest.

In another place we read: do not be weary in well-doing because in due season you will reap if you faint not (Galatians 6:9). Therefore good deeds are seeds sown in which there will be harvest. It is the same with hospitality; the bible says that we should take hospitality serious because some have entertained angels unawares (Hebrews 13:2). That was how Abraham got the harvest of a son he had been looking for decades. He sowed the seed of hospitality, entertaining God and two angels, and had the harvest of a son from his aged wife Sarah, against the natural course of things (Genesis 18:2-10).

Harvest speaks of return on investment. We invest out time, our resources and our actions; because these three are common to all humanity, everyone has something to sow for a desired harvest. You can change the pattern of your life by changing the pattern of your sowing. The meritorious, circumspective and judicious investment of those three, will count for better harvest of in our lives. We can either invest them by effort or by default, either way the harvest is inevitable; for better or worse.

Time

Jesus said I must do the work of him who sent me while it is day because the night comes when no man can work (John 9:4). There is time for everything, the time to sow and the time to reap (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2). But if we don’t use the time to sow well, then there will be nothing to reap. We need to sow into having rich relationships with those closest to us. We need to sow into developing ourselves. It is recorded that those with better education have better lives. So the time put in studies (or developing skills) is sowing time and the harvest will definitely come in the future, when the time of sowing would have past and we have come to the time of reaping. There is the time when we have the opportunity to make certain investments; afterwards such opportunities will not be there again and you are left with regrets, and a shallow feeling from missed opportunities.

Resources

Everyone have resources to sow. For example, there are mental resources. Jesus said that everyone should be careful about what you listen to, how effectively you hear will determine the harvest it brings into your life (Mark 4:24). Your capacity for something grows by the attention you give it and the depth of attention you give to what you hear will determine the resultant effect in your life. Jesus would say: let him that has ears let him hear what the Spirit says to the church (Revelation 2-3).  The capacity to give attention to something is one of our human resources.

The bible says: guard your heart with all diligence because out of it flow the issues of life (Proverbs 4:23). The heart is the centre of desire, and desire is a seed that will bring in the harvest either of sin or of righteousness. That is why we are told to beware what sort of desire start growing in our hearts, and focus on guarding hearts so that the wrong desire seed will not be planted there (as we avoid wrong associations [1Corinthians 15:33, 2Corinthians 6:13-18]), while we should actively cultivate the right desire-seed (through right associations [Hebrews 10:24-25]).

Sin, we are told is merely wrong desire (to please self) that has grown and developed to the point of harvest, while the harvest of righteousness comes from the desire to please God (James 1:13-16).

What about finances? That is a resource that we have, and the measure of the money-seed we sow is linked with the level of the harvest of financial abundance (2Corinthians 9:6). When the church in Philippi sowed their resources into the life of Paul, in turn he prayed for them: my God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:15-20). By meeting his needs he told them of the inevitable harvest of God meeting their every need. What they did was sowing, and the harvest was coming.

Action

Every action is a seed. That is the sense behind the phrase: practice makes perfect. Every action is a seed for the harvest for a better performance. Every piece of writing is a seed for better writing, every seed of a musical performance is for an harvest of a greater performance. Every journey of a thousand miles starts with a step, every writing of a thousand words stated with a letter, those steps and those words count towards an end- the harvest.

What you say is a seed that can bring an harvest; that is why Paul said that we should let our words be seasoned with salt, ministering grace to the hearers (Ephesians 4:29), the effect in the life of the hearer is the harvest.

 

Posted February 3, 2014 by Tim Shey in Uncategorized

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