What are You Harvesting?

As we continue our series on seasons, we are continuing to look at the harvest. Hosea 10:12 says, “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.” (NLT) As I was reading and thinking about this verse, I asked God to show me what I needed to focus upon. The more I looked at the verse, the second part of it seemed to come to the forefront. As important as it is to plant good seeds of righteousness, the thought came to me, “You can’t plant if the ground is hard or not prepared for planting.”

As I remember how my Grandpa worked in the fields on his farm, I know he had to prepare the soil for seed. The ground would be hard from the winter snows and he needed to disk it to loosen up the soil. Seeds don’t grow in hard soil, at least not very well. So, can we “plow up” the soil of our hearts on our own? The next part of the verse gives us the answer; “now is the time to seek the Lord”, why? So that He can shower righteousness upon us. We have no righteousness on our own, therefore we would not have the seed to plant unless it came from God. When we plant righteousness, our harvest is love.

To plow up the soil of our hearts, we must be willing to allow God to do a work in us that will provide a climate conducive to growth. I know in my case; stubbornness can be a real problem. God, at times, needs to work overtime to get me to understand what it is He wants of me. Even when I understand, it may be something I’m not really wanting to do. Sometimes there are things that I’m doing that may be a comfort zone for me and I’m not willing to give it up. But it may be just that thing that may be hindering me in my walk with the Lord. I must do the hard work of “plowing up the hard ground” of my heart so that I can sow the seeds of righteousness to gain a crop of love.

When we look to God, He will help us. We don’t have to try on our own to remove the seeds of unrighteousness from our hearts, in fact, we can’t remove them ourselves, and we can’t plow up the old soil on our own either. We must “seek the Lord”. It is only with His help that the unhealthy soil and unrighteous seed in our hearts can be removed and replaced with good soil and then He gives us the seed of righteousness to plant in our hearts. As we continue to seek Him, walk closely in the pathway He has provided for us, we will gain a harvest of love – love toward God and love toward others.

As I look at the context of this verse, Israel is being chastised by the Lord. Hosea was God’s “mouthpiece” to the Israelites, delivering a message from God. Verse 13 says, “But you have cultivated wickedness and harvested a thriving crop of sins. You have eaten the fruit of lies – trusting in your military might, believing that great armies could make your nation safe.” Israel turned their backs on God, deciding to do things in their own strength, not relying on God to guide them. Now, the Lord has come to the point where discipline must be meted out. Hosea Chapter 11 is God’s declaration of love toward Israel, and how He wants them to turn back to Him. He catalogs their sins, and in spite of all they have done, He still loves them.

God desires for us to walk with Him. He wants us to trust Him. He wants obedience from His children, and He desires more than anything to give us His blessings. He wants to shower upon us His love and righteousness. He wants us to harvest a thriving crop of love.

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Rejoice in the Season of Harvest

My Grandfather was a farmer. He had a 96-acre farm in Central Indiana, and I remember Grandpa working with the dairy cattle and hogs and farming the land. When Spring came, he worked the land to prepare it for planting, then once the land was prepared, he would plant corn, hay, and other crops. When the crops were ripe and ready to harvest, there would be workers who would come to help him bring in the harvest. My Grandmother would make a feast for all the workers. It was like a celebration, because there had been a good harvest, and my Grandparents would get a good price for their crops and money to keep the farm running.

As we think about the Season of Harvest, our Scripture for today talks about rejoicing at harvest time. Isaiah 9:3 says, “You have multiplied the nation You have increased their joy. They rejoice before you according to the joy in harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the plunder.” The CSB version says, “You have enlarged the nation and increased its joy. The people have rejoiced before you, as they rejoice at harvest time, and as they rejoice when dividing spoils.” Just as in a physical harvest, there is rejoicing in the Spiritual realm when there is a harvest of souls. Like a farmer who does the hard work of preparing the soil, planting the seed, watering and tending the crop, and harvesting the result of all of that hard work, as we work to prepare others to know Jesus by planting and watering seeds of faith into their lives, harvest doesn’t come except through hard work. Harvest also doesn’t come quickly for the most part. Just as it takes time for the crops to grow and ripen before harvest, the seeds of faith must germinate and ripen before harvest can come.

We may never be able to see the fruit of our labors. God may have us at the planting or watering stages, and not at the harvest. This is not meant to be discouraging, but to bring encouragement in knowing that our hard work at witnessing, with God’s help, will result in a harvest of that soul in coming to know Jesus, and that when that one soul comes to Christ, there is a party going on in Heaven, (Luke 15:10) and we can rest in the knowledge that we had a part in that one soul coming to know Jesus as their Savior.

Especially when we are trying to reach a family member, the work can be very difficult. It may seem like they will never come to faith in Christ. But our job may only be to prepare the soil, (their heart) or plant the seed, (witness to them) or water that seed (giving the Word to them so that they gain understanding). We may not be called to be the harvester. However, if we are privileged to be part of the entire process of them coming to Jesus, know that it involves hard work, and the process is sometimes neither quick nor easy. It could be years before we see any evidence of a seed growing in them. As we patiently work toward helping them to salvation, we can rejoice with them when they make that important decision, and know we had a part in their decision.

When we look at television evangelists, it may seem that they came to notoriety over-night. But know that before they became famous, there was hard work involved in getting to where they are. Years of schooling, possibly many years pastoring a congregation and going through the struggles of shepherding a flock, before they became well-known.

Is there something that God has placed in your pathway, a ministry or a person to reach for Him? Are you in the middle of the process? Does it seem that you do nothing but plant but never see the results? Do not be discouraged. God has placed you just where He needs you, to be able to reach that person or a group of people to come to Him. As we talked about in our last post, “Let’s not be weary in doing good, for we will reap in due season, if we don’t give up.” (Galatians 6:9 WEB) Know that God has you where He can utilize your influence and talents and bring about a harvest, though you may never see the harvest. Rejoice in knowing that you had a part of the harvest.

In the Season of Planting – Never Give Up!

Ministry is hard! For all of those who have been in a ministry of one type of another, it is a given fact that doing ministry isn’t easy. Mostly it is long hours, little pay, and in a lot of cases, we don’t see the results of our efforts, ever. But today’s Scripture is an encouragement to each one of us because, even though you may not be part of a ministry, you do have a ministry just where you are.

As we continue in our study of seasons, today we are looking at the Season of Planting. Galatians 6:9 says, “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” Another version puts it this way, “Let’s not be weary in doing good, for we will reap in due season, if we don’t give up.” (WEB) In this section of the chapter, the Apostle Paul is talking about spiritual sowing and reaping. He says that we should not be deceived in what we do or how we live our lives, thinking we are doing great things for God when all we are doing is mocking God. Verse 8 says, “For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” Then he tells the Galatians not to become weary in well-doing.

This hits me hard. I have to be so careful not to let pride get in the way of my ministry work. I must examine myself regularly to be sure that the reason I do ministry is for God’s glory and not my own. The second thing that I see is in our Scripture for today is, not becoming weary! This is so easy to do, especially when it seems like there is no result in the work that has been done.

Ministers and people who work in large ministries especially can find themselves in burn-out so quickly. When my first husband and I were running a Christian television station in Northern Wisconsin, we ran head-first into burnout. For all the hard work we were putting in, it seemed like we were reaching no one. We were basically the staff, because we were a brand-new station, and couldn’t afford a staff. We had seven volunteers, my husband was Chief Engineer, General Manager, On-Air personality, Master Control Operator, and Production Manager. I was the station’s Secretary, Traffic Manager, Volunteer Co-Ordinator, as well as running Master Control, Cameraperson, doing editing and sometimes On-Air personality. What usually takes a staff of almost 100, we and our volunteers did it all for three years. We would be airing programs and sit and wonder if anyone was watching, and if it was doing any good. When we began producing a local program involving the Pastors of different churches in the area, we began to see some movement. Our program had Pastors come in and do a 15-minute devotional that aired Monday through Friday. At Share-A-Thon time, we would have all our Pastors come in and help us raise funds. This was an area where the Pastors and churches didn’t really associate with one another. There was no co-operation between churches in doing ministry together. When we had the Pastors come in for Share-A-Thon, we mixed up the denominations so that Baptist would get to know Lutheran and Assembly of God, Methodist, and Missionary Alliance, etc. They found out that the other guys weren’t as bad as they once thought. As my husband put it, “They found out the other guy didn’t have two horns and a tail.” By the time we left, we found out that our efforts were rewarded. An Assembly of God Church and a Baptist Church got together and sponsored a Focus on the Family film series. It was as if God was telling us,” See, all the work was worth it and because of the station, a new atmosphere is growing between the churches.”

I shared this story to let you know, that even when you are ministering to someone, or praying for someone to come to know Jesus, don’t give up! You may be praying for a family member, and it has been YEARS! Don’t Give Up! All your work is not in vain. God says that His Word will not return to Him void. (Isaiah 55:11) That seed you are planting must take time to germinate and grow. There is a Season of Planting, a Season of Watering, and a Season of Harvest. It could be that you aren’t meant to see the Harvest time. There will be some things that we have worked so hard for, that we will never see the results this side of Heaven. Don’t be discouraged. Just know that God has it all in His hands, He is the God of the results. “Do not grow weary” Do not give up!

It’s Only a Season

As we continue our study on seasons, today we look at the seasons in our life. Psalm 30:5 says, “For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; Weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning.” (NASB) The King James Version puts it this way, “For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” Whatever we are going through, it’s just a season, it will not be forever.

This is comforting, especially when we are going through difficult times. Those times will not last forever, it’s only a season. Each season is given for a reason. Is there something God wants us to learn? Is what we are going through given as an example for someone else who may go through the same thing? Maybe God is preparing us for something greater. Whatever the case, it’s a season.

As I stated in my last post, I went through a season of grief when my first husband passed away. The grief was for a season. That was a difficult season. I am now in another season, one of happiness and learning. I have a friend who has lost her job, one she would never have resigned from on her own, but God is taking her on a journey. She is in a new season, one where she is at the beginning of creating a ministry to women. As scary as it is for her, there is a certain amount of excitement and anticipation as she makes a ministry plan and she is at peace with where God is taking her. I am excited to see what God has in store for her and to see what road He will take her down.

As we look at today’s Scripture, the first thing that I see is, “For His anger is but for a moment.” There will be times of discipline. When we look at Scripture, we can see how God would become angry with the children of Israel. Time and again they would test His patience, become disobedient, rebellious children and the Bible says God’s anger was kindled against Israel. But that anger was not forever. Discipline was needed to draw them back. When they finally came to their senses and repented, God’s anger would diminish, and He would lovingly draw them back into His arms, gathering them into His family. The next thing I see in our Scripture is, “His favor is for a lifetime.” I like how the King James Version puts it, “in His favor is life.” God’s favor is with His children forever and that favor brings life! That’s a season also! He loves us so much that He wants to grant His favor upon us. He wants to shower us with those things that will help us to grow in our relationship with Him, things and people who can help us become more like Him.

Then, our Scripture says, “Weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning.” We may be going through a desperate time of darkness, one where we can do nothing but let the tears flow. That season is so hard to go through. My husband calls those times, “Job’s Trials”. God loves us, even when we go through the darkness, and He never leaves us (Hebrews 13:5). If we can trust Him through the dark times, He promises us that it will end, and joy will come at the end of the trial. Often, this season seems so long, and it feels like it will never end, but the promise of joy coming at the end of the trial, is what keeps us holding on to Him. We must remind ourselves, “It’s Only a Season!”

As we experience the changing seasons in weather, we know that Fall will give way to Winter, Winter will melt into Spring, and Spring will change into Summer, and Summer returns to Fall. Each season is for a time, it will not be forever, the seasons are ever-changing from one to the other. So, when you go through something new, remind yourself, “It’s Only a Season!”

Changing Seasons

As we enter Fall, we are looking at a new season. Summer is fading, Fall is approaching, and Winter will soon be upon us. Seasons come and go with each passing year. For me, Fall and Winter are not my favorites. True, Fall is beautiful with all the different colors, but that means that Winter will be upon us and that means cold and snow…not my favorite thing to deal with. We enter different seasons in our lives also. Ecclesiastes 3:1 tells us, “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven.” (NASB) The King James Version puts it this way, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:”

As we read Ecclesiastes, Solomon seems to be in a depressed mood, talking about how everything is just vanity. Then he sort of snaps out of it when he remembers that everything we experience comes under the watchful eye of God, our Father. As we read the third chapter, Solomon goes on to expound about the different seasons of our lives. As we enter different seasons in our lives, we must remember also, each season is under God’s careful care. There is a reason for each season in our lives that we face. Some seasons may be placed in our lives to help us grow and mature in our Christian walk with God. Some may be as an encouragement for others who may be going or will go through, the same thing. Learning how to navigate each season is what helps us grow.

As I went through the season of widowhood, I learned that grieving the loss of a spouse was different than grieving the death of my father. The grief was totally different. This year, my family is dealing with the death of my nephew, who died way too young, and that kind of grief is different from either of those other deaths. Through each of these situations, God is walking with us. Things have happened in my family as a result of my nephew’s death that causes my heart to rejoice! Family members have drawn close to the Lord, and I’m watching in amazement at how they are walking in peace, knowing God has them in the palm of His hand. They are drawing closer each day to Him, and being intentional in their Bible study, church attendance, and even beginning to witness. My heart is so grateful to God for taking them in His arms and helping them.

I am now remarried, and I’m finding that this season of marriage is different from my marriage with my first husband. I find I need to learn how to relate to someone who is so different, and there is a learning curve here. Even in this, God is walking with me, helping me to deal with each situation we face together as a couple. We are learning to appreciate each other more, accept the differences, and life is on a good path.

As each of us faces each new season in our lives, we must look to Jesus, who is the author and finisher of our faith. (Hebrews 12:2) He has experienced every season we have, and He alone can help us through each experience.  (Hebrews 4:15) He knows what it is to experience loss, joy, financial difficulties, sadness, betrayal, and on and on. Everything we have gone through, He knows what it is like because He also went through those things. Therefore, we can trust Him to help us.

Seasons come and go, but we have this solid confidence…Jesus never changes, and He is our stability as we go through each season. As you face different seasons, remember, each season is for a purpose. Embrace each season with confidence, and know you are not alone!

Living a Full Life

As we finish our look at living life, many of us find it difficult to live a life that is full of joy, peace, and fulfillment. The Bible tells us there is a reason for that. John 10:10 says, “The thief comes to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (NASB) Our enemy, the Devil, seeks to take away any peace, joy or fulfillment we can have in life. His goal is to see that as Believers, we live a life that is ineffective in reaching others for Christ. He will do anything he can to defeat us in every area of our lives.

As we look at our Scripture today, Jesus has been talking to the people with the parable of The Good Shepherd. He explains that the sheep know the shepherd’s voice and will not respond to anyone else. They are so close to him that they instantly recognize his voice as he calls them. He also tells them that the shepherd is the door to the sheep pen, and anyone who enters through the door other than the shepherd is a thief and a robber. In Bible times, sometimes many shepherds had to leave their sheep in a “community sheepfold” and someone was hired to be the doorkeeper. Each shepherd would come to get his sheep and would call to them. Only his sheep knew his voice and they would follow him. If anyone else tried to call his sheep, they would not follow because they did not know their voice.

Many times, our enemy tries to call us away from the abundant life found in Christ. I looked for a definition of what abundant life meant, and Wikipedia described it as, “a life abounding in joy and strength in mind, body, and soul.” For me, it means that my life is full of peace, joy, and fulfillment. I can find that abundant life only through Jesus Christ. As I live my life in a way that would bring honor and glory to God, then I can live a life that is complete, a life that is so full that I can hardly stand it.

Daily stresses can hinder us from living that abundant life. When we try to juggle work, home life, relationships, and the myriad of other things that we encounter daily, it can become so overwhelming that we find ourselves wanting to get away from it all. But, as we have seen in our series, all we need to do is look up to the One who can help us. See what God is asking for us to do. Maybe it’s just to step away from all the chaos and rest in Him. Maybe He’s asking us to trust Him in the path He is leading us, even though it makes no sense. Whatever He wants from us, that is the way to living the abundant life.

In my life, right now, I am dealing with physical pain in my knees and my back. I can let this get me down to the point of not doing anything because I’m in pain, thereby, living like a hermit and not getting out and enjoying life, or I can ask God for the strength to keep going and determine that I’m not going to let it get me down. I just spent a week at my sister’s because I had my 50th high school reunion, and while my hubby and I were there, we didn’t just sit around, we were on the go almost every day. Thank goodness for Ibuprofen and a cane! We walked more last week than I have in a long time. I was able to enjoy my high school reunion, go to a HUGE flea market, go to the zoo, visit some childhood friends, and visit the local Renaissance Faire. I lived life to the fullest despite the pain. Satan has tried his best to set me back in my walk with God, through physical pain. But I can say with firm conviction, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13 KJV)

If you are facing difficult circumstances, remember that it is Jesus who is able to deliver us, He is the One who gives us the strength, it is through Him that we have that abundant life!

Resting in Christ

As we have been looking at living life and resting, I want to step away from the physical aspect of rest and look at resting from a Spiritual perspective. Today’s Scripture is Hebrews 4:9, “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.” (KJV) As we read the verses around our Scripture, the writer of Hebrews is talking about resting in Christ and that we as Believers can find our rest in Jesus. During the time of the Israelites’ Exodus to the Promised Land, they were people who couldn’t find rest because they were relying on Moses, Joshua, and the Law to bring that rest to them. However, none of these could give them the rest they desired. They struggled continuously, even after they entered the Promised Land, they were not able to find that peace and rest they so longed for. They were unable to conquer the entire land and enjoy all the blessings that God had in store for them because they were relying on things other than God to bring that rest.

The writer of Hebrews writes this chapter with the theme that Jesus is greater than Joshua because Christ finished the work for us on the cross to bring us that rest that we so desperately need. Joshua nor the Law could bring the rest of knowing our sins were wiped away, and therefore the work was unfinished, and no rest could be found. The people were enslaved still in their hearts because they had no assurance that their sins were completely paid for. They had to offer sacrifices for their sins. Jesus paid the penalty of death that must be paid for sin.

Because Jesus paid our penalty, we can rest in Him, not just for the payment of our sins, but also in being able to trust Him for every situation we face. Not only can we rest in the knowledge that our sins have been forgiven and the debt has been paid, but we can also rest in the fact that Jesus can be trusted to guide us through this life. When we are being blessed, we can trust Him and rest in His blessings. When life is throwing everything at us but the kitchen sink, and maybe even the kitchen sink, we can rest in knowing He’s got this. Nothing we face comes to Him by any surprise, and He will hold us through the struggle. He has promised never to leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

We know that He is faithful to keep His promises, He is faithful to help us (Hebrews 13:6) and we can rest in Him! Sometimes I struggle with resting in Jesus, especially when I am faced with a situation that looks impossible and there is nothing I can do about it. My default is to panic or worry myself into a frenzy. I forget that God has this, and this is not coming to Him by any surprise. He’s big enough to take care of it and doesn’t need my help. That’s when I need to step back, take a deep breath, and put it in His hands, and not take it back, which I also tend to do. Resting in Jesus means remembering all the times that He has come through for me, then believe and trust that He will do it again!

As Believers, we can rest in Jesus’ arms. When we allow Him to work in our lives to fulfill His plan for us, we will find that rest. Peace will flood our souls and we know that He has us in the palm of His hand, and He will never let us go. So, today find your rest in Jesus. Allow Him to work in your life and He will give you rest!