Monthly Archives: October 2015

Harvest Festival

  
This time of year, it seems there are harvest festivals everywhere. Towns celebrate that they’ve brought in enough food to feed their families and to sell. Most of us don’t live in rural areas where the size of harvest is a make or break time for families. We celebrate this time just the same though. It’s the start of cooler weather and beautiful colors throughout nature.

The Bible often refers to harvests as winning souls. It commands us as Christians to plant seeds in other people’s lives, to water them, and to harvest them. God is concerned with the harvest to worker ratio. If you don’t have enough workers to reap, some of the harvest is lost. But when we do reap a harvest of souls, all of Heaven has a harvest festival and erupts in celebration. They understand the importance of harvesting. It’s time we did as well. 

To help us, I’ve compiled a list of scriptures talking about the harvest.

1. You know the saying, “Four months between planting and harvest.” But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest.

John 4:35 NLT

2. For as long as Earth lasts, planting and harvest, cold and heat, Summer and winter, day and night will never stop.

Genesis 8:22 MSG

3. From the fruit of his words a man shall be satisfied with good, and the work of a man’s hands shall come back to him [as a harvest].

Proverbs 12:14 AMP

4. A sensible person gathers the crops when they are ready; it is a disgrace to sleep through the time of harvest.

Proverbs 10:5 GNB

5. They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest.

Psalm 126:6 NLT

6. A farmer too lazy to plant in the spring has nothing to harvest in the fall.

Proverbs 20:4 MSG

7. They do not say from the heart, “Let us live in awe of the LORD our God, for he gives us rain each spring and fall, assuring us of a harvest when the time is right.”

Jeremiah 5:24 NLT

8. What a rich harvest your goodness provides! Wherever you go there is plenty.

Psalm 65:11 GNB

9. We are intimately linked in this harvest work. Anyone who accepts what you do, accepts me, the One who sent you. Anyone who accepts what I do accepts my Father, who sent me. Accepting a messenger of God is as good as being God’s messenger. Accepting someone’s help is as good as giving someone help. This is a large work I’ve called you into, but don’t be overwhelmed by it. It’s best to start small. Give a cool cup of water to someone who is thirsty, for instance. The smallest act of giving or receiving makes you a true apprentice. You won’t lose out on a thing.

Matthew 10:40-42 MSG

10. So pray to the Lord of the harvest to force out and thrust laborers into His harvest.

Matthew 9:38 AMP

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Miracles In The Wilderness

  
There were two instances where Jesus wanted to feed a large crowd. One was a crowd of 5,000 and the other was of 4,000. In both instances, they were away from the city with nowhere to buy food. In Mark 8, we find the story of the 4,000 people who were following Jesus and it says they ran out of food. Jesus had compassion on them and indicated he wanted to feed the mass of people. The disciples were incredulous and asked, “How are we supposed to find enough food to feed them out here in the wilderness?” (NLT)

They knew that Jesus was looking to them to feed the people. I’m sure the “we” in that sentence had some inflection in it indicating they thought He should be the one finding the food. He was the Son of God after all. But Jesus didn’t waiver. He stayed true to who He has been since the beginning of time. He looked to them for an act of faith. He wanted them to be the ones who looked at an impossible situation and to offer Him something to multiply. 

When their faith saw only the impossibility, He threw them a hint. In verse 5 Jesus asked, “How much bread do you have?” He was looking for them to trust Him with their own bread so He could do what only He could do. He wanted them to see He could perform miracles in the wilderness if they just put what they had in His hands. He didn’t have to be in a lush environment or around a lot of people in a city to perform a miracle. He just needed to be by a few people with enough faith to trust Him with what they had.

You may be in a wilderness right now wondering what God is doing. You may look around you and think you don’t have anything to offer God to take care of the mass of problems in your life. I believe God would say to you what He said to them, “How much bread do you have?” What is your bread that God could multiply? What is it that you can offer Him in the wilderness that He can multiply? Remember your multiplication tables, anything multiplied by zero is zero. God has to have something from you to multiply. If your faith can’t see what your bread is, ask God to point it out to you like He did with the disciples. Then when you put it in His hands, He’ll perform miracles in your wilderness. 

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Missing Abilities

Write down clearly on tablets what I reveal to you, so that it can be read at a glance. Put it in writing, because it is not yet time for it to come true. But the time is coming quickly, and what I show you will come true. It may seem slow in coming, but wait for it; it will certainly take place, and it will not be delayed.

Habakkuk 2:2-3 (GNT)

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Don’t Fake It Till You Make It

  
I used to love watching “Flip This House”. One of my favorite flippers was Richard Davis. In one of the episodes, he flipped the Charleston Crab House. I’ll never forget that episode because he shared how poor he was when he started out. He couldn’t afford to have an office anywhere nice, so he rented a closet at an upscale office building. He put the address on his business cards to impress potential clients. When a client would ask to meet at his office, he countered with, “Why don’t you meet me at the Charleston Crab House. We can discuss it there. It’s nearby and it’s my treat.”

He revealed in that episode that he couldn’t even afford to buy his own lunch, much less theirs. The restaurant had offered him a tab and when he closed a deal, he would settle up with them. It was years later before he made enough to really move into that office building. It was a real life success story of fake it till you make it. Because he and others have been successful at that approach to life, others have tried it more than they should have. The sad part is that many people also try that approach with Christianity.

It’s better to work at moving into a closer relationship with God than to fake it and pretend you’re closer than you really are. People who are honest about where they are in their walk with God are given a lot more grace than those who choose to hide where they truly are. The fake it till you make it Christian is the reason so many people think the Church is full of hypocrites. They are turning people off to what it means to go through the process of growing a relationship with God.

Proverbs 12:9 says, “Better to be ordinary and work for a living than act important and starve in the process” (MSG). I think this applies to our Christian life as well as our work life. It’s better to be an ordinary Christian who is working out their salvation with fear and trembling than to be one who pretends to have it all together and is starving spiritually. In Matthew 7:23, Jesus tells us that on the last day that He will address the fake it till you make it Christian and say, “You missed the boat. All you did was use me to make yourself important.”

Our lives are much like one of the flipped houses on the TV show. They are constantly under construction and have areas for improvement. There are things we’d like God to change in our lives, but we aren’t willing to pay the price to get it. When we do that, we become a work in progress that won’t fulfill the potential God sees in us. The superficial, fake it till you make it life will crumble the moment hard times come. But those who take their time, pay the cost of discipleship, and invest quality time with God will be accepted by God and their lives will point others to the cross and salvation through Jesus.

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The Cycle Of Change

One of the things I firmly believe is that changed lives change lives. The greater work that God does in someone’s life, the greater the desire is to tell others. In Luke 7, Jesus was eating at the house of a religious leader. A woman in town, who had lived a sinful life, heard that Jesus was there. She grabbed an alabaster jar of oil and went to see Him. When she came into the house, she began to weep. She then bowed at His feet and wiped the tears off of them with her hair. She then poured the perfume on them as everyone in the house just watched.

The religious leader began to doubt who Jesus was. Luke 7:39 says, “When the Pharisee saw this, he said to himself, ‘If this man really were a prophet, he would know who this woman is who is touching him; he would know what kind of sinful life she lives!’” (GNB). Jesus spoke up and offered a situation to him. He told of two men who owed the same person money. One person owed 500 and the other 50. Neither had the ability to pay off their debt. The debtor forgave both debts. Then Jesus asked, “Which one, then, will love him more?”

Jesus’ point was that those who are forgiven of more sins, love Him more. Those who experience a greater change in their lives show more gratitude. They had a bigger debt that was canceled than those who were raised in church and never lived a life full of sin. Both types of lives are changed when they receive Jesus as their savior and both have an obligation from that point on to help lead others to the One who can change lives. He more change we experience at salvation, the more we are compelled by love to help others.

To demonstrate this, Jesus then showed a comparison between this woman’s actions and the religious leader’s actions. He told how the religious leader hasn’t provided water to wash Jesus’ feet, but this woman hasn’t stopped washing them with her tears. He also didn’t greet Jesus with a kiss, and this woman hasn’t stopped kissing Him. Then in Luke 7:47, Jesus said, “I tell you, then, the great love she has shown proves that her many sins have been forgiven. But whoever has been forgiven little shows only a little love.”

The greater the change God makes in your life, the more natural it is for you to want to change other’s lives. The great news is that if you’re a Christian, God has changed your life and you have the ability to now tell others what God has done for you. When you share your story of redemption with others, you open the door for their life to be changed. The more lives that are changed by God’s love, the more people we will have out there changing other people lives. The cycle of change starts with you and me.

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A Matter Of The Heart

Have you ever said these phrases? My heart is broken. My heart is full. That was done half-hearted. Put your heart into it. They have my heart. I heart you. They stole my heart. My heart wants to, but my head doesn’t. Home is where your heart is. I know that by heart. He did that to his heart’s content. She wears her heart on her sleeve. I love you with all my heart. My heart aches. My heart will go on. They have a heart of gold. I gave my heart to Jesus. Jesus lives in my heart.

We use the term “heart” for a lot of things. In those idioms, we aren’t really talking about our physical heart. We are talking about our seat of emotions. In Matthew 6:21 Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (AMP). He wasn’t talking about your physical heart being there. He was talking about your emotions that control your decisions. He knew we’d be guided by the emotions and values of our heart. Keep that in mind as you read these verses. Pray and ask that God would give you a heart like His.
  
1. And I will give them one heart [a new heart] and I will put a new spirit within them; and I will take the stony [unnaturally hardened] heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh [sensitive and responsive to the touch of their God].

Ezekiel 11:19 AMP

2. If your heart is broken, you’ll find GOD right there; if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath.

Psalm 34:18 MSG

3. My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “ LORD, I am coming.”

Psalm 27:8 NLT

4. Happy are the pure in heart; they will see God!

Matthew 5:8 GNB
5. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right, persevering, and steadfast spirit within me.

Psalm 51:10 AMP

6. Here’s what I want: Give me a God-listening heart so I can lead your people well, discerning the difference between good and evil. For who on their own is capable of leading your glorious people?

1 Kings 3:9 MSG

7. Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.

Proverbs 4:23

8. “Teacher,” he asked, “which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.”

Matthew 22:36-37 GNB

9. Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and secret petitions of your heart.

Psalm 37:4 AMP

10. I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.

John 14:27 NLT

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Wonderful Not Worthless

  
I was doing a self affirmation exercise with a group of people several months ago. In the exercise, the people are to think of a quality that they don’t posses but want to have, and then use present tense verbs to say they have it. One lady stood up and said, “I am enough.” In that moment, my heart broke. She believed she wasn’t enough and her actions in life were in line with that belief. When the group shouted back, “You are enough!”, her face lit up. For the first time in a while, she began to believe she was enough.

Many people live with feelings of inadequacy. They feel that they don’t measure up to the standards others have set. They put on a show for others to see, but inside, they’re dying. They do things to compensate for these insecurities hoping that it will give them worth in someone else’s eyes. They make mistakes that they feel are unforgivable in hopes that someone will look at them as valuable. In the end, it leaves them feeling less than before.

If that describes how you feel, let me direct you to Psalm 139:14. It says, “I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well” (NASB). You are fearfully and wonderfully made. You were designed and created by God with a specific purpose in mind. His works are wonderful, not worthless. Since He made you, that means you are wonderful too, even when you don’t feel like it.

We know from I Samuel 16:7 that God doesn’t measure you by your outward appearance, but by your heart. He looks beyond your actions, through your walls, and into your heart. He sees you for who you really are, and He still thinks you are wonderfully made. If you are struggling with your self worth, let me encourage you to say what that lady in my group said. I want to encourage you to say, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I am enough.” The more you say it, the more you will believe it. God has already said it to you and He believes it. Now it’s your turn to believe it and act on it.

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Winning Spiritual Warfare (Video)

It is true that we live in the world, but we do not fight from worldly motives. The weapons we use in our fight are not the world’s weapons but God’s powerful weapons, which we use to destroy strongholds.

II Corinthians 10:3-4 (GNB)

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Love People

  
I read a quote from Mark Batterson’s book “If” that hit home with me. He wrote, “Love people when they least expect it and least deserve it. That’s how you change someone’s life forever.” At a Toby Mac concert, his drummer shared a story of a man who had three kids with three different women. He wasn’t a present father in their lives and was a mess of a human. The Diverse City band loved him when he was broken and didn’t deserve it. They showed him the love of Christ through their actions and led him to the Lord. He then revealed he was that man.

When I think of that quote, I think of what God has done for each of us. At our worst, He still loved us. Romans 5:8 says, “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” (NLT). God didn’t wait for you and I to clean ourselves up and to start living right before He demonstrated His love. He did it while we were covered in the filth of sin. He did it when we were living in rebellion to His way of life. 

He expects us to demonstrate that kind of love to others. He expects us to love those who least deserve it. I John 4:7 says, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is (springs) from God; and he who loves [his fellowmen] is begotten (born) of God and is coming [progressively] to know and understand God [to perceive and recognize and get a better and clearer knowledge of Him]” (AMP). The more we love others the way God loves us, the more we get to know who He is.

After the Toby Mac concert, I went to find the drummer. He was taking photos with fans and signing autographs. He looked each person in the eye and said, “I love you and there’s nothing you can do about it!” I smiled when I heard him say it and thought, “That’s exactly what God says to each of us.” We’ve got to get to the point where we love others no matter who they are, how they live, or what they do. If we’re truly interested in changing lives, it starts with loving others where they are. 

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Produce And Reproduce

I’ve been growing a garden since spring. My cucumbers were the first to become ripe. They were small, but delicious. After I picked them, the vines produced more flowers, but no more food. About that time, my tomato plants started blooming. They produced more than my cucumbers plants did. After several weeks of tomatoes, my jalapeño plants began to get buds on them. Each of them produced for a short period and then quit producing. During each plant’s harvest time, I was so excited to go check them. It left me wanting the plants to produce all year round.

I wonder if Paul felt the same way about the churches he planted. He would stay with them and cultivate them to make sure they were firmly planted. When he would leave to travel to other places to spread the Gospel, he would write to those churches to keep the weeds out so they could grow and reproduce. Some of his letters were reprimands (pulling weeds) and others were encouraging growth (cultivating).

As he was writing to the church at Phillipi to cultivate them, he wrote something that caught my attention. In Philippians 1:11, he says, “May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ —for this will bring much glory and praise to God” (NLT). Paul felt the same way about the church there as I did about my garden. He wished they would produce fruit year round instead of just for a short while. He wanted long term production.

It’s the same production God wants from us. We were not meant to be seasonal in our fruit. God expects us to produce the fruit of our salvation at all times. He doesn’t want us to be like my cucumbers where we produce a little bit and then fizzle out. He expects us to keep growing, to keep producing, and even to reproduce. We should be planting seeds in the lives of others, helping them to pull the weeds out, and cultivating their relationship with God so that they can produce and reproduce.

I heard a preacher once say that Christianity is only one generation away from extinction. If all we do is produce fruit in our own lives and never reproduce, Christianity will become extinct. Each of us should have a burning desire to reproduce through others because of what God has done for us. If we keep silent about what God has done and is doing in our lives, then the seeds we have will never be planted or be given the opportunity to reproduce, and Christianity will be no more. It’s up to you and me to produce and reproduce in order to have a continuos harvest. 

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