GPS Stage 3: Sowing
* As a youngster I well remember moving into our new house in Purvis, MS. We had a fairly large backyard as ‘in-town’ back yards go. Every spring my dad would take about 30%-40% of the backyard, break it up with a hand driven plow, row it off, and plant a garden. Dad was very specific about what he planted in the garden. He planted beans, peas, okra, tomatoes, squash, and the like. He always made sure the ground was properly prepared, his seed was good, and the care for the crop demanded his full attention. He did this religiously for a number of years. Then one year, he was so busy at work and with other projects that he didn’t get to plant the garden and you know what happened? As I remember it, we had a few plants and a little harvest from the work he had done in previous years.
* We have taken 3 Sundays to understand the process called GPS (God’s Plan for Sharing). (Review the pyramid). The reason I believe GPS deserves our undivided attention is because its goal is for us (you and me) to get on board with the Biblical mandate or reaching and discipling people. This is critical to the Kingdom’s work, to this culture, and for the lives of people.
* Do you know what I read this week? When Dr. Thom Rainer was collecting data for His book, “Simple Church”, it was his (and his team’s desire) to find 2 groups of churches. The second group was fairly easy to locate as it was the “Comparison/Non-growing Church”. This was the church which had not grown by 5% per year. The first group they sought was the Vibrant/Growing Churches which were growing at least by 5%. In fact, out of over 40,000 SBC churches, they discovered less than 2% met the criteria for “Vibrant & Growing” church. How does this fit with sowing?
* While the population gets larger, the local congregation is getting smaller. While we are doing more and more we are making less and less of a difference in the lives of people. Less people are hearing the gospel so less people are responding to the gospel and connecting to the church.
* Last week Bro. Mike talked about “loving your church” and that was good. Make no mistake you can love this church without loving people and you can love this church without loving Jesus, but you can never love Jesus and not love the church or people. People still need the Lord! And the only way for them to repent of their sin and come to Him in faith is to have the word of God shared with them in word and deed. We need to sow the word.
* This morning we talk about spiritual sowing. Paul reminds us whatever seed we sow determines the harvest we reap. Just like my dad did his best to make sure he was sowing good seed, each of us must determine what kind of seed we are sowing as well as into “what” kind of soil we are sowing. We are all sowing seed of some kind!
* Knowing that the good seed of the word of God has been placed in the hands of every believer with the expectation of it being sown let me offer us four calls from our text.
1. Be Careful – It is more than a little interesting that Paul begins with a warning, a call to be cautious. He says, “Don’t be deceived.” Candidly, the Bible seems to indicate that we are highly susceptible to being not only deceived, but self deceived. Jesus repeatedly warned us to “Watch out that no one deceives you” & that “Many will come and they will deceive many.” Paul says a number of times in the New Testament to not be deceived and don’t deceive yourself! Be careful. It’s important. Why? Because there is a cause and effect of everything you do and you need to make sure you know what you are doing. I submit that if we took to heart that God is not mocked, it may well change our behavior, our motivation, and our lifestyle. In Acts 5, a married couple attempted to make a mockery of God in His house and they wound up dead. God’s word is true. God’s ways are just. God’s will is best. God is sovereign. In this matter of sowing, be careful to not be deceived because God will not be mocked.
2. Be Clear – The scriptures reveal what we should know. I’ll submit that he is alluding to the “laws of sowing and reaping.” It is not a popular message today, but the Bible contains principles, precepts, and laws which are unbreakable. Here’s one; it’s appointed to man to die one time and after that comes the judgment. We may not like that, but we don’t get a voice or choice, it is the law of God that everyone will face judgment. Here’s another; whoever’s name is not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life will go to everlasting punishment in the lake of fire. Again, this kind of teaching is not what we desire to hear in this culture, but our propensity to avoid and not listen to this type of teaching does not diminish its truth in the least. Just to be clear, it is God’s law. In the same way, the laws of sowing and reaping are God’s laws which we need to be very clear about. Law #1: You will reap exactly what you sow! My dad never planted beans and expected to get watermelon; he never planted tomatoes when he desired okra. He began with the end in mind. He knew what He wanted His garden to produce so he was meticulous about planting what he wants to harvest. Presently, I am reading a book entitled, “Releasing the Revival Flood.” Not surprisingly, one of the great hindrances to the Holy Spirit of God falling in a manifest way among the American church is that disunity, infighting, and bitterness found inside the local church. Jesus’ heartfelt prayer in John 17 was for unity among His people. With the church planting so much division, bitterness, sharp tongued, and just plain meanness in so many places, perhaps the harvest we are receiving is a harvest of the seed which we have planted. Law #1 says we reap what we sow, so what is it that we are sowing?
* Law #2: You will read later than you sow! He that sows to the flesh will of the flesh reap and he that sows to the spirit will of the spirit read. In this “microwave mentality” of “I want it NOW” we better understand that the seed which we plant today will be harvested at some future time. I think of the early 1960’s when Prayer and the Bible were removed from our schools; a seed was planted. By the late 60’s the sexual revolution was in full swing; the seed bloomed. In 313 Constantine planted a seed by man-handling the church and giving every person the idea that because they were a citizen that they had a ‘right’ to church membership and that the church should ‘take care’ of their needs. Today, 1700 years later, people search for a church home like they look for a restaurant; the seed has bloomed. Be careful as to what you plant and be clear that you will reap later & exactly what you sow.
* Law #3: You will read more than you sow! As I have walked through these illustrations of bad seeds being sown, have you grasped that everything has the “mustard seed concept” attached? Jesus said, “Consider the mustard seed, such a small seed, which grows into a large tree.” Now we have it. If we plant the seed of unforgiveness, we harvest bitterness. If we plant the seed of disunity, we harvest a split in the fellowship.
* However, our calling is to understand the law of sowing and reaping that we might sow the good seed of God’s word, Godly actions & gracious attitudes. Just think about the blooming of these seeds in our community. What would it mean for the days ahead? Perhaps it would be a life much different than these past years where the values and morals having disintegrated.
3. Be Consistent – The scripture next tells us to not “grow weary in well doing.” This means “stick to it” when it seems too hard, to difficult, or too drawn out. This means “stay with it” no matter how tired or weary you get. This means not giving in or giving up because you know that you are doing God’s good work. Have you noticed that every time I see this principle in scripture, that I do my best to bring it out, hold it up, and throw it down? Do you know why? Because the most difficult concept to convey and live out is endurance, patience, and consistency. Too often we begin projects, groups, or other things and don’t complete them because we get tired or discouraged. We even lose our passion and spirit for doing the Lord’s work which the Lord requires us to have and then we quit. Several months ago, we started a 24 hour prayer chain. In a short time, people begin to stop praying because, well just because. How many times have we started our daily devotional time only to let it go after just a few days? How often have we begun some class, ministry, or program only to quit when the going became difficult? Don’t grow weary but keep on.
* An old missionary couple [Henry C. Morrison, according to another version] had been working in Africa for years and was returning to New York to retire. They had no pension; their health was broken; they were defeated, discouraged, and afraid. They discovered they were booked on the same ship as President Teddy Roosevelt, who was returning from one of his big-game hunting expeditions.No one paid any attention to them. They watched the fanfare that accompanied the President’s entourage, with passengers trying to catch a glimpse of the great man. As the ship moved across the ocean, the old missionary said to his wife, "Something is wrong. Why should we have given our lives in faithful service for God in Africa all these many years and have no one care a thing about us? Here this man comes back from a hunting trip and everybody makes much over him, but nobody gives two hoots about us." "Dear, you shouldn’t feel that way," his wife said."I can’t help it; it doesn’t seem right." When the ship docked in New York, a band was waiting to greet the President. The mayor and other dignitaries were there. The papers were full of the President’s arrival, but no one noticed this missionary couple. They slipped off the ship and found a cheap flat on the East Side, hoping the next day to see what they could do to make a living in the city. That night the man’s spirit broke. He said to his wife, "I can’t take this; God is not treating us fairly."His wife replied, "Why don’t you go in the bedroom and tell that to the Lord?" A short time later he came out from the bedroom, but now his face was completely different. His wife asked, "Dear, what happened?" "The Lord settled it with me," he said. "I told him how bitter I was that the President should receive this tremendous homecoming, when no one met us as we returned home. And when I finished, it seemed as though the Lord put his hand on my shoulder and simply said, ’But you’re not home yet!’"
* Be Consistent because you’re not home yet. Keep your eyes on the prize. You’ll reap if you do not give out, up, or in. The scripture says, “at the proper time”, “In due season”, or even “at the right time.” When we consistently sow the seed, God controls the harvest. He promises there will be a harvest, but it is in HIS timing.
4. Be Committed –Verse 10 speaks a strong word of commitment. Watch how this ties together. The word “opportunity” in verse 10 is the same Greek word as “proper time” in verse 9. In God’s economy we should toil, labor, and work for the good of all. We must be committed. We must be committed to the process that is praying, engaging, sowing, and all the way through to the Harvest. Let us not become deceived, let us not ‘sow’ the wrong seed, and let us not give up and leave the field of souls.
* Are you committed to sowing good seed? When Jesus began a story with, “A sower went out to sow” He was illustrating 2 things; a) everyone is a sower and b) we are expected to sow (good seed). Too often we sow our “wild oats” and then pray for crop failure. Additionally, too often we want to gather a spiritual harvest in largely unsown fields. (Recap)
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