Summary: To help churches prepare for a Spiritual harvest
A TIME OF HARVEST
March 11, 2007 a.m.
Castle Avenue BC, Hobbs
Introduction: Spring is not two weeks away. If you are thinking about how great it will be to eat homegrown watermelons or can home grown beans, you better start thinking now about your harvest. You need to plan where you are going to put your garden. You need to plan your workdays for soil cultivation. You need to decide what you are going to plant and get the seeds ready. You need to prepare the soil with fertilizer. You must do more than think about it. You must do more than plan it. You must actually go out and do the work.
The same thing applies to a spiritual harvest. You have to know your field. What kind of soil is it? Hard or soft? Rocky or clay? Fertile or sterile? What kind of seed are you going to plant? What kind of people are you going to reach? How are you going to cultivate them? When are you going to begin the work? These and other conditions will determine the timing and size of you harvest.
I. Lift Up Your Eyes (v 35)
1. See the Potential—the disciples overlooked the Samaritan woman (and people).
a) Gender differences—Jewish men did not talk to women.
b) Racial differences—Jews did not associate with Samaritans.
c) Religious differences—Jews did not associate with infidels. They were half-breeds who got mad when Ezra returned (ch. 4). They were not allowed to participate in the rebuilding of the Temple because they could not prove their ancestry. They established a rival worship on Mt. Gerazim. A corrupted form of worship erupted. (Notice that Christ did not say that all forms of worship are valid expressions because we all worship the same God.)
2. See the need—they were religious, see verse 20 (Eph. 2:12 [They] were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.” But not without religion.)
a) They had religion, but they did not have God.
b) Israel had been very religious since the times of the Divided Kingdom. What were some of those religions? Baal worship, Molech, Chemosh, Ashtoreth and other fertility deities.
1. Just because a person has a religion or a “church home” does not mean that they know God personally and are saved. Thought Question: How many people do you know that are members of religious organizations that are not Christian? (If you can’t think of any, shame on you.)
2. Each of us needs to lift up our eyes and look beyond our own personal interests. “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Phil. 2:4).
3. Look beyond your own culture and comfort zone. (Illustration: This week two people won the $370 million Lottery. One man when asked how he would spend it said that he would spend the majority of it on himself. The Commentator on CNN said that instead of a case of altruism, it was a case of “me-too-ism.” We are infected with a plague of self-centered and comfortable Christianity. We want everything to come to us without any effort.
II. The Fields Are Ripe For Harvest (v. 35)
1. The harvest is ready to be brought in. It is plentiful. We have many people to reach.
2. It will not come in by itself. We can’t stay in the barn expecting them to come to us. Jesus never commanded unsaved people to come to church. He said to the church, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15)
3. The harvest is no longer easy. There can be no easy gleaning without someone doing the hard work of harvesting.
4. (Illustration: The Hebrews were not allowed to reap to the very edges of their field or glean their vineyards. They were to leave that for the poor and the alien, those who did not have land to cultivate. They came along after the harvesters. It was a form of welfare or charity. It was relatively easy work compared to cultivating and harvesting.
1. We want our church work to be easy. We usually want someone else to do the work so that we can glean a harvest and bring them into the storehouse. We want to get some big name evangelist to come in and draw in large crowds. We want him to preach magnificent sermons so the lost will get saved and join our church, but that will never happen without the preparation work that must precede a revival meeting if we ever hope to have a harvest.
2. The Harvest time was a time of great joy every year. The people celebrated God’s blessing on their crops. A harvest of souls is also a time of great blessing.