Summary: The last Message in the GPS series. Harvest is critical.
GPS Stage 4: Harvest
* The word ‘harvest’ means much less today than it did in times past. Think about the First Thanksgiving. Our High School history text and class taught us that the first feast, while not particularly called “Thanksgiving”, was a celebration of the crops being brought in. When this nation was more agricultural in nature, people understood the joy of the harvest. The harvest carried with it a dimension of survival, it was not just a good idea but rather, it was an indication of how you might eat during the next year.
* Jesus loved using agricultural stories to illustrate spiritual principles. In Mark 4 He tells 3 stories from the Ag department which illustrates principles of the Kingdom. He begins with the story of the sower which points our hearts to the truth of the seed, the soil, and the sower. Next, He teaches us about the principle of the “growing & harvest” which is to be expected. Finally, Jesus tells a story to illustrate the potential of the harvest. (screen) This is our last week to focus on GPS so we conclude with “Stage 4, the harvest.” Keep your Bibles open and let’s connect the dots.
* In verse 26 Jesus begins with these words, “The Kingdom of God is like this.” Do those words pique anyone’s attention besides mine? Candidly, I have a burning desire to KNOW what the Kingdom of God is like, so every time I read these words, my heart is to dig in and discover the meaning therein.
* Jesus uses these Ag illustrations because we understand the principle of sowing and harvesting so let me offer four requirement of the harvest!
1. Harvest Requires Planning – In Luke 14 Jesus says, “Who builds a house or goes to war” without proper planning?” Some people think it’s unspiritual to plan, yet Jesus says, “Make plans and count the cost or you may find you embarrassed and/or suffer defeat.” So consider 3 questions;
a. What are you planting? Stated in the language of today, “what is it that you hope to get out of the garden?” Many times I have offered the words of Steven Covey, “Begin with the end in mind.” Never forget the laws of the harvest that you’ll get exactly what you sow! To understand this truth is to take charge of one’s directions and plans. I suggest that far too many of us give little thought to the seeds which we have planted in our lives until the crop starts coming in. What are you expecting, wanting, and desiring in life?
b. Where will you plant? – The scripture tells us that the sower put the seed on the ground. The word for “on” is translated in many ways, “about, on, to, at, upon,” but the one which seems to fit is “IN.” That is, in the soil. The farmer planted the seed in the place he knew it would grow. It takes no imagination to know that the farmer prepared the soil to insure that he yielded a great harvest. We better plant in a place where it will grow.
c. When do you plant? – The farmer always plants in the right season of the year. For the sake of time, let’s consider the what, where, and when questions altogether. If we desire to make a difference in our world we have to plant the right seed which are the seed of faith, the seed of a change life, and the seed of Christlikeness. We have to live for Him and like Him every day and in every way. We prepare the ground to receive the seed of our lives as others see our lives and are convinced that we know the Lord. But in order to do this, we must plan how we will live. Actually, we need to embrace the plan which our Lord has for us.
2. Harvest Requires Process – May I offer an unpopular observation in the 21st century SBC church? There exists a need for us to stop seeing our faith through the lens of “programs” and to see it through the lens of “process.” We do not need a program to make us what God wants us to be anymore than we need a program to help us grow from a kid to an adult. Within our body a process is at work to mature us, and all we have to do is eat right, healthy and hearty; resulting in processes taking over. What is the process needed to reach people for Jesus? It has 3 parts which work together.
a. The Right Seed – Everything begins with the seed. Is it healthy or good? To sow bad seed is to harvest a bad crop. If we are to see a spiritual awakening in this land, the seed we must plant is the Word of God. It is His word which can healing, help, and hope. It may start out small like a mustard seed and then grows huge because it is His word. The Bible says that the “grass may wither and the flowers may fade, but the word of God stands forever.” Just as surely as we must plant beans, peas, or even tomatoes to receive these fruits, we must have God’s word and understand it to be the seed of life, time, and eternity. The very reason we memorize scripture is to “hide this seed in our heart so that we may not sin!” A substitute will not do, we must possess the right seed. On a personal note; to have the right seed means that you have invited Jesus, the Incarnate Word of God, into your life. According to John 1, Jesus is the eternal, incomparable, and personal word of and from God. Here is how it works: The seed of the word of God is spoken and/or lived out and thus, planted in a life. The Holy Spirit of God then nurturing that seed until it begins to bud in that heart that has no connection to God. As the seed comes to full bloom in a heart there comes an understanding of the need for forgiveness, a fresh start, and a relationship with God through Jesus. At this point, YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE for your decision. God has invited you to know Him. Have you done this?