Summary: Message "based" on John 4:35 - using the concept of the harvest. Warning!! This is not how I would normally use this passage! It is used in relation to a celebration coming to our city this year.

Open Your Eyes!

John 4:35

January 8, 2006


This is not going to be your typical Sunday message from me.

Rather than the type of message where I take a passage of Scripture and walk us through it to find principles to apply, I want this to be a kind of "where do we go from here" message.

But there is a passage of Scripture that kinda gives the principle, or attitude I would like to see us adopt over the next year, and especially the next seven months.

Why the next seven months? Because over the next seven months, our fair city of Aberdeen is celebrating the anniversary of its founding.

Can anyone here tell me how many years Aberdeen has been in existence? 125!

This year, Aberdeen Wesleyan Church is also celebrating an anniversary of its founding.

Can anyone here (other than a board member) tell me how many years this church has existed in Aberdeen? 120!

More than a century of presence in this community. And if my research is correct, there has actually been a Wesleyan Church - Wesleyan Methodist Church as it was called back then - in the area since 1881. How many years is that? 125!

But I’m using the date that’s on the plate hanging on my office wall.

And I think that we have an opportunity for impact in our community and Brown County that may not come again for a long time.

So today, I want to use this time to encourage you and me to take open our eyes to the opportunities that will abound for us over the next seven months.

The city’s celebration culminates the weekend of July 28-30, and we’re planning on having our big shindig that same weekend.

We’re just starting the planning, but we’re planning a blow-out service for that Sunday.

We’re trying to partner with the city’s celebration committee to make sure that we’re plugged to what’s going on. And I get excited just thinking about what can happen between now and July.

Well, here’s the passage I want to use as a basis for our time together this morning:

John 4:35 -

"Do you not say, ’Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest."

Normally this verse is used to discuss people’s readiness to accept the good news of Jesus, because that’s really what it’s discussing.

But I want to use the concept of the harvest to illustrate some things that I think we can take advantage of while we count down to July.

I’m going to go through these four areas of "harvest" that I believe God would have us to gather.

Not each of these points will have a particular Scripture passage for it, but I think you’ll catch the overall Scriptural principles, okay?

And as we go through these, I want you to notice how each builds on the one before it, because I think that’ll help you see why I think this is so important.

First, I think God wants us to reap...

1. The harvest of widespread recognition.

This is simply just getting the name out.

You would be amazed at how often I get the question, "Where is that?" when I tell them where I pastor.

Or, "What kind of church is that?"

But maybe you wouldn’t be amazed at that, because you’ve seen it yourself.

But my question is this: after 120 years in this community, why doesn’t everybody know who we are? Why do some churches exist for a long time, yet live in relative obscurity in that very community?

I think there are a number of reasons, but let me just list three very quickly. And these aren’t necessarily specific to this church, but to a number of long-living churches in general:

* Past hurts within the church that caused the body to turn inward and focus on healing.

Every church that has been around for any amount of time goes through these things. Events happen, or people come through that just rip the place to shreds, and lots of wounded people are left to pick up the pieces and try to start over. And they move into "survival mode," where all they can do is just keep the doors open.

When that happens, we can lose the perspective that is needed to impact the greater community for Christ.

And healing needs to happen. But oftentimes, if we’re not careful, we forget that we need to heal not only our own wounds, but we need to bring healing to the community through the life-giving message of Jesus Christ.

A second reason that I think that churches aren’t better known among their communities is...

* The belief that "it’s their job to come in, not our job to go out."

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