Summary: God’s answer to a poor economy and how to position ourselves for increase. God can change dire circumstances and cause a turnaround to occur in the most discouraging of times or circumstances.
Valley Grove Assembly of God
September 14, 2008
Tomatoes, Squash, and Zucchini
INTRODUCTION: How many of you like bacon and tomato sandwiches? Last year I planted one tomato plant in the front landscaping. It was a strong, sturdy plant; but I had to wait for so long before I had one or two tomatoes. It was a long time between sandwiches! This year I planted five plants which each produced tomatoes. It wasn’t such a long wait between good bacon and tomato sandwiches because each plant produced a crop. A friend of mine who planted lots of tomato plants had lots of tomatoes at the end of the season to give away. Anyone who wanted tomatoes, squash, or zucchini could have them for the taking. One person even put a basket out by the mail box with a sign that said, “Free: Take Some.” Tomatoes, squash and zucchini remind me of plenty--of ABUNDANCE. They remind me of the dictionary’s definition of the word thriving--which means to prosper, be fortunate or successful, increase in prosperity or wealth, grow richer or rich, to grow or develop vigorously, flourish or succeed. Tomatoes, squash, and zucchini are three plants that thrive rather than merely struggle to survive. Surviving means to “barely hang on.” Sometimes people will ask, “How’s it going?” People say, “Oh, I’m hangin’ in there.”
In today’s economy people seem to be struggling to survive rather than thriving, but this is not God’s plan. Today’s scripture is an indication that God can change dire circumstances and cause a turnaround to occur in the most discouraging of times or circumstances.
As a background for today’s scriptures, in A.D. 52-57 an offering was to be taken from the Gentile churches for the poor among the Christians in Jerusalem (Romans 15:26). After becoming Christians these people were being socially and economically ostracized. There were food shortages because of famines as well as the Jews were subjected to a high taxation that just crippled them. The Corinthian church had said, “we will help and they were eager to help but a year had gone by. Paul said this offering needs to be completed. Paul sent this letter as a reminder to be ready when the person came by to collect it. He tells them that the Macedonian Christians were in dire circumstances too, but they had given generously--really more than they were able to give.
Paul uses the illustration of a farmer who plants seed to get this truth across to them as well as to us today.
He says, “a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop.” One tomato plant--five tomato plants--or a whole garden full of tomato plants determine what will be produced at the end of the growing season. Tomatoes, squash, and zucchini remind me of plenty and how it works for us today.
Sowing is the way you position yourself to receive whatever it is you need to receive according to what we plant. We do not live as the world lives or at least we shouldn’t because we are people of faith. The blessing of God is on our lives in many ways. We should walk in a different way. Our needs should be met because we have the favor of God resting upon us.
Many Christians are so pinched financially that they can’t meet their every day needs let alone help others or give as they would like to give. Many Christians are not walking in health and wellness as is God’s will for them. Barely hanging on, there is a survival mentality rather than thriving and being in health. Many Christians sit in church Sunday after Sunday yet barely existing spiritually from week to week.
What can we receive from today’s scripture that will help us change our direction to receive whatever it is we need from God? Several things stand out to me in this scripture.
1. Decide in Your Heart: Paul begins by saying “a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop but one who plants generously will get a generous crop.” But he follows this up by saying it is important that you think about what you are going to give--to decide in your own heart--not an impulse decision because someone put pressure on you. There will be people who come across your pathway that cry a sob story--“Oh, I’m going under if you don’t help me out.” You are pressured and then you resent it. “I didn’t want to give, but they made me feel guilty if I didn’t. I didn’t want them to go bankrupt.” So you give anyway and resent it. It was not a cheerful gift. Many TV ministries will make a plea, “we are going under if you don’t give.”