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building on the foundation of Jesus Christ

Archive for the tag “Harvest Time”

Time Out

Even before I know what happened while I slept, I was reminded God is in control. The birds are still singing, the earth still rotated for the sun to rise in the east. God is still a miracle worker, a way maker – even when we don’t see Him working, He still works. Even when we don’t feel Him near, He is still near. Most of those words are from a song titled Way Maker by Leeland. The song was playing in my head as I read my daily Scripture this morning.

The Bible is full of stories of God’s work in progress. I have read through God’s instructions to Moses and the Laws given to the Levites. I read through the promises God gave His people. But I also noticed God had warns if His people were disobedient. He promised too that if the people did not follow His Laws, then there would be consequences. And He warned them what would happen – exile from the Promised Land He would give them. The Land would be cursed because of their disobedience.

God is still working in the process. We may not understand what He’s doing in the midst of our circumstances, but He is still at work. This circumstance we’re in today may be a “time out” – a warning – like He gave the Israelites in the Old Testament before their exile. We have to admit our disobedience to God’s Word. We have been very disrespectful to Him through the last twenty years for sure. I don’t want to say this virus is a punishment from God, but this could be a way He uses to get our attention.

We have been distracted by many things especially in the last four years. This time out has wiped away our distractions – no more sports, no more running around after things that do not matter. The television is still blaring, but it’s only blaring bad news. I get stressed just listening to all the information they keep throwing at us. I turned it off. I still find out what I need to know, but I don’t have to listen to it sixteen hours a day.

Precautions are a good thing. Washing hands – yes, please do – we shouldn’t have to be reminded of this during a crisis. However, we are to be aware of what God is doing around us. If someone is panicking, we need to help them with perspective. God is still on the throne. God is still a miracle worker. He is the Way Maker. He is the hope of the world. We can help them look up and see Him at work in the world. This may be the greatest time in our current history to show them His glory.

I have a book that I read in my quiet time written by missionaries throughout the world. One of the stories I read this morning concerned a missionary who traveled by motorcycle to remote villages. A Muslim man drove him for many days on dirt paths through the jungle. One day, they had a flat tire in the middle of nowhere. There was no hope for the tire to be fixed unless God fixed it. The missionary lifted the tire to the heavens and asked God to fix it.

The missionary handed the tire to the driver and asked him to put it back on the motorcycle. They started out slowly, but after a few miles the driver increased his speed. By the end of the day, the tire was like new. This story circulated throughout the area – not about a tire, but about a God who hears and answers prayers. Many came to faith in an awesome God who answers prayers.

God still answers prayers. However, we still have to be faithful to ask them. We still have to humble ourselves before Him. He is waiting patiently and sometimes He has to get our attention. Sometimes the finances have to be wiped away. Sometimes our health has to fail. Sometimes we have to realize we are not in control. Sometimes we need to be in time out so that we can see Him more clearly.

Time out is a fairly new concept. We didn’t have it when I was growing up. I got the full punishment when I was disobedient. There wasn’t a time when I sat in a chair to think about the wrong I had done. When I got caught doing something wrong, I knew punishment was coming. Most of the time it was just a spanking, but on the rare occasion I received the belt. I didn’t like punishment, but I knew if I disobeyed there would be consequences. Most of the time, I thought I could get away with my wrongdoing. Some of the times I did. But the times I got caught, I knew what to expect. I had already been warned beforehand.

This may be our time out for this season. We may have to think about the things we have done wrong and seek forgiveness. But if we don’t change our ways, there will be stiffer penalties in the future. We have had ample time to change our ways. God said in His word to Solomon at the dedication of the temple (2 Chronicles 7:13-14):

“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

God warns. We react with humility and prayers. We watch God work and give Him the glory. “Tires” should be lifted to heaven and watch God restore our land and fill our hearts. Let the Miracle Worker – the Way Maker do what only He can do as we lift those “tires” for His glory. Let us pray faithfully and obediently and watch God work.

And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:15-16

The Fig Tree

As my small group discussed the cursing of the Fig Tree found in Mark 11, I sat there wondering why Jesus would curse a tree and then tell His disciples to have faith when He was asked about it. Jesus hardly ever answered people in a direct way. His conversations never seem to flow as expected.

The Samaritan woman at the well comes to mind (story found in John 4). She asked Jesus about physical needs, but Jesus responded about spiritual needs. That was Jesus’ way – we look for physical fulfillment when Jesus looks for spiritual fulfillment. But the fig tree didn’t seem to be about anything spiritual, or was it?

The story of the fig tree starts with Jesus going to the fig tree to feed his hunger. Because the fig tree had leaves, the fruit was expected to be hanging from underneath, but the tree bore no fruit. Jesus said to the tree, “May no one eat fruit from you again.” Seems a bit harsh since just before Jesus cursed the tree, Mark wrote it was not the season for figs. Shouldn’t Jesus have expected to find no figs since it was not the season? Yet, He looked for figs.

The next day, the disciples passed the fig tree once again. However, this time the tree was withered from the roots. Peter remarked about the tree being withered and Jesus responded “Have faith in God.” Doesn’t His response seem a bit odd? That’s the thing that had me a bit stumped as I listened to the small group discussion. As I sat there, thoughts began to flow concerning this tree and the time this all took place – the last week of Jesus’ life.

Jesus’ ministry was coming to an end. The disciples were getting ready to embark on a new path – they didn’t know it yet, but a new age was about to begin with them. Jesus’ curse of the fig tree may have been the beginning of the end of Israel as they knew it. Israel had been back in the land for a few centuries by that time. They had been looking for their Messiah to come to save them from the physical presence of Rome. Jesus didn’t come as their physical savior, but as their spiritual Savoir. The leadership didn’t get the distinction.

John the Baptist came on the scene to open the way for Jesus – repent for the Kingdom of God is near.  He prepared the path for Jesus to walk. Jesus continued the message of repentance, but the leadership rejected His message and they did not repent. God gave Israel three years to hear the truth. Some responded to the message and recognized Jesus as the Messiah. They were the ones selected for the next season – the harvest season.

Throughout Scripture I am told, fig trees represented Israel. Jesus’ curse of the fig tree was ultimately cursing Israel for their lack of repentance. When Jesus left this earth, Israel was doomed to fall. Forty years later, Rome conquered Israel and dispersed most of the inhabitants to the rest of the world. The unfruitful season for Israel was complete and a new season dawned. The church age began – a season of great harvest.

It would begin with the followers of Jesus who brought forth the Word of Jesus throughout the world over the next two thousand years. The early Christian Jews were not part of the curse because they had faith in God as Jesus told them in Mark 11:22. They believed Jesus was who He said He was. Jesus spoke about having faith in God as they prayed and to do so in His name. Jesus told His followers do not doubt in your heart but believe what you say will happen, it will be done for you (my paraphrase of Mark 11:23 about telling the mountain to move). It was the main instruction for the church age to flourish.

If you read through Mark 13, you will see the signs of the end of the age – the end of the church (harvest) age. Jesus said the lesson of the fig tree was to watch for twigs to become tender and the leaves to come out then we will know when summer is near (Mark 13:28). Jesus said when these times begin, we are to know the end is near, right at the door (Mark 13:29).

Again, the fig tree representing Israel, we can gather from this passage: when Israel is once again established in their land and prospering, which they are today; the church age is almost done. There are more Jews today who are tender toward Jesus than ever before. The leaves of prosperity are abundant and before long, Israel will be the one bearing the fruit – the church will be gone and it will be left to Israel to bring home the final harvest. Jesus will return to Israel to receive the bounty.

As followers of Jesus, it is our responsibility to share what we know and tell others of the Good News. We have a Savior the world needs – they may think they have physical needs, but in reality we all have spiritual needs. If God can bring Israel back from the far corners of the world, then He can and will fulfill the rest of His plan. He will finish what He started – in each one of us and throughout the world. Believe and do not doubt – have faith in God – this is the lesson of the fig tree. He is who He says He is and He will do what He says He will do.

“Be careful that you never allow your hearts to grow cold. Remain passionate and free from anxiety and the worries of this life. Then you will not be caught off guard by what happens. Don’t let me come and find you drunk or careless in living like everyone else. For that day will come as a shocking surprise to all, like a downpour that drenches everyone, catching many unaware and un-prepared. Keep a constant watch over your soul, and pray for the courage and grace to prevail over these things that are destined to occur and that you will stand before the presence of the Son of Man with a clear conscience.” Luke 21:34-36 (TPT)

Wheat and Weeds

One Saturday morning in July, I went out to clean up my yard. Weeds are very abundant in my yard. I commenced to pulling them up. I have written about weeds in the past, but this time I considered something I had just heard from Beth Moore. She spoke about something God had placed on her heart concerning the time drawing near. God is revealing to her about the need for revival in this land. I think we can all agree with her assessment.

Beth spoke of the times coming up where false teachers and good teachers will be in the same field as shown in the parable about the wheat and weeds. This will be allowed for a time. God has revealed to Beth, the good teachers will be seen by the majority as false teachers. The good teachers will have to endure the suffering during that time. They will be discredited. They will be grieved to know that no one is listening to the Truth being spoken. She had more to say on the subject but this really spoke to me. She tells the audience not to believe her words, but to study and seek confirmation in God’s word for this truth.

As I was pulling my weeds, I was thinking of her insights about the parable. I also remembered a devotional on this same passage (Matthew 13:24-30), which I just read a few days prior Beth’s message. The devotional pointed out we are not to judge who are the wheat and the weeds – only God can make that judgment. We just need to make sure we are in the wheat category! However, with Beth’s insight we do need to judge the teachers. We are not to be deceived and are to scan scripture for the Truth. We are to be diligent about studying for ourselves the Word so that we will know when someone is speaking falsely.

We need to be able to understand the truth up front, right now, so that we will not be deceived. The truth needs to be spoken and we need to hear it, even if we don’t like what is being said. The teaching of Jesus is very divisive meant to cut to the heart for repentance. But Jesus always spoke out of love. The ones who are speaking on His behalf will speak out of that same love as well. We need to recognize the difference and know the ones to whom God has placed in the field to speak the truth for our repentance before the harvest comes.

The weeds were sown while everyone was sleeping (verse 25). Wake up; it’s time to be ready for the harvest!

“The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’” Matthew 13:27-30

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