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Tuesday, July 3, 2007

View of wheat harvest from combine
A view from the combine of wheat being harvested.
Click here for a larger photo with Scripture verse.

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"Lessons From The Harvest"
"The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor" (1 Corinthians 3:8). "When the plowman plows and the thresher threshes, they ought to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest" (1 Corinthians 9:10).
Darrel in combineYesterday afternoon my friend, Galen, called and told me they were harvesting the wheat on his farm. He knows I enjoy farming and invited me over.  I climbed up into the combine and rode along with Galen's son, Darrel, for several rows harvesting 20 feet at a time. At one point we switched places and I operated the machine. I sure enjoyed the opportunity.

It was a beautiful day and the harvesters were busy all throughout our area and worked late into the evening in the field behind our house. The field across the road is being harvested today. There's a very short window for wheat harvest and when the crop is ready you don't delay. Harvest time is a very busy but joyful time for farmers.
Harvest is a word used all through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. In the Old Testament it is generally used in a literal sense. In the New Testament it is used mostly in a figurative sense such as when Jesus said, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field."
Today the harvest remains plentiful and in many ways the workers are still few. We need to be among those who hear His call and go out to the harvest fields.  It's a real blessing to have a role in the spiritual harvest! Whether it's an impact upon an individual or a group it's just great to see people respond to God's love. I know there are so many who I am working with in the harvest; some whom I am aware of, but many, many others whom I am not.
One of the vital truths I have learned in ministry is the principle of the cooperative harvest.  Jesus commissioned His church to spread the gospel to the ends of the earth.  His great command was not spoken to them as individuals but to the entire group.  Although we certainly express this obedience individually we must remember that the fulfillment of the Great Commission requires a cooperative effort.
Consider the statement in the daily text. "The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose."  Planting, watering, reaping; all are part of the process with the goal being a bountiful harvest, agriculturally and spiritually.  That is our "one purpose."  Any life impacted for Christ and eternity is done so by the cooperative harvest.   The plowman and the thresher both have equal hope of sharing in the harvest.
One may have the joyful privilege of leading an individual in a prayer of repentance and faith in Christ, but many others have had a part both seen and unseen.  A dedicated Sunday School teacher, a praying aunt, a careful translator, a generous contributor to the literature ministry, a Christian songwriter, even that one who might have been mocked and rejected several months earlier when he tried to witness.  And after the prayer of commitment is made consider the many who have a part in the discipling and spiritual formation as we grow in grace in preparation for the final harvest.
What's your part in the harvest today?  Let us each be found faithful!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, we thank You that we're part of Your overall plan to harvest souls into the kingdom of heaven.  Open our eyes and burden our hearts as we look at the field of souls ripe for harvest. Show us ways in which we can enlarge our circle of influence.  What a joy it is to see believers grow in their faith as we diligently plant seeds of salvation and water them with truths from Your Holy Word and by our Christian testimony.  Amen.

Combine at wheat harvest
Bringing in the harvest. Darrel had company later in the day as his girlfriend went along for the ride. That must have been a neat date!

View from my porch
As we were completing today's message the wheat harvest began across the road from our home. What a great sight and sound!

Whole wheat bread
Whole wheat bread!

Many years ago when I pastored in upstate Pennsylvania during a mission convention we used a video with an incredible message that was based on the harvest. I have searched for it for years but had been unable to find it. I tried again today and I found it!  It is a powerful demonstration of the power of the cooperative harvest.

The HarvestThe Harvest  By Randolf Productions Inc
An award-winning film praised by Josh McDowell: "You walk away feeling, 'I can make a difference!'" Witness the struggle of a North Dakota family suffering the loss of their father, and the blessing of their community rallying to help them harvest their farm without him. The season to gather in the crops has arrived, but in the midst of crisis, only a young boy's prayer can save The Harvest. Based on a true story, this powerful modern-day parable will inspire you to commit your energy and talents to reach the world for Christ---one person at a time. 

Suggested music:

We work the field of souls, together you and I.
Some fields are blooming now, other fields are dry.
We are not the same, but differences aside,
We will work the fields, together you and I.

One is off to foreign soil to work a distant land,
Another anchors close to home to hold a neighbor's hand.
Who has served the Father most and who has labored best?
That life devoted to our God, that devotion will be blessed.

One shouts the gospel in the streets for everyone to hear.
He's bold to everyone he meets and the Word is loud and clear.
Another cries alone and prays in silence on her knees.
Before the throne from day to day where human eyes don't see. *

* "Field of Souls" Wayne Watson © 1995 Word Music/Material Music. Here's a link to a great, but very brief audio clip of this song by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir that has often blessed me as I consider the spiritual harvest.

"Bringing in the Sheaves" (country mountain instrumental) This is an old song I recall from childhood that i haven't hear sung in churches probably my entire adult life.  I don't think it's probably in to many hymnals.  A great joy is traveling with my Amish friend Jesse and waht a blessing to hear his young son Moses sing this song out over and over!

Finally, I want to share a promise that I considered using as my text today which I have committed to memory and has often blessed me as I drive through the country whether in planting time or harvest. "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up" (Galatians 6:9).

As I was finishing the work on today's message I got a call from my friend Jesse asking me to help him with the alfalfa harvest. It will be quite a contrast since we'll be using a mule team!

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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