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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Spring farm scene with Hosea 10:12
Spring farm scene with Hosea 10:12
We view this farm at the end of our Kraybill Church Road
(click to here to enlarge for desktop size)

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"Sowing Righteousness"

"Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the LORD, until He comes and showers righteousness on you" (Hosea 10:12).

All across our area and throughout the northern hemisphere farmers are working the soil and preparing for seed-time. Yesterday my neighbor, Leon, was on a big John Deere tractor preparing his fields for planting. The equipment is sure different than they used in the Bible times or for that matter most of human history.  The tools and technology may change but the basic fundamentals of planting remain the same.

The daily verse from Hosea lists three verbs related to crop farming; sowing, reaping and breaking up.  It's interesting to me that he doesn't list them in the order we would expect, that is break up, sow and reap. As I considered and studied this passage I believe there is a reason.

"Sow for yourselves righteousness."  In this case the interest is in personal or individual sowing which indicates a responsibility God has given to us regarding our own spiritual development and growth.  Jesus reinforces this in His Sermon on the Mount when He states: "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness" (Matthew 6:33). The latter part of our daily reminds us that "it is time to seek the LORD, until He comes and showers righteousness on you."  It's always time to seek the Lord for "He rewards those who earnestly seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6).

"Reap the fruit of unfailing love."  When farmers sow, regardless of how rewarding the sowing may be, they have a purpose and a goal in mind.  They want to reap a bountiful harvest!  I talked to my farming friend, Ken, this morning. He sowed corn yesterday and expressed that he enjoyed this aspect of planting mostly because, as he was sowing, he did so in confidence that he would reap an abundant harvest in September or October.  As a result of sowing righteousness our spiritual harvest will be "the fruit of unfailing love."

"Break up your unplowed ground."  Our lives get kind of like hard soil.  We need more than surface work; we need the Holy Spirit to do some heavy-duty renewing.  Hosea uses the metaphor of "unplowed ground."  Farmers know that a well-prepared field is essential to a good crop.  Jesus taught in the Parable of the Sower about the seeds that fell on the hardened path.  These seeds never had a chance to take root because the birds came and devoured them. 

Finally today I want to consider a reason Hosea may have placed these three elements of planting in the order he chose. In a sense we need to work the soil in an ongoing way so that we keep our hearts soft and receptive to God's truth. It's a cycle that continues all through life since there are many ungodly forces at work in the changing seasons of our lives that contribute to spiritual hardness.

Today let’s allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives as we break up our unplowed ground, as we sow seeds of righteousness and as we enjoy the harvest of Your unfailing love!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Lord, I confess to You that my heart can easily become like unplowed ground. Destructive attitudes that I justify rather than repent of remain in my heart and cause me to be hardened toward You and others that I love.   I invite the work of Your Holy Spirit to cleanse, renew and refresh me as I yield my heart to the searchlight of Your Word.  As I seek You, Lord, You will come and shower Your righteousness and blessing upon my life as the fruit of Your unfailing love flows out to those around me.  Amen.

Today around 10:00 AM I was blessed (particularly in light of today's message) as they began to sow the corn across the road from us.

John Deere corn planting 4/08

John Deere corn planting 4/08
The corn planter sows 12 rows at a time.

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Today's Suggested Music and
Supplemental Resources

Verne Phifer "Field Of Souls"  Video  As I prepared today's message and consider the work of the farmer there's a great analogy in a song titled "Field of Souls" that I enjoy by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.  Today's version is by Verne Phifer.

"My Tribute"  Video  This song is not necessarily related to today's message but I came across this group
that I really enjoy, the Oslo Gospel Choir and this song was sung at our wedding in 1976.

"The John Deere Tractor Song" Any time I use a farm illustration I like to share the link to the John Deere tractor song which I dedicate today to
John Zimmerman, a friend and faithful reader who really, really likes it.  Audio  When Brooksyne heard me place this up again (she edits the message while I work the html) she said, "You're not going play that again are you?"  I said "I sure am!" She said, "My dad must be smiling from heaven." Her dad, Brooklyn Sherrell, owned many tractors and I recall going to tractor auctions with him in Sapulpa, Oklahoma.

"Jesus Parable Of The Harvest Field"  Video  Here's a very creative use of video to illustrate a parable of Jesus.  Somebody put a lot of time into this!

Please note: Observant readers who regularly use these music links may have noticed that I have been using more videos lately. Many place up songs on Youtube or Godtube along with photos or video. Usually the sound is as good as an audio link.  It is actually easier to find related songs using the search engine on these sites than it was using previous methods. I have also been embedding these videos on a separate page on my site.

Info about multi-media files used on daily encouragement.

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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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