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Friday, October 2, 2009

Iowa Harvest scene
Harvest scene

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All this week we have been sharing a series on the Ultimate Harvest based on Matthew 9:35-38.  This is the final message in the series. 

"The Ultimate Harvest Field"

"Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field" (Matthew 9:38).

Yesterday we drove through the rich farmland of eastern Lancaster County in our chaplaincy circuit. All through our travel the farmers were out harvesting their fields.

Lancaster County was created in 1729 and named for its England counterpart; Lancashire, England. Some of the best non-irrigated farmland in the world brought the Amish and other Plain people here to settle.  In spite of the vast development over the past 275 years Lancaster County still has some of the best farmland in the world, though it now has over 500,000 in population.

A number of characteristics contribute to a good field. Generally farmers prefer a level field, although it needs to drain well. They prefer rich topsoil rather than a lot of rocks that block the plant roots from reaching deep into the nutrient filled soil.  Of course the climate is important and a long growing season. 

I made a surprise visit yesterday afternoon to our friends, Jesse and Anna Ruth. Jesse was in the fields planting rye after harvesting the corn.  He rounded the corner standing on the cart behind his mule team and upon spotting me he greeted me with a big holler. I had stopped over for a brief visit and to take some harvest photos. He was pleased to show me around for a few minutes.

Jesse expressed his thankfulness for a good harvest thus far and projects that he will have an abundance in this year's crops as he continues his harvest. Just before I departed, Anna Ruth brought lettuce and egg plants from their garden and some flowers for Brooksyne.  (I had dropped Brooksyne off earlier at a chaplaincy site where she was visiting and I would join her later.)

All this week we've been considering a passage from Matthew dealing with the harvest and want to consider one final element in the passage, the final three words "His harvest field."  This is certainly the ultimate harvest field.

The scope of this harvest field is described in the angelic announcement to the shepherds when Christ was born. "I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people" (Luke 2:10).  In the Great Commission Christ instructs His followers to "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation" (Mark 16:15).

In Matthew 13:24-30 Jesus tells a parable which He explains in Matthew 13:36-43. In this passage He declares that "the field is the world."

A verse that greatly encourages me regarding the absolute scope of God's harvest field is Hebrews 7:25, "Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them."

This harvest field is gloriously described in a grand old hymn many of you will recognize:
O spread the tidings round, wherever man is found
Wherever human hearts and human woes abound.

This harvest field is comprised of people from every "from every nation, tribe, people and language." The first apostles went forth in obedience to Christ's command and workers have been in the harvest field ever since bearing the news to every land, climbing the steeps and crossing the waves, proclaiming: Jesus Saves, Jesus Saves! 

This life-saving message might come from one who was raised in a godly Christian home and never walked in the ways of the world. You don't have to dabble in sin to know that it has the power to destroy and enslave. 

Or the salvation message may come from one who wasted many years entrapped by the enemy, who now lives for Christ, bearing personal testimony to His salvation power.

The message remains the same, "Jesus saves unto the uttermost!" 

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, out in the highways and byways of life there are many who are oppressed and enslaved to Satan and his addictive lifestyle.  They simply exist and have not found the joy of living.  Salvation is the only way they can be set free from the enemy's shackles.  We pray for that lost soul as we lift him to Your throne and intercede for his salvation.  We bring the broken-hearted and abused, the lost and confused and ask that we might be part of the harvest as we share the good news of salvation.  There is no one too lost or any one too steeped in sin that You cannot save, for You save to the uttermost.  The ultimate harvest field is full of workers declaring, I once was lost, but now am saved. I am so thankful that I am among them.  Amen.

Some photos of harvest time
among the Plain people in Lancaster County.

Harvesting alfalfa in Lancaster County PA
I passed this team hauling a load of alfalfa. Two Amish men are working on the hitch behind the team.  This seems kind of dangerous if the horses got spooked! Alfalfa is an example of something I can smell being harvested.

Corn ready for harvest in Lancaster County PA
Jesse peeled back several ears to show me the feed corn which is nearly ready to be harvested. There is a certain degree of dryness they want the corn to be before they harvest it.


Corn crib in Lancaster County PA
The harvested corn is stored outside in this crib.

Corn crib in Amish barn
As well as inside the barn, showing evidence of an abundant harvest.

Deutz steel wheeled tractor
Jesse uses this old steel-wheeled Deutz tractor for some of his work, especially using the PTO. I've never really understood the Amish restrictions on farming implements. Frankly in candid discussion with Jesse I'm not sure he really does either.

I did hear an interesting story concerning the reason for the steel wheels on tractors from an old-order Mennonite.  Apparently many years ago in an effort to shield their people from worldly influences in the towns the church leadership forbade using cars. Some of the farmers were getting around this by driving to town on their tractors. So, the church leadership limited the type of wheels to prevent them from riding on roads, just field work around the farm. However, they still ride them on the roads (generally while doing their farming chores) and yesterday we passed one!

Amish mules
Amish work team relaxing in the barn after a hard day of field work.

Wenger Mennonite corn shocks
We also passed this corn which is bundled into shocks to dry out.

Autumn decoration at Weber home
Jesse gave me a bundle of corn stalks from his field that looks great in front of our home along with the colorful Mums our friend Mark brought us last week!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
Click on the link to open and play.
(In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.)

"The Comforter Has Come"  Video  Jars of Clay (A newer arrangement but same powerful lyrics.)

"Jesus Saves, Jesus Saves"  Video  This presentation illustrates the many styles in music.

"Jesus Saves"  Video In searching for a classic version of the hymn "Jesus Saves" I came across this stirring presentation. A lot of work went into this, the music is beautiful, and the simple timeless message "Jesus Saves" is seen in many places and various formats.

"Field Of Souls"  Video 

"The Harvest"  I was unable to find a version of this powerful video to view online but if you can get a hold of it, it will surely touch your heart.

The Harvest, Multiple Language DVD EditionThe Harvest, Multiple Language DVD Edition
By Randolf Productions Inc.  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. Approx. 17 minutes.

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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, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. 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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