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Tuesday, October 20, 2015
We pass this old stone farmhouse is in a remote part of Lebanon County. The blue-green trim on the stone house especially caught my attention! We see many stone houses throughout this part of Pennsylvania, surely an influence from the early German settlers.
"The Blessing Of The Cooperative Harvest"
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"The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field" (Matthew 9:38). "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).
We have a lot of harvest activity in our area. There's still corn and soybeans being harvested. My friend Jesse told me he has one more cutting of alfalfa. The other day I passed our friend Galen's farm and saw them harvesting corn fodder and bundling it into large square bales used for animal bedding and the mushroom industry. The fodder is made from the left over stalks, husks, and leaves after the grain is harvested. It reminds me of how resourceful farmers are!
Harvest is a busy time for farmers and they are accustomed to working together to get the job done. We have especially observed this in the Amish culture as they often help each other out during the planting and harvest season. After all there is a specific window when the harvest must come in for most crops or they will spoil in the fields.
We often pass the Mount Joy Farmer's Cooperative (pictured to the right) along West Main Street in Mount Joy. These co-ops are an important part of farming as farmers pool their resources and work together.
Harvest is a word used in 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 the workers are still few. We need to be among those who hear God's call and participate in the harvesting of souls. It is truly a privilege to play a role in the spiritual harvest! Whether it's impacting an individual or a group, it's a source of great joy to see people respond to God's love. I know of many whom I am working with in the spiritual harvest but there are many, many others whom I will never meet on this side, yet we work together for the salvation of many.
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.
This is demonstrated in the reality that some plant and others water. For many years missionaries labored in Latin America with little visible success. Surely they faced great discouragement at the harsh living conditions and sparse response to their ministry. But, as you may already know, we have seen remarkable revival in Biblical Christianity in this part of the world this past generation.
Are our present missionaries more devoted to God? Do they pray more? I hardly think so! The faithful work of those who went before us sowed the seed for the present harvest. Jesus told His followers: "One sows and another reaps is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor" (John 4:38). While some are reaping a harvest of souls other countries and regions that have had missionary activity for many years remain very resistant to the Gospel.
You may presently be sowing or you might be reaping. Remember the cooperative harvest: one plants, one waters, and another harvests. We are indebted to many who serve in the great Gospel Commission with us. We are likely planting and harvesting at the same time, although at times the planting is more prominent; at other times the harvesting is. Stay faithful in whatever role you play in the harvest!
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 decision to follow Christ with a prayer of repentance and faith in Christ, but many others have had a part both seen and unseen. There are those who planted seeds before the decision to follow Christ and there are those teaching and discipling after the decision. A dedicated Sunday School teacher, a praying aunt, a careful translator, a generous contributor to a gospel ministry, a Christian songwriter, even that one who might have been mocked and rejected several months earlier when he or she tried to witness. Consider those who have a part in the discipling and spiritual formation of believers as we grow together spiritually in preparation for the final harvest.
What's your responsibility in the cooperative harvest today? Let us each be found faithful!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, how it pleases us that You include us in 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 as we work cooperatively with fellow believers in the great harvest of souls. What a joy it is to see people come to faith and grow in their Christian walk as we diligently plant seeds of salvation and water them with teaching imparted from Your Holy Word and through our Christian testimony. Amen.
Note: Many years ago we wrote a special article dealing with the cooperative harvest titled, "Not In Vain".
"Band of Brothers" - My brother, Pat, (center right) brought over a few of the men from his church in Easton, PA, and stayed overnight last Friday night. We fed them a hearty breakfast before they returned to their men's conference in Camp Hill on Saturday.
Today I received some farming advice from Darrel, son of Galen, whom we referred to in the message. Darrel now continues the farm work on the multi-generational Martin Family farm which has been in operation for well over 100 years.
One of my favorite harvest photos was taken about ten years ago of Darrel, along with his girlfriend, Kelly, who is riding in the combine with him. Darrel and Kelly got married in 2008 and now have one son. We wonder if he will continue to work the family farm!
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Field of Souls" Video Wayne Watson
"Bringing In The Sheaves" Video The Mansion Singers
"We'll Work Till Jesus Comes" Video Homecoming Singers
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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 make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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