Sowing and Reaping

Sow with a view to righteousness, reap in accordance with kindness; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord until He comes to rain righteousness on you. – Hosea 10:12

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An ancient proverb states that a person reaps what he sows. In other words, if you sow justice, you will probably reap justice, and if you sow deception or evil, you will probably reap both.

It is even possible to reap more than you sow. God once told Israel that it had sown the wind, but it was going to reap the whirlwind. Then again, you might also reap less. God also said that even though the nation of Israel had repeatedly sinned against Him, at the moment of its repentance, He would bless once again.

Sowing and reaping …

I have sown a lot of “stuff” in my life and often I have reaped the consequences of my actions; however, because of Christ … because of grace … I will never reap them all.

Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant. – Robert Louis Stevenson

Dare We Be Silent?

A lion has roared! Who will not fear? The Lord God has spoken! Who can but prophesy? – Amos 3:8

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I lived in Africa, but I never heard a lion roar. On the other hand, I have heard God speak and it was louder!

God spoke when He told me to enter full-time ministry in 1985 and then confirmed that call in 1986. God spoke again when He told me to take my family to New York in 1989. God spoke when He reminded me of the call to overseas missions in 2007 and through all of my days He has continued to speak to me every time I encounter His Word!

Amos gave an unavoidable outcome of having heard God’s voice when he said, “The Sovereign LORD has spoken — who can but prophesy?” Have you heard from God lately? What did He speak to your heart and mind? Who needs to hear the message that He gave to you? Having heard His sovereign voice … dare you … dare we … be silent?

Wherever we see the Word of God purely preached and heard, there a church of God exists, even if it swarms with many faults. – John Calvin

In the Beginnings

But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity. – Micah 5:2

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I come from a small town just north of Atlanta, Georgia. Yet today, due to urban sprawl, this same region is is now very populated. When I visit, I am amazed at how different everything looks and how quickly it changes. Where there was once one high school and eight elementary schools, there are now four high schools, multiple middle schools, and an equal number of new elementary schools. It just proves the point that big things often emerge from very small origins.

I was a church pastor for about two decades and I never served a large church. Floyd, Connersville, and Peach Bottom are not on anyone’s growth list. Yet, we saw lives changed, families impacted, and God glorified by what we collectively accomplished in those places.

Perhaps your work or ministry seems insignificant in the moment, but God is often most magnified and glorified in the place where His power is most evident and needed. Never quit and never stop serving where God has placed you, just because it seems small. The Savior of the world came from a small town and His Father received much glory!

The ultimate wisdom which deals with beginnings, remains locked in a seed. There it lies, the simplest fact of the universe and at the same time the one which calls faith rather than reason. – Hal Borland

There Will Be a Day

The sun will be turned into darkness and the moon into blood before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. – Joel 2:31

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The “Day of the LORD” will arrive sometime … or perhaps it already has, and we only await its culmination. Either way, the question is, “Are you ready?”

Sometimes I am asked, “Do you think it will be soon?” and I often answer, “Maybe … yes and no.” You see, Christ will return some day, but He also said that all the nations (people groups) of the world must first hear the Good News. As far as I can tell, this has not happened and until it does, I believe the Savior waits for us to obediently take His gospel to them.

On the other hand, if a person dies today, he or she will meet Jesus immediately and if he does not know the Savior, this day for him will certainly be “great and awe-inspiring.”

So, again, the question is not really, “When?”, but rather, “Are you ready?”

Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility. – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

An Enduring Truth

I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn. – Zechariah 12:10

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Even though the people of Israel have historically denied Jesus Christ, their Messiah, God still loves them! Chesed, God’s “longsuffering, covenantal love” is not limited by man’s response, because it is secured by an eternal, all-powerful commitment. For this, all the redeemed should be extremely thankful.

You see, God also loves us in spite of our disobedience! We don’t deserve His love any more than Israel, but this is why God’s grace is so essential. We are only saved through His covenant of grace, sealed by the blood of His Son. A grace that is sufficient even in those times when we are not truly loving .the one who extends it.

By grace we are saved and by grace we are kept; all through faith (which is the gift of God) and not by works. An enduring truth that is very good for us all.

Grace teaches us that God loves because of who God is, not because of who we are. – Phillips Brooks

Impossible to Fail

He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers. – Psalms 1:3

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Although “success” often seems to be a distinctly “American” ideal, it is defined in many ways by many different cultures around the world. Perhaps, the most important question is now how our country defines it or even how we define it (personally), but rather how success is seen by our Creator.

Media consistently (and tirelessly) projects success in a manner that appeals to our temporal natures: possessions and fame. Yet, if we consider ourselves to be aligned with God’s purposes in Christ Jesus, a different standard applies. Scripture, as always, is our first source for all instruction and according to King David, if we desire to succeed, then we must be “delighting in the LORD’s instruction” and “meditating on it day and night.” In other words, the key to our ultimate success does not lie within “us,” but rather it is found in a relationship with Jesus Christ (the Lord of the Universe) – and even when it does not feel like we are succeeding, with Christ it is impossible to fail.

We failed, but in the good providence of God apparent failure often proves a blessing. – Robert E. Lee

The Pilgrim’s Life

Passing through the valley of Baca they make it a spring; the early rain also covers it with blessings. They go from strength to strength, every one of them appears before God in Zion. – Psalms 84:6-7

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Here we find a beautiful image of a faithful pilgrim’s life in Christ Jesus.

Many days we feel as if we are passing through Death Valley (a place of spiritual dryness), but by God’s grace, it often becomes an oasis. Instead of experiencing thirst, we are refreshed as we learn to lean upon our Lord and Savior. With each succeeding “valley,” we then become stronger and stronger until that moment when we are face-to-face with our Redeemer. The journey, at times, seems too long and too difficult, but we eventually arrive.

This life is certainly not without trouble, but each test that we face under His providence makes us more dependent upon His sustenance. We become less and He becomes more, until we ultimately look a lot like Jesus.

Never forget that God tests his real friends more severely than the lukewarm ones. – Kathryn Hulme