Archive for August, 2010

IT’S HARVEST TIME(Pt. 3)

“Prepare your work outside and make it ready for yourself in the field; afterwards then build your house”(Proverbs 24:27).

Someone has rightly observed that the problem in accomplishing a task is the fact that “After all is said and done…more is said than done.” I believe this applies very much to the issue of reaping the harvest in our day. Jesus identifies the problem in the following words:
“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few”(Matthew 9:37). I heard someone translate these words of our Lord Jesus as “The harvest is plenteous, but the workers are weak, anemic and puny”. What I believe this means is that it is not merely that the laborers are lacking, but their quality is so poor that the work is hampered. That being said, we need to deal with the question: “Who are the workers or laborers?”

First, I would submit that everyone who is a true follower of Jesus Christ constitutes a “true worker in the field”. As believers we each are called to seek first God’s kingdom’s advance wherever He is pleased to place us in the world. Unfortunately, we have made the task of the fields of the world a job for “specialists”, who are either preachers, pastors, missionaries or “trained” Bible students. The reality of the harvest is the responsibility of every disciple of Jesus Christ. “These works shall you do, and greater works, because I go to the Father”(John 14:12). And yet, it is not enough that we “suit up” or “show up” for the call. We need to understand the nature of the call. Inherent in the call of God is a key to understanding of who is fit, to be a laborer in the harvest field of the world.

There are several realities to the call of God that the believer must experience in some measure. First, The call to fellowship. Paul addresses this in his letter to the Corinthian Church, “God is faithful through whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord”(1 Corinthians 1:9). Every believer in Jesus Christ must know this call of fellowship, experientially. Our spirit must be alive and in abiding contact with the Spirit of Christ, To fellowship with Him is to know His voice and to endeavor to abide in His presence through worship and His word. Obedience to His known will as He makes it known through His word and by His Spirit is our first call, while getting to know the Father intimately through Jesus Christ.

Second, The call to express His life. How many today are aware that when Jesus Christ died on the Cross for them, He also died on the Cross “as them”? Why? In order that His life might be made known through them. Again, Paul wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me”(Galatians 2:20). In other words, when you received Christ Jesu as your Savior He came to live His life in you. Therefore, there is a new resident inside of you. God by His Spirit wants to reveal the Christ in you. Again Paul wrote that all who have been baptized as witnesses to Christ Jesus in their life are acknowledging, “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life”(Romans 6:4).

Christ’s burial was our burial in order that His resurrection life might be our new life. We are called to show forth the life of God’s Son. “Therefore if any person is in Christ, they are a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come”(2 Corinthians 5:17).

Third, The general call. The general call is that in which Jesus invites all believers to become His disciples. “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light”(Matthew 11:28-30).
This is the general call to all who follow Jesus. The call of discipleship is an invitation, not an obligation, in that Jesus makes this call after those who have come to know and trust His love and care for them. He fed the multitudes and healed the sick,delivered those bound by demonic spirits and performed miraculous signs in their midst. All of this was to prove His trustworthy character in representing the Father. But one day, He turns and invites them to a deeper walk and relationship with Him. He offers them the yoke of discipleship. To come under His yoke means learning spiritual discipline. As a disciple we learn what it means to discipline our spiritual ears(Or heart) to hear His voice as well as to follow His lead. We also learn how to join in His work and to enter into His rest for our souls. True laborers fit for the fields of the world are those who answer a higher call of service for a higher purpose in Him.

(c) Walter Fletcher,Jr., 2010. Permission is granted to reproduce this article free of charge, provided that is it not altered in its original form or content. Please direct all correspondence to walterfletcherjr@gmail.com

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IT’S HARVEST TIME (Part 2)

“Prepare your work outside and make it ready for yourself in the field;afterwards, then, build your house” (Proverbs 24:27).

There is a real sense that most people walk through life, like a blind man seeing nothing. They are too preoccupied with the things that are of no importance that they miss the thing that is of great importance. And because they are unaware of that which is of greater value all around them they sell out the thing that would truly make them rich. Take for example the story that Jesus tells regarding the nature of the kingdom of heaven.

“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field” (Matthew 13:44).

The story is simple enough on the surface but it is packed with spiritual significance. The kingdom of heaven is something that is hidden in the most unlikely place, in the field. What is the field? Jesus tells us “the field is the world”(Matthew 13:38). He is giving us a clue into the heart of the Father from the beginning. God created the world and put man in it. Man fell from his lofty place through disobedience. And yet God does not destroy the man. Rather He places the man outside the garden in order to redeem man back to Himself. Is this not the point that we mentioned in our previous post as we looked at Jesus going through Samaria (John 4)? Ultimately, Jesus came to the woman at the well because she was the true treasure hidden in the field of the world.

The gospel of the kingdom expresses the heart of the Father in sending His Son, Jesus Christ, into a fallen world in order to buy back that which He values and prizes. “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whosoever believed in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world but that the world should be saved through him” (John 3:16-17). The gospel is not a message of condemnation but restoration and redemption. If we do not have eyes to see that human beings, albeit fallen, confused, wounded and sinful are the real treasure that God is after we will part with the field in which is the treasure.

Jesus is the Man God sent to find the hidden treasure and reclaim it for the Father. Although the field may not have the appearance that it has much to offer…with discerning eyes we see beyond what it appears to be and really is–a valuable treasure. As a matter of fact, every soul born upon the earth is important to God because although sin has marred the image of the original God upon the soul of man, God was willing to buy it back at great cost, selling all He had. Peter wrote, “Knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you”(1 Peter 1:18-20 NAS).

Jesus calls His disciples to a new awareness of the treasure hidden in the fields of the world. The harvest is ready now if we have the eyes to see it. “Do you not say ‘There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes, and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest. Already he who reaps is receiving wages, and is gathering fruit for life eternal; that he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together” (John 4:35-36). Jesus assures us that there is joy and reward for those who labor in the harvest field.

We live in the time in which the prophet Amos foretold, “The plowman will overtake the reaper…” (Amos 9:13). There is an acceleration of the work of the Holy Spirit in the earth, the ingathering of souls. The cry is not for more spectators but for more workers in the field; those who will recognize and seize the moment to reap. They recognize the urgency and are willing to pay the price to gain the treasure in the field. Its harvest time.

(c) Walter Fletcher, Jr., 2010. Permission is granted to reproduce this article free of charge, provided it is not sold or altered in its original form or content. Please feel free to direct all correspondence to: walterfletcherjr@gmail.com

IT’S HARVEST TIME

“Prepare your work outside and make it ready for yourself in the field; afterwards, then, build your house.”(Proverbs 24:27)

There is a buzz in the air as the LORD stirs up the hearts of people hungry for a real and meaningful relationship with Him. God is seeking the lost; people thirsty for truth waiting at the wells of salvation for people of God to help them drink of the life of God.

In John’s Gospel, chapter four, we see a perfect illustration of this while Jesus is speaking with the women at the well. His disciples were puzzled as to “Why is he speaking to this woman?” What was their issue? Their bewilderment was really from several biases:
(1st) They had a nationalistic and religious bias…”She is a ‘Samaritan’. She is not “one of us”. Religion, historically, has been very good at building walls to keep all the “wrong people” out. Contrary to popular opinion, God is not religious. God is a relational God. He sent His Son, Jesus, to destroy the “middle wall” thinking that separates Him from His children. (Read Ephesians 2:14 on the matter)
(2nd) They had a gender bias. Jesus is speaking to a woman. They failed to recall that God in the beginning made Man in His image, “male & female”, in order to fully represent Himself. The LORD was making a point that from a relational standpoint, there is no distinction between man and woman. God favors both and pours our His grace indiscriminately. He simply looks for those hungry and thirsty for Him and His truth. Paul amplified this point in sharing the Good News that “in Christ there is neither male nor female but we are all one in HIm.”(Galatians 3:28)
(3rd) They thought it was an inappropriate time. “The Master is hungry…It’s Lunch time”. Jesus corrects them and announces, “It’s harvest time.” He was not satisfied merely with bread & water but “My meat is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work.”(John 4:34)
The gathering in of the harvest of souls was not conditioned by a natural season but rather knowing the spiritual season of God. He understood that if you do not see the harvest around you, you will not labor to gather it into the barns. Every farmer understands that you do not reap the harvest in the time when it is ripe…you will lose the crop. We must discern that this is an hour in which God’s kingdom is invading and superseding all natural or earthly seasons.(For further insight into this principle read Isaiah 55:8-11)
(4) They had a SIN bias. This woman had lived such a notorious life. She had five husbands and now was living with a 6th man. But she encounters the 7th Man, Jesus. (The number 7 in the Bible speaks of “completeness, fullness and rest”. Jesus knew what she really thirsted for. Eugene Peterson paraphrases the words of Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burnt out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and You will recover your life. I’ll show you have to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me–watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”(Matthew 11:26-28 The Message)
Jesus looked past all that she had done to see what she would become under the forgiving grace of God. From a prophetic perspective, does not this woman represent the Bride of Christ which Jesus came to earth for? She is a “Samaritan”, half-Jewish, half-Gentile. This is the mystery unfolded under Paul that God through Jesu Christ has “broken down the middle wall of partition and made both Jew and Gentile One in the Body of Christ Jesus.”(Read further in Ephesians 2:13-17) God is taking a people who are not considered His people and making them a part of His people in this hour. This woman’s future was bigger than her past. She is key to saving her entire village.

In an age when many people have felt that religion has failed them, there is a message of hope for the broken and the hurting; those longing for a new beginning and a fresh start. The Well of living water they seek is a Person, a new religious program or experience. They need a life-giving relationship with Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God. All who turn from themselves to put their trust in Him will have the well that springs up to eternal life placed inside of them.(Read John 4:14) John declared,”To as many as received him to them he gave the right to become children of God.”(John 1:12)

As followers of Jesus Christ, we are in the time that Amos the prophet spoke. In the final days, people would run here and there, not looking for natural bread or water, but a refreshing word from the living God.(Amos 8:11). We must give them Jesus Christ who alone can satisfy their longing to personally know and relate directly with a heavenly Father longing to receive them once again. Preparation must be made, personally, for the fields of harvest. We must not look primarily to our needs but to the desire of the Father and Jesus Christ. He came into the world not to condemn the world but to “Seek and save the lost.”(Mark 10:44-45) It’s harvest time.

(c) Walter Fletcher, Jr., 2010. Permission is granted to reproduce this article free of charge, provided it is not sold or altered in it’s original form or content. Please feel free to direct all correspondence to walterfletcherjr@gmail.com