Saturday, September 9, 2017

A Beautiful, Bountiful Harvest

I was on my morning walk passing through some cotton fields as the sun was rising this morning. I stopped and took some photos, two of which are in this blog post.   As I was walking and looking, I was thinking and praying. I want to share with you some of those thoughts prompted by God’s whispers on my walk.

First, I have to stop and say:  Praise God for the beauty in this world!  How I long for the New Earth, where beauty will not be marred by any sin or sadness or evil.

Most of my thoughts were related to harvest.  Both the coming cotton harvest, and then the spiritual harvest.

To my unprofessional eyes (I’m not a farmer and don’t even have a garden), the harvest looks very promising.  In recent weeks some of my farmer friends affirmed that it does, indeed, look like there is potential for a very good harvest.

How did this happen?

It takes a lot of work. The fields have to be prepared even before the seeds are planted.  Then, there is the planting, followed by months of fertilizing, and protecting the plants from weeds and insects.  Finally, there will be a final stage of preparation for harvest and the harvest itself. Those are the things which God gives the farmers strength to do. It’s hard, tiring work.

But there are other factors the farmer has no direct control over. Like getting the right amount of rain at the right time, and praying that a hurricane doesn’t come and destroy the crops at the last minute.  And then there is the sunshine. The most important factors are really all in God’s hands, but He invites us to be involved even in these through prayer.

The Spiritual Harvest

Even more important than farm harvests (which do affect many lives), are spiritual harvests.

Two major types of spiritual harvest come to mind.  The first is a harvest of people believing the Good News, falling in love with Jesus, having their sins forgiven, receiving God’s gracious gift of eternal life through faith in Christ Jesus, and being added to local churches.

As with a farm harvest, God strengthens us to do a lot of work even before harvest time:

* We plant seeds by sharing the love of Christ and the truth of His Gospel.
* We water those seeds with more love and prayers.
* We do what we can with God’s help to keep the pests from destroying the harvest.
* We recognize that we have important roles to play, but that only God can give new life and a harvest, and so we pray, pray, pray.

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.
(1 Cor. 3:6 ESV)

When we think of a “harvest”, we often think of large numbers of people coming into the Kingdom.  I sure do want that and work towards that and pray for that.  But don’t forget the beauty of each individual life.

This brings us to the second type of harvest.  When the Bible speaks of bearing fruit, most of the time the emphasis is on Holy Spirit fruit in each of our lives.  God is working on transforming each of us to become more and more like Jesus.  He is cleaning out the gunk of sin and deception in our hearts and minds.  He is filling us with truth and love.  His Spirit is producing the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23)

This type of harvest also requires hard work.  Much of the work is pleasant, but some of it is difficult.  We read God’s Word and pray and go to church and serve and confess and learn and grow and make mistakes and repent.  Our part is important, but again it is God who is giving the growth.

When I think of the two types of harvest together, I pray to God:

Lord, work in us and through us to help more and more people become more and more like Jesus.
Please bless us with a bountiful, beautiful harvest.
For Your glory. In Jesus Name.

Hebrews 13:16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others . . .

Friday, August 25, 2017

The Case for Christ Movie Review

We purchased The Case for Christ movie dvd yesterday at Walmart.  Last night Hope and I watched it together with two friends from our church.  Here’s the summary:  it’s awesome!

The movie is basically a testimony about the many ways in which God works to win a person’s heart.  In this case, God is working to win the heart of a man (Lee Strobel) who was a skeptical and hostile atheist.

God works in many ways. The movie’s strength is that it shows how these different expressions of His grace and truth are woven together to rescue a lost rebel.

I don’t think that “spoilers” will spoil this movie, but just to let you know, this review includes some.  Here are some of the ways the movie shows God working:

1.  God works through providence.  Providence is a fancy word meaning that God controls all the events and details that happen in our lives.  He uses these for His own gracious purposes.  This is seen, for example, when Lee’s daughter gets candy caught in her throat. God uses this to set into motion events which lead to great good.

2.  God works through patient love.  The patient love of Lee’s wife and the change he sees in her after she accepts Christ are a powerful influence on him.

3.  The Lord works through a team of people.  While one person may be there at the point of “harvest”, God usually works through a group of Christians to win a person.  There are a number of different believers in different parts of Lee’s life who all play a role in leading him to Christ.

4.  God works through prayer.  Lee’s wife and others pray passionately.  God answers.

5.  God works by healing deep emotional wounds.  Lee has a deeply damaged relationship with his father.  God works to bring healing here even before Lee accepts Christ, and this healing opens the way for Lee to move forward.

6.  God works through local churches.  A local church plays an important role in Lee coming to Christ.

7.  The final cause I’ll mention is the one Lee Strobel if probably best known for. God worked through a careful and critical investigation of historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Lee sets out to prove that Christianity is not true.  He uses the skills and methods of an investigative journalist (which he was).  He becomes a Christian. He himself is then used by God to help win others to Christ.

Besides the excellent content of the movie, I thought the acting, script, and directing were all very well done. The movie was moving and engaging in the best ways. I feel it is among the best Christian movies I have watched.  I highly recommend it.  Buy the dvd.  Watch it. Watch it with friends.  Pass it around.  And pray that God will work through us to win others as He is shown working in The Case for Christ.

Hebrews 13:16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others . . .