Ripe for Harvest

Open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. John 4:35

In late summer, we went for a walk in the New Forest in England and had fun picking the blackberries that grew in the wild while watching the horses frolicking nearby. As I enjoyed the bounty of the sweet fruit planted by others perhaps many years before, I thought of Jesus’s words to His disciples: “I sent you to reap what you have not worked for” (John 4:38).

I love the generosity of God’s kingdom reflected in those words. He lets us enjoy the fruits of someone else’s labors, such as when we share our love for Jesus with a friend whose family—unbeknown to us—has been praying for her for years. I also love the implied limits of Jesus’s words, for we may plant seeds that we will never harvest but someone else may. Therefore, we can rest in the tasks before us, not being hoodwinked into thinking that we are responsible for the outcomes. God’s work, after all, doesn’t depend on us. He has all of the resources for a bountiful harvest, and we are privileged to play a role in it.

God, may I be alert to the opportunities to share Your good news.

I wonder what fields ready for harvest are before you? Before me? May we heed Jesus’s loving instruction: “Open your eyes and look at the fields!” (v. 35).

Creator God, thank You for Your great generosity in entrusting us to do Your work. May I be alert to the opportunities to share Your good news.

We can reap what others have sown.

By Amy Boucher Pye

 

INSIGHT:Context is significant for understanding the meaning of a passage in Scripture. The context for today’s passage gives some eye-raising information to the original reader. These verses follow the story of the woman at the well. She was a Samaritan, a people-group the Israelites hated.

Jesus’s words “Open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest” (John 4:35) follow John’s statement that the people “came out of the town and made their way toward him” (v. 30). In other words, Jesus was telling the disciples that God’s harvest of people was right in front of them and from a group they would have least expected.

This is partly why Jesus says we reap what we have not worked for. The disciples had not worked for the harvest of Samaritans; indeed, they probably never would have dreamed of working for such a harvest. But our God is a great gardener and He grows fruit where we cannot.

How can you express your trust in God to bring a harvest where there doesn’t seem to be one coming? J.R. Hudberg

Overcoming Jealousy

Psalm 37:4

Now that we have a clear picture of what jealousy is and the detrimental impact it can have, we need to examine practical ways to remove the problem from our life. If you’ve discovered that you are affected by envy, follow these steps today:

1. Acknowledge that jealousy exists in your life. Be honest with yourself, and do not allow the envy to fester in the back of your mind.

2. Admit you are in conflict with the Lord. This step is important because it will prevent you from dismissing jealousy as normal or acceptable behavior.

3. Thank God for what He’s doing in the other person’s life. Perhaps He is performing a mighty work—praise Him for it!

4. Do something nice for the person. This may seem impossible, but the act of doing a good work—even if you don’t feel like it—will start to short-circuit the negative feelings you have.

5. Ask the Lord to show you how He views the individual. This is a most helpful step, since it causes us to look beyond our own perspective and see the other person as someone valuable to God.

6. Refocus your attention on what God is doing in your life. His plans for you are just as big and important as His plans for the person you envy.

There’s one additional step for you to take: Adopt a Psalm 37:4 mindset. When you truly delight yourself in the Lord and trust Him to bless you according to His plans and purposes, you’ll no longer feel a need for jealousy in your life. Then deep contentment will replace the old sense of envy and dissatisfaction.

Great Swelling Words

“These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage.” (Jude 1:16)

This picturesque phrase, “great swelling words,” is the King James Version translation of huperonkos, which literally means “super-massive,” with the implied noun “words” added because of the context.

The word is used only one other time in the New Testament, in the parallel passage in 2 Peter 2:18: “For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error.”

Both apostles, in context, are warning against false teachers who, after somehow obtaining positions of influence among the spiritually immature believers in the body, would then seek to lead them back into worldly ways of thinking and acting. Peter compares those who heed such words to washed sows going back to wallow in the mire (2 Peter 2:22).

Such teachers may appear very intellectual and charismatic, with their “feigned words” (2 Peter 2:3), promises of “liberty” (1 Peter 2:16), and flatteries (see text above), but it is a deadly mistake to follow them. Both Peter and Jude give various ways by which to recognize them. They may actually deny the redemptive work of Christ (2 Peter 2:1) or seek to undermine those whom God has placed in authority (2:10). Perhaps most commonly, they are interested in worldly gain or prestige for themselves (2 Peter 2:14; Jude 1:11). They also may practice and encourage carnal lifestyles (Jude 1:4).

Other characteristics of these deceptive teachers are given in these two key chapters and, by all means, young believers need to be alert to this danger, staying close to God’s Word and obedient to His will. HMM

“My soul hath kept Thy testimonies.”

1 Samuel 17:55-58

1 Samuel 17:55, 56

Yet he ought to have known his former minstrel. Great men have usually bad memories towards those who serve them. David’s appearance had much changed, and the king too was almost insane when he last saw him; and, therefore, was not likely to remember him. To this day the Jews cannot answer that question concerning Christ “Whose son is he?” The blind world, looking for an outward glory, does not recognise the Son of the Highest.

1 Samuel 17:57, 58

Hard is it to be honoured with such a victory, and yet remain humble. David showed his greatness as much after the fight as he did before and in the conflict. Had Saul been a man of truth he would have given the youthful hero his daughter’s hand, and every other possible reward.

1 Samuel 18:6-16, 28-30

1 Samuel 18:6, 7

When our Lord returned triumphant over death and hell, leading captivity captive, the heavenly ones praised him in their songs. Do not our hearts also exult in the conquests of Immanuel our King?

1 Samuel 18:8, 9

Envy, first- born of hell, whom wilt thou not assail! The modest behaviour of David ought to have protected him from Saul’s bitterness. We need not wonder that the old mania came back to Saul. He who admits an evil temper into his heart, must not marvel if a melancholy spirit enters with it to haunt the chambers of his soul.

1 Samuel 18:10-15

We might have expected to find David afraid of his powerful enemy, but the case was reversed. The wicked flee when no man pursueth, but the righteous are bold as a lion.

1 Samuel 18:16

The more they saw him, the better they loved him. He was an active leader, and ever at his post. Diligence and perseverance command the esteem of the wise.

1 Samuel 18:30

Good conduct is the great thing in life. The Lord make us followers of him, who was greater than David, of whom it was said, “He hath done all things well.” Holy Spirit, fashion us in the image of our Lord, that he may be glorified in us.

 

You Can Beat Any Temptation!

1 Corinthians 10:13

Everyone has to deal with temptations at one time or another, so you don’t need to feel embarrassed if you’re facing a particular temptation right now. But at the same time, you don’t have to succumb to temptation, because it is something you can overcome! All temptations can be beaten! You just have to make up your mind that you’re going to be the conqueror and not the conquered!

You may not have thought of it before, but the devil tries to lure you into sin by using your mind and emotions. He injects thoughts into your mind and emotions that act as stimulants to get you all stirred up in a certain area of your life. At that moment, you are consciously aware that you can let the temptation pass you by—or you can allow those thoughts to fester in your mind and take root in your emotions until they become a major stronghold in your mind to battle and conquer. By refusing to accept the thoughts in the first place, you can avoid the whole struggle!

It’s similar to a sexual temptation. You can choose to turn and look the other way, or you can dwell on that temptation until it fills your mind and imagination. If you choose to meditate on the thought that the devil is trying to put into your head, it won’t be too long until the devil is waging a full-scale battle in your mind! If you don’t put on the brakes and stop those thoughts, the devil will conquer you. That’s why it’s so important that you learn how to control your thinking. If you can keep your mind under the control of the Holy Spirit, you will make it almost impossible for the devil to defeat you in any realm of your life.

The devil is a master when it comes to mind manipulation. He knows that if he can get you to spend a little time meditating on something wrong, he can eventually entice you to do it! If the devil was persuasive enough to deceive brilliant, mighty, powerful angels, how much more easily can he deceive people who live in a far-from-perfect environment and wrestle daily with their own imperfections! The emotional makeup of human beings makes them even more susceptible to the devil’s masterful skills of lying, deception, and manipulation.

Satan watches for the right timing. He comes along at an opportune moment. He waits until you’re tired, weary, or exasperated. Perhaps you woke up in a bad mood; someone gave you a “look” you didn’t like; or you just started off your day on the wrong foot. Then suddenly he strikes you with a thought—something that takes you totally by surprise when your guard is down!

When negative thoughts begin to deluge your mind, you need to know that it is Satan setting a trap in front of you. He is trying to ensnare you so he can cripple and devastate both you and the people you love. He’s trying to get you to bite the bait so he can set the hook! But you don’t have to fall into this trap anymore! If you really want out of this type of emotional quandary, there is a way out.

First Corinthians 10:13 promises, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

The word “temptation” is the Greek word peirasmos, and it may refer to any outside source that appeals to a weakness in your flesh. That appeal pulls you like a magnet; it lures you mentally, emotionally, and sensually; it fascinates the imagination; it entices the flesh to take a closer peek. If you don’t stop this process, it will set its hook in your soul and haul you right smack dab into the middle of some kind of sin!

Because the word peirasmos (“temptation”) can describe any weakness of the flesh, this scripture could apply to any fleshly weakness you might struggle with—from being lazy or easily offended; to thinking too lowly or too highly of yourself; to having a problem with anger or sexual temptation. Whatever your flesh responds to is what this word peirasmos refers to!

But this verse promises that God will make a way for you to escape temptation—if you really want to escape it! The Greek word for “escape” is the word ekbasis. This word is a compound of the word ek, meaning out, and the word basin, meaning to walk. When they are compounded together, it means to walk out, as to walk out of a difficult place; to walk out of a trap; or to walk out of a place that isn’t good for you.

This makes me think of the time Joseph fled from Potiphar’s wife when she tried to seduce him. Rather than stay there and try to negotiate in the midst of the situation, Genesis 39:12 says Joseph “… fled, and got him out.” In other words, he got out of there as quickly as he could!

Negotiating with sin usually leads to falling into it rather than conquering it, so it’s better for a person to just get up and get away from the situation as quickly as he can! This is why Paul was constantly telling the early believers to “flee” evil influences (see 1 Corinthians 6:18; 1 Corinthians 10:14, 1 Timothy 6:11; 2 Timothy 2:22).

The word “flee” is the Greek word pheugo, which means to flee, to take flight, to run away, to run as fast as possible, or to escape. This means you don’t want to succumb to those temptations that are surrounding you. You just need to get up, put on your jacket, pick up your things, and get out of that place of temptation as fast as you can! Let your feet fly as you flee that situation! You’re not stuck there! You can get out! You can walk out of that place just as easily as you walked in there! Your feet work in both directions! God will make a way for you to escape those negative emotions if you really want to escape them. But you are the only one who can make the choice to jump through that escape hatch!

  • If you know you’re being tempted to angrily explode, walk out before it happens!
  • If you know you’re being tempted to get your feelings hurt, go somewhere else to avoid the offense!
  • If you know you’re being tempted to slip into a state of laziness, then get up and get busy!
  • If you know you’re being tempted to steal, get as far away as you can from the money or the coveted object!
  • If you know you’re being tempted to sexually sin, get out of that situation immediately!
  • If you know you’re being tempted to do anything wrong, it’s time for you to flee from the temptation!

Millions of Christians are held captive because they will not take the leap through that escape hatch. As a result, they have no joy, no peace, and no victory in their lives. They may be Christians, but they’re miserable because they haven’t made the choice to jump through the escape hatch God has provided for them and leave all those negative temptations and garbage behind.

If you’ll say yes to the Lord, He will show you how to walk out of this mess! You can avoid, evade, dodge, elude, shake off, get out of, and break away from every temptation! You are the only one who can choose to walk out of those killer mental attacks or negative situations. The moment you make that decision, your journey to freedom has begun!

So today the Lord is asking you: “Are you going to stay the way you are right now, or are you willing to take the proper steps to escape from this emotional temptation and demonic trap?” What is your answer? What are you going to do? God is waiting for you to decide if you will receive the freedom He is offering you or remain a hostage for the rest of your life. The choice is yours to make.

MY PRAYER FOR TODAY

Lord, help me find the strength to say no to my flesh and to flee from temptation when it tries to wrap its long tentacles around my soul and drag me into some kind of sin. I know what it’s like when sin calls out to my flesh, beckoning it to do something that is forbidden or wrong but I don’t want to cooperate with it anymore. I want to walk free—to flee from sin and break free of its vicious grip. Help me bring my mind under the control of the Holy Spirit so I can think rationally when Satan tries to attack me through my mind, my emotions, or my senses.

I pray this in Jesus’ name!

MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY

I confess that God makes a way for me to escape temptation. I do not negotiate with sin! When it tries to call out to me, I get up and get out as quickly as I can. I flee, take flight, run away from, and escape as quickly as I can when I know the devil is attempting to lure me into his trap. That’s when I put on my jacket, pick up my things, and let my feet fly! God always makes a way for me to escape—and I always make the right choice to jump through that escape hatch!

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!

QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER

  1. Can you think of times when you were tempted to yield to sin? Knowing that you needed to get up and get out of that place of temptation, did you stay and fall into some kind of sin? Were you sorry later that you didn’t flee when you had the chance?
  2. What is the chief area of temptation that you struggle with more than any other right now?
  3. In order for you to walk free from the struggle of that temptation, what changes do you need to make in your life?

 

Our Values

Power. Intelligence. Athletic ability. Efficiency. Winning. Affluence. Visibility.

 

These are among the values we hold in high esteem, idolize… even worship.

 

Human frailty, failure, weakness, and poverty we avoid like the plague.

 

In our society there is little room or tolerance for those who are second or third string. Not a lot of respect among us for older people — they’re out of date. Slow. Not “with it.”

 

So what happens when God decides to deal with our pride through illness and frailty… possibly through failure? What happens when we cannot call the shots, control the circumstances, or determine the outcome?

 

Is our peace of mind and our sense of worth so fragile that it is predicated upon the guarantee of life’s optimum circumstances or upon a continual string of successes and recognition? Or is it based upon an inner intimacy with Jesus Christ? If not, then God has some serious spade work to do on our soul.

 

Remember, our Sovereign Father’s two primary objectives are His glory, and the development of our character into Christlikeness, and He will use whatever means necessary to accomplish them. Pain, C. S. Lewis argued, may well be God’s megaphone to a morally deaf world.

 

I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. For My own sake, for My own sake, I did this. How can I let Myself be defamed? I will not yield My glory to another.” (Isaiah 48:10, 11)

 

As long as we are relying upon our accomplishments or bowing to the world’s idols to gain our peace or sense of worth, God is unable to work in and through us. Because it is only in our weakness… yes, in our dependency upon Him that He chooses to work and to give us inner-contentment:

 

He said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christs power may rest on me. That is why, for Christs sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9, 10)

 

I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:12b-13)

 

QUESTION: Do you need a paradigm shift in values? What do you think God thinks?

 

 

%d bloggers like this: