Sowing and Reaping
Good Morning from the Voices Of Hope Evangelistic Team to all who are listening to or reading this message. What a glorious day to worship God!
Three weeks ago, we talked about the “Great Commission” and how many Christians lack the will, fortitude and sense of urgency to actually follow Jesus’ orders; instead, they are content to live out the “great omission.” We also mentioned that a survey several years ago found that 95% of Southern Baptist Convention Christians, those who are known for evangelizing, have never shared their testimony one on one. One of the reasons given for not sharing their testimony is fear of rejection. And if this is true for them, how much more so for other denominations? Two weeks ago, we talked about “What is My Testimony?” Last week’s Message was titled “Fear Not” and today we’re going to be looking at “Sowing and Reaping.”
Our Bible reading comes from the New Testament Book of Galatians, Chapter 6 verses 7 through 10. As you are turning there in your Bible, I’ll share a story about sowing and reaping that many will already be familiar with.
“A sobbing little girl stood near a small church from which she had been turned away because it was too crowded. “I can’t go to Sunday School,” she sobbed to the pastor as he walked by. Seeing her shabby, unkempt appearance, the pastor guessed the reason and, taking her by the hand, took her inside and found a place for her in the Sunday School class. The child was so touched that she went to bed that night thinking of the children who have no place to worship Jesus.
Some two years later, this child lay dead in one of the poor tenement buildings and the parents called for the kindhearted pastor, who had befriended their daughter, to handle the final arrangements. As her poor little body was being moved, a worn and crumpled purse was found which seemed to have been rummaged from some trash dump. Inside was found 57 cents and a note scribbled in childish handwriting, which read, “This is to help build the little church bigger so MORE children can go to Sunday school.” For two years she had saved for this offering of love. When the pastor tearfully read that note, he knew instantly what he would do. Carrying this note and the cracked, red pocketbook to the pulpit, he told the story of her unselfish love and devotion. He challenged his deacons to get busy and raise enough money for the larger building. But the story does not end there!
A newspaper learned of the story and published it. A Realtor who offered them a parcel of land worth many thousands read it. When told that the church could not pay so much, he offered it for a 57 –CENT payment. Church members made large contributions. Checks came from far and wide. Within five years the little girl’s gift had increased to $250,000.00 – a huge sum for that time (near the turn of the century).
Her unselfish love had paid large dividends.
When you are in the city of Philadelphia, look up Temple Baptist Church, with a seating capacity of 3,300, and Temple University, where hundreds of students are trained. Have a look, too, at the Good Samaritan Hospital and at a Sunday School building which houses hundreds of Sunday scholars, so that no child in the area will ever need to be left outside at Sunday school time.
In one of the rooms of this building may be seen the picture of the sweet-faced little girl whose 57 cents, so sacrificially saved, made such remarkable history. Alongside of it is a portrait of her kind pastor, Dr. Russell H. Conwell, author of the book, “Acres of Diamonds.”
Now let's read Galatians 6:7-10 (NLT):
"7 Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. 8 Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. 9 So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. 10 Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith."
In his letter to the church at Ephesus, Paul specifically asked for evangelistic prayer. “Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should” (Ephesians 6:19-20).
Heavenly Father, Your Word tells us that we reap what we sow. We ask that You would fan the flame in the global body of Christ so that its heartbeat for the Great Commission beats strongly. Many people are living in sin today because no one tells them about the unconditional love of Jesus. Transform us as we read Your Word. Give us the boldness and the desire to sow seeds of the Gospel in our homes, workplaces, ministries, nations, and throughout the world. In Jesus' name, Amen.
So many things we buy today come with warning labels and you might laugh at the following warning labels.
Not intended for highway use – on a 13-inch wheel on a wheelbarrow
May irritate eyes – on a can of self-defense pepper spray
Wearing of this garment does not enable you to fly – on a child sized Superman costume.
Our text for today also begins with a Warning:
Do not be deceived
Do not be deceived about what?
Let’s read on.
Do not be deceived. God is not mocked. A man reaps what he sows
We reap only what we plant. Why is it that we so often focus on the negative when we read this verse? This is the law of harvest we are most familiar with. It says that what you plant is what comes up.
If you give mercy, mercy you will receive. If you give to the poor, you are lending to the LORD and He will repay you! You get what you give, but do not give or do for others out of expect, but out of respect!
Here are the principles of Sowing and Reaping…
1.You always reap what you sow.
2.You always reap more than you sow.
3.You always reap later than you sow.
What’s Paul’s first point in today’s scripture? “Do not be deceived. God cannot be mocked.” Some people today are mocking God. Not explicitly – they’re not glaring up at the sky, laughing at God, taunting Him, daring Him to strike them down. But they are mocking Him implicitly, by the way they’re living; by disregarding His claims on their life. Ignoring God, ignoring His law, ignoring His Son Jesus Christ. Living however they please, with no thought or concern about God. They think they’re beating the system. They think they’re “getting away with it.” They think that as long as they’re clever enough to cover their tracks, as long as they can avoid discovery and exposure, as long as no one finds out, then they can do whatever they want.
But what Paul is telling us here is that they’re not getting away with it. It’s corroding their soul. It’s destroying their integrity. It’s eroding the foundation of their relationships, and placing a barrier between them and God. And sooner or later, it is going to come out. Sooner or later, they will reap what they’ve been sowing.
There was a university dean who suddenly stepped down from his post saying it was for "personal and professional reasons." Later it was said he had been forced to resign after technicians at the school told officials they had found thousands of pornographic images on his university-owned home computer. The dean had summoned the workers to install a larger hard disk and to transfer the contents of the old disk to it.”
Did he expect to be exposed? Certainly not. But in the sovereignty of God, it did come to light. And the result was a stained career and reputation.
But what if they don’t get caught? Sometimes the coverup works. What if they’re never exposed? What then? Well, at the very least, hidden sin weakens their relationship with God. When Christians try to conceal their sin, it distances them from their Lord. It erects a barrier to prayer; it destroys fellowship with Christ. And at worst, concealed sin shows that there was never really a relationship with God to begin with. You see, people who think they’re “getting away with it” may be able to con everyone around them, every day of their lives, until the day of their death. But they can’t con God. There will be a judgment, and all of their deeds, good and bad, will be exposed.
The good news is God makes it really easy for us to be very careful about what we sow. Our scripture for today tells us that we really only have two choices where we can sow. Not a million choices. Not a thousand choices. Not a hundred choices. Not even ten choices.
Only 2 choices! God makes it simple!
•I can sow to please my sinful nature or…
•I can sow to please the Spirit.
•Whenever I sow to please the sinful nature, I am mocking God.
•Whenever I sow to please the Spirit, I am magnifying God.
Robert Louis Stevenson wrote: “Let every day begin with seeds you plant.”
Our focus needs to be on Sowing to please the Spirit. Verse 10 tells us what pleases the Spirit… “doing good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”
Sowing and reaping. Deed and consequence. Let me pause here and ask a question. What are you sowing in your life right now?
How did you spend your day yesterday? Are you giving any thought to what you’re going to harvest from the seeds you’re planting right now? Are you seeking to please God, sowing seeds of obedience and service? Or are you sowing seeds of sin that will produce shame when Christ returns? Our words and actions and decisions are more significant than we can possibly know. They echo through our lives and the lives of everyone we meet; they reverberate into eternity.
* What are you sowing in your children’s lives? What are you teaching them? Are you teaching them? What kind of example are you setting? How are you preparing them to walk with Christ?
* What are you sowing in your own spiritual life? Are you reading the Bible? Are you praying? Are you cultivating a relationship with God? Or are you neglecting your spiritual life? What kind of harvest are you expecting? Are you sowing seeds to produce a strong faith and joy and peace? Are you expecting a harvest of Flowers, and fruits and vegetables? Or weeds?
* What are you sowing in your relationship with your spouse? Criticism? Neglect? Disapproval? You shouldn’t be surprised if those seeds produce a harvest of thorns and thistles. Or are you sowing encouragement, and praise, and attention? The harvest of those seeds is love.
* What about your relationships with others? Are you sowing peace or discord? Are you sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with others? Psalm 126:6 says: “He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed [the seed of the Gospel], shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.”
* What are you filling your mind with? How are you spending your time and money? What kind of seeds are you planting in these areas? What kind of fruit are you expecting?
Here’s the key. We don’t have a choice as to whether the law of sowing and reaping is going to apply in our lives. “A man reaps what he sows.” We don’t have a choice whether the seeds we plant are going to bear fruit. And we don’t have the option of harvesting good fruit without first planting the seeds. The only choice we have is what kinds of seeds we’re going to plant. The choices we are making today, the actions we are taking today, with respect to our family, our marriage, our children, our relationship with God, our time and money – these will bear fruit; either good fruit that will bring us joy, or bad fruit that will bring us heartache and sorrow. We have to decide: Which will it be?
Now some may be starting to form some objections, some questions. Because this law of sowing and reaping, although absolutely true, is not necessarily simple in its application. For example, sometimes the “good fruit” doesn’t look all that good to us. We do our best to obey God, we pray, we read the Bible, we speak the truth, we seek peace with others, we stay faithful to our spouses and we love our kids. And yet, things still go wrong. Conflict, bitterness, angry words, betrayal, tears, sorrow. What gives? I thought that if I sowed good things, I would receive a good harvest. Let’s look again at Paul’s words:
“Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” – Galatians 6:7-9 (NLT)
What do we see? Paul thought it necessary to caution us against becoming weary. He spoke about reaping a harvest “at the proper time.” Why? Because sometimes the harvest doesn’t come when we expect, or when we desire.
* Sometimes the "harvest" takes months, years, decades.
* Sometimes you may say something to your children that you forget, but which sticks with them for years afterward.
* Sometimes the harvest comes too late for us to see it. [Moses died before entering the promised land.]
* Sometimes we’re unaware of who we’ve influenced; the fruit appears when we’re not around to see it.
* And, in some cases, the harvest just doesn’t come in this life at all. Our reward is “Well done, Thou good and faithful servant.”
Here’s another thing: not only does the fruit sometimes appear at a time we don’t expect; sometimes it appears in a form we don’t recognize as good fruit. Sometimes the result of obedience is not an improvement in our circumstances, but a strengthening of our faith and a refining of our character. God, in His wisdom, defines that as good fruit, even though we may be looking for something else.
So, what should we be doing? Just doing whatever we feel like, and hoping for the best? No…a garden treated that way would produce nothing but weeds.
We need to reflect on how we’re living; we need to consider what kind of seeds we’re planting with our life. We need to work diligently to plant the right kind of seeds so we won’t be disappointed at harvest time:
“Those too lazy to plow in the right season will have no food at the harvest.” – Proverbs 20:4 (NLT)
We need to place our trust and confidence in God. Only He can produce a good harvest. It’s by His power and grace, and not because of our effort, that good fruit comes.
“I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. 7 It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.” – 1 Corinthians 3:6-7 (NIV)
Finally, what about the bad seed we’ve already sown, the sins we’ve already committed, the months or years that have been wasted? Well, we may have to endure the consequences of our sin. We may need to accept that we’re going to be reaping some bad fruit. Maybe we’re experiencing that right now – maybe we’re suffering the consequences of our past actions. Maybe we’re even reaping the fruit of someone else’s wrong choices. The important thing to realize is that there is a higher law that supersedes the law of sowing and reaping. And that’s the law of love, the law of grace. That’s the promise of forgiveness and eternal life to all who will place their faith in Jesus Christ. In Christ, the punishment for our sins is removed and our guilt is completely erased. We are no longer under God’s condemnation; our sins will not bear the fruit of God’s wrath and anger and judgment. Although we may still experience the consequences of our actions in this world, Christ will make sure there is no harvest of judgement in the next life.
In this coming year, you can reap a harvest but you’ve got to plant the seed.
Sow in prayer the things that you want to see change in yourself this year.
Sow in prayer the things that you want to see in your relationships this year.
Sow in prayer the things that you want to see in your church this year.
Is it rough? Yes! Sow anyway!
Is there a famine? Yes! Sow anyway!
Have you faced what seems like a losing streak over the past few years? Yes! Sow anyway!
Remember the third principle of sowing and reaping…we reap later than we sow. “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” Galatians 6:9
Why is it important to know that you always reap later than you sow?
1.So that you will not grow weary in well doing.
2.So that you will not give up.
Some have been praying for unsaved loved ones for years. Don’t become weary in praying for unsaved loved ones and don’t give up praying for unsaved loved ones.
But if you are sowing to please your sinful nature – Repent!
And if you are sowing to please the spirit- Repeat! And keep on repeating.
However, there may be someone reading or listening to this Message who hasn’t trusted Jesus as their Lord and Savior and doesn’t yet have a personal testimony. If so, then praise God that you reap later than you sow. You still have time to repent I want to encourage you to invite Jesus to come into your heart and life right now.
John 3:16 says: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
And I John 5:13 tells us: “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”
Jesus has provided the gift of salvation to us which gives us not only hope for today, but hope for eternity. Have you believed on Him from your heart? Have you acknowledged Him as your Lord and Savior this morning? If you’ve never accepted Christ into your life, then this is your opportunity. You can receive God’s grace and begin a relationship with Jesus today.
In Romans 10:9, we are told that “if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
We receive salvation when we:
(1) Repent of our sins.
(2) Trust Jesus Christ as our Savior.
(3) Confess Jesus Christ as Lord.
If you haven’t accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, invite Him into your life right now.
Or maybe there are those who are far away from Jesus. Have you allowed your comfortable, personally focused desires to act as an eclipse between you and God? Is Jesus obscured or completely blacked out of your life? Do you miss him?
All it takes is to open yourself and say "I want things to be different. I know things need to be different. I know what’s wrong, what doesn’t belong and I invite You, Jesus, to come and change me. I want you back."
When we turn back to Jesus in repentance, when we ask for forgiveness, intending to live a godly life, God’s mercy reaches out to us with a message of love. God is a God of mercy, of redemption, of restoration and of renewal. Just come by faith to the throne of grace to receive it. He is waiting for you with open arms. Repent all over again and get back to fulfilling God’s plan in and through your life.
Let us pray: Thank You, Father, for being a perfect Heavenly Father for us, for sending us Your Son to save us from our sins, and for putting Your Holy Spirit into each one of us so that we are never without Your presence. Help us to depend on You, to trust in Your truth, and to serve like You. We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.
When Voices Of Hope Evangelistic Team is ministering in Word and Song, their Fire Choir will sing several songs and then lead the Congregation in singing. Since that isn't possible, please click here and may you be blessed by singing along with "How Firm a Foundation."