His harvest

He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

Luke 10:2 (NIV)

It takes a lot of pressure off of what we do as Christians, as ministers, doing the work of the Lord when we focus on one simple aspect of this verse. We could very easily take it upon ourselves to do all of the work and bring in all of the harvest while worrying about how to plant, water, and grow it as well. But notice that Jesus calls it his harvest field. It is not our duty to worry about anything but bringing it in and praying for more people to help us bring it in.

Not everyone has had a revelation of who God is—they have not yet heard the Gospel, but according to Jesus, many have heard the Gospel and need help taking that final step toward salvation. It is up to the Church to go out and gather these people so that they may develop a deeper relationship with God.

All these things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

Luke 10:22 (NIV)

Jesus chose not to reveal himself to the kings and rulers of the day. He revealed himself to the average person. He did not seek to attain political power, but humbly approached the lowly and simple. In doing so, he changed a nation from the bottom up. By the time the rulers discovered who Jesus was and what he was doing, it was too late to stop him.

There is no reason why our ministry now should not reflect what Jesus did in his time on earth. We should pray for our leaders. We should be leaders. But we don’t have to go out looking for the harvest. The harvest, God’s harvest, is among our peers and those with whom we do life with on a daily basis. It is those people we should be talking to, building relationships with, and showing them the love that Christ has already extended to us and to them through us. The harvest is all around us and we are all the workers God has called to bring it in.

However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.

Luke 10:20 (NIV)

As much as we long to (and should) see the power of God in signs and wonders, our greatest joy should be found in the fact that we are the children of God. That joy only grows when we are able to lead others to join us in our heavenly citizenship.

Don’t worry about how to grow the harvest. It’s not yours. Just go out and get it.

Read: Judges 15-17, Luke 10:1-24

The great disturber

Read: Numbers 8-10, Mark 5:1-20

Charles Spurgeon said that the gospel is a great disturber of sinful peace. Take a moment to let that statement sink in.

Do you ever wonder why the greatest of sinners seem to make the greatest noise when confronted with the Gospel? Those who are most content in their sin are most disturbed by truth.

For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open.

Mark 4:22 (NIV)

In Mark 5, Jesus came across a man who had been cast into the dark, hidden away and forced to live among the tombstones (a place no Jew would dare to go because they are considered ceremonially unclean). Why was this man put out of his home? Out of his city? Because he had residing within him a legion of evil spirits. Those spirits gave the man supernatural strength, yet caused him to run about naked and cutting himself. As soon as Jesus drew near, the evil spirits knew what they were confronted with—Truth. And they didn’t like it.

Mark 5-7-8.jpg

Spurgeon went on to say, they view Jesus as a tormentor, who will rob them of pleasure, sting their consciences, and drive them to obnoxious duties. Those who believe themselves to be happy and content in their sin and evil ways are under the notion that, should they accept the truth, they will be forced into a life of awful servitude. What they don’t see is that a life of truth is a life of freedom.

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

John 8:32 (NIV)

Under the influence of evil spirits, the possessed man Jesus encountered was cast from him home, forced to live among the dead, stripped of his clothes (and dignity), and made to injure himself. Does this sound like a man who is free to do as he pleases? Whether a person is slave to a legion of evil spirits or a slave to a sin of their own choosing, a slave is a slave. There is no freedom to be found.

It wasn’t until after Jesus had cast the evil spirits from him that the man was free to live his own life. He wanted to travel with Jesus.

Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he was had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.

Mark 5:19-20 (NIV)

Had the man returned to his city and his family as he was, no one would have been amazed. No one is truly amazed by evil or sin or chasing after pleasure.

What amazes people is a life disturbed, disrupted, and changed by the power of the Gospel, that great disturber of sinful peace.

Completely different

If I asked you to picture God, what would He look like? Maybe a decrepit old man with a long white beard and glowing white robes? In your mind, He probably looks pretty human and more than likely not in the prime of his life.

“My thoughts are completely different than yours,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”

Isaiah 55:8-9 (NLT)

When we try to picture God with our natural human minds. we are bound to fail. Miserably. We cannot even begin to comprehend what God may look like because our brains are not wired to do so. So why do we even bother trying? Why must we put a natural face and physique on a supernatural God?

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.

Romans 12:2a (NLT)

It seems like I go back to this verse every other day. But it’s applicable every day. So long as our view of God is bound by our natural thinking, so we will be bound to natural results. But as we allow God to transform us, we will be changed to His way of thinking—which is completely different than ours. It may not make sense to us. It probably won’t. But once we leave our natural thinking behind and conform our thoughts to God’s thoughts, we will start getting supernatural results.

When God begins to change your way of thinking, don’t try to rationalise it. Don’t try to make sense of it with your natural mind. Because God’s thoughts are completely different than yours. Don’t expect the supernatural to make sense in the natural. I’ts not supposed to. That’s why God is God and you are not.

Daily Bible reading: Isaiah 53-55, 1 Thessalonians 2

This little light

I’ve been talking a lot about work lately. Partly because I’ve been working so much and partly because never before have I taken note of so much opportunity to put the Word into practice.

For God is working in you, giving you the desire to obey him and the power to do what pleases him.

Philippians 2:13 (NLT)

By all accounts, the apartment site I’m currently working on should be two months behind. The roof was late and everything else that followed was pushed back—except the move-in dates. While I don’t think that anyone will be moving into their first floor apartment by the end of next week, it’s amazing how much this crew has been able to do given the insane schedule they’ve been kept to. But, with the insanity of the schedule comes short fuses and a lot people working out of order and on top of each other. I shouldn’t really even be on site until just about everyone else is gone, but there I am in my safety shoes and hard hat cleaning in preparation for occupancy on a very active construction site.

And in all of that, I feel as though God has given me a mission. He’s given me a light—His light, Jesus—and the command to let it shine.

…Let your lives shine brightly before them.

Philippians 2:15b (NLT)

On a site full of foul language and bad attitudes, I should be like a beacon of hope and peace. And that’s exactly what I’ve been praying as I sing worship songs and dance to myself like no one is watching (I thought no one was listening until I literally ran into the site supervisor the other day when I thought I was alone in the room).

While it may not be my job to make sure everything gets done properly and on time, I can certainly take it upon myself to change the atmosphere wherever I go.

The atmosphere is changing now
For the Spirit of the Lord is here
The evidence is all around
That the Spirit of the Lord is here

Here as in Heaven, Elevation Worship

Where I go, the Spirit of the Lord goes.

Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

2 Corinthians 3:17 (NKJV)

When I walk onto that site today, I fully expect the atmosphere to change. I’m just a lowly cleaner, but little do they know the power that lives within me. The power to change. The power to heal. The power to set free. The power to move mountains. Even the power to get the building done on time. Wherever we go, God has given us the ability as well as the command to make things change. What can you change with your light today?

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.

Daily Bible reading: Isaiah 34-36, Philippians 2

Dumpster diving

You’ve spent hours getting ready. Your hair is done. Your makeup is perfect. Your gown has been perfectly tailored and pressed. Shoes. Jewelry. It’s all there. You walk down the street so proud of the new you. Everything has changed.

You come upon a dark alley and take a few tentative steps in. Before too long, you’re standing in front of a dumpster. The smell is revolting, but you plunge ahead anyway. An old crate serves as a step. You flip the lid open and dive right in.

Disgusting. Right? Yet we do it all the time.

What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT)

The moment we invite Jesus to be a part of our lives, we’re that person who’s all dressed up. Everything is new. Everything is different. And every time we return to our old ways, it’s like launching ourselves into that dank, depressing dumpster full of the old things that God already removed from our lives.

Is it difficult to leave those things behind? Of course it is. To start any sort of new life is rarely easy. It’s why Paul told the Romans to constantly be renewing their minds. Just because our spirits were made instantly new doesn’t mean that our minds don’t have to catch up. The renewal process there is continual.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is.

Romans 12:2 (NLT)

To embrace a new life means to let an old one go. That old you stinks. It belongs in the dumpster. The new you has no business chasing after the things that made you who you used to be. We should be chasing after the new things God has placed before us—the things that are becoming of our new selves.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us.

Hebrews 12:1 (NLT)

Jesus came in his tuxedo and pulled us out of the dumpster when we were stinking of sin and shame. He came to us so we wouldn’t have to return to that old life. In order to maintain our miraculously new lives, we need to turn away from the past that weighs us down and look ahead.

We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends on from start to finish.

Hebrews 12:2a (NLT)

So brush the dirt and stench off of your new self and quit your dumpster diving. It’s time to live a new life, leaving the old behind.

Daily Bible reading: Proverbs 23-24, 2 Corinthians 5

The baby and the bathwater

Brothers, listen! In this man Jesus there is forgiveness for your sins. Everyone who believes in him is freed from all guilt and declared right with God—something the Jewish law could never do. Be careful! Don’t let the prophets’ words apply to you. For they said,

‘Look, you mockers,
be amazed and die!
For I am doing something in your own day,
something you wouldn’t believe
even if someone told you about it!

Acts 13:38-41 (NLT)

Obviously the Jewish leaders didn’t take kindly to the fact that they’d been called mockers. It only added to the proof that they were, in fact, the fulfillment of that particular prophecy. They chose to ignore all the signs that pointed to Jesus. They loved the law so much that they failed to see the fulfillment of it.

We’ve already accepted Jesus as Lord, how does this apply to us at all?

I think the prophecy from Habakkuk 1:5 still applies to a lot of people today. Like the Jewish leaders, there are a great many Christians stuck to their traditions rather than to God Himself. Like the leaders in the synagogue, they scoff at change. If everything has been working for the last hundred years, why should it change now? God never changes! 

No, God doesn’t change, but that doesn’t mean that we won’t see things we’ve never seen before. The world had never seen God in the way of Jesus. That was new. The miracles that Jesus performed had never been seen before. Those were new. The men Jesus selected to follow him weren’t great men or local leaders. That was new, too. Yet everything Jesus did still lined up with what God had been saying all along.

There’s that old phrase that says, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. The Church is often more guilty of this than any other group around. Oh, that’s new. Can’t be from God! And then we go along our merry way the same way we’ve gone along our entire lives. Like the temple leaders in Jesus’ time, we miss out on all God has for us. They missed out on the greatest miracle in the history of the world because they were content with the status quo. They were content with their status, period. To admit that Jesus was the Messiah and that anyone could be forgiven at any time would put them out of a job.

See, I will do a new thing. It will begin happening now. Will you not know about it? I will even make a road in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.

Isaiah 43:19 (NLT)

So when you hear about God doing something that you’ve never heard of before, check it out. Compare it against His Word. Just because you’ve never seen or experienced it before doesn’t mean it’s not God. Don’t get so stuck in tradition that you miss out on an outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

In the end, the priests went back to the temple and their mundane lives demanding perfect adherence to the Law.

And the believers were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

Acts 13:52 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Job 33-34, Acts 13:24-52

The former generation

“You don’t understand.”

“These are different times.”

“It’s not the same as it was for you.”

As young people, we probably all said this to an older person or two. If you’re not so young anymore, you’ve probably heard a phrase or two like this. There are a great many things that change with each generation, but what young people never seem to realise is that there are also a great many things that never change.

To some extent, we all want to feel as though we’re the only person who’s ever gone through what we’re going through. We want to be special. We want to be alone in the situation. If we admit that someone else may have gone through it before, it would mean we’d have to listen to that person and, suddenly, we’re not as special and unique as we thought we were.

Job, in his great trouble and misery has spent a lot of time complaining—and justly so! A few of his buddies came to try and talk some sense into him.

Just ask the former generation. Pay attention to the experience of our ancestors. For we were born but yesterday and know so little. Our days on earth are as transient as a shadow. But those who came before us will teach you. They will teach you from the wisdom of former generations.

Job 8:8-10 (NLT)

This is kind of slap in the face to Job hearing a friend tell him to suck it up because he’s not the only person who’s ever lost everything. There were others. Learn from them.

I get made fun of a lot because the majority of my social circles include people at least two decades older than me. Most of my friends are old enough to be my parents, if not grandparents. As much as it would be nice to hang out with people my own age, I wouldn’t trade my friends for anything. When I sit in a room full of ladies who have lived full lives, I am surrounded with centuries of life experience. Anything I could possibly go through, one of those women has probably gone through it. Their generosity in how they are willing to share from their experiences often astounds me. There is so much to learn. And I don’t understand those who don’t see the benefit of sitting with and learning from someone older than they.

Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, was one of those young people who refused to listen to the advice of the older generation. He scorned the advice of his father’s advisors and listened to his young friends instead. His legacy was much less than that of his father’s.

But he was an evil king, for he did not seek the Lord with all his heart.

2 Chronicles 12:14 (NLT)

Don’t allow yourself to go through life believing that there is nothing to be learned from generations passed. If you are young, seek the wisdom of the old. If you are old, don’t be stingy with sharing your experience.

Times may change, but wise council does not. This world may be full of knowledge, but it is lacking in wisdom. We must all be willing to both seek and share wisdom if we are going to see change.

Daily Bible reading: Job 7-9, Acts 7:44-60

Pilate project

I don’t like reading the account of Jesus’ death. I find it difficult to take every time I read it. Perhaps that’s a good thing. If I could breeze through the crucifixion of Christ, I don’t believe I would have the right to call myself by his name.

I don’t believe there was a person Jesus came across that did not have, at the very least, the opportunity to change. Even knowing his death was near, Jesus’ ministry was still active. Following his betrayal by Judas, Jesus was brought before Pontius Pilate—the Roman leader in Jerusalem at the time.

Pilate was a hard and cruel man. Luke 13:1 speaks of how Pilate had murdered some people from Galilee as they were offering sacrifices at the Temple. Strike one against Jesus—he was from Galilee. Pilate also had symbols that would offend the Jews imprinted on the coins he sent into circulation. Strike two—Jesus was a Jew. When he found out that Jesus was from Galilee, Pilate sent Jesus to Herod as Galilee was under his jurisdiction. Pilate and Herod were enemies. Strike three. Pilate’s tenure in Jerusalem ended when he was called back to Rome after massacring a group of Samaritans. He was just plain mean. There was nothing in this situation that would benefit Jesus.

And yet.

Herod could find no fault in Jesus so he sent him back to Pilate. Again, Pilate could not find Jesus guilty of any crime that would merit punishment by death. To try to appease the people, he offered to have Jesus flogged. But that wasn’t enough for the crowd. Three times Pilate told the crowd there was no reason to sentence Jesus to death. Three. That number sounds familiar…

…poetical for the moment when something is finished, completed, and perfected.

(N. Geldenhuys, Commentary on the Gospel of Luke, 1950, p. 384, n. 4)

After denying the crowd’s request three times (someone else had recently denied something three times… [Luke 22:54-62]), Pilate gave in. By waiting as long as he did to sentence Jesus, he went against his own track record. I’m sure that those who brought Jesus to him thought it would be an easy task to convince Pilate to kill a Jew from Galilee.

Having spent just hours in Jesus’ presence, it could be concluded that Pilate was changed. Not only did he go against his own history of violence and cruelty, but he befriended his enemy, Herod.

For the rest of his life, I wonder how much Pilate was haunted by his actions against Jesus that day. Did he think about it often or did he try to wipe it from his memory? Was there any remorse? Did he ever understand the role he played in the greatest plan of all time? Did he know that his command to have Jesus killed would work to finish, complete, and perfect salvation for all?

If God could use even the hardest man to accomplish His will, surely there is hope for the rest of us.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Kings 3-5, Luke 23:1-26

The change

Years ago, Steven Curtis Chapman wrote and released a song called The Change. In it, he talks about all the things we do as Christians that would make us appear to be different—the bracelets and cross necklaces, the bumper stickers, fridge magnets, and key chains. But do those things really make us different? The chorus of the song goes on to say:

What about the change
What about the difference
What about the grace
What about forgiveness
What about a life that’s showing
I’m undergoing the change

We all undergo a change when we allow God to invade our heart and spirit. Saul underwent that change in 1 Samuel. But so many fail to understand that the initial change is only the beginning.

God’s Spirit was on Saul, but the king never really put himself aside to allow the Spirit to do what God needed him to do. Samuel addressed Saul and relayed a message from God. Destroy the Amalekites. Remove them from the face of the earth. So Saul went to war and defeated the Amalekites. What he failed to do was to utterly destroy them. Saul and his army demolished what was worthless and plundered all that had value. They planned on sacrificing all of the animals they had pilfered. In Saul’s mind, he had obeyed the word from the Lord.

But Samuel replied, “What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Obedience is far better than sacrifice. Listening to him is much better than offering the fat of rams.

1 Samuel 15:22 (NLT)

Just because God’s Spirit is in us doesn’t mean the work is done. This is why we are to continue working out our salvation (Philippians 2:12). A life of salvation is not a one time event, but a life-long journey.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of the world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is.

Romans 12:2 (NLT)

Don’t just go through the motions that make it look like you’ve changed. Listen to the voice of God. Obey Him. God isn’t interested in the things we do to appear different than the rest of the word as He is interested in whether or not we obey His voice. He doesn’t want the appearance of change. He wants the real change.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Samuel 15-16, Luke 14:25-35

Changelings

I had a conversation with my dad the other day. We were theorising about whether or not there is change in our bodies when we become Christians that science would be able to, in some way, detect. After all, the Bible is pretty clear that, when we accept salvation, we are no longer the same.

What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons, they are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT)

Did you know that, when the human genome was first discovered (and for a significant amount of time following) up to 97% of the information found in our DNA was considered junk? Junk! Pfft! How could anything that complex be junk! With our bodies so intricately designed, why would only 3% of the information held in our cells be worthwhile?

Some scientists hypothesize that up to 50% of our DNA holds information valuable to who we are. Who’s to say that in some of that leftover is or isn’t proof of the change that is so clearly stated in the Bible? I’m no scientist and I am in no way claiming that junk DNA holds the evidence of our salvation. It’s just a thought. But it would be super cool if it were true!

Back in the day when Israel was on the cusp of becoming a kingdom, the man God had chosen to lead needed to change. Saul was a little hesitant to take on such an important role. He was from the smallest tribe and one of the lowliest families of said tribe. He couldn’t lead if he couldn’t see himself as a leader. Samuel, the prophet had a few words for him.

At that time the Spirit of the Lord will come upon you with power, and you will prophesy with them. You will be changed into a different person.

1 Samuel 10:6 (NLT)

Never once, when the Spirit of God came upon anyone, was there no evident change. Every single time the Holy Spirit shows up, there is change!

As Saul turned and started to leave, God changed his heart, and all Samuel’s sign were fulfilled that day.

1 Samuel 10:9 (NLT)

The fact of the matter is, that once we accept the gift of salvation, we change. The old really is gone and the new really has begun! You cannot experience the Spirit of God without experiencing change.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Samuel 10-12, Luke 13:22-35