Tag Archives: harvest

Ecclesiastes 3-5; Psalm 45; Matthew 15

I think of the scraps that fell from the table: could meager remnants become a feast? I sat on a bench one year and considered the crumbs and thought of this woman in Matthew 15 and her perspective.

24 Then Jesus said to the woman, “I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep—the people of Israel.”

25 But she came and worshiped him, pleading again, “Lord, help me!”

26 Jesus responded, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.”

27 She replied, “That’s true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their masters’ table. (Matthew 15:24-27, NLT)”

She taught me something profound that day about my own heart. About contentment. About gratitude. About the Lord. About enough.

The Pharisees had their expectations of what life would look like, and how purity would be recognized, and a protocol for how things would be done. I think on how my own expectations, perceptions, and protocol have kept me sour, hurt, angry, or disappointed.

Ecclesiastes marks time like seasons for war and peace, tearing and mending, silence and speech. Couldn’t it show on the calendar? On (this day), you will cry. You will grieve. But in a few turns of the calendar pages, you will laugh. You will dance. Would the wait feel long?

Here, I linger:

What do people really get for all their hard work? 10 I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. 11 Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. 12 So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. 13 And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God (Ecclesiastes 3:9-13, NLT).

The injustices of life. The advantages of companionship. The futility of power and wealth. The importance of integrity. Read slowly. Everything, beautiful. Even in the becoming, beauty, in the wait. A scope of His work.

17 Throughout their lives, they live under a cloud—frustrated, discouraged, and angry.

18 Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life. 19 And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God. 20 God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past (Ecclesiastes 5:17-20, NLT, emphasis added).

I did a quarterly evaluation in areas of my life from 1-10: work, health, friendships, etc. Goal books and podcasts preach a level-10 life. What would it look like, I wondered. And slowly I realized–I was already there. I have all I need. And maybe living out level 10 didn’t mean what I was making it (nebulous as it was). Maybe it didn’t look like anyone else’s vision of ten. Maybe, in some cases, it had to do with letting go of hurts and expectations, with looking forward and sowing into a future than looking back and carrying past burdens. Maybe my disappointment stemmed from exceptions and restrictions and expectations I placed upon things, a schedule I overbooked, a relationship I overestimated. For community that was never going to be what I hoped it could be. For the friend who never agreed to be who I needed her to be. What if I let go of my own restrictions, instead of wrestling with a past I couldn’t change, and people I wished who would? Seems like chasing the wind.

Lord, thank you for meeting me that day on the bench, bringing that woman’s story to mind. Thank you today for reminding me of the scope of your story. Thank you for gifts from you: good things from you, and the health to enjoy them.

Courtney (66books365)

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Exodus 22-24; Luke 23; Psalm 12, 14

14 “Each year you must celebrate three festivals in my honor. 15 First, celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread. For seven days the bread you eat must be made without yeast, just as I commanded you. Celebrate this festival annually at the appointed time in early spring, in the month of Abib, for that is the anniversary of your departure from Egypt. No one may appear before me without an offering.16 “Second, celebrate the Festival of Harvest, when you bring me the first crops of your harvest.

“Finally, celebrate the Festival of the Final Harvest[i at the end of the harvest season, when you have harvested all the crops from your fields. 17 At these three times each year, every man in Israel must appear before the Sovereign, the Lord. (Exodus 23:14-17, NLT)

A deliverance. A planting. A harvest. These are the three festivals for the Lord’s honor.

When I first started reading the scriptures today, I hoped that I could gain insight to a specific circumstance in my life. While the reading didn’t necessarily address it, I was reminded: God is just. And I trust in that. As I read about the festivals in His honor, I think of it symbolically today.

God delivered me from the captivity of sin and oppression. He has planted me in this place to sow what I will. And at the end of a life or a time, there will be a harvest.

19 “As you harvest your crops, bring the very best of the first harvest to the house of the Lord your God.” (Exodus 23:19a, NLT)

These festivals were held yearly in the Old Testament–and I wonder if I looked closely at how I spend my time, what would I notice of sowing and harvest in a year? Would it honor God? Did I take what He has given me and use it wisely, intentionally? Have I given Him the honor and best of the harvest?

Lord, I’m so grateful for all that you have done for me. In this time of healing and discovering, I trust in you. I want to take my eyes of my broken heart and focus on purpose–a kingdom purpose. Help me to steward well what you have entrusted me. Help me to honor you and keep you as the focus of my heart, my words and my actions. Thank you for your Word that speaks to me of your presence and promises. Thank you for being trustworthy and just. Thank you for loving me just as much on the days I’m a shortsighted mess as you do on the days I’m bringing my best.

Courtney (66books365)


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Jeremiah 5-7; Psalm 75; 2 Corinthians 10

22 Have you no respect for me?
    Why don’t you tremble in my presence? (Jeremiah 5:22, NLT)

These verses in Jeremiah (5-7) are to God’s people who have once again turned away from him, in their pride they follow their own way. They reject him, and live like he doesn’t exist. He calls them foolish, senseless people with eyes that don’t see and ears that don’t hear. It’s a warning.

23 But my people have stubborn and rebellious hearts.
    They have turned away and abandoned me.
24 They do not say from the heart,
    ‘Let us live in awe of the Lord our God,
for he gives us rain each spring and fall,
    assuring us of a harvest when the time is right.’
25 Your wickedness has deprived you of these wonderful blessings.
    Your sin has robbed you of all these good things. (Jeremiah 5:23-25, NLT)

It has been a wet season in Maryland, so much so that I have a hard time trusting when the sun peeks out that it could ever stay. I read that verse about rain each spring and fall, and I pause here: assuring us of a harvest when the time is right. And I think I sometimes wonder if I can trust in the harvest. Forgive me, Father.

In seasons of hardship, loss and grief, I have found closeness and comfort in the Lord. When I draw near to him, he is there, and I learn that this is where I want to be. Abiding in him. He is the wonderful blessing.

16 This is what the Lord says:
“Stop at the crossroads and look around.
    Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it.
Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls.
    But you reply, ‘No, that’s not the road we want!’ (Jeremiah 6:16, NLT)

I seek him and his kingdom. I stand on a path and look around–is this where you want me, Lord? Is this where you are calling me to go? When I feel weary and uncertain, I find myself wondering if I believe in the harvest, if I trust it will ever come. Sometimes the road doesn’t look the way I imagined, and I find myself unsure if I heard right. I bring him my fears and my doubts. I am learning to cast my cares upon him. To pray boldly.

Lord, I know that you are sovereign. Forgive me when I hesitate. Forgive me when I’m afraid. Forgive me when I’m downright resistant. I find myself in a new season and it’s not familiar. Help me to get my bearings, to discern the godly way, and to walk in it and not look back.

Courtney (66books365)

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Proverbs 13-14; 1 Corinthians 16

Scripture

Where there are no oxen, the manger is
clean,
but abundant crops come by the
strength of the ox. (proverbs 14:4)

Observation

Four chapters of proverbs, one hundred and twenty-one maxims of Solomon to choose from, and I settle on this. The observation seems quite straightforward. If you want to produce an abundant crop, you’ll need an ox, and if you have an ox you’ll also have a bit of shoveling to do in the stable. On the other hand if your stable is clean, it’s evidence not only of your lack of an ox, but also your lack of an abundant crop. The reader’s of these proverbs were not dunces, this is not new news to them. The listener is asked to meditate on the point of the proverb in order to draw out the broader application.

Application

  • Our house is often a wreck. There is clear evidence of teenagers living in our home. This is what God has blessed us with. Over the years, the fingerprints, stained carpets, broken windows, lost tools, dented car fenders have really bothered me. As I reflect now, I can see it is all well worth the potential of an “abundant crop.”
  • Being the hands and feet of Jesus as we serve the poor, the prisoner, the orphan and the widow will not leave us with soft, well-manicured hands or clean feet. From the body that serves out of a pure heart, God brings forth an abundant crop.
  • Personal transformation is also a messy process. Inviting Christ in to rearrange and reorder our lives can be frightening, and messy. Christ wants to open all the doors of our hearts, to reveal the skeletons and breathe life into death. The divorce, the abuse, the addiction, and the shame – has anyone been immune to the wreckage of a fallen world? Christ’s healing work in us always brings forth an abundant crop.
  • Ministry sometimes can be the messiest of all. Broken people working alongside broken people in an attempt to model Christ to the world… whose idea was this?! As church-goers we are often tempted to shift our focus to “clean stables” – that is, looking good or polished, acting properly, and following all the rules, while losing sight of the real mission –allowing Christ to work in us as He advances His Kingdom on earth.

God through Solomon is telling us quite simply and clearly – if we want an abundant crop, we must be willing to deal with the mess that comes with producing it. When we see the fruit of our labor, we will find that dealing with the “crap” in the stable was well worth the effort.

Prayer
Lord, strengthen me for the work at hand. Help me be willing to work with a pure heart and comfortable in the ensuing dust. Raising children interactively is not easy, serving is not always visibly rewarding, inviting You in to rip off the scabs of my heart doesn’t seem prudent, and ministry is often messy work that screams, “pull back, pull back, this is too risky, you’ll only get hurt… ” Lord, is my discomfort, my pain, my choosing to walk in to risk and danger really worth the crop it may produce? Maybe. But without the mess can anything abundant be produced at all?

ps.anglin

From the archives. Originally published July 23, 2009.

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Judges 15, 16, 17; Luke 10:1-24

And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” Luke 10:2

Being on the mission field, this is a prayer that my husband and I pray a lot. “Oh Lord, send people who will walk with us, side by side in the work you have called us to. Send people who are willing to labor, willing to sacrifice; send people who have a like heart, who are loyal and faithful, who burn with a passion for You, a desire to serve You…”

A shortage of trustworthy, dedicated laborers is an ever present issue for many ministries. It is difficult to find people, native or foreign, who are willing to put in the work that it takes to conduct outreaches and other enrichment programs; it is tough to find people who are willing to give up personal comforts and potentially risk their well-being and safety to evangelize, to preach the Gospel to unreached people who may lash out in anger against messengers of the Living God.

Becoming a foreign missionary is challenging on many levels, and I fully understand why many aren’t ready to answer that call, preferring to stay in their own neighborhoods. But I often wonder if there is a greater obstacle that is a discouragement to people.

As I began to hear the call to India, I often questioned: Why would God choose me? I have nothing to offer, my spotty past makes me ineligible to serve the Lord!?

I couldn’t see past my failings; I didn’t understand how God could use me, when I had sinned so much in my life. I felt my past overshadowed my present, my future, my ability to serve.

As I read the Bible and the Lord’s voice grew stronger, I began to understand that God did not call me because of what I had to offer, because I had everything I needed for the commission, or because I was sinless. He called me because He has a plan to use me despite of my lack, my failings, regardless of my sin, to show His glory through me.

Then Samson called to the Lord and said, “O Lord God, please remember me and please strengthen me only this once, O God…” Judges 16:28a

Samson is a perfect example of a man used by God to accomplish His purposes, to act as a judge for Israel, in spite of the sin in his life. He was a man given to sins of lust, frequenting prostitutes and engaging in premarital sex. He was full of pride, anger, unforgiveness, and a craving for vengeance. He was a murderer. But, God chose him, gave him strength, and used him give Israel’s enemies a thrashing many times over.

Samson’s story shows me that God has called all of His children, that He has a specific purpose for everyone, even for me. Samson’s story reminds me that, though my past may be filled with shameful things, God is greater than my weaknesses. He takes away my shame and gives me the strength that I need. He equips me for my assignment to labor for the harvest.

 

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan)

 

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Filed under 66 Books, ESV Through the Bible in a Year, Judges, Luke, New Testament, Old Testament