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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Ex. 25; John 4; Prov. 1; 2 Cor. 13

The Samaritan woman at the well. I had heard of her, and her midday walk to get water was one of rejection and loneliness. It was suggested that the other women would get their water early in the morning, not in the middle of the day’s heat. But this woman shows up after everyone had left, to avoid her peers. It’s in the exclusion and loneliness that Jesus shows up. Her life hints at wandering and indulgence–I love that Jesus crosses lines (political and social) and looks her in the eyes. I would have expected she’d feel shame, but he talks to her and she feels free–free enough to spread the words “He knows all about me.” Shame drops to the ground, replaced by joy. Actions that may have bound her reputation are freed through Christ, and she can share her story with joy.

Is that what harvest looks like? Lives lived in truth, worship, joy.

34 Then Jesus explained: “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work. 35 You know the saying, ‘Four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest. 36 The harvesters are paid good wages, and the fruit they harvest is people brought to eternal life. What joy awaits both the planter and the harvester alike! 37 You know the saying, ‘One plants and another harvests.’ And it’s true. 38 I sent you to harvest where you didn’t plant; others had already done the work, and now you will get to gather the harvest.”

39 Many Samaritans from the village believed in Jesus because the woman had said, “He told me everything I ever did!” 40 When they came out to see him, they begged him to stay in their village. So he stayed for two days, 41 long enough for many more to hear his message and believe. 42 Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not just because of what you told us, but because we have heard him ourselves. Now we know that he is indeed the Savior of the world.” 2 Corinthians 13:34-42 NLT.

I know I’m not alone. I know other people have stuff they want to tuck away from public knowledge. But I know freedom in Christ, that I can proclaim: He knows all about me.

My God accepted me, looked me in the eye, stood by my side when no one else would. On days when I would have walked in exclusion because of another’s judgment, he walked beside me.

Thank you, God.

Courtney (66books365)

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Exodus 13, Luke 16, Job 31, 2 Corinthians 1

Read at – http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ex.%2013;%20Luke%2016;%20Job%2031;%202%20Cor.%201&version=NKJV

Exodus 13    Remember this day in which you went out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the Lord brought you out of this place….‘This is done because of what the Lord did for me’

              Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for he had placed the children of Israel under solemn oath, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here with you.” And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night.  

              Lord God, You are the Deliverer, the Provider and Sustainer. I suffer because I focus on my circumstances rather than clinging to You, no matter how much, often and powerfully You reveal Your character, attributes and activity in my daily life.

              Father, thank You for being the Sovereign Lord God throughout all time and space. You brought Joseph through many trials and hardship, where Joseph clung to You because of all his unfaithful and cruel family members, owners and friends. There was no person he could trust but You. Lord God, You were and are always Faithful! You let Joseph know You would bring him out of Egypt to be with Your people – and You covered Israel as You set them free! You saved Your people from judgment of death because You provided the only Way out! The Passover Lamb of God, representative of the eternal Lamb of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. (1)

            Lord God, You have been present during my past and are bringing me to the future You have planned. Help me to be faithful to You in my daily thought life so that I will not be depleted, distracted, saddened or without vision to forfeit what You want done, Your good and perfect will.

Luke 16         There was a certain rich man who had a steward, … and said to him, ‘What is this I hear about you?’ … So the master commended the unjust steward because he had dealt shrewdly. …  And I say to you, … He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own? No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

            Lord God, You amaze me! You have trained me to be frugal and to give to You generously out of desiring for Your will and glory to be done here on earth as it is in heaven. Your  Word has done within me what You purposed! Yet it is never about money! It isn’t if we have money or not, are rich or not. It’s about depending on You, relying on You in a relationship based upon You, Lord Jesus! It is about living for You with integrity and honoring You with my attitude, motive and intent, along with everything else of my being. It is truly all about Jesus, the Word of God. (2)  

“it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tittle of the law to fail.” Luke 16:17

               The rich man and Lazarus, hell and heaven, show me that it isn’t about who had ‘good’ or ‘evil’. It is about what we do within our circumstances about You! It doesn’t depend on seeing You, Jesus, but IF we heed You, the Word of God. (vs. 30-31)                     

Job 31           For what is the allotment of God from above, And the inheritance of the Almighty from on high? Is it not destruction for the wicked, And disaster for the workers of iniquity? Does He not see my ways, And count all my steps? … For destruction from God is a terror to me, And because of His magnificence I cannot endure.

            What Wondrous expressions displaying Job’s Love for God! The intimacy and passionate desire for God from Job is sacred. Job 31 reveals the tender subtleties of living a life with the sensibilities for God to honor of the Lord God Almighty. Oh, Lord, that I, in this day, would have the same fear of You and honor for You! My heart weeps at the iniquity within me and around me! Your heart must be continually broken by each subtle ignoring of Your Presence here on earth!

             Job cries out, “Oh, that I had one to hear me! Here is my mark. Oh, that the Almighty would answer me, That my Prosecutor had written a book! Surely I would carry it on my shoulder, And bind it on me like a crown; I would declare to Him the number of my steps; Like a prince I would approach Him.” Job 31:35-37

            Many of us suffer seasons of tragedy, loss and of friends with bad advice. Oh! That Job would have had the Book of Your Word! Then Job could have “heard” from You as his Most Trusted Friend! You, Lord Jesus, the Word of God! (3)   

            How blessed! I DO have this!! We have a book called the “library”, the Bible! Many of us do carry it around and bind it to our hearts and minds like You command. Some Christ followers yearn to have it, yet because of cultural and governmental oppression, they must quickly memorize the single page that is smuggled to them. Others hold Your infallible Word in disdain, and seek to destroy Your reputation and your living tablets of the Word. Sadly, some who claim to belong to you, ignore your commands, precepts, principles and promises. They live a life by “their own understanding” and not a life in the Fear and admonition of the Lord. (4)

             Lord God, by Job’s circumstances and choices, I see how You were involved and protecting his person the entire time, You teach me Who You are and How You are with me. Your Word grows in me a healthy fear and respect of You in order to hide safely in Your Presence.

              Some seasons “feel” like God is displeased with me, though it is the exact opposite because this is when I am being hewn out of His Love for me. It is at these very moments that God is surrounding me closely, protecting me, providing and preparing me for greater intimacy with Him and for His plans of fruitfulness in His Presence for my future! (6)

            Job suffered for one terrible, agonizing season. But Job’s unwavering faithfulness to God seems matchless to me. In the end, Lord God, You double-blessed Job, proving a “a rich harvest of righteousness” and reimbursing Job for “what the locust had eaten”. (5)

             Joseph, too, had an agonizing season before God brought abundance and saved the nation of Israel. My agonizing season, though nothing in comparison to theirs, seems hard to me all the same. Much time in a “wilderness” with much pruning, breaking, healing and training for me by the Husband’s (a farming term) Skillful Hand is to have me trust, rely and adhere to the Almighty alone.

              What feels like “being deprived”, tortured, rejected and “soulful pain” – however real, is really heavenly pruning. God is cutting off deception, sin patterns, strongholds, lies I trust in, and setting me free so that I am no longer captive to my flesh, emotions and evil that I am unaware of. I have prayed, and I mean it – Lord, You know. May Your kingdom come and Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. No matter what the cost – because You already Paid the Price. Thank You Lord Jesus Christ!

2 Corinthians 1       Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, Who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ.

            Oh, Lord, the pain I feel seems interminable …. even though I know it is circumstantial and it will have an end. I do trust in the “God who raises the dead”. I am being helped by people “in prayer”. What if those two were not in place! I shudder to think of it. Lord God, help and save those who do not have You, the God of my salvation, the Holy One of Israel, for their Deliverer! Amen!

             For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. Now He Who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, Who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. 2 Corinthians 1:20-22

Bible Insights –

1- Genesis 50:25; Exodus 13:19; John 1:29; John 1:36; Revelation 7:9-12; Romans 12:1-2  

2-  Isaiah 55:8-11; Colossians 3:23-24; John 1:1-3; John 1:14

3- Proverbs 18:24; John 5:24; John 6:63; Psalm 33:4; Psalm 119:43; Psalm 119:160; John 17:17; John 1:1-3; John 1:14

4- Psalm 1; Psalm 19; Psalm 119; Deuteronomy 6:4-8; Deuteronomy 11:16-23; 2 Corinthians 3:3; 1 Peter 2:5; Judges 17:6; Proverbs 3:5-7; Proverbs 18:2; Job 28:28; Ephesians 6:4

5- Psalm 4:8; Job 42:10-17; Joel 2:25; Hebrews 12:11

6- Jeremiah 29:11; Psalm 1:1-3; Job 42:10-17; John 14:2-3; John 8:31-36; Romans 6:23; Romans 5:8; Romans 5:21; Proverbs 3:12; Hebrews 12:3-11; Revelation 3:19

 Crystal (PsalmThirty4)

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