Saturday, April 21, 2018

180415 The Law of the Harvest

Galatians 6:6-10 Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches. Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
Every farmer knows that what you sow is what you get! This is true in all areas of life. There are results that impel us to obey these unwritten laws. One of the unwritten laws, at least as far as we’re concerned, is the law of gravity. We may not know exactly how to define it but we certainly know what it is. Is not very intelligent to make light of this law. Many a child has tried to work out a way to override gravity. Maybe just in taking a swing to its highest level or even to jumping off a barn roof into a pile of hay. The results are always the same. If you break the law of gravity, either intentionally or by accident, you will definitely suffer the consequences! The same is true when we try to violate the rules of planting. Let me tell you a true story from my own family that occurred during the Great Depression.
Immediately after the election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, he began to try to solve the problems caused by the great stock market crash of 1929. One of the things that he initiated was to help farmers financially. My grandpas both were farmers and were looking forward to getting the government help. I really don’t know how things worked out for grandpa Kelley because I’ve never heard about his experience. I do recall being told specifically what happened to grandpa Bray. He was so convinced that the government was going to take care of his needs he did not plant that spring. I believe it would have been 1932. My grandma Bray told the story. When the government woman came to the farm she looked over the garden plot and then went into the fields to look around. She came back and had some words with my grandpa. She sat down and filled out some papers and before she left she showed them to my grandma. It said something like this, “The garden is not planted, the cornfields are not planted, there is apparently no preparation for food production. I recommend that there be no aid given to this family.” And her word prevailed! There was no aid for the family and it was a very lean year. In this case, it wasn’t a matter of reap what you sow it was a matter of without sowing there would be no reaping.
My first point in developing this sermon is more than a little uncomfortable to me. I suspect it might be uncomfortable to some of you as well. As a general rule, I don’t necessarily like to talk about money. How many times have you heard someone say, “All the church wants is your money!” Often, we see in the news where the love of money has pulled down another ministry. At the same time, the Scripture is very clear. In writing to the Corinthians the Apostle Paul reached back into the law of Moses in order to establish the rule…
Pay the pastor. Let’s turn to 1 Corinthians 9:9-10. For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain.” Is it for oxen that God is concerned? 10 Does he not certainly speak for our sake? It was written for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of sharing in the crop.
I am not entirely comfortable with this topic. Too many times pastors, or preachers, have apparently been in the ministry for money. That must never be the case! In writing to the Corinthians Paul quotes one of the Old Testament laws that speaks of letting the laborer receive benefit from his labor. When Paul wrote to Timothy about the subject (1 Timothy 5:17-18) he said: “elders who rule well should be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.” “Double honor” is not a plaque to put on the wall or a letter of recommendation. The term could be translated as “double value” speaking of financial remuneration. Or to make it more simple double pay. In fact, Jesus himself said, “The laborer deserves his wages.” In 1 Corinthians 9:12 the Apostle speaks of himself when he says “Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right,” Paul was very careful not to let money get in the way of ministry.
About 30 years ago there were some significant news stories concerning prominent Christian leaders who were receiving very large pay packages. At the same time, many of them were apparently involved in ungodly activities. At that time we discontinued the practice of “passing the plate” for an offering and instead put the offering box in the entryway. My feeling at that time was we should stay as far as possible away from any greed. In his counsel to Timothy Paul said: “for the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils.” (1 Timothy 6:10) We wanted to be sure no one ever considered this church to be “all about money”! Now, we have “Pay the Pastor” out-of-the-way let’s go on with “The Law of the Harvest”.
God made the rule. Let’s look at 2 Corinthians 9:6-8. The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.
A friend of mine once told me that when people leave the church they usually start by reducing or stopping their giving. Several weeks before leaving they will usually stop giving. It is very grievous to me that there seems to be a spirit of selfishness that invades many homes in the church.
Friends you can’t out give God and you can’t compel God to do anything by manipulating your giving. Holding your offering hostage doesn’t cause God to change his ways with regard to your family life. In fact, the opposite would be true. As we give we should give bountifully so that we can receive bountifully.
Let me tell you the story of R. G. LeTourneau. This material comes from He and his wife gave away 90% of their income.
LeTourneau was one of the more unlikely leaders of 20th-century industry. From humble beginnings and a 7th-grade education, he taught himself engineering and eventually built a manufacturing empire. His earth-moving machines helped win WWII and construct the highway infrastructure of modern America.  By the end of his life, he held more than 300 patents. He had also become one of the leading spokespersons in the lay-led faith and work movement.
The decision to give away 90 percent of his personal income and stock in the company was the result of a previous decision--made when he was 30 and deeply in debt--to make God His business partner. Chastised by his missionary sister to get serious about serving God, LeTourneau was confused.  Like most people, he believed that sincere dedication to God required that he become a preacher, an evangelist, or a missionary. He attended a revival meeting at church and gave in. Thinking he was headed to the mission field, he sought guidance from his pastor. After praying together, his pastor said, “You know Brother LeTourneau, God needs businessmen as well as preachers and missionaries.” LeTourneau responded, “All right if that's what God wants me to be, I'll try to be His businessman.”
LeTourneau took his business partnership with God seriously, although he felt like God was getting “a sorry specimen as a partner.” When financial success came years later, he believed this made him a debtor to God as well as his fellowman. His commitment to give away so much of his wealth was not a flash of generosity as much as a logical progression from his earlier decision to make God his business partner.
When people understand that their work matters to God and recognize that He is their business partner, LeTourneau's perspective is a natural response: “The question is not how much of my money I give to God, but rather how much of God’s money I keep for myself.” 
I first heard those words from my father when he said, “I’m not concerned about what people do with what I give I’m concerned about what I do with what I keep.” The rule that God made is simply…
You reap what you sow. Let’s turn to Luke 6:38. Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
These are the words of our Lord Jesus! He commends the giving and promises that there will be a return. Not only will there be a return it will be substantial! God does not short the return to people. The measure is pressed down, shaken together, running over! If you give faithfully you will receive bountifully. I am not saying that you will receive a certain kind of return. Some of the false teachers have done that to the damage of many people. I recall a friend who called me to say he had just heard something on the radio and wanted me to respond to it. What he had heard the evangelist say was “add up all your bills and send me the money” if they did this God would give them 100 times what they had given to the evangelist! Obviously, if you could work such a deal it would be easy to pay your bills with all the gifts that would be poured out on you. Please, never fall for such a scheme.
Remember, “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils” all of these schemes simply show our greed! I remember a T-shirt that had written on it, “God, let me prove that you can trust me. Let me win the lottery!” I can’t think of any worse attitude concerning God and money. I will tell you that God always takes care of the faithful. It is possible to accumulate some treasure here on earth but…
Our real treasure is in heaven. Turn with me to 1 Peter 1:3-5. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
We need to praise God that he has a reserve account in heaven. Social Security is not secure! The Federal Reserve can fail to protect our national wealth. By the resurrection from the dead of Jesus Christ God demonstrated his power! By our faith in him, we have an inheritance protected for us — not by the power of the federal government — but by the power of God! That inheritance is not here on earth it is in heaven and will be revealed by God’s own time! Meanwhile, we are toDo good. Let’s turn to the words of Peter found in Acts 10:38. God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.
Peter followed Jesus for about three years and observed all the good things that he did. He knew that Jesus demonstrated servant leadership and he demonstrated it. Peter could remember the words of the Lord Jesus when he said he had not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28). We must…
Remember, we are part of a family. Let’s look at Philippians 3:17-21. Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. 18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
In the same way that Paul followed Christ, he wanted his disciples to follow himself. Our treasure is in heaven and so is our citizenship. Like the old song says “this world is not my home I’m just a passing through”. We are to do good to everyone, especially those who are of the household of faith. There needs to be a giving attitude in our life towards everyone. I can assure you that we serve a God who has a giving attitude. We are not to get tired of doing good instead we are to concentrate on helping each other.
We are to be led by the Spirit and not by our feelings. We have a serious obligation to bear the burdens of our family. Everyone is a burden-bearer. Every believer is to pull our brothers and sisters out of the ditch when they fall into it. Are you a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ? Have you recognized that, apart from Jesus, we have no hope in the world? Having received Christ have you followed through with baptism and involvement in the church? Today could be your day!

All scriptures quotes are from: The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

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