ONEprayer Devotion – Day 4
DON’T BE DISAPPOINTED WITH THE HARVEST
1 Again Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water’s edge. 2 He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said: 3 “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.”
The crowds listening to Jesus were now so big that they couldn’t all hear him as he preached on the beach. Jesus’ solution was to use a boat as his podium. That’s a first for me. I’ve never heard of anyone else speaking from a boat, but it worked for Jesus. I guess his voice carried well over the water. Obviously, it was harvest time. The huge crowds were hungry and open. Huge responses seemed assured. But that’s not the whole story.
As we reap the harvest, there will be times when it appears that everyone is interested in our Christian faith. God will open doors that we’ve never seen open before. Many people will be swept into the kingdom. This is exciting and it’s what we’re praying for. This is what happens in harvest times. But it’s not the whole story. Jesus reminds us of this in his parable.
Jesus knew that the eager crowds were not all going to prosper in his new kingdom. Some on the lakeside that day were just there for the show. They marvelled at the miracles and listened to the teaching, but they were oblivious to Jesus’ real kingdom call. They were like a hard path (4:4). The “seed” was snatched away by Satan before it could take root.
I had been discussing Christian faith with Simon over a number of months and eventually I asked him along to a church service where I was preaching. I preached the best evangelistic sermon I could muster, making the gospel as clear as possible through proclamation, video and illustration. After the service, Simon came up to me with sparkling eyes. I could see that he finally grasped it. He excitedly said, “Now I understand what you’ve been saying: I just have to be more spiritual.” Simon was the “path” – well-meaning and interested, but unable to really hear the gospel. We must continue to love the path people, but you can’t help feeling sad. I’m sure Jesus felt the same way.
Some of the potential harvest will grow in “rocky soil.” These are often the people who get most excited about the good news. They love the idea of God’s grace and forgiveness. They are passionate about Jesus. But when things get tough, they fade away. They’ve been living on emotions and dreams but their roots have not gone down deep into Jesus. They have not counted the cost of being a disciple of Jesus. Their faith dies as quickly as it took root. That’s really sad, but Jesus said that we can expect it.
Some of the potential harvest will grow in thorny soil. These people will look spiritually healthy for some time, but eventually, their faith in Jesus will be squeezed out by their successes or problems. Maybe they will still call themselves followers of Jesus but there will be no fruit to prove it. That’s really sad, but Jesus said that we can expect it.
Don’t be disillusioned or disappointed when you find these different soils because Jesus experienced them too. But he promised that some of the harvest will prosper beyond your wildest dreams. The fruit God produces through them will be incredible (4:8). For example, Sarah gave her life to Jesus in her late twenties after struggling with all sorts of abuse and sin. Now she is a school chaplain.
So when you commit to help with the harvest and nothing much happens, remember this Jesus story. Seed sowing can be disappointing work at times. Some will be resistant and others will fall away. But we mustn’t give up or get discouraged because there really will be a miraculous harvest. Continue to believe and persevere. The harvest is coming.
READY FOR HARVEST STORY:
CARINITY PRISON CHAPLAINCY
As a prison chaplain, I entered one of the secure units and chatted briefly with Mandy (a keen Christian) who introduced me to her new cellmate Judy. As Judy started to go outside into the small yard, I asked her if she would like to sit down and chat. She was wary, not knowing what to say to a chaplain, but I assured her that I did not bite and that she could talk to me about anything. I could see that she was struggling but she decided eventually to stay and chat.
I invited Judy to talk about her life outside of prison. She shared that before her prison sentence, she lived with her mother and her two young children. She would give her partner (now in the men’s prison) her money, and in return, he would ‘inject’ her. Judy admitted that her life was inevitably heading towards a very bad end. I asked Judy what she thought about Jesus. She explained that she knew very little. Her mother attended church at Easter and Christmas, but she didn’t. Yet Judy seemed very open.
Then God reminded me about Mandy, her cellmate. Coming to prison had turned Mandy’s life around as she met Jesus inside. I asked Judy if Mandy had talked about Jesus to which she replied, “Yes she talks about him all the time!” When the guards indicated our time was up, I suggested that she chat with Mandy about Jesus. It seemed to me that God was doing something special in Judy’s heart.
When the next chaplain visited, Mandy and Judy couldn’t wait to tell her the good news. Mandy had led Judy into a relationship with Jesus. Judy had given her life to the Lord. When she was released the following Monday, she left prison with a new eternal purpose.
PRAYER POINTS FROM OUR MOVEMENT
We ask for eyes to see and ears to hear our Lord’s guidance. For the courage and strength to mobilize when it’s God’s time to do so. Until then, we ask for patience and faith to wait, growing together. That when the time comes to move, we will move in unity. That we would defend and nurture the more vulnerable standing alongside them as they take their place in the Kingdom. That as we move, our feet will be fitted with the readiness that comes from the Gospel of peace which tears down barriers which divide.
Northern Beaches Connections
Provision for our planned building of a childcare centre on our site. That it would be a place of building faith in young people in our community and connecting with families in the area.
Connect Baptist Church Deagon
We pray that each one in the congregation will win one this year – to salvation in Christ or a ministry event or a program or home for a meal with a message.
Gladstone Baptist Church
We are a small group and all of our members need to be inspired to ‘gossip the gospel’ and bring new people in.
Cooroy Community Baptist Church
A renewed heart for the lost that drives us into our spheres of influence seeking out people of peace!
Outlook Christian Church
To see revival in our church, our city of Hervey Bay and our region of the Fraser Coast. May we see salvations like never before, baptism line ups going out the door, signs and wonders, hearts fully surrendered to God and seeing the captives set free in Jesus name! Come Holy Spirit and have your way among us.
Hervey Bay Baptist Church
We pray that the ministry of QCCC Noosa Outdoor Education Centre would grow and continue to facilitate a space in Creation for churches, youth groups and Christian fellowship gatherings, and that transformation for all guests that use this site would bring personal and organisational revival in their own unique spaces. We also pray that every school group that attends this site would see Jesus in a tangible way while on camp here and that every teacher would experience the gift of genuine hospitality.
QCCC Noosa Outdoor Education Centre
That we would have God’s vision in expanding our facilities, are faith-filled for provision, and that we follow Jesus’ way for bringing transformation in our community.
Hope Community Church