“The Father is seeking such people to worship him.”
“Lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.”
If you live in the upper Midwest as we do, you can’t help but accept the coming and going of the four seasons. This is not the same as welcoming each season (although that would be a good discipline to work on), but we look around us and must accept, like it or not, that a new season is on our door step and will be fully upon us very soon. We may not always like that by the end of July/first of August the grains have turned golden in the summer sun and are ready for harvest. If we have trained ourselves, we may recognize God’s grace to mankind in the season’s altering.
Our dear Pastor Scott led us through some surprisingly uncharted territory this past Sunday morning as he taught through the familiar story of the woman at the well from John 4 and challenged us to see it anew. Thus, we entered the church service which followed with such meditations as v.23 “the Father is seeking such people” and v. 35 “Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.”
Then, who should be filling pulpit today but one of the many home-grown missionaries our church supports, Aaron Robinson. He and his wife were working in campus ministry in Toulouse, France, but Aaron has recently been named the Director of Cru’s France ministry, Agape France. It was one of those Sundays when God seemingly shouts through all voices, “Don’t miss this; sit up and take notice!”
For his text, Aaron used a passage in Luke where Jesus is sending his disciples out to minister in the neighboring towns and cities. If Pastor Scott’s discussion caused us to consider the who and when of kingdom harvesting, Aaron’s message caused us understand better the how of harvesting.
But first, Aaron began with a challenge to complacency:
“What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (James 4:14). We have this small thing called “our life” which will be gone before we know it; yet, what are we told will endure? God, his Word, and the souls of men. Aaron addressed his message to all, no matter where our fields might be – in long-term foreign missions or nearer home. In a sort of Don’t Waste Your Life perspective, Aaron offered the following.
“Six Principles for Harvesting as Lambs Among Wolves”
Harvesting Principle #1 – Jesus sends his disciples to where He himself is going.
v. 1 “After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go.”
In his modern classic, Experiencing God 1, Henry Blackaby looks to such passages as Romans 3:10-11 (“… there is no who one seeks God”) and John 6:44 (“No one can come to [Jesus] unless the Father who sent me draws him’) to impress on the reader that “no one is going to seek God on his own initiative. No one will ask after spiritual matters unless God is at work in his life.” He advises, “When you see someone seeking God or asking about spiritual matters, you are seeing God at work” (p.26). The theme of his book is: Watch to see where God is working and join him there.
Harvesting Principle #2 – There’s a big harvest, but the laborers are few.
v. 2a “And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.”
Sometimes, we mistakenly believe that the world will remain ripe until we’re ready. But our own lives are a mist, vanishing after a little time as, too, are the lives of those of the harvest. What’s more, there is most certainly a day appointed by the Father when history will be rolled up and after that, the judgment (Hebrews 9:27).
Harvesting Principle #3 – Pray!
v. 2b “Therefore, pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
This God-sized mission pushes us to pray; in fact, no great work of God is done without prayer. “When we work, we work; but when we pray, God works.” In the process of praying, our hearts begin to change.
Harvesting Principle #4 – You may be the answer to your own prayers.
v. 3 “Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves.”
Jesus knows the battle is fierce. Notice he does not say, “I’m sending you like bears before wolves.” Instead he declares, “I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves.” This is a difficult charge, but consider that, just maybe, God would have his sheep call upon their Shepherd for their daily strength.
Harvesting Principle #5 – God will direct you and provide what you need.
vv. 4-12 “4 Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. 5 Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ 6 And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. 7 And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house. 8 Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. 9 Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ 12 I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.”
What God calls you to, he equips you for. May “our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep… equip you with everything good that you may do his will…” (Heb. 13:20-21)
Harvesting Principle #6 – Expect mixed reactions.
v. 16 – “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”
It is easy to believe that people are reacting to us personally. It is a discipline to remind ourselves that they are reacting to God and his message. We cannot control the response of others; we can only control our obedience to God’s call.
In closing, it is helpful as we go out into our world, our spheres of influence, that the Father is seeking people to worship him – it is his will to be worshiped in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24). Pastor John Piper puts it this way: Missions exist because worship doesn’t. Wherever worship of the one true, triune God is lacking (whether it be a whole nation or people group or in your neighbor or co-worker’s home), we are called to missions.
“Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see
that the fields are white for harvest.”
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1Blackaby Henry, &. King Claude. Experiencing God. USA: Southern Baptist Convention, 1990. Print.