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The Secret of the Harvest
Harvest Time!
The Secret of the Harvest
Psalm 126:6
I firmly believe the greatest joy a child of God can ever know is helping someone who is lost and on their way to hell to come to know Jesus as Savior and Lord and yet, for whatever reason, most Christians will never know that experience.  But it doesn’t have to be that way.  Our Connect>1 strategy is designed to help you in that process. 
And on October 2, we will have our commitment day for the 3151 strategy. It involves commitments in 4 fundamental areas. First is a commitment to pray for three lost people by name. That’s not too difficult.  We all know at least three people who are lost and we all know how to pray.
Next is a commitment to learn a way to talk to someone about Jesus. And on the evening after you make your commitment, I’ll show you how to do that.  We’ll give you some training and provide you with some materials. 
Third is where it begins to intensify a little bit and that is a commitment to invite five people to come to Sunday School and church with you on November 6.  We will have a Celebration Sunday that day and went want lot’s of people to celebrate with us.
And the final commitment is to share the gospel with at least one person during the month of October.  Who knows? You might decide you like to do that and do it several times, but let’s begin with just one.
What a privilege and honor it is to be called and used by God to do His will in bringing in the harvest.  We’ve been talking about the harvest for a couple of weeks now.
First of all, we heard the Lord telling us to lift up our eyes and look around us because we are surrounded by a harvest that is ready to be gathered.  He said there was no need to wait because someone has already been at work before we got here and the harvest is white. 
Then we heard the Lord teach us about the law of the harvest.  We only reap because seed is planted.  We always reap what has been planted.  We reap more than has been planted and we reap later than when we planted.  So we need to make the decision to get involved in the process.  The only way to reap is to plant. 
Now so far, I’ve made it pretty simple and straight-forward regarding the harvest. And I’ve done that intentionally.  Jesus said, “Here’s how the harvest works and all you’ve got to do is look around and get involved.” 
But obviously, there is more to it than that, and I think something should be said about the inward heart and attitude of the harvester, rather than just the physical, outward actions and mechanics of going. 
In order to see that heart and attitude, I want to direct your attention to Psalm 126.
As you are turning there, let me give you some background on this Psalm. You may notice that there is a subscription right under the chapter of the Psalm which says, “A Song of Ascents” or “Degrees”.  It is believed by many Bible teachers that these songs of ascent were sung to lead and prepare the people of God for one of the festival days as they made their way to Jerusalem. 
They understood the significance and importance of what they were doing and so, as they traveled along, they would fix their minds on the observance of the feasts and festivals by singing these songs of the faith. 
And as you read them, you can let your mind wonder a little bit and see that crowd of Jews, men and women and children, as they make their way along, singing as they went.  With every step, they would rise in intensity and glory and in majesty until finally they stood in the sanctuary of the Lord, lifting up their hearts and their voices in praise to the Lord.
Now, what is true of them geographically should be true of us spiritually. Every day of our lives ought to be an ascent.  We ought to realize we are moving up. Every day of our life we should be getting closer and closer to the Lord.
Now with this particular psalm, there are three distinct movements.
There is first of all praise for spiritual releasing. They are praising God for having returned from their captivity. It was like a dream come true. They could hardly imagine it was so.
And when they thought about what God had done for them, their mouth was filled with singing and praise. They were thrilled and they rejoiced, and the people around them said, ''The Lord has done great things for them.'' They said, ''Indeed, the Lord has done great things for us.''
So it is first of all, praise for spiritual releasing.
Then, in verse 4, there is a movement which is a prayer for spiritual reviving.
verse 4
The sense of that verse is better understood in other translations. The Old KJV says, “Turn again our captivity, O Lord, like the streams in the south.”  The NASB says, “Restore our captivity”. 
Many scholars believe the request is for God to give them the same kind of thankfulness and gratitude and joy that the nation had experienced when released from Babylonian Captivity and to return His blessing and fruitfulness and productivity to the land.   
They knew they had returned to the land, but they are also keenly aware that they needed a revival from the Lord, that there needed to come rushing showers of revival. It is a prayer for spiritual reviving.
Then you come to the last two verses, and in particular the last verse, which is a promise for spiritual reaping.
Verses 5-6
Now, in a very real sense, the 126th Psalm is the story of every child of God.  For every one of us who has been saved, we ought to thank God for deliverance from captivity He has provided us.  We are saved by His grace and never again do we have to live in bondage. 
Unfortunately, from time to time, there is a need for revival.  Our hearts get cold and distant from God and we need to be returned to our first love.  That is exactly the picture given of the church at Ephesus in Revelation 2:1-7.  They had a lot of things going for them, but they had left their first love and Jesus calls them repent and return to the first works. 
And the truth of the matter is, we will never be involved in spiritual reaping unless there is spiritual reviving.  Long before we put together a prayer list of three, we need to begin with a prayer list of one hwere we bring ourselves before God and ask Him to do a work in our heart that returns the joy and praise and thankfulness that filled our heart when we were first saved. 
When that happens, then and only then, will we see spiritual reaping.
Now, the thing about this 6th verse of our text is that, even though it is an Old Testament verse, it contains everything we need to know about bringing in the harvest.  We ended last week’s message regarding the law fo harvest by talking about implementation and I said, at some point you’ve got to do it.  Well here is how to do it, and not only how to do it, but to have success in doing it. 
First of all, it talks about
  1. Going
“He who continually goes forth. . .bearing seed for sowing. . .”
We have visited that picture several times already in this series.  In the first message from John 4, Jesus talked about how one sows and another reaps and they rejoice together. 
Then last week we looked at mark 4 where Jesus said the kingdom of God is like a farmer who goes out to scatter seed. 
The picture was a very familiar picture in the time of Christ.  A farmer has a seed bag around his shoulder and he's out in the field. He reaches in that bag and gets a hand full of seed and he scatters that seed in the field. As he moves to and fro he is sowing the precious seed.
What a graphic picture this is of what it means to lead people to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. You and I are to take the precious seed of the Word of God and everywhere we go, we are to scatter that seed. We are to tell people the good news about the Lord Jesus.
Did you notice that there is an assumption in this verse? Jesus said, “He goes forth”.  There is intentionality about his going. In fact, he “continually goes forth”. In other words, this is why he’s out there. This is his primary responsibility.  Anything else he has to do must be fitted in around the going to sow the seed. 
If you are a child of God, then listen very closely:  Once we have received the good news of how people can be saved and go to heaven when they die, it is assumed that we take that message and share it with other people.  The seed is not to be pocketed. It is to be planted. The seed is not to be stored. It is to be shared.
There is an interesting little verse nestled away in the little book of Haggai.  It’s found in chapter 2, verse 19 and it asks this question ''Is the seed still in the barn?''
How many of us come to church services and attend Sunday School classes and listen to Bible studies and read our daily Bible readings and yet we never do anything with it.  We have more scripture taught here than you could ever imagine.
And yet I believe the Lord looks down from heaven today and inquires of us, “Is the seed still in the barn?”
It is assumed that seed doesn't stay in the barn. It is carried out in the field where people are. That’s’ exactly what the Lord did.  He was a sower of the seed. In fact, the Lord Jesus called Himself a sower. The Lord Jesus left the heavenly gates of Glory. He came down the stairway of the stars into this weary, weed infested world and everywhere He went, He was sowing the seed of the kingdom.   
He sowed the seed in the heart of Nicodemus, and he was born again. He sowed the seed into the heart of a woman at the well, and she received the water of life. Jesus understood the assignment of sowing the seed.
The early church understood the assignment of sowing the seed as well. They were on the go. They were continually scattering the seed.
Philip understood the assignment and he was on the go and he won the Eunuch. Simon Peter understood the assignment so he was on the go and he won Cornelius. The Apostle Paul understood the assignment, and everywhere he went he scattered the seed and souls were saved and churches were formed.
I want to challenge you to get involved in the business of sowing the seed. It's something that everyone can do. It is something that everyone is assigned to do. Everywhere you go, there are people who need Jesus.
I heard about a salesman who was employed by a shoe company who was sent to Africa to sell shoes. After a few weeks, he sent a message saying, “No one wears shoes here.  Send tickets for me to return home.”
They took sent another of their salesman over to the same area to replace him.  After just a few days, he wired them back this message, “Send all the shoes you can.  Nobody wears shoes here!  Send all the shoes you can!”
All around us are people who need the good seed of the Word of God. Tomorrow morning when you go on your job there will be some people who need the seed. Tomorrow, kids, as you go to school, there will be some friends of yours that need to hear about Jesus. The seed needs to be planted.  We must be going.
The second thing in this verse is
  1. Weeping
“goes forth weeping”
Isn't that an amazing picture here? Here is a farmer and he is out in the field sowing seed, but he is a very unusual farmer. He is weeping as he is sowing the seed. He drops a seed from his hand and then waters if with a tear from his heart. He joins sound seed with liquid tear and places them in the ground together.  He is a weeping farmer.
Did you know that three times in Scripture we are told that the Lord Jesus wept? Jesus was no sissy. Jesus was a man of men. What a man was Jesus, and yet, He wept.  In fact, I think it safe to say, “He continually went forth, weeping”. 
For instance, Jesus wept as He stood before the tomb of Lazarus. Jesus wept as He looked down over the city of Jerusalem. When the Lord Jesus Christ was getting ready to go to the cross, the night before the cross, the writer of Hebrews said that He offered up Himself with strong crying and tears.
Think about it:  Jesus stood before a coffin and wept over the world's sorrow, Jesus stood before a city and wept over the world's shame, and Jesus stood before a cross and wept over the world's sin.
What a moving picture this is as we see this farmer with the heart of God, going forth with tears.  See, horticulturist say that seed soaked in water is more productive.
The picture is very vivid.  There is power in tears. When people get interested in lost people to the point that it moves them to tears, God works in unusual ways.
When was the last time you wept for somebody who was lost? When was the last time you became so burdened for a friend or a family member that you really, actually, literally shed tears that they might be saved.
We need to pray that God will give us tears again for the lost. It's time that the preachers begin to weep again. The Bible says, ''Let them that minister between the gate and altar, let the priest of the Lord weep.'' God's people need to weep again.
There is so much coldness in our churches, so much indifference.  We need tears in our churches. If we had more tears we would see more people coming to know Christ as their Savior.
The third thing this psalm mentions is
  1. Sowing
“He goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing”
Now we know what the seed is because the bible tells us. Jesus said in Luke 8, verse 11, “The seed is the word of God.”
So what does it mean to sow the seed? That is a figure of speech to describe the process of taking God's plan of salvation, given to us in Scripture, and bringing it into contact with the soil of a person’s heart and mind. 
Now for some reason, those who translated the New King James Version of the Bible chose to leave out a very significant word. In the KJV it is the word “precious” as in “precious seed”.  The NASB says “carrying his bag of seed”.  NIV says “seed to sow”. 
The phrase literally translates as “a bag of seed for sowing”.  But I think that misses the intended impact of the phrase.  If you dig around in the secondary meanings of the word translated both bag and precious, you will find it carries the idea of drawing up a trail, such as a trail of seed. 
And in that regard it is precious seed.  It is the trail left by us that leads someone home.  It takes them directly to the grace of god.  It is not randomly scattered.  It is intentionally placed with a specific plan or direction in mind.
And unfortunately, if it is not followed, people die without Christ.  It is precious seed.   
And it is powerful seed. Have you ever thought about how powerful a seed is? Have you ever seen a cement sidewalk and that sidewalk is buckled up along the way? You will look up between those two slabs of concrete and you will see a plant coming up.
Do you know what happened there? Somewhere, somehow, a seed got in that narrow opening and that seed was planted. There was so much power in that little seed that it broke up that cement. There's power in a little seed.
Lay it alongside the great volumes of the world and it doesn’t look like much.  In fact, it doesn’t look very impressive at all. 
And yet there is power on the inside.  How much power?  It has power to change people's lives. In fact, it's the only book I know that can change a life. 
Be honest with me. When was the last time you heard anybody say, ''Once upon a time I was a thief; I was stealing everything I could get my hands on; and then one day I picked up a math book and I read that two times two equals four, and it transformed my life and I have been an honest man ever since''? When is the last time you heard anybody testify to that?
Or when is the last time you heard anyone say, “I was impure. I was immoral. Then one day I read in a geometry book about a hypotenuse triangle and it straightened me out and I've lived a clean life ever since?”  When is the last time you ever heard a testimony like that?
When is the last time you ever heard anybody say, “I was an infidel and unbeliever and once upon a time I picked up a chemistry book and I found out that H2O equals water and it made a believer out of me”? When is the last time that happened?
And yet without exception, those of us in this building who have been saved, can point to a Bible and give testimony that there was a time in our life when the precious seed of the Word was planted in our heart and it forever changed our life. 
So powerful is this seed that it can multiply itself.
Go to an orchard and pluck an apple from the apple tree. Not only is there an apple in the orchard, but there is an orchard in the apple.  There is power on the inside of that apple to multiply itself unbelievably. That is exactly what God's Word does. It multiplies. That’s why it’s precious seed. 
Don't you think it's time that you and I got in the business of sowing the seed? Don't you think it's time for you and I to start sowing the seed and winning people to faith in the Lord Jesus?
It's God's plan. You study the teachings of Jesus and you will see that Jesus used this picture of the seed and sowing in order to have a harvest of the Word of God.
I heard about a lady in the church who was not married. She came to her pastor and said, “I don't have a husband. Pray that I will get a husband.” He said, “Now, Sister, God's got a plan. God's plan is one man for one woman and one woman for one man. That's God's plan and you can't improve on it.” She said, “Pastor, I don't want to improve on it. I just want to get in on it.”
Don't you think it's time that you got in on this business of sowing the precious seed? You can do it. Now just in case you are unconvinced, I want you to pay close attention this last word.  It is the word,
  1. Reaping
Notice how the verse concludes.  The one who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for the sowing,
Verse 6b
See the picture? Here are the harvesters. They have sown the seed. They have watered the seed. They have cultivated the seed. Now the harvest has come in.
The Bible says that they are coming out of the fields. Do you see them now? They are leaping and jumping and they are running and they are shouting and they are singing. It's harvest time. God is faithful and it is reason to rejoice!
Notice, there is a promise here. He said, ''Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing.'' That means that there is no doubt about it. It doesn't mean that you are going to win everybody to the Lord that you witness to.  But there will be a harvest.  You are going to win some.
The Apostle Paul said, ''I have made myself all things to all men that I might by all means save some.'' You are not going to win everybody that you witness to, but along the way God says that you will lead somebody to Jesus.
There's a promise here but there is also a product here. He said that you will come with rejoicing, bringing sheaves. 
So what is a sheave? A sheave was a grain that had been harvested. The harvesters would go in and they would cut the grain and then they would wrap that grain up in bundles, tie it up and lay it along the field. The harvesters would come and they would take the grain to the threshing floor.
And that seems so ordinary.  If you aren’t carful you’ll see it simply as the end product of a burdensome, tiring, hard day’s labor. But notice with these sheaves, they are brought with rejoicing.  Literally, they are brought with shouts of joy. The planting was worthwhile!  The harvest was worth the work! 
The joy of the harvest far outweighs the sweat and tears that produced it.  They are shouting. In fact, the Hebrew is better rendered here, “Shall doubtless come again with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.”  Oh, the joy of winning people to Jesus.  If you ever want to experience pure joy, real joy, then just lead somebody to Jesus. 
Now don’t miss the picture.  Literally, the Hebrew word “sheave” means something bound or tied up.
They would take those sheaves, wrap them up and take them away to the threshing floor. 
Now the threshing floor was a place of judgment.  It was there that the grain would be separated from the chaff.  The wheat and tares grew together until the harvest time came and a judgment made a distinction between the two.     
Listen:  Every time we help somebody come to Jesus, we have the privilege of wrapping up precious souls in the grace of God and laying them in our churches as they await the final harvest time when the Lord Jesus gathers up all the bundles of grain and carries them to the threshing floor in heaven.
I can almost see those sheaves, can't you? There is a big old sheaf named Paul.  One night, God appeared to a man named Ananias in a vision and said, “Ananias, I have a job for you. There’s a man named Saul of Tarsus that I want you to visit. He needs Jesus. Here’s his address down on Straight Street. By the way, he already knows what you look like and he’ll be expecting you.”  And through the obedience of Ananias, God wrapped up the Apostle Paul in His grace and when Paul professed his faith in the Lord, all of heaven rejoiced!
There’s a little old scrawny sheath. And maybe God will take an old rawboned, rough evangelist named Bill Sturm and together they’ll look at that tiny, scrawny little sheath and God will say, “Bill, that’s Terry Tolbert.  You were faithful to preach the gospel and you helped me wrap him in My grace in a little country church in southern Oklahoma.”  And all of heaven will rejoice. 
Question: Is there going to be anybody in heaven that you helped to bundle up?  John Broadus was one of the first Presidents of Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.  In one of his churches he led a little mentally-challenged boy to the Lord. Somehow God was able to break through the mental condition of the boy and the boy came to Jesus.
John Broadus said that from that day on, anytime he returned back to that town where that church was, the boy would walk up to him and say, “Howdy, John. Good to see you, John. I'll never forget you, John.”
He said he fully expected, when he got to heaven, one of the first people he would see would be that boy now with a mind like the mind of Christ. He said, “I fully expect him to come up to me and say, ‘Howdy, John. Good to see you, John. I'll never forget you, John.’”
That’s the reason those that sow in tears shall reap in joy!  May God find us continually going, weeping, sowing and reaping until the harvest is safely gathered home. 
Let's pray.
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