IV. We Reap In A Different Season Than We Sow
Ever since I was a little child I loved squash. That makes me from a different planet, doesn’t it? I know a lot of people don’t care for squash, but I love it. My favorite is yellow squash, though I will eat just about any kind of squash you might serve to me. I don’t think my children share my enthusiasm. But I like squash so much that I’m going to plant a squash seed today so that we can eat it for noon. How does that sound? Some of you are going to cancel your dinner plans with us, right? Let me assure you that the only squash we will eat today is the squash we will harvest from this plant today. But I’m going to take good care of it. Let’s make sure that it gets plenty of water. We want to have a good harvest by the time this service is over. And for those of you who don’t know how long I preach, that may not seem impossible.
But there’s something wrong with this picture, isn’t there? Everyone knows that it takes about three months to grow squash. We just aren’t going to get any today. But I want to appeal to this illustration throughout the sermon today because it illustrates what we tend to do wrong in economics, evangelism, politics and so many other areas of dominion. We fail to use the resource of time in a Biblical manner; we forget about seasons and waiting and we consequently shortchange our dominion. Today I want to introduce you to the Reformation concepts of deferred gratification, interest defined as discounted time, the need for long term vision, the role of sanctions in history, future orientation, linear progress in history, investing for future generations, etc. They all flow logically out of the fourth law of harvest which says, “We reap in a different season than we sow.” We are picking up this week on verse 9: And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. The phrase, Let us not grow weary while doing good implies the passage of time. He also warns against losing heart. That too implies the passage of time without much happening. But the key phrase that I want to comment on today is where Paul says for in due season we shall reap.
Now before we start drawing out applications of this law – that we reap in a different season than we sow, let me remind you that this law is part of a package deal. You can’t take it in isolation from the other principles that we have looked at so far. Law one says that we reap only when there has been sowing, and we looked at ten essentials of Biblical sowing. We cannot expect our evangelism to produce if we only pray. We must sow. We can’t expect our retirement account to grow if we don’t invest money in it. We can’t expect our marriage to flourish if we aren’t planting good into the marriage and nurturing it. So there’s got to be sowing. And so we looked at ten principles of what it means to have godly sowing.
Law two says that we reap the same kind that we sow. Now everybody knows that. But we violate that law all the time. When young people engage in mild physical foreplay and deny that the harvest will be fornication, they are denying this law. They are saying that you can plant a sexual seed and harvest a pure relationship. We violate this law when we use Arminian methodology in evangelism that exalts man and minimizes the depravity of his heart and wonder why the “converts” abandon the faith. We don’t turn away people with the preaching of the law like Christ did. We violate this law in economics, politics, marriage and many other areas. That’s why Paul prefaced law two with these words in verse 7: Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. You reap the same kind as you sowed. And we applied that law to many different areas.
Law three states that we reap a multiplied increase of what we sow. We saw how scary this can be in the area of sowing sin, and how encouraging this law is when we are sowing in our weakness deeds of righteousness. We saw how universally this law applies in life. For example, we saw that this law revolutionized Protestant Europe in the area of economics and took it out of Romanist economic stagnation. And it not only impacted economics, but it also revolutionized social theory and scientific optimism. It may seem like such a basic, unimportant law, yet it was an idea which gripped Protestants and had profound ramifications. These six laws of harvest that we find in Galatians 6 were at the core of Reformation thought and must grip our hearts once again if we are to make a difference in the fabric of this city; and if we are to be blessed to the extent that God delights in blessing His people. We are going to be watching part II of the video Transformations in Sunday School, and I hope by now you are convinced there can be no transformation of this city if we bypass these six laws of harvest.
IV. We Reap In A Different Season Than We Sow
(v. 9 “in due season”; Eccl. 11:1; Gal. 6:9; Prov. 11:18; Eccl. 8:11)
Law# 4 – We reap in a different season than we sow.” Genesis 8:22 promises that as long as the earth remains, the seasons of seedtime and harvest would not cease. This was another law that was built right into the creation account that we would have to wait for a harvest. We don’t like to wait. But James 5:7 describes the general principle saying, See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. It’s obvious that I’m not going to be able to eat any squash today because that would be reaping in the same season as I sowed. There’s a nine month wait for a baby. There is a many year wait for the fruit of some things you invest in your children’s lives. The wealth and knowledge base of Western civilization didn’t happen overnight. It took many generations of compounded growth.
Now we could simply end the sermon here and go home. We know that there is waiting, patience and planning that is involved before we can expect a harvest. But the reason I am not going to end the sermon here is because this law is far more profound than we might realize at first glance, and it affects us far more than we realize. Actually, all six of the laws of harvest have that deceptive simplicity, and yet they are all revolutionary. I wish there was a Reconstructionist book written on these laws rather than having to piece these things together from dozens of different books. But in his book, The Pirate Economy, Gary North says, “[time] is the resource.” [This law is the one law about time, right? He says, “[time] is the resource”] (p. 146). “The Protestant ethic, above all, was an attempt to deal with the limits of time, to see to it that it was not wasted. Protestant businessmen in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries became convinced that thrift, hard work, foresight, rational calculation, and a close attentiveness to the ledgers would lead to a better, more productive world. This outlook permeated the West, even after the theology of the Puritans faded.” (p. 147). North says, “The Industrial Revolution was a systematic attempt of capitalist entrepreneurs to redeem the time – not necessarily in a spiritual sense, but economically.” (p. 147) And so this is a very, very important law.
Hope – A Future orientation
It’s my desire this morning to help you evaluate to what degree you need to more consistently conform your thinking to this law. And if you want to develop some of these ideas more, I especially recommend that you read two books by Gary North: Millennialism and Social Theory, and the second book is titled: Is the World Running Down? And I thought I would group some of these ideas under the main points of faith, hope and love.
And why don’t we start with hope – the call to be future oriented or to have a long term vision. If the harvest is in due season, and you are planting in a different season, then you are being driven by a vision of what the future could provide. You are to some degree future oriented. Every farmer is somewhat future oriented.
I mean, just think of this pot here. If everyone thought to plant their squash one hour before they wanted to eat it, my children would be delighted and I would be bummed out. There wouldn’t be any squash. And if we took this shortsighted view of all food, then we would all go hungry or become hunter gatherers with a bare subsistence living. There are some cultures in the third world that are so present oriented that they are all subsistence livers. They don’t have the patience to plant and to wait. Ecclessiastes 11:1 says that you plant the seed and then have to wait many days. Some things take many years of waiting, and Psalm 72 calls us in our education to plan for changes over many generations.
There are two kinds of people relative to food: those who farm and those who buy the food grown by farmers. There are two kinds of people relative to business – those who are producers and those who are consumers. Now the reason we need division of labor is because it is very difficult, if not impossible to be future oriented on everything. In fact, the more future oriented a society becomes, the more division of labor there is. But if we are to take dominion, we have got to look to the future. In his book, Millennialism and Social Theory, Gary North says, “Present orientation is a denial of the very foundations of Western culture: respect for the past and faith in the future.” (North, Millennialism and Social Theory, p. 34. So this is not a trivial issue. Let me read that again. North says, “Present orientation is a denial of the very foundations of Western culture: respect for the past and faith in the future.”
Now I’m going to hammer this first point the most because this is something that I don’t want to go in one ear and come out the other. I want to give sufficient practical examples that you can avoid the pitfalls of the evangelical church which has for the most part become extremely present oriented. You may all consider yourselves to be future oriented and to be people of hope. Here’s a few tests that can show whether that is true or not.
The goal test
Here is the goal test. Do you have personal and family goals that have been written down and discussed with the family in each slice of life: intellectual goals, spiritual goals, social goals, physical goals, financial goals, etc. If you do that, you are ahead of most Americans. Now let’s stretch that a bit and ask if you have twenty year goals? 100 year goals? You’re a real Puritan and Reformer if you have 100 year goals. Do your goals extend to your grandchildren and are you making any tangible provisions to bless your grandchildren. Scripture calls us to do that and indicates that it is a sign of a slave mentality to just go from day to day or week to week without any plan for your life. How did you fare on this test? If you are anything like I was when I first got married, you have failed every goal test that I have given. In fact, I didn’t start having goals till long after I was reformed because my dispensational upbringing had instilled into me a present orientedness. But present orientedness according to Scripture is a sign of immaturity. As North points out, “The child does not think of his old age. He does not plan for it.” So if we are called to maturity, we are called to be more and more driven by the future rather than the present. So that’s the goals test.
The deferred gratification test
But don’t give up hope. You may have flunked that one, but there are other tests. Maybe you are not totally at zero. Here is the deferred gratification test. If you are future oriented, you will consciously sacrifice in the present so that you can have pleasure in the future. Deferred gratification is foundational for dominion economics and thinking. For example, instead of buying a nice car on a loan, a dominionist would usually prefer to drive a junker for years so that five years down the road he can buy a nice car with cash. That’s deferred gratification. Now in contrast, a present oriented person will almost always prefer to sacrifice his future so that he can enjoy something on credit today. And by sacrificing the future I mean that down the road he will be stuck with such high debt and monthly credit payments that he will be much worse off than he is now. He won’t have the money to spend on nice things. The future is so abstract for him that it doesn’t matter that he is going to suffer pain. Now is what matters to him.
Let me just give you a Biblical example of the opposite of deferred gratification, but this time not in economics. Ecclesiastes 8:11 says, Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil. Solomon says that when the government does not punish criminals speedily (it drags things out), these present oriented people are not motivated by the negative sanction. It’s too far distant to be a disincentive for them. And thus, because criminals tend to be present oriented, Biblical law always mandates a quick trial and execution, sometimes on the very day the crime was committed. Someone once said, “If the wages of sin were paid immediately sin would not be so popular.” But even the wages of sin come in due season. If you are present oriented, those distant wages don’t motivate you. That text I just read goes on to say, Though a sinner does evil a hundred times, and his days are prolonged, [OK? There’s this wait] yet I surely know that it will be well with those who fear God, who fear before Him. But it will not be well with the wicked; nor will he prolong his days, which are as a shadow, because he does not fear before God. Present oriented people are not motivated by that. It’s too far distant. Actually, this proves that all sinners are to some degree present oriented depending on how strong the temptation may be. Since all sin is guaranteed to produce a bad harvest in a future season, and since all people sin, it follows that all fall into the trap of present orientedness to some degree. Can you see that?
Now since deferred gratification is such an essential part of this law, I want to give a few more examples of how we can fail this test. My mother was a nurse, and she told me about one grown lady who was so extreme in her present orientation that even though she would probably die a very painful death if she refused her innoculations, she absolutely refused because she feared the pain of the needle; of the shot. She was willing to face far greater pain in the future to avoid present inconsequential pain. That is a sign of immaturity and childishness. The man driven by the future is willing to bear pain so that he can be more comfortable later.
I have seen communists in Ethiopia so demotivated by the system of communism that when given grain to plant, they feasted for weeks on the seed grain and had nothing to plant because all they are concerned about is the present.
Let me give you some other examples. A present oriented person will engage in adultery now because the pain of a divorce and losing his children in the future does not motivate him as strongly as the promise of present pleasure. He is far more motivated by present pleasure than future pain.
Present oriented people tend to buy more on their credit cards then they can pay off in a month whereas future oriented people are very reluctant to take out loans. They have the discipline to save up for things they know they will need even if it means giving up going out to eat on all but two or three days a year, even if it means buying clothes at garage sales and thrift stores. They will defer gratifying their desires, pleasures and wants in order to be able to get ahead in the future. Now I suspect that all of you fared a little bit better on the deferred gratification test. But I bet that most of you still have some maturing to do in this area. And it is an area that shows spiritual maturity.
Let me quote North again, this time from his commentary on Leviticus: He said, “The child … does not defer enjoyments in the present for the sake of greater wealth in his old age. Because of this, individuals who place a low value on the future do not save and invest as much money as individuals do who place a high value on the future. The same is true of societies. Men get what they pay for. Those who want instant gratification at the expense of future gratification achieve their goal by spending on consumer goods and services rather than saving. Emotional maturity involves a recognition of the uncertainty of the future and also the present cost of attaining income in the future. Extreme present-orientation is a mark of an immature person or an immature society.”
How do you rate as a person of hope? As a person who is future oriented? Do you patiently wait? And it’s so easy to deceive ourselves into thinking we are patient. You’ve maybe seen the sign that says, “Lord give me patience, and give it to me now.”
Discounted time test
But let’s give the discounted time test. This shows that if we are future oriented there are some things that we will take right now and enjoy right now because we know that time will depreciate its value. The Bible indicates that a hoarder is not future oriented because he is failing to think in terms of how what he hoards can be used for dominion. I think the selling of Jerusalem property early in the book of Acts is a good example of this form of future orientedness. They knew that the property would be worthless once the Romans conquered the land, so they sold it while the selling was good. Gary North shows how this principle explains the purpose of interest. But he also shows how it is a universal principle that applies to everything. And I think he gives a nice summary statement in his commentary on Leviticus. He says,“…the interest rate is a universal category of human action. It is not a purely monetary phenomenon. It results from the inescapable discount that acting men place on the future. For example, a brand new Rolls-Royce automobile is worth more to me today than the same Rolls-Royce delivered a year from now is worth to me today. A bird in hand today is worth more than the same bird in hand in a year. This rate of discount of future goods as against physically identical goods that are in our possession today is the rate of interest. It does not apply to money alone, just as the text in Leviticus indicates; it applies to food and, by extension, all goods and services. Interest on charitable loans is prohibited in the case of money, services, or goods – a recognition in God’s law of the universality of the interest rate phenomenon.” (Leviticus, pp 487-488)
How you use money shows whether you are future minded. But so does allowing food to mold in the refridgerator. My mom couldn’t bear to throw away food, so she left it in the refridgerator till it molded, and then she could throw it away with a clean conscience. But future orientation allows you to know when to throw away, give away, use or save goods because of discounted time.
Applied to evangelistic methods
And there are many other tests that could be given. A doctor on the mission field who burns himself out by only treating patients is present oriented and will be discouraged because he will barely make a dent in the needs. But the doctor who engages in triage and who trains orderlies to treat patients will eventually treat far more patients in the long run, but will defer doing so initially because of his future orientation.
The same is true of evangelism. Churches tend to spend the vast bulk of their evangelism money on evangelistic methods that bring in 2-10% of the results because they are popular and have upfront appeal. They neglect the discipleship model of Christ to their own hurt however.
Applied to education
Take the education test. Are you future oriented or present oriented? Evaluate the long term differences of various models of education. The future needs to drive our education, not what we think we can presently afford or handle. The future has got to drive it.
Applied to budgets
You could take the budget test to see how much it is driven by the future. Of course, if you don’t have a budget, then the likelihood is that you tend to be more present oriented.
This shows that there is a connection between earthly culture and eternity
You could take the eternity test to see to what degree you are driven by the Biblical promises of laying up treasure in heaven. A lot of people are so immature and present oriented that this is meaningless. They don’t care that they will shortchange their eternal resources and their eternal dominion. What about you? Is eternity something that drives you? If not, you will tend to do things that only have short term harvest potential.
Now what is it that causes people to fail at this law of harvest? There are a number of factors. 1) Selfishness, 2) immaturity, 3) lack of a steward’s heart, etc. But I think in America the biggest problem is a theological one. Pessimillennialism has robbed the church of its future orientation. And it’s ironic that the preterists and historicists are the most future oriented and the futurist eschatology tend to be the most present oriented. Let me explain in the area of eschatology and then we will move on to our next point.
It is rare to find people enthusiastic about a project that they know is going to fail. But when they see a purpose for what they are doing, and have hope for success, their energies in doing it are redoubled. One of the motivators toward holiness is being convinced of the end result of God's work of grace in our lives; that our labors in the Lord are not in vain. Romans 8:25 says, But if we hope for what we do not see, then we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. When there is a hope that is solid, it gives an eager anticipation and it enables us to persevere in our efforts. 1 Thes. 1:3 speaks of the patience of hope. Hebrews 6:11 speaks of the diligence ... of hope. Judge the character of your hope by the activity it produces. Does it produce perseverance, eagerness, patience, diligence?
When I was a teenager I almost gave up on my pursuit of holiness several times because I was convinced that such holiness was impossible. I remember several times being ready to throw in the towel. Of course, the Holy Spirit wouldn’t let me, but my lack of confidence in the future of my sanctification was spiritually destructive. But when we are convinced by Scripture that we will reap a harvest, that we will become mature, that He who began a good work in us will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ, that hope produces diligence (Heb. 6:11), patience (1 Thes. 1:3), perseverance (Rom. 8:25). Romans 12:12 says rejoicing in hope. Hebrews 6:19 says, This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast Hope is clearly a strong motivator for Christian living. That is one of the reasons why I spend a great deal of time in counseling give people who have lost all hope, hope in the promises of a God who cannot lie. You cannot counsel a person who has no hope. He can’t believe there will be a season of harvest, or if there will be that he will ever make it to that point. It is only the infallible Scriptures which can resurrect hope in the hopeless. And Paul says, we shall reap if we do not lose heart. It’s an antidote to hopelessness.
But this hope that there will be a future harvest of what we reap also has a profound affect upon our efforts in society. Galatians 6:10 says that we are to do good to all men. Why? What difference does it make if we let the society go down the tubes? But Paul wants us to have a hope of harvest even among the ungodly. Look at verse 10: Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith. Remember that the context is harvest, and Paul starts verse 10 with a “therefore.” We can expect a harvest in not only the righteous, but also in society at large. Now there are many Christians who are not convinced of that and have lost hope of having any impact upon the world, and because of that, we will not reap. That hope of the ages past needs to be revived today. Let me just give you a couple quotes showing this loss of hope in a harvest from modern writers. And if you would like to see the book references, I can give them to you later.
Salem Kirban said there is no use in trying to influence our society. His reason? He says, “We have reached the point of no return. We are on an irreversable course for world disaster.” If a Christian really believes that, it is going to be extremely difficult to do good or to plant righteousness in our society. Such thinking produces paralysis and fear. Do you think Joseph planted any grain in Egypt during the seven years of drought? I doubt it. It would be the height of foolishness to plant grain if you knew it wouldn’t sprout. Kirban says it is just as foolish to spend our efforts in social action. Several men, including McGee and Hal Lindsey have used the phrase, “You don’t polish brass on a sinking ship.” They believe our culture is sinking. “Forget about it. You’re not going to have an impact.” And Paul says, “No. We must have an impact. We must do good in society at large.”
Let me give a couple of other quotes. In Dominion Theology: Blessing or Curse, Wayne House and Tommy Ice argue against us, and they said on page 340, “God has not given the Church a proper dose of grace to Christianize the world.” (House & Ice) On page 7 they say, “I now know that God has not been pleased to give the necessary graces to his church for the kind of victory dominionists decree.” (House & Ice) On page 351 they say, “We believe the reason for this lack of success is that God has not given the church the necessary tools and graces to establish an earthly kingdom.” He’s saying, “Don’t plant. We can’t have a harvest in that area. Don’t do good to all men.” That is the effect of what he is saying.
Reformed writer Joseph Balyeat sought to give hope of harvest to the church once again. He said, “The Church has been paralyzed by its false short-termed, pessimistic, predestined view of the future. The enthroned Christ, who has been given all power and authority and dominion, has stretched forth His mighty hand to the paralyzed cripple, and said, “Arise, take up your mat, and walk!’” (Balyeat) Christ through Paul speaks to the church today and says that we will reap in due season if we do not give up or lose heart. We will reap individually, we will reap in the church, and we will reap in society as a whole.
Charles Spurgeon, the famous Baptist preacher said, “I myself believe that King Jesus will reign, and the idols be utterly abolished; for I expect that the same power which turned the world upside down once will still continue to do it. The Holy Ghost would never suffer the imputation to rest upon His holy name that He was not able to convert the world.” (Spurgeon) And I say, “Amen!” Your harvest will be limited by the size of your vision at planting time. And I want to encourage your faith to expect great things from God and to attempt great things for God. One quote that I got from an anonymous source said, “A vision without a task is a dream; a task without a vision is drudgery; a vision with a task is the hope of the world.” (anonymous)
That’s the kind of hope that Scripture sets before us. There is a cavalier attitude in the church today about eschatology. Because of disillusionment with the false hopes of Dispensationalism many people have given up on eschatology. Proverbs says, Hope deferred makes a heart sick; but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life. Eschatology is important. Why? Because as 1 Corinthians 15 explains, it lets you know that your labors in the Lord are not in vain. After telling us that every enemy will be converted and put under the feet of Jesus, Paul tells us in the last verse of 1 Corinthians 15 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. Can you see how future orientation covers all of life. It is imperative if we are to be blessed by God with a great harvest. We will reap if we do not give up hope.
Faith – A belief that God controls all things
Sanctions – Be not deceived, God is not mocked.”
Let’s quickly deal with faith and love. I spent most of my time on hope because that’s the main point of law number 4. But the promise that we will reap in a different season than we sow shows that we must have faith that God will give the increase. We can’t do anything about the increase. There is an element of trust that the farmer must have.
First of all, we must have faith that God sends sanctions in history. A sanction is simply the punishments or rewards that God brings in history. It’s simply saying that God puts His money where His mouth is and backs up His laws with power. Now pessimillennialists deny this to be true in our age. They say that sinners will get away with their sin and will not have society wide negative sanctions and they deny that Christians will have permanent blessings in culture. Gary North wrote an entire book on this because of how important a belief that God stands behind these laws is to progress in culture. And Paul affirms that there are sanctions in this passage. Paul warns us against being deceived in Galatians 6:7, and the reason he gives is that God is not mocked. God stands behind these laws.
Let me just give you one example of how people tend to be deceived about the issue of God’s sanctions in history. They tend to think that they can engage in sin and criminal activity and get away with it. And God says “No. Be sure your sins will find you out” (Numb 32:23). Ecclesiastes 8:11 says, Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil. [They think, “Hey, we can sin with impunity. We’re getting away with it. But Solomon goes on to talk of God’s sanctions in history both for blessing the righteous and bringing misery to the sinner. He says,] Though a sinner does evil a hundred times, and his days are prolonged, [OK? There’s this wait for the harvest. His days are prolonged] yet I surely know that it will be well with those who fear God, who fear before Him. But it will not be well with the wicked; nor will he prolong his days [he’s talking about history here. “nor will he prolong his days”], which are as a shadow, because he does not fear before God. We must reject the pessimiliannial view that evil will triumph and that God does not bring negative sanctions in history. We must instead believe that they will harvest the misery of sin and that righteousness that is sown in society will result in an attractive alternative. There will be something for nations to be jealous of if Christians are willing to sow. So we must first of all have a trust in God’s sanctions. North loves to mock economists who are trying to get away with ungodly economics without reaping the economic results. It can’t be done. God is not mocked. So first, we need to have faith that there are sanctions in history even though the harvest is not immediate.
We need to trust that there is a linear progress in history
Second, this law means that we must trust that there is a linear progress in history. Gary North says, “It was the postmillennial optimism of early Calvinism and English Puritanism that first introduced this worldview of culture-wide, compounding, covenantal growth to Western civilization.” (Rapture Fever, p. 62) Paul tells the church that we will reap if we do not lose heart. Psalm 37:4-5 says, **Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And *He shall bring it to pass. *** Did you get that? “He shall bring it to pass.” There is progress in history. Proverbs 11:18 says, The wicked man does deceptive work, But he who sows righteousness will have a sure reward. Notice there is a sure reward when you plant righteousness. The meek shall inherit the earth, not the ones who lack patience.
Love – Investing as a stewardship in ways we won’t fully taste of
But let’s end by showing that this fourth law of harvest was intended to be applied not selfishly, but in the context of love. He started his discussion in verse 6 with the concept of lovingly supporting the pastor. He ends his discussion in verse 10 by saying, Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are in the household of faith. He’s talking about planting for the benefit of others. We enjoy the fruits as we plant in love into the lives of others. He wants us sowing in the lives of other believers, and even in the world at large. It is only as we get outside ourselves and seek to serve that the Lord blesses us with more. It is only those who have a steward’s heart who find that they can’t outgive the Lord. And some of you have been seeing this. The more generous you have been with your money and efforts you have been reporting the more God has prospered you.
And so you are future minded when you invest in ways that won’t benefit you at all. Let me give an example from my father’s life. Every mission station my father started, he built houses that would last, and he planted trees that would bear fruit for coming missionaries. He knew he wouldn’t be in that station to enjoy the fruit of those trees. But he was investing into the lives of others. He had a long term vision expressed in love. Now some missionaries appreciated the fruit trees that he planted. But we had one missionary that was only on the field for a few months. And this frosts my cookies. My parents had been enjoying the trees that previous missionaries had planted because it gave the station shade, beauty and with the fruit trees, fruit. Well this short term missionary was from the Australian outback and was used to desert and a view that went on forever. He cut down these fifty year old trees and turned the station from a place of beauty into an ugly eyesore. And a few months later went on. When asked why he did that, he said he didn’t like the view. He had no thought about future generations or other missionaries. We need to think about how our actions benefit and impact others.
And I want this church to begin to be gripped not just by long term vision for the city of Omaha, but a long term investment of love. We need to be willing to invest in other churches in ways that will advance God’s kingdom but which will not from any human perspective give any return by way of money or members. From God’s perspective it will, but of course that takes faith. Liberty Christians Church is seeking to do that when they bless other pastors and their wives every year. They spend thousands of dollars taking pastors and their wives out for lunch, encouraging them and building them up. They won’t get any members from that or any money from that (at least from a human perspective). They are simply seeking to sow seed in love. At the last time they gave a beautiful bouquet to each woman along with a $100 check to spend on themselves. Why do they do this? Because they have been gripped with the truth of Matthew 10:41 that he who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward. By blessing us, they share in every reward that these pastor’s may receive. And it is no wonder to me that that tiny congregation has been able to purchase a multimillion dollar high school with an enormous property, and why they have been able to grow evangelistically, monetarily and in other ways. They are investing in hope, faith and love in these and many other ways. And God has blessed them; blessing upon blessing.
I don’t just want to be benefited personally by righteousness. I want to benefit the whole city. So I do things in this city that I believe will pay off years down the road. We need to think of all these laws in terms of love. That’s the context they were framed in. When you are future oriented, you will be investing in ways that will benefit your children 50 years down the road, perhaps longer, but it may not immediately benefit you. Maybe its investing time with the children. I don’t know. God can bring that to your heart. When we have a trangenerational perspective like David did, God will bless us richly. And think about it. Most of us have benefited from what our parents invested. All of us have benefited from the investment the Puritans made in America. And we need to do things that will not benefit us in time at all. Give money anonymously to train yourself in not gaining immediate gratification. It will all be resources you will be laying up for eternity to jump start your dominion there.
Invest with faith in God, love for others and hope in the future, patiently waiting and not losing heart. Amen.
A story is told of a farmer who prided himself on working his farm on Sunday and taunted his neighbor who was a Christian for not plowing and working then too. “You just wait,” he exclaimed, “for when the harvest time comes I will have even better a harvest than yours. Your resting on Sunday and going to church will not help you one bit.”
The summer passed and the harvest came, and from outward appearance the man’s harvest had a slightly higher yield per acre. Then the unbelieving farmer said to his Christian neighbor: “What do you have to say about that, neighbor?” “Just one word, sir. God doesn’t settle all His accounts in September!”
Example of God waiting years to settle accounts can be seen in Israel’s refusal to rest the land every seven years. (Ex. 23:10-11; Lev. 25:1-7; Deut. 15:1; 31:10). Israel refused, and God sent them into exile for 70 years to make up for those Sabbaths (Lev. 26:33,34,43; 2 Chron. 36:21)
See dying testimonies on pages 54-59
Ecclesiastes 11:1 Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days.
Prov. 11:18 The wicked man does deceptive work, but to him who sows righteousness will be a sure reward. As righteousness leads to life, so he who pursues evil pursues it to his own death..
Eccles. 8:11 Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil. Though a sinner does evil a hundred times, and his days are prolonged, yet I surely know that it will be well with those who fear God, who fear before Him. But it will not be well with the wicked; nor will he prolong his days, which are as a shadow, because he does not fear before God.
A Life Insurance brochure carried a true story that happened back in the 60’s. A father and two children, all good swimmers, were swimming off the New Jersey shore. When they were some distance from shore they became separated and the father realized that they were being carried out to sea by the tide. He called to the little girl and said, “Mary, I am going to shore for help. If you get tired, turn on your back. You can float all day on your back. I’ll come back for you.”
Before long, many searchers in boats were scurrying over the water hunting for one small girl, while hundreds of people gathered on the shore anxiously waiting. It was four hours before they found her, far from land. She was calmly swimming on her back and was not at all frightened. Cheers and tears of joy greeted her and they made a big deal over her bravery.
The child took it calmly and said, “Daddy, said he would come for me, and that I could float all day, so I swam and floated, because I knew he would come.”
Salem Kirban, Countdown to Rapture (Irving, CA: Harvest House Publishers, 1977), p. 11. ↩
Wayne House & Tommy Ice, Dominion Theology: Blessing or Curse? (Portland, OR: 1988), p. 340. ↩
Wayne House & Tommy Ice, Dominion Theology: Blessing or Curse? (Portland, OR: 1988), p. 7. ↩
Wayne House & Tommy Ice, Dominion Theology: Blessing or Curse? (Portland, OR: 1988), p. 351. ↩
Joseph Balyeat, Babylon, The Great City Of Revelation (Sevierville, TN: Onward Press, 1991), p. 192. ↩
Charles Spurgeon, quoted by David Chilton in Paradise Restored (Fort Worth: Dominion Press, 1987), p. 129-130. ↩