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The Law of Sowing and Reaping

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Galatians 6:7  “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. People reap what they sow.”

     This spiritual law works in the background of our lives.  It works over time with a gradual inevitability that renders it all but invisible to the ‘point and click’ mentality of our day.  Only by reflection and honest assessment can we see how it has worked in our lives.   Although I have often (mis)used it to explain why sudden disaster has befallen other people.  Sadly, it is all to easy to condemn people with this law rather than use it as a guide in our own lives.

      The law of sowing and reaping doesn’t work like some cosmic ‘tit for tat’ principle whereby all the bad things somebody does will come back at them and they finally ‘get what they deserve’.  John 3:16 and Romans 5:8 are just two scriptures that show that God isn’t interested in punishing.  He is interested in redemption!  “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”  (2 Peter 3:9)

     How then do we appropriately apply the law of sowing and reaping?  First – apply it  to your own life, not others.  We can look back – sort of like doing a step 4 in AA – and take inventory of our actions and resentments.  The law of sowing and reaping allows us to see our part in the past – what actions or attitudes did we have that fed into our resentments and hurts?  When we see that much of our past was authored by our own selfish will and not God’s we begin to understand how we drag the sum  of our past around with us today.  It was, after all is said and done – our choices and our actions – that make up our past.  You cannot be a victim when you take responsibility for who you are NOW!  This is the path to healing.

     Second, apply the law of sowing and reaping on a daily basis.  Before you act – ask yourself, what crop will I reap from this action?  Our lives are blessed by the fruit of the Spirit; ” . . . love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  meekness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22,23).  If you plant according to the Spirit’s seed you will enjoy the Spirit’s fruit.  Any gardener will tell you that fruit comes from its own seed.  Our lives can be cursed by the fruit of selfishness;  “. . ., sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division,  envy, drunkenness, wild parties, . . .” (Galatians 5: 19,20)  The bottom line is if you plant it, you will have to eat of it. 

     Any gardener will also tell you that a garden can change.  Do your weeding, work the soil and choose your seeds carefully and fruitful blessings will follow.  Life, like gardening, depends on the choices you make.  Also, tend to your own garden not your neighbours.  If you do that you will find that you will have lots of good fruit to share with your neighbour.  Remember, advice can go stale but good fruit shared between friends becomes a wonderful bond and memory.

    If you have a lot of weeds in your life and the bitter taste of their roots are in your mouth remember;  Jesus won’t let you down.  The Bible assures us; “. . . that He who hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the Day of Jesus Christ.” (Phil 1:6)  You can’t go wrong by letting the Master Gardener work in your life.

Signs, Wonders and Miracles today?

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2 Corinthians 12: 12 “I persevered in demonstrating among you the marks of a true apostle, including signs, wonders and miracles.”

     You see what you look for.  You experience what you expect.  In this day many don’t see signs or experience wonders or miracles.  Why?  One reason is the mindset of our age.  Scientific mythology and post modern superstition beguiles our thinking.  Anyone will believe statements that sound scientific especially if they are broadcast over the Internet or the TV.  Yet few people can describe the general principles by which a television broadcast works or why satellites remain in orbit.  Science isn’t knowledge today it is a belief system and as such prevails over less politically correct beliefs.  Science is fashionable and signs, wonders and miracles are not!

     Concomitant with this surge of scientific mythology in our culture is a rise of superstition in people.  Oddly as technology becomes more incomprehensible a resurgence of interest in magic, vampires, werewolves, astrology, spirits and the occult develops.  Superstition too has become fashionable.   Perhaps Arther Clarke’s quote about technology is applicable; “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” 

      As people are surrounded by more and more incomprehensible technologies their worldview shifts towards the magical rather than the rational.  Only a very small percentage of the population is engaged in creating technology and the vast majority are simple consumers of its fruit.  Those who bake the pies work hard and those who voraciously eat them  get fatter.  This degeneration of the thought processes of people leads to social confusion and moral drift;  “But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.”  (2 Timothy 3:13)

     Signs, wonders and miracles do happen every day.  Faithful people everywhere walk in their blessings and see them clearly.  In this world the faithful are; “a peculiar people, that [they] should show forth the praises of Him who hath called [them] out of darkness into His marvelous light.”  (1 Peter 2:9)  The community they live in is the church and its people like the apostle Peter know the source of their riches;  “Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.”  (Acts 3:6)

     Praise the Lord!

A thorn in the flesh

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2 Cor. 12:7,8.9  “… Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.  Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

     Conceit is something I struggle with as well.  Don’t you?  Left to my own devices, my ego would inflate to the point that I would ‘rapture’ myself – hot air rises!  Paul was intensely aware of his weakness and knew its effect in his life.  Paul couldn’t deal with it and pleaded for it to be taken away.  This thorn, was something that Paul was tormented by and couldn’t manage.  If he could manage it, he wouldn’t have pleaded to be released from it.  If Paul couldn’t manage his ‘thorn’, who did?  Jesus did.   Verse 9 of this passage finishes with;  “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

     Conceit feeds pride and pride is found at the core of our self-centeredness.  The world surrounds our self-centredness in self-righteousness so attractively it is hard to see through it;  “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” (1 John 2:16)  The world exerts a powerful influence; “… the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.”  (2 Cor 4; 4,5)

     Paul warns Timothy of the perilous times when; “… men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” (2 Tim 3: 2-5)

    The True Gospel is preached out of humility by broken people who overcome by His power not their own.  Perfect people preach personal perfection (the essence of self-centeredness) while a voice humbled by a thorn preaches perfection through Jesus.  Listen carefully.

Not fair!

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2 Cor 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

     For anyone with a ‘past’ this is a wonderful part of the Gospel.  The assurance  of being  a new creation, leaving the old behind, never to have dwell on it again, lifts the despair and guilt of those with a ‘past’.  I work with a lot of young men who struggle with their ‘past’, dealing with guilt, legal problems, health issues and broken relationships.  Sometimes when all these consequences press in on them, retreat to the ‘past’ becomes appealing.  “I’ve always been ‘bad’.  This is the way I was and I’ll never change so I might as well give up”.  This scripture closes the door to self pity and stands in the way of relapse.

     In the next verses, Paul describes the Gospel as a ministry of reconciliation;  “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” (2 Cor 5:18,19)  For the men that I work with reconciliation can be demanding and tough.  Their past is often a siren call to them.  The hard part of being a new creation in Christ is walking out the consequences of your past and being accountable to God’s Word.

     Some say that it’s not fair that dope addicts, drunks and criminals should get off easy.  Their sins should be remembered and they should be punished for them.  For some – the self righteous, the message of reconciliation can be as hard to take as it is for a recovering addict but for very different reasons.  The ministry of reconciliation doesn’t let any one off easy – on the contrary – it points to the path of Jesus, the straight and narrow way.  Punishment is easy.  Some men will go back to jail rather then continue with recovery by becoming a new man.

     Paul tells us;  “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance: that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” (1 Tim 1:15)  Of course Paul would go for the ministry of reconciliation – he needed it!  So do the men I work with.  So do I.

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