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Harvest at Mothers Union

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2 Corinthians 9:6-12
Mothers' Union Harvest Service
(26.9.2011)

British poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge once had a discussion with a man who firmly believed that children should not be given formal religious instruction, but should be free to choose their own religious faith when they reached maturity. Coleridge did not disagree, but later invited the man into his somewhat neglected garden. ‘Do you call this a garden?’ the visitor exclaimed. ‘There are nothing but weeds here!’ ‘Well, you see,’ Coleridge replied, ‘I did not wish to infringe upon the liberty of the garden in any way. I was just giving the garden a chance to express itself.’

There is no area in life that you are not responsible to God for. You simply do not have that liberty. We are in this life to tender the garden God gives us and this covers every area of our life. EVERY area. What we do with our time; what we put into our relationships; what we put into our faith; what we do with our treasures/finances; what we do with our bodies. Everything!

And in this passage God is telling us that in this garden of our life we get out what we put in. What we sow is what we reap.

Now, there are some things that have to be done in a garden before the sowing can take place. So let’s just briefly look at those things first.

As you get ready to have your garden, you have to prepare it first, which involves two crucial steps, clearing the weeds and rubbish and cultivating (improve and prepare) the soil.

Clearing weeds and rubbish, turning the soil over, burying the past, this might involve forgiving, it might involve burying our hard crusty surface and removing all the obstacles, maybe rocks of indifference, debris of self, fragments of fear and bad deep rooted things in our lives that stop us ever being able to sow in the first place. Getting rid of weeds that will choke out and rob you of better fruit or any fruit at all: Lack of faith; Greed; Bad habits.

Then comes the fertilizing and watering: being pro-active. Putting in stuff that will ensure a good yield. Feeding ourselves with God’s words; planting for the future – actively praying and not just for ourselves.

Then comes the planting. Planting only those seeds that will produce what is beneficial. Seeds of kindness, generosity, compassion, biblical virtues. We need to be free and generous with our planting: the more you sow the more you reap. Holding some back in a cupboard somewhere will produce nothing!

Nothing will grow by wishful thinking. It takes sweat and getting your hands dirty. It takes more fertilizer – fill yourself with God’s words. Water abundantly by continually asking God to fill us with the Holy Spirit.

Then comes the hard part patience! Watching for everything that will rob us of bearing good fruit in the garden of our lives. For those people that will steal our joy; for rot, rotten attitudes, rotten outlooks. Keep pulling up weeds that don’t belong in our garden: hatred, bitterness, apathy. Weeds will never stop appearing, but you can keep them from taking over.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you can sit back and the garden will tend itself. You are in control and the master gardener is there to help you and give you sound advice through Bible, prayer and church.

The hardest part is to wait when God says wait. Waiting does not mean sitting around doing nothing but moving forward and eagerly anticipating renewed strength and success in challenges - Isaiah 40:31 – But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Patience is the key. You may not see results right away, but if you’ve done it right, there will be fruit. We may not see the results yet, but wait, they’re coming – the Bible tells us that.

After all is said and done, and everything has bloomed and what you have planted has appeared, you are ready to harvest and enjoy the produce of your labours. The text says you will reap according to what you have sown. God makes this promise when you have sown good seed in a right way:

God multiplies so we have more to use for Him. We will be blessed individually in all things and this must produce thankfulness to God, and the proper outcome is that you will have enough to give away more than what you can use yourself.

Now then what sort of things am I talking about here? Well I said at the beginning think of this garden as the garden of your life and see that it covers everything. How many of you want a bountiful harvest in your health? …In Your Home?…on your Job?…in all of your business affairs?… in your marriage?….in your income?…in all that you do? I’m sure that all of us would say ‘yes please, bring it on’ to those questions. Who would not want God’s richest blessings in every area of our lives?

If we are to receive God’s blessing then we must obey God’s law first of all. God has given us so many great promises concerning the sowing and reaping of our increase into His kingdom.

v6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.

Faith: if we don’t put time and effort in to praying, reading our Bible and coming to church to worship and learn then we will have only a little spindly weedy faith. Unattractive to look at and useless for anything, it won’t even sustain us let alone anyone else.

Relationships: if, at the end of the day people have been a bit ‘off’ with us, could it be that they were just responding to what we gave out? We’ll probably all say ‘no’, not us but it would do us good to think on that sometimes. You get out what you put in. Did you smile at someone this morning or did you scowl. Did you say some-thing kind, encouraging or attractive? No? Then don’t expect to have reaped any of those things yourself! Simple as that!

Finances: probably the thing this passage is actually talking about more than anything else. Are you giving to things that benefit others? Are you giving to the work of the church?

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.

The point is obvious but needs thinking about. No farmer would be miserly in distributing seed. Common sense tells you that if only a small piece of land is sown then only a small harvest can be expected. If inadequate seed is spread than a sub-standard crop can be anticipated. ?

There’s a story about Sadie Sieker, who served for many years as a house-parent for missionaries' children in the Philippines. Sadie loved books. Though she gladly loaned out some, others she treasured in a footlocker under her bed. Once, in the quiet of the night, Sadie heard a faint gnawing sound. After searching all around her room, she discovered that the noise was coming from her footlocker. When she opened it, she found nothing but an enormous pile of dust. All the books she had kept to herself had been lost to termites. What we give away, we keep. What we hoard, we lose.

The garden of our life is a full-time job to care for. When we let it go, it will be overgrown. We should never be content to look like an unkempt field. We should rather strive to have the greatest most productive garden that people can see and when they see it, it can change the world around us and glorify our Father.

Conclusion:
Are you sowing correctly – giving out what you should?
Are you prepared to meet God the way you are with the things you have done so far?

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