An Intentional Farmer
Funny story: my stepdad doesn’t like tomatoes but he planted 120 tomato plants this year. He’s not a farmer. He’s a retired plumber. He doesn’t grow anything else but tomatoes. Why? First, because his wife loved them and ate at least two a day before she passed away. But secondly, because he discovered that others loved them too and it brings him great joy to share.
The Bible says,
“For God, who gives seed to the farmer to plant, and later on good crops to harvest and eat, will give you more and more seed to plant and will make it grow so that you can give away more and more fruit from your harvest. Yes, God will give you much so that you can give away much, and when we take your gifts to those who need them they will break out into thanksgiving and praise to God for your help” (2 Corinthians 9:10-11, TLB).
I smile at the thought of my dad growing tomatoes. I absolutely love his heart. And I love hearing the stories about the elderly who are so thankful for his weekly gift of tomatoes because they aren’t able to plant their own garden anymore. As the scripture says, they are so thankful for his kindness.
But this principle isn’t just about tomatoes. I’m not a gardener, but I sow regularly. And I’ve seen God’s faithfulness to multiply my seed.
I’m talking about His Word. I love the scriptures. And I love sharing encouragement from them. I tend to God’s Word every day and look for ways to post, blog, tweet, write, speak— you name it. If I can sow God’s Word in some form, I do. I occasionally hear from those it helps, but I’m not looking for compliments. Like my dad, it simply brings me great joy to share.
So what are you growing? What are you sowing?
I believe all of us have a crop to tend to — maybe it’s your family, maybe a neighborhood or an assisted living home. Maybe your field is your city, your job or your church. But without a doubt, you have something to share.
“But remember this — if you give little, you will get little. A farmer who plants just a few seeds will get only a small crop, but if he plants much, he will reap much. Everyone must make up his own mind as to how much he should give. Don’t force anyone to give more than he really wants to, for cheerful givers are the ones God prizes. God is able to make it up to you by giving you everything you need and more so that there will not only be enough for your own needs but plenty left over to give joyfully to others. It is as the Scriptures say: ‘The godly man gives generously to the poor. His good deeds will be an honor to him forever’” (2 Corinthians 9:6-9, TLB).
If you look for the value in something and the joy it brings to others, it’s not hard to give things away. But first, you must plant and tend to your crop. This is probably where people give up. The joy is in the giving — but the work happens first. It’s often a sacrifice of time and money. And sometimes you don’t see the reward. My dad has left bags of tomatoes on porches and never got to see the smile on the face of the one who found them.
But God sees.
There is joy in giving. I pray you have found that joy.
Job 2:4-5, 10 4“Skin for skin!” Satan replied. “A man will give all he has for his own life. 5But stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.”
10He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.
Job lost everything but his wife and yet retained his integrity. God asked Satan if he was now convinced of Job’s love for God. Satan told God that any man would curse God if his health were taken from him. God gave permission to take his health but not his life. Job was afflicted with boils head to foot. He used a piece of broken pot to scrape off the boils.
Then his wife told him it was not worth it to try to remain right with God, “just curse Him and die.” Sometimes we get poor advice from a spouse because they don’t want to see us suffer. Eternity is of much greater value than temporal relief from pain. Job answered her with an expression that we would do well to consider, “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” Is God aloud only to be Santa Claus? Can He never have a reason to bring difficulty? Will we be so brazen as to say that we know better than God what is needed in our lives? We thank Him for the things we perceive to be good, but should we not thank Him for trouble, knowing He has allowed it for a good purpose?
Job did not sin with his mouth. His heart may have been beginning to question, but his testimony remained solid. Here too, we can take a tip from Job. Be most careful of what you express to others during difficult times. We can teach them to have faith in God, or to doubt God. Our response is a witness that can encourage faith or doubt. It is at these times that we are most tempted to let the wrong expressions slip from our lips as we seek sympathy from those around us. We want them to feel our pain.
Remember: No one feels our pain like our Great High Priest, Jesus. Take your pain to Him in prayer. His Holy Spirit is the Comforter.
Hiding Place – Streams in the Desert – September 16
Hide thyself by the brook Cherith (1 Kings 17:3).
God’s servants must be taught the value of the hidden life. The man who is to take a high place before his fellows must take a low place before his God. We must not be surprised if sometimes our Father says: “There, child, thou hast had enough of this hurry, and publicity, and excitement; get thee hence, and hide thyself b the brook–hide thyself in the Cherith of the sick chamber, or in the Cherith of bereavement, or in some solitude from which the crowds have ebbed away.”
Happy is he who can reply, “This Thy will is also mine; I flee unto Thee to hide me. Hide me in the secret of Thy tabernacle, and beneath the covert of Thy wings!”
Every saintly soul that would wield great power with men must win it in some hidden Cherith. The acquisition of spiritual power is impossible, unless we can hide ourselves from men and from ourselves in some deep gorge where we may absorb the power of the eternal God; as vegetation through long ages absorbed these qualities of sunshine, which it now gives back through burning coal.
Bishop Andrews had his Cherith, in which he spent five hours every day in prayer and devotion. John Welsh had it–who thought the day ill spent which did not witness eight or ten hours of closet communion. David Brainerd had it in the woods of North America. Christmas Evans had it in his long and lonely journeys amid the hills of Wales.
Or, passing back to the blessed age from which we date the centuries: Patmos, the seclusion of the Roman prisons, the Arabian desert, the hills and vales of Palestine, are forever memorable as the Cheriths of those who have made our modern world.
Our Lord found His Cherith at Nazareth, and in the wilderness of Judea; amid the olives of Bethany, and the solitude of Gadara. None of us, therefore, can dispense with some Cherith where the sounds of human voices are exchanged for the waters of quietness which are fed from the throne; and where we may taste the sweets and imbibe the power of a life hidden with Christ.
—Elijah, by Meyer
Spurgeon at the New Park Street Chapel: 365 Sermons
Storming the battlements
“Go ye up upon her walls, and destroy; but make not a full end; take away her battlements; for they are not the Lord’s.” Jeremiah 5:10
Suggested Further Reading: Galatians 5:25-6: 5
We sometimes trust too much in evidences and good works. Ralph Erskine did not say amiss when he remarked, “I have got more hurt by my good works than my bad ones.” That seems something like Antinomianism, but it is true; we find it so by experience. “My bad works,” said Erskine, “Always drove me to the Saviour for mercy; my good works often kept me from him, and I began to trust in myself.” Is it not so with us? We often get a pleasing opinion of ourselves; we are preaching so many times a week; we attend so many prayer meetings; we are doing good in the Sabbath-school; we are valuable deacons; important members of the church; we are giving away so much in charity; and we say, “Surely I am a child of God—I must be. I am an heir of heaven. Look at me! See what robes I wear. Have I not indeed a righteousness about me that proves me to be a child of God?” Then we begin to trust in ourselves, and say, “Surely I cannot be moved; my mountain stands firm and fast.” Do you know what is the usual rule of heaven when we boast? Why the command is given to the foe—“Go up against him; take away his battlements; for they are not the Lord’s.” And what is the consequence? Why, perhaps God suffers us to fall into sin, and down goes self-sufficiency. Many a Christian owes his falls to a presumptuous confidence in his graces. I conceive that outward sin is not more abhorred by our God than this most wicked sin of reliance on ourselves. May none of you ever learn your own weakness by reading a black book of your own backslidings.
For meditation: If pride and boasting are listed as sins of the unbeliever (Romans 1:30; 2 Timothy 3:2), they are just as much sins when the believer falls into them. Our good works should lead others to glorify God (Matthew 5:16) and should surely have the same effect upon us.