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Jack Graham - The Laws of the Harvest

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    Jack Graham - The Laws of the Harvest

God has promised an abundant life. Jesus said, John 10:10, "I've come that you might have life and have it more abundantly". Life overflowing; a life that is full and pouring out. The psalmist said Psalm 84:11, "The Lord God is a sun and a shield; He gives favor and honor, and no good thing will He withhold from those walk uprightly". God governs the universe with certain physical laws... the law of gravity, the law of centrifugal force. And He also governs the spiritual world with spiritual law. And there is a law in agricultural that applies to Christian living.

In fact we see it again and again in the Scripture... God using this particular law, the law of the harvest, to describe how God works in and through our lives; how God intends to pour out His favor and blessing upon each one of us. Jesus really solidified this theme in the sixth chapter of Luke, verse 38, when He said, "Give and it will be given unto you, good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over"! And so the Apostle Paul in inviting Christians to participate in obedient, generous, sacrificial giving to the Lord, in the second chapter... or the second book of Corinthians, chapter 9, beginning at verse 6, he amplifies what Jesus is talking about there for all of us. "Remember this - a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop".

You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don't give reluctantly or in response to pressure. "For God loves a person who gives cheerfully". And God will generously... Look at this word: it appears again and again. Grace or generous is repeated again and again in this passage. "And God will generously provide all you need". Paul would say in Philippians 4:19, "My God shall supply all of your need according to His riches in Glory in Jesus Christ". He will provide all you need and then multiply your resources, "for then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. As the Scripture says, 'They share freely and give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will be remembered forever.' For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and the bread to eat. In the same way, He will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God".

So two good things will result from this ministry of giving-the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God. In this season of thanksgiving, may we take the blessings by which we have blessed by God, and use them to bless others. This passage of Scripture is telling us clearly in the Law of the Harvest that if we will be obedient and give biblically, God's way, then God will pour out His blessing and generosity upon us and through us; that God's presence and His provision and His power will work mightily in our lives! Is there any doubt when you read the Scriptures that God intends for us to invest our lives, to plant our lives like seeds in order that we would bear fruit to the glory of God?

First of all, we reap what we sow. That's the law of investment, or the law of identification. Every farmer knows this. It's simple, isn't it? A child understands this. You sow an orange seed, you get oranges. You sow wheat seed, you get wheat. You sow weeds and you get weeds. This principle... we reap what we sow... is written into all human experiences, well as in the Bible. For example, it's true in... what's true in the natural realm is true in the moral realm... the moral realm. Jesus said Job 4:8, "They that plow iniquity and sow wickedness will reap the same". Hosea the prophet put it this way Hosea 8:7: "Sow the wind and reap the whirlwind". The Apostle Paul said Galatians 6:7-8, "Be not deceived, God is not mocked, whatever a person sows, they shall also reap. If you sow corruption, you will reap the same. You will reap corruption".

And so in our moral lives it is vital that we develop character; that we sow seeds of purity and seeds of conviction and seeds of devotion to God, that we reap not corruption, but that we reap incorruption. That's a law of morality. It's also true in a nation. If a nation sows oppression than ultimately that nation will get rebellion and revolution. If a nation sows immorality, as we're seeing in our own beloved nation this day, then that nation will reap corruption and moral decay! On the other hand, if a nation sows faith and character and truth and righteousness and honesty and integrity, then that nation will reap peace and strength and righteousness! What is true of a nation is also true of individuals. We reap what we sow.

If a person sows faith and repentance that person reaps forgiveness and eternal life. And then as believers and followers of Christ, if we sow generosity in our lives, if we, as Paul is showing us here in this passage, if we put the seed in the ground... what God has given us, the way that God has prospered us... if we in return give that back, then God is going to pour out His blessings upon our life. God wants to bless you but you must identify with this law. Proverbs 11:24 and 25, listen to this: "It is possible to give freely and become more wealthy. But those who are stingy lose everything". Watch this, this is God's Word. "The generous prosper and are satisfied. Those who refresh others; they are refreshed".

In other words, if you want love, the way to receive love is to give love. If you want joy, the way to receive joy in your life is to give joy, to refresh others. If you want to have friends, then be a friend. The proverbs says Proverbs 18:24, "He who would have friends should show himself friendly". That's the law of the harvest. To put it another way: It is the law of consequences. There are consequences in our lives. I like the way The Message gives of Proverbs 11:24: "The world of the generous gets larger and larger; the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller". The miserly are miserable. And God promises if you sow generously into the lives of others... if you give yourself in devotion to Me, you will reap generosity. This is a behind-the-scenes look at the way God operates.

And why does God operate in this way? Because God Himself is a generous giver; the most generous giver in the universe is God Himself. The greatest verse on giving in the Bible, John 3:16: "For God so loved the world that He gave". Again, I repeat it, everything that has the life of God in it gives! And because we have God's life in us He wants to give through us! And He operates on this law of the harvest and a plan of economy that is different than the world! He wants you... Why does God want us to give? God wants us to learn to be like Him! And you're never more like Jesus than when you're giving your life away. "He who did not spare His own Son... Will He not freely... fully give us all things"!

That's God, that's God! And God wants us to participate with Him in blessing the world. God wants us to partner with Him financially in this world enterprise of the Gospel. And when you plant your life... when you give your life, you participate in this work, and God always rewards His workers... every time. That's the principle of investment. What we sow, we reap. But there's a second p... there's a second part to the law of the harvest, and that is the principle of intensification. It wouldn't make sense if a farmer planted a seed and got one apple. No, you plant an apple seed and you get a bushel of apples. Someone said, any fool can count the seeds in an apple, but only God can count the apples in a seed! That's the law of multiplication. That's that's what the Scripture is talking about here when we sow sparingly we reap sparingly, but when sow generously... bountifully, we reap the same and more.

Now look, I want to do a disclaimer right here because I know that there are some who have abused this principle. There... there are some who will tell you give to me or give to this ministry or give to this thing and God's going to bless you and you'll start wearing Rolexes and driving Rolls Royces and so on and so on. We all know there's abuse in this. But that doesn't lessen the fact... the spiritual fact that God says just as you plant seeds and get more than you planted, God is promising you that if you are generous with what He has given you, He is going to multiply that in and through your life! Amen! That's God's favor! Underserved? Yes! But it is the grace and favor of God that He takes what we give and then meets our needs, but beyond meeting our needs according to His riches in glory in Jesus Christ, He multiplies our resources. We get far more back than we ever gave! That is a biblical fact.

Now when Paul is writing to the Corinthian Christians, and therefore, giving us God's word today, he was not writing and asking them to give so that he could get rich. He was inviting them... imploring them to give not to get rich, but because they were Christians! That's why we give! Not to get rich, but to be enriched by God because we are His children; because we are Christians we give. He was challenging us to sow and to grow, because, let me tell you something... This is where some of you are missing God's best for your life. You're cutting God off. You're not producing spiritual fruit and it's because you have to sow in order to grow! If you're not sowing, you're not growing! Period!

And so Paul is explaining how when we sow and spread the wealth around for the sake of the Gospel, He multiplies it! He's teaching us how to sow and grow our own lives and our own families, built upon foundations of faith and generosity. And what you give away is not a loss; it's an investment. And when you make an investment in the work of God, count on the fact that the returns are on the way! You reap what you sow... identification; you reap more than you sow... intensification! What if a farmer said, "Oh no, I've got this little seed left. I've just got a little bit left. I better hold on to this seed. I better save this seed for a rainy day. I better put this seed in the cabinet. I better lock this seed up in the cabinet".

Does that make sense? No, the only thing that makes sense if you just have a little bit of seed left is what? Throw "it in the ground! Put it in the ground! Because only when you" put it in the ground can it grow! And if you're facing a financial situation in your life where times are hard and times are tough, The worst thing you can do is hold on to the seed that you've been given. That's the worse thing you can... The best thing you can do is to partner by God by investing in the work of Jesus Christ! I'm telling you the truth!

Look at 2 Corinthians 9, verse 8. When we give, God is able to make it all up to us by giving us everything we need, and what's that next word? "More!" so that there will not be only enough for our needs but we will have plenty left over so that we can give joyfully to others. Then down in verse 11, "You will be enriched in every way for all your generosity which through us will produce thanksgiving to God". That's an amazing verse, because God says He blesses you so that you can bless others and the results will be people will be giving thanksgiving to God.

God does not bless us to be greedy; God blesses us to be generous. If you will live God's way rather than living for self and self-centeredness and self-absorption and making life about you... Guess what? Life is not about us, it's not about you! It's not about how much you have or how many credit cards are in your wallet or what's in your portfolio! What matters is what you do with what God has given you! There are the givers in this world and there are the takers! Which one are you?

One final principle of this law: It's the fact that we reap later than we sow... after we sow. That's the principle of incubation. Over in Galatians chapter 6 and verse 9 the apostle said don't be weary in doing good. Keep going. Don't be weary in doing good, because in due season... the right time, you will reap, if you do not give up. You're right in the middle of a 2 Corinthians 9 passage there's a quote from a psalm, and sometimes you even... even wonder why it's there. I asked myself that question. God, why did you put this psalm in the middle of this verse? It says: "They share freely and give generously to the poor. And their good deeds will be remembered forever". So God put that in the middle of this passage on giving to remind us that what we do in giving now in ministering to those who are impoverished... whether it's physically impoverished or spiritually impoverished... When we give, that righteousness... that gift is rewarded forever.

Revelation 14. It says: "Blessed are they... happy are they who die in the Lord for their works do follow them". In other words, you have to wait on the harvest. Sometimes we give up if the harvest doesn't come in in the next fifteen minutes. You know, "God, why am I not growing? Why... why am I not..". We think if we don't become spiritual giants in the next fifteen minutes that it's never going to happen! It takes time to grow a crop! It takes time to grow a Christian. And these are growing words! Okay? These are growing words today! I want to see you grow in your faith! I want to see God use you. I want to see God give you His best... the greater things in your life! But you must cooperate with Him; that includes being willing to wait on Him because He will come through in His own time. This means trusting God. It means not pushing providence or rushing the season.

You don't plant a seed and then dig it up five minutes later to see if it's growing! In our spiritual investments we give knowing that in His own time in His own way God will give the return on the investment. Some are discouraged so easily. You know, Solomon was a wise man, and he was also a wealthy man. And he said in Ecclesiastes 11, "Cast your bread upon the water". You know what that means: Cast your bread upon the water? He's talking about exporting and importing. Put that bread... put that seed on a boat and send it out. Sometimes those boats don't come back for two or three years. But you cast your bread on the water... you send out the ship and one day the ship's coming in. What you invested is coming back big time! Big time! More than you possibly could have imagined. He said, "I've not seen the righteous begging bread". God's children will never be beggars. Sometimes it takes years. It may take an eternity for you to see the impact and the influence of the seed that you have sown. Some if not most give their leftovers.

Now leftovers are really good after Thanksgiving. I like leftovers... taste good. But when it comes to God's church and God's work and investing in the kingdom of God, leftover are not getting the job done. Don't give God the least and the last, the leftovers! Because if you do, you're going to reap sparingly. Just a little bit of what God would do for you if you would sow generously and bountifully. "How am I supposed to do that"? The Scripture tells us that we are to give systematically, not emotionally, but systematically, as you... Are you as careful about your financial partnership with God as you are your business and your home finances? Are you, beginning with the first part of your income, honoring God, not with the last and the least but with the best that you have? The first?

That's the principle of the tithe, to give systematically and proportionately. Are you giving cheerfully? "God loves a cheerful giver". That's what this passage says... that means passionately. That... that there is joy in giving, that there is pleasure, and to give generously. And, oh yes, to give spontaneously. Now I know that's the opposite of giving structurally and systematically as I said, but there ought to be a portion of our lives... we just give because we seen a need. You know when you pass by the grocery store... you're going into Wal-Mart and the guy looking like Santa Claus is shaking a bell for the Salvation Army, put something in there! Don't repress generous impulses! Give away what you have and watch God give you more and you will give again!
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