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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Rick Warren » Rick Warren - What Seeds Will You Plant This Spring

Rick Warren - What Seeds Will You Plant This Spring

Rick Warren - What Seeds Will You Plant This Spring
TOPICS: Building a Better Life, Sowing and Reaping

Hi everybody. We're inside today in the studio because it's raining outside. But I wanna thank Meagan for that wonderful, heartfelt prayer. Thank you, Meagan, I know that God heard it. And I know that you ministered to many people. Before we look at God's Word today, I wanna encourage you to pause this video and print out the outline. Otherwise you're not gonna remember the 10 transforming life principles that I'm gonna share. You simply aren't gonna remember them 'cause there's too many of them. But this is one of those messages that honestly could be a life-defining message for the rest of your life. And I don't want you to miss it. So I wanna urge you to pause this video right now. Go print out an outline with all the verses that I'll share so you can refer back to it. I will wait.

Now, if I seem particularly cheerful today it's 'cause I really am. And I have three big reasons to be cheerful. First, daylight savings time starts this weekend in America. That means we're moving into the half of the year where it's lighter later. Love it, love it, love it. Second, we've been told because of all the vaccinations and because COVID infections are dropping that southern California is gonna likely be moving to a less restricted category on Monday, which means we'll be able to do more things including reopening our outdoor worship services with reservations and masks starting on Palm Sunday. That's just two weeks away. I'm so excited to see all of you. And all of our campuses will be open for Easter services. I just can't tell you how overjoyed I am that that's happening. Third, and this is a big one to me personally, we're only seven days away from the beginning of spring, which is my absolute favorite season of the year.

Now you may wonder why is spring Rick's favorite season? Well it's because God wired me to grow things. All my life I have been fascinated with helping things grow, starting with myself. All leaders are learners. The moment you stop learning is the moment you stop leading. And growing churches require growing pastors. And growing businesses and growing organizations require growing leaders. And when you stop growing, the organization stops growing. So I've always been interested in my own growth. But God has also allowed me to grow a family and to help grow this church and to help grow several movements around the world like Purpose-Driven and Celebrate Recovery and the PEACE Plan. And now the Finishing the Task coalition of about 1,600 mission agencies, churches, ministries, and denominations committed to completing the Great Commission in our generation.

But there's another reason I love spring, and it's this: I'm a farmer at heart. This last year with no travel and not much time traveling around, we were spending time at home a lot, I didn't just plant my usual spring garden of vegetables and fruits. But as soon as that garden was harvested, I then planted a second garden here in southern California, a winter garden, which just ended a few weeks ago. And now as we're on the verge of spring I'm getting the soil ready and preparing for spring planting.

In the past, I've planted as many as 57 different kinds of vegetables in a single year, along with 18 kinds of fruit that I grew every year. It's just one of my ways of relaxing. And I get out there and get in the dirt and think and pray and think about you and pray for you. But it's also taught me a lot of spiritual principles that I have used in serving people. And someday, in fact, I may teach an entire series on spiritual gardening; the principles I've learned from gardening. There are at least half a dozen of Jesus' parables that have to do with the spiritual parallels to planting and farming. Whether you realize it or not in many ways your life, your family, even your career is very much a spiritual garden.

So today, as we get ready for springtime I wanna ask you the question: What kind of seeds are you gonna plant this spring? What kind of seeds are you going to plant this spring? And I wanna share with you 10 laws of spiritual planting. They're all right here in God's Word in the Bible. But to set up these 10 laws I wanna first read a parable of Jesus. It's called the story of the growing seed. And it's found in Mark chapter four. Mark chapter four, verses 26 down to verse 29 says this, Jesus said, the kingdom of God is like this. Somebody plants some seed in the ground. And then during both the day and the night whether that person who planted it is awake or asleep the seed is growing silently.

Now the person who planted the seed can't see how it's growing 'cause obviously it's hidden under the ground. But in the darkness the soil is helping the seed to grow. And first the plant sprouts through the soil, that's always exciting to me. And then the tender stalk appears. And then the stalk puts on buds. And finally the full head of grain or fruit appears. And then when it's ready and ripe the farmer cuts it because it's harvest time. Now in this simple parable, we have Jesus clearly saying that if you wanna understand the kingdom of God and you wanna understand how life really works, then you need to understand the principles of planting seeds. So what lessons can we quickly draw from this story? Let me suggest four simple lessons from what I just read, then we're gonna look at the laws of planting, spiritual harvesting and planting in Scripture.

But here's what we learn from this parable. Number one, God expects growth. Okay, that's the first thing. That's the kingdom of God. He says, here's what the kingdom of God's all about. God expects growth in my life and in my church. In my life and in my church. Growth is the evidence of God's kingdom at work. In fact, so many of the parables or the stories of Jesus reinforce this truth that God expects us to grow up to spiritual maturity. He doesn't want us to stay as babies. And God expects us to grow His church. And God expects us to grow His kingdom and to seek first His kingdom. All living things grow, that is if they're healthy. Growth is automatic when we're healthy. I don't have to command my kids or grandkids, "I command you to grow". No, if they're healthy, they're gonna grow. So the first question I need to ask myself is this: Am I growing spiritually? Or am I growing superficially? That's the question I want you to start with as we head towards spring: Am I growing spiritually, truly spiritually? Or am I just growing superficially? When I know more about culture than I know about Christ.

A second thing that we can learn from this truth, from this parable is that any fruit in my life and that's good fruit or bad fruit, it could be either way. Any fruit in my life comes from seeds planted by people. Now listen very closely here 'cause this is important. The seeds that are planted in your life are either planted by people around you or they're planted in your life by you yourself. Anytime you see a farm you can know for sure that there's a human farmer behind that farm. Because a field of corn or a field of celery or a field of cotton doesn't just suddenly appear on its own. Somebody had to plant it. And did you note that phrase that I read in that parable? It said somebody plants, someone plants. Who is that someone? Well, that phrase isn't referring to God. It's referring to a human being.

So you need to ask yourself this spring a couple questions. Here's the first one, real important question: Who am I allowing to plant seeds in my life? Think about that. Who am I allowing to plant seeds in my life? 'Cause it's not just God. Either you or the people around you are planting seeds, good or bad, every day. Second, do I want the kind of fruit that will grow from the kind of seeds they're planting in my life? And if not, you wanna change it. See, it's important to understand that the people who plant seeds in your life, that doesn't just include your family or your face-to-face friends or your coworkers. In fact, a lot of people plant seeds in your life. I plant seeds in your life. I'm doing it right now, I do it every week.

Now, if you watch TV or you listen to radio or you listen to podcasts or you use the internet or use social media, you are letting all kinds of people plant all kinds of emotional and mental and spiritual and secular seeds in your life and in your heart. That's why as your pastor who loves you deeply, I deeply urge you to be more discriminating in what you watch and what you listen to and what you read. Don't just allow anybody to plant seeds in your life. You see if you're spending more time reading Facebook than having your face in God's Book, you got your priorities out of order. And if you spend more time each day listening to Fox news or CNN news or any other news than you do the good news of God's Word, you need to realize you're choosing to allow others to plant more seeds in your life than God. And that is incredibly dangerous and it is incredibly harmful. It could be harmful to you.

Again, you need to ask yourself: Who am I letting plant seeds in my life? Whoever you're spending time with. You're spending time with trolls on the internet then you're letting them plant seeds in your life. Do I like the kinds of seeds I'm allowing people to plant in my life? Are the people in your life, are the people you're watching on TV planting seeds of anger or seeds of distrust? Or are they planting seeds of resentment, making you more resentful? You come away from a show and you go, "You know, I'm frustrated," and you've got doubts and you've got negativity. Or the people you're hanging out with and watching on TV or listening to on the internet, are they planting seeds of love and forgiveness and grace and kindness and faith and trust?

See, let me just be real clear about this. If other people are failing to plant good seeds in your life because whatever is planted is what's gonna come out. Or if other people are planting bad seeds and harmful seeds in your life, then it's up to you to stop that. Nobody else is gonna stop it, it's up to you. It's also up to you to choose to start planting good seeds in your own life. And so, as we are just a week away from springtime, why don't you start planting some good seeds in your own life?

You say, "Well, what are seeds"? Well, seeds can be ideas. Seeds can convictions. Seeds can be perspectives, a new way of looking at things. Seed can be habits. Every time you start a good habit, you're planting a seed that's gonna bear fruit in your life. You can plant relational seeds in your relationships. You can plant financial seeds in your finances, yeah. You can plant personal seeds in your character. You can plant family seeds in your family. And you can plant career seeds for 20 years down the road in your career that you won't harvest until 20 years.

Now there's a third lesson we get out of this parable, we can extract from this story and it is this. We often can't see the seeds that are growing in our lives. And I'm not just talking about the good ones, I'm talking about the bad ones too. Both the good seeds that have been planted by you and your choices and by others and their choices. Good seeds and bad seeds.

Notice that Jesus said in that verse the person who planted the seed can't see how it's growing 'cause it's hidden under the ground? But He said in the darkness the soil is helping the seed to grow. Now, I don't have time to explain this in detail because I wanna get into these 10 laws, but your growth, listen your growth requires both dark times and difficult times. You don't just need sunlight and water and nutrients. There needs to be difficult times, dark times. The Bible says as long as the earth exists there'll be springtime and harvest, winter and summer. The seasons are intentional. I don't know what season you're going through right now but you can be planting new seeds.

Now there's a fourth lesson we can see in this and it's this: Growth in my life is slow and gradual and it happens in stages. Did you see that when Jesus said first it sprouts and then it gets the stalk and then it adds the bud. And then the bud turns into the flower and then you get the fruit. There's no such thing as instant spiritual maturity. There's no pill you can take that'll make you like Christ. Growth takes T-I-M-E. It takes time. And one of the most frustrating things in life is that we get in a hurry when God isn't. God is not in a hurry for your growth. You need to realize that. And He loves you at every stage of your growth. And we need to remember the promise of Philippians 4:6. Be confident of this, that He, who began a good work within you will continue His work until it's finally finished on that day when Christ Jesus comes back again. Now I know what you're probably thinking.

You think, "You know, Rick, okay, God is gonna plant some seeds in my life. Other people are planting seeds in my life. I can plant seeds my life. Is there anything I can do to ensure that I keep on growing in spiritual maturity"? And the answer is, of course there is. God has a part in your spiritual development and you have a part in your spiritual development. You can't do what God can do in you. You know that. But God won't do what He's given you the capacity to choose to do. So God's not gonna do your work and He wants you to not try to do His work.

Now, the best way that you can grow to your fullest potential that you can plant some seeds today that you'll harvest in years ahead: financial seeds, relational seeds, spiritual seeds, mental and emotional seeds, character seed. The best way you can grow to your fullest potential and become the woman of God or the man of God that God has always intended for you to be, the best way to do that is to cooperate with what are called the 10 laws of spiritual planting. That's what we're gonna go through very quickly right now. Now let me explain this. God set up the universe to run on both physical and spiritual laws. Both of them are inviolable. Physical laws, the laws of physics, and spiritual laws, the laws of the spirit.

Now we learn the physical laws of the universe by studying God's creation. When we look at nature, we learn the laws of physics. We learn the spiritual laws of the universe not by studying nature, but by studying God's Word. Both are important; studying nature, studying God's Word. Now, the more you understand and cooperate with these 10 spiritual laws I'm gonna give you, the more fruitful and the more effective and the more productive your life's gonna be. And as I mentioned a little bit earlier, these laws apply to every area of your life. They apply to your personal life. They apply to your family life, your friend life, your church life, your career life. They apply to your relationships. They even apply to your finances. And you can learn to use them financially. So let me give you these 10 laws, okay? You got your pen and pencil out, write these down.

Here's the first law. Everything starts as a seed. Everything starts as a seed. Every idea started as a seed of an idea. Every dream started as a seed of a dream. Every achievement, every building you see somebody had the seed thought in their mind. Your own life started as a seed between your mom and your dad. Both contributed a seed. You exist because God set up the seed principle in the universe. God created the world on the seed principle. In Genesis chapter one, where He's talking about the creation of the universe. In verse 11, it says this. "Then God said, 'Let the earth have seed-bearing plants and let the trees bear fruit with seeds in them. Then let those seeds produce the same kind of plants and trees that they came from.' So the earth was filled with seed-bearing vegetation". Seeds are God's idea. He thought it up. Everything in the universe grows from a seed.

Now there's an old cliche, you've probably heard this before that anybody can count the seeds in an apple but only God can count the number of apples in a single seed. Why? Because every seed has exponential potential. If you plant one kernel of corn you don't get one kernel of corn back. You get a corn stalk with eight or 10 ears on it with thousands of kernels on each ear. You always get a lot more back than you planted. Most of you know that I grew up in the redwoods of northern California. Redwood trees are the largest living organisms on planet earth. Nothing's bigger that's alive than redwood trees. They can grow to nearly 400 feet tall. But you know what? Redwood seeds, and I've seen them, are really quite tiny. And from just a little seed comes a giant redwood.

One of the verses that God gave me 41 years ago when we started Saddleback Church with just two people, Kay and me, one of the verses God gave me was Job chapter eight, verse seven. "Though what you start with seems small and insignificant you'll end up in the future with much". That's the power of a seed, the exponential power of a seed. So the first law of the universe and spiritual planting everything starts with a seed. You gotta plant a seed in your life if you're gonna see the results of it, physical, spiritual, mental, whatever.

Second law. A seed has no power until it's planted. A seed has no power at all until it is planted. A couple of years ago I bought some very expensive heirloom tomato seeds. But you know what? They never grew. They never grew. Not one of those seeds produced tomatoes. And I paid a lot for them. Why didn't they grow? Well, a simple reason. I forgot to plant them. I just forgot to plant them. And if you don't plant them, nothing happens. There's no power in the seed by itself. Jesus said that. In fact, He explained why He went to the cross using the seed principle. John chapter 12, verse 24 and 25. We're coming up on the time of Holy Week where Jesus goes to the cross right before Easter.

And in John 12:24-25 Jesus said this, "Unless a grain of wheat is planted," is planted, seed is planted, "and buried in the soil, it cannot reproduce". He's talking about His own death on the cross. He said it will remain only a single seed. "But," He says, "if it dies, it will produce many seeds and much fruit". And then He says this, here's the application. If you selfishly hold onto your own life you're gonna lose it. But if you give up living for this world you're gonna gain eternal life. I've gotta be willing to die to my desires and my dreams in order to fully live the way we were intended to live.

You know, as a pastor I've talked to tens of thousands of people and I will tell you this, there are a lot more people in life who would rather complain and gripe and grumble and whine and moan about how bad their life is than there are people who are willing to make the effort to prepare the soil of their heart for growth and then choose to plant the kind of seeds today that will get them to where they want to be tomorrow.

Now I'm gonna give you a question right now that can change your life if you'll really think about it. Ask this question of yourself. What do I need to do today in order to get where I wanna be tomorrow? Let me say it again. What do I need to do today in order to get where I wanna be tomorrow: mentally, physically, spiritually, socially? What seed do I need to plant today? If you don't plant the seed, you're not gonna harvest it tomorrow!

So plant whatever seeds you need to plant. Take a small step, begin a new habit. Plant a tiny seed of change in your life as we start springtime. You're not gonna see the change overnight. But it'll start growing in the dark. And one day it's gonna sprout. And one day you'll have a harvest and it'll have fruit. It'll bear fruit. Just imagine a farmer buying seed and then being afraid to plant it. Farmer buys all his seed at the seed store. Comes back, puts it in his barn, he says, "You know what? I bought all this seed, it cost me a lot. I can't afford to plant the seed. I paid good money for it". That would be foolish.

You know, a lot of people are like that with their lives. They wanna complain, they wanna act like victims but they don't wanna plant the seed that God's given them. A farmer with a barren field, he doesn't gripe. He doesn't complain. He doesn't even pray to God. He just starts planting some seed. You got a barren field? Start planting seed. No sowing, no reaping. No reaping, no harvest. Now, I know I may be getting on you a little bit today but it's 'cause I love you. It may just be possible that you think you're waiting on God, when God is waiting on you. You're waiting on God for that ideal job. You're waiting on God for a spouse. You're waiting on God for some offer to come in. I wanna suggest that maybe God is waiting on you to start planting some seed. And if you talk to the Lord, He'll tell you what it is.

Now, listen. Planting any kind of seed is an act of faith. You take what little you've got and you go bury it in the ground. And it's all you've got, but you plant it. That takes faith. It was an act of faith when Kay and I took our life savings, it wasn't much, but we took our whole life savings to start this church. In that verse that we just read Jesus used this principle to explain why He came to die on the cross. He said unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground it can't reproduce. But if it dies, it will produce much fruit. I want you to write this down, okay? You're taking notes, write this down. Whenever I have a need, plant a seed. Anytime I have a need, plant a seed. That is the second law. Everything starts with a seed, but a seed is worthless until you plant it. When you have a need, plant a seed.

Principle number three from God's Word. Some seeds should be planted instead of eaten. We use wheat to, we pound it down then we make bread with it. But some seed shouldn't be turned into bread. Some seed should be planted instead of eaten. Now, this is the principle in the Old Testament that Joseph used to actually save two nations from famine. He saved both Egypt and Israel. You remember there was this terrible famine in the Middle East. And for years there was little or no food and nobody had any money to buy it. So much that both the Egyptians and the Israelites came to Joseph who had been made second in command by Pharaoh. And they begged Joseph to buy their land and accept them as slaves. They said, "Joseph, buy us and buy our land so then we'll have some money to at least buy some scarce food".

The famine was that bad. So you know what, Joseph comes up with a plan to buy their land. But he also in that plan has a plan to teach them the laws of spiritual planting. Here's what it says, Genesis 47:20-25. "Because the famine was so severe, everybody in Egypt sold their land to Pharaoh". Now, do you understand this? Because of the famine, Pharaoh ended up owning the entire country. Nobody had any private property. Let me read it again. "Because of the famine was so severe, everybody," that means all the Egyptians and all the Israelites, everybody sold their own personal land to Pharaoh.

Now he owns the whole country. Then Joseph told them this. "I will provide you," those of you who just sold your land, "with seed so you can plant crops. And then when you harvest it you are to give 20% of it back to the king," this is a 20% tithe back to the king, back to Pharaoh, "and you get to keep 80%". But then here's the wisdom of Joseph. "Don't eat it all," don't eat all your seed. "Use your seed to plant next year's crop so you can feed your family in the future". If you're taking notes, circle that phrase in the future. This is what planting seeds is all about. Thinking about the future, not short-term thinking, not just thinking about today, not I wanna have it now, I wanna have fun, even though I can't afford it, I'll charge it. And it says, the people replied to Joseph, "You saved our lives".

Now, what does this have to do with what we've just been through this last year? Well, you know what, during this past year, during the COVID pandemic, so many people were hurting for food. You know we fed a half a million people, Saddleback did, during the last year. Half a million people, eight million pounds of food, why? Because they had no savings. They had used up all their seed. They had not saved any seed to plant in bad times. They were living on the edge. They were spending everything they had. Just as it takes great faith to trust God and tithe 10% to God, it also takes great faith to save, to not spend it all on yourself right now. But God wants us to learn how to live on less. How to live on less than we make so that no matter how little we make, we learn to live.

And when you spend everything you got, you're working for your money. But when you save some of that money, then the money starts working for you. Because it's making money while you're sleeping. It's earning interest. Paul talks about this principle in 2 Corinthians chapter nine. 2 Corinthians 9:10, Paul says this. "God, who supplies seed to the farmer," it all comes from God, "and bread to eat," that's what we make from the seed. He said he'll give you more and more seed to plant. And he'll make it grow so that you can then give away even more and more fruit from your harvest. You know the purpose of gaining wealth is so you can be more generous? That's the purpose. He says so then you can give away even more and more. I learned this early on in life.

Actually I started saving for retirement when I was still a teenager. Somehow I learned this principle early on. And at 17 years old I disciplined myself to start giving the first 10% back to God in a tithe, everything I made starting as a teenager, 10% goes first to God. And then the second 10% I set aside for savings. And I learned to live on 80%, no matter how meager that was. You say, "Well, where'd you learn that"? I actually learned that from reading about John D. Rockefeller, who during his generation was the wealthiest man in the world. He called it the 10-10-80 principle. People said, "How did you become the wealthiest man in the world"? He said, "You tithe 10% to God. You save 10%. And then you live on the 80". 10-10-80. You pay God first, you pay yourself second, and then you live on the rest. And here's the fourth law. Whatever I plant is what I'll harvest. Whatever I plant is what I'm going to harvest.

Now, this is the law of reproduction. It's kind of common sense. I mean, if a farmer plants a field with beans, what crop should he expect? Cauliflower? No. Does he doubt, does he wonder? "Hmm, I wonder I just planted a bunch of peas. I wonder if I'm gonna harvest watermelon"? No! This is whatever you plant in life is what you're gonna harvest. In the story of creation in the Book of Genesis, there's a phrase that's repeated over and over and over. It's the phrase after its own kind. God says that after its own kind. When you plant an apple seed, 100% of the time you're gonna get an apple tree. When you plant pumpkin seeds, 100% of the time you're gonna get pumpkins. This is the law of the universe that we will always reap whatever we sow in life. Galatians 6:7. "Do not deceive yourselves. No one makes a fool of God. You will reap exactly what you plant". You will harvest what you plant. You will reap what you sow.

Now, friends, this principle whether you believe it or not whether you understand it or not, it works both ways. You will always in life reap what you sow. Now that means it could be a positive blessing or it could be a negative curse in your life. Whatever I dish out, I'm gonna get back in life. And if I go around planting seeds of kindness and seeds of love and seeds of grace, and I go around planting seeds of generosity, guess what? That's what I'm gonna get back. People are gonna give me kindness and love and grace and generosity. But if I go out and I plant seeds of gossip, and seeds of criticism and seeds of anger and judgment and prejudice and all kinds of things like that, bias, that's what I'm gonna get back from others too. If I plant hatred, I will get hated back. It's foolish to think that I can plant one kind of seed and harvest a different kind of reaction.

I could really spend a lot of time on this but let me just show you a few of many Bible verses that talk about this law that whatever I sow I reap, whatever I plant I'm gonna harvest. Regarding integrity in your finances, the Bible says this don't be dishonest. Proverbs 11:18. "Dishonest people can get rich for a moment. But if you plant righteousness," there's that plant, "you'll harvest a reward that lasts". Dishonest people get rich for a moment, but it's not gonna last. How about regarding your relationships?

The Bible says this, Proverbs 13:10. "A stupid person plants discord and conflict by making arrogant assumptions". Oh, let's just stop there for a minute. A stupid person, it's dumb of me to make arrogant assumptions and think I know what's going on. And when I plant discord and conflict with friends, with neighbors, with staff, with members, with a small group, when I plant discord and conflict, he said that's dumb. But he said those who listen to advice will be wise. You don't make arrogant assumptions. Proverbs 16:28, "Troublemakers plant seeds of strife," you probably know some troublemakers, "and their gossip separates the best of friends". How about this verse, Proverbs 22:8, regarding society. "Those who plant seeds of injustice will harvest disaster and their reign of terror will come to an end".

Now how about this one on a positive note, your personal character, the Bible says this, Hosea 10:12. "If you plant the good seeds of righteousness, you'll harvest a crop of my love". This is God talking. "If you plant the good seeds of righteousness you'll harvest a crop of my love". So plow up the hard ground of your heart for now is the time to seek the Lord so that He may come and shower goodness on you like rain. You see I can't sow irresponsibility and reap success. I can't sow laziness and reap reward. I can't sow stinginess and reap blessing.

Now the Bible is literally filled with illustrations of this principle of sowing and reaping or planting and harvesting that it could work as either a blessing or a curse that you're gonna reap whatever you sow in life. Jacob cheated his brothers and his father. And guess what? His father-in-law cheated him. Haman was hung to death on the gallows that he had prepared for somebody else. Sow a thought, reap an act. Sow an action, reap a habit. Sow a habit, you reap a character. Sow a character, you reap a destiny. You will reap what you sow, either positively or negatively. So plant seeds, good seeds this spring.

Number five, fifth law. I'm not the only one planting seeds in my life. You realize that? You're not the only one planting seeds in your life. I mentioned this earlier that you are reaping both the good and bad from those who went before you. Ancestors, family members, other people who've influenced your life. Everything and everyone have consequences. You're not the only one planting seeds in your life, you're letting other people plant seeds in your life for good or bad.

So think about this. Your life and your decisions aren't gonna just affect you right now. Your life and your decisions and the seeds you choose to plant are going to affect future generations too. That should all make us a little bit more circumspect about what we do. Well, people say, "Well, it's just my life. I'm not hurting anybody". Oh yeah, you are, you're hurting the next generation. John 4:38, Jesus said, "I sent you to reap where you didn't plant and others have already done the work before you. And you're gonna gather the harvest". Other people are planting too.

Here's the six law. I harvest in a different season than I plant. That's kinda obvious. I harvest in a different season than I plant. Plants take time to grow. This next week I'll start putting in my first part of the spring garden. Well, they're not gonna, I'm not gonna plant a tomato seed and then the next day have tomatoes. No I'm planting for summer. And some of the crops I plant, I'll harvest them in the fall. There's no instant maturity, Rome wasn't built in a day. It takes time to gather wisdom. Instant fame, you can have instant fame but you can't have instant success. Plants take time to grow.

The Bible says, this Ecclesiastes 3:1-5. "There's a time for everything, and there's a season," there's a season, "for every activity under heaven". There's a time to plant and there's a time to harvest and they're not the same season. There's a time to scatter and there's a time to gather. There's a time to sow, there's a time to reap. Fruit ripens gradually. It doesn't usually ripen all on the same day too. So that's just another law. I hope you're writing these down.

Here's the seventh law, very important. This is the law of multiplication. I always harvest more than I plant. I always harvest more than I plant. So one peach seed isn't gonna give me one peach back. It's gonna give me a peach tree that'll give me hundreds of peaches. One tomato seed is gonna give me a plant that'll give me hundreds of cherry tomatoes. And so I always get more than I put out. Well, that means both ways. If I gossip, people are gonna gossip about me. If I'm cranky, people are gonna be cranky to me. If I'm angry, if I'm haughty, if I'm arrogant other people are gonna treat me that way. If I treat people with disrespect, they're gonna treat me with disrespect.

You cannot violate the laws of the harvest. Mark 4:8, Jesus said some seed fell on good soil. And it came up and it grew and it produced a crop multiplying 30, 60, and even a hundred times. Now this principle will either work for you or it'll work against you, depending on what kind of seeds you choose to plant in your life. So develop some habits for integrity, develop some habits for generosity, develop some habits for humility and then you'll get these back. Develop the seeds of love and forgiveness and grace.

Here's the eighth law. I increase my harvest by just planting more seed. Again this is pretty obvious, but it's the law of proportion. And God set up the universe this way that if I want to have a greater harvest, it's real simple: Plant more seed. If I want more financial blessing, give more. It's like if I want more energy, give my energy away. If I want more love, give my love away. Whatever you need more of, plant more seeds. 2 Corinthians 9:6-7, remember this, "Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly. And whoever sows generously," plants generously, "will also reap," or harvest, "generously". Each one of us should give what he's decided in his heart to give not reluctantly or under compulsion for God loves a cheerful giver.

I remember a leading CEO of Orange County one time saying, "Rick, anytime you teach on giving or tithing, you need to tell people the best time to start tithing is when they're in debt". And I said, "What do you mean"? He said, "Well, they want God's help to get out of debt. You're not gonna get out of debt on your own". He said, "Decide in your heart, not reluctantly under pressure God loves a cheerful giver". You know that word cheerful in Greek is the word hilaros. We get the word hilarious from it. Now the law of generosity works for anybody who follows it. It'll work for a non-believer. I've known non-believers who became incredibly wealthy because they learned the law of generosity. Proverbs 11:24, "The world of the generous gets larger and larger; but the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller".

Here's the ninth law, we got two left. The ninth law is this. I should always be planting seeds. I should always be planting seeds. Don't wait for a better time, the sooner the better. Some of you say, "Well, you know, I'm gonna start being generous when I retire. I'm gonna start serving at church when I retire. I'm gonna start". One of these days is none of these days. Ecclesiastes 11:4 says this. "Those who wait for perfect weather will never plant seeds; and those who look at every cloud will never reap a harvest". If you're waiting for a perfect situation to start planting seeds, whatever you're gonna do, get on with it right now. Start that new habit. Begin that new step. Take that first initial thing to make the slow steps that you. What do I need to do today to get where I need to be tomorrow? Perfectionism paralyzes potential. Perfectionism paralyzes potential. You just gotta say, "You know, there's never a better time than right now".

Now is the time, start planting some seeds. Don't wait till COVID is over. Do it now. Ecclesiastes 11:6. "Do your planting in the morning and in the evening". Notice, morning and evening. It said do it in the morning, do it in the evening too. You never know whether it will all grow well or whether one planting will do better than the other. I wish I had time to go into this but there are laws of investing in Scripture that are helpful in as trying times as we're in. 2 Corinthians 9:10 says this, "For God who supplies seed to the farmer and bread to eat will give you more and more seed to plant and make it grow so you can give away more and more fruit from your harvest".

So here's my question, it's the question of the day: What kind of seeds are you planting? Are you planting anything? Are you just coasting along hoping that COVID ends at some point. This is the time to be making the small changes that will pay off for you in the days ahead. Are you planting seeds of trust? Are you planting seeds of doubt in your marriage? Are you planting seeds of joy with your children? Or are you planting seeds of anger with your children? Are you planting seeds of romance and love? Are you planting seeds of arguments? Words are like seeds and we have to choose them wisely. And when you use the wrong words, you're planting the wrong seeds in the life of people around you.

Finally, here's the 10th principle. All right? I wish I had more time to go over all these but here's the 10th law of spiritual planting. While I'm waiting for the harvest I must be patient and not give up. While I'm waiting for my harvest, I'm waiting for the seed that I planted months or years ago to harvest, I've gotta be patient, not give up. I can't even see it, it hasn't even sprouted yet. I don't even see the sprout, but I never, never give up. That's what the parable that Jesus taught at the beginning that we looked at. He said this is what the kingdom of God's like. He said, while you're sleeping whether you're working while you're doing your business it's growing, but you can't see it. It's down there in the dark.

I have taught the principle of bamboo planting to pastors all around the world. There's a certain kind of bamboo that grows very slow, and there's a certain kind that grows very fast. If you're gonna grow bamboo, I planted bamboo in my backyard, here's what you do when you plant bamboo. You cut a piece of bamboo like this, about this size and you bury it in the ground. And for the first year you water it and you fertilize it, nothing happens. And in second year, you water it and fertilize it, nothing happens. And on the third year, you water it and fertilize it, nothing happens. The third, the fourth, the fifth, the sixth year you water it, fertilize it, nothing. Seventh year, you water it and fertilize it. And on the seventh year it sprouts. And guess what? Some bamboo can grow three feet overnight. And some bamboo can grow nine feet in a week. Once it sprouts, boom, it just shoots up.

And I tell a lot of pastors, you may be in a bamboo church, and you've been there and you've been watering and nurturing and loving and caring for those people. And it looks like nothing's happening, nothing's happening. And along about year six, you decide to leave 'cause you're discouraged, you go to some other church. Some new guy comes in and he gets to water the seventh year and it explodes. And he gets all the credit. When really you just weren't patient. Galatians 6:9 says this. "We must not become tired of doing good". "We will," not might, "we will reap a harvest at the right time," okay, "in the right season". It's not in the season you plant, it's in season you harvest. We will reap a harvest at the right time if we do not give up.

Now let me say a word to you about this last year, because 2020 for many of us was the worst year on record. Okay. You can't do anything about last year's harvest. Okay? It's done, it's over. 2020 is gone. But you can start planting good seeds today. So what new habit can you start as we enter spring in another week? What small step can you take today? Now I wanna say a word to you about grief.

You say, "What does that have to do with all this"? Well, I've been telling you all along, I've been predicting all through 2020 that in 2021 that the world will have a tsunami of grief. Around the globe, there will be a tsunami of grief as people began to realize what they lost during COVID: because all of the life experiences that were postponed or canceled or just lost during the last year; because weddings that had to be shortened and cut down and only a few present; births of kids and grandkids that you missed 'cause you couldn't travel; funerals of dads and moms and relatives that you couldn't be at; graduations that were cut down and done online; and all of these things.

As people come out of the fear of the pandemic, the grief is gonna come to the forefront. Why am I telling you this? Because as Christians maybe your greatest ministry this next year, maybe your greatest ministry will be ministering to the people around you who are struggling with unexpressed grief from all the stuff they lost. You may have to deal with your own grief first before you can help other people. And because of that, I wanna deal with, I'm gonna close with just two questions and give you two Bible verses. Two questions, two Bible verses.

Here's the first question. What loss in the past year have you experienced that you haven't grieved over yet? Grief is a good thing. It's how we get through the transitions of life. The Bible says Jesus wept. The Bible says blessed are those who mourn, they will be comforted. What loss have you experienced that you haven't taken time to grieve over? You see if you don't grieve over it, you get stuck. We are products of our past, but we're not prisoners of our past, unless we get stuck because we didn't grieve. Grief is a good thing. It helps us get through the transitions of life.

So what have you lost that you haven't grieved over? What are you lacking right now? What need has gone unmet in your life? Does the Bible have anything to say about this, grief and harvesting? Yeah, Psalm 126. Psalm 126:5-6 says this. "Those who plant in tears". Are you hearing this? "Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy". They will weep as they go to plant their seed but they will sing as they return with the harvest. Okay? What is that verse saying? It's okay to plant with tears. It's okay to grieve the losses in your life. It's okay to weep over what you've lost while you're planting seeds for the future. Maybe you lost your job. Maybe you lost your retirement. Maybe you lost your bank savings. Maybe you lost a big deal. Maybe you lost your health. Maybe you lost a loved one.

Grief is healthy. Mourning is legitimate. But mourning is not moaning. Moaning is just going around griping. Mourning says, "Even in my tears, I'm gonna plant some seeds today". Start planting some seeds today. Here's the second question. Before you plant some new seeds in your life, new habits, new attitudes, "You know, I'm gonna start thinking about the future. I'm not gonna just be putting my mind in limbo". Before you plant some new seed, do you need to do some plowing and weeding first? I do, I just planted a spring garden and I planted a winter garden. And now I've taken that all out. But you know what? With the garden gone, weeds have taken over. And the soil's getting hard. So I'm gonna have to go out there and before I plant again, I've gotta do some plowing. I've gotta do some weeding. In Jeremiah 4:3, God says, this is what you might need to do with your heart.

So as we come out of COVID this is what the Lord says, Jeremiah 4:3. "Your hearts have become hard like an unplowed field where weeds have taken over. So plow up the hard ground of your heart and don't waste good seed by planting among weeds". What does that mean? Before I can plant the seed, I gotta take out the weed. I've got to till the soil and weed the soil, get the hardness out of my heart. Come back to Christ today. Come back to Christ today. Recommit your life to Jesus Christ. We've gone through a very difficult time. And as I end this, I wanna ask you again the question that's the title of this message. What seeds are you gonna plant in your life and in your heart this spring? What seeds will you plant this spring? Remember you have a need, you plant a seed. It's a time to plant. Let's bow our heads:

Father, I know we've been through a very rough year and it looks like we're coming to the end of the tunnel with the vaccines and things opening up. And looks like we're gonna be able to have more freedom and be able to start our services again at all of our campuses. I pray that we will not waste the lessons of this last year, that we'll learn from their experiences, that we won't waste the hurt. And that even as we grieve over things that we've lost that we will be able to comfort others who are grieving and don't have You. I ask You to give us the courage to help those who are in pain; the courage to share with those who are grieving who've lost things in their lives during this last year of COVID. And I pray that together as a church family we would begin a season in the springtime of planting new habits, new attitudes, new commitment. And if our heart has grown cold, if our heart has grown hard and the ground needs to be re-plowed and we need to do some weeding, may we do that this week.

If you've never opened your life to Jesus Christ say:

Jesus Christ come into my life now. I don't understand it all, but I wanna know You. I wanna know Your plan for my life. Jesus Christ, as much as I know how I wanna open my life to Your love. Fill me with Your love. I wanna learn to follow You and trust You. Thank you for dying for me. I wanna turn from my sin and turn to You. In Your name, I pray, Amen.

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