Robert Morris - Life Giving Farmers
So, we're in a series called "R.E.A.L", as you saw a moment ago, Relevant, Engaging, Authentic Life. This is the last one in that series, and then next weekend, again, is our marriage conference. But, I just want to say this. Don't let this just be a good series. Don't just remember the funny story, you know, like the lady on the ski lift, you know, that I witnessed to, or somethin', and say, boy, wasn't that a funny story? Let the series change us. Let's all get more excited and begin praying about witnessing and sharing our faith.
Think about it. We're on this earth as ambassadors for Christ. I mean, the Lord could, just as soon as you get saved, just take us on to heaven. But, He leaves us here because His desire is for every person to come to know Christ, and we're his only hope. I don't know if you ever thought about that. We're it. If we are not salt and light, as we talked about, the world's in trouble. And we have the greatest story to tell, and that's His story, and what He's done in our life.
So, every week, I've chosen an analogy to use, and this week it's farmers, and the reason is because farmers know that when they plant seeds, they're planting seeds of life. Witnesses, believers, know that when they share the gospel, they are planting seeds of life. And that seed might not come up right then, but eventually, it might come up. And also when we witness, we might not be just planting, we might be watering a seed that someone else has planted, but at some point, that seed could be harvested, that person could be saved. So, 2 Corinthians 9:6 says, "But this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully".
Now, this is a chapter that is talking about financial giving. If you read the whole chapter, he is talking about giving their finances to the kingdom, and he uses the analogy of sowing and reaping. But, this analogy works in any area of your life. If you're a student, studying is sowing. Don't expect to reap a good grade if you don't sow, if you don't study, right? Whatever job you do, don't expect to get a promotion or a raise if you're not a hard worker and you're diligent. That's sowing and reaping. If you're married, don't expect to have a good marriage if you're not kind, and humble, and you'll yield, and you'll work through situations, you're not stubborn. You've got to sow to be able to reap, so it works in every area.
What about the area of witnessing? See, I think all of us would love to lead people to Christ. That's the reaping part. But, hear me. If you sow sparingly, you reap sparingly. Let me say it another way. If you witness sparingly, then you win people to Christ sparingly, just a few. If you witness bountifully, then you win people to Christ bountifully. Are you all following me?
So, I'm gonna share with you three very simple — they're gonna be kind of like the fishing message, you know? You put your bait in the water, you put your hook in the water, okay. They're very simple, three laws about sowing and reaping, and they're very simple. You can probably remember 'em, because there's only one word different in each point, alright? So, here's the first one. Again, they're simple, but you reap what you sow. I know it's simple, but you reap what you sow. In other words, you can answer me on this. If you sow corn, what are you gonna reap? Corn. Alright. So, if you saw a farmer standing in the field, and there's no crop yet, and he's standing there, and so you say, so what are you expecting to come up in this field? And he says, wheat. You say, oh, so you planted wheat? No, I planted corn, but I'm expecting wheat.
Okay, he's got a screw loose. Something's wrong, right? If you plant corn, you're gonna — okay, it's this simple. If you plant the gospel, you're gonna reap souls. You reap what you sow. It's so simple, and yet we don't seem to understand. Now again, this is in a chapter on giving. If you look at Verse 7, the very next verse, it says, "So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver". Okay. So, it's talking about finances.
Here's the thing about Gateway Church. Most people that come to Gateway Church have had a breakthrough in the area of giving. We're an extremely generous church. So, you already know this principle when it comes to finances. You know if you sow finances, you'll reap finances. If you sow kindness, you reap kindness. If you sow forgiveness, you reap forgiveness. Some of you already know this. All I'm asking you to do is apply a principle that you're already mature in, in other areas, to witnessing. Every one of us here want to win people to Christ, but you can't reap where you haven't sown. It's so simple! It's like, boy, I hear, Pastor Robert, of you sharing all of these stories about these people you win to Christ, and I would love to win people to Christ.
Well, you've got to reap, you've got to sow, you've got to put some seed in the ground. And I try to plant everywhere I go. You can't imagine. My wife can tell you, I normally get my story in to everyone, somehow. Somehow, it doesn't matter what we're talking about, I'm going to slip in there: "You know, I used to be on drugs, and now I'm a pastor". And, sometimes, they say, okay. You know, they don't care. That's okay! They're not ready to be reaped yet. But sometimes, they say, what? You're a pastor and you used to be on drugs? See, I'm just going to, everywhere I go. So I just want you to know that I don't win everyone to the Lord that I talk with, but I talk to a lot of people, because I'm planting seeds, and you reap what you sow. If you sow the gospel, you will reap souls. But if you don't sow the gospel, you'll probably never lead anyone to Christ. So, you reap what you sow, okay?
Here's point number two, very simple. You reap after you sow. Okay, let's just imagine again, the farmer's in the field and you say to him, what are you doin'? Well, I'm waiting for my crop to come up. What are you waiting for? Corn. So, you planted corn? Nope, just waitin' for it to come up. Well, you reap after you sow. You have to plant before you harvest. Are you all following this message? See, all of these Christians want to win people to Christ, but they never talk to anyone about Him! They never share the gospel. Do you know that many people don't even know the gospel? The gospel is that God became a man in Jesus Christ, and He lived the life that we couldn't live, and He died the death that we should have died, and three days later He rose from the grave, proving that He is the Son of God, and He offers forgiveness of sins and eternal life to all who will repent and believe. That's the gospel! That's the gospel. And we need to learn that so we can very simply tell that, because God's Word never returns void. The reason we're not seeing a harvest is because we're not planting, and you can't reap before you sow! You reap after you sow.
Now, 1 Corinthians 3. I told you I'd be in 1 Corinthians 3, if you want to look at it. 1 Corinthians 3, Paul is having to straighten them out, because they're saying, well, I'm a disciple of Paul, or I'm a disciple of Apollos, who's another apostle, and he was trying to say, no, you're disciples of Jesus. God might have used Paul and Apollos in your life, but you're a disciple of Jesus. But, I want you to notice again this sowing and reaping, and then this watering concept.
1 Corinthians 3:4-6. "For when one says, "I am of Paul", and another says, "I am of Apollos", are you not carnal"? You're just being fleshly, you're being immature, he's saying, not spiritual. "Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one"? Now, watch this. "I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase". In other words, God saved you. Sometimes, when I go to campuses and greet people, people will say to me, Pastor Robert, you saved me.
Now, I know what they're saying, and I understand, and I don't correct them. It's okay. But actually, God saved you, but maybe He used me. But, who is Paul? Who is Apollos? Now, I don't want to put myself there, but who is any pastor, except someone that God uses? I planted. Another pastor, or another Christian, or someone at your work, maybe they planted. Someone else watered. Maybe I'm the one that you got saved when you came here, but it was God that saved you.
As a matter of fact, I memorized long ago, when I first got saved, Proverbs 11:30 says, "He who wins souls is wise". Now, I memorized it in the Old King James, "He that winneth souls is" wiseth... no, just "wise", it says wise. But, "He who wins souls is wise", and I would say, I want to be a soul-winner, I want to be a soul-winner. And that's not bad, but I just remember reading through the Bible one time, and I'd been thinking about, I want to be a soul-winner, I want to be a soul-winner. "He who wins souls is wise". And I got to 1 Timothy 1:17, and it says, "To God, who alone is wise". And when I put those two verses together, "He that wins souls is wise", and God's the only one that's wise.
Now, I know God gives wisdom. I know we pray for wisdom. I know the Scriptures make us wise. I know we seek wisdom. I understand that. But really, God's the only One that's really wise. So what I'm saying is, God's the soul-winner, I'm the one that witnesses. I'm the one that plants, I'm the one that waters, and I might even be the one that gets to lead someone to the One who wins their soul, to the One who saves their soul, to Christ. So, He's the One. So, we plant and we water. So, sometimes, you're planting, sometimes, you're watering.
I was at Best Buy one time, buying something that was best, I think. So, and I was standing there, no one behind us in line, checking out. And I just said, like a do a lot of times, I said, "Hey, if you don't have a good church, I want to invite you to my church". And this young lady, in her 20's probably, she goes like this. And then she leans over and says, "I need to go to church". So, I went "I can help you! I know where a church is". I didn't know what she was, you know, looking for. But then, she does it again. She goes... "I also need to be saved". So I said... "I can help you". And I led her to the Lord, right there at the cash register.
Now I don't know, when we prayed, you know, she might have prayed like this. I don't know. I don't know what that was about, but maybe she was thinking, I'm not supposed to be talking about things like this at work. I don't know, but she got saved and she came to church, okay? So, here's someone that just said to me, I need to be saved. Okay, why? Just please hear, You might think, nothing like that ever happens to me. Okay, I'm going to ask you, just straight out. How much do you plant? How much do you sow? I reap all the time, but I plant all the time! Everywhere I go, I'm trying to talk to everyone. I'm like the people that are in a multi-level business, you know, except I'm not in that. I'm just, everybody I meet is a potential soul for the kingdom of God. I'm gonna try to get the Gospel in somehow. You're in trouble if you see me at Wal-Mart! I'm coming after you.
Here's the third one. Again, it's real simple. You reap more than you sow. You reap more than you sow. Now, this is a principle in Scripture. If you plant an apple seed, you don't get back one apple seed. In God's economy, you get back a tree with many apples, each apple has many seeds. You always get more. If you only got back what you planted — it takes two kernels of corn to grow a stalk with five to six ears, with 200 to 300 kernels on each ear. Okay, so if you only got back what you planted, we'd starve to death, right? So, God has it where you sow just a little bit and you get back a whole lot more, so you can feed a lot of people and then still have more to plant. That's God's economy. You always get back more than you plant.
Have you ever heard of a guy named John Chapman? Well, let me give you his nickname. You've probably heard of him, Johnny Appleseed. So, for 50 years, 50 years, he travels across the country, planting apple orchards. What many people don't know is he was an adamant Christian, and he witnessed everywhere he went. So, he was planting more than just apple seeds, he was planting the gospel. As a matter of fact, they say he's responsible for more Native Americans accepting Christ than any other white person, because he shared his faith everywhere he went, and they left him alone, because he was also planting apple seeds that helped them and helped their tribe. But also, they left him alone because word spread that he knew the Great Spirit, and he did, the real One.
So, he just traveled around. But, think about all of these seeds he planted, but how many apples now have come up? So, I'm just saying to you, reap more, okay. So, when I think about that, I think, well, how does that work with the gospel? Remember planting and watering. Let me show you this Scripture I wanted to show you, 1 Corinthians 3:7-8. "So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and", watch, "each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor".
So, let me explain some things and then illustrate it to you. Don't ever let the devil tell you that you've failed if the person doesn't accept Jesus, because winning souls is really God's business. He's the One that saves people. Our business is planting and watering, planting seeds and watering seeds that have already been planted. But, God's really the only One that can bring a person to Christ. That person has a will, and that person can accept Christ, and then Christ saves them. So, if you try to lead someone to the Lord and the person doesn't get saved, don't ever let the devil tell you, you failed, because you did the only thing you could do, and that was either plant or water. And my whole motivation in this message is to get us to plant more seeds and water more seeds, to get us to share our faith. And if we'll share our faith, God does the rest. He does it.
I asked you a while ago if you'd ever heard of John Chapman. Have you ever heard of a guy named Edward Kimball? So, I want to share it with you about him, but let me just say, to set this up, you reap more than you sow, but when it comes to witnessing, I remember thinking, it doesn't seem that way, God. It seems like that we witness to more people than actually get saved. But, why doesn't the law of harvest work in witnessing? Well, it does, and I'm gonna show you how it does. See, we don't know how many people actually get saved from the one seed that we plant, 'cause we don't know if that person down the road gets saved, and then his family gets saved, and we don't know if one of his family becomes an evangelist, and hundreds or thousands get saved.
So, have you ever heard of Edward Kimball? Edward Kimball was a Sunday school teacher. One day he witnessed to a shoe salesman named Dwight L. Moody — D.L. Moody. D.L. Moody accepted Christ. D.L. Moody then was preaching, and Frederick B. Meyer accepted Christ, and became an evangelist. Frederick B. Meyer then preached, and Wilbur Chapman accepted Christ. Wilbur Chapman then ministered to a baseball player, a baseball player who came to Christ and became an evangelist, named Billy Sunday. Billy Sunday then went to Charlotte, North Carolina, held this great crusade, thousands of people came, hundreds of people saved. So they said, will you come back? He said, I can't come back, my schedule's too full, but he sent a young man that he had led to Christ, named Mordecai Ham. Mordecai Ham goes back to North Carolina, preaches a revival, but hardly anybody comes, and only one little boy accepted Christ. His name was Billy Graham.
It all started because a Sunday school teacher shared Jesus with a shoe salesman, and then D.L. Moody won thousands to Christ, Frederick B. Meyer, Billy Sunday, and then Billy Graham. It's amazing what God does. I'm just asking you to share your faith, because I want you to know something. When you plant a seed, hundreds and thousands of people could be saved. I've told most of you at some point, but you may not remember. On my mother's side, we have church planters and missionaries. On my father's side, we have rum runners and alcoholics. Except, my father got saved, but the way he got saved was when my grandfather worked for the Texas Highway Department. His job was to put asphalt in potholes. He worked with a man named Ray Alexander.
Ray Alexander shared Christ with my grandfather. He said, "I'd like for you to come over tonight after dinner so I could show you in the Bible what I'm telling you". So, my grandfather decided to go. My father asked if he could drive him. My father was 16 years old, never been to church, never heard the name Jesus except as a curse word. So my father goes over, drives my grandfather, and sits on the front porch, and as Ray Alexander, this deacon from a Baptist church, shared Christ with my grandfather, he said, "Would you like to accept Christ"? My grandfather said, "No". Ray Alexander said, "Well, if you ever decide to accept Christ, pray a prayer like this". And as he told my grandfather the prayer, my father prayed the prayer, sitting on the steps.
And then I got saved, and then a lot of people have gotten saved. By the way, I led my grandfather to the Lord 45 years later. Then, I was thinking about this guy who shared Christ with him, and so I said to my father, "Do you remember his name"? He said, "Yes, Ray Alexander in El Dorado, Arkansas". So, I called. Back then, you called directory assistance. It was... So, I looked it up on the Internet. No, there wasn't an Internet. So, I called and the guy answers the phone.
My grandfather's name was Joe Morris, and I said, "Do you remember Joe Morris"? And he said, "Yes, I still pray for him to this day". I said, "Well, I'm his grandson. Did you know that my father accepted Christ sitting on the steps that night that my grandfather didn't accept Christ"? He said, "I didn't know that". I said, "Well, I became an evangelist. For seven years, I was an evangelist, and now a pastor, and many people have accepted Christ because of you. And I wanted to say thank you, but I wanted you to know that I led my grandfather to the Lord before he went to be with the Lord, before he died". And I said, "You said you prayed for him every day". He said, "I do". He said, "In the back of my Bible I have the names of every man that I've ever witnessed to, and I pray for them until they accept Christ". And he said, "When they accept Christ, I put a check beside their name, and your grandfather was the only name in the back of my Bible that doesn't have a check beside it, but when we get off the phone, I'm going to put a check beside his name".
A deacon at a church. I said, "How many names do you have in the back of your Bible?' He said, "I'm not sure, but I know it's over 100". One man leads over 100 people to Christ, shares Christ, and then look how it goes. I'm telling you, life-giving farmers, that's what God's called us to be. If you'll plant and water seeds, the harvest will be huge.
Isn't that amazing? I'm in the kingdom today because a man who put asphalt in potholes on the highway shared the gospel with my grandfather. And my grandfather, at that time, did not accept Christ, although he did later, but my father accepted Christ, and raised me in a Christian home. So I want to encourage you, when we share the gospel, even if the person says no, we didn't fail. We might have been planting a seed, or we might have been watering the seed, so let's go out and be life-giving farmers. Let's put the seed in the ground, and let's let God bring the rain, and let's let God do the rest. Let's share the gospel everywhere we go.