Steven Furtick — Harvest Problems
I want to talk to you today about harvest problems. Father, anoint me as I communicate your word and help me to bring it forth clearly. And help me to bring it forth in a way that, not only would it get said but it would get heard. Open the eyes of our hearts. In Jesus name, Amen. Please be seated. God bless you.
I think the hardest part about preaching is certain things that we understand at a conceptual level. We don't really understand on a practical level. And our spirituality can often be so abstract that it doesn't really make a difference in our day to day lives. And that would make me feel like a failure if all I did was make you feel okay for, like, 45 minutes while you were here because it's my job to give you something that will strengthen you.
And I take that job seriously. But it's a challenge because, you know, take a verse like we just read. We read two verses and verse 35 is the one I'm thinking about. Jesus is quoting a Proverb and it's a farming Proverb. A Middle Eastern Proverb and it's ancient. It's not something we walk around saying.
So just put it back up He says to his audience, "Don't you have a saying, it's still four months until harvest". So we don't have that saying. A saying that they said that we never say. Most of us don't say: walk around saying that. Maybe you do. It's four months until harvest. But it's not exactly a part of our modern vernacular. Right?
And, like, it's doubly hard because this is an agricultural culture, agricultural culture. Most of us don't have a lot of familiarity with farming. Any farmers in the house? See, not that many. So you get it that it's hard for me to use an agricultural example in an app store world. And, so when we say harvest, most of us have no idea.
As my mom used to say, you wouldn't know a harvest if it hit you upside the head. My mom used to say that to me. I'd say, "Mom this is homework is hard". She would say, "You wouldn't know hard work if it hit you upside the head". She would say that to me Because the context in which we hear harvest is much different because, again, how many of you grew up on the farm?
I do not mean you had cucumbers in your back yard one time. I mean, like, really? You have real farm experience? Raise your hand? Like, real, really, like, real, like, real true, like, farm experience. Because I don't and I need a little help because I'm reading this passage where Jesus said, "You have a saying, four months until harvest".
Now, when I hear harvest, I get happy because that means God is about to do something in my life. So when I hear harvest, what I hear is, you know, I've worked hard. I plowed. I sowed. I watered. I cried. I waited. I was patient. I wasn't weary in well doing. And now, I'm going to reap what I sow.
So now, it's time for me to sit back and enjoy the harvest, because, harvest is the time, right, if you live on the farm, where you just sit back and... oh, no? Hold on. This sister is helping me because she has context that we don't have.
How many of you have never been on a farm and don't intend to be on a farm and don't even like to warm up stuff in the microwave because it takes a little too long. Hey, so harvest because in mind now, I, I heard harvest, you know, the walls fall down. Breakthrough. Blessed.
When I hear harvest I feel like it means, God's about to hook me up. but that's not how it is? You grew up on a farm? A real farm? We had corn that was so I'm going to talk. I'm going to say what she says in my microphone because she's saying some stuff and I want you hear it, but, I don't know her so at this point in our relationship. It's too early. Go ahead. We had corn. It was over eight feet tall.
So during harvest you sleep in? Oh, no? Because my concept of harvest is it's the blessing. Listen what this girl just said. I might give her a microphone if she keeps preaching. Look, look. You didn't hear her. Turn to your neighbor and tell your neighbor what she just said.
She said, "The corn is not going to pick itself". Oh, God. You sure you're not a preacher? It's not going to pick itself. You have a saying, "The harvest is here". Well, maybe the concept of harvest has been a little watered down. And maybe we don't understand.
I heard a preacher preach one time and he said, 'The harvest is the hardest part". That's when you're waking up the earliest. That's when you're going to bed the latest. During the harvest I just noticed something. They stopped shouting now. The first time I said harvest, the harvest is here, there was a lot of shouting. But we gave it context and now, I'm realizing that harvest isn't like Krispy Kreme.
Harvest is not a hot and now sign. Harvest doesn't mean I drive through and pick it up and eat it while I'm driving off. Ask our worship team about the harvest. They've been out on the road. Pray for them. They've been out on the road on this tour. We wrote these songs in the church and we've been singing them and now, they're being sung all over world.
So guess what they're doing? They're working. They are working. They've been touring. I think they're going to 20 cities, 22 cities. Lots, lots, and lots of cities to get the harvest. To get the harvest because we sowed and now we want to reap, but, you can't reap with your feet up. Okay.
It's hard. Harvest is hard. Preaching is hard because you're eating anything to come here. You don't have to write anything down. You can just steal the pen and use it for other ungodly purposes. But for me, it's not easy. People will say, "Oh, didn't you enjoy Easter, Pastor Steven"? No. Not really. Not really. It was exhausting. All those different Now, I'm going to enjoy the result of it. But reaping isn't easy. Reaping isn't easy.
Somebody said to me this week, can't wait to hear the sermon and see what God downloaded. It wasn't a download. I dug it out. I dug this out so that you can get the download. But you receive as a download, It takes work. Somebody had to sow so that you could reap.
Let me give you a little context because a few weeks ago I preached on John 4 but my theme was a little different. This week I'm talking about hunger. It's, kind of, a sequel and the two are really connected how Jesus went to Samaria. In fact, the way I said it really doesn't give you the full context.
The Bible says, "He had to go through Samaria". Not because there wasn't another route but, because he had a reason for going through there. He could have gone around Samaria. Every other Jew went around Samaria, because, they hated the Samaritans. And the Samaritans hated them. And Samaria was a place of great cultural conflict.
Now, our context for Samaritan is a positive one. Why? Because when we think Samaritan, we think good Samaritan. Even people who don't go to church have heard the phrase. "He's a good Samaritan". So it's Bob helping Miss Bernice across the street. He's a good Samaritan.
In their context the phrase, "Good Samaritan" for the Jewish people would be, like, saying that nice young man in Isis. Because they hated the Samaritans. Hated them and, of course, they hated them because they were hated. And there was great cultural conflict. And there was great religious discrepancy.
And the Samaritans had once desecrated the Jewish people's place of worship and the Samaritans considered themselves the true people of God. And the Jewish people considered the Samaritans half-breeds. And, so there's all this conflict and Jesus walks straight into it.
Straight into the context of the conflict and He goes through Samaria. And his disciples are hungry so they go to What A Burger because you can't get What A Burger just anywhere. And, so they wanted to get some What A Burger and left Jesus at a well.
And Jesus is waiting for a woman who doesn't know what He's doing there and they start having a conversation. And as the woman comes, she wants to get some water because that's what she came out to do. And we learned a few weeks ago that this wasn't just any woman. She was a thirsty woman. And I mean that just like you think I mean it, because, we find out in the story that she had five husbands. Five husbands. Somebody say, "Problems".
Yeah, if you've had five husbands, that wasn't just a bad decision. It's a pattern. It's a pattern. If you have new friends every two years and you can't that God's taking them out of your life. It's that you're not a very relationally gifted or skilled person. It's a pattern. I'm going to help you today. I'm going to help you today.
And, so she had a problem and her problem was that there's this man at the well who wants to talk with her and she wants And, so her problem is blocking her, so she thinks, from receiving what she needs. But actually, we learn in course of their discourse that what she perceives to be her greatest problem is her greatest opportunity, because, rather than leaving with some water, she is meeting living water.
And when she leaves she will to make her happy or fulfilled. Because she comes to the well to get water and instead, Jesus is waiting, trying to get water inside of her. It's very, very deep. It's very deep. Somebody say, "It's deep". But just to give you a little bit of the context, I want to pick up... I can't do the whole conversation. It's abut 42 verses of scripture. They start an argument.
Jesus is trying to get the woman to get past the way things appear, because, she wants to keep the argument at an abstract, conceptual level. Where should we go to worship? The Samaritans worship here. The Jews worship here. You're a man. I'm a woman. You're not supposed to be talking to me according to Jewish law. And you're a Rabbi and you don't like us and all of this.
She's trying to keep the conversation up here at a conceptual level and Jesus makes it really practical and speaks to her situation. And when he does that, something happens in her that she realizes that this isn't about geographical locations, and, it's not about physical water. It's about something within her.
When will you realize that it is not about your job? That's not your biggest problem, not the job. When will you realize it's not about your income level. Some people make millions of dollars and end up broker than minimum wage workers because if it's not right within. Your life will leak.
And, so she's, kind of, discovering what we all have to discover that the real need of our life is within. And, see he's talking to this woman and the disciples, remember they're grubbing, they're grubbing. Do you say that, grubbing? You ever say that? Grubbing? They just killed some Chick-Fil-A. And, so they're full now. And they come back and they see Jesus talking to this woman. Which is a problem. Somebody say, "Problem".
This is not good for PR. And she's a Samaritan. She's a democrat. She's a republican. And they walk back up Look at verse 27. "They were surprised to find Him talking with a woman", but no one asked what do you want or why are talking with her. Maybe they had Maybe they were scared to say something.
Well, no, Peter would have said something. He was never scared to say something. And they're trying to figure it out, standing off to the side. But this a problem. And, see the woman had a problem because she wanted to get water but, now there's this man sitting on the well. So she can't get the water, but, he is the water. And she doesn't know that and he's being all confusing, because, she doesn't understand the context of the conversation yet.
Because often, your spiritual journey will feel confusing at first. The only way to clarity is to begin with confusion. You have to start where you are. You can't start where you want to be. And, so it's going back and forth. And there's this exchange and he's, like, hey, give me a drink of water. And she's, like, why are you asking me for water. And he's, like, well, if you really got it, if you knew what this was all about, if you understand the context of this conversation, you would ask me and I would give you water.
And you wouldn't need water any more because you'd have something inside of you that would satisfy your need better than John and Jimmy and Juan you've been going to coming up empty. And she goes, yeah, but you don't have a bucket. And He looks at her and He doesn't say this in the text but I know what He's thinking. He's thinking, I'm looking at one.
You're about to be my bucket because I want to get this water into Samaria, to the place that people are going around. To the place where religion has quarantined these people. I want to get some water in there and I need a bucket. And I think you'd be a good one. I think you'd be a good bucket. Touch somebody and say, "You're on His bucket list".
And this woman, she's been through some stuff but sometimes the people who have been through the most make the best buckets. And the disciples, they come back and they see Him talking to this woman, but, they don't see her as a bucket. They see her as a blockage. And they're concerned about Jesus. And one of them, it doesn't say who, maybe it was John because he wrote this and maybe he didn't want us to know he was this stupid.
So he just generically says, The men are coming back to town, the disciples. The woman is talking to Jesus. She gets so excited she leaves her water jar, went back to the town. Where does she go? What's the name of the town? Samaria. She went back to the place they hated as they were coming. And she said to the people, the Samaritans, the ones that the disciples would have walked around, "Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did".
Now watch this, she doesn't give them a conclusion. You may be thinking that the way God proves his presence in your life is by bringing you to conclusions. You know, like, when I understand this or when I get that. And, so we're waiting on this place when it will all make sense. But she still has questions.
Does anybody here still have questions? I mean you've been a Christian, maybe, 35 years but you still got questions. And, so she's just beginning and she's willing to go back and get these people. And she's curious but she isn't certain yet. And that's a good And she says, "Come see a man". And they're, like, yeah, I bet you did meet a man. What's his name this time? Who you moving in with now? Who you hooking up with now?
No, no, this man's different. He saw beneath the surface. This man is different than all the other broken jars that I've tried to fill that could not hold water. This one is different. This is a man who told me everything I ever did.
Now, Jesus didn't really tell her everything you ever did. All He did is said you have five husbands and you're shacking with Ronnie. But somehow it penetrated beneath the surface and she realized that she was in the presence of something that she didn't understand, but, she wanted people to see. And, so she heads back into town. Could this be the Messiah? And they followed her because they just had to meet this man. They just had to experience and encounter the possibility that this might be the one.
And meanwhile, look at verse 31, They came from Samaria towards the well and, "meanwhile his disciples", Jesus' disciples, are, like, hey, man, eat something. them credit. They were trying to do what they thought needed to be done. Jesus was hungry. Hey Jesus, we brought you a burger. We held the mayo. Jesus didn't eat mayonnaise. Or onions. No mayo, no onions. Eat this burger.
And I want you watch verse 32. It is the ultimate Jesus juke. But Jesus is allowed So they go, hey we brought you a doggie bag. He goes, "I have food to eat that you know nothing about".
Come on, I'm looking "I've got something that sustains me that you can't see". That's how I praise God in the midst of my problems. Something on the inside. It seems like pressure is coming at us from every side today. Not just from the world but from our own family, our own job and even within ourselves. But what if you could set your focus in the right place? What if you could find more passion for your God-given purpose? And understand specific steps that you need to take to reach your destiny.