“And he said to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore, pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way’” Luke 10:2-3. If we were honest, many would sing, “I want to be a worker for the Lord (as long as it’s not too hard and fits into my schedule); I want to love and trust His holy word (for an hour on Sunday) ….” We think of so many excuses to not work for God. How can we not “go” as Jesus told us to do (Matthew 28:18-20)? How often have you sat in the shade with a cold drink while seeing the few sweating in the harvest field? Oh, you’ve prayed earnestly that the Lord of the harvest would send more workers, all the while complaining to those out in the sun about how hot it is. I’m too … old, busy, tired, or sore, you cry out! I don’t know enough. Perhaps the song should go, “I want to sit in pews for the Lord …” while the harvest grows overripe and never gets to the Master’s barn. But, Jesus tells us to do more than pray. Praying is just where we start. Then you are sent to “go your way.” It may be only to give a thirsty man water (25:31-40), but you may have more to offer. Do you want to be a worker for the Lord?
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” 2 Corinthians 5:17. For me to get to acceptance in the grieving process after my wife passed last year, I had to keep a forward focus or get mired in memories. Married just out of college, for all of my adult life I knew only her. How does a person start anew when everything he attempts is absent the one he misses or triggers memories of her? Those who have been spiritually reborn experience the same struggle. Believing the old man of sin dead, he struggles to press on to the goal only to watch the corpse crawl back onto the altar. The key to being a new creation in Christ is “forgetting what lies behind,” and that means relegating the old life of sin to the past that it may not master us again. Then, “straining forward to what lies ahead,” we keep our focus forward … to what? That’s the struggle as what is in the past is more known than what we can’t yet see. The goal is “the prize of the upward call of God” found only “in Christ.” But, as a new creation, we are reconciled and made ambassadors for Christ with a ministry of reconciliation. What more do we need to press on?
“Only let us hold true to what we have attained” Philippians 3:16. When the handle is pulled back, the ratchet strap will hold taut and won’t release its tension until the lever on on the handle is tripped. Then the strap is useless for holding the load. The Lord’s church operates in much the same way. Perhaps it was a little need for rest that’s not promised to us in this life (Hebrews 4:1-7). It could be that some of the workers who held the tension went to their rest or were arranged by God someplace else where He wanted them to be (1 Corinthians 12:18). Maybe we were lulled to sleep by so much going so well for so long or mandatory isolation of the past year and a half threw us out of our routines that the lever was tripped and spiritual poverty put slack in the strap (Proverbs 6:10-11). We must all, but especially our leaders who motivate our members to action, awaken to the shifting load before it crashes. Complaining about the loose strap won’t help. Neither will reliving a time when the load was secure. Only by rolling up our sleeves and together pulling back on the handle, with whatever gifts God has given us, will the strap tighten and the load entrusted to us be safe once again. How are you pulling it back?
As we sing “The Battle Belongs to the Lord,” we are encouraged that God fights for us and is powerful to do so, but are we certain that He will act? Those struggling to hang on and needing God to intervene hope He will do so quickly, but uncertainty can leave us anxious. In Psalm 18, the psalmist trusts in God as his protector and deliverer as he was encompassed and entangled in the cords of death and the grave and overwhelmed by the “torrents of destruction.” Perhaps you’ve been there and worried that God didn’t care enough to help? When God hears his distress, even though He is in His distant temple, He moves heaven and earth to help the psalmist with true power. Why? Because “he was angry” and “he delighted in me.” It is from His great love and concern, then, that the Lord rescues those who are insignificant and unworthy of His notice, yes, but are His own. Anxiety about His intervention in your struggle may be a lack of trust in God’s character. So, when God takes on your battle as His own and fights for you, do you return that great love with obedience and blameless living, just as the psalmist does? Do you trust fully in God’s love for you to fight your battles?
“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” Galatians 5:13. The prevailing religion of humanism, the belief that only man can be man’s savior, cannot tolerate Christianity. Why? In Christianity, moral behavior is internally regulated; the individual, knowing the consequence for disobeying God’s law, chooses to love, forgive, and walk as Jesus did. In contrast, for humanism to work as a regulator of moral behavior, it must externally pass laws that an elite minority decides and enforces these societal codes through cancellation or other persecu-tions. Since humanists need those who will not question but blindly follow the standard they impose, Christians have no place because they freely weigh consequences for various paths and then choose God. The lie, how-ever, is that in the humanistic system a person is free to follow whatever he chooses because when free from God’s moral code, behavior degenerates into a sinful spiral. They insist that it is the Christian who is a slave because he follows God’s commandments. What do you choose to do with the freedom that God gives to you?