Posts Tagged ‘Harvest’

Matthew 13:36-43 – HELL, GOD’S WASTE MANAGEMENT CENTRE – Part 11

Hell

I watch as hell is washed inland with the momentum of an earthquake behind it, a wave of burning cars, buildings and debri. And in its wake the devastation of thousands lost. Earthquake, tsunami, nuclear explosion.

In the Valley of Hinnom, outside Jerusalem, refuse was burned continually day and night. It was called Gehenna, the city dump. Jesus uses it as a picture of HELL. I know that Hell is regarded as a foolish ploy of religious people to instill fear, or a metaphor of retribution, but the Bible is very clear about it being a LITERAL AND DEFINITE place, originally prepared for the devil and his angels and not us (Matthew 25:41).

We are concerned for the lives lost in Japan. What is even worse is the thought of people being separated from God for ETERNITY. As reluctant as I am to speak about hell, Jesus isn’t. Perhaps today, rather than pointing to Gehenna, Jesus would point to the smoldering, twisted rubbish dump, like a lake of fire and smoke that once was Northern Japan, and say that it is a portrait of hell. It’s an incredible waste. But Imagine God thinking that my life is a waste such as this, not only on earth but also for eternity. No wonder hell is described as “THE SECOND DEATH”.

Imagine in Japan a helicopter offering to lift someone from the path of the Tsnami. Imagine them saying “I don’t need your help”. Lots of people do that with Jesus. They say “Well, I’ve lived a pretty good life. I don’t need Jesus. I don’t need to be saved!” The arrogance that deceives me into thinking that somehow I DESERVE heaven rather than accept that Christ died for my sins to keep me from hell may be a prevalent concept today, but it is totally ego centric and highlights how spiritually blind I am. I am choosing to live on a waste dump. Or as we choose to call it a Waste Management Recycling Centre.

As I speak on this day 14th March 2011, Hell walks through the battered remains of New Zealand, Japan and threatens people at Gunpoint in Libya, but Matthew 10:28 (NLT) says “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”

The Bible says God is life. Those who choose to separate themselves from God separate themselves from that life for eternity, an unimaginable existence.

When Jesus gives an explanation of the parable of the WHEAT AND WEEDS being separated at the harvest, He uses strong terms. He says in Matthew 13:41-42 (NLT) “The Son of Man will send His angels, and they will remove from His Kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. And the angels will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” A comedian said if you don’t have teeth then teeth will be provided, but somehow it doesn’t seem so funny when you think that teeth gnashing describes the terrifying torment and anguish of such retribution.

Jesus is looking at some very religious people as He speaks and says “There will come a time when it will be sorted out”. The day of judgment is coming! He is simply stating it as a fact, and He is not trying to be some street preacher wearing a placard saying “Turn or burn!” Far from it. He is saying “NO-ONE ELSE has come to save you.”

John 3:17-21 (NLT) says “God sent His Son into the world NOT TO JUDGE the world, BUT TO SAVE the world through Him. There is NO JUDGMENT against anyone who BELIEVES IN HIM. But anyone who does NOT believe in Him has ALREADY been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light…”

These are words of life, not death. God loves you. He IS love. The invitation is clear. God offers us life in Christ. Jesus is the only way, truth and life. Choose life.

Pastor Ross

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Matthew 13:1-23 – Part 7 – A RETURN ON THE INVESTMENT

Investment Return

Vehicles being thrown around like toys in the rushing waters and heartbreaking stories of lives lost have filled the news reports. The damage to bumper harvests was also devastating, probably in the billions of dollars, as the states of Queensland, NSW and Victoria in Australia have been inundated with floods. As I speak a new cyclone is threatening to devastate Queensland even further.

In the midst of this devastation a harvest of another kind is ripening and producing an incredible return. Christian Churches right around Australia open the doors of their buildings as evacuation centres, feed the hungry, send volunteer teams to help clean houses, and give millions of dollars in aid. Scores of Christians giving not only practical help in a coordinated way, but emotional and spiritual help.

Jesus speaks of that kind of harvest in Matthew 13:23 (NLT). He says “The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”  

HARVEST is important. What comes to mind when you think of being GOOD SOIL? Some kind of SICKLY SAINT who whines about the evil in world and tries to impress God with good works to gain points, right? That’s not it! Surely? Please Lord, not that.

It is interesting to me that even when Jesus speaks about the good soil (Matthew 13:23), that some produce a harvest of only 30% AND 60%. Is He saying that even though I have responded the message of His Kingdom authority in my life that I can still live BELOW MY POTENTIAL and fail to produce a harvest of 100% RETURN? Don’t get me wrong. I’m not beating myself up over this when I fail, but apparently God has designed my life to be 100% PRODUCTIVE, not dormant, limited or underlived. It’s as if God is trying to say “Don’t give Me excuses! Give me a RETURN! Go! Make a difference in the world for Me with what I have already INVESTED in your life. You can do it!”

But what is this FRUIT OF THE CROP that every genuine Christian produces? The parable doesn’t say! I guess it speaks of all kinds of things.

When Colossians 1:10 (NLT) speaks about producing fruit. It says, “…your lives will produce EVERY KIND of good fruit. ….”

Whenever someone responds to the message of Christ then that is a potential harvest. The harvest does refer to my influence in helping people come to Christ. The harvest is plentiful and the labourers are few (Matthew 9:38), but it is much MORE than that!

The context of this Colossians 1 indicates that fruit is a CHANGED LIFE after receiving the message of Christ (Colossians 1:6). This in turn produces an active LOVE for others (Colossians 1:8), a KNOWLEDGE of God’s will, spiritual WISDOM and UNDERSTANDING (Colossians 1:9), GROWING and LEARNING to know God more (Colossians 1:10), ENDURANCE, PATIENCE AND JOY (Colossians 1:11), and finally SHARING the message of the gospel with others (Colossians 1:12). A harvest of thoughts, words and actions that HONOUR and PLEASE the Lord.

Galatians also speaks of personal fruit that is evidence that the Holy Spirit is working in a person’s life. “… the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” (Galatians 5:22-23 NLT). The very CHARACTER AND INFLUENCE OF GOD produced in my life. Imagine the kind of return in the world there would be if leaders and nations took hold of the message of Christ!

In the gospel of John Jesus says producing this kind of return is dependent upon my relationship with Him. “…you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in Me. “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. …apart from Me you can do nothing. …When you produce much fruit, you are My true disciples. This brings great glory to My Father.” (John 15:1-8 NLT)

So the invitation Jesus gives us is to bear fruit. I am to make a difference in the world because Jesus has made a difference in me. I am to PRODUCE something worthwhile in my life because of what God has INVESTED in me.

God bless you as the fruit that is developed on the inside of a changed life becomes obvious to others. Through the fruit of your thoughts, words and actions others will also have an opportunity to respond to Christ.

Pastor Ross