SEEDTIME AND HARVEST

Gen. 8:22 – While the earth remains,

Seedtime and harvest,

And cold and heat,

And summer and winter,

And day and night

Shall not cease.

I had to learn quickly about provision when the Lord called me to pioneer a church in New Orleans in 1979. I had spent my previous six years as a Christian living in a Christian community. Like everything else, community living had its pros and cons. For example, it wasn’t easy to turn over the whole pay check every week. We had a common purse so everything went into the kitty. The positive, I had no concern with bills or financial matters, that was someone else’s concern. The problem I was facing in starting a church was this whole provision thing. I had to provide for my family as well as figure out finances for a new church. That’s when someone turned me on to a book from Oral Roberts on seed faith living. Those principles of sowing and reaping enabled us to get started in our ministry with God as the source of our supply. Here are some thoughts from Oral Roberts about seed faith living, these words can be a huge help in your life.

“Noah’s first acts after the Flood were to build an altar and to sacrifice to the Lord. God was pleased and made promises to the human family through the faith of Noah. He also instituted the Law of Seedtime and Harvest: “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest . . . shall not cease”. When God created the first living thing, He gave it the ability to grow and multiply. How? Through the Seed. Your life began by the seed principle. Every act of your life since your birth has operated by the seed principle—springing from good seeds or bad seeds you have sown—whether or not you were consciously aware of your seed-planting. The principle continues today. To overcome life’s problems, reach your potential in life, see your life become fruitful, multiplied, replenished (that is, in health, finance, spiritual renewal, family, or your entire being), determine to follow God’s law of seedtime and harvest. Sow the seed of His promise in the soil of your need.”

So have you bought in to God’s plan of provision? Connect yourself to the Lord’s work financially and see God as your source. You too can begin to enjoy the harvest of a seed faith lifestyle.

MY UNCLE’S GARDEN

 

Hos. 10:12 Sow for yourselves righteousness;

Reap in mercy;
Break up your fallow ground,
For it is time to seek the LORD,
Till He comes and rains righteousness on you.

My uncle used to have a small farm where he grew various fruits and vegetables. As a child, I was amazed at how much food came from his small plot of land. He had field peas, green beans, tomatoes, potatoes, plums, peaches, cantaloupes, watermelons (can’t forget those); the list goes on and on. Those were the sweetest watermelons I have ever eaten.
The point is this, we live in a fruitful world created by a fruitful God. The seedtime and harvest is intended to be a picture of the abundant provision the Lord has put in this world for all of us. Here are some powerful thoughts from Adam Clarke on today’s verse.

“Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy – Literally, ” in the proportion of mercy,” not in proportion to what you have sown, nor what justice would give, but beyond all deserts, ” in the proportion of mercy; according to the capacity and fullness of the mercy of God; what becometh the mercy of God, which is boundless, which overlooketh man’ s failings, and giveth an infinite reward for poor imperfect labor. If the earth giveth thee larger fruits than it has received, how much more shall the requiting of mercy repay thee manifold more than thou gavest!” Sowing and reaping always stand over against each other, as labor and reward.”

Thinking about that one little piece of land speaks volumes about the fruitfulness of our God. His supply in the physical world only speaks of the other world that is all around us. The spiritual world is the one where our Lord lives. That is the place our hearts long for. There is another abundant supply available for us in that invisible world.The supply of the Spirit to our hungry hearts will come with no limitations. Just as my uncle tended to that little plot of land, we must tend to the spiritual garden of our heart. How do we tend our garden? Plow the ground with prayer, plant the seeds of God’s word. As we do these things, we will be amazed at His abundant harvest in our souls. “Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the LORD, till He comes and rains righteousness on you.”

SEED FAITH

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2Cor. 9:8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.

The Lord always manages to put the tools in our hands that we need at the proper time. It was 1977 when Parris and I moved back to New Orleans. We had no idea what was in store for us here, thankfully the Lord had a plan. We were planning on running a discipleship house in New Orleans, pastoring a church wasn’t quite on my radar yet. Just before we returned to Nola, my mentor, Mike McIntosh, gave me a copy of Oral Roberts’ book, ‘A Daily Guide to miracles- Seed Faith Living’. That book taught me a very important key that I desperately needed for my personal provision as well as the amazing resources I would need to build a church. Here are a couple of the keys I learned in reading that book by Oral Roberts.

“Give What You Have in Your Hand to Give, SEED FAITH. Note especially these three things as you study this passage. First, God is the One who makes all grace abound toward you and provides sufficiency in all things. All things beneficial for our lives come from God’s hands. Second, we are given sufficiency—even “bounty” so that we might do good works. We are blessed in order to be a blessing to others! The word “sufficiency” means “contentedness,” or “competence”—earmarks of the believer whose life is truly blessed by these characteristics as God increases him. And third, the God who gave you seed in the first place is the One who meets your basic needs, multiplies your seed sown into an abundance you can share with others, and increases you spiritually with love, joy, peace, and all of the other fruit of the Holy Spirit flowing freely in your life (“the fruits of your righteousness”).

How great is our God! We have no lack in Him—only potential!”

These simple truths were huge. First, the Lord is the source of your supply. No matter what channel He decides to use, your provision comes from the Lord. That is huge, look to Him alone for provision. Secondly, the Lord blesses you to be a blessing. Give back into your local church. This is your basic seed that the Lord uses to multiply back to you. We receive everything from God and literally give back out of His hand. The Lord will increase you more and more as you look to Him and partner with Him in your work.

FALLING ACORNS AND CRAZY SQUIRRELS

2Cor. 9:10 ¶ He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.

God is an incredible giver. I saw it again, quite by accident, this week. I was walking my dog at my house, just enjoying the quiet outside and the beauty of God’s creation. Suddenly I heard this sound all around me. It was the noise of something dropping over and over again. It was all around me when I realized what it was. Acorns. The yard is full of oak trees and they were literally raining down acorns all around me. That’s when I was taken again by the excessive nature of God. Thousands of acorns in my yard. How many acorns do you really need for just a few trees? Seeds were falling down all around me and then I got it; the Lord provides for us by His seeds. God’s provision is constant and excessive, it never stops. Think of all the acorns in the world. They are not only seeds for sowing they are also food for the squirrels. Here is how Adam Clarke explains today’s verse.

“The word ‘epichoregeo’, he that ministers, is very emphatic; it signifies he who leads up the chorus, it means also to join to, associate, to supply or furnish one thing after another so that there be no want or chasm. Thus God is represented, in the course of his providence, associating and connecting causes and effects; keeping every thing in its proper place and state of dependence on another, and all upon himself; so that summer and winter, heat and cold, seed time and harvest, regularly succeed each other. Thus God leads up this grand chorus of causes and effects: provides the seed to the hand of the sower; gives him skill to discern the times when the earth should be prepared for the grain, and when the grain should be sowed; blesses the earth, and causes it to bring forth and bud, so that it may again minister seed to the sower and bread to the eater; and, by a watchful providence, preserves every thing. The figure is beautiful, and shows us the grand system of causes and effects, all directed by and under the immediate guidance and government of God himself.”
The Lord even convinces the squirrels to bury some of their acorns in the ground. I have to be as sharp as the squirrel, I can’t eat everything the Lord gives me, some of it has to be planted.

BAD BREATH

Acts 9:1 Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord,

Do you have bad breath? I am not talking about the stinky kind, but bad breath nevertheless. You see we can only breathe out what we breathe in. The question we have to ask ourselves is this, ‘what atmosphere am I inhaling every day?’ If I put myself in an atmosphere where I am breathing in immorality, that’s what my breath will consist of. Whether it is uncouth profanity or just something not so overtly sinful like politics or athletics. Whatever atmosphere we live in and inhale is what is going to come out of us. If you inhale bad stuff, bad stuff is what is coming out. In the same way, breathing in God and His word fills us with life. Paul was breathing hatred against the church. This is how Stanley Horton describes it.

“‘Breathing out’ here is literally ‘breathing in’. In the greek it indicates it had become characteristic and continuous. In other words, Saul created an atmosphere around him of threats and murder so that he was constantly breathing it in. As oxygen enables an athlete to keep going, so this atmosphere kept Saul going. He put many in prison and voted to put them to death.”
Robertson’s Word Pictures paints the picture of Saul and his fierce anger against Christ and His people.

“Breathing threatening and slaughter… means that threatening and slaughter had come to be the very breath that Saul breathed, like a warhorse who sniffed the smell of battle. He breathed on the remaining disciples the murder that he had already breathed in from the death of the others. He exhaled what he inhaled. The taste of blood in the death of Stephen was pleasing to young Saul and now he reveled in the slaughter of the saints both men and women. In 26:11 Luke quotes Paul as saying that he was “exceedingly mad against them.”
Thankfully Paul had an encounter with God and the atmosphere of His life was radically and permanently changed. He was touched powerfully by the Lord and was filled with the Holy Spirit. This Holy Spirit atmosphere became the new environment for Saul to live in. He was now breathing in life and breathing out life. Much of the New Testament is the result of this fresh breath of life. Take a few moments and think about the atmosphere you are living in. Take steps to change it, get rid of that bad breath.

MY UNCLE’S GARDEN

Hos. 10:12 Sow for yourselves righteousness;

Reap in mercy;
Break up your fallow ground,
For it is time to seek the LORD,
Till He comes and rains righteousness on you.

My uncle used to have a small farm where he grew various fruits and vegetables. As a child, I was amazed at how much food came from his small plot of land. He had field peas, green beans, tomatoes, potatoes, plums, peaches, cantaloupes, watermelons (can’t forget those); the list goes on and on. Those were the sweetest watermelons I have ever eaten.
The point is this, we live in a fruitful world created by a fruitful God. The seedtime and harvest is intended to be a picture of the abundant provision the Lord has put in this world for all of us. Here are some powerful thoughts from Adam Clarke on today’s verse.

“Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy – Literally, ” in the proportion of mercy,” not in proportion to what you have sown, nor what justice would give, but beyond all deserts, ” in the proportion of mercy; according to the capacity and fullness of the mercy of God; what becometh the mercy of God, which is boundless, which overlooketh man’ s failings, and giveth an infinite reward for poor imperfect labor. If the earth giveth thee larger fruits than it has received, how much more shall the requiting of mercy repay thee manifold more than thou gavest!” Sowing and reaping always stand over against each other, as labor and reward.”

Thinking about that one little piece of land speaks volumes about the fruitfulness of our God. His supply in the physical world only speaks of the other world that is all around us. The spiritual world is the one where our Lord lives. That is the place our hearts long for. There is another abundant supply available for us in that invisible world.The supply of the Spirit to our hungry hearts will come with no limitations. Just as my uncle tended to that little plot of land, we must tend to the spiritual garden of our heart. How do we tend our garden? Plow the ground with prayer, plant the seeds of God’s word. As we do these things, we will be amazed at His abundant harvest in our souls. “Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the LORD, till He comes and rains righteousness on you.”

KATRINA LAND

“KATRINA LAND”

MERRY WEDNESDAY –BY PARRIS BAILEY

“When the LORD turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream. Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The LORD hath done great things for them. The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad. Turn again our captivity, O LORD, as the streams in the south. They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” Ps.126:1-6

I don’t know why but when the anniversary of Katrina rolled around I found myself thinking of everything that happened. I also found myself traveling the same route when we evacuated up to my mother’s house in North Carolina. I am sure for the most of us, our feelings are bittersweet. Paul’s says, “sorrowful yet rejoicing”. We saw the provision of God but the experience was a bit painful!
Last year also at this same time Hurricane Isaac hit our city. We didn’t evacuate and though a small storm compared to Katrina it camped out over the city and gave our church a beating of one million dollars in damage. All of this has made me look back and contemplate how “God works all things together for the good.” Katrina took us up all the way to Pittsburgh to drop off our youngest child to finish her 12th grade with our eldest son. I wasn’t a happy camper about this decision at all. Our home was damaged and I just couldn’t drag my child back to NOLA as Frank and I would literally jump from home to home the next 6 weeks. While running with the dogs up there, I found myself crying out and He began to speak to me about “children are lent of The Lord” and He wanted to “show me His glory”. I leaving my senior, another son went to New York and my 2nd son and his family to Virginia. Frank went running that day worried about staff and payroll. While praying He begin to see hundreds of checks that we gave to the needy, missionaries and other charities over the years that he heard The Lord say “as you sowed all those years to others, the time of reaping will begin”. I knew the blessing comes in obedience so back to NOLA we went.
The rest is history, Victory shined as a light feeding thousands and giving away food for years. We had trailers on our back property for families and hosted hundreds of responders. The purchase of the Broad St Mission was bought from Katrina donations around the world, turning it into a soup kitchen for years then four years ago Mary’s Song Restoration Center was birthed.
Isaac hit and basically finished off what Katrina had started on our sanctuary on Airline. One year later we find ourselves sitting in a beautiful remodeled building that most likely we could have never afforded.
I am not sure what you may be facing, but I pray He gives you grace to jump over your troop and leap over your wall. You probably will jump right into the arms of God.

EXPONENTIAL GROWTH

EXPONENTIAL GROWTH! GOD’S WORD TO ME IN 2013!

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS BAILEY

“Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt.” Amos 9:13

Exponential is said to increase or decrease exponentially if its rate of change must be expressed using exponents. A graph of such a rate would appear not as a straight line, but as a curve that continually becomes steeper or shallower.

We should always be experiencing an abundance of spiritual blessings in heavenly places. We can be replenished with the graces, and goodness of Christ’s house everyday as we eat his bread and drink his wine. But are we? This scripture is talking about a supernatural abundance of blessings that will exceed belief and even the course of nature. E. Stanley Jones calls it the “explosive power of a new affection.” Revival can come when we stay at our posts keeping faithful. The seasons come and the seasons go but suddenly the crops become so copious that the time of ploughing and gathering all run together. This is exponential growth!
What I like about Amos is that he begins to speak hyperbolically when he speaks of mountains dripping with wine, but he paints a beautiful picture of the rain of God upon our lives.
Spurgeon says, “Man’s promises even at the best, are like a cistern which holds but a temporary supply; but God’s promises are as a fountain, never emptied, ever overflowing, so that you may draw from him the whole of that which they apparently contain, and they shall be still as full as ever.”
The next thing about exponential growth is it not only happens in our personal life but Amos is talking about a great ingathering of souls. The harvest is to be so great that, before the reapers have fully gathered it in, the ploughman shall begin to plough for the next crop – while the abundance of fruit shall be so surprising that before the treader of grapes can have trodden out all the juice of the vine, the time shall come for sowing seed. One season, by reason of the abundant fertility, shall run into another. Now you all know, what this means in the church. Spurgeon calls it ‘the rapidity of the work of grace”, so that the plougher shall overtake the reaper.
Notice that God does not promise that there shall be fruitful crops without labor; but we read of ploughmen, reapers, treaders of grapes, and sowers of seed; everyone doing their part. The ploughman doesn’t wait, nor the sower but they all go out into the field to work! They have all their guns ready so to speak and are standing, shoulder to shoulder, ready to make a tremendous charge against this world system. We operate in
a different dichotomy than the world. “Enlarged effort should always follow an increased hope of success.” Spurgeon

HE ATE MY LUNCH

HE ATE MY LUNCH

Matt. 25:35-36 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.

I was between jobs at Bible School, you know the chicken ranch job and the tree planting job, and I went to “Manpower” to look for work for that one day. There was no work and I was headed home just before lunch time. On my ride back to the house from town, I picked up a homeless guy who was hitch hiking. I witnessed to him for the half hour ride and was getting ready to drop him off at the next turn. That’s when I heard the still small voice inside, “Give Him your lunch”. You see I had my bag lunch under the seat. That particular lunch was especially valuable to me, there was no more food at the house. I was going to get a pay check and get groceries the next day but I knew the cupboard was bare at the house. As I tried to forget and ignore what I thought I heard it came again as I stopped “Give him your lunch.” As the man climbed out of the car I reached under the seat and gave him my lunch, in my mind, my last lunch. As I drove off I had the mixed feelings of contentment at obeying the Lord and resentment feeling the hunger pains of a hungry young man. As I drove home I tried to reflect on what I had been taught at school, “When you have done it to the least of these you have done it unto me.” Albert Barnes spoke about this truth in his commentary.

“I was an hungered – The union between Christ and his people is the most tender and endearing of all connections. It is represented by the closest unions of which we have knowledge. This is a union – not physical, but moral; a union of feelings, interests, plans, destiny; or, in other words, he and his people have similar feelings, love the same objects, share the same trials, and inherit the same blessedness. Hence, he considers favors shown to his people as shown to himself, and will reward them accordingly. They show attachment to him, and love to his cause. By showing kindness to the poor, the needy, and the sick, they show that they possess his spirit, for he did it when on earth; they evince attachment to him, for he was poor and needy; and they show that they have the proper spirit to outfit them for heaven.”

When I got home, only five minutes later, I soon realized the lesson the Lord was trying to teach me. You see on my porch as I drove up to the house was an unexpected box. I quickly opened the box, realizing it was from my mom in New Orleans. To my surprise it was loaded with food. It had everything from canned hams to canned vegetables to cookies, it was an absolute gold mine of delicious goodies. I learned a great lesson that day from the man who ate my lunch, “It is more blessed to give than it is to receive.”

DIVINE RECOMPENSE

DIVINE RECOMPENSE

Prov.11:24,25 There is one who scatters, yet increases more;
And there is one who withholds more than is right,
But it leads to poverty. The generous soul will be made rich,
And he who waters will also be watered himself.

This passage of scripture describes the supernatural life of a Christian involved in the life of ministry. For the natural man, he is too self absorbed to consider the needs of others. For someone who has tasted the love of God for themselves, they have discovered the age old truth, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” The value of our life does not consist in the things we have stored up for ourselves, we have discovered another value system, the value of our life is found in the pouring out of our life. As Jesus said, “A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
A.B. Simpson spoke about this truth, have a look at his words.

“If I carefully consider others, God will consider me, and in some way or other He will recompense me. Let me consider the poor, and the Lord will consider me. Let me look after little children, and the Lord will treat me as His child. Let me feed His flock, and he will feed me. Let me water His garden, and He will make a watered garden of my soul. This is the Lord’s own promise; be it mine to fulfill the condition and then to expect its fulfillment.
I may care about myself until I grow morbid; I may watch over my own feelings till I feel nothing; and I may lament my own weakness until I grow almost too weak to lament. It will be far more profitable for me to become unselfish and out of love to my Lord Jesus begin to care for the souls of those around me. My tank is getting very low; no fresh rain comes to fill it; what shall I do? I will pull the plug and let its contents run out to water the withering plants around me. What do I see? My cistern seems to fill as it flows. a secret spring is at work. While all is stagnant, the fresh spring was sealed; but as my stock flows out to water others the Lord thinks upon me. ”

Many times we want to wait until we fix ourselves before we become involved in ministry. If you wait for that day, it may never come. The strange truth about ministry is that the way out of our mess is often in the pouring out of ourselves on others. Jesus spoke about this in John 7, He said “if any one is thirsty, let them come to me and drink, out of your innermost being will begin to flow rivers of living water”. If you are in trouble, find a place to serve. Join the prison ministry or maybe the homeless outreach. Maybe you can serve on the hospital ministry team or even in the children or youth ministry. Whatever you do, find a place to serve, that is where your healing will begin.