Waiting To Reap
There's a time for sowing and there's a time for reaping, and God orders the chronology of these things — you and I don't do it.
Alright, thank you very much. And hello again, radio friends, how in the world are you? Well, I trust everything’s going alright at your house, bless your heart. Some days are better than others and some are worse than others, and some days you say to yourself, “I should never have gotten up.” [chuckle] I know how that is. Oh, whatever kind of a day it is with you, look up and trust your blessed Lord and He will see you through. For He hath said, “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.” You can trust your Lord to see you through today, or tonight as the case may be. Yes, this is your friend, Bob Cook, I’m back with you once again for a few moments of sharing from the Word of God. I think I love this more than anything else in all the world, to open the Bible and let it talk to me and to you.
We’re in the fourth chapter of John, along about verse 30 and the verses that follow. The disciples were eager to have lunch, and the Lord Jesus said, “I’m not interested in lunch. My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me and finish His work.” He said, “Fellas, what you don’t realize is that God has been working here.” A small thought here, look for God’s working in the ordinary situations of life. Look for evidences that God is working in the ordinary situations of life. You see, most of us are pretty routine, ordinary people. We don’t preach to millions of people as does, for instance, our brother Graham and others. We don’t save anybody from drowning. We’re not shot at sun rise. We are not heroes in the traditional sense, just ordinary people with ordinary lives. Get up, get dressed, make breakfast, go to work or send the family out to school and work. And then do the three million things that homemakers have to do without ever being thanked for it.
I know, mom. Well, it’s an ordinary day. Finish the day, come home, eat dinner, talk about whatever people talk about. Who’s going with who and what can he see in her, if you’re a teenager, I guess. And do the homework, read the paper, look at TV, take two aspirins and go to bed. Ordinary day. Yep. Ordinary people. Yep. In the midst of all of that, beloved, look for evidence that God is working. Philippians 2:13, what does it say? “It is God that worketh in you, both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” Paul the apostle said, “I’m working hard, I labor according to His working which works in me mightily.” The Holy Spirit of God working in the life of the apostle Paul. Now, look for God’s touch upon the ordinaries of life, that is the continuing miracle of the Christian faith.
For when Jesus Christ is Lord of your life, beloved, everything, that is, everything in your life is touched by His grace and by His power. And all that you do becomes relevant, all that you do becomes significant in terms of God’s eternal purpose. Walking down the street, going to work, a casual conversation, a telephone conversation, answering letters, making appointments, carrying out your daily work, whether you’re selling, or producing, or managing or whatever it may be. You, my friend, are in business with God, that’s what Paul said. “We then as laborers together with God.” “The Lord working with them,” says Mark in his last verse of Mark’s Gospel. “The Lord working with them.” You, my friend, are in partnership with Almighty God. Look for the evidence of God’s work in your life every day. Our Lord Jesus said to these disciples who were interested in lunch, He said, “You say the harvest isn’t ready yet, there are four months before it’ll be ready.” He says, “Lift up your eyes and look.” Now, here came the men of the town tumbling out. He must have pointed to them and He said, “There’s your harvest, boys. There’s the harvest that needs to be reaped. Look on the fields for they are white already to harvest.” The keyword there is “already.”
When people are ready for God, it’s time to reap. “Thrust ye in the sickle and reap,” says the ancient prophet. “Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision.” “White already to harvest.” Let me remind you that the opportunity you have to harvest for God will not come again exactly as it does today. Today you meet certain people, they may not be alive tomorrow, or you may not be, as the case may be. “They’re white already to harvest.” I can recall being awakened at 4:00 in the morning by my uncle Frank Setzler when I was a little farm boy in Ohio, and he’d say, “Get up, boy.” Always called me boy. [chuckle] Victor Borge says, “I guess he couldn’t remember my name. “Get up, boy. Gotta make hay today.” Well, I’d stagger around, rub the sleep out of my eyes, go downstairs and slosh a little water into the wash basin and wash my face, at least the front part of it. Boys learn to do a what we call a “de minimis” job of washing on their face, just the front part of it. Leave the back because they don’t see it anyway. [chuckle]
And then sit down. Well, you didn’t go to breakfast right away, you’d have to help with the chores and turn the milk separator. That was my job, morning and night. Turn the milk separator, cream separator. And if you farm people remember the high pitched whine of those cones, as they whirled around in the milk separator, to separate the milk from the cream. And I had to turn the handle until the job was done. Then you sit down to breakfast, and then you get going. Well, by that time it is probably 6:00 in the morning, and you go with the rest out to the hayfields, because you have to make hay, as they say, while the sun shines. Why? Because tomorrow it could rain. Already. The word is “already.” You have to do what you ought to do for God today. Not sometime. But anyhow; it says, “He that reapeth receiveth wages and gathereth fruit unto life eternal, that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. And herein is that saying true, ‘One soweth and another reapeth.’ I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labor; other men labored, and ye are entered into their labors.”
There’s a spiritual principle here that our Lord is giving these folk. Sowing and reaping is a spiritual cycle. Souls, like apples, don’t get ripe immediately. It takes time for the message of God to mature in the thinking of a needy soul. And so it is, it’s been my experience at least, that a dear missionary would be laboring on a foreign field; say Japan, or China, or Africa, or India or any of these great mission fields, be laboring there for years. And then someone like yours truly would come along and hold some meetings, and people would come to the Lord Jesus Christ by the hundreds, in some cases by the thousands. And folk would say, “Isn’t that wonderful,” and I would remind them. I’d say, “This is the harvest, but somebody else has been sowing the seed for years.”
Sowing and reaping. One sows, another reaps, Jesus said. “I sent you to reap.” What He was actually telling them so gently, so very gently, was, “Fellas, I sent you to do a little harvesting, and you came back with salami. Nothing wrong with the salami, but you missed, you missed your chance to harvest some souls. I sent you to reap. You didn’t get those Samaritan hearts ready to listen to God. You didn’t plant the hunger in those souls that reached out after the Almighty. You haven’t done anything like that. I just sent you in there to reap, and you came back with salami, and an appetite, and grumbling.” That’s what He was telling them. I think they got the point, too. Tell me something, beloved. What are you most concerned about, then? Are you most concerned about the ordinaries that include lunch? No, lunch is important. Look at me sideways and you’ll know that I’ve had quite a few lunches. [chuckle] They call it middle age because that’s where it shows up first. They say men are just little boys grown tall and thick in the middle.
Anyway, yes, lunch is all right. I’m not preaching against lunch, you understand me? But what is really important? What is most important in your thinking? Jesus said, “I sent you to reap. You came back grumbling about lunch. You missed it, fellas.” That’s what He was saying. He’s giving us a spiritual principle, and He’s also giving a very gentle indictment of our selfishness. The spiritual principle is sowing and reaping. Some people drop the Word of God into others’ hearts and minds, as good seed. Others are given the privilege of reaping the harvest when it is ripe. Both of them working together, that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. I don’t know what your job may be today. Are you in the business of sowing the seed, but not really seeing too much of a harvest? Harvest seems to come in cycles.
I recall talking with a pastor, oh, maybe a few years ago now, about his work. And I always ask how things are going because I care about it, you know that. I was in the pastorate 18 years and I know what the dear pastor’s up against. Some of the joys and struggles that pastors have, and so I ask about that. “How are things going?” How’s the Sunday school going,” and so on. And I will always ask, somewhere along the line, “Anybody getting saved? Having any results from your preaching?” Well, I asked in this one case and the man said rather sadly, “No,” he said, “I’m doing my best. I’m trying to win souls, and I’m preaching the Word of God, but we don’t seem to be getting much response.” Now, a few years passed and I see the same man again and I say, “Well, how’s it going?” “Oh, great!” he says. “I don’t know what happened,” he says, “But we’re in a time of great reaping and people are being saved, and folk are coming into the church, praise the Lord.”
Well, there’s a time for sowing and there’s a time for reaping, and God orders the chronology of these things, you and I don’t do it. The point that Jesus made was, “Be faithful in the sowing, and be faithful in the reaping, because all of it is God’s work.” “My meat,” said He, “Is to do the will of Him that sent me and finish His work.” What was going on there at Jacob’s ancient well outside the town of Sychar in Samaria, what was going on there was God working, God’s work was being done. That’s what the disciples needed to know. Oh, I think they got the point, don’t you? It says, “Many of the Samaritans of that city believed on Him, because of the saying of the woman who said, ‘He told me all that ever I did.’ But when they were come to Him, they besought Him to tarry with them. He stayed there two days, and many more believed because of His word and said to the woman, ‘Now, we believe not because of thy saying only, we’ve heard Him ourselves and know that this is indeed the Christ, the savior of the world.'” What really counts is for you to be able to say, beloved, “I’ve heard Him myself.” Make sure that that is so.
Father God today, help us to be concerned most of all about thy divine eternal work in winning souls in the harvest, in Jesus’ name, I pray this. Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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