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“DARING TO PLANT IN FAITH” - Daring Faith: Key to Miracles - Part 6

Jn.12:23-26; Gal.6:7-10 - April 9, 2017

(adapted with permission from Rick Warren, Saddleback Church, April 25-26, 2015)

             RECALL this week’s memory verse: Php 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Php 4:13

             Today we return to the farmer metaphor in learning about faith; because the Bible compares the Christian life to gardening repeatedly. Genesis 8:22 “As long as the earth endures, there will be seedtime and harvest...” There are laws of seedtime and there are laws of harvest. Galatians 6:7 “Don’t be misled: No one makes a fool of God. Whatever a person plants…” he [might?] harvest. Is that what it says? It says he will. Count on it: circle that word “will”. Today we’re learning to be “Daring to Plant in Faith” – and more specifically, God’s laws of planting and harvesting, of sowing and reaping.

             Before there was farm machinery people had to sow seed by hand, literally ‘broadcasting’. You carried a bunch of seed in a sack and as you walked through you broad cast it. On the farm growing up we had a little backpack rig with a crank and a little propeller (like a salt truck) for broadcasting grass seed, called a “cyclone seeder”. Dad says the pioneers used it for sowing oats around the stumps in the fields when they were first cleared. One day my Uncle Nelson sowed a 25 acre field in the morning with that little seeder and harrowed it in the afternoon, walking behind the horses, 16-foot width... I calculate that was a 12.9 mile hike in the morning, followed by the same thing all over again in the afternoon! Basically a marathon one step at a time in soft dirt.

             Anyway, such a method is where we get the term “broadcasting” for television and radio and so on, because you’re sowing seeds on a wide distance. It’s not just planting one little seed at a time.

             If you ignore the laws of sowing and reaping in your life, it’s going to hurt you. If you wisely use the laws of sowing and reaping in your life you’re going to be blessed by it. You can use these laws in every single area of your life. Daring to plant in faith. You can use the laws of sowing and reaping in relationships, in your health, your finances, your career: what you sow, you’ll reap.

             So – whatever you need more of in your life, you need to plant in faith. If you feel like you need more appreciation, you need to start appreciating other people. Plant seeds of appreciation. More talent, more time, more energy – whatever you need more of, you need to learn the laws of sowing and reaping. You’ve got to plant what you need.

1) Everything starts as a seed. That’s the first law of the harvest. Every idea started as a seed idea. Every dream, every achievement – this church started as a seed. Your life started as a seed. So everything starts as a seed. Genesis 1:11 “God said, ‘Let the land have seed-bearing plants and trees that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their varieties.’” What do we mean by planting a seed? A seed is anything valuable that I give away. When you give away praise, there’s value to that; advice, time, money, experience - there’s value to each of these. Anytime you give anything. When you give your love away, there’s great value to that. A seed is anything that I give away in order to help somebody else.

             Words can be seeds that you plant in people’s minds. Affirmations or criticisms can grow and they bear fruit. So you need to choose your words wisely. Especially when you’re talking with people that you love – children, your husband, your wife, your friends. Those are seeds. Now then, what kind of seeds are you planting in your relationships? Are you planting seeds of trust or seeds of distrust? Kindness or crankiness? Anger and bitterness, meanness? Are you planting seeds that build up or are you planting seeds that tear down? You’ll reap whatever you sow.

2) NOTHING HAPPENS UNTIL THE SEED IS PLANTED. It must be given away. It can’t do any good in a bag. Jesus used this principle to explain why he came to die. Today is Palm/Passion Sunday – this verse kind of sums up what Easter and the crucifixion were all about! John 12:24 “Jesus said, ‘Unless a grain of wheat [That’s a seed: unless a grain of wheat] is buried in the ground, it cannot reproduce.But if it dies, it will produce much fruit.’” Do you have any seeds at home you bought a long time ago that are still in the bag? Haven’t been much good to you, have they? Imagine a farmer buying a big sack of seed then he puts it in his barn and becomes afraid to ever open it up. That’s foolish – seeds are meant to be planted, given away, released.

      Do you suppose it’s easy for a farmer to spend thousands of dollars on inputs then bury them all in the dirt? That’s a risk, isn’t it?! Planting and sowing is an act of faith. It’s saying I believe that something great is going to happen because I dare to sow this seed, because I’m going to give away what I’ve got. I’m not going to keep it in the bag. Giving it away, I believe it’s going to produce some fruit.

      When you plant a garden, you can’t dig it up every day to check on it and see if it’s growing. Is it going to sprout or not? You’ve got to have faith because you can’t see it. Mark 4:26f “Jesus said, ‘The kingdom of God is like someone who plants seed in the ground.Night and day, whether the person is asleep or awake, the seed still grows, but the person does not know how it grows.” He can’t see it until it sprouts. And that’s the element of faith.

3) WHEN I HAVE A NEED I should plant a seed. When a farmer looks out on their barren field, and sees no crops, what do they do? She or he doesn’t gripe or complain: they just start planting.

      There are some times you should plant instead of pray. The farmer can look at a barren field and go “Oh, God, please make my corn crop grow.” And God asks, “Did you plant any seed?” “No; but really make it grow.” It isn’t going to happen. Sometimes you don’t pray, you plant: remember the law of sowing and reaping. Ecclesiastes 11:6 “Do your planting in the morning and in the evening, too! [In other words all the time] You never know whether it will all grow well or whether one planting will do better than the other.”

      Remember the saying, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket?” That idea is from the Bible, from Ecclesiastes – plant in the morning and evening both. When you sow, sow in a bunch of areas. Keep on planting all the time. You may think you’re waiting on God when He’s actually waiting on you. Job, miracle, spouse – God is waiting on you to start planting seeds. “When I have a need, I plant a seed.” Whatever I need more of, I need to give it away.

4) Whatever I PLANT is what i will reap. This is the law of reproduction: if a farmer plants a field of beans, what crop should he expect to get? Watermelon? No! You’re going to get in life whatever you plant. Galatians 6:7 (Let’s read it aloud together) “You will reap exactly what you plant.”

      There’s a phrase in Genesis used repeatedly: “after its own kind.” We always reap the same thing that we sow. This can either work for you or against you. Whatever I dish out is what I’m going to get back in life. Some negative examples: Job 4:8 “People who plant trouble harvest it.” Proverbs 22:8 “Whoever sows sin reaps weeds.” (NLT “Those who plant seeds of injustice will harvest disaster.”) Hosea 10:13 “You planted wickedness and now you reap evil.” Matthew 7:2 “Whatever measure you use to judge others will be used to measure how you are judged.” Uh-oh! What you sow you’re going to reap.

      Now some positive examples. Proverbs 11:18 “The one who sows righteousness will reap a sure reward.” Hosea 10:12 “Plant good seeds of righteousness and you’ll harvest a crop of my love.” James 3:18 “Peacemakers plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of goodness.” Are you getting the idea that this is not some minor message of the Bible? The laws of the harvest. You will reap what you sow with your children, with your wife, with your business. It’ll either work for you or it’ll work against you. You sow anger, that’s what you’re going to get – angry kids. You sow patience: that’s what you’re going to get – patient kids. You will reap what you sow. And you get back exactly what you put out. I cannot sow irresponsibility and reap success. I cannot sow laziness and reap reward. I cannot sow stinginess and reap a blessing.

      Jacob cheated his brother and cheated his dad. So you know what happened? His father-in-law Laban cheated him! He reaped what he sowed.

      Haman was full of bitterness and jealousy, so built gallows to kill Esther’s uncle/guardian Mordecai the Jew. But the bitterness boomeranged: Haman ended up playing Hangman, being hung on his own gallows. Galatians 6:7-8 “The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others, and ignoring God, harvests a crop of weeds.That’s all he’ll have to show for his life! BUT [positively now] the one who plants in response to God, letting God’s Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life!” You’re going to harvest whatever you plant.

      Everything starts with a seed, nothing happens until the seed is planted, whenever I have a need I plant a seed, and whatever I plant is what I’m going to reap...

5) I’m not the only sower. You’re not the only planter in the universe. Other people are planting all around you. And, by the way, you are reaping, both good and bad, from those who went before you.

      Some folks grow up in families with a history of abuse, or alcohol, or divorce (or maybe a combination of those). And you have to decide – the chain breaks now; I can’t control the past, but I’m going to break the chain now, stop the generational pattern. You harvest both good and bad from your past because you’re not the only person sowing. Everything you do has consequences. And your life is going to majorly affect future generations; so you need to take it very seriously.

      Some years back, the PBS TV folks took a swab of DNA out of Rick Warren’s mouth and traced his family tree back a thousand years. Rick discovered a number of godly ancestors in his family: he’s reaping the benefit of grandparents and great grandparents who were praying for their great grandchildren. What if you don’t happen to have a family tree like that? You start it! You determine that the future generations of your family name are going to be blessed because you’re going to plant seeds of prayer, love, godliness, generosity and faith. And the people who come out of your family tree will have a blessing in their heritage.

      John 4:38 (Jesus said)I sent you to reap where you didn’t plant; others had already done work before you, and you will [now] gather the harvest.” You are reaping a legacy from those who’ve gone before. You’re not the only one sowing! Now, as for *you* – are you leaving a legacy of generosity or stinginess? Are you leaving a legacy of faith, or doubt or fear?

6) I always reap in a different season than i sow. Plants take time to grow; there’s no instant maturity. So you don’t plant today and this afternoon get the fruit – there’s always a delay. When you plant anything in life, there’s no such thing as instant success. It takes time to gather wisdom. Ecclesiastes 3(1-5) “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven... A time to plant and a time to harvest... a time to scatter and a time to gather...” In other words there’s a time to sow and a time to reap. Fruit ripens gradually, and not all at the same time. You can tell the difference between a vine-ripened tomato and a forced, gassed tomato: you miss out on the flavour when you get in a hurry. Some things take time, but they’re worth it.

7) I MUST BE patient and not give up. As you’re waiting on the seed you planted, don’t become impatient. I must be patient and not give up. Because you reap in a season that’s different than you sowed in. Galatians 6:9 “Let us not get tired of doing what is right, for after a while we WILL reap a harvest of blessing IF we don’t get discouraged and give up.” We have to be patient. Keep on keeping on, regardless of setbacks.

8) I always reap more than i sow. This can work for you or against you. This is the law of multiplication. If you plant a small sunflower seed, the giant sunflowers grow to be about twelve feet tall and the flower is almost a foot wide. One little seed gives you back a thousand seeds. A single ear of corn can contain about 800 kernels! You always reap more than you sow. Jesus made the point this way in a parable: Mark 4:8 “Some seed fell on good soil.It came up, grew and produced a crop, multiplying [circle that] thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times.”

      This will work for you or against you: it depends on what kind of seed you’re planting. If you plant gossip, you’re going to get a lot more gossip about you; if you plant criticism, you’re going to get a lot more criticism about you. “Anybody can count the seeds in an apple, but only God can count the apples in a seed.”

9) I increase my harvest by planting more seed. This is the law of proportion: we reap in proportion to what we sow. 2Corinthians 9:6-7 “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will reap generously.Each one should give what he’s decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” You get to choose how big the harvest is in your life, how much God blesses your life. Don’t blame anybody else. If you sow sparingly, you will reap sparingly; you sow generously, you will reap generously. That’s the solemn word of God; it’s the law of the universe and it applies in every area of your life.

      Proverbs 11:24 “The world of the generous gets larger and larger; the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller.”

10) THE MORE SEED I PLANT the more God will give me. (Careful! One could put a very selfish, greedy spin on this, but that would be entirely wrong: pay attention to the ultimate purpose here.) The more I give away, the more God gives me – to keep on giving! God is looking for givers to bless. God’s not looking for stingy people to bless: they’re just going to hoard the wealth, not share it or bless others on His behalf. God looks for givers to bless, those with open hands, who’ll become pipelines of His mercy. He’s asking, “Who wants to be unselfish? Who wants to think of other people? Is there anybody who trusts Me?” He’s always looking for people to use, to be His channels, His conduits. And so He blesses people who are generous, those He can count on to pass it on. The more seed I plant, the more God will give me (for re-distributing). 2Corinthians 9:10 “For God, who supplies seed to the farmer and bread to eat, will give you more and more seed to plant and will make it grow so that you can give away more and more fruit from your harvest!” That verse is a promise about being generous with money.

11) I PLANT BY FAITH, not by my feelings. People aren’t generous because they don’t feel like being generous: such folk make the mistake of going by their feelings. No: you plant by faith not by feelings.

         When the farmer gets up in the morning, do you think every farmer expects to feel good about going to work on his farm? Did my Dad with his aching arthritic knees feel like getting out of bed every morning at quarter past 6 to go out and milk the cows? No! He made himself do it for the sake of the cows who were waiting with full udders. Because he was consistent, they gave consistently, one of the highest herd averages in the county. It’s just hard work. If a farmer only worked his crops when he felt like it, not much would get done. You don’t go by your feelings: you go by your faith.

         At Easter in 2015, it was the second anniversary of the suicide of Rick Warren’s youngest son, Matthew. Rick admits he really didn’t want to be at church: what he’d rather have done is just celebrate the resurrection at home with his wife, his Lord, their kids, and just get through the second anniversary. Anybody would understand that. But all that week, because he was crying that week, in tears – he claimed Psalm 126:5f as a promise: “Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy.They weep as they go to plant their seed, BUT they sing as they return with the harvest.” And as he faithfully planted seeds in fourteen Easter services, God gave a harvest of 2604 people who came to Christ! Those who sow in tears will reap in joy. Those people are going to be in heaven because he didn’t just do what he felt like doing: instead, he planted by faith.

         Sometimes God’s going to call you to make a sacrifice, to do what’s tough, what you definitely DON’T feel like doing. Money? Yes; but also time, talent, maybe your life – God’s going to call you to sacrifice. And if you protest, “I don’t feel like it,” you will miss the blessing that God wants to do in using you. So: I plant by faith, not by my feelings.

12) The best time to plant is now. You don’t wait for a better time; the sooner the better. Don’t say, “When I retire I’m going to get serious about God.” No! Start now while you still have energy, develop good habits to carry you right through retirement. Ecclesiastes 11:4 “Those who wait for perfect weather will never plant seeds; and those who look at every cloud will never reap a harvest.” Perfection paralyzes potential. “One of these days” is none of these days; “tomorrow never comes”.

         So, what are you waiting for? Are you ready to launch out with the Lord on a planting/harvesting adventure? God will never ask you to do anything by yourself. Never! He’ll always do it with you. How can you do “all things” God asks you to do? According to Php 4:13 – “through Christ who strengthens me.” Let’s pray.