Sunday October 11 2020

MYSTERY HARVESTS 1

We are entering our season of Thanksgiving and this year I miss seeing Linda’s fall display at the front of our church. Every year it is a vivid reminder of God’s goodness and bounty. Thanksgiving is a season that celebrates harvests and God’s continued faithfulness in providing for us. The cycles of the seasons are a continuing reminder that He is faithful and true, and that He will never forsake us. Droughts and crop failures may occur but that has more to do with our stewardship than with His overshadowing grace and mercy. Most of what this generation enjoys has very little to do with our efforts. By this I mean, I did not clear the lands for the crops we now take for granted; I did not labour to build the canals that make possible the movement of food stuffs upon our waterways; I had little to do with our infrastructure of highways and railroads that transport virtually everything to our homes, nor was I involved in the setting up of the mining and forestry industries. I, like all of you, was born into such grace. Let me quote a few verses of Scripture.

“And I have given you a land for which you did not labour, and cities which you did not build, and you dwell in them; of the vineyards and olive yards which you did not plant but you eat of them.” Joshua 24:13

This verse and the surrounding context centers about God providing the “promised land” for his chosen people. However, or in addition, it is appropriate for our situation. Most of us should be able to identify with the truth of this statement. I live in a city – town – that I did not construct. I dwell in a home I did not build. And I most certainly did not plant the surrounding fields with grain and vegetables which I enjoy. I arrived on the scene and there it all was! We all benefit from the sweat and tears of others. I often find myself pondering the marvel of old brick and mason buildings. There are remnants about of old brick smokestack towers that stretch high into the sky.  Some of these reach nearly 600 feet into the air. Layer upon layer of brickwork laid by a skilled craftsman. This bricklayer would have laboured for months or even years, placing brick after brick. I think of him, providing for his family and, as it turned out, for generations to come. Were his daily thoughts on these following generations? Probably not, yet it is we who have benefited from his labour. Perhaps the factory produced steel which now has been shaped and formed into a myriad of products that make our life much easier than was his. My point being that we have “arrived” into a land “flowing with milk and honey.”

“And it shall be, when the LORD thy God shall have brought thee into the land which he swore unto your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you great and goodly cities, which you did not build, houses full of all good things, which you did not fill, and wells dug which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees, which you did not plant; when you will have eaten and become full; then beware that you do not forget the LORD which brought you out of the land of Egypt, out from the house of bondage.” Deut. 6:10-11 (Underlining added.)

One of the most recorded dangers (warnings) in Scripture is that we FORGET about our LORD once things are going well for us. We need constant reminding that all things are from His hands. As Psalm 145:16 reminds us, “Thou opens your hand, and satisfies the desire of every living thing.”

So, it is essential that we have seasons of Thanksgiving, to jar us from our complacency and to remind us to give praise and thanks to our True Provider. And all of the feasts and festivals required of the people of Israel – “appointed times.” – were to act as reminders for them to give thanks to their God.

October 11 is the day this year that the Jewish people rejoice in the law. And it is at this time of season that they celebrate harvest. People have been celebrating harvest from the beginning of history. For the Jewish people there are the ‘mystery harvests’ and the celebration of the ‘mystery harvests.’ 2

Imagine, if you will, a people celebrating a harvest that never took place, a harvest they never reaped or sowed. Imagine a celebration of a non-existent harvest. And imagine a people persisting in celebrating these non-existent harvests year after year for centuries. 3  God commanded the Jewish people to celebrate the harvests of the Promised Land. But in AD 70 the land of Israel was destroyed and its people scattered to the ends of the earth. There were no more harvests, no more grains or fruits to be gathered. Yet even though they had no more harvests, they kept celebrating them anyway. They celebrated non-existent barley harvests, gave thanks for non-existent fruit harvests, rejoiced over non-existent vines overflowing with non-existent grapes. And then, something just as strange happened. After two thousand years of celebrating the non-existent harvests, the non-existent harvests reappeared on the earth! 4

It is crucial that we learn this secret of the kingdom! The children of this world – this world system – these earth-dwellers – rejoice after seeing their blessings. But we the children of the kingdom do the opposite – we celebrate before we see the blessings.5

We need to exercise our faith. We need to put our faith in Him who is Faithful and True. The world has things backwards, no surprise there. The world celebrates after seeing the blessings, but we are encouraged to celebrate our blessings before they arrive. It is in fact, our celebration over what is unseen that causes said blessing to arrive. This is one of the secrets to “sowing and reaping.” We sow seeds of faith that produce the harvests, both spiritual and physical.

Celebrate before the blessings. Don’t wait to see your blessings in order to rejoice. Rejoice . . . and you will see your blessings. Don’t wait for the gift to come in order to give thanks. Give thanks . . .and the gift will come. Don’t wait until your circumstances are right in order to celebrate. Celebrate anyway . . . and they will be right. Don’t wait for the victory to be won in order to become victorious. Become victorious . . . and the victory will be won. Learn the secret of Israel’s mystery harvests. Celebrate the blessings you don’t yet see. Celebrate the harvest you don’t have . . . and you will have  harvests to celebrate.6

The New Testament continues this truth. Mark 11:24 states:

“Therefore I say unto you, ‘What things so ever you desire, when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.’”

This indeed means that we should be concerned with celebrating and rejoicing over answered prayer that is yet to arrive. By doing so we cause that which we cannot see to become visible and tangible. This is the foundation of faith. We are urged to celebrate harvests that have yet to bloom. The oft quoted passage on faith found in Hebrews 11:1 concerns this very thing of mystery harvests:

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

We more often than not find ourselves in that time interval between the planting and the harvesting. We sow our seeds of faith and project our hope forward to a sure and promised harvest. We do not see the harvest, for it is a mystery harvest at the moment, yet we can relax and celebrate that the unseen harvest is coming. Believing in unseen mystery harvests requires faith. Yet our hope, our faith, should not be only in the seed but also primarily in the seed-Giver. In Mark 9:38 and in Luke 10:2, the Lord Jesus is called “The Lord of the harvest.” It is His responsibility to bring to fruition the mystery harvests. He provides us with the seeds that He wants planted. Isaiah 55:10 is informative here.

“As the rain and snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater.”

The physical reality of this verse seems clear, but there is a much deeper spiritual meaning. The Lord gives believers prayer-seeds for them to plant in the lives of others. This is where the cycle of mystery harvests begin. Just as in the physical world, the planted seed sets in motion the coming unseen harvest, so too with prayer-seeds. We receive an urge to pray for someone. This is a prayer-seed. We can choose to ignore it, leave it unplanted, and there will be no harvest. Or, we can act upon the urge, and plant the prayer-seed and the Lord of the Harvest will see to its germination and ultimately it becoming a full harvest. From unseen seed to yet unseen harvest – mystery harvest.

Once the prayer-seed is planted in another, we can then celebrate the unseen mystery harvest in their life. And of course, we do this by our declaring the coming harvest – by our celebration of harvest.

Scripture is teeming with this truth, its everywhere! Here is but one example from Genesis 26:12:

“Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year a hundredfold: and the LORD blessed him.”

Now it’s not just that Isaac sowed in the land but earlier in the chapter we learned that there was a famine throughout the land. Isaac sowed in a place of stark famine. The land was totally unfit for risking all his seed. Yet, Isaac was a believer in mystery harvests. I do not want to digress too far into the concept of sowing and reaping, that can come sometime later, but I would like to stress that we are to celebrate mystery harvests. We are to consider them as part of our inheritance.

We are given prayer-seed in order to effect the lives of others. Consider Psalm 126:6:

“He that goes forth weeping, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.”

This is wonderful encouragement. We have been gifted with prayer-seeds set aside for us to plant in the lives of others. These are indeed precious seeds. We lift up others in prayer, often weeping for them as we do so. Our tears water the seed and the Lord promises we will be rewarded when we are accompanied by them into the presence of God. They will be the mystery harvests – His sheaves – of our prayers. And as we plant our prayer-seed into their lives we are then to rejoice and celebrate the absolute certainty of a mystery harvest.

So, as we celebrate this Thanksgiving weekend let us be truly thankful.

Let us not wait until our circumstances change before we celebrate, celebrate in spite of our circumstances. There are harvests on their way, they cannot be hindered nor stopped, the Lord of the Harvest will see to it.

In conclusion let me quote Genesis 8:22:

“While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night will not cease.”

Seedtime and harvest will continue as long as the earth remains. Let us continue to plant our prayer-seeds, looking expectantly for the sure mystery harvests to come. Let us celebrate and rejoice while we await their arrivals. Amen

1  The Book of Mysteries day 126, Jonathan Cahn.

2  ibid

3  ibid

4  ibid

5  ibid

6  ibid

 

Pastoral Prayer

This week let us choose to Praise the Lord with Thanksgiving

according to the Holy Scriptures. Here are a few to start with,

over the course of the week, perhaps you could find a few more…….

 

Please read aloud:

Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among

the nations what he has done.

Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts.

Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord

rejoice. – Psalm 105:1-3

 

In God we have boasted continually, and we will give thanks to

Your Name forever. – Psalm 44:8

 

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His steadfast love endures forever. – Psalm 106:1 

For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive,
And abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You. 

Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer;

And attend to the voice of my supplications. In the day of my

trouble I will call upon You, For You will answer me. 

Among the gods there is none like You, O Lord;

Nor are there any works like Your works. All nations whom

You have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord,
And shall glorify Your name. For You are great, and do

wondrous things;
You alone are God. Teach me Your way, O Lord;

I will walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name. 

I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart,

And I will glorify Your name forevermore. For great is Your

mercy toward me, – Psalm 86:1-13a

 

 

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,  

Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness,

And for His wonderful works to the children of men!
For He satisfies the longing soul,
And fills the hungry soul with goodness. – Psalm 107:1-2a,8-9

 

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;

let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.

Let us come before him with thanksgiving

and extol him with music and song. – Psalm 95:1-2

 

Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands!
Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before His presence with singing.
Know that the Lord, He is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
For the Lord is good;
His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations. – Psalm 100:1-5

 

We give thanks to You, O God, we give thanks!
For Your wondrous works declare that Your name is near. – Psalm 75:1

 

I will extol the Lord at all times;
His praise will always be on my lips.
I will glory in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together. – Psalm 34:1-3

 

I will praise the name of God with a song,
And will magnify Him with thanksgiving.

Let heaven and earth praise Him,
The seas and everything that moves in them. – Psalm 69:30,34

 

I thank you, Lord, with all my heart;
I sing praise to you before the gods.
I face your holy Temple, bow down, and praise your name
because of your constant love and faithfulness,
because you have shown that your name and your commands

are supreme. – Psalm 138:1-2

 

I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness;
I will sing the name of the Lord Most High. – Psalm 7:17

 

I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart;
I will tell of all Your marvelous works.
I will be glad and rejoice in You;
I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High. – Psalm 9:1-2

 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation,

by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your

requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends

all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds

in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7

 

All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more

and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the

glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart….. inwardly we are

being renewed day by day. – 2 Corinthians 4:15-16

Father God, bless each one of us as we walk through the coming days with thankful hearts, praising Your name, who You are, what You have done and what You will do in the future as we plant seeds of prayer and praise. We wholeheartedly celebrate the harvest that is here now and rejoice also over the mystery harvest that is yet to come. Hallelujah!

In Jesus name, amen.

 

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