|Into the Harvest
|By Hal Lindsey
World systems are stretched to the breaking point. These are days of difficulty and pain. And it will get worse — if not now, then soon. But there is good news. God has made it possible for human beings to connect with Him, hear His words, and know His thoughts. He wants to adopt people into His family. And, human nature being what it is, difficulty and pain make people more likely to hear God’s words. For those of us who long to see strangers and loved ones alike become part of God’s forever family, the difficulties of our time provide a unique opportunity.
In Matthew 9, we see Jesus going from town to town, healing the sick and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom. The miraculous healings drew big crowds. Some people came because they wanted to be healed, while others just came for the big show. They were all sinners. In some cases, they were there with bad motivations. Most were poor and needy. Glamorous, they were not.
But as the old song goes, Jesus saw beyond their faults and saw their needs. Matthew 9:36 says, “And seeing the multitudes, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and downcast like sheep without a shepherd.”
Sheep without a shepherd wander aimlessly in hope of food. They are susceptible to attacks from predators. They’re frightened and lost. Without the Good Shepherd, people are like that, too.
The Bible says Jesus felt “compassion.” The Greek here speaks of being deeply moved. It says that Jesus felt strong emotion as he looked out over them, aware of their pain and helplessness. In response, Jesus gave His disciples a direct command. In Matthew 9:37-38, He said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.”
This is not a “prayer request.” It is a “prayer command.” Jesus told them (and us) to pray that God would send forth laborers into the harvest. That means to ask God to send people into the world with God’s message of grace. It doesn’t just mean send speakers, but all kinds of laborers. Carpenters working in the kingdom of God send the message of grace. So do secretaries, artists, truck drivers, computer technicians, and all manner of laborers working on foreign mission fields, in local churches, and in lots of other ways.
We have the message that the world desperately needs. And we have that message at an hour when more and more people are beginning to realize that they have a need. They may not have identified the need. But when they hear the gospel, millions of them will have an ah-ha moment. They will say, “That’s it! That’s what I’ve been missing and needing!”
The devil responds by trying to keep Christians focused solely on themselves and their own needs. He works to weaken and compromise them. He does everything he can to keep the laborers away from the harvest. And if he cannot keep them away, he has a plan B — make them ineffective.
When you pray that the Lord will send forth laborers into the harvest, you are not just praying for young people, but Christians of all ages and backgrounds. You are praying for their health, vigor, and for their financial needs to be met. You are praying that believers arm themselves with the word of God and with the shield of faith. You are praying that obstacles to service be removed and that believers be filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit.
You are praying for all your fellow believers in Jesus, and you are praying for yourself.
|By Hal Lindsey
“You are My friends,” Jesus said in John 15:14-15, “if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.”
In the history of the world and back, there’s no other statement quite like that. The Creator of everything chooses to call a group of human beings “friends.” It staggers my mind to know that His proclamation of friendship includes me. I hope it includes you, too. If not, it can.
John 1:3 tells us something about the One who calls us “friends.” It says, “All things were made by Him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” Think of the universe — what we can see and what we cannot see. He made every galaxy and every atom in the whole thing. And He calls us “friends.”
The word for friend used here is the Greek word, “philos.” “Friend” is a good, but slightly inadequate word for it. It carries a connotation of “dear friend.” “Philos” is related to the Greek word for brotherly love — “phileo.” It’s that kind of strong and personal friendship.
Jesus spoke of bringing His friends into His confidence. Through Himself, He reveals everything we need to know about God. He shares with us the high counsels of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He brings us into the loop. We don’t know everything that the Triune God knows. But we can know true and crucial things about Him because Jesus revealed Him to us.
He invites us to join in a conversation with Him through prayer and Bible study. He has made us His confidants. What greater privilege can there be than to know Him in this close, personal, and loving way — to be His friend.
Peter, Paul, James, and Jude begin New Testament letters by calling themselves bondservants of Christ. We, too, should see ourselves in that way. We don’t have to understand God’s actions in order to obey His commands. We will not always understand, and He never owes us an explanation. However, despite the fact that we don’t know everything, Jesus brings us into the loop on the most important things.
Not only does He share His thoughts with us, He invites us to share our thoughts with Him. We call it prayer.
Biblical friendship includes the idea of being at peace with someone. You can be at peace with God through His grace. And there’s something else you should know about biblical friendship. It stands strong no matter what. Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times.”
If you want to have that kind of closeness with God, then receive Jesus Christ into your life. Receive His gift of pardon. He will clean the ledger of all your sins. You will be at peace with Him. And, in that moment, your eternal destiny will change.