Monday, August 29, 2016
Download MP3 (right click to save)
My wife grew up on a small farm where her Mom and Dad and she and her sister were all the hands they could afford. It was a lot of hard work and it was a struggle to survive. So even though I'm a city boy, I care about the struggles that a lot of independent farmers have today. In many cases, it seems like a struggle to survive; especially with so many large, corporate-type farms coming on the scene. But I was heartened to read a while back, an article about a new idea that some are trying with a fair degree of success. Basically, these farmers have customers who pre-order what they would like to buy, and the farmer then plants it and sells it to them later. So if I wanted so much corn or so much beans, I'd order that and even do some pre-paying for it – which takes some of the pressure of upfront expenses off the farmer. In a sense, it's buying a share of the harvest before the harvest comes in – and then enjoying the fruits of your investment when it does.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "High Yield Investing."
Jesus lived in an agricultural society, so He talked a lot about harvest. He used it as a picture of sowing the seed of His Gospel in people's lives and then ultimately bringing them into a personal relationship with Him. And He gives each of us an amazing opportunity – to, in essence, buy a share of the harvest before it comes in, and to enjoy the fruits of the harvest with Him for all eternity. He literally offers us a chance to take what we have and make it into something eternal; to actually eternalize it by investing it in the very work of God on this planet.
In Matthew 6:19-21, our word for today from the Word of God, Jesus described the highest yield investing there is. Talk about an ROI (Return On Investment), this is it. He said, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal." Translation: any earth-thing you invest in is "loseable." "But store up for yourselves in heaven where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal." Translation: any eternal work you invest in is "unloseable." And then Jesus does this spiritual EKG – "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." And that's true. Whatever your money and goods are tied up in is going to be your heart-focus.
Sadly, many believers don't understand what equal partners they are in the spiritual harvest of those they support in ministry. In John 4, Jesus told His followers to "open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest." He could have said that about our world today. Billions of people ready for a Savior like Jesus, if only there was someone to show them what He can do. Jesus went on to explain that the reaper "harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together." Do you realize that when you give to help people be reached for Christ, you are sowing seed in Jesus' harvest field? And Jesus considers the contribution of the sower and the reaper, the one who actually brings in the harvest, to be the same.
God's accounting plan goes like this, as revealed in Paul's request in Philippians 4:17, "Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account." In other words, every person Paul led to Christ would appear in the heavenly account of those whose gifts made his work possible! So as you give and sacrifice to support God's harvesters, you're literally buying an eternal share of the harvest.
Friends of ours confided that when they first got married and had very little, they decided that a tithe was only meant to be a starting point. They decided to add a percent of their income the next year. So, when they gave, they gave 11%. They've now done that every year for 50 years of marriage!
There's a song, "Thank You" that was popular a few years ago – has the right idea. It describes the scene in heaven when you meet someone who is there because you gave to the rescue work of Jesus. It says, "Thank you for giving to the Lord. I am a life that was changed. Thank you for giving to the Lord. I am so glad you gave." You'll be glad, too – forever.