“[Jesus] said to His disciples, ‘The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest’” (Matthew 9:37-38).
Jesus declared, “The fields are ripe and the harvest plentiful and it’s time to begin reaping.” At that moment, the great, final spiritual harvest began and this same harvest is going to last until Christ returns.
So what did Jesus see in his time? Did he see a spiritual awakening in Israel? Was there revival in the synagogues? Were priests returning back to God? The Gospels reveal very little evidence of any spiritual move toward God; if anything, they show the opposite. Yet, at this very point Christ declared that the fields were ripe.
Do you think Jesus’ words regarding a ripe harvest apply today? Are nations repenting? Is there a great stirring in our society? Is there a cry for holiness in this generation?
With few exceptions, such things are not happening. When Jesus’ disciples wanted to know the condition of things as the last days approached, he answered by speaking of famines, earthquakes, tribulation, divided nations, false prophets. “On the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear” (Luke 21:25-26). In short, Jesus is describing here the most anxious, depressed, stressed-out generation of all time.
In the midst of all this upheaval and turmoil, Jesus is telling his church, “People are ready to hear. Now is the time to believe for a harvest.” Christ is the Lord of the harvest and if he declares the harvest is ready, we must believe it. It does not matter how wicked this generation becomes or how powerful Satan seems to have grown, our Lord is saying to us, “Raise up your eyes to the harvest!”
Jesus is seeking laborers who have endured fires and forgings, a people who will stand before the world and proclaim, “God is with me! I have come through more than a conqueror through Christ who lives in me. I am living proof that Jesus is all-sufficient.”
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5).
“But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16).
These exhortations from the apostle Paul are telling the people of God, “Let the mind that is in Christ — the very thinking of Jesus — be your thinking, also. His mindset is the one we all are to seek.”
What does it mean to have the mind of Christ? Simply put, it means to think and act as Jesus did, making Christ-like decisions that determine how we are to live. Every time we look into the mirror of God’s Word, we are to ask ourselves, “Do I reflect the nature of Christ? Am I changing from image to image, conformed to Jesus’ likeness by every experience that God brings into my life?”
According to Paul, “[Christ] made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:7). Jesus made a covenant with the Father to lay down his heavenly glory and come to earth as a man. For Christ, this meant saying, “I go to do your will, Father.” Indeed, Jesus determined ahead of time, “I am laying down my will in order to do yours, Father. Everything I say and do has to come from you and I will be totally dependent on you.”
In turn, the Father’s covenant agreement with the Son was to reveal his will to him. God was saying, in essence, “You will always know what I am doing and how I am doing it. You will have my mind.”
Many people today who claim to be followers of Jesus have never made a decision to live as the Lord did. Instead, they live comfortably with their flesh — their bad tempers, their character flaws, their bosom sins. And they have never wanted to change, explaining, “That’s just my nature; it’s the way I am.”
But when Paul boldly states, “I have the mind of Christ,” he is declaring, “Like Jesus, I have taken on the role of a servant.” And Paul asserts that the same holds true of every believer: “We can all have the mind of Christ” (see 1 Corinthians 2:16).
“If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25). The apostle Paul gives us this very simple instruction in plain terms, “If the Holy Spirit is living in you, let him have full control of your life.”
We are all to be led by the Spirit. He was sent to be our constant, infallible guide, and he abides in all who confess Christ as Lord and Savior. Most Christians have no trouble accepting that the Holy Spirit leads us to Jesus, and we have no problem believing that the Spirit is continually at work in us at every moment.
We give honor to the Spirit, we preach about him, we teach on his gifts and fruit, and most of us have called on him for comfort in times of crisis. We pray to him, seek, him, beseech him to rend the heavens and revive his church, and experience genuine manifestations of his indwelling. But it seems we know very little about what it means to walk in the Spirit.
Understanding the truth about walking in the Spirit could deliver many from confusion, strife, distress, indecision, even lusts of the flesh. So, what is this truth? Paul has summed it up clearly: Surrender your will to the Holy Spirit and trust his still, small voice to direct you in all things. In fact, the Word of God says, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord” (Psalm 37:23). And who does the ordering? The Holy Spirit!
The flesh has its own stubborn will and acts as it pleases. It does whatever it chooses and then asks God to bless those choices, declaring, “God gave me a sound mind and I can make intelligent choices. I don’t have to wait on him for direction.” But even Christ himself said, “I can of Myself do nothing … because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me” (John 5:30). Just as Jesus waited on the Father, always seeking to have his mind, we are to follow his perfect example.
Forgiveness is not just a one-time act but a way of life, meant to bring us into every blessing in Christ. “I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:44-45).
According to Jesus, forgiveness is not a matter of picking or choosing whom we would forgive. We cannot say, “You’ve hurt me too much to forgive.” Christ tells us, “For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” (5:46).
No matter who your grudge is against, if you hold onto it, it will lead to bitterness that poisons every aspect of your life. Unforgiveness brings on spiritual famine, weakness, and a loss of faith that afflicts everyone in your circle.
Forgiveness transforms lives, causing the windows of heaven to open. It fills our cup of spiritual blessing to the brim with abundant peace, joy and rest in the Holy Ghost. Jesus’ teaching on this subject is very specific, and if you want to move in the wonderful realm of blessing, then heed his words.
“If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15). Make no mistake! God is not making a bargain with us here, saying, “Because you have forgiven others, I will forgive you.” Rather, Jesus is saying, “Full confession of sin requires that you forgive others. True repentance means confessing and forsaking every grudge, crucifying every trace of bitterness toward others.”
“Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you ... For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:37-38). This goes hand in hand with his Beatitude from the same sermon: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7). He wants you to forgive others so that you can move into the blessings and joy of sonship.
Most of my life I had a rather distorted concept of shepherds. When I heard Bible stories about the shepherd David, I pictured him sitting on a rock, playing his harp and watching the sheep as they quietly grazed around him. But I got a completely different picture of shepherds when I observed them firsthand in Romania a few years ago. These hard-working men were constantly searching for places with fresh grass to eat and water to drink. They were up early in the morning, leading the sheep and tending to their needs, and returned after a full day of wandering, usually working at least fourteen-hour days.
David is a perfect example of a shepherd-warrior — one who could fight, nurture and sing at the same time. The heart of a shepherd is unselfish, willing to give up his own life for his sheep. Also, the heart of a shepherd is protective and sacrificial. Often enemy prey threatens the sheep and the shepherd must be on alert at all times. David told King Saul when he was wanting to fight the giant Goliath: “Your servant used to keep his father’s sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth” (1 Samuel 17:34-35).
This is definitely not a shepherd who was taking long naps in the afternoon sun, strumming on his harp and taking it easy. No, he was alert and ready to do battle. And David was an amazing warrior. He went from victory to victory with a singing heart.
God does not make us just warriors, he also makes us worshippers. He causes us to sing regardless of what the enemy throws at us. David had a song when the lions came at him and when bears threatened him because he knew how to encourage himself in the Lord. He sang: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want … He restores my soul” (Psalm 23:1-3).