It’s Harvest Time!

There is nothing more important to a farmer than harvest.  It is the culmination of all his efforts.  He has withstood the freezing temperatures early in the season, the excess rains in the spring and the scorching sun of the summer.  He has overcome the insects, weeds and wild animals that preyed on his crops.  Now, waiting in the field is the fruit of his labor.  The harvest is ready!

Everything has been leading up to this time.  Many people would have given up.  Many would have considered the challenges and never gone to the trouble to even plant.  But the experienced farmer had the hope of harvest.  It was this hope of harvest that kept him going.  Now he is rewarded.

There are very few events in nature that have greater spiritual application than that of the harvest.  For many years we in ministry have been sowing seed.  We have had many obstacles to work through – it has not always been easy.  Some gave up but many kept plowing the fields and planting the seed.  We have sown and watered believing one day God would give the increase.  The hope of harvest has not let us quit.  And now…it is harvest time!

As we approach this most critical time, there are three truths that must not be forgotten:  harvest is urgent; not all harvest is ripe; and the neglected harvest will be lost.

Harvest Time Is Urgent!  Nothing can stand between the farmer and the harvest.  There may be other things that need to be done but they will have to wait – it is harvest time.  Next week may be a more convenient time but that is too bad – it is harvest time.  The farmer may wake up with a headache and sore throat, but he will just have to work through it – it is harvest time.  Every excuse – regardless of their legitimacy – will have to be ignored.  The harvest demands full attention.  It will not wait for anything.

Growing up in the southwestern part of the United States, I have visited many little sleepy towns during wheat harvest.  I have watched those towns that normally roll up the sidewalks at 6:00 come alive when it is harvest time.  Every motel is full and RVs are parked everywhere they can be.  People from all over the country have been hired and brought in to help bring in the wheat.  Late into the night you can hear the combines humming in the fields.  Business really picks up during harvest season!

The reason for the sense of urgency is well documented.  Harvest time is also storm season.  Everyone in the region knows to keep an eye on the sky.  They know weather conditions can change very quickly.  A severe storm can wipe out in just a few minutes everything the farmer has worked months to accomplish.  This realization calls for an “all hands-on deck – we’ve got to get it done” attitude.  Veteran farmers are serious about the harvest.

This is exactly the truth Jesus was trying to communicate to His disciples concerning the spiritual harvest in John 4:35 when He said, “Do you not say, There are still four months and then comes the harvest?  Behold I say to you, lift up your eyes and look to the fields, for they are already white for harvest.”  You can hear the urgency in His words – the harvest is ready.  He even says it is past ready.  Jesus is saying there is no time to wait – it is harvest time!

Before a full appreciation for the harvest can be experienced by today’s church a genuine sense of urgency must take over.  For many years we have been teaching evangelism and developing strategies to win our cities for Jesus.  At some point we must leave the pew and the classroom and move to the streets, neighborhoods and marketplace.  While we say there is four months before the harvest; Jesus is saying the fields are already white for harvest.  We cannot keep seeing the harvest as an event to come; it must become an assignment to complete.

Not All Harvest Is Ripe.  As I am writing this blog, I am very aware throughout my community many people are actively involved in planting vegetable gardens.  In a few weeks, these gardens will begin to produce a wonderful array of vegetables that will grace dinner tables, be shared with friends and neighbors (of which I hope I will be a part!) and stock freezers to be enjoyed later in the year.  This really is my favorite time of the year!

A simple truth every gardener knows is – everything in the garden does not ripen at the same time.  A tomato plant, today, may have multiple green tomatoes on it but only one that is red.  The gardener will harvest the red one and come back tomorrow to see if others are ready to be picked.  Harvest is a developmental process – you wait for it to be ready.

This principle must not be lost as we consider the spiritual harvest.  Not everyone is ready at the same time.  The key is not to lose the ripened harvest while waiting on a desired harvest to become ripened.

Many times there are those dear to us we so desperately want to see saved.  We witness to them.  We pray for them.  We do everything within our power to win them to the Lord, but they do not respond.  What should we do when this happens – keep witnessing; keep praying; keep doing everything within your power to win them to the Lord but… do not miss others around you who are ready while you work on someone who is not.  Don’t give up on anybody…but don’t overlook that one God has put in your path who is ready right now to accept the Lord.

The prayer of the soulwinner must be, “Lord, make me sensitive to the ripened harvest.  Lead me to those who are hungry to know you.  Don’t let me overlook any soul you place in my path.”

Now, please hear me – this act of responding to the ripened harvest does not mean you are giving up on your unsaved loved ones.  I believe this is an instance where God’s laws of “give and it shall be given to you” and “you reap what you sow” can come in.  While you are allowing the Holy Spirit to use you to bring to faith someone you may not even know or have relationship with, He will be moving on the heart of your loved one.  They may not be ready today but hold on!  The harvest in your home will come in!

The Neglected Harvest Will Be Lost.  I learned this lesson many years ago at my one and only attempt to have a small garden.  I broke up a little area of ground behind our house and planted a few tomato and pepper plants.  I did my best to take care of them until it came time for our family vacation.  We were away for just over a week.  When we returned the weeds in the garden were green, but my plants were not.  The little bit of fruit on the vines had withered and was worthless.  My little garden had died because of my neglect.

It is a simple fact – there is a shelf life for the harvest.  As I have already mentioned, it will not wait for us and it will not last forever.  There is a short time span for reaping.  If you miss this time, the crop in the field is lost forever.

This truth must resonate in the spirit of every believer.  We may have the best of intentions and our evangelism strategy has been well thought out.  As soon as this or that is done and a few other things work out, we are going to launch into the harvest.  But just remember, while we are waiting, souls are dying.  The neglected harvest is lost.

I remember hearing a song in church when I was a little boy titled Harvest Time.  It was written in 1949 by a lady named Wanda Smith.  The chorus reads,

          Harvest time, harvest time,
          The grain is falling, the Savior’s calling;
          Oh, do not wait!  It’s growing late,
          Behold, the fields are white, it’s harvest time.

We sang that song like we meant it and if it was true then, it certainly must be true now.  There is a ripened harvest all around us.  I do not want to lose my harvest because of my neglect.

I began this article by saying nothing is more important to the farmer than the harvest.  I want to end it by saying nothing is more important to Jesus than the harvest.  Jesus came to this earth “to seek and to save that which was lost.”  His death on the cross was not about changing history; it was about changing eternity – changing eternity for everyone ever born.  Nothing means more to our Lord than souls.

Brothers and sisters, we have been talking about this day for a long time.  We have been planning, praying and working.  The hope of harvest has been motivation for us. Some gave up, but we did not.  Some will not see it, but we do.  Some may miss it, but we will not.  This is our time – this is our moment.  God has brought us to the Kingdom for such a time as this.  We will not fail. 

It is harvest time!

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