This day represents the harvest--an enjoyment of what has been given and worked for all year long. For many, it is a time to remember all the blessings that are in one's life, yet it is a lonely time for some.
The Lord is reminding us that it is a time to give thanks to His name--the giver of all good things--and to remember that no matter our situation in life, Jesus loves us, is calling us back to a relationship with our Creator, and He is faithful to His promise of eternal life for all who believe.
There is a harvest to come, as the parable of the sower in Matthew 13 shows us. Seed is down by the road, on rocky places, among thorns and in good soil. The word of eternal life from the King of kings is offered to all--to "fakers," "flakers," "makers," and "shakers."
The Fakers are those who in their heart still value what God calls evil. They have not truly turned from the way, or road, which leads to death.
The Flakers are those who lack resolve to follow the Lord, and they do not walk in obedience to Him when things get hard. They may have a shallow faith.
The Makers are those who think they can make a life for themselves, maybe even earn everlasting life. Maybe they have even said a prayer of salvation, but Jesus is not enough for them. These self-centered will not see true fruit despite their efforts.
The shakers are those who rest in God's faithfulness, who experience victory in the eternal life, and they increasingly display Christ to those around them as He causes the growth. They are the ones whom God is using to share His message of hope and to ask the question, "What kind of person are you going to be when God's harvest of souls comes?" We do not know the day or the hour, so let's be ready. Let us be found faithful as Jesus is faithful.
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”
Observations / Interpretations
-Crucified with Christ—What Jesus experienced should be my experience. His flesh was put to death, and so was mine. All who accept Christ—having been baptized into Him— are now free from sin (Romans 6:6-7). POWER of sin, not just past actions.
-No longer I who live; Christ lives in me—my life does not belong to me. Freed from sin, we are now constrained to live the new life (Romans 6:4). newness of life: Romans 6:11
-Live by faith in the Son of God—Paul knows who Jesus is—who He proved Himself to be. He rose from the dead, proving He was indeed the Son of God. Therefore, the “life which I now live” is a resurrected life, and one that has to be lived by faith. It is not necessarily a life that can be physically seen, at least not right now.
-Who loved me and gave Himself up for me—everything Jesus has done is out of His love for us, the ultimate proof of which is Him giving up His life for us.
-I do not nullify the grace of God--grace instead of wrath! (Rom. 6:23)
For if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly. (cite a few 10 commandments, ask who has never broken). The grace of God is what empowers a person to live a righteous life. The righteous life is not something which can be done through a set of rules and practices by human effort. The righteous life is the resurrected life of Christ working in a person. MY RIGHTEOUSNESS IS BASED ON HIS PERFORMANCE—NOT MINE.
By the grace of God, a person can be put to death and be given a new life pleasing to God—CHRIST’S LIFE.—The Exchanged Life.
Watch the video above for application points and for an illustration. The diagrams in the sermon were used by permission of Grace Fellowship International (https://gracefellowshipinternational.com/), specifically from Charles R. Solomon's Handbook to Happiness.
A father took his 2-year-old son on a hiking trip to the Appalachian Trail. They pulled in to the trailhead and the father got a brand new backpack out of the car, as the son looked on with glee.
"Ok, son, this is going to be a long, hard walk, but I know this trail well. Stay close to me and listen to my instructions and we'll get to the top of the mountain safely."
Before the father could finish his pep-talk, the little boy grabbed the backpack, stuffed in a few of his favorite toys, and ran to the trailhead, looking back at his father with a huge smile on his face.
The father smiled back with joy over his son's eagerness to walk with him. So they began the trek. As they went, the son would stop to look at all the beautiful leaves and rocks, stuffing the backpack full. The terrain began to get rough, and the son continued to struggle.
"You okay, son?" the father asked.
"Uh...yeah?" the son said sheepishly. Then he sat down and began to cry.
"Oh, my dear son. Let's empty this backpack of all this worthless stuff. This isn't why I gave it to you--to fill it with everything in the world. I gave it to you so you will know that I can carry you. I love you and I want you to enjoy this trip." The father said this tenderly as his son looked up at him with teary eyes and reached up to his wise, able Father.
The rest of the trip, the son sat in the backpack with his arms wrapped around his father's neck. They both felt so much joy as they walked and talked together--and the view at the top was truly magnificent.
The Lord, our Heavenly Father, is looking to support a dependent people. The little boy, while eager to walk with the father and excited for the journey, did not understand the nature of the relationship nor the dangers ahead. Too often, Christians trust in Jesus Christ for salvation yet forget the implications of eternal life given in the present time. We need to remain teachable, recognizing our need of Him every moment of every day.
Jesus said, "I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. ... Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light" (Matthew 11:25, 28-30).
The wise and intelligent think they know how to live life, to "carry their own weight," so to speak. Jesus is not telling us to take His yoke upon us and figure things out. No. Our burden is our very life. He is simply offering to carry us.
Are you among the "wise and intelligent," as Jesus said, or are you okay with being dependent on the Lord?
The one who in his heart loves God's righteousness more than anything will see a mighty work of God. To find our life in Christ alone, rather than anything in this world including ministry, is the wisdom by which souls will truly be saved. We can rest in that as we labor in our faithful efforts which in this time may seem unfruitful.
To force "results" can be deceptive wages. A tree takes a long time to grow, and those who take its fruit can most definitely not give it life...to sow righteousness is to put our fleshly efforts to death by the power of the Holy Spirit...
"The wicked earns deceptive wages, but he who sows righteousness gets a true reward" (Proverbs 11:18).
"The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who is wise wins souls" (Proverbs 11:30).
"...God was causing the growth...each will receive his own reward...you are God's field..." (1 Cor 3:5-9).
"I will most gladly spend and be expended for your souls..." (2 Cor. 12:15)
We have nothing to gain, as we already have everything we need in Christ!
REST IN GOD'S GRACE.
" 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me" (2 Corinthians 12:9).
This is the blog of Tyler Shepard, the Associate Pastor for Centre Union Church in Yeagertown, PA.
I hope you are encouraged and challenged to walk more closely with Jesus Christ!