Abiding, Battles, Blessing, Completeness, Consequences, Destruction, God's Will, Goodness, Harvest

FRUIT BASKET

AMOS 8:1

“This is what the Lord GOD showed me, and behold, there was a basket of summer fruit.”

I love most fruit. I especially fresh fruit. I have been blessed to be in Uganda during pineapple season. Wow! If you’ve never eaten fresh pineapple, you have missed out. It is so sweet and juicy. Man, I want some now.

So, why did the Lord use this image to give a message to Amos. Albert Barnes says, “The sight gave an idea of completeness.” The end of the harvest had arrived. A sense of finality. That’s what Amos is implying here to Israel. They had come to their end.

APPLICATION

We will all come to our final day at some point. Only God knows when that will be. We must do all we can to prepare for that day. That preparation has to begin with our spiritual being. It belongs to God, so He draws us towards Himself. That wooing is intentional, but we have to choose to respond.

Have you done that? Don’t be like that basket of summer fruit that has reached its expiration date. All that can be done then is to throw it out. We are meant for so much more. Will you yield yourself to Jesus and allow Him to use you while you are here on this earth?

I don’t want to “spoil.” I want to be used in God’s eternal plan. There are times when I don’t do that well and other times when I do it extremely well. It all depends on my current walk with Him. That’s why it is so important to stay close to the Master. Will you do that today? Allow Him to use you.

God, You are so good to me. I don’t deserve anything You give me, but I am so thankful.

Standard
Affliction, Bible, Brokenness, Destruction, Discipline, Failures, Harvest

CROP FAILURE

AMOS 7:1

“This is what the Lord GOD showed me, and behold, He was forming a swarm of locusts when the spring crop began to sprout. And behold, the spring crop was after the king’s mowing.”

I have shared several times about my upbringing in Southwest Georgia. I grew up in a farming community. My uncle and cousins were farmers. So, I can relate to Amos’ descriptions of the crops and mowings. Crops are harvested according to their growth, not man’s schedule.

In verse 1 of chapter 7, we see Amos describing how God was judging Israel through crop failures. After the king’s mowing, which was probably the crop harvest that went to the king for taxes, they were hit with the locusts. This would have been devastating for the farmer. When their harvest is eaten up, they would have nothing to eat themselves or harvest to sell.

APPLICATION

We sometimes feel like our crops have failed. We may not be literally raising crops, but we are working and living in this world. Sometimes all our efforts fall short. It seems nothing we try to do works out. We are stuck and have no idea how to get unstuck.

Praise be to God! He knows exactly what we need to get unstuck. We need to turn to Him. Turn your attention to Jesus and allow Him to show you the way out. Offer to Him all your burdens. He can handle it. So, when your “crops fail,” let Jesus maintain your harvest.

I know I can never produce anything that is worthy of Jesus. Our efforts are rewarded by Him, but we must be willing to offer them as a sacrifice. Now, I don’t mean a literal sacrifice. I mean we have to sacrifice ourselves. That’s what God wants – us. Will you give it to Him today?

Lord, I am thankful for the privilege to give of myself. I want You to have all of me.

Standard
Accountability, Angels, Bible, Disciplemaking, Eternity, Harvest, Hope, Judgment

HARVEST TIME

JOEL 3:13

Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, tread the grapes, for the wine press is full; the vats overflow, for their wickedness is great.

I grew up in South Georgia in a very rural community. Farms were all around me. I had cousins, uncles and grandparents who were farmers. So, I understand harvest time. I grew up being a part of harvesting the crops. I distinctly remember bringing in beans, peas, corn and watermelons. Those were fond memories, and I am thankful I had that experience.

But Joel isn’t talking about that kind of harvest in today’s verse. He’s referring to an end time harvest. The enemies of Judah were going to be judged by a holy God. He is sending His angels to swing the sickle. Our enemies will one day be judged “for their wickedness is great.”

APPLICATION

Let me ask you a question. Are you ready for the harvest? One day the Lord is going to return for His church. Will you be taken up in that great harvest of believers across this world? In one blink of an eye, we will be taken up. Or will you be left behind to put the pieces together.

We are going through some challenges right now in my country. We are seeing store shelves empty. Prices are increasing. Things are getting tough. But can you imagine how it’s going to be after the Rapture? Can you imagine how countries around the world are going to react to the sudden loss of thousands of people? You don’t want to be here to see that.

I am so thankful that my “harvest ticket” has been punched. I know I’m going with the first trumpet. I’m ready. But I know too many people, including some family members, who will be left behind. That grieves me. Will you join me in praying for the lost? We don’t want to leave anyone behind.

Father, thank You for assuring my place in eternity. I do not fear the harvest of believers because I know I will be among them.

Standard
Battles, Bible, Blessing, Drought, Fruit, Harvest, Hope, Joy, Rejoicing

DON’T BE A SCAREDY CAT

JOEL 2:22

“Do not fear, animals of the field, for the pastures of the wilderness have turned green, for the tree has produced its fruit, the fig tree and the vine have yielded in full.”

Have you ever been around feral cats? You can’t get near them. They come out of the barns or bushes and look at you, but if you make one step toward them, they disappear. They hunt constantly for food and always look scrawny and underfed. It’s hard to see any animal like that – even a cat, lol.

Joel is spreading good news to even the animals. They have been suffering for so long with the drought and the locusts. They haven’t seen anything green to eat in quite a while. Now the Lord is turning the pastures green. He is bringing forth the fruit of the trees and the vines. The animals should be dancing with joy.

APPLICATION

What has the Lord restored in your life? Do you remember times when your needs were great, and the Lord came through and met just what you needed? The Lord always comes through – every time. He may be late, according to our timetable. But He’s not late according to His. Listen to this verse. “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not willing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance.”

Maybe you are going through a tough time right now and feel the Lord is not hearing your prayers. He is. I promise. Trust in His timetable. I am sure those people in Judah thought the Lord had forgotten them. But He showed up just when He planned. Our suffering is always to make us more like Him. Don’t complain about it. Embrace it and allow Him to bring you through.

I remember vividly the days after I came to Christ. The grass was greener, and the sky was bluer. I saw life for the first time in a long time. His promises are true. I learned I could trust Him. He brought me through some tough times to get me there. He has continued to bring me through. Each time I trust Him, He teaches me more.

O Mighty Father, I will wait on You. You have always come through and I know You always will.

Standard
Affliction, Battles, Bible, Courage, Destruction, Encouragement, God's Will, Harvest, Judgment, Modeling, Persecution, Scripture, Trouble

LOTS OF BUGS

JOEL 1:4

“What the gnawing locust has left, the swarming locust has eaten; and what the swarming locust has left, the creeping locust has eaten; and what the creeping locust has left, the stripping locust has eaten.”

I was hunting a couple of years ago during the very beginning of the deer season. It was still a little warm outside, so the mosquitos were still around. I got into my blind and got situated. I had applied repellent on my body. I even had a Therma cell unit working which is supposed to get rid of them. But that day nothing scared off those little pests. I eventually had to leave because of them.

Locusts aren’t mosquitos, but they are just as relenting. Joel recalls a severe locust infestation. Four different kinds are mentioned – gnawing, swarming, creeping and stripping. In other words, they left nothing. This would have been devastating for the economy which centered around the wheat and barley harvest. They couldn’t run out to the local supermarket and buy groceries.

APPLICATION

We face seasons like this in our lives. It may not be locusts, but jobs losses or medical issues can wipe us out. It’s strange to me that people who trust God with their eternity can’t trust Him with their paychecks. I used to be one of them. I fretted about everything. I usually didn’t tell anyone. I kept it all inside which is not good.

Are you fretting over something right now? Let God have it. He is big enough to handle anything you are facing. It’s been said that anything over our heads is under His feet. I like that. God stands above and beyond any trouble we encounter. Will you trust Him with your crops today?

Locusts don’t scare me because I don’t live in an area where they are an issue. I have to battle taking back from the Lord what I have laid at His feet. Will you pray with me today that we won’t do that? Once He has it, let Him have it. There is too much work to do for the kingdom to let locusts bother us.

Thank You, Father, for delivering me from the fear and dread of locusts in my life. Help me persevere through any troubles that may come my way.

LOTS OF BUGS

JOEL 1:4

“What the gnawing locust has left, the swarming locust has eaten; and what the swarming locust has left, the creeping locust has eaten; and what the creeping locust has left, the stripping locust has eaten.”

I was hunting a couple of years ago during the very beginning of the deer season. It was still a little warm outside, so the mosquitos were still around. I got into my blind and got situated. I had applied repellent on my body. I even had a Therma cell unit working which is supposed to get rid of them. But that day nothing scared off those little pests. I eventually had to leave because of them.

Locusts aren’t mosquitos, but they are just as relenting. Joel recalls a severe locust infestation. Four different kinds are mentioned – gnawing, swarming, creeping and stripping. In other words, they left nothing. This would have been devastating for the economy which centered around the wheat and barley harvest. They couldn’t run out to the local supermarket and buy groceries.

APPLICATION

We face seasons like this in our lives. It may not be locusts, but jobs losses or medical issues can wipe us out. It’s strange to me that people who trust God with their eternity can’t trust Him with their paychecks. I used to be one of them. I fretted about everything. I usually didn’t tell anyone. I kept it all inside which is not good.

Are you fretting over something right now? Let God have it. He is big enough to handle anything you are facing. It’s been said that anything over our heads is under His feet. I like that. God stands above and beyond any trouble we encounter. Will you trust Him with your crops today?

Locusts don’t scare me because I don’t live in an area where they are an issue. I have to battle taking back from the Lord what I have laid at His feet. Will you pray with me today that we won’t do that? Once He has it, let Him have it. There is too much work to do for the kingdom to let locusts bother us.

Thank You, Father, for delivering me from the fear and dread of locusts in my life. Help me persevere through any troubles that may come my way.

Standard
Accountability, Belief, Betrayal, Bible, Choices, Deception, Harvest, Lies, Righteousness, Scripture, Surrender

IF YOU SOW WILD OATS…

HOSEA 10:13

You have plowed wickedness, you have harvested injustice, you have eaten the fruit of lies. Because you have trusted in your way, in your many warriors,”

I can remember my dad, before he became a believer, talking about young men sowing their “wild oats.” He was referring to guys living immorally. Of course, before my dad became a believer, he didn’t understand that kind of talk was wrong. He didn’t understand that kind of living was against the will of God. He was just living naturally, according to the world.

But if you sow wild oats, you are going to reap wild oats. Look back at the previous verse in Hosea 10. We were given the picture of how to sow and reap properly. Today’s verse shows us what happens when you sow wickedness. You reap injustice. You can’t rely on your own strength. You can’t trust your way. It will always let you down. It will always fill you with lies.

APPLICATION

Let me ask you a question. Which do you prefer, mercy or injustice, truth or lies? Unless you are really messed up, I know which you prefer. No one likes to be lied to. No one likes injustice. We all want to be treated fairly. So, we must sow the right seed in our lives.

Aren’t you tired of trying to do things your own way? Aren’t you sick of picking up pieces of your life? I am not promising you that your life will be a bed of roses if you accept the Lord as your Savior or surrender it fully to Him. You may still have struggles. But with Him, all the struggles make sense. You have someone to carry you through.

I have lived with enough lies and untruths in my life. I don’t want to live that way. Once I experienced the grace of Jesus, there was no turning back. A.W. Tozer said, “O God, I have tasted Your goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirst for more.” Amen!

O Lord, protect me from sowing wickedness. Keep me from reaping injustice. I want to trust only in You.

Standard
Accountability, Bible, Bondslaves, Harvest, Modeling, Perseverance, Sowing

HARVEST TIME

HOSEA 10:12

Sow for yourselves, with a view to righteousness; harvest in accordance with kindness. Break up your uncultivated ground, for it is time to seek the LORD until He comes and rains righteousness on you.”

Man, O man, I love harvest time. There is just something about harvesting things you have planted. I used to have great gardens. I don’t have a space for it anymore. But picking squash and tomatoes, green beans and corn. Yum, I can just taste those fresh vegetables.

The Lord tells us in today’s verse to “sow…with a view to righteousness.” He also says to “harvest in accordance with kindness.” Look at that. Righteousness and kindness. Those were two things that Israel was lacking during those days. But the Lord still expected that, just as He expects it from us.

APPLICATION

Just how righteous are you? Now I know any righteousness we have comes from Jesus. Right? He makes us righteous through His shed blood. But as we are made righteous, we shall live that way. Everything we do (sow) should be done in righteousness. And then we shall reap in kindness.

Galatians 6:7-9 says, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a person sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will reap destruction from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit. Let’s not become discouraged in doing good, for in due time we will reap, if we do not become weary.” Take this to heart.

Sowing and reaping go hand in hand. Whatever we choose to sow, we shall reap. It’s really our choice. I choose righteousness because I want kindness and mercy. Don’t you?

Father, I desire Your righteousness and mercy. I want to sow to please You.

Standard
Abiding, Accountability, Bible, Commitment, Completeness, Disciplemaking, Following, Fruit, Glory, Harvest, Life, Modeling, Scripture, Surrender

IT LOOKS GOOD, BUT…

HOSEA 10:1

“Israel is a luxuriant vine; He produces fruit for himself. The more his fruit, the more altars he made; the richer his land, the better he made the memorial stones.”

My dad always had about three grape vines in our yard. They were muscadine vines. Every year we would pick those grapes and make jelly. My dad loved his jelly. But also, every year we had to cut back those vines so they could produce grapes and not just vines and leaves. A leafy vine is pretty but not very productive.

Today’s verse, at first glance, is confusing. It sounds like Israel is a good vine. But it actually means leafy and pretty, but not productive. And even when they did appear productive, they squandered their blessings on other gods, not Jehovah. Israel was not acknowledging their bounty as coming from the Lord.

APPLICATION

Your blessings are from above. You need to acknowledge that as a believer. And when you do acknowledge that, you need to give Him all the praise. It’s not about you. It’s all about Him. So, why do we try to toot our own horn? Why do we try to claim credit for it?

Maybe you’re one of those “leafy” Christians. You appear to be productive for the Lord, but you have no fruit. You look like a healthy Christian, but there is nothing in your life that points back to Jesus. You are all show and no go. You are missing out on the blessings He wants to bestow on you. He longs to show you how to be productive and bear fruit. But you must let Him in.

I have come to realize in my latter years that anything good in me is just Jesus. Anything I produce is for His glory and for the benefit of others. It has nothing to do with me. I am nothing outside of Christ. He deserves all the praise for any fruit in my life. I truly believe that. I don’t want any credit. It all belongs to Him.

Lord, I praise You for giving the opportunity to serve You and others. Help me be a productive believer for Your sake.

Standard
Abiding, Advice, Bible, Direction, Encouragement, Faith, Fruit, Harvest, Hope, Inspirational, Modeling, Obedience

NO ROOT, NO FRUIT

HOSEA 9:16

“Ephraim is stricken, their root is dried up, they will produce no fruit. Even though they give birth to children, I will put to death the precious ones of their womb.”

I had a great vegetable garden when I lived in South Carolina. I had both row gardens and raised beds. I could grow just about anything I wanted in that garden. But I discovered something about gardening there. If your vegetables don’t have a strong root system where they can absorb nutrients, you will get little if any fruit.

Hosea used this same imagery in today’s verse. God said Israel’s root was dried up so they couldn’t produce any fruit. Even if they were to give birth to children, they wouldn’t survive. The very fruit of their wombs would not last. They had no hope for a future.

APPLICATION

I hope you are rooted deep. What are you rooted in? If it isn’t Jesus and the word of God, then you are going to be fruitless. Isn’t that sad? Most of us want to be fruitful. We want to be used by the Lord, don’t we? So, we have to put down roots. How is that done?

We have to be committed to spending time with the Lord. We have to put down roots in prayer. We have to put down roots in studying His Word. Those roots will draw nourishment from that and produce fruit. Of course, any fruit we draw up belongs to the Lord. Our goal has to be to produce as much fruit as possible. And all that fruit is for others.

Fruit production is only as good as the soil and the plant. I have made the decision to guard my “plant” from being exposed to poor soil. I want to nourish it and allow it to flourish. I want to grow strong and produce as much fruit as possible. I pray that for you.

My roots will grow deep as I spend time with You, Lord. I know that healthy roots produce healthy fruit.

Standard
Accountability, Bible, Blessing, Choices, Commands, Disciplemaking, Following, Harvest, Judgment, Obedience, Scripture, Surrender

FALSE HARVEST

HOSEA 8:7

“For they sow wind and they harvest a storm. The standing grain has no kernels; it yields no grain. If it were to yield, strangers would swallow it.”

I have mentioned before that I grew up in Southwest Georgia in a very rural community. My Grandma Carter had a farm about 12 miles from our home where we used to go to harvest vegetables from her garden. I especially loved to pick the corn. Sometimes, though, the corn cobs would be underdeveloped. They weren’t good to eat. We wasted all that time in the harvest with nothing to show for it.

Israel was facing the same thing. Because of God’s judgment upon them, they would not be blessed in their harvests. In fact, nothing they did would be productive. There is a cost for rebellion. There are consequences for not obeying the Lord’s commands. They expected blessings but received nothing.

APPLICATION

Perhaps you are wondering why you are not receiving blessings from the Lord. I am not talking about a prosperity gospel. I am not saying we can just name it and claim it. I mean, you are looking for the Lord to bless you, but He isn’t. Why? God wants to bless all His children. I hope you believe that. But maybe you are living in a such a way that the Lord can’t bless you.

God does demand allegiance. Obedience is expected. And when we are obedient, God is ready to pour out His blessings. He blesses us because He wants to. He enjoys seeing us live obedient lives. Because He loves us so much, we should want to please Him.

I want to receive His blessings. I truly desire them. But I have learned through many years of walking with the Lord that those blessings only come through obedience. I know this to be true and still I fall short too many times. But God knows my heart. He lovingly welcomes me home each and every time I come to Him in repentance. Will you?

Thank You, Lord, for sending Your blessings when I come to You in surrender. Your blessings are my desire.

Standard