Sowing and Reaping – Six Month Challenge

Video Version can be found here

I think in general we all want something more or different out of life. It might not be huge changes or monumental differences but there is probably some change you want in your life. There is a good chance that somethings in your life need to change. I am not talking about things you just need to learn to be content with, I am talking about when things need to change. Serious things like losing weight, saving money, getting a good job, building healthy relationships, and so on. Important things in life that you should want to be changed. Because we can all have areas and things that need to change, I want to give you two tools from the Bible that will help you do this but first a word about time.

Time is going to move forward whether we like it or not. Time moves regardless of personal desire or preference. Time moves forward. I am going to say something that right now does not sound profound or all that clever but in six months it will be six months from now. I know what you are thinking “well duh.” But think about that for a second, what if six months ago you decided to make a change. What if six months ago you decided you wanted to lose weight? By now you might have hit your target. What if six months ago you decided you wanted a better relationship with your spouse? By now you would have a better relationship. What if six months ago you decided you wanted to be in a better job? Chances are by now; you would have that job. Six months is going to go by whether we like it or not. But what does six months have to do with changing your life?

We think about changing our lives but what if instead, we thought about changing the next six months? What if instead of focusing on something so monumental as changing our life we thought about being in a different place in six months? Would that help? Would that make a difference? Would it do anything? I say yes, yes it would because six months is manageable, and six months is attainable. Six months is something we can see. Six months is something that can grow. I am going to give you two tools from the Bible that can help you change the next six months. Also, I should note that these two things are really two pieces of the same tool.

The first is that you reap what you sow (Gal 6:7). This is sometimes thought about in a negative sense. You find yourself in trouble and someone says “well, you reap what you sow.” They mean you got what you deserve, and this is partially true. Sometimes this is used when talking about finances. We talk about sowing and reaping in church and we are talking about giving and receiving. This is also partially true. However, the bigger principle is that you get out what you put in. If you sow (plant) corn you get corn. The thing is sowing (planting) takes time. You don’t just plant some corn and boom you get a harvest. Corn takes between 60 and 100 days to grow so you need to plant, water, and wait. You need to plant, nourish the thing planted, and wait.

If we pick weight loss for example, then we need to do things now that will help us achieve our goal later. The weight loss is the goal or the fruit, but the planting is what we do beforehand. we change our eating habits, we exercise, we do what it takes now to see the fruit later. If we want a better relationship with our child or children in six months, we need to start planting different things now to reap better things later. We will get in what we put out. If you keep eating Oreos (I love Oreos) you get an Oreo body. If you keep ignoring your children, you get children who don’t want to spend time with you. You get out what you put in. Change what you put in the ground now and you will get something different in six months.

The second tool is that things reproduce after their own kind (Gen 1:11). God has designed the world that things reproduce after their own kind. Again, corn kernels make corn stocks. Humans reproduce and make little humans (babies). Dogs make dogs. Peace makes peace. Laughter makes laughter. Things reproduce after their own kind. So not only do we get out what we put in but what we get out reproduces and makes more of the same. If we make changes now to see different results in six months, then in six months we have something new that will reproduce after its own kind. The small seeds we plant now to make changes start to compound and reproduce after their own kind.

If we decided that in six months, we want a better job and we planted the seed for a better job (change in work ethics, determination, applying, studying) then we not only end up with a better job we are different as a person with different habits, motivations, and goals. Those things reproduce after their own kind and a new system has been created that creates other changes as well. If you want a better relationship with your kids and you put in the work to make that happen then your kids will more than likely also have a better relationship with their kids. Things will reproduce after their own kind but first, we must plant the right seed.

This can all happen in six months. Whether we like it or not six months is going to go by. In six months from today, it will be September 8th, 2021. It does not matter if you want it to be something different you don’t get a choice. What we do get to decide is what will be different in six months. What will be different for a lifetime after that?

Just a thought,

Mike

Free to do what?

Galatians 5:1 says “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”  But what are we supposed to do with this freedom?  It is one thing to be free but now what?

I recently read a study that says that about 52% of prisoners released from jail return to prison.  Even worse is that 67% were arrested for a crime.  Forget for a second that we are talking about jail what is your rate of recidivism?  We can look at those numbers and pass judgment (and there are things we should judge about that) but can we look at our own life and judge?

Paul says here that Christ set us free to be free and that we should not return to slavery, so why do we?  Why do we return to sin, or our own new white-labeled version of the Law, or another Gospel?  Why do we not walk in the Freedom Christ has given us?  Why do we forsake the Freedom given us?

I think a large part of it has to do with not understanding the Freedom we have.  Jesus says in John 8:32 & 36 that when you know the Truth that the Son has set you free you will be free (ever read it like that?).  We need to understand our freedom, we need to try and comprehend it.  But first you need to understand your captivity.  You cannot ever understand what Freedom is until you understand what captivity is.  If you think that salvation is just some prayer, some event you attended, some one time thank you Jesus moment then you don’t understand it.

It took the most innocent and perfect man receiving punishment to give you freedom.  It took innocent blood to clean dirty sins.  It took the perfect Son laying down His life for you to have Freedom.  You were sentenced to an eternal separation from God.  You would spend not a life time or a thousand lifetimes away from Him but forever.  I know in polite society we are not supposed to talk about Hell, but anyone who knows me knows I am not a part of polite society.  I do not talk about Hell lightly, and I do not mention it in passing.  I love you, because God loves you.  The Father gave His Son so you could live.  I believe that and have no problem telling you that without Jesus you go to Hell.

I don’t like that, and I am not OK with that.  I won’t force it on it you but I also won’t ignore it.  If you were about to crash I would tell you, if you were about to fall off a cliff I would tell you.  I would not be all “it’s their life, not my business.”  There is a great quote from Penn Jillette that I won’t get into but here is the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owZc3Xq8obk.  He is an atheist and says the same thing.  So there is that.

Anyway that was not the point.  If you understand your captivity then when you are free you rejoice and understand the Freedom.  I think some inmates return because they don’t think jail was that bad, some just thought they were smart enough to not get caught now.  Both are wrong.

When you understand your captivity you better understand your Freedom.  You better understand what it is to be free and you want to do everything you can to stay away from ever being a slave again.

I am by no means perfect but I am going to do everything I can to stay away from being a slave again.  So what am I to do when I sin, or create a new Law?  I am to remember it is for Freedom I was set free, and I walk in that Freedom.  I say what have I done, RUN!!!  Never again will I be captive!

 

Just a thought,

Mike

The lawnmower didn’t change

Phil 1:6
being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

A while back I had not cut the grass for 3 or 4 weeks. It was due to a mix of it raining every time I did have a chance and being lazy (not sure which played a bigger part). The result was the same; the lawn was out of control. I mean it was probably 8-12 inches high in some spots. Also, I should mention I had 50% grass 50% weeds. Not to mention my front yard had a pretty decent slope. All this together created a nightmare of a time. My little walk behind had a terrible time keeping up and didn’t at times. What usually took me 30-35 minutes to cut took over an hour and then it still took me about 45-50 minutes each time after that. It drove me crazy because it was always hard to cut. I had complained a lot about my stupid mower. I could not understand why that stupid thing would not cut the grass… Then I had an epiphany. It was not the mower.

I had always cut it down to the lowest or second lowest setting. Now I was on the highest or second highest setting. Because I let it get out of control I could barely manage to keep it under control. It is a lot like our spiritual life. If we walk away from Bible Study, Prayer, Fellowship, etc. then things start to grow out of control. When we come back to it we are expecting our normal effort to produce an extraordinary result. The lawnmower did not change the request, however, did. My Bible Study, Prayer, and Fellowship has not changed after not attending to these things but the lawn I expect them to take care of has overgrown. What is then required is either a bigger tool or repetitive use of the tools.

In order to deal with the overgrowth, I would have to go back and mow the lawn a few times or I needed someone with a more powerful (and hopefully riding) mower to intercede on my behalf. If I walk too far away from Bible Study, Prayer, and Fellowship then when I come back I need either a drastic move from God or more Bible Study, Prayer, and Fellowship to help cut down the overgrowth. The same thing applies. I sometimes think that the rules of life do not apply to spiritual things but sometimes they do. We need to be diligent in dealing with our relationship to God. He has promised to not quit on us but we have a part to play in the relationship with Him. That is why it is called a relationship.

Big Picture, Little Picture

I love big picture, little picture.  It’s a little game God plays with me.  You’ve probably played it to.  It is where He shows you something and then tells you to keep watching.  For example I have read James 4:7-10 a few times this past week and I saw the big picture.  Namely; humbling yourself before God is the only way to be lifted up and beat things you might be fighting.  If you resist the devil you also turn to God.  It is not you who defeats the thing you fighting but God.  Rely on Him and He will pull you through it.  I know this and it is good stuff that I need to remember.

But wait there is more.  There must be because I have read this like 5 times and can see something but it is all fuzzy and I cannot make it out.  Then it hit me.  If you want a different outcome you have to change something.  

OK this one is tough to pull out of these verses but track with me for a minute and I promise to try and make sense of this.

James 4:7-10 “So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy.  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.”

I am not very good at knowing what the different conjunctions and parts of speech are, but there are 8 instead ofs, or in place ofs.  You know like this instead of that….Ya dig.  

OK so here is the deal.  If you want something different you need to do something different.  So lets say sin is the problem you’re facing.  Well to defeat it you resist the devil and he will flee, you just tell him no and then come close to God.  The devil cannot occupy the same space as God (Job I know but thats a weird one because he was summonsed, and theres more to it).  Lets make it simpler and say chocolate cake is the issue.  Well just don’t buy it, and if it is in the house don’t eat it.  Instead eat a banana.  Cake and a Banana cannot occupy the same space in your mouth at the same time.  You have to do something different.  

Everything is like this.  If you want different results in your life you have to make different choices.  If you want to be healthy then you have to do healthy things instead of unhealthy (not just physically folks).  I know what you are thinking; Mike I appreciate this but I already know this, and it’s easier said than done.  My response is first I know that and that is why it is called a principal.  Second is if you know it then why are you not doing it?  Because it’s hard?  No because you don’t want to thats why.  You do hard stuff all the time, but you don’t make the choices you need to make because you don’t want to.  Guess what that is OK.  Just be honest about it.  Difficulty has almost  nothing to do with it, desire is almost all of it.

I get it there are some cases that are different.  There are some cases that are so extreme I would a total jerk to not feel bad for them.  But by and large those are the ones that inspire us.  Those are the ones that move us.  Those are the ones that give us hope, that give us drive to move on and accomplish.  Check out Nicholas James Vujicic and then tell me how hard things cannot be done.

So today either admit you don’t want to and stop whining, or start making different choices and see how God lifts you up.

Just a thought,

Mike