First Presbyterian Church of Blackwood
21 E. Church Street
Blackwood, NJ 08012
Sunday Sermon Notes (February 09, 2020)
Rev. Dr. Mouris A. Yousef, Pastor
“The Lord of the Harvest!”
1 Corinthians 3:1-9; Mathew 9:35-38
As you may know, every year, on the second Sunday in February, our congregation gets together for our Annual Meeting. This is a time for us as a congregation to reflect on God’s work in us and through us. The various Church boards and committees submit their Annual Reports as we give thanks to God for the opportunity to serve God and our community. It’s our harvest time.
Over the last few weeks, I thought a lot about what to preach today on our Annual Meeting Sunday. The more I thought about it, the more I found myself drawn to some Scripture passages that address the topic of spiritual harvest; passages like Matthew 9, Galatians 6, and 1 Corinthians 3. Two principles that I would like to share with the congregation on this Annual Meeting Sunday. We can apply these two principles in our personal lives as well as our life together as a congregation.
First: Harvest Requires Patience and Persistence
I love the words of Galatians 6:9: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Anyone who has ever farmed for a living knows exactly what this verse means. It’s one thing to plant a few tomatoes in your back yard; it’s something else to plant 3,000 acres of wheat. Full-time farming is a year-round task. You start early and you work late, 52 weeks a year. There is no end of the jobs to be done. Even during winter months, there is equipment to maintain and preparation to be made for the upcoming planting season. You don’t get a harvest by accident and you can’t treat it as a weekend hobby. If you want the harvest, you’ve got to work when you feel like giving up.
Persistence or determination is especially true in the spiritual realm. Because we live in a fallen world and deal constantly with fallen people, it’s easy to grow weary and say, “What’s the use?” Do you feel like quitting? It’s always too soon to quit. Let us keep on sowing even if through our tears and with a weary heart. In the end we will rejoice when the harvest finally comes in.
Here is all God asks of us: Don’t give up! Don’t stop! Don’t grow weary! Keep on going. When you get knocked down by discouragement, don’t stay down. Get up and get back in the game for the glory of God. Great victories await those with great endurance.
There will be a wonderful harvest to come. That harvest will partly come in this life and much of it will come when we finally get to heaven. Who knows? Perhaps you will look down from heaven and find out that you changed someone’s life because of a simple act of kindness.
Second: We Must Seize the Opportunity Before It Disappears
In Galatians 6:10, Paul writes to the Galatians “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” The word “opportunity” in Greek is “καιρὸν”. It comes from the Greek word kairos, which is sometimes translated “time.” However, it’s not a word that means the passing of the hours one by one. This is chronos. Chronos is the measurement of time. It’s clock time. It’s the answer to the question “What time is it?” But kairos, is more interesting. It refers to those moments in life when a door of opportunity opens before us and we have a choice to make. Will we go through that door or will we hesitate until it closes?
We all have opportunities to do good if we will take them when they come. Every day there are moments when we can say a word of encouragement. There are times when we can get extend a helping hand to someone in need. Will we have the time or will our personal schedule keep us from listening and helping?
But no door stays open forever. Opportunities come and then they go. A sculptor once showed his studio to a friend who spotted a very strange statue. It was the figure of a man with hair completely covering his face and wings on each foot. “What is the name of that statue?” he asked. The sculptor replied, “His name is Opportunity.” “Why is his face hidden?” “Because people seldom know when opportunity comes to them.” “Why are there wings on his feet?” “Because he is soon gone, and when opportunity departs, it cannot be overtaken.”
There are so many opportunities to the serve the Lord. It may involve teaching Sunday School, setting up the place for an event, cleaning up after words, praying for someone, visiting the sick, sharing the Christian message with someone, giving meals to the hungry, counseling the confused, saving a failing marriage, or giving money to someone in need. The list is endless because opportunities are endless.
As I conclude, let me tell you a story that captures what I am saying. A Pastor was standing in line at a local grocery store. In front of him was a boy about eight or nine years old. The boy was looking over the display of candy bars. When he picked a big Hershey bar and laid it on the counter, the cashier rang it up and told him how much it was. The boy reached in his pocket and pulled out a bunch of pennies, nickels, and a single dime and plopped them on the counter. The cashier gave him one of those looks and started counting. Then he looked up and said, “You’re 12 cents short. You need another 12 cents.” The boy’s shoulders drooped, his face dropped, and he went from grin to groan in less than a second. “Just as the cashier started to tell the boy to put the candy bar back, the Pastor reached in his pocket and put 12 cents on the counter. The boy’s face lit up like Christmas. He said, “Thanks, mister.” And he took off, but then he turned around and came back. “He held up the candy bar and asked, “Hey, mister, you wanna bite?” The Pastor said, “No thanks, you eat it.”
Then the boy looked at the Pastor real careful, like he was studying him, and asked, “How come? How come you did that?” Before he could answer, he got a look of recognition on his face. “Oh, I know you, you’re that preacher. Jesus made you do it, didn't He?” “Yes, He did,” the Pastor said. Then the boy commented, “I sure like Jesus, and I’m glad Jesus makes nice people like you. Bye, mister.” Then he was gone.
With God’s love and 12 cents, this Pastor was able to touch a little boy’s life and bring glory to God simply by obeying Christ’s command to love our neighbors as ourselves. Friends, there is a world out there that needs to know that Jesus is real. They need to know that Jesus makes people different. They need to know Jesus in a more tangible way. “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore, ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” And as we labor together, remember this: you are not called to be successful but to be faithful. Amen.