What is the law of the harvest?

In the past couple lessons we looked at the law of sowing and reaping. What you put in you get out. Plant lies and you reap deception. Plant lewdness and reap heartbreak. However, when you sow godliness you reap Life! We will harvest most of the good seeds in the life to come.

– Adam and Eve sowed bad seed by doing man’s plan: what looked good and seemed enjoyable. At the end, they harvested sorrow and separation from God.

– Cain sowed evil seed by murdering his brother. He reaped the curse of God.

– Ham planted a bad crop by enjoying the disgrace of others. He exposed someone’s shame and reaped a dismal future himself.

– Lot scattered seed in the direction of evil Sodom. He reaped a crop of incest and illegitimate children.

– Jacob planted deception and treachery. He reaped two fighting wives and decades of family tension while serving a tough boss. However, Jacob finally changed his bag of seed and started planting prayerfulness, honesty, and humility. While his sins still brought home a harvest with home-wrecking boys, his good seed also brought forth a bumper crop in the noble character of Joseph.

– Abel, Enoch, Noah, and Abraham all set the example for sowing good seed and reaping the eternal rewards.


How do you treat people who have intentionally hurt you?

Joseph had no doubt that his brothers meant to ditch him and forget all about him. When they came to buy grain from Egypt, they did not know Joseph. He stood in front of them as commander-in-chief of the nation and asked them about their family. They told him they had a father and little brother named Benjamin. They stepped on a nerve when they said they did have another brother once but he was dead. How dare they call him dead? They never searched for him? They still did not feel remorse for what they had done?

Joseph, to this point, has seemed like a flawless man. Now, this situation has ripped open his old wounds. This calm, disciplined leader suddenly snaps (Genesis 42:9), and he starts accusing them of being spies. He even throws them in jail to give them a taste of what he went through. Then he swings back the other way and sends them home while holding one of the brothers hostage to make sure they come back. Joseph struggled with forgiveness for a year before he finally came to grips with his problem.

His brothers had returned and were sitting at a feast he had prepared for them in his home. They still did not know who he was and could not understand his behavior. He never spoke to them directly, but chose to speak through an Egyptian interpreter. During the meal, Joseph had to get up and leave the room to go cry his eyes out (Genesis 42-45).

How do I forgive someone who has done me wrong?

Like Joseph, we must weep. Bitterness roots deep into the hard-pack soil of our hearts. You cannot just pull it out in one day. Just as you can pull weeds out of the garden a whole lot easier when you soak the ground, so you can uproot resentment by soaking your heart with tears. Releasing the emotions helps to release the hostility.

Corrie Ten Boom, a speaker and author about the horrors of Nazi concentration camps, struggled to forgive a soldier who raped and starved her sister to death. Every time she thought of that man, her blood would boil. She wanted to kill him. A clergyman once counseled her about her feelings. He told her emotions worked like a church bell. When you first pull on the rope, the bell clashes across the hills. If you let go of the rope, the hammer will continue to swing, striking the bell repeatedly. Each time it hits, however, the sound becomes less and less. Eventually the bell goes silent. We must let our angst fade just like that bell.

Your emotions will well up when you think about the divorce or your lying relative. Work through it by prayer—soak your heart with tears until you feel clean and free of those feelings. When they come back, cry your way to freedom again. Each time you will find it hurts less and less until eventually you can talk or think about that situation with out feeling it. This does not mean you will cease to care; you just will not let those emotions rule you again.

Can I have a normal life after bitter disappointments?

When you drive over a pothole, you feel it. Every time you pass that way, you see it, think about it, and do all you can to avoid it. Occasionally, you hit it dead on and feel it shake your whole vehicle. This is how we struggle to forgive others. Every time you hear their name, you feel the hurt. Every time you see them you want to avoid them. Sometimes you have to face them, and all that pain, all that pent up rage stirs in your heart.

Too many people handle forgiveness the way county crews fix the back roads—just patch things up. “Oh, let’s let bygones be bygones,” they say while still not trusting the other. The trouble with a patched pothole is that you can still see it. You know it is there, and you still get a little jolt if you drive that way. Many relationships are just patched-over landmines. Too many marriages have buried hurts that we ignore, instead of healing.

When we forgive others, we should be like the highway crews. They do not just patch up the rough spots. They start over with a whole new layer of pavement. Once the job has been finished, you cannot find a single bump or even tell where the old wounds used to be. Repaved marriages and parent-child relationships may look perfect to everyone on the outside. Only God knows the hurt they have seen—yet His covering grace makes that rocky relationship into an express lane to joy.

How do I know I have truly forgiven?

Forgiveness means more than Kleenex and big hugs. Forgiveness gives a new outlook on life. Joseph came to the point of seeing more than his petty feelings. He did not merely let his brothers “off the hook” for their cruelty. We know Joseph came to true forgiveness when he told his brothers, “be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life” (Genesis 45:5). True forgiveness comes to the point of seeing the hand of God even in the midst of unpleasant circumstances. Can you look at the person who hurt you and in love say the same sort of thing? “I want you to forgive yourself, too. God has turned your actions into something good.”

Jesus said true forgiveness comes deep “from the heart” (Matthew 6:14-15; 18:35). Deep emotions come from depths in the heart. Joseph wept so loudly Pharaoh heard. Begin the journey to healing by intensely forgiving everyone who has done you wrong. Forgiveness releases two captives: the prisoner and the jailer.

 

Next time…

We will look at other things holding you captive and robbing you of joy. We will also examine the secret to being free from bondage.

Massive review from all previous lessons 

Step One: relationship with God

Step Two: pursue truth

Step Three: Build the Walls
Nehemiah 1:3, 6:15. They built the walls of separation from the enemy & world.
Opposition arises when we change the way we talk, what we wear, what we listen to, whom we hand around.
I Peter 1:14-16. We are to separate and be distinct from the world around us.
Safety in the wall.  Keeping sin out.  The walls prevent the enemy from destroying one’s walk with God.

Between the Testaments.
No scripture written
O. T. put in one volume
Religious traditions form
Factors paving the way for the Gospel

Introduction to the New Testament.
Matthew 3:1-11
Preparing the way of Christ

What is Repentance?
Paradigm shift (change of perspective).  Greek: metanoeo
Illustration: Picture on front of Journal D11 “Change of Mind.”
Preached to God’s people.
New thinking causes different actions.
Illustration: Lobster are “roaches of the sea.”  Change of thinking (when going to seafood restaurant), change of action (ordering a burger).
New Spiritual Thinking: Ezekiel 18:20-24 Will you live until a death-bed conversion and only be remembered for six months of your life?

Summarize turning from death to Life.
Something will get thrown away.

Once a person’s eyes have been opened (you will have to develop spiritual sensitivity to know when this has happened) then you can lead them into the Kingdom (John 3:5 with Acts 2:38). Their eyes should be opened by this session. Now you will lead them into a true understanding of who Jesus is and how to enter into Life! through Him. If you get to lesson twelve and they still seem spiritually numb, present the gospel message in 13 and 14, combine 15 and 16 into one lesson. Finish with a brief lesson on heaven and hell and get out of there. Wipe the dust off your feet as a testimony against you and proceed to another home (Matthew 10:11-14). This will be hard to do if you only have one home to work with.