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Sunday, 15 April 2018

'STANDING GUARD'

Rev. Jonathan Griffiths

by Rev. Jonathan Griffiths                           
Senior Pastor, The Metropolitan Bible Church,  Ottawa, ON.
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Podcast of CFRA broadcast on Sunday,  
  April 15th,  2018
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Broadcast Title:

Standing Guard
 
Reference passage: 1 Timothy 1:1-11  (NKJV)
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Rev. Jonathan Griffiths
2176 Prince of Wales Dr, Nepean, ON K2E 0A1
Phone: (613) 238-8182
www.metbiblechurch.ca/
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To listen to the above broadcast, click on the following link:
 

Sunday, 8 April 2018

'SOWING AND REAPING'

Rev. Brent Russett
By Rev. Brent Russett
Pastor of Sunnyside Wesleyan Church in Ottawa:
http://www.sunnysidechurchottawa.com/   

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PODCAST LINK to CFRA broadcast - Sunday, April 8th, 2018:


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Broadcast Notes:
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Sowing and Reaping

            Good morning. Welcome to Good News in the Morning. I am so glad that you have tuned into the program today. My name is Brent Russett. I am the Lead Pastor at Sunnyside Wesleyan Church here in Ottawa. I have been pastoring there for 28 years. One of the things I love to do is show how God’s word that was written a long time ago, connects with our world right now.

            I know that some of you who are listening have been followers of Jesus for a long time, and I know that others of you think of yourself as spiritual, but you are not really sure of this Christian thing, and I know others of you just curious how people of faith think. I trust that wherever you are on yours spiritual journey, that you will find this program interesting and informative, and I believe that for those of you desire it, God can use a program like this to take you another step closer to Him

            This morning I want to talk to you about the principle of sowing and reaping.


            Andy Stanley tells the story when he was a teenager about driving home late at night with a buddy of his from another town. Close to where they were driving they were constructing a new highway. It was still closed, but they figured, they would make better time if they went around the barriers and took the new highway.

            He said it was great. They were clipping along at 60 mph, there was no traffic. Life was good. But then another car pulled in behind them a chased them down. They pulled up alongside of them and motioned them over to the side of the road. Andy pulled over.

            They guy got out and he told Andy that in just a few miles there was a bridge, but it wasn’t completed. If they kept on going, like they were going, they would sail off the end of the bridge and kill themselves.

            Andy said, I never told my mom that story. He calls it the principle of the path. If you keep on driving on the road that you are on, you are going to get to where that road is taking you. If it is not a good road, you may end up flying over a bridge, or getting stuck in the mud, or crashing into a rockslide.

            If you keep on the road you are driving on, you are going to get to where that road is taking you. That seems really obvious right? Then why do we have such a hard time putting that into practice. If you keep on driving on the financial road you are on, you are going to get where that road is taking you. If you keep on spending more than you make, you can see where that road will take you. It is true of you emotions. If you keep living in such a way where stress and conflict, and guilt and fear drain more of your emotions than you have time to deposit with acts of kindness, and good relationships and time spend doing meaningful things – in other words if you keep on living in a way where you are spending more emotional capital than you are depositing, you can see where that road is going to take you.

            It is true of relationships. If you keep neglecting relationships that are important to you, you can see where that road is going to take you.

            The question you need to ask yourself, about a number areas of your life is,  What road am I driving on?

            Another way to say the same thing is the language of the scripture passage I am going to read to you -- You reap what you sow.

            Now I grew up on a dairy farm. Farming 101 says that you reap what you sow. If we sowed corn in a field we didn’t expect a crop of oats. If we sowed alfalfa in a field we didn’t expect to harvest wheat. You reap what you sow.

            Even those of you who grew up in a city and know nothing about farming understand this. You reap what you sow. This is exactly what the word of God says.

Galatians 6:7
7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.

            The New living translation puts it this way:
Galatians 6:7 (NLT)
7 Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant.

            You intuitively understand that you reap what you sow. The bible is so emphatic on this point that it appeals to the character of God. It would go against the very nature of God to reap something different than you sow. God set the world up so that you get what you give. It is part of God’s very nature and it is part of the nature of this world.

            So if is so intuitive why does the word of God bother stating the obvious. Well the reality is many of us try to reap something different than we sow.

            I know people who go out and party on Friday and Saturday night and then go to church on Sunday and pray for crop failure. Life does not work like that.

            We sow materialism and we reap debt and stress. We sow selfishness and we reap loneliness. If you sow judgement, you reap judgement. If you sow mercy, you reap mercy. If you sow faith, you reap the power of God.

            Or another way to look at it is, you don’t reap what you don’t sow. We fail to sow time with God and so we don’t reap intimacy with God. We fail sow time exercising, you reap a body that is out of shape.

            Are you sowing now the kinds of crops you want to reap a year from now, or a decade from now. We reap what we sow?

There are a lot of people who get into emotional binds because they have not taken note of this principle. A lot of people miss out in all kinds of blessings as well because they don’t understand how life works.

            And I think that maybe Christians think that they are somehow exempt from this principle. After all, the way we became a Christian didn’t conform to this rule. We didn’t get out what we put in. We didn’t get what we deserved. We received mercy instead of justice. We received grace, undeserved favour, instead of judgement. In other words we didn’t reap what we have sown.

We also are immersed in a love based faith. One of the first things that we learn about God is that God is love. In fact if you had to boil God’s character down to two words it would be holy love. God is love. Some of us have a hard time accepting his love, but we all know at least in our heads that God is a God of love. And we did nothing to deserve his love.

We know that we are saved by grace, which means God’s underserved favour, We are saved by grace through faith, it is the gift of God not as a result of works, lest anyone should boast.

That is our faith – Grace and love. That is how we have come to know God. This is right and that is good.

But many people seem to make the jump from there to the idea that it doesn’t matter what I do – God is loving and God is gracious God will forgive me. And therefore what I do doesn’t have any real affect. In other words, the sowing and reaping principle didn’t apply to me when I became a Christian, so it doesn’t apply to me now – right?

After all, if God loves me no matter what I do, if I can’t do anything to make him love me any more, and I can’t do anything to make him love me any less, then it doesn’t really matter what I do. Right?

It is true, that God’s love for you does not depend on your actions towards God. What you do doesn’t affect God’s attitude towards you, but it does affect you.

            Those of you who have kids, especially older kids, will get this. I am going to love my kids, even if they do stupid things. But doing stupid things, has consequences that my love for them does not save them from.
           
            I went on a police ride along on a Friday night. On that night, the officer that I was riding with arrested a 14 year old kid for stealing a phone. He took the kid back to his mom. It was obvious that this boy had a good mom. A mom who loved him. But her love for her boy, could not save her boy from the stupid thing he did.

            God’s love for you does not depend on your actions towards God. God loves you. But your actions still have consequences. Even though God loves you, you reap what you sow.

MUSIC – The Love of God – George Beverly Shea

            Remember these verses were written to Christians.

Galatians 6:7–8 (NIV)
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked for you reap whatever you sow. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

            Or as the NLT puts it.
Galatians 6:8 (NLT)
Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.

            So what does it mean to sow to please your flesh or you sinful nature.

Galatians 5:19–21 (NIV)
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.

             Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction

            Some of the things on that list will be of no temptation to you. Others you will be very much tempted to sow. Some of these things are things that you do as an individual. Some of these things happen in within toxic groups that you are in. It is easier to become part of dissensions and factions in some contexts than it is in others.

            But whether it is individual or group oriented, you are responsible for what you sow. And you reap what you sow.

            And you will notice, you can sow in different ways, but the crop tends to be the same. Destruction. But destruction comes in different ways. If you are sowing an “us against them” mentality, - which people do if they are living out dissensions and factions – that will destroy you one way. It will destroy your social group. It will destroy people’s trust of you. It will destroy the good that can come from community.

            If you are sowing idolatry, well that will destroy you in a different way. Idolatry is putting something ahead of God.  Idolatry will always warp the way you view life. It distorts what is good and what is important. So you tend to miss what is important so that you pay homage go the gods in your life. This will destroy you in a different way.

            But when you sow to the flesh, you reap destruction. I don’t know if you have ever sown and carrot seed – but a carrot seed looks nothing like a carrot. An apple seed looks nothing like an apple tree. Sometimes the destruction that you reap, looks nothing like the seed that you have sown.

            The correlation between what you sow in your life and what you reap might not be immediately obvious either. Like the person who gets betrayed by a friend and plants a vow, never to trust anyone again. Then they can’t figure out why they can’t form deep relationships with anyone. They can’t figure out why loneliness is a predominate theme even when they are with people they like.

            Like the person who judges others for how they look, and they wonder why they have a problem with self-image.

            Like the person who sows gossip, secret slander. Watch those people, you will often see how they reap insecurity, and are easily hurt.

            The seed you sow, may not look exactly like the plant you reap, but you reap what you sow.

            What does it mean to sow to the Spirit.
Galatians 5:22–23 (NIV)
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.

            whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.
           
            Again some of these will come easier to you than others. Some of these because of personality, or environment, will be easy for you to live out. But others of these will be more challenging.

            These, by the way are by products of the Spirit at work in your life. If you let the Spirit lead you into the type of life that he wants for you, he will lead you in these ways. And as you live out these characteristics, they will bring you life.

            The question is – what are you sowing? You reap what you sow. Or another way of saying it, what you sow has consequences either good or bad, but what you sow has consequences..
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            When you live on a farm, you are hyper aware of the seasons. As a rule, you sow in the spring, and you reap in the fall. Or in the case of hay, you sow in the spring, and you reap in a year and three months from when you sowed. Or if you plant an acorn, it can be a decade before you see a small Oak tree.

            There is always a time lag between when you sow and when your reap.

            If you know anything about counseling, you will know this to be true. Often the problems that we experience later in life have to do with the undealt with  problems that we experienced earlier in life. How we responded to the good we should have had and didn’t get, or the bad we got from people who should have been good to us – often creeps up later on in life.

            Now I have some good news for you. The mercy and grace of God goes deeper than anything that you have sown. Like we started off saying, God loves you – even if you sow seeds of destruction.

            There are times when you were sowing those seeds, because you didn’t know better. There were times when you sowed those seeds because you thought it really wouldn’t matter. There are times when you sowed those seeds because you just really wanted to and you gave into temptation.

            And you have reaped destruction – and you know it. It may take the form of insecurity, or abandonment issues. It may take the form of walling yourself off from others. You may feel emotionally drained or you have rejection issues. It may show up in bitterness of Pride, or rebellion issues. Some of you are very aware of your own issues, and some of you only have an inkling that there is something wrong.

            The mercy of God and the grace of God, wants to deal with even those things. You have reaped what you have sown, but he wants to deliver you from destruction.

            I got to say I wish there was easy process for this. But in general it involves repenting for what you did wrong. There is usually a lie you believed about God or yourself that attaches itself to what you have sown. You need to repent of the lie and confess the truth. You need to invite Jesus into this process, to heal your hurts and guide you into what you are called to do.

            I tell you this, not because I can solve all your issues in a 20 minutes sermon – but I want you to know that there is hope. But I also want to warn you – it will save you a lot of pain if you just don’t sow to the flesh.

Galatians 6:7–9 (NIV)
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

            Did you catch that last verse?

Galatians 6:9 (NIV)
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

            There is often time lag between doing good and reaping a harvest. And sometimes there is the temptation to give up before we reap a harvest. Sometimes the temptation is to give up. I want to urge you not to give up on doing good. The promise is that we will reap a harvest at the proper time.

            I know people who have sowed prayers for their kids coming to know the Lord, that they didn’t see a harvest for years. But they were persistent and God was gracious. I know people who served at the same place for years, and they didn’t see very much fruit at first, but then they saw so much good – They reaped a harvest because they did not give up.

            This morning, I want you to ask yourself, which path am I on? You can ask that or relationships, or finances, or emotions, or career. If you keep on the path you are on, you are going to get to where that path is taking you.

            But there is something deeper going on in these verses. They make us focus on the question of what path are we on spiritually.

            Are you moving towards God or away from God. Are you pursuing God, or are you running from God. If you keep to the path that you are on, you will get where that path is taking you.

You reap what you sow. You will either flourish spiritually, or you will die spiritually. It all comes down to what you sow spiritually.

            God loves you. He loves you no matter what path you are on. But what you do, what you sow, the path you travel has consequences.

            I know  that God wants you spiritually thrive this year. Will you sow what you need to do that.

Let’s pray:

Lord, as I’ve been talking about your word, and a lot of it makes sense why the people –people of faith, or not—that they will get to where they’re going and they’ll reap what they sow.
I’m asking that people will also consider their spiritual life. And are they sowing in a way that will allow their relationship with you to flourish?
I pray that you would allow them to do that. Show them ways to do that.
I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

            And thank you for listening to Good News in the morning. 

            This program is on the air by the grace of God and donations of many faithful people.

            My name is Brent Russett, and it has been a privilege to bring you Good News in the morning.


By Rev. Brent Russett
Pastor of Sunnyside Wesleyan Church in Ottawa:
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PODCAST LINK to the CFRA broadcast: