Sow Seed Any Old Way You Want: But if you Sow wisely, You will Reap Well…

Have you ever sown seeds and watched them grow? I remember the bean we put into a jar in kindergarten. It was so cool to sow it properly and watch it come to life!! Well, think about what it means to Sow and Reap: Consider both the process and the outcome.

sow

“Sow for yourselves righteousness; Reap in mercy; Break up your fallow ground, For it is time to seek the Lord, Till He comes and rains righteousness on you.” (Hosea 10:12, NKJV) What a full verse this is! The Bible often uses farming terms, which makes a lot of sense since it was written in agrarian societies and it speaks so often about growth.

Hosea preached using this farming analogy, which says a great deal in a short verse. First, he says that we should “sow for ourselves righteousness”. Think about what it means to sow seeds. You have to begin with the end in mind. You need to have the right seeds and you also need the right environment, with appropriate conditions and surroundings. Galatians 6:7 reminds us that “whatever a man sows, he shall also reap.” Good fruit won’t come from just any kind of dirt, you need to prepare the soil.

sow seeds

Break to Build

Hosea says that you must break up the fallow ground. You can’t just toss seeds out on hard, packed earth and expect results. You must break through the dry crust and till the soil to expose the richer dirt beneath.

Our spiritual growth is a lot like that. You can’t grow healthy crops without disrupting the status quo and breaking through the crust of our assumptions. Sometimes we grow a crust of sin, hardening our hearts against God’s character or standards; and sometimes we put on the stifling armor of self-righteousness, smugly judging others while hunkered down in our bunker of holiness…

Hosea is talking here about God’s righteousness, and he says that if we sow in righteousness, we will reap in mercy. I think this applies in two ways. If we find righteousness through repentance and faith in Christ, we will receive mercy. God always responds to repentance with mercy. Always. When is the last time you turned a repentant heart to the Lord? If it’s been awhile since you have humbled yourself before God, what is there that keeps you from being broken before him today?

Second, those who have found such righteousness will themselves be merciful. Our righteousness in God’s eyes is not earned but gifted. We may grasp salvation as something wonderful God has done for US, and that is certainly true. But I think the more important thing is that salvation is something God does THROUGH us. “Sow in righteousness, reap in MERCY”. We are given God’s righteousness not for our OWN benefit, but in order to extend mercy. As the recipients of mercy, we should be merciful. Have you been forgiven? Forgive.

Sow Well and Reap Well

Think of how this world would be if there were no forgiving:
Life without forgiveness almost wouldn’t be worth living!
God’s amazing mercy makes us whole, when given TO us;
And His forgiveness, sown in righteousness, will then renew us;
But then His mercy, as intended, is extended THROUGH us.
Sow in righteousness! But here’s a scripture you can keep:
Mercy is the only crop that righteousness should reap.

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

Mercy is not just Something you Need to Get. It’s also Something you Need to GIVE

Do We Really Have to Have It?

Consider the word “mercy”.  It is something everyone encounters, dispenses, or begs for in this life. Can you imagine a world without mercy? Have you stopped lately to consider how important mercy can be? This Psalm says it well: “Let your steadfast love comfort me according to your promise to your servant. Let your mercy come to me, that I may live; for your law is my delight.” (Psalm 119:76-77, NIV)

A Familiar Story

Do you need a little more love and mercy in your life? David did. Consider his life and fortunes, and I bet you can relate somehow. David knew about the importance of love and mercy. He was the least and smallest brother, the sheep-tender, stuck way out in the pasture while his older siblings did the important stuff.

The shepherd boy knew what it was like to feel lonely, vulnerable, unappreciated. He was the least popular kid in middle school.
When Samuel came to choose Israel’s future king from among Jesse’s sons, David was an afterthought, only brought in from the pasture when Samuel asked “Are these all the sons you have?” (1 Samuel 16:11)

Happily Ever After?

After he was anointed as the future king, he rose to the heights of celebrity by killing Goliath. You’d think a hero like David had it made now, right? Wrong. Saul’s murderous jealousy turned David into a fugitive, hiding in caves and running through the badlands. He had to consort with enemies and feign madness. His future seemed uncertain at best, so he depended on the promise of God and comforted himself with God’s steadfast love. I’m sure there were many times where David prayed, “Let your mercy come to me, that I may live.”

Then Saul was killed, and David became king. But it must have been a bittersweet moment for him, because his best friend Jonathan was killed along with Saul, so David’s ascension was tempered by harsh reality. Life is like that, isn’t it? But once again, “let your mercy come to me, that I may live…”

mercy

Twists and Turns…

Then David became king, so he’s set now, right? Wrong. He gets bored, commits adultery, and then has Uriah killed trying to cover up his sin. Then Nathan called him out in front of everybody. Most despotic monarchs would have killed Nathan and denied everything, but not David. He confessed and threw himself at God’s feet. He dealt with the consequences of his actions the rest of his life. David experienced humiliation, rebellion, heartache and loss. But David found God’s mercy and lived.

Perhaps you can relate. Maybe you’ve been under appreciated. Perhaps you have felt adrift in circumstances, just making your way the best you can. Maybe you’ve been on top of the world. Maybe you have fallen from that mountaintop… I certainly have a couple of times, and let me tell you, it is lonely and painful. Perhaps you know that, too…

What We Need

There are times like that when we all need mercy, when we crave the relief from guilt and stress it brings. There are also times when we have it in our power to offer it to someone else. Someone may have wronged you, perhaps, and they feel bad about it. A relationship may be broken because they long for your forgiveness. You can relieve them by being merciful. In this life, love and mercy are both things we all could use more of.

Here’s a secret: you’ll find them in the Bible. They are in the story of David, and they leap from the stories of Abraham, Jacob, Matthew, John, and Paul. The Prodigal Son discovered it. God’s mercy changes people. God’s people change the world. In 1 Timothy 1:16, Paul said, “But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.” If you study the Bible with an open heart, it will set you free by bringing you love, mercy, and promises to live by today. And tomorrow… Then the next day….And oh yeah, every day after that.

An Everyday Plea

Lord, when I rebel and turn my face away from your encouragement and grace;
When I listen to those inner voices, following them with stupid, selfish choices;
When I wander from your love and care, and find myself immersed in dark despair,
And when I’ve given all I have to give: Be merciful to me, that I may live.

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

Change the Entire World By Following Three Simple Rules

There is a tremendous amount of conflict today about almost everything, it seems. With any issue we face, there are three or four sides, whether left/right/center or progressive/conservative/moderate. People who have marginalized want their voices to be heard. Our society is fragmented, and it hinders our ability to create positive change. If only we had some rules or guidelines that were universal! Then, all of us could apply them so that we could find peace rather than conflict.

What Kind of World Do We Live in? What Kind of World Do We Want?

Micah lived in a similar climate, full of corruption and division. His ministry took place in the Southern Kingdom under Ahaziah, one of the corrupt kings of Judah, and Hezekiah, who initiated some reforms. But Micah’s prophecy was directed primarily against Israel (the Northern Kingdom). They were enjoying a brief interlude of prosperity before the Assyrians came in to destroy, despoil, and deport, so it makes sense that Micah’s preaching was not well received. The average person didn’t see it coming, but Micah predicted doom and gloom. In the midst of his harsh revelation from God’s spirit he also offered some advice:

“He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8, NKJV) In the midst of his lament about the judgment of Israel, Micah provides three simple rules about how to live.

He has prophesied against Israel’s corrupt rulers and priests, and he has listed their transgressions. Israel’s leaders were scheming manipulators bent on oppressing their own people. (Wow, things don’t change much in government over the years, do they?)The priests abandoned true worship and were participating in pagan idolatry. Israel’s culture was corrupt and materialistic (sound familiar?). Because they were enjoying a brief time of financial prosperity, people lived with a false sense of security about their future. Wealth will do that to you…

Three Simple Rules

Micah predicts a time of Messianic restoration, but warns first of Israel’s fall, the deportation of its people, and the devastation of their way of life. How to avoid such a fate? Micah said it was possible, and offered three ways to avoid judgment and live:

1) Do justly. The Bible is full of warnings to those who abuse their power or oppress the downtrodden. Anyone who marginalizes, ignores, or ridicules others for being different must be reading a different Bible than the one I read. God’s character demands fairness, so treat others with love and respect. Our daily news is still filled with examples of injustice, and while it is an easy thing to say, eliminating injustice is a very hard thing for a society to DO. But as the slogan says, just do it.

2) Love mercy. Do you? Do you, really?? This means desiring mercy not just for ourselves, but for everybody else as well. This means not just requesting mercy, but dispensing it. Can you be merciful to those with whom you disagree, to those who are selfish and wrong, to those who don’t deserve it? God can—after all, He’s been merciful to me. He’s been merciful to you.

If God only dispensed mercy to perfect people, none of us would get ANY. What if ALL of us Christians gave mercy the way it has been extended to us? Would the world be a different kind of place if EVERYONE loved mercy? If you love someone or something, you will make it a priority. You will put it ahead of your own interests. Maybe we could all extoll and extend mercy today. Oh yeah, and every day.

The Rule that Rankles Most, Perhaps

3) Walk humbly with your God. Wow, this one actually covers a lot of ground, because I think we are prideful in so many subtle ways that we don’t even realize all of them. I’m so sure of that I’ll say it: right now, sitting there reading this, you have pride issues in your life. Yes, you do! (And so do I) Suffice it to say that we are not naturally humble, and we pretty much operate from a “me-first” point of view.

If you took inventory of things in your life that make you proud, or things that make you satisfied, how many of those things are self-centered? At family gatherings, do you wash the dishes? Do you love your stuff? Are you proud of being humble?

three

Walking humbly with God would require first that we actually WALK with God, spending time with Him daily, moving at His pace, staying connected with Him much like Enoch did. And being humble requires that we remember who God is, and who we are: Who God is. Who you are. Take a moment to think about that, and start the day with three simple things. Be just. Love mercy. Be humble. I think we could agree that if everybody did that today it would change the world; but here’s the real point: if YOU do it, it might just change yours.

Change the World, Three Things at a Time

Three things that God requires of man, three very simple rules
To help the leaders and the priests all keep from being fools:
Do justly. Offer justice every single time you can;
Love mercy. Always be forgiving with your fellow-man.
Walk humbly with your God, Oh man, His perfect love inspires
So you can do what He has shown you, all that He requires.

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread