No Planting, No Harvest

  By Esther Hylden

Jesus said, “Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields.  That they are white unto Harvest.”  John 4:35

Without planting, there is no harvest.  Things have been very busy, hectic and sometimes tense here on the Hylden Farm this Spring.   Rain has delayed planting, day after day, week after week.  In a normal year, planting is usually completed by  May 25th.   Today it is June 17th, and planting is still in progress.  Our family income depends on a good harvest… without planting there is no harvest.

That is how it is with Disciple Making isn’t it, no planting means no harvest?  Without faithful parents, Sunday School teachers, VBS workers, godly friends, godparents and Pastors who pass along the Good News of the Gospel…planting… to children, co-workers, friends and neighbors… there is no Harvest.  No joyful meeting again in Heaven, no help for the weary here on this earth.

Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all Nations.”  Matthew 28:19.  Today, let us go…to our children, to our neighbor, to our co-worker. Let’s do some planting… and then… let’s Harvest!

Planting Wheat near Park River ND

Planting Wheat near Park River ND

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Abundant Life

By Lori Willard

Abundant – “ABUND’ANT, adjective Plentiful; in great quantity; fully sufficient; as an abundant supply. In scripture, abounding; having in great quantity; overflowing with.

The Lord God is abundant in goodness and truth. Exodus 34:6.”

Taken from Webster’s 1828 Dictionary

John 10:7-11

New King James Version (NKJV)

Jesus the Good Shepherd

7 “Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.”

Jesus not only provides us life; but also, He provides abundant life – to the full!  It all begins with the Holy Spirit bringing us to recognize our need for the Good Shepherd to save us from our sinful nature and to direct our lives.  We are nothing without Him!  We enter this abundant life through Jesus – The Door.  Included in this full life is pasture which provides shelter/protection from enemies, food to eat, a place to rest, and most importantly – A Good Shepherd Who watches over us and does His work through us.  Abundant life is ours if we do not resist the Holy Spirit leading us to “The Door” and we allow the Holy Spirit and God’s Word to be our guide, always.

Protection is found in our Jesus Who has promised to never leave us or forsake us.  Hebrews 13:5.  We have protection whether we are in the sheepfold – a place where sheep are collected, and protected – (Devotional Time with the Lord, Church Worship Services, etc.) or in the green pastures of abundance (new eternal life here on earth and in Heaven) He is ever present with us.  Oh the joy to have peace and freedom found only in His presence!  Have you ever seen young lambs bounding and jumping for joy?!  The Lord wants the same for us spiritually, emotionally, mentally and quite possibly – physically.  J

John 14:27 NKJV

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

2 Corinthians 3:17-18 NKJV

Vs. 17” Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”

Jesus mentions thief, thieves and robbers in connection with this abundant life.  They come to steal, kill and destroy.  We are deaf to them.  We have ears only for our Great Shepherd.  We listen to Him through His Word and His Holy Spirit.  We follow only Him.  John 10:1-5.  Jesus warns us of those evil deceivers but He is ever present to protect us and comfort us from them.  No one can snatch us from His love for us.

Romans 8:35-39 NKJV

Vs. 35 “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

Vs. 36 As it is written:  “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”

Vs. 37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 

Vs. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 

Vs. 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

In the pasture, we:

EAT, DRINK, LIVE, PLAY – How He desires for us to feed and grow in His word; and to apply His Word in our daily lives while in the world!

Psalm 1 NKJV The Way of the Righteous and the End of the Ungodly

Vs. 1 “Blessed is the man
          Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
          Nor stands in the path of sinners,
          Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;

Vs. 2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
         And in His law he meditates day and night.

Vs. 3 He shall be like a tree
         Planted by the rivers of water,
        That brings forth its fruit in its season,
        Whose leaf also shall not wither;
        And whatever he does shall prosper.

Vs. 4 The ungodly are not so,
          But are like the chaff which the wind drives away.

Vs. 5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment,
          Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.

Vs. 6 For the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
         But the way of the ungodly shall perish.”

Meditating is another word for MUSE – Deep thought; close attention or contemplation, to ponder; to think closely; to study in silence.   When we want to illustrate the opposite of something, we usually put the letter “a” in front of it, for example, AMUSE – which means to not think deeply, not to pay attention to, not to contemplate,  not to ponder, not to think closely, not to study in silence, etc.  We need to be careful to muse on His Word.

REST

Psalm 94:12-15 NKJV

Vs. 12 “Blessed is the man whom You instruct, O Lord,
           And teach out of Your law,

Vs. 13 That You may give him rest from the days of                           adversity, Until the pit is dug for the wicked.

Vs. 14 For the Lord will not cast off His people,
           Nor will He forsake His inheritance.

Vs. 15 But judgment will return to righteousness,
           And all the upright in heart will follow it.” 

The Lord does several things for us as we feed on His word:

  1. Instructs or disciples us in truth.
  2. Guides us in His law.
  3. Gives us rest or relief from evil days until the very end when the pit is finally completed for the wicked and we are together in Heaven with Him.
  4. He also provides us encouragement.

He promises He will not:

  1. Cast off or abandon His people.
  2. Forsake His inheritance.  Forsake: To quit or leave entirely; to desert; to abandon; to depart from.

Friends and flatterers forsake us in adversity.

Jesus is The Door to eternal life and fullness in this life because the judgment that was intended for us was placed on Him.  We are transformed to righteousness through faith in Him.  We will follow that righteousness.

Through Him, we go out from the sheepfold, into the green pastures, and there, Jesus continues to go with us.  He provides us strength, endurance, ability, joy, peace, patience, etc. (Galatians 5:22, 23) to the FULL so we can fulfill His will for us – to just “be” with Him or to carry out His ministry through us.

Oh!  The fulfillment this brings!  He planned this indescribable abundance He has for each of us before we were even born.  Life to the full!

In the movie, “Second Hand Lions”, a nephew was being interviewed regarding his deceased uncles.  The interviewer said, “Well, they died with their boots on!  Did they really LIVE?!”  The nephew said, with a smile on his face, “YES!  They REALLY lived!!”  May we say the same about our lives with Jesus too!!

 

LIVING IN THE MUNDANE

by Sarah Langness

My days are fairly predictable. I can roughly tell you what time Zeke and I will be out for our morning walk and down for our afternoon nap. I usually do my grocery shopping on Mondays after lunch. I can tell you what days I typically do laundry. Day-to-day, my life tends to look extremely similar. Sure, there are days with a few surprises, like when my husband decides to be spontaneous and come home from work early. Or like last week when Zeke pooped out his diaper for the first time in months and I had to rinse his pants off in the toilet. Or when I’m able to grab coffee with a dear friend back for a short visit.

Yesterday, though, I broke the mold. I skipped my morning walk, left the men at home and headed to Bismarck to run a few errands. (I know, I know: real exciting. But hey, I live in western North Dakota; cut me some slack.) As I was driving across the familiar 79-mile stretch of farmland, I did something I rarely do: I listened to the radio. Family Life Today was on, and my apologies to the name of their guest whose name is lost on my mind somewhere on I-94. And actually, apologies to Family Life Today as I hardly even recall what the broadcast topic was about. Something about loving your spouse. I forget because of something that forgotten guest said that rang over and over and over in my mind:

“We only make three or four big decisions in life. But we live in the every day, in the mundane.”

It’s so easy to seek Christ in the big decisions, the big issues. Where we should go to college. Who (or if) we should get married. To take that job far from family or stay closer to home.

But what about the every day? The ordinary, mundane things? Jesus doesn’t want just a part of the “big” things in life – He wants the little ones too.

Not that I need to pray about switching my laundry day. Or that there is anything wrong with a fairly predictable routine. But in those every day, mundane, day-to-day tasks, who am I living for? Am I living selfishly, putting my desires over those of my families? Do I have eyes of compassion for the hurting around me, or am I to focused on me to notice them? Am I content with what I have, with who the Lord has made me to be, or am I envious of that other mom who seems to have it made?

“For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spiritlet us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.” – Galatians 5:13, 24-26, NASB (emphasis mine)

It is in the mundane moments that I choose to put Jordan’s needs over my own. It is the every day moments that become Kingdom teaching moments for little Ezekiel. It is in the ordinary moments that I live for the Extraordinary One.

“For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.” – 2 Corinthians 5:14-15, NASB (emphasis mine)

No matter how ordinary, how everyday, how mundane our daily tasks may seem to be, may we ever be guilty of living for Jesus.

 

Precious Life . . . From the Start

By Sarah Langness

One of the scariest moments of my life happened when I was pregnant with Ezekiel. I was about 11 or 12 weeks along. We had just released the news of our coming little one to family and friends. Although initially scared and shocked, I was excited and already in love with that little baby. One morning, I had a tiny bit of spotting. It wasn’t much and I almost didn’t even call the doctor about it. But the doctor was unable to find baby’s heartbeat, which heightened concern because just one week prior she could find it. I was petrified. The drive to the hospital in Hazen was the longest seven-mile drive of my life. Praise the Lord that the ultrasound revealed a kicking, squirming, heart-beating baby.

But I know that many are not so fortunate. I know many who have dealt with the pain of miscarriage.

I remember telling my mom after the scare with Zeke, “I know he’s only 12 weeks old, but it was still really scary.” To which she replied, “Of course you were! That is three months of falling in love with that little baby.”

12 weeks. Three months. Our baby was the size of a plum. But still loved. Still valuable. Still a child. Because life begins at conception.

“You formed my inward parts; you wove me in my mother’s womb . . . I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works . . . My frame was not hidden from you, when I was made in secret and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was none of them.” – Psalm 139:13-16; NASB

Recently it was National Infant Loss and Remembrance Day. A difficult, but important day for those who have lost babies, whether through miscarriage, a stillborn birth or other tragedy. Because life does indeed begin at conception. And no matter the size of the child, loss is hard.

To my friends who have lost those little ones, my heart goes out to you. Not just tomorrow, but when you hear news of others’ pregnancies. When your baby’s due date rolls around. When you see the joyous smiles of other little ones.

And my prayers are with you. You have dealt with a pain I cannot imagine nor fathom. My prayer is that you will cling to the One who knows your heartache and pain. That you will find strength for each moment and every day in Him. That in the midst of the pain, you are able to remember His great lovingkindess.

“Remember my affliction and my wandering, the wormwood and bitterness. Surely my soul remembers and is bowed down within me. This I recall to mind, therefore I have hope. The LORD’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. ‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘Therefore I have hope in Him.” . . . If He causes grief, then He will have compassion according to His abundant lovingkindness.” – Lamentations 3:19-24, 32; NASB (emphasis mine)

Be Amazed! Be Amazed!

by Barb Moland

God’s grace – that is amazing! Our summer Bible camp pastor reminded us again and again – be amazed! Be amazed in God’s Word. I slipped a strip of paper in my Bible – “be amazed!”

Our back yard is partially under the canopy of our much loved large Rainier cherry tree. Viewed from a spacious kitchen window, it is glorious year round – I am amazed! It is beautiful from the beauty of every branch and twig in winter against the gray/blue sky (or a most glorious wet snow on every twig angle at the rare snowfall) to the bursting of white blossoms, center blushed in pink in early spring. The deep green canopy of leaves rustle in a gentle breeze over our yard through the summer, providing shade if desired. When autumn comes every leaf turns a vibrant yellow that glows in the sun and becomes yet more radiant at twilight. I am amazed! The cycle of life – creation and onward, speaks poignantly to God’s amazing grace. Be amazed!

God’s provision in Christ is yet far, far more amazing!

In spite of ourselves, God has sent a Redeemer for us – creating us, then patiently, lovingly buying us back to Himself. Galatians 4:4,5 (CEV) – When the time was right, God sent His Son, and a woman gave birth to Him. His Son obeyed the Law, so He could set us free from the Law, and we could become God’s children.

In spite of ourselves, God has provided a help for each hour of the day, along life’s way. II Corinthians 12:9 (NIV) – My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.

Is spite of ourselves, He has given us His peace. John 14:27 NIV) – Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

In spite of ourselves, He has promised to keep us. Philippians 1:6 (NIV) – He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

For this and more, we praise and thank our loving God. As we completed “Pearls for a Princess”, our 2012 WMF Bible study, we gathered our hearts in the pearl of praise.

Be amazed! – every year, every season, every day, every moment. Looking to God’s Word we find the amazing grace of God offered so lovingly and freely to each of us, in spite of ourselves. The framework of redemption from creation through the accounts of biblical history and lineage of Christ, as well as Christ types, is indeed amazing. The New Testament gospels bring the incarnation of Christ right to us! We go on the early Christian church writings and messages regarding the return of Christ. This is amazing!

This grace was surely offered to the great, great missionary of all time, Paul. Quoting Beth Moore in Jesus’ watch from eternity on Saul’s (later Paul’s) presence in the stoning of Stephen in To Live Is Christ Day by Day:

One for Him; one against Him. One covered in blood: the other covered by prayer shawls. One who could not save himself from men: the other who could not save himself from sin. One dead in body but alive in spirit; the other alive in body but dead in spirit. One loved by God; and the other loved by God.

BE AMAZED!

Waiting For God’s Will

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God:  that if we ask anything according to His will, he hears us.”  1 John 5:14

By now, we are into the busy fall schedule at our churches.  We love summer and a time away, but it is good to get back into a routine.  What new or perhaps old responsibilities have you taken on for this coming year in your church? Are you enjoying the work you are doing for the Lord or do you already feel like you are overwhelmed or in a rut?  How many times do we decide to do something, try something new, or even do the same thing we have been doing for years without consulting God and His will for this ministry?  We might wonder why a ministry is not effective. Could it be because we do not pray in advance asking the Lord to mold us into the ministry, to equip us by the Holy Spirit and to submit to His leading?  Maybe we did pray but on such short notice that we did not give God the time to work answers in our heart.  Perhaps what is lacking is a freshness and joy in our ministry from the very beginning because we started what seemed good to us rather than  what was God’s will.   Sound like something you are experiencing?   Jesus says in John 15:5  “I am the vine, you are the branches.  If a man remains in me and I in Him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”  Here is our hope, our existence for life and our provision for ministry; it is Jesus Christ and Him alone.  Is it not Jesus and His will upon which our ministries and we must rely?  May we return Jesus to His rightful focus in our desire to serve and be the Master of our ministries.

What’s Your Response?

CHALLENGES have been bombarding! CIRCUMSTANCES are crowding in! People are passing along their ANXIETY, FEAR, FRUSTRATION and ANGER my direction! Life seems a tad OVERWHELMING I cannot handle it!

Does any of this sound familiar? As challenges and circumstances overtake us, we do not need to be overwhelmed. As we work with people, we will not have perfect relationships because people are not perfect. We must point ourselves to the Word of God to see how He would have us respond.

While reading Galatians 5, the Holy Spirit changed my mind to a new way of thinking.

Stand fast in the liberty the Lord has given me. I have the power, through the Holy Spirit, to choose a different response to life and people. I can rise above circumstances, as if I was not involved in them, so the Holy Spirit and I can choose a different response. I do not need to take on other people’s anxiety, fear, frustration or anger. I do not need to be anxious, fearful, frustrated or angry. I can help them by asking them how I can pray for them instead. Satan is prowling around ~ seeking whom he may devour ~ that’s us Christian. (1 Peter 5:8) Satan does not want me to have the victory but I CAN have victory through the Lord!

Don’t be tangled up with my past way of doing things which really is bondage. The Lord can give me a new path to follow ~ a new way of doing things.

When you stumble, you may ask, “I ran well … what happened? Who made me stumble from obeying the truth?” The Bible says, “That response did not come from the Lord!”

The Lord and I will have another mind ~ another way of thinking as I allow Him to change me. I need to stop and pray. He will transform my thinking as I read His Word. (Romans 12:2)

The one who troubles me will bear his own judgment. The Lord will deal with the other person’s responses to life. I just need to forgive them.

I should not bite and devour anyone so I will not be consumed by anyone. I need to serve others through love instead whether that is through prayer, giving them a Bible verse, meeting a physical need, etc. I need to love my neighbor as myself.

I have the freedom to choose the right way to live so here are God’s strong words to us …

WALK IN THE SPIRIT! It kills fleshly ways!