See & Seize

See & Seize

Last week, the Lord gave us a Thanksgiving exhortation; a reminder that if we are obedient, God will move heaven and earth for us in order for us to walk into our destiny.  The Lord is looking for a committed people willing to be set apart, holy, who are a light in the darkness of this world for God’s glory.
We also learned that thanksgiving in God’s kingdom, is a direct result of sacrificial generosity in serving the Lord.  We saw that when the church in Corinth sowed by serving others, not out of compulsion, but out of the passion that they had for the Lord; that it overflowed with many various expressions of thanksgiving to God.
Now, I know that by now most of us are a bit tired of Thanksgiving leftovers.  However, some food just seems to get better every time you heat it back up.  This morning, we’re going to loosen our belts and dive into some Thanksgiving leftovers that are sure to satisfy!
Nobody likes to make sacrifices.  However, when we are able to see what will be gained by those sacrifices, they become joyous and hope-filled adventures!  For example, when a parent sees that their child has a certain gift or talent, any good parent would sacrifice whatever is necessary to sow into that talent and to pave ways of opportunity.  They see the value in the awesome future that this gift or talent could take their child into.
King David, when he could have freely accepted animals and wood for making a sacrifice to the Lord said instead to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the Lord what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.”  God deserves so much more than our leftovers, He deserves our first fruits!
I believe that this morning, God is calling us to be a prophetic people.  We’re being called to see the God-created potential in the people around us, especially in those that everyone else has lost hope in.  When we see prophetically, essentially seeing things as God sees them, making sacrifices to serve others becomes a joyous adventure!
This morning, we are reminded that in order to sacrificially and generously serve Him, we don’t necessarily have to sell all that we possess to give to the poor and then to fly over to Iran and put our lives on the line to share the good news of Christ’s salvation with the lost.  We’re going to be reminded about just how easy and practical serving God truly is.  It’s so easy because it’s precisely what we were created to do!
However, we are also being reminded once again that where we sow and how we sow is exactly what we will see grow and what we will reap in our own lives.  When we keep in step with the Holy Spirit, following His lead and sowing where He leads us to sow, we will reap a harvest of His fruits personally, in time.  Who doesn’t want their lives to be overflowing with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and self control?  More than that, God also has promised to take care of all of the practical needs of our lives as we put His kingdom first.
Galatians 6:7-10
7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 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. 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. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
God is calling us to see and seize the opportunities that are all around us.  How is it, however, that we practically see and seize these opportunities?  If what you see or perceive isn’t the way that things are in Heaven, and you feel the nudging of the Holy Spirit to do something about it, then that is an opportunity to sow to please the Holy Spirit!
In Heaven, there is no pain, no tears, no sickness, no pain, no illness, no death, no mourning, no needs at all.  The blind can see, the lame can leap, the captives are set free, the spirit of heaviness is replaced with a garment of praise.  So, when we see someone who is hurting, ill, in need, addicted, depressed, broken, that is an opportunity to see Heaven on earth and to allow the Holy Spirit to move through us and prove and show God’s unfailing love to that person in that moment.
These opportunities that God desires us to see and seize surround us every day.  In fact, there are opportunities sitting right here all around us this morning!  We don’t have to fly around the world on a missions trip unless God calls us to do that.  However, we are all being called right here and right now this morning to be missionaries wherever we are.  In the Great Commission, Jesus commanded us to make disciples of all of the world as we are going.  He said that everything that He did, those who believe in Him will also do, and even greater things!  Who here this morning is hungry and thirsty to see these greater things?
Let’s take a look now at just one of the countless examples of how Jesus did this Himself, so that we can also learn how to do it ourselves.
John 4:1-42
1 Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John— 2 although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. 3 So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.4 Now he had to go through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.
Most all of us can probably relate to Jesus at this point.  He’s got stuff to do and is on the move non-stop.  Just like us, He got a bit tired and, since it was lunchtime, decided to stop by McDonald’s to grab a bite to eat with his family on His way from here to there.  Well, sort of…  Then, although He was plenty busy and preoccupied, He saw an opportunity.
7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

Jesus saw a broken and hurting woman who needed hope.  Although it was socially unacceptable on so many levels for Jesus to be speaking with this Samaritan woman, He was obedient to His Heavenly Father and reached out to her.  He also knew just what to say and how to say it to build her faith and to make her thirsty for the Kingdom of Heaven!

16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”17 “I have no husband,” she replied.Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”
Jesus received a word of knowledge that gave Him insight into the specifics of why she was such a broken and hurting woman.  In our culture, and from most pulpits today, we’ll hear that this was just a promiscuous, sexually immoral woman or even a prostitute.  However, there are other far more likely and probable explanations within their cultural context.
One critical piece of information to keep in mind is that a woman couldn’t initiate divorce at this time.  That means that she was possibly rejected and divorced five times; perhaps because she was barren and unable to give these men children.  Had she been unfaithful in her marriages, she would have likely been stoned to death and not simply divorced.
Another possibility is that she was caught in the marriage laws found in Deuteronomy where if a brother dies and leaves a widow childless, that his brother is to marry her and so on and so forth until there is an heir.
In any case, whether a prostitute, or a barren woman, or marrying into a family of guys who die young and suddenly, she had to have been a very hurt woman who was currently living in sexual immorality.
19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”
27 Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”
28 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” 30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him.The woman was so radically shaken and transformed by her apparent decision to believe in Jesus as her savior, that she left her water jar behind and stared telling her entire town about Him!  The disciples were basically like, “Dude, your fries are getting cold.”31 Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.”32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”33 Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?”

34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. 35 Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. 36 Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. 37 Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. 38 I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”

39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers.

42 They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”

Jesus had a hunger and thirst, not just physically, but spiritually.  His food was to do and finish the work of His Heavenly Father.  While we are going on about our days, God reminds us to keep our eyes open.  Jesus said that the fields are ripe for harvest; a crop of eternal life!  Jesus has already done all of the work, all that we have to do is gather in the harvest.  Eternal life is free!  Jesus made a way where there was no other way!
Because Jesus took just a few minutes out of His busy day to reach out to a lost and hurting woman, despite how unacceptable it was to the people around Him, an entire town put their faith in Him, the Savior of the world!
Our desire, here at New Hope, is for each us to be a passionate people that give of ourselves not out of compulsion and duty, but out of a thankful heart for who Jesus is and what He has done for us.  We want to be a people who are not too busy or caught up in the things of this world to miss out on the opportunities that surround us ever day.  We want to be a people to pray and act as Jesus did; God’s kingdom come and His will be done here on earth even as it is in Heaven!
This morning, God’s challenge to us is to eat up!  Like Jesus, for us to have a hunger to do the will of God.  See and seize the surplus of opportunities, those fields all around us already ripe for the harvest.  Allow the Holy Spirit to bring Heaven to earth in and through your life through simple acts of love as we share the good news of the life, death, and resurrection of the Savior of the world – Jesus!