Living life as a partnership in the ministry

“For in this the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors.” John 4:37-38

People who want to lose weight often need the support and encouragement of other people, correct? That’s why we have Weight Watchers in the USA. Jesus teaches His disciples the importance of working together in the field of evangelism. He said, “For in this the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors.” (John 4:37-38).

In the New Testament times, the reaper didn’t usually sow the seed. While one man might sow an entire field throwing seed into the air, it would take many people to reap that field once the crop was ripe. Now the disciples were about to reap what Jesus and the Samaritan woman had sown in the hearts of the people of Sychar (John 4:1-30).The disciples now saw the crowd from Sychar with the Samaritan woman leading them. They probably realized that Jesus’ conversation with her was responsible for their coming. The disciples now knew what would happen. They would forget about supper and talk to these villagers just as Jesus had done with this woman.

They remembered His words, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.” (John 4:34). Jesus and the woman had sown and now they too could do the will of God and lead these people to believe in Christ alone for His gift of everlasting life. The disciples’ efforts would be well repaid. Heaven would be a richer place for them if they now made a small sacrifice for the will of God (John 4:36).

Evangelism is a partnership ministry. We need sowers and reapers to evangelize our communities and beyond. Evangelism is to be done by all believers, not just the leaders of a church or those with the gift of evangelism. In fact, you cannot be a disciple of Jesus Christ if you are not evangelizing people, because Jesus said, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19). If you are not fishing for men or women, boys or girls, with the gospel, then you are not following Christ. Make your life count for eternity. Follow Jesus and He will equip and empower you to reach people with His gospel of grace.

Prayer: Lord of the Harvest, thank You that I am not alone when it comes to reaching people with Your gospel message. You have provided sowers and reapers to evangelize the world. Together, we can reach the world for Your glory. Please help me to ignore the lies of the enemy which tell me I am all alone and isolated from my brothers and sisters in Christ. The truth is I am never alone. You, Lord, are always with me and You have provided brothers and sisters in Christ all around me. They also are sowing the seed of Your Word in the hearts of unbelievers and  other believers are reaping belief in those hearts. Thank You for our partnership in the gospel. Together, the possibilities are endless. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

God finishes what He starts

“Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6

The apostle Paul is writing to Christians in Philippi to thank them for their generosity in sending him financial gifts at the beginning of his gospel ministry when no other church did and even more recently (1:3-5; 4:10-18). Paul expressed his confidence that this “good work” of financial assistance that God began in the Philippians would be brought to completion on “the day” Jesus returns for His church (1:6; cf. 1:10; 2:16; 3:11, 20-21; 1 Thess. 4:13-18). What God began in the Philippians enabled Paul to preach the gospel to hundreds of people in his lifetime and impact millions of people with his New Testament epistles. Think of how many people have been influenced by Paul’s writings the last two thousand years!?! Imagine how many more people will be impacted by his epistles until Christ returns for His church!?! This is staggering. God did not waste Paul’s sufferings and imprisonments when Paul wrote most of his letters. He used that time to advance the gospel for generations to come.

I learned a year and a half ago from my Dad that when I was five years old, I disappeared on our dairy farm in Illinois. So my parents and older siblings looked all over for me and eventually they found me standing on a pile of rocks preaching to the dairy cows. I have no recollection of doing this. But my family confirmed that this did indeed happen.

As I read Philippians 1:6 this morning, God reminded me that He began a “good work” in me back when I was five years old preaching to the cows. Even though I had not yet believed in Jesus for everlasting life at that time, there was a sense of calling on my life to preach God’s Word (cf. Jeremiah 1:5). The Bible says this was a “good” or excellent and distinguished work, not a “bad” or “mediocre” work. God never starts something bad in our lives. He starts something good. So no matter how inadequate or ashamed you may feel inside, be confident that what God has begun doing in your life is good and beneficial for you and others. This work is also beneficial to God. It puts a smile on His face to see His children participate in the spread of His gospel around the world.

The most encouraging part of this verse for me is that God finishes (“complete”) what He starts in us. Even though we may falter or get off track in our Christian lives, God does not give up on us or stop working. He often uses hardships in our lives to take us deeper in our relationship with Him so He can use us even more. He wants us to be confident that He finishes what He begins in us. This will give us hope amidst the storms in our lives so that we do not quit or give up.

Whatever God is doing in your life, He wants to use it to reach other people with the gospel far beyond your lifetime. Just as the Lord used the Philippians’ giving to the apostle Paul’s preaching and writing to impact peoples’ lives with the gospel long after they died, so the Lord wants to use your talents to advance the gospel long after you die. He may use your giving, writings, singing, crafts, film productions, acts of kindness, preaching of the gospel, etc., long after you are gone to lead other people to faith in Christ. Make no mistake about it, God will bring to completion the good work He began in you until the day when Jesus returns for His church.

Prayer: Lord of the Harvest, thank You for starting a good and excellent work in me that is neither bad nor mediocre. Knowing that You will finish what You started in my life until the day when Jesus returns for His church, gives me great confidence and hope. Thank You for not giving up on me even when I may give up on myself. I now give you my voice, my talents, my mind and body to finish what You began in me years ago. I look forward to what You will accomplish all for Your glory. In Jesus’ name. Amen.