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Harvest expectations

October 2016 | by Barry Loeber

‘And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart’ (Galatians 6:9)

When it comes to Christian service, I wonder what our expectations are. Do we have great expectations? Do we eagerly anticipate a great outpouring of God the Holy Spirit? Do we really believe that souls will and can be saved, even through our own feeble efforts?

Low expectations

If we are constantly harbouring thoughts of doubt in our minds, then we will continuously be disappointed. Why should we expect someone to be delivered from darkness to light, if our expectations of the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit to be in that situation are hindered by our own lack of belief? How dare we undermine the sovereign power of Almighty God!

Surely we are guilty of this time after time? Yet God is in the business of saving souls. It is our duty and delight to make the pathway of blessing from heaven to the soul a clear one for him to work in.

William Carey, who has often been referred to as ‘the father of modern missions’, famously said in a sermon preached on 30 May 1792, ‘Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God’.

Here was a man who clearly had great expectations. He did not erect barriers of doubt and half-hearted faith in his head. He fully grasped the power of God to bless all that he put his hand to. I would encourage you all to read about this man.

In this respect, William Carey was following the Pauline principle, and indeed a clear biblical principle. It is clear from our text that we are to expect a spiritual harvest. The apostle Paul is encouraging us to spiritually battle on and continue with all that we are called to do.

What is our battlefield? Where is it that we feel the intense heat of the battle? It is precisely there that we are to soldier on, trusting God to bless, and eradicating all doubt. God is waiting to bless, but are we willing to act in faith.

Full engagement

Paul writes, ‘Let us not become weary in doing good’. I have often thought that this implies a physical weariness, but I am more and more convinced that it implies a spiritual weariness.

I think he means let us not engage in a ‘woe is me’ scenario: ‘I have laboured in this or that gospel field for so long, but failed to reap a harvest; the Lord is simply not blessing this work that I am “fully” engaged in!’

But the question arises, are we really fully engaged in the work? We may throw ourselves physically into it, but are we throwing ourselves spiritually into it? Are we praying over every aspect of the work that we are doing for the Lord?

Are we solely reliant upon the Lord to own this work for his glory? Are we depriving God of his glory due to our selfish attitudes? Are we preventing him from receiving all the honour due to him because we are driving down the one-way street of self?

From the missionary in the field, to our local church, to our own personal witnessing, what are our expectations? Paul continues, ‘For at the proper time we will reap a harvest, if we do not give up’.

God’s ability

The key, it seems to me, to see this great outpouring of heaven’s blessing, is to persevere with great faith in Christ, and the belief that God can do the unexpected. If he is the God of the impossible, then let us plead with him that he will do the impossible among us. We must not hold onto doubt and reservation.

Are we expecting a harvest of souls in due season? Or do we expect endless dry and parched fields, spiritually speaking? Heaven’s clouds are hovering. The prayers of faith will penetrate those clouds and cause the blessings to flow.

May we not be so dull and blind that we fail to see those clouds! May we yet experience the outpouring of God’s Spirit!

Barry Loeber is a member of the world mission committee at Gateway Baptist Church, Burgess Hill