Harvest Times

Cheer Up

Jesus said in John 16:33 (NIV), “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart. I have overcome the world.”

Jesus had just finished telling His disciples some things that, at that time, they could not fully understand. But, He didn’t leave them clueless. He made a statement of fact: “In this world you will have trouble.” He doesn’t say our troubles will go away. He doesn’t say we will no longer be plagued by fear or doubt. Instead, our solution to a troubled heart, is to find peace in Him. But, He takes that a step further by saying something strange. He tells us to, “take heart,” or, “cheer up.”

So, when we are lonely or depressed, have doubts about our faith or feel the weight of the world pressing us down, we are to “cheer up”? This makes no sense until we read our Lord’s last statement: “I have overcome the world.”

We win our battles when we surrender to Jesus who has already fought them for us. We free ourselves from a bag full of burdens when we lay it at the cross and leave it there. We find peace, in the midst of life’s storms, when we rest in the One who walked upon the water and said, “Peace! Be still.”

He, who was rejected and despised of men, is now our Overcomer. That is definitely something we can all cheer about.

By Bob Valleau 

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Free at Last

Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying. (Hebrews 2:15 NLT)

Fear is a hard taskmaster. It is the slave master that has no compassion. The foreboding of death is the ultimate fear, yet, Jesus Christ came to deliver us from the dread of dying.

Death is the great equalizer.  It matters not if we are rich or poor, black or white, successful or not, if Jesus tarries, we will all have to deal with the grim reaper. We dread our demise so much that we cannot bring ourselves to talk about it.  We don’t allow ourselves to even think about it, yet, its reality lies just under the surface of our conscious thoughts.  Death is inevitable, but the good news is that the enemy has been defeated.  The Apostle Paul mocked death in I Corinthians 15:55 (NLT); O death, where is your victory?  O death, where is your sting?”  When our perishable bodies become imperishable, then “Death is swallowed up in victory” (vs. 53-54).  Christ has set us free from the bondage of the fear of death. Matthew Henry has told us that “death is not only a conquered enemy but a reconciled friend.”  Barring the rapture of the Saints, the demise of our mortal bodies is the only avenue into eternal bliss.  It is not a termination but a transformation from death to life.

Are you walking under the cruel taskmaster of slavery to the fear of dying?  If Christ has freed you from the curse of death, you can echo those famous words of Dr. King, and apply them to your soul. “Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty, I am free at last.

By Ken Barnes

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The Seed

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‘Now the parable is this: The seed is the Word of God.’ Luke 8: 11 

The good soil of the heart not only receives the Word of God with joy but the seed is held fast and takes root because that soil is full of honesty, humility and goodness. And thus it bears fruit with patient endurance and unshakeable faith in that Word. What is the condition of our hearts?

In times of testing, the crucible where our faith in God is proven, the seed will not fall away onto cynical or doubtful ground, but remain secure and be acted upon. The seed is not choked by the cares and concerns of each day. The pleasures of life are nothing to be compared with the promises of God. The seed’s growth is unhindered by such affairs. Despite temptations and distractions, the seed is embedded deeply in the heart and matures slowly to bear glorious fruit. Finally, the seed is not swept away by the enticements of others. For the heart remains faithful to One voice alone and delights in that familiar voice, ready and eager to obey.

The seed is the Word of God. Our hearts are the arena offering a welcome place for the seed to flourish. Our lives bear evidence to the seed maturing in our heart. What hinders us from providing a place whereby God’s Word can take root and grow? Are we ruminating upon the Word planted in our heart and then acting upon it each day? Let this deep, mysterious work that God is developing be without hindrance or resistance in the depths of our heart.

By Jennifer Woodley

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Be Still

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Be still and know that I am God….  Psalms 46:10 (NIV)

Being “still” resonates in different ways with different people. Many perceive it to be a waste of time or unproductive. While this may seem true to the mind’s reasoning, the spirit’s understanding would beg to differ.

Jesus remained forty days in the desert. Most would agree that He probably didn’t have much to do to keep himself busy during that time. However, Jesus knew all too well that in the spirit realm, things were busier than ever! He knew that the way was being opened for God’s ultimate plan to come to pass – that He, the greatest sacrifice of love ever known to man, would conquer death, sin, and reconcile all of mankind to the heavenly Father by giving eternal life to whomever would believe. That is quite a feat for staying put forty days in no man’s land!

Stillness is a precious time in which we can lean on our Heavenly Father and experience the calm and peace of his wonderful healing presence. Know this, that while you are resting in the arms of the One who never sleeps or slumbers, heaven is getting busy on your behalf and accomplishing more for your life than you could ever dream or imagine for yourself.

…“Peace, be still!”    Jesus Christ.

By Kim Feeney

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The World to Come

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It has been cited as a flaw in Christianity that it is more concerned with the world to come than with the world that now is, and some timid souls have been fluttering about trying to defend the faith of Christ against this accusation as a mother hen defends her chicks from the hawk.

Both the attack and the defense are wasted. No one who knows what the New Testament is about will worry over the charge that Christianity is otherworldly. Of course it is, and that is precisely where its power lies.

Christianity, which is faith in Christ, trust in His promises and obedience to His commandments, rests down squarely upon the Person of Christ. What He is, what He did and what He is doing — these provide a full guarantee that the Christian’s hopes are valid. Christianity is what Christ says it is. His power becomes operative toward us as we accept His words as final and yield our souls to believe and obey.

Christ is not on trial; He needs no character witnesses to establish His trustworthiness. He came as the Eternal God in time’s low tabernacle. He stands before no human tribunal, but all men stand before Him now and shall stand for judgment at the last. Let any man bring the faith of Christ to the bar of man’s opinion, let him try to prove that the teachings of Christ are in harmony with this philosophy or that religion, and he is in fact rejecting Christ while seeking to defend Him. lpse dixit, He has said it, is sufficient answer to all criticisms of Christ’s claims.

Christianity has over the last half century been badly shaken by the criticisms of certain social philosophers. These gentlemen have assumed the basic soundness of the present world system. With a few improvements here and there a prosperous, healthy and peaceful society could be established right here on this earth, and to do this, say they, is the whole duty of man.

These men were observant enough to see that their concept of a permanently peaceful world was contrary to the teachings of the New Testament, so they quite naturally turned impatiently from them. Unfortunately many influential Christian leaders were not astute enough to notice the contradiction between the ipse dixits of Christ and the doctrines of the social dreamers and, smarting under the charges hurled at them by the one-world thinkers, they retreated from their Christian position and ran after the social philosophers, crying  “Me too, me too,” in a frantic effort to prove that the world had misunderstood Christianity all along. In doing this they, of course surrendered all that is unique in the faith of Christ and adopted an emaciated Christianity which is little more than a ghost of the faith once delivered.

Let no one apologize for the powerful emphasis Christianity lays upon the doctrine of the world to some. Right there lies its immense superiority to everything else within the whole sphere of human thought of experience. When Christ arose from death and ascended into heaven and established forever three important facts: namely, that this world has been condemned to ultimate dissolution, that the human spirit persists beyond the grave and that there is indeed a world to come.

Taken from the book ‘Of God and Men’ by AW Tozer

Published by Gospel Literature Service.

 

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Counterfeit Coins

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Many people are deceived in India by counterfeit coins. Those who make or possess counterfeit coins mix them up with genuine coins while buying things from the market. New and inexperienced shopkeepers are deceived, and take counterfeit coins with the genuine. But merchants and shopkeepers who are experienced pick out such counterfeit coins immediately and refuse to accept them. Not only so, they quickly hand over such deceivers to the police. The Devil subtly and crookedly has raised up his agents, false Christians, side by side with real Christians throughout the world. These false Christians are members of the churches, pray in the name of Christ, sing Christian hymns, attend the Sunday meetings, celebrate Christmas, Good Friday and Easter and do many social works in the name d Christ. But, as the tares when eaten are found bitter in taste, so are the practical lives of these so-called Christians found to be full of pollution, corruption and wickedness. As the experienced merchants and shopkeepers discover counterfeit coins mixed up with genuine coins, so false Christians, who are deceivers mixed up with real Christians, will one day be exposed, judged and condemned for ever. As the tares are gathered and burnt in the fire, so shall the false and deceiving Christians, “the children of the wicked one”, who do iniquity, be cast into the lake of fire. (Matt. 13:40-42).

Taken from the book ‘In Christianity or In Christ’ by Jordan C. Khan.

Published by GLS Publishing

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