Famine and Fortune

Genesis 26: 1, 12

Now there was a famine in the land. Isaac sowed in that land and reaped in the same year a hundredfold. And the Lord blessed him.

I have been thinking about the economic aspect of this corona virus problem and wanting to write on it. This passage has been running through my mind for a couple of weeks now. It has everything to do with our current economic situation. However, this story about Isaac is one of the Biblical passages which can leave you scratching your head.

When Isaac was confronted with a famine, he thought about going to Egypt, but the Lord told him to stay in a town called Gerar, and Isaac did. So, the first thing we learn from this passage is obedience.

Here is the second observation. Isaac, though facing a famine, did not hoard his seed. He didn’t put everything in storage, saved against the effects of the famine. He did quite the opposite. He sowed. Now how is this resonating for our current situation? Wouldn’t it be the easiest thing in the world to hoard all your resources. Aren’t you tempted to stop tithing? You know, some people have. I honestly believe that the better thing to do is to give more. That’s crazy sounding but how is any crop going to come up if we don’t sow?

The last thing we see in this story is that Isaac reaped a hundredfold in the very same year. I am saying that these couple of verses are a message for us today and that if we trust in the Lord, we, too, can reap in this very economically challenging time.

Isaac prospered in a time when it made no sense that anyone could. And this is why this passage leaves me scratching my head, could it work for us too? And if so, what is required? Well, apparently it only works for those who: trust God, obey Him, and sow. I would add that belief is part of that trust component. This only works for those who believe. So here is the problem with testing this theory. If you believe it won’t work, you’re right! If you believe it will work, it will. What do you think?

I think this is a message from the Father to all of us. I believe He is telling us to look to Him as our source of income, blessing and harvest. I think about what Jesus said about the birds of the air. They neither reap nor sow and yet our Father takes care of them (Matthew 6: 26). What will it take from us to receive God’s bounty during this famine? How can we be like Isaac? Can I even hear what God is telling me to do?

I have a friend whose salary has been reduced by ten percent and yet she said she is not going to reduce her tithe? What? That made an impression on me. I want to be an Isaac in this land. I want us to learn how to trust God so that the famine does not defeat us but that we, instead, reap a hundredfold in this very same year. I want God to show up and show off by blessing the socks off of believers. Tell us Lord, what to do and we will obey.

Okay, now do your part. Listen for the voice of the Lord. He is speaking to you. Listen attentively. Second, obey. Yep, that word that no one seems to like these days. Third, trust the Lord and believe that what He did for Isaac, He will do for you. Sow and then gather in your harvest. I am praying that you will increase during this strained economic time and that you will look back and see how the Lord walked with you continually.

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Jealous Much?

Psalm 73: 1 – 3

No one can deny it—God is really good to Israel and to all those with pure hearts. But I nearly missed seeing it for myself. Here’s my story: I narrowly missed losing it all. I was stumbling over what I saw with the wicked. For when I saw the boasters with such wealth and prosperity, I became jealous over their smug security.

I remember well tripping over my sense of injustice at the financial success of the unrighteous. Was I envious? Yes, and outraged. It seemed wrong to me that people who were not blessing God, were not kind and were not gracious to others should reap financial blessing while the Godly suffered lack. Truth be told, sometimes I am still bothered but I remember this, God is not mocked. As you sow, so shall you reap (Galatians 6: 7) and I have seen this to be true.

God is good to us, as the scripture says, and He is a rewarder of faith and of all who seek him. And the truth about seed is that it will produce a harvest. It always does. So, those who sow good seed reap a harvest of good. However, the harvest is not always financial. Usually you reap in kind. Tomato seeds produce tomatoes, not cucumbers so if you want cucumbers, sow cucumber seeds. Those who reap financially may be reaping other harvests they don’t desire but they know and understand how to sow for financial gain. Others reap great relationships, peace, etc. but don’t enjoy the same financial success. That does not mean they are not successful. Their success is just in a different area. Those who are smug and arrogant about their financial fortunes often fail tragically in other areas.

We certainly should not envy them because we don’t know what they have done to build their financial well-being. They may have done work or spent hours that other people are unwilling to do. Instead of jealousy, we should seek the Father asking Him to teach us. Whatever area of our lives is missing being jealous of someone else is not going to improve it. Those people may or may not have their lives together in other areas so we may not truly want their lives. The God of the harvest has taught that we can have what we ask for and we know if others are being successful, then we can too. So, really, we should be glad when someone shows us what is possible. Then we can seek God and ask Him to show us the way.

Lord of the Harvest

Matthew 13: 31 – 32

He presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; and this is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.”

I must give credit for a catchy phrase to Diane Jones. In a recent conversation regarding seed and harvest she said, “It’s seed sown, not grown.” Upon elaboration she explained that our task is to sow seed, but seed sown is not immediately grown. It takes time for that seed to germinate and produce roots and then a plant. This reality is demonstrated in today’s passage. It only takes a small seed, a seed even as small as a mustard seed, but when given time, nurtured and watered, it produces a plant larger than all the other garden plants. The key here is obvious; harvests take time.

Only a fool would sow seeds today and truly expect the crop to be ready tomorrow. However, faith gives you confidence that you will receive your harvest. Cast your seed and forget about it. If you have faith that you have done what God led you to do, then you should have confidence that in due time that seed will produce a harvest. By forget about it I mean, don’t worry. Relax, have confidence that when you sow, God brings a harvest.

What do you do in the meantime? You water it with your words. You proclaim that you will be getting a crop from that seed. You thank the Father for the rain of His goodness which He sends on all your seeds. Too many times we either forget about our seed or fail in our expectation of a harvest. A farmer wouldn’t do that. Can you imagine a farmer not expecting a harvest after sowing his fields? It doesn’t happen. On the other hand, he doesn’t have to walk through the furrows everyday looking for plants poking their heads through the soil. He knows about the germination period and he bides his time.

The point of today is, sow your seed in confidence. Expect God to bring a harvest. Speak positive words about your harvest expecting it to come in. Speak confidently about the crop. You don’t have to grow the crop, just sow the seed. Seed sown, not grown. Trust our Father to produce the harvest. He will, you know.

Seed Supplier

2 Corinthians 9: 10

Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.

The first thing any of us needs to understand about God is that He is love and that everything He does is out of love. One of the next things to understand is that He operates by the principle of sowing and reaping. Your life and your understanding will be so much easier once you grasp that truth. So now, let’s apply this simple truth.

As you see, God is the one who provides seed to the sower. Who is the sower? You better hope it is you. He sows into our lives so that we can sow into other lives. If we are not sowers, why would God give us seed? When your harvest comes in, you give Him 10% of it, the first 10%. That is called the tithe.

Your own finances, you will find, work in much the same way. You are given your seed. You sow into the kingdom, return ten percent back to He who provided the initial seed and you get ninety percent to work with. However, you, like your father, are a giver so you continue to sow seed into the kingdom. That seed comes back to you. In the same way that we give ten percent of our harvest back to God, your harvest comes back on every wave. From the Father’s initial seed, the harvest is multiplying.

The seed that you sowed into your church or other ministry is invested into the Kingdom where another crop is produced. That ministry returns ten percent to the Father and sows more seed into the Kingdom. This is the sheer beauty and force of multiplied seed. It can cover the earth in a short time but what happens when someone clogs up the works?

Did you know that the Garden of Eden was a seed garden? Adam and Eve’s job was to take the seed from the garden and multiply it across the entire earth. It was a big job but a simple one really. When they didn’t perform their part of the equation, they broke the whole machine. Actually, the whole fight between Cain and Abel was over the tithe. Cain didn’t want to tithe. He was rebellious. Abel was joyous in his tithe and we know that God loves a cheerful giver, so Cain was jealous and committed the first murder.

God gave the first family all the seed they needed to populate the entire earth with plants and vegetables. The entire earth would have been an Eden, a utopia. Instead, they lusted after the one thing that was God’s. That tree, I believe, represented their tithe. They, like so many of us, ate their tithe. In that meal was death and estrangement. It is the very same for us today. We commit the same crime of Adam. We don’t give what we should and we consume what we should not. In so doing, we break the system that was meant to prosper us. The machine works if you work it or we can be like Adam, Eve and Cain. We clog up the flow of God’s provision and then we wonder why we are not more blessed. The only one in the family that joyfully blessed the Lord was killed so there was no good example left in the earth, only selfish, greedy people. Surely we can learn from their example and not make the same mistakes again, and again, and . . ..

Forget Me Not

Isaiah 17: 10 – 11             NIV

You have forgotten God your Savior; you have not remembered the Rock, your fortress. Therefore, though you set out the finest plants . . . yet the harvest will be as nothing.

This is a very good commentary on how to run our business, how to operate in our lives, and indeed how to function in every area of life. The seeds of failure are sown when we ignore the God of the Harvest. Let’s look at how we avoid this ruin.

You may have been taught to dedicate things to the Lord. That is a good first step. What should be dedicated? Everything; your home, car, business, job, recreation, family, relationships, etc. Literally everything should be placed on the altar as you dedicate its function and purpose to the Lord. Putting these things in the Lord’s hands, giving them to Him, gives Him permission to function therein. Let us not stop there.

As you see from today’s verse dedicating your job or your business to the Lord is not the end. Many have done so but promptly forgotten Him. He has a role in your business. He has a function. If you cut Him out, it will be to your detriment. Think about it. What is the incentive in cutting Him out of the operation. Does He require a paycheck? Does He ask for a raise every year? You should be tithing on all business income already. The raise He gets is when He causes your business to prosper and His 10% gets larger.

Christians fail because after they dedicate themselves and their businesses to the Lord, they subsequently forget about Him or they just have not figured out how to incorporate the Lord and His wisdom into every day operations. So, we need practical advice on how to keep God in the middle of your business life.

One of the clearest ways to do that is to communicate with Him about your business. This necessarily means that you will need to have developed the skill of hearing His voice. If you lack confidence in this area, you can search the Word of the Day on our website (www.iveyministries.org) for “voice” or “hearing.” You will find a number of articles which will help you in this regard. Also, check out Four Keys to Hearing God’s Voice by Dr. Mark Virkler (www.cwgministries.org). He teaches a simple way to develop your inner ear such that you can hear God’s voice anytime you choose to.

Then, make it your daily habit to spend some time with the Lord before you begin your day. You don’t have to spend two hours travailing over what to do. Just have a cup of coffee with the Lord as you would any business partner. Discuss ideas, plans and necessary tasks. Check in during the day with Him for any further wisdom He may share. It is that easy. Just don’t forget Him. Don’t forget that He is your partner and is willing to be with you all day long. Keep God in your thoughts and in your business and your harvest will be plentiful; more than you can contain.

No More Famine

Ezekiel 34: 29

And I will establish for them a renowned planting place, and they will not again be victims of famine in the land, and they will not endure the insults of the nations anymore.

Do you want to understand how God and His kingdom work? This verse shows us when we stop to pause and consider. Jesus compared the kingdom of God to a seed (Mark 4: 30 – 31). When God restored the nation of Israel He didn’t promise to feed them. He prepared for them good ground where they could sow seed and it would produce such a crop that they should never hunger again nor be at the mercy of other nations.

God is always working through seed. That is why He tries to get us to sow our money seed. It is not that He needs the money. For goodness sake, His driveway is paved with gold. God does not need our money. He is, instead, trying to get a harvest for us. He has provided good ground so that we will never hunger. We should never be at the mercy of the Philistines either because our seed ought to produce a crop.

This is God’s remedy for us, to provide the means by which we will always have everything we need. He prepares the ground and then protects our seed. Our two obligations are sowing and harvesting. This is how the kingdom of God operates. God does not intend that His kids should experience famine. This is the method through which God intends to meet your need. Talk with Him about what seed you should plant and where that fertile soil is which He has prepared for you. Then do not be bashful. Sow generously and harvest bountifully.

Bad Seed

Job 4: 8

According to what I have seen, those who plow iniquity and those who sow trouble harvest it.

According to what I have seen, this verse is true, alarmingly true. Sometimes when bad things happen it is, unfortunately, because we have sown bad seed. It is almost frightening at times to think about what kind of seed we might have in the ground. Whatever we have sown will produce a harvest. Galatians 6: 7 couldn’t be more clear, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.” This may sound like pretty bad news but we have heard that the Gospel is supposed to be good news, so, how can this verse inform our lives for the positive?

First, if you are living in a deluge of bad things happening, frustrations and just generally unsettled waters, inquire of the Lord if any of it is the harvest of seed you have sown. We certainly don’t want to hear God tell us, “yes,” but even if He does, at least we can develop a strategy for overcoming it. Remember that Jesus made us overcomers. If the answer is yes, there is an answer because Jesus made a way for us. You can ask your Father what the seed was, and then it is as simple as repenting. What is repentance? It is a change of direction, a change of heart, a change of mind. If you will just tell God with a sincere heart that you are sorry and that is not what you want for your life He will shower you with the fruit of His forgiveness.

Next, ask Him to redeem the bad seed. Ask Him to kill it at the root. You can also ask Him to reveal to you any other bad seed and the two of you can uproot it. You do not have to live with the produce of your errors but you do have to be sincere about your change of direction if you want Dad to destroy the bad crop.

Look, everyone makes mistakes and we are all learning and growing. Sometimes we let that old dead man out of his grave and he always sows bad seed. No worries. Jesus is the master gardener. Humbly ask him to help you and he will hoe new ground shoulder to shoulder with you.

Lastly, if you are sowing discord, grief, or any negativity into the lives of others, please be advised. It is going to come back to you. And the great and horrible thing about a seed is that it produces much more harvest than its size. There is forgiveness for this but you need the help of the Father. Humility and honesty will avail much. Prostrate your ego at the feet of Jesus and he will help you.