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ss=MsoNormal align=right style='text-align:right;line-height:150%'>Northwood Baptist Church, August 17, 2008, A.M. 
*Harvest Time is Coming: *Sowing Righteousness
 
Sometimes when we plant we get the unexpected:
Illustration:
When I was a teenager, living in Pegram, we grew a garden the first couple of years that we lived there.
I remember growing watermelons.
I have always loved watermelon.
A few years earlier while living on the family farm I remember picking my grandfather’s watermelons and eating them right off the vine.
So back to my watermelon vines.
One day I went out to check on their progress and low and behold there was a full grown watermelon sitting next to the vine.
What you don’t know is that the vine was not fully mature and neither was the fruit.
Our next door neighbor had decided to pull a little trick on me.
I had no reason to expect a full grown watermelon to come up over night.
No that was an unexpected harvest.
But most of the time we get exactly what we sow and there are no surprises.
If I were to sow briars, I would have no reason to expect grapes.
·    If we sow good seed and we cultivate it with care then we have every reason to expect a fruitful harvest.
·    But if we sow weeds and thistles then we shouldn’t be surprised when weeds and thistles are all we get.
·    The same thing goes for our spiritual lives:
 
We are in the middle of our 30 Days of Prayer:
 
We are Praying for Rain:  If we expect it to rain then we would do well to sow what will bring the rain.
God’s word instructs us as to what will produce the rain of God’s presence.
Turn with me to Hosea 10:12 (page 906)
 
Sow with a view to righteousness, Reap in accordance with kindness; Break up your fallow ground, For it is time to seek the Lord Until He comes to rain righteousness on you.*
*
 
What we have here is . .
.
God’s 3 Step formula for a Harvest of Rain:
 
1.
Sow with a view to *righteousness*
2. Reap in according with *kindness* ~/ steadfast love
3. *Break up* your fallow ground (cultivate the tillable)
 
For it’s time to *seek the Lord*: until He comes = salvation
 
The context of this passage:  God challenges Israel to seek *righteousness*, *mercy*, and *God* *himself*.
This takes us back to God’s initial complaint against Israel in Hosea 4:1, *Israel* *lacked moral integrity*, *compassion*, and the *knowledge of God* (4:1).
Listen to the word of the Lord, O sons of Israel, For the Lord has a case against the inhabitants of the land, Because there is no faithfulness or kindness Or knowledge of God in the land.*
- Hosea 4:1 *
 
*The fundamental characteristics of life in God are . .
.*
* *
1. Moral integrity:               righteousness (people of truth)
They divorced themselves from God in unfaithfulness
 
2.
Compassion:                  mercy (loyalty)
They refused to receive or give compassion
 
3.
Knowledge of God:         relationship (knowing God)
They had become like strangers before God
 
Unless they turn and begin to sow unto righteousness they were destined to experience a harvest of unrighteousness:  A barren crop of wickedness and self-righteousness.
So God, in His compassion, reveals the only remedy for their unfruitful lives:
 
Seek the great physician of their souls:
·    Seek His Righteousness
·    Seek His Mercy
·    Seek to know God
·    Seek the Lord until He comes to rain righteousness
 
Turn again with me to *Hosea 10:12 (page 906)*
Here we have God’s instructions as to what we should sow?
Sow with a view to righteousness, Reap in accordance with kindness; Break up your fallow ground, For it is time to seek the Lord Until He comes to rain righteousness on you.*
*
*       - Hosea 10:12 *
*Harvest Time is Coming: *
A harvest according to the measure of faithful love
How do we prepare for the Harvest?
 
1.
Seek Righteousness: Sow Righteousness
 
Solomon wrote, “/The wicked earns deceptive wages, but he who sows righteousness gets a true reward/.”*
– Prov.
11:18 *
 
The harvest will always be in proportion to what we sow.
Basically, we reap what we sow.
“According to what I have seen, those who plow iniquity and those who sow trouble harvest it.*
- Job 4:8 *
* *
*Get a vision of God’s holiness in your life*
*Fix your mind on being a man or woman after God’s heart: For right living in all you do.
*
* *
*Otherwise: If we sow unrighteousness we reap the same.*
* *
They that sow the wind will reap the whirlwind.
*- Hosea 8:7 *
 
*Jesus explained this concept in a parable:* *Matt.
13:24-30*
 
“The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field.
“But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away.
“But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also.
“The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field?
How then does it have tares?’
“And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this!’
The slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?’ “But he said, ‘No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them.
‘Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.”
* *
/Sow with a view to righteousness/* - Hosea 10:12 *
 
The Marines may be looking for a few good men but God is “only” looking for good men and women.
We know that Christ supplies the righteousness because we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glorious standard.
Brother and Sister in Christ,
                               “Sow with a view to righteousness.”
This is the standard for all we do, say, and think
 
Brethren, whatever is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and commendable, if there is any excellence and anything worthy of praise, think about these things.*
- Philippians 4:8 *
 
When Paul instructed the church at Corinth, he said, “this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.
Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed; as it is written, “He scattered abroad, he gave to the poor, His righteousness endures forever.”
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;* - 2 Cor.
9:6-10 *
 
If we expect a bountiful harvest, then we must purpose in our hearts to sow bountifully and abundantly.
Harvest Time is Coming:  Seek Righteousness
Sow with a view to righteousness  
 
2.
Seek Mercy: reap in accordance with Mercy
 
Sow with a view to righteousness, Reap in accordance with kindness; - *Hosea 10:12 *
 
Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.* - Matthew 5:7 *
 
Mercy isn’t just something we desire for ourselves; mercy is something others need from us.
I’m going to suggest something here that I believe with all my heart:
 
Unless you have received mercy, you will never be merciful to others.
And if you and I are not merciful to others then we must ask ourselves a question:
 
·       Have I really experienced mercy?
If so, what is keeping us from being merciful?
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