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Harvesting Souls

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Text: Matthew 9:35-10:4

Introduction:

***  Someone once told a teenager that the greatest problem he faced

was complacency.  He responded, "Who cares?"     - A Father Of A Teenager

       Bill Gordon

***   "I have no interest in missions," exclaimed a petulant young

lady. "No, dear," said her aunt, "you can hardly expect to. "It

is just like getting interest at the bank. You have to put in a

little something first before you get any interest. So it is

with missions, the more you put into it of your time, or money,

or prayer, the more your interest grows. "But something you must

put in, or you will never have any interest." --Spirit of Missions

***  Nelson Price, pastor of the Roswell Street Baptist Church in

Cobb county Georgia wanted to place his church's television

ministry into the most unchurched counties in America.  He

contacted the Research Department of his denomination and asked

them to give him a list of the most unchurched counties in

American.  To his utter astonishment one of those counties was

Cobb County Georgia, the county his church was located in!

     - Dr. Edwin L. Cliburn

I.     In Harvesting Souls, We Must Catch the Heart of the Master.

A.   Seeing people

·         Jesus does not see past people. He sees people for what they really are and how they really feel.

·         Allan Emery, had an experience which made a deep impression upon him.  His father received a call saying a well-known Christian had been found at a certain place drunk on the sidewalk.  Immediately his father sent his chauffeured limousine to pick the man up, while his mother prepared the best guest room.  My friend watched wide-eyed, as the beautiful coverlets were turned down on the exquisite, old, four poster bed, revealing the monogrammed sheets. But, mother," he protested, "he's drunk.  He might even get sick."

"I know," his mother replied kindly, "but this man has slipped and fallen. When he comes to, he will be so ashamed.  He will need all the loving encouragement we can give him."

   It was a lesson the son never forgot.

·         Sometimes we only see the trouble people can be, or the difficulty they present to us, but we fail to really see the need of their heart like Jesus can.

B.   Having Compassion

·         Jesus cares about people and the situations they face.

·         Encarta Dictionary defines compassion as 1. Deep awareness of the suffering of another

·         I never cease thrilling at the heart of Abraham Lincoln. There is a story oftwo women relatives of General Lou Wallace who came to the White House whenLincoln was president asking about General Wallace. He had been involved in a vicious battle and they wanted to make sure he had survived. After learning he had survived they spoke rather glibly of their gladness. There had been a casualty in the battle named Wallace but they were thankful that it was not "our Wallace." Lincoln responded soberly, "Yes, but it was somebody's Wallace, wasn't it?"

·           Compassion is what makes a person feel pain when someone else hurts.

·            I am sorry for the man who can't feel the whip when it is laid on the other man's back. --Abraham Lincoln

C.   Giving direction

·         Jesus sees those who are floundering in life, and who move along without any purpose or direction. He sees their misery.

·           A man called his neighbor to help him move a couch that had become stuck in the doorway.  They pushed and pulled until they were exhausted, but the couch wouldn't budge.  "Forget it," the man finally said.  "We'll never get this in."

                  The neighbor looked at him quizzically and said, "In?"

II.   In Harvesting Souls, We Must Call for the Help of the Father.

A.   Because of the size of the task

·         None could do it alone. It is a big harvest field, and the world gets bigger every day.

·            It was early morning.  On the beach was an elderly man.  He walked with a cane, carefully surveying the beach that the receding tide had left exposed.  Every now and then he bent to pick something up and toss it into the ocean.  I watch with fascination as he carefully scanned the beach before him.  It was then that I realized he was looking for starfish.  Every time he saw one lying helpless in the sand, unable to get back to the ocean on his own, he would lovingly pick it up and toss it gently back into the sea.  Curious as to why he was doing this, I approached him.  He told me, "The starfish are left behind after the tide goes out.  If they don't get back into the ocean they will dry up and die beneath the hot summer sun."

   "But there are endless miles of beach and there must be millions of starfish," I said.  "Surely you don't think you can save them all. What difference can your efforts possibly make?" Slowly the old man bent over and picked up another starfish. As he tossed it into ocean he looked at me and said, "It makes a difference to that one."

   I was deeply touched by this story.  How easy it is to become so discouraged by the sheer magnitude of the task that Christ has set before us that we fail to focus on the value to Him of each one.  We are called to be faithful in scanning those "beaches" and in making a difference to "that one" and "that one" and "that one" in the name of Christ.

·         There is a story to the effect that a certain society in South Africa once wrote to David Livingstone, "Have you found a good road to where you are?  If so, we want to send other men to join you."    Livingstone replied, "If you have men who will come ONLY if they know there is a good road, I don't want them."

B.   Because of the lack of help

·         We all need to lend a hand. People seem to think it is only the pastor's job, but the shepherd does not beget sheep, sheep beget sheep.

·         Topic:  Work

Title:  The Job Nobody Did

   Once upon a time there were four men named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody .  There was an important job to be done and Everybody was asked to do it.  But Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.  Anybody could have done it.  But Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about it, because it was Everybody's job. Everybody thought that Anybody could do it, and Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn't do it.  It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody and Nobody did the job that Anybody could have done in the first place.

·         We  Need to pray the Father that He would soften people's hearts, our own as well as other's around us, that the lack of help in winning souls to Christ would not be because we would not answer his call. 

C.   Because the resources are His

·         We need the power of God in us that comes through his realized commission, and His realized presence.

·         Topic:  Gospel

Title:  God's Role in Salvation

   And although J.I. Packer wrote these words nearly twenty-five years ago, they are a needed reminder of the essential role God plays in all evangelistic endeavors.

   "While we must always remember that it is our responsibility to proclaim salvation, we must never forget that it is God who saves. It is God who brings men and women under the sound of the gospel, and it is God who brings them to faith in Christ. Our evangelistic work is the instrument that He uses for this purpose, but the power that saves is not in the instrument: it is in the hand of the One who uses the instrument. We must not at any stage forget that. For if we forget that it is God's prerogative to give results when the gospel is preached, we shall start to think that it is our responsibility to secure them".

   -- Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God

See:  Jonah 2:9; Rom 9:15-16; Titus 3:4-5

III.  In Harvesting Souls, We must commit our Hands to the Labor.

A.   Working with a message

·         Apostle means "messenger." One who is sent with a message.

B.   Working with authority

·         Matthew 28:18 through Matthew 28:20 (NASB) 18And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

·         God has given us his Word, and that is our authority. It is not our word that we speak, but it is His Word. That should give us great confidence.

·         The Message carries with it the weight of the sender.

·            "If you believe what you like in the Gospel, and reject what you like, it is not the Gospel you believe, but yourself."

C.   Working with others

·         The diversity of people can reach diverse groups. (Paul, gentiles; Peter, Jews) It takes all kinds of people to reach all kinds of people, but unless we can get along, we will reach no one.

·         Cooperation is key.

·         Dr. Halbeck, a missionary of the Church of England in South Africa, from the top of a neighboring hill saw lepers at work. He noticed two, particularly, sowing peas in the field. One had no hands; the other had no feet, these members being wasted away by disease. The one who wanted the hands was carrying upon his back the other, who wanted the feet. He, in turn, carried the bag of seed and dropped a pea every now and then, which the other pressed into the ground with his feet. And so they managed the work of one man between the two.

   Such should be the true union of the members of Christ's body, in which all the members should have the same care one for another.

William Moses Tidwell, "Pointed Illustrations."

Conclusion:

        We must begin to see the need that people have for Jesus, instead of the inconvenience and trouble people cause us. We must begin to really see people.  Once we get a vision of the lost as Christ has, and we begin to feel the weight of that burden, We must call out to God for help, to not only help us to answer that burden ourselves, but that others would see, feel and respond as well.  The harvest is more than ripe, and it is past time that we were about harvesting souls.

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