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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Putting Your Hand to the Plow

             Putting your hand to the Plow

      Some things are hard to understand, especially Jesus dealings with people who said they wanted to follow him.  He was more merciful to them than God was to Lot’s wife.  Lot and his family had been warned not to look back.  Yet his wife did look back. She was turned into a pillar of salt.  In her case it is easy to see that her heart and desire may have been with the life she left behind.  Turning your back and walking away from all that you have ever known is a very hard thing to do. 

      The real question is, where is your heart?  Is it with God?  Or is it with the life you presently have?  Jesus made it clear, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”  At sixty-seven years old I have come to realize that you may not look back, but you will see the consequences of your actions.  The first thing you need to do as a new Christian is pray for crop failure of all the wild oats you sowed. 

     One phrase I have come to understand is that, you reap, what you sow.  All the bad things you did will sooner or later be harvested.  Sometimes by you or in some cases those you love and care for.  You may watch another person raise your child and you have no say so in how your child is raised.  Your child may adopt your bad habits or turn against you because of your habits.  It may not seem fair, but if it is what you sowed, it is what you will reap.  If you were too busy to properly raise your children while making a living, you may raise your grandchildren or great grand-children.

     Once you have put your hand to the plow and look back your rows may not be straight.  That gives room for weeds or bad seed to grow.  If you keep looking ahead you will sooner or later see if you messed up.  You plow in circles and eventually you come back to where you started.  Hopefully when you do your furrows will be straight as an arrow and you will have no regrets.

     Some people believe in the theory of "once saved, always saved" and that you can’t lose your salvation. That is not what Peter taught.  He should definitely know the cost of making mistakes.  The story of the rooster crowing says we all make mistakes.  Where our hearts are at will determine the consequences.  He makes it clear if we return to the lifestyle we formerly lived we will be worse off than before we were saved.  Second Peter 2:20-22 paints a pretty clear picture that there is a price for falling away. Besides if there is no way you can get kicked out of heaven, what is Satan doing here.

Recently I had a couple of those Peter experiences.  I was at a place when a friend asked if I had a flashlight he could use.  I told him, “Yes, but the batteries are dead.”   They were but a couple minutes later I remembered I had the batteries in my car for it.  He had already found one by that time though.  Later a man was trying to move a tractor but the battery was dead.  There seemed to be something in the air that night.  He said he would move it in the morning.  I had jumper cables and could have very easily given him a jump, but I had already put all my stuff in the car to leave.  I never volunteered my services.  A couple more similar instances happened during the same time frame.

      So why did it bother me so much.  Because I know the Bible and what it says and while I had been offering financial help to the organization these people worked for I had failed to do several simple little things.  There are a couple places where Jesus warns those who say they love him, but do nothing. Matthew 7 and 23 both contain stories.  It would be easy to sweep these instances under the carpet and no one would see them, or know about them.  Yet I would know and Christ knows.  I go out of my way to help others and do for others all the time, but sometimes when I could easily do something.  I do nothing and that is what Jesus really has a problem with.

      If you join the Army and go off to serve your country and things happen at home, you will know about them.  Regardless you continue to serve, because it is your duty.  It is what you were called to or volunteered for.  You are called to give one hundred percent of your service to your country.  Even to the point of laying down your life.  We may hope to not pay that price, but if it is demanded in the line of duty most who serve will willingly pay it.

      The following statements are from Luke 9.   “57Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to Him, “Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.” 58And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” 59Then He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 60Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.” 61And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.” 62But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”  Jesus is simply making clear that when we follow him our past is past. As long as we do not turn back to it.  It is about what is before us that matters.  We are to walk as he walked, giving our all for the kingdom.

     Those little things that we fail to do for others may keep them from reaching their goal or doing their duty for the Lord.  If we cause that to happen, we have not given our all to Him and His Kingdom.  We may cause another to fail who was doing a duty that God had called him to do.  It may be as simple as going outside at night to turn on the water so people can shower, cook and provide meals for those in need. You may need a light to do it though.  If the mower on the tractor does not mow, maybe a person will not have a place to park.  Then they will have to stay somewhere else and maybe not hear the message that would have changed their lives.  All those little things we do not have time to do, or are unwilling to do, can add up.

      The people where I was at may have been praising me for my help, but I saw the reality. It is the same reality the Lord sees in our daily lives.  He knows the truth of what we do and what we could do.  It is the not doing what we could do and had the power to do, that will convict us in the end.  The next time you see the guy with the sign, “Will work for food.”  Offer to buy him a meal and see what his needs really are.  If he declines and just wants the money, you are only out the the price of a meal.  You may also find a person with a real need that you can really help.  You may even get the response I have gotten on more than one occasion.  “Oh! You Christians just want to do things so you can feel good about yourselves.” And your offer of help may be declined.  At least you offered.  Giving $5 and “Have a nice day.” May not be enough in some instances.

         When I was still trucking I used to offer to buy a meal for the person sitting on his bags outside the truck stop.  Sometimes I bought them a meal and found out their needs and gave them a meal and a few bucks.  Sometimes a shower and let them sleep for a few hours in my truck if they were really beat from traveling.  Let the Lord lead and guide you, but always be willing to do “All” that you can.  That is “All” that he asks.  You will never be able to solve all the problems, but you will be more likely to hear the phrase, "Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the kingdom."

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