Posts Tagged ‘seedtime and harvest’

Giving and receiving –taking another look

February 26, 2020

Pomegranates are not only a source of nutrition and refreshment, but the currently popular fruit has spiritual significance as well in illustrating the principle of giving and receiving.

It has been a while since I posted a blog entry inspired by the Verse of the Day, so I thought I would share comments based on a recent experience while waiting for my appointment with my oncologist at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Washington, DC. My wife and I have relocated from North Carolina to Northern Virginia, and this was my first appointment with the VA Hospital in DC where I formerly worked as a pharmacist more than 45 years ago. Oh, the Providence of God. . . As I sat in the waiting room, a chaplain came in spreading “some good news for the day.” He handed strips of paper with Bible verses to those who wanted to receive them. I smiled and accepted the “Verse of the Day” he gave me, a verse that you could apply that day and every day for that matter:

Luke 6:38 (New King James)

Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

This verse relates an immutable principle expressed in Scripture in a number of ways. In Genesis, after the flood, we find a reference to “seed-time and harvest.” Malachi mentions the principle of “tithing,” a specific form of giving. In Philippians, Paul speaks of “giving and receiving” while he mentions “sowing and reaping” in Corinthians and Galatians.

In a previous blog post on the subject of “giving and receiving,” I offered an illustration of the principle by discussing “Spiritual Implications and Applications of Pomegranates” in this excerpt :

According to folklore, pomegranates contain 613 seeds, representing the 613 commandments found in the five books of the Law in the Old Testament. Since the fruit abounds with seeds, the pomegranate is also used to illustrate some of the spiritual principles of “giving and receiving,” “sowing and reaping,” and “seed-time and harvest.” Here we note that God’s ratio is never 1:1, not 1:10, not 1:50, not 1:100, but just for purposes of rounding off, let’s say, 1:500 as an example of the ratio of return. From planting one seed, if you get one tree which eventually produced 100 pomegranates that would be a ratio of 1/50,000 in one year. What if you planted an orchard from just one pomegranate and eventually had 100 trees with hundreds of pomegranates with hundreds of seeds produced every year, you could not calculate the total number of seeds produced from one seed. The essence of the magnitude of this spiritual principle is expressed poetically in this way:

A Hundredfold

But others fell on good ground, sprang up,
and yielded a crop a hundredfold. . . .
Luke 8:8a

Orchards of pomegranate trees
stem from fruit of a single seed
whose life is found within itself,
sown in fertile soil of the heart.

While reflecting on the “Verse of the Day” the chaplain gave me, I also thought of a song by Ron Kenoly who captures the essence of the promise given by the Lord Jesus Christ, as we will close with “Give and it will come back to you” [ Luke 6:38 ]

A new season: Be strong and courageous

September 24, 2018

As autumn leaves begin to change, we are entering a new season of harvest.

Fall officially begins at the autumnal equinox, where the Sun appears to cross the celestial equator, from north to south, signaling the beginning of autumn in the Northern Hemisphere, when the night and day are of equal length. This year it occurred on Saturday, September 22, which marks the end of summer and the beginning of winter.

Even in the midst of these changing times, seasons change. “The days dwindle down to a precious few” and the foliage unfolds in golden splendor along with the bountiful harvest. At this time “Deep rust and scarlet curtains dress the stage/Where trees change gowns on a warm autumn day.” This time of year reminds us of the truths expressed by God Almighty after the flood waters receded in the Days of Noah:

Genesis 8:22

22 As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.”

In thinking about autumn as a season of harvest, I thought of a particularly challenging situation for the Children of Israel as they approached the Promised Land and prepared to enter, Joshua 3:15 notes: ”the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest.” Before they head toward their destination, Joshua commands the people:

Joshua 3:5-6

5 Then Joshua said to the people, “Sanctify yourselves [for His purpose], for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders (miracles) among you.” 6 Joshua said to the priests, “Take up the ark of the covenant and cross over [the river] ahead of the people.” So they took up the Ark of the Covenant and went on ahead of the people.

In a recent teaching of this account from the Book of Joshua, Pastor Joon of Grace Covenant Church, commented, “Before the impossible you pause and ask God what to do.” He went on to say, “Consecration is the vessel for miracles.”

We see that the priests entered the Jordan bearing the Ark of the Covenant on their shoulders. When they entered the river, the waters parted, and the people miraculously walked through on dry land.

This record also brought to mind a poem that personalizes our encounter with a Jordan River of our own, particularly at this season of my life as thousands upon thousands of Carolinians are recovering from devastating flooding after Hurricane Florence. Like the Children of Israel our desire is

To Cross Over

Deep river, Lord,
I want to cross over into campground.
Black Spiritual

To cross over the swelling Jordan is our goal.
Here we stand at the beginning of our harvest
When waters of the river overflow and crest
Above our tableland to overwhelm our soul.
Streams converge upon us as far as we can see
And flood our camp from shore to shore. The rising tide
Would hold us back and keep us from the other side,
But we prepare our heart and mind for victory.
As God sent forth the sacred Ark of the Covenant
Borne on the strong shoulders of the priests, reliant
On the Lord’s command that the waters would recede,
So shall those who trust God, never fail but succeed.
Though trials seem to hinder us on every hand,
We shall walk through this Jordan and stand on dry land.

As we enter into this new harvest season of our lives, we may be confronted with challenging circumstances that seem to overwhelm us at times, but we are confident that just as God delivered Israel, so will He provide a way for us reach our destination, the place of our destiny.

As we embark upon this new season, we inquire of the Lord and seek His guidance and direction for the days ahead. Some will be fasting and praying; others will journal and devote more time to reading and studying the Scriptures. We think of the lyrics to “Our Eyes are on You”:

Lord, we acknowledge You,

We don’t know what to do,

But our eyes are still on You.

 

We have not been this way.

Each step is strange and new,

But our eyes are still on You.

 

Teach us Your way, and we will follow.

Speak to us now. We will obey.

You’ve always brought us through.

Our eyes are still on You.

Our eyes are still on You.

We close with a musical rendering of some of the words spoken to Joshua, and they certainly can be applied to our lives in this new season: “Be Strong and Take Courage”:

Pomegranates: Spiritual implications and applications

November 5, 2016

Pomegranates are not only a source of nutrition and refreshment, but the currently popular fruit has spiritual significance as well.

Pomegranates are not only a source of nutrition and refreshment, but the currently popular fruit has spiritual significance as well.

Varying even more from the traditional Verse of the Day, we want to take a look at the “Word for the Day” for November 5, 2016, which is “Pomegranate.” The word is especially apropos since November is designated National Pomegranate Month in the United States. This month offers a great time to learn about the nutritional benefits of pomegranates in the form of fresh fruit or pomegranate juice. The nutritional and health benefits of pomegranates are well known across the globe, but the spiritual implications and applications associated with this ancient fruit are sometimes overlooked.

Once considered obscure, exotic fruit, pomegranates have now become increasingly popular within the past several years. Rich in antioxidants which reportedly prevent cancer and strokes, the popular fruit has been found to be useful in other conditions as well. Pomegranates are also valued for their nutritional benefits. The popularity of pomegranate juice has skyrocketed, being used in hundreds of products, internally and externally.

Indigenous to Middle Eastern and Mediterranean areas, pomegranates are now grown in subtropical climates all over the world, especially in California and Arizona where farmers cannot keep up with the demands. Often referred to as “Chinese apple” or “the jewel of winter,” pomegranates are in season in early winter in North America.

Within the pomegranate you find several chambers of seeds, surrounded by transparent pulp from which the nutrient-rich red juice is extracted. Grenadine, a sweet syrup, is produced from the seeds, while the blossoms also have medicinal use. The leathery skin or rind is used in dye for leather.

Spiritual Implications and Applications of Pomegranates

Literally translated “seeded apple,” the pomegranate tree was believed to have been one of the trees in the Garden of Eden. Pomegranates were also among the fruit brought back by the spies when the Children of Israel inspected the Promised Land. The fruit grows on trees which produce bright red-orange blossoms which are bell shaped. “Bells and pomegranates” were embroidered on the hem of the priests’ garments in the Old Testament. Solomon is said to have maintained orchards of pomegranate trees.

The word “pomegranate” is used eight times in the Bible, with eight representing “a new beginning.” E.W. Bullinger, in his celebrated work, Numbers in Scripture, and in an Appendix to his Companion Bible, mentions that eight denotes resurrection or new beginning or regeneration or commencement. “The eighth is a new first”. . . and is said to mean “to make fat,” “cover with fat,” “to super-abound.” As a noun, it also means “one who abounds in strength.” Symbolically, pomegranates represent abundant, luxuriant fertility and life, eternal life. Note that the number 8 when viewed on its side or horizontally is the symbol of infinity.

According to folklore, pomegranates contain 613 seeds, representing the 613 commandments found in the five books of the Law in the Old Testament. Since the fruit abounds with seeds, the pomegranate is also used to illustrate some of the spiritual principles of “giving and receiving,” “sowing and reaping,” and “seedtime and harvest.” Here we note that God’s ratio is never 1:1, not 1:10, not 1:50, not 1:100, but just for purposes of rounding off, let’s say, 1:500 as an example of the ratio of return. From planting one seed, if you get one tree which eventually produced 100 pomegranates that would be a ratio of 1/50,000 in one year. What if you planted an orchard from just one pomegranate and eventually had a 100 trees with hundreds of pomegranates with hundreds of seeds produced every year, you could not calculate the total number of seeds produced from one seed. The essence of the magnitude of this spiritual principle is expressed poetically in this way:

A Hundredfold

But others fell on good ground, sprang up,
and yielded a crop a hundredfold. . . .
Luke 8:8a

Orchards of pomegranate trees
stem from fruit of a single seed
whose life is found within itself,
sown in fertile soil of the heart.

During this period known as harvest time, we are especially aware of the application of spiritual principles expressed in the Bible in a number of ways, “Giving and Receiving,” “Sowing and Reaping,” or “Seedtime and Harvest,” or simply that “The same degree to which you give, it’s going to be given back to you.” Such principles are especially evident when you look at pomegranates which are so abundant at this time of the year.

In light of the current season for pomegranates and other fruit, we conclude with “Seedtime and Harvest” by Joel Case.

Sowing and reaping

January 21, 2016

Galatians-6-7-9

The Verse of the Day for January 21, 2016 discusses one of the immutable principles of life: sowing and reaping:

Galatians 6: 7-8 (NKJV):

7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.

2 Corinthians 9:6 reiterates this same principle:

But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.

The original expression of this principle is known as “Seedtime and Harvest” which goes back to Jehovah’s words to Noah following the flood in Genesis 8:22:

“While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease.”

This concept is expressed another way in terms of “giving and receiving,” particularly within the context of financially contributing to the work of the ministry within the Church, as revealed in Philippians 4:15 (NKJV):

15 Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only.

Verse 7 of 2 Corinthians 9 also makes reference to giving following the mentioning of sowing and reaping:

7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.

Giving is another expression of the universal principle whose application reaches far beyond an agricultural context, as revealed in Luke 6:38(NKJV)

38 Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

Whether we refer to the principle of “seedtime and harvest” or “giving and receiving” or as the Verse of the Day indicates, “sowing & reaping,” we are reminded that each individual on earth determines his or her own destiny: whatever an individual sows that individual shall also reap. Think about this: “Thoughts are seeds to your words and deeds.” With this in mind, we are always sowing and reaping, in thought, in word, and in deed.” Our discussion also brings to mind to mind this poem:

To Serve and To Sow

Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy.
He who continually goes forth weeping,
Bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again
with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.

Psalm 126:5-6

We learn to serve and to sow with a joyful heart,
To pour from the fountain of our soul and to give
All our strength to the Lord’s work and to do our part
To complete each task, to build that the Word might live,
For only deeds done for the sake of Christ remain.
The legacy of God’s will fulfilled lives beyond
The brief journey of our days filled with joy and pain,
This precious token of our covenant, the bond
Of devotion to the Master, perfected love
Shed abroad in our hearts, enfolded in His peace
That passes understanding, flowing from above.
As we plant and water, our God gives the increase.
Freely we have received that we might come to know
The love of God, as we learn to serve and to sow.

Listen to “Those Who Sow in Tears Shall Reap in Joy” by Esther Mui, Christian Praise Worship Song based on Psalm 126, source of the introductory passage of “To Sow and to Serve.”

Views on sowing and reaping

January 21, 2015

Galatians-6-7-9

The Verse of the Day for January 21, 2015 is taken from Galatians 6:7-8 (NLT)

Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.

Galatians 6:9-10 goes on to say:

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

The passage speaks of the universal principle of sowing and reaping. This same concept brings to mind God’s promise to Noah after the flood:

Genesis 8:22 :

While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.

Another expression of this principle is the Law of Giving and Receiving revealed in Luke 6:38 (NLT)

Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.”

Whether you refer to “sowing and reaping” or “seedtime and harvest” or simply “giving and receiving,” we are always applying those immutable principles in our lives.

While reflecting on the Verse of the Day, I happened to think of one of the poems originally composed on my birthday. The words remind me of where I am and what I am doing at this present time, as think on the Word of God and see its personal application, as

 

I Sing in My Garden

Oh, sing unto the LORD a new song!

Sing to the LORD, all the earth.

Sing to the LORD, bless his name;

Proclaim the good news from day to day.

Psalm 96:1-2

 

I sing in my garden and reap the good,

The bounty of living seventy-two years.

Each note seems to evoke a stream of tears

That fall, not because of some somber mood

But flow from a heart filled with gratitude.

The folksong of the farmer thrills my ears

Each time plowing, planting or harvest nears.

I compose my song, having understood

Lyrics I did not know when I was young,

When life was uncertain, my song unsure.

Now from my green garden I garner truth.

A song of conviction flows from my tongue.

I am seasoned and strengthened to endure,

Knowing the best lines are yet to be sung.

One of verses to one of my favorite hymns is taken from the verse 22 in Genesis 8: which speaks of

Summer and winter, springtime and harvest,

Sun, moon and stars in their courses above.

Join with all nature in manifold witness

to thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

I would like to close our devotional with this hymn, as I recall the faithfulness of God. . . our God is faithful—“full of faith”—faithful to His Word: “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” Aled Jones sings the verse that I am referring to.