Matthew 9:35-37 The Harvest is Plentiful

Jesus is going through all the towns and villages  and it was  estimated to be about 3 Million people by the historical writer Josephus. Jesus is doing a lot of miracles and so many people would have heard of what He was doing and they would have had access to Him personally.

Jesus is going to show His disciples that His calling is not just to follow Him but a calling to be sent out. Before He can send them out He must show them a few crucial steps to ministry that many even today miss in the midst of their programs and plans.

Read vs 36

1)   Do you see the crowd?

First it is easy to get wrapped up in our own little world and miss the needs of people right around us. Jesus, being up on one of the hills, could see a lot of people just going about their lives and seeing past their fake smiles and busy lives. He could tell that something was missing from their lives and He could see the things they were turning to to cope with this life. Jesus knew that they direction they were headed was leading to more heart ache and pain and He longed to do something about it.

Do you see the needs of those right in front of you?

When we become selfish and absorbed only in our lives and what is good for us, we miss the needs of those  right in front of us. I do believe that starts with your home but it then needs to extend past that to other areas of your life.

When you walk into work do you notice the hurt around you?

When you walk onto your school campus do you notice the students that wish their lives would just end?

When you walk into a store do you notice the struggling parent who is ready to walk away from it all?

What do you see when you travel your every day routines of life?

Do you see the crowd?

Secondly, why are you doing ministry. We have become so self centered and goal focused that we tend to ignore the very things that Jesus Himself found important. We do not see people for who they are but only as a to do list for the day. We focus on our ministry programs instead of the people those programs are designed to help.

One of the dangers of being in ministry is becoming so hardened to all the hurt around us that it no longer causes us to grieve with the people we are placed in front of to help.

2)   Do you have Compassion?

The word Compassion means to feel it in your gut. When you hear about people being called over seas or into a ministry they talk about this deep burden inside. That is what the word compassion means because it is something so deep inside of you, both spritual and emotional,  that it drives you to action.

Because of our goal oriented society as well as our goal oriented churches we see people as an interruption to our goals instead of people that are hurting.

“If we forget that our task is to minister to people, compassion will no longer be the characteristic of our life, but a quality we try to turn on and off depending on whether or not we think we should be on duty. (D.A. Carson, Sermon on the Mount)

Jesus felt sorry for these people because He felt as if they had no leadership to guide them the right way. It was His compassion that caused Him to experience what we experience, their hurt became His hurt. Just Like it says in  Hebrews 4:15 about having a High Priest that can sympathize with our weaknesses.

God did not stay far away and look down on our pain, no He stepped into our pain and felt it from a Human perspective. His compassion was not drawn from how we acted but out of Love. That is why we say “For God so Loved the World that He Gave”

God is calling us to love people not because of how they act but because they are acting a certain way because they are longing to be loved.

Romans 5:7-8 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

1 Peter 3:8-9 Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. 9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.

As a Christian you do not have the right to say that you do not care because as followers of Christ, His hurt should become our hurt, His desires should become our desires, His love for people should become how we love others.

Jesus wanted His disciples to stop and see the crowd and then He wanted them to see how much He loved them.

1 John 4:7-8 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

We have to change our mindset to be more like Christ. Instead of being angry at the person who did you wrong you should feel sorry for them. Instead of seeing how they act and becoming angry we should feel sorry because they have no clue the destructive path they are walking down.

When Jesus was on the cross being crucified He said “Father forgive them they know not what they do”.People act and do things because they are blind to how they are acting and out of their selfishness or confusion they are blindly hurting others around them out of desperation to cope in this life.

Jesus compassion for them goes one step further because the people that should have been giving them guidance left them to survive on their own. Jesus says They were sheep without a Shepherd. Jesus acknowledged they were helpless  and harassed.

Jesus compared them to Sheep who were just wandering the countryside on their own, changing directions but not knowing why or even if it was the best decision for them. Jesus was also referring to them as being unprotected and left vulnerable to attacks because they could not see the danger ahead of them.

God has called people to be shepherds to care for His people and to make sure they are fed and protected. Jesus, looking down on the people from the hillside, notices that they are sheep without a shepherd.

Ezekiel 34:2-6 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord God: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep?

One of the tradgedies we see today is that many pastors do not see themselves as shepherds and more importantly as the ones who are placed in a position to feed the sheep of Gods flock. We feed the sheep through Gods word and we must get serious about knowing those in our congregation as well as preparing a meal for them to help them grow and mature.

3 You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. 4 The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them.

Too many churches have been about using people for their own gain instead of taking care of the sheep. Churches use people up in ministry not caring that they are destroying the person because they will just discard them when they are finished with them. They get what they can out of them and use them to feed and clothe themselves. It is time for this to stop in our churches as we accept the responsibility as pastors (shepherds) and volunteers for us to care for those around us.

5 So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts. 6 My sheep were scattered; they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them.

Shepherds of Gods flock will one day give an account for those who they have left on their own. Shepherds need to heed the warning in scripture about their responsibility to Gods people. A shepherd must return from caring more about their own needs and be more concerned with those God has placed in their care.

All of us have to change our view of people and look at them as lost, lonely, scared, confused sheep who have been abandoned by their shepherds for their own gain and even being led by false shepherds

3)   Do you pray?

Read vs 37-38

Why do we think we have something to offer God? Why do we think that through our dreams and our plans we can do anything for God? Jesus is calling us to stop and pray before we go out and minister. When we see the ministry need and then have a compassion for it we sometimes rush out and try to accomplish things on our own power and plans.

Jesus is saying, you see the hurt, you have a compassion those hurting, now stop and pray about it.

“The Christian’s first responsibility is not to go out and start working as soon as he sees a need but to come to the Lord in prayer. Waiting on the Lord is a crucial part of serving Him.” (John MacArthur)

Again, in our program oriented ministry mindset we tend to think that a well executed plan will be just the thing to minister to the hurting. There is nothing wrong with plans but a plan that is not prayed through is not a plan but a recipe for disaster. If you study the book of Nehemiah you see that he went to God in prayer to figure ou what to do. He did not begin working right away on the walls of Jeruselam but he waited on God to show him what to do. Nehemiah then experienced Gods wisdom and provisions as he moved forward to accomplish what God had put on his heart to do.

Jesus wants us to pray that workers will rise to the occasion for the ministry because God created us to work in unison with each other and for various purposes. Many people see the need or caused to feel guilt about a need and they rush into ministry without praying. This leads to devastating results as they work by their own power and resources. They usually leave the ministry discouraged and unwilling to find where God wants to use them with their distinct ministry gifts.

Many churches will tell you God’s will for your life and you have to be careful that they are not just filling spots in ministry.

Have you ever seen someone doing a ministry they were not called to do?

People get Bitter and burned out in ministry because they are doing things that God either did not equip them to do or told them to do. Prayer solves this but so many times people are not willing to pause and pray. They believe that if they have enough faith and step out and start working that God will show up and take care of the rest. What takes more faith to start working right away or to stop and pray? We sometimes believe if we do not jump in and start working franticly that it will not get done. That is just not the truth. If Nehemiah would have jumped up ran and began rebuilding the wall without waiting on God, the wall would have never been rebuilt.

Two years ago I was approached by the Marion County Baptist Association about staying in Ocala and starting a new church. I was reluctant but they asked me to pray about it. Although my resume was being sent out to several churches I believed the Lord wanted me to stop everything and wait on Him. It was not an easy move but I told my friends to not send my resume to anyone and any churches that had my resume to remove them. My friends did not understand at the time why I would do that and they did not recommend that because I might find myself without a paycheck. I took a month and prayed about it and it was during that month that I know for sure that God called me to stay in Ocala Fl. and continue to do ministry. God has met every need that I had and has shown me what He can do in ministry.  I am so glad I stopped and prayed before just running out and doing ministry on my own terms, plans and energy.

It is only after prayer and receiving the power that God has that we can move forward to accomplish the Harvest that is before us. Prayer is not something we do till we can get to work, prayer is the greater work. God is the Lord of the Harvest and He is the one who will call more workers, provide the necessary resources. It is through prayer that others will be encouraged and strengthened to do the work that He has called them to do.

4)   Do you know you’re calling?

 

“It is not enough just to attend church; we must begin serving the Lord in and through the church. Too many people in our ruggedly individualistic society are content simply to sit in the service and listen. Jesus does not allow that; he demands we get to work and use our gifts to enhance the body (Romans 12:3-8; 1 Corinthians 12:12-27; Ephesians 4:15-16). For too many “Christians”, Jesus is little more than the last line item on their portfolio- medical insurance, accident insurance, mortgage insurance, life insurance, and not eternal life insurance, paid for by church attendance . They are playing games with their eternal destiny, and thy must wake up to the demands of discipleship- they must get involved.” (Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament)

As a Christian you have a calling. As you go and as the church listens to God for ways to reach the community that you live in. We all have a part to play as the Body of Christ and you need to pray what your part is. Do not let anyone guilt you into a ministry but pray and ask God what He would have you to do.

 

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