Reaping a great spiritual harvest

Galatians 6: 7-10 7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. 10 So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.

 

I used to have a garden, which I loved taking care of even though it was a lot of hard work. At the beginning of the season I would go to the store and purchase the seeds to plant. I can attest that I never got a plant that was different than the seed for which I buried. If I planted a corn kernel then I got a corn stalk. If I planted a pea then I got a pea plant. The same was for the okra, cucumber, green bean, squash, and zucchini. The same applies to life as well. If we sow to the flesh then we will reap things of the flesh. If we sow to the Spirit then we will reap things of the Spirit. Is it okay to sow just a little to the flesh because…well…we are just sinful creatures? Paul instructed the Romans in this area as he stated “shall we continue to wallow in sin because there is grace…God forbid! (Romans 6:1) How can we continue to live in such a manner since we are new creatures in Christ? I have heard ones state that we are just sinners and cannot help but sin every day in word, thought, and deed.  Paul teaches us differently in 1 Thessalonians 4:7 (NASB) “For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification.” I really think that claiming we can’t help but sin is an excuse to continue to do the things that are a part of sin and one loves doing them. I have heard it in this manner “A praying man will stop sinning and a sinning man will stop praying.” I am in no way saying that we can obtain perfection in this life; however, I can make sure that I sow to the Spirit rather than the flesh. What kind of seed are you sowing? I challenge you to sow to the Spirit and I will reap God’s blessings of His presence, love, and power.

 

His servant,

Marcus Riggs

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Laying things before the Lord

Isaiah 37: 1, 5-6, 14, 30 (NASB) And when King Hezekiah heard it, he tore his clothes, covered himself with sackcloth and entered the house of the Lord. 5 So the servants of King Hezekiah came to Isaiah. 6 Isaiah said to them, “Thus you shall say to your master, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Do not be afraid because of the words that you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed Me. 14 Then Hezekiah took the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it, and he went up to the house of the Lord and spread it out before the Lord. 30 “Then this shall be the sign for you: you will eat this year what grows of itself, in the second year what springs from the same, and in the third year sow, reap, plant vineyards and eat their fruit.

 

Assyria was attacking Jerusalem and Hezekiah knew that he was not adequate militarily. What should Hezekiah do in this situation? The Assyrians told him to just give up and that they would at least give them the necessities of life such as food. Hezekiah did the only thing that he knew would help the situation. He tore his clothes, put on sackcloth, and entered the house of the Lord. This is a sign of great humility because he knew that he was defenseless but God was his only hope. He could have employed the Egyptians to assist him; however, that would have been futile. Hezekiah sent word to the prophet Isaiah for direction but he also took the letter from the Assyrians and laid it out before the Lord. How are you handling your problems? If you are like most individuals then you worry, complain, and try to fix things to the best of your ability. I would suggest that we live in a different manner. How about we get our spiritual leaders to join with us in prayer and lay our our problems before the Lord? I would consider laying our problems out before the Lord would indicate a life of prayer and fasting so that God would move in our difficulties. Peter instructs in this manner in 1 Peter 5:7 (NASB) “casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” God did move in the situation with Hezekiah as God defeated the Assyrians in a supernatural manner. Is there anything too hard for God? Is there? Then take your problems to the Lord, cast them upon Him, and trust His hand of wisdom and power.

 

His servant,

Marcus Riggs

Don’t forget

Psalms 59: 1 & 9-11 Deliver me from my enemies, O my God; Set me securely on high away from those who rise up against me. 9 Because of his strength I will watch for You, For God is my stronghold. 10 My God in His lovingkindness will meet me; God will let me look triumphantly upon my foes. 11 Do not slay them, or my people will forget; Scatter them by Your power, and bring them down, O Lord, our shield.

 

I love the way that the psalmist looks unto the Lord as his deliverer. Is there really any other place that we need to look? I know that man has made great strides in technology; however, every institution of our society has and will fail you at some time or another. But God has promised that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). The psalmist speaks in terms of victory as he looks unto the hand of God to bless and bring triumph to the life of the believer. However, the psalmist says something very odd. The psalmist states that once God defeats the enemy that he wants God to leave them and not destroy them. Why wouldn’t the psalmist want them to be totally destroyed? He states that we tend to have short-term memory loss as we forget what God has brought us through. We somehow think that we have done some great thing. This is why God commanded Moses and Joshua to set up memorials so that the people would not forget what God had brought them through. What has God brought you through? Think about it for a moment. It is good to remember where you have come from and what you have been through so that you will be thankful and glorify the name of the Lord. Thank the Lord for our weaknesses and struggles because it illustrates the power of Almighty God that has brought about great victories. Do you remember? Don’t ever forget so that you will know where your strength originates!

 

His servant,

Marcus Riggs

Powerwalk

Galatians 5:16-17 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.

 

How does one fight the battle that seems to rage within each one of us called the flesh or sin? I think of this in terms of a parent walking with their child. Every time we would go somewhere that there was a possibility of them getting hurt or lost then I would take them by the hand and lead them to where we were going. I made sure to watch out for cars, led them away from things that would hurt them, and away from potential harmful situations. I think that this translates into the spiritual realm as well. As long as I walk in the Spirit then He will lead me to safe places, productive places, victorious places and places of ministry. There is no way that the Holy Spirit of God is going to lead me to places of moral question, ungodly content, or sinful entrapment. If I stay close to the Holy Spirit then I will not fulfill the desires of the flesh that crave to steal, kill, and destroy everything of God. If we will put on the blinders of the Holy Spirit then we will be able to resist the devil and he will flee from us defeated! I know not what path you desire to take in life; however, I declare that my desire is to walk with Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. Dear Lord, you know that I am weak in every area of my life. I need you today! Let me place my hand in Yours so that you might lead me in power and victory. Please help me to walk by Your Holy Spirit and not give into the flesh.

 

His servant,

Marcus Riggs

It’s a Test

2 Corinthians 13:5 Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you [e]fail the test?

 

We are involved with many types of test every day of our lives such as at the doctor, at work, and school. Sometimes we even test the limits to see how far we can go on a tank of gas. Every month the Federal Communication Commission test the Emergency Alert System so that when a real threat arrives then they know that the public will be warned. Actually, we all are guinea pigs as we live out our lives every day. Take your car for instance. If a certain number of cars begin to have problems then they will execute a recall in order to correct the difficulty. Paul is telling the church at Corinth to examine themselves or put themselves to the test in order to see if they were really walking with Jesus. This is nothing new because Paul already used this type of language in 1 Corinthians 11: 28 {“But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup.”} when he was speaking about taking communion. The church used to do a better job at asking this question. The church elders used to ask a new church member to exclaim their salvation experience and the change in their life. I wonder if my life or yours would pass the test of being a Christian. If a jury were looking at my life then would I be convicted of being a Christian? Paul is telling us to examine ourselves to see if we walk with Jesus. How is my attitude? How are my actions? Do I go places that are questionable? Do the things that I say reflect Jesus? What kind of person am I when I think that no one is watching? Am I a worshiper? How is my prayer life? Do I read and meditate on God’s Word? Do I exclaim God’s love to those I come into contact? The questions are numerous and we should question our lives to see if we really are in the faith. I think that the key is not to measure ourselves against one another but against God’s Word. It may shock some that some lives do not really reflect Jesus at all but the world. I think that it is healthy and we must “Test ourselves” to see if we are really walking with Christ. Are you walking with Jesus with some evidence?

 

His servant,

Marcus Riggs

Present and a future peace

Isaiah 9:1-7 (NASB) But there will be no more gloom for her who was in anguish; in earlier times He treated the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali with contempt, but later on He shall make it glorious, by the way of the sea, on the other side of Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles.

2 The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them. 3 You shall multiply the nation, You shall increase their gladness; they will be glad in Your presence As with the gladness of harvest, As men rejoice when they divide the spoil. 4 For You shall break the yoke of their burden and the staff on their shoulders, The rod of their oppressor, as at the battle of Midian. 5 For every boot of the booted warrior in the battle tumult, And cloak rolled in blood, will be for burning, fuel for the fire. 6 For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. 7 There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.

 

Isaiah saw a great peace even though Israel was in captivity. Isaiah saw a great victory even though they were presently oppressed. Isaiah saw a child being born that would change the face of the world. There will be a child born that will not only minister to the hearts of man and bring them into a great light but He will break every burden and bring a present as well as a future peace. This kingdom resonates as a present and a future kingdom. Paul tells us in Romans 5 that we have peace with God because we have placed our faith in Christ Jesus. This is a present peace. There is no devil in hell or situation in life that can break that glorious peace as we walk with the Lord. I saw a bumper stick once that read “No Jesus, No peace. Know Jesus, Know Peace”. Then there is a future hope that is found in Christ Jesus. Paul tells us to comfort one another with the encouragement that one day we will ever be with the Lord in His everlasting kingdom (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). Present peace is within our grasp if we walk with Christ Jesus. Do you know peace? I am talking about a peace even while walking through storms. It is the peace that knows that our heavenly Father knows, understands, and is working out His perfect plan in our lives. Do you know peace? If you do not know peace then please come to know Jesus as your Savior and you will find rest for your soul. If you know Jesus then rest in His presence that God is working to glorify His wonderful name.

 

His servant,

Marcus Riggs

A Reminder

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 7 Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! 8 Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. 9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

 

Everything is so not about you and me; however, we often want to make things personal so that we might shine and get recognized. We will get mad or our feelings hurt when no one notices the things that we are doing in the church. I know that this is a fine line; however, when we sulk because our egos have not been stroked then who have we made it all about? Paul exclaims that he is thankful for trouble in his life. Paul even attempted to ask the Lord to remove this “thorn” from his life. I wonder if the Lord would have removed the thorn then would Paul be tempted to allow his life to shine rather than Jesus because even in our testimonies we want to shine a little bit. I think that Paul understood a foundational principle that we need to implement into our lives as well. Paul encourages us to boast or proclaim our weaknesses because when our weaknesses are elevated then everyone knows that Christ is elevated. This is where our strength is because we do not gain strength from our flesh but from the Spirit as Paul dealt with in Romans chapters 6-8. Do you understand that you are weak? It is for your benefit to understand and exclaim your weaknesses because your weaknesses will drive you to the One who is able to strengthen you, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I know not of your current standing; however, I am weak! I used to think that I was strong and could handle things on my own; however, I will proclaim that in all of life that I am spiritually, physically, and emotionally weak and in need of the Lord to strengthen me, day by day, moment by moment. Are you weak? Just run to the Master and allow your weakness to become strength because you totally rely upon the Lord and His strength.

 

His servant,

Marcus Riggs