Sowing and Reaping

In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army.  They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah.  But David remained in Jerusalem …  (2 Sam. 11:2).  Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.  (Prov. 25:28).  I went past the field of the sluggard, past the vineyard of the man who lacks judgment: thorns had come up everywhere, the ground was covered with weeds, and the stone wall was in ruins.  I applied my heart to what I observed and learned a lesson from what I saw: A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest–and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man.  (Prov. 24:30-34).  The kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.  Five of them were foolish … The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them … At midnight the cry rang out: Here’s the bridegroom!  Come out to meet him!  Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps.  The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out … while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived… And the door was shut.  “Sir!  Sir!”  They said.  ‘Open the door for us!’ But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.’  Therefore, keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”  (Mat. 25:1-11).  Do not be deceived, God cannot be mocked.  A man reaps what he sows.  (Gal. 5:7).  Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness. (James 3:18).  The fruit of the Spirit is … faithfulness … self-control. (Gal. 5:22).  Therefore, my dear friends … continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.  (Phil. 2:12-13).

For the first time in my professional life, I had a case involving a tax lien and tax deed. If you’re like I was three weeks ago, you don’t know what a tax lien is.  The simplified version is this:  if you don’t pay your real estate taxes, the county in which you live will give you and the whole county notice that they are going to have a tax lien sale and somebody can pay for your taxes.  Then, at least three years later — if not even a little longer than that — the person who paid your taxes will own your entire property, for a mere fraction of its true value.  Of course, there are all kinds of notice provisions — you will get lots of letters about it — but if you don’t pay your taxes and you refuse the notices, there is a distinct possibility that you will have lost your property.

It got me thinking about consequences.  And the seed we sow in all aspects of our lives.  So, friends, what is your garden plot?  And what seed are you sowing there?  What “notices” might you be ignoring?  What weeds might need pulling?

Whatever your answers, trust in Him.  Therefore, my dear friends … continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.  (Phil. 2:12-13).

The Sacrifice of Worship

I’m reading through a devotional called “worship the King,” this year. It’s the type of devotional that I don’t generally like too much, because it’s got one little passage of scripture and then an entire page of explanation. Meaning, it’s not real intellectual. But, I selected this devotional this year because I knew things were going to get hectic and I wanted to set a realistic goal for myself.

Well, the devotional today is on 2 Samuel 24:18-25. There King David was, with a plague inflicted upon the entire nation because he disobeyed God by counting how many fighting men lived in Israel. David begged forgiveness and God sent word, through His prophet, that the plague would stop if David offered a sacrifice to God on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. David goes to Araunah and asks to buy his threshing floor and oxen for the sacrifice. Araunah offers to give those things to David.

But the king replied to Araunah, ‘No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.’ (vs 24).

David then purchased the threshing floor and oxen and God stopped the plague.

Besides the numerous questions that swirl in my head regarding this story (I mean, would the plague have stopped if David hadn’t paid for it?) the devotional today got me thinking, too. In the devotional, the author says that the significance of sacrifice is that it must cost something. God calls us to offer up the sacrifice of worship. So, worship that is easy is therefore not real meaningful or honoring to God. He then asks whether my worship costs me anything.

And, I think that’s a good question. A lot of the time we Americans think about worship in terms of what we ‘get’ out of it. How we feel after singing a song. Or something like that. Put in this context, what is worship that costs something?

I think I’ve offered sacrificial worship to the Lord before. When things are hard and I don’t understand what’s going on and I acknowledge in my heart and head that God is good no matter what and worthy to be praised. That costs something. But this kind of costly worship is not the norm in my life.

And worship is more than singing in church. It’s actions.

So … I wonder what God would say about my worship. Do you wonder what he’d say about yours? Is your worship a sacrifice? What does it cost you?