It seems hard to believe that summer is quickly coming to a close here in Michigan, and harvest time is already upon us!
Last week, our younger sister, Ruth, came and helped Jackie can tomatoes and to harvest and make juice from our grapes. It was a very busy 2 days as they worked all day gathering and processing the fruit. While last year our grape harvest was very scant, this spring we pruned our grapevine for the first time, and what a difference it made. John 15 came to life as we harvested an amazing 4 bushels of grapes-6 1/2 gallons of juice this year, as compared to 1 1/2 gallons last year!
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit…. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned…. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.”
We want to be like our fruitful vine: bearing much good fruit, to the glory of the Father. And He prunes us of all blight, disease and misspent endeavors so we will be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
While we rejoiced in our abundant grape harvest, Jackie was caught a bit by surprise by the drastic increase of fruit, and she found at the last minute (after she had already purchased a bushel and a half of tomatoes from the Farmer’s Market) that she had planned a bit too much for two days’ time. She had planned to process grapes in one day… and tomatoes the next. Alas, Proverbs says, “A man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”
As we looked at the 2 bins full of grapes, weighing a total of about 75 pounds, we were reminded of Jesus words, “The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest” (Luke 10:2). The harvest was, indeed, ready–spilling over onto the floors, in need of immediate attention, lest it should spoil and be wasted. But the difficulty was finding hands enough to process this bountiful harvest. Thankfully, Mom Allen, and friends Teresa and Kerry were willing to come over in the evening and lend some extra hands to get all that harvest in before it spoiled! But what about that Great Harvest?
A couple weeks ago, Giampaolo shared with the fellowship from Matthew 22 and Luke 14 about the Great Wedding Feast. The Master of the Banquet sent out servants to invite men to come to the banquet which He had prepared for them. But these men were not willing to come. The Master, rich in mercy, sent out His servants again to invite these men to the banquet. “See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to my wedding.” But the Scriptures tell us that these men made light of this invitation. They went their ways: one to his own farm, another to his business, another to his wife…
What a sobering thought to think that we could be unwilling to respond to or that we would make light of the Lord’s invitation to us to come to His wedding feast! Are we so caught up in our fields, our families, our plans, that we are missing the will of God for our lives? The time of the harvest is upon us, and near at hand. God is calling a people who will be willing to work out their salvation with fear and trembling and to live blameless lives that shine like stars in the universe as they hold forth the Word of life (Philippians 2:12-16). He is yearning for a people who will turn many to righteousness. He is looking for a faithful bride who will not compromise out of the fear of man or the desire to be popular with her peers. He is looking for shepherds who will feed the flock and not only themselves–not taking advantage and gain from the sins of others but being willing to snatch others from the very fires of hell that seek to lick up the souls of men. May we be found making every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with Him–about His business and not just our own–when He returns.
“Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold. Will the Son of Man find faith on earth when He returns?” Will that faith be in you?
Laboring in His Harvest Fields,
Giampaolo & Jackie