Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and there he sacrificed as burnt offerings the animals and birds that had been approved for that purpose. And the Lord was pleased with the aroma of the sacrifice and said to himself, “I will never again curse the ground because of the human race, even though everything they think or imagine is bent toward evil from childhood. I will never again destroy all living things. As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.”
As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.” Of all the things that the Lord could have told Noah on the glorious day that he was released from the confinement of the ark, He basically tells the man “life goes on.” Well not exactly, but it just would seem that after such a long and difficult journey that the man would have been rewarded. His entire family was saved from death as the planet was wiped clean of humanity. But it says right here that the Lord was pleased with the aroma of sacrifice. He promised never to curse the ground again. He could not bless the man in such a way because everything that “they think or imagine is bent toward evil from childhood.” The Lord went on to promise never to destroy all living things again. Hmmm. These verses are powerful statement to God’s Purpose, Potential, and Prosperity in our life but what we fail to understand that it is all part of a process that few are willing to invest their life in pursuing. Hardship is inevitable in the world in which we live. “Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 24:12-23) Jesus told us that the sin problem would get out of hand. He warned us to be prepared for love would grow cold, passionless and uncommitted. He also promised that the one who endures to the end will be saved. “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) Jesus warned us but also offered us peace in Him. The earth will be filled with many trials and sorrows. It is inevitable. But we can overcome them all in Christ. He promised to make good of every detail of our life. (Romans 8:28) The Lord promised to perfect that which concerns us. (Psalm 138:8) I know these by heart because although it seems for the moment that hardship has passed, I am still waiting on a harvest in Jesus Christ. Based on the Promise of God to Noah, it is coming. What will it take to turn our hardship into harvest?
Isaiah 61:3-7 (NLT)
To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory. They will rebuild the ancient ruins, repairing cities destroyed long ago. They will revive them, though they have been deserted for many generations. Foreigners will be your servants. They will feed your flocks and plow your fields and tend your vineyards. You will be called priests of the Lord, ministers of our God. You will feed on the treasures of the nations and boast in their riches. Instead of shame and dishonor, you will enjoy a double share of honor. You will possess a double portion of prosperity in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.
The Word of God encourages us. But without reading it, studying it and meditating on it – we miss it every time. We read what we want to read and ignore the rest or at least I do sometimes. Am I the only one? I search out God’s Promises for my life but choose to avoid the process that comes with the promise. We cannot do anything to earn His Promises. But there is a process associated with having each one. Let’s look a little deeper into these verses from Isaiah 61 and make it logical. “To all who mourn…” Just to be clear, we mourn when something is lost. Otherwise there is no reason for such an emotion. What have you lost today? The thief (or enemy of our soul) came to steal, kill and destroy our life so it is only natural that we will suffer loss. (John 10:10) Jesus came to give us a rich and satisfying life. The Lord promises those who mourn will receive a crown of beauty for ashes along with joyous blessing which means something had to be destroyed to make something beautiful. In the process of seed time and harvest, a seed must die to its former self in the darkness to spring forth with new life and become a harvest. This is how we achieve purpose far greater than anything we could predict. Righteousness must be the foundation of our life. We must plant ourselves in His Glory. Now the Glory of the Lord is shining bright continuously, it never dims or goes out. (Revelation 21:23-24) It currently is housed in the Presence of God. If we make the commitment to live in the Glory of God and His Righteousness now, it is an act of faith that relies on hope for its increase as we cannot visibly see the Light of His Love in which we will live. Faith and hope are sacrifices of our senses to embrace the Spirit in our life. It says that we will rebuild and repair which indicates that something has been broken. Is that something actually someone named “You”? To “revive” means that something had to die. To feed others, we must produce a harvest in our own life. To be part of a priesthood means ministry. God is planting us today to prosper in this life. Hardship is part of the process that leads to every harvest. But look at the promise attached, “You will feed on the treasures of the nations and boast in their riches. Instead of shame and dishonor, you will enjoy a double share of honor. You will possess a double portion of prosperity in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.” Every seed yields more than it is when it lays its life down to become a harvest. Whatever you are going through today is seed in the ground when you do it for the Glory of God by faith and having confident hope in His Promise.
Job 42:10-16 (NLT)
When Job prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes. In fact, the Lord gave him twice as much as before! Then all his brothers, sisters, and former friends came and feasted with him in his home. And they consoled him and comforted him because of all the trials the Lord had brought against him. And each of them brought him a gift of money and a gold ring. So the Lord blessed Job in the second half of his life even more than in the beginning. For now he had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 teams of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys. He also gave Job seven more sons and three more daughters. He named his first daughter Jemimah, the second Keziah, and the third Keren-happuch. In all the land no women were as lovely as the daughters of Job. And their father put them into his will along with their brothers. Job lived 140 years after that, living to see four generations of his children and grandchildren. Then he died, an old man who had lived a long, full life.
Job went through some tough times. His entire life fell apart in just one day. Thanks to his well-meaning friends and even his wife, the hits just keep on coming. Have you ever been there? Beaten so far down it’s difficult to see the point in getting up? Is happiness elusive today? Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? Your harvest is coming. It cannot be stopped if you stand on faith, choose righteousness in Christ Jesus, and wait in the realm of hope until it comes. Your harvest is a commandment of God all the way back to the days of Noah. He promised that there would continue to be seed time and harvest. You sowed your seeds along with those tears. Now you just have to wait for it to grow as God predicted and purposed long before your time. Waiting is tough. It causes people to think too much. But consider this when you think about Job, he did not get all that livestock in one shipment. God caused Job to prosper and his livestock to multiple from season to season. He didn’t get a lump sum payment but bit by bit from individuals. The Lord gave Job ten more children which required ninety months or over eight years of pregnancy. Job lived to be 140 years old and see four generations of children and grandchildren. Job was given a full life. Do you see the process of hardship to harvest? God wants to prosper our life. He wants to give us abundant life that is growing, changing and multiplying each day. It will require faith each day. It will be based on hope for tomorrow. It is a lifelong cultivation process that comes into our life day by day. God planned and purposed our life long before we were born. He recorded every detail moment by moment. There is provision for your production in each new day. It is up to you if you will sow it in righteousness or just cast it off as nothing. We must live intentional lives to see the harvest. A farmer must wait for his crops. But the Word of God also warns that the farmer who waits on perfect weather never plant which means there is not harvest. (Ecclesiastes 11:4) What you do in the hard times determine your future? The ground you are walking on is fertile no matter how barren it looks. Faith makes it fertile. Hope gives new life.
Psalm 107:33-38 (NLT)
He changes rivers into deserts, and springs of water into dry, thirsty land. He turns the fruitful land into salty wastelands, because of the wickedness of those who live there. But he also turns deserts into pools of water, the dry land into springs of water. He brings the hungry to settle there and to build their cities. They sow their fields, plant their vineyards, and harvest their bumper crops. How he blesses them! They raise large families there, and their herds of livestock increase.
God is in complete control of the seasons of our life. He intends to bless and prosper our life. Jesus purposed that we would live in abundance. Harvest produces abundance in our life. Reading Psalm 107 makes this process clear repeatedly, as the provision dries up or hard times come – people cry out to God. He immediately blesses those who call on His Name. How? By increasing each life exponentially like a harvest! If you are looking for a check in the mail to change your life, you will be waiting a long time! If you think Jesus is going to come in like Prince Charming and carry you off to a castle on his horse, think again. God commanded blessing in the very life you are living with all of its circumstances. You can make your ground blessed by simply planting seed and waiting for it to grow. Faith and patience are the calling of all who desire a harvest. The process requires certain conditions such as loss, brokenness, death, and all the other conditions that you are facing. Our life must line up with the process
Psalm 73:21-26 (NLT)
Then I realized that my heart was bitter, and I was all torn up inside. I was so foolish and ignorant— I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you. Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny. Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.
If you are reading this today, you made it with a seed of faith intact. Otherwise, you would have nothing to do with God. Bitterness is a root that consumes our harvest. It mocks the plan of God as fruitless. It is a sign that discontentment has overcome the hope we have in God through Christ Jesus. It must be dealt with severely. Your hardship was not meaningless. The difficulties that you faced will produce a harvest if you choose not to give up and endure to the end. It may be the end of your life before it comes or it may be tomorrow only God knows when and where prosperity will find you. All you have to do is remain positioned in His Presence surrounded by the Light of His Love. By maintaining right standing with God the Father through the Grace of His Son, we accept the harvest that is coming through our hardship even on the darkest day. It is in this place of waiting and watching that our roots grow deeper in His Love. When we finally come to the point that our response is “I desire you more than anything on this earth”, I believe that the harvest begins pouring out in our life! When we have exhausted our resources even our self, we accept God’s Will His Way and through His Word. It is this place that we die to self so He can revive us. We begin to rebuild our broken life to reflect what He is doing in us and through us by the Spirit’s careful direction. We begin to see beauty, meaning and purpose rise from the ashes of what has been destroyed. He heals our broken hearts and fortifies our minds. We no longer mourn what is lost but embrace what is coming! This is the life that God has for us broken and beautiful all at once. This is how we get from hardship to harvest! The hardest part of the journey is the farthest part. The point where the seed was planted so long ago and so deep in the ground that doubt begins to rise up and fear becomes our captor! Be encouraged today! Do not give up! Let God’s Spirit inside of you be your strength. Harvest is coming if you have experienced hardship. It is inevitable for those who wait on the Lord. If you but only ask, God will be the strength of your heart forever as He continues to produce harvests from hardship!
When the Lord brought back his exiles to Jerusalem, it was like a dream! We were filled with laughter, and we sang for joy. And the other nations said, “What amazing things the Lord has done for them.” Yes, the Lord has done amazing things for us! What joy! Restore our fortunes, Lord, as streams renew the desert. Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest.