2 Corinthians 9:10-11 (NIV)
Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
I vaguely remember the story of Johnny Appleseed from my childhood which is more than four decades ago. Once I thought of him, naturally I felt the need to explore further especially since it was during my prayer time that I remembered him. Johnny Appleseed was the fictitious name of John Chapman who was known as an American Pioneer nurseryman. He introduced apple trees to areas across the United States and even Canada. He was an American legend known for his kindness, leadership in conservation and, of course, the symbolic importance that he attributed to apples. What is less known about Mr. Chapman is that he was a missionary who is believed to have led to the conversion of many Native Americans. Native Americans believed that he had been touched by the Great Spirit so even hostile tribes left him alone in his travels.
John Chapman earned the title of Johnny Appleseed because he spread apple seeds randomly in his travels. He did not plant orchards for owners, but rather nurseries so that others could take an apple tree or two home to build their own orchards. If you think about Mr. Chapman’s business plan, it reflects on his beliefs as a missionary of God as well. He was a sower. Wherever he went he would plant seeds for fruit not just natural production but spiritual prosperity as well. Each nursery would be planted with a fence around it to protect it and someone appointed to watch over it and maintain its growth. Mr. Chapman would then move along. He made apple seed deposits across America and spiritual deposits for the Kingdom of God.
I am not surprised that the Lord brought him to my mind today as I have contemplated revival for the last several days. Crying out for His Kingdom to touch the earth has given me a simple revelation that is not to be overlooked. We must make a deposit on the earth to see it grow into revival. We must plant seeds and be diligent sowers rather than filled with hot air. Sowing and reaping was established in Genesis in the days of Noah. (Genesis 8:21-22) As long as the earth remains, there will be seedtime and harvest.
Isaiah 55:9-11 (NIV)
As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
God supplies seed to the sower. Am I sowing properly and continually in this life? If I desire His Kingdom here on the earth, it is the very thing that will make it come to pass. We must learn how to connect our life spiritually to the sowing and reaping that produces lasting fruit. The Fruit of God’s Spirit is evidence that He is alive and well within us. His Fruit is simple. It is “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” The Lord examines my life for these things that are consistent with His Word being sown in my heart and mind until it becomes the productivity in my life.
Matthew 13:3-9 talks about sowing God’s Word in our life. The kind of heart that receives it makes all the difference in the world. The seed that falls on the path is eaten by birds. If it falls in rocky places with no soil it cannot take root. Seed among thorns has the life choked out of it. But then there is the seed that finds good soil and grows producing an abundant crop. What does this have to do with the Kingdom of God? Well, Jesus goes on to explain the parable in Matthew 13:18-23. Those who hear God’s Word but do not understand it are easily misled. Seed sown in rocky soil has not substance so when hard times come it is easily forsaken for the lie of the enemy. The seed among the thorns is that which is easily overtaken in the midst of busyness, stress, worry and anxiety so the worries of life choke it out. Ah, but then there is the seed of God’s Word that falls on good soil. The heart that is soft and pliant in the Hands of God and sensitive to the Spirit. It accepts the seed that is the Word of God protecting and nurturing it as it grows into His Prosperity and Promise in our life. It will yield an abundance giving us seed to sow in others when we become productive ourselves in God’s Word. “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.” (I Peter 1:22-23) We now have nonperishable seed that will grow in the heart of those who desire the precious fruit produced in the life of the sower, obedient and committed followers of Jesus who desire to make a Heavenly deposit on the earth.
Matthew 13:31-32 (NIV)
He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”
Jesus told them another parable regarding seed. I wonder if the story of Johnny Appleseed may be considered a parable as well. The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed which a man took and planted in his field. The smallest seed grew into a large tree providing shelter to birds in its branches. What are you producing in your life? I am asking myself the same thing. Faith is a seed. Faith the size of a mustard seed is said to move mountains. We are told that if we have faith even this small, anything we ask in the Name of Jesus becomes completely possible. Are we sowing such seeds in our life? Are we giving them time to grow? We must become diligent in our sowing in our life to become sowers in life. God desires us to share the Fruit of Salvation with others but if it is not enough to satisfy my own heart and settle my soul, what will I offer others?
Jesus tells us that He is the Vine and we are the branches. Apart from Him we can do nothing. (John 15:5) Abraham is the father of faith offering a prime example. The potential and productivity of faith is Christ in us. Look at Abraham, the promise inside him was not Isaac. Read it again, it was Christ in him. (Galatians 3:15-16) If I belong to Christ, then I am Abraham’s seed and heir to the promise. (Galatians 3:29) We must cultivate God’s Word effectively in our life. We do so by faith alone. Apart from Jesus we can do nothing. Faith established in Jesus Christ allows our life to produce fruit filled with seeds that will cultivate prosperity and harvest of souls in our life.
I Corinthians 3:6-7 (NIV)
I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.
The modern church is not planted like those Johnny Appleseed is known for. We plant orchards rather than nurseries. It is planted and grown to take care of itself as an exclusive organization. The fence around it keeps others out rather than welcoming them in. The Body of Christ is designed to be much more than that. To be built as nurseries planting seeds, watering futures, cultivating growth to be spread across this great nation and around the world. I can plant a seed. You may be the one who waters it. God is always the Source of increase. If we could take a more global approach to the process of cultivating Christians and focus on developing disciples rather than feeding ourselves and depositing for our own future, I believe revival would come as the Body of Christ fully connected by faith into the Faithfulness of God and His Son, Jesus Christ. We were made to be nurseries sharing the Gospel together not orchards bent on prospering ourselves. God provides seed to the sower not the hoarder.
I Corinthians 15:37-38 (NIV)
When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body.
Seeds of faith sown in the spirit and cultivated in a fertile human heart reach their full potential. The Creator put Eternity is us that does not make us a product of our natural surroundings but by faith supernaturally we develop and mature into who we were supposed to be apart from sin and degradation. Obedience in this process prospers us and allows us to propagate prosperity around us. It will be the source of life to a dark and dying world. Thank goodness God does not limit His People to produce only what is possible, but by faith allows us to access the impossible.
When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. Restore our fortunes, Lord, like streams in the Negev. Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.
We do not sow in the Kingdom of God from our surplus, it is sown from our heart. Our offering to this world is not tangible. The gifts that are needed are not goods. Luke 6:38 tells us to give and it will be given back to us pressed down, shaken together and running over. We decide in our heart what to give. It determines what we receive. If the world can give it to you, and if you can produce it yourself – it is not of the Kingdom. If you desire the Kingdom of God to come down to this earth, it is our connection to Christ that will do it. It is sowing God’s Word in our life and cultivating the Fruit of His Spirit in abundance and sharing it with the world. Like Johnny Appleseed, our mission is for souls and if planting apples pays the bills so be it. I desire revival in my church. I long for the Kingdom of God to become one again. I believe that His Body requires all members to work together to see all people saved, healed, developed and fulfilled. We must become nurseries intent on nurturing, teaching and equipping sowers to continue the process of cultivating the Kingdom rather than prospering self. Thanks Mr. Chapman a.k.a. Johnny Appleseed for leaving a legacy of faithful sowing that I can easily follow. Your message lives on today. Are you sowing? Those who sow do not have to worry about reaping. It is all part of the process. Today, we must carefully inspect the seeds that we are sowing in our home, church, workplace and world. The enemy is planting weeds along the way. I don’t want to be a weed or plant weeds. (Matthew 13:24-30; 13:37-39) It can happen if we are not careful and sow from anything other than a heart linked to Christ holding on rooted and grounded in His Love as the Source of Life. Lord, may the only seeds I plant today be those of faith, hope and love.
Proverbs 11:25 (NIV) A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.