Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Day 21: Matthew 9:14-39 & Psalm 21 - Are You Praying for Laborers for the Harvest?

Today's Reading: Matthew 9:14-38 & Psalm 21

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Are You Praying for Laborers for the Harvest?

 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” - Matthew 9:37-38, ESV

When we see people all around us living their lives without God, how do we respond? Do we scorn them and condemn them? Do we think ourselves better than they are? Do we write them off as hopeless causes? Jesus, who had more right to be self-righteous and judgmental than anyone else, had compassion on them as people who were "harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd."

Jesus not only had compassion on the lost people He encountered every day, but He also challenged His disciples to have the same compassion and to translate that compassion into specific action: prayer. He taught His disciples to see these unbelievers not as hopeless but as ready for harvest, and to pray for more laborers to go into the harvest field. Do we see and pray this way? I think there's several reasons why we fail to see and pray as Jesus asks us to. Here are three:

1. We're too caught up in our own personal concerns to even notice the unbelievers around us. We have busy lives and our families seem to need constant attention. Work pressures, challenges in our marriages, difficulties with our children and personal struggles with sin all tend to crowd out a real view of our neighbors and their spiritual needs.

2. We don't believe that God can save certain people. We all tend to write off certain people and certain groups as "hopeless," beyond saving. When we do this, we show our own pride and our forgetfulness. How many times has God saved the hopeless? How many times has God brought a great harvest in an unlikely field? Do we really think that we were better than these other people when the Lord saved us?

3. Maybe we're trusting in politics or social program to fix things. Sometimes we don't pray for evangelism and the advance of the Gospel because we're seeking to build the kingdom through lesser means. Maybe we're trusting too much in the ballot box in the grass-roots political campaigns, in community organization efforts, in government-sponsored social programs, etc. The Gospel is the power of God for salvation and nothing else is! 

So, what do we do? It's as simple and as hard as this: We need to repent of our failure to pray and get on our knees before our Father, asking Him to send workers into His ripe and ready harvest fields. Maybe He'll even use our prayers to prepare and send us!

Prayer based on Psalm 21:

Heavenly Father, how wonderfully and powerfully You have answered the prayers of Your Son, our King, the Lord Jesus. As You tell us in Hebrews 5:7-9: "In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him."   

The Lord Jesus was so humble and obedient, so trusting and self-sacrificing, and just as surely as You rescued Him from sin and death, so now You rescue all those who put their faith in Him. Thank You, Lord, for being so faithful to hear and satisfy the heart-cry of Your Son and thank You for hearing our cry for salvation, too.

Your enemies continue to harass Your people and oppose Your rule, O Lord. Your enemies and ours - the world, the flesh and the devil - are strong and determined, but  . . .

Your hand will find out all your enemies;
    your right hand will find out those who hate you.
You will make them as a blazing oven

    when you appear.  

And so . . .

Be exalted, O Lord, in your strength!
    We will sing and praise your power. 

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