Jim Wilson is the retired director of Community Christian Ministries in Moscow, Idaho. He will be posting regularly, so check back in soon!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Preparing the Ground

The following was written 45 ½ years ago. It still applies.

“Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns.” (Jeremiah 4:3)

The Lord’s instruction to Judah through Jeremiah was spiritual instruction. He wasn’t speaking about farming. The Bible is wonderful in its clarity, and we can be awfully obtuse in our understanding.

We do not operate like good farmers. We are like a three-year-old child who plants a bean and digs it up every day to see if it is growing. We have a Jack-and-the-Beanstalk view of sowing. We expect a giant plant the next morning.

We are impatient for the harvest so we are impatient in our sowing. We sow in unplowed, undisced, and unharrowed ground. We sow in weeds. We sow in the rocks and on hard ground. We wonder why no harvest. The harvest is dependent on sowing, which is dependent onus. It is also dependent upon the ground. The kind of ground is, in a sense, dependent on us. “Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among the thorns” speaks of the need for cultivation. Good, soft ground with no rocks and no weeds will bring forth thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold (Matthew 13).

In the business of bookstore evangelism, how do we prepare the ground even before sowing? Broken ground, soft and moist, is actually hungry for seed. If earth has a purpose, that is it. “And God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth grass and the tree yielding fruit.’” So it is with people. Prepared people are hungry for the seed of the Word of God.

People should be prepared, like the ground, before the seed is planted. The “good news” is the seed. How do we prepare people before we start sharing with them the good news of Jesus Christ? We are to love them. Love softens the ground. We are to pray for them. As you pray for us in our bookstore ministry, God will fill our hearts with his love for people, and as you pray for the people we mention, the Holy Spirit will prepare them to receive the Word of God.

“And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.” (II Timothy 2:24, 25)

It is important and possible to love people, pray for them, be patient, gentle, and kind before we mention the God of our salvation. This does not have to be a long period. It is not the length of time of preparation; it is the genuineness of our gentleness that is important. If we love people genuinely, it may be possible to sow good seed into “ready” ground in a matter of minutes.

Remember, an abundant harvest is dependent upon the amount of seed sown, the kind of ground sown in, and the obedience of the reapers. Ground preparation is not something to do in order to get out of sowing; sowing is not something done in order to get out of reaping. But ground preparation does come first. Help us, then, in preparation of hearts as you pray for us and those we mention.

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