And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 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 9:35-38
I love Church Missions Conferences. There are many reasons for this: great food, good fellowship with missionaries, and mostly the focused time of being reminded of our privilege to walk with the Lord in the world’s harvest fields.
This Sunday morning, February 20, will mark the beginning of West Rome’s Missions Conference. It promises to be four days of great food, good fellowship, and focused preaching from the Word of God. I’m excited for it and I hope you are as well.
The verses above (Matthew 9:35-38) are the theme verses for our conference. We are asking the Lord to cultivate within us Hearts for the Harvest fields of the world. What will this require?
Cultivating a heart for the harvest fields requires that God open our spiritual eyes to the deepest needs of people.
It’s amazing how aloof I can be to not only what is around me, but also to who is around me and to their condition. In verse 36 of our text John records simply that Jesus “saw the crowds.” There’s instruction in John’s simple observation of what Jesus was observing. Time and again in the gospels, the disciples, like me, are aloof to the needs of the people around them. They are often aloof to the physical needs of people and even more often aloof to the spiritual needs of people. Jesus models for them, and for us, this very fundamental principle of truly seeing, through the spiritual lenses of God, the people who are all around us every day.
Consider the following…
We will never cultivate hearts for the harvest fields if we wear blinders to the spiritual needs of those around us. In preparation for our conference, will we ask God to do a little laser surgery on our eyes and give us His lenses so that we might see the harvest fields as He sees them? Even as we pray, may God help us each day to notice the people around us. May He fill our hearts with a divine curiosity about the condition of their souls.
Cultivating a heart for the harvest fields requires a heart moved with compassion to help the harassed and helpless.
The compassion that Jesus has for the crowds is not a fleeting feeling of sorrow. It is a settled gut-wrenching empathy for their condition that moves Him to do something about their condition. It is this compassion that moved Jesus to enter into the sorrows and sufferings of the human race. His compassion that moved Him to heal the sick, open blinded eyes, raise the dead, and to forgive sins.
The condition of the crowd grabs Jesus by the gut and turns His stomach and moves Him to action. The people are troubled and dejected. No doubt, they experienced trouble in the circumstantial issues of life. Most definitely, they experienced the dejection of having the circumstances of their lives outside of their control. However, there’s more to this trouble and helplessness than what exists in the outward circumstances of their lives. They were all troubled by their sin. All of them were helpless in overcoming their sin. Jesus looks on the crowd through the lenses of God and He sees the true spiritual condition of the souls around Him, and it is gut-wrenching.
Consider the following…
Are we moved with compassion for those without Christ? Are we sowing tears before God in prayer for those who remain separated from God? Would we each pray that God would grip us with compassion for those around us? Do we love Jesus enough to go on mission with Him to seek and save the lost?
Cultivating a heart for the harvest fields requires bended knees and a voice to cry out to the Lord to send forth laborers.
Jesus turns to His small band of disciples and makes a simple observation: “There’s a lot of them and only a few of you.” This isn’t necessarily a profound observation. That is, UNLESS we aim to do something to relieve the harassed and helpless sinful state of the multitudes. If Jesus requires no action from His followers then they should go on unmoved. However, Jesus does desire His followers to be an extension of His care and compassion. Therefore, they should pray that God would identify and send out more laborers to the harvest fields.
We should observe that our prayers move the heart and hand of God. God also uses our prayers to create in us a deepened compassion to reach people. It is freeing to recognize that the harvest belongs to the Lord. There is freedom in recognizing that the Lord supplies the laborers for the harvest. It is also worth noting that Jesus commands His followers to plead with…to beg…to implore God to send forth laborers. The word ‘earnestly’ signifies that we have seen the fields white unto harvest through the lenses of God. It signifies that we have experienced gut-wrenching compassion for lost souls to know Jesus. It signifies that we see the size of the task and recognize that we need more laborers.
Consider the following…
Does this describe you? Have you seen the fields white unto harvest? Do you earnestly desire to see people saved? Will we on bended knee cry out to God to send us more help even as we each do our part to rescue the perishing?
Friends, without God’s eyes to see and God’s heart of compassion the church will go on in its apathy and complacency to the harvest fields of the world. We need eye surgery. We need heart surgery. Our goals as a Church this year is to see 25 souls saved through our ministry. We have set a goal to pass out 7,500 gospel tracts in our community. We want to supply our missionaries with the necessary resources to reach their part of the harvest field. Part of our encouragement to them comes from us doing our part to reach our portion of God’s harvest fields. I pray that God will move with great power upon us this week and in the coming months to give us His eyes and His heart of compassion that will lead us to an awakening of reapers.
For the glory of the Lord of the harvest,