Galatians 6:7-8: “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”

Sowing and reaping are agricultural terms. The history of agriculture reaches far back to the beginning of mankind’s domestication. A farmer has to nurture the plants all the way down to harvest, or there is no harvest; so after the first seeds were sown, mankind began to settle down; townships were formed, some of which developed into the first big cities.

Seemingly, there is more to the story of sowing and reaping in the eyes of the Apostle Paul. In his letter to the Galatians he mentions that God cannot be mocked. That’s one serious way of describing a farmer’s business.

Looking at the onset of mankind in the first chapter of the book of Genesis, it is curious to note that there was no sowing or reaping whatsoever in Paradise. Adam and Eve had free food whenever they were hungry. Change came after Adam and Eve had eaten from the tree of knowledge. From then on they had to take care of themselves. Toiling the soil was meant to be a curse, which is why God said to Adam (Genesis 3:17-19):

17 “Cursed is the ground because of you;
    through painful toil you will eat food from it
    all the days of your life.
18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
    and you will eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your brow
    you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
    since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
    and to dust you will return.”

In light of the fall of mankind, leaving paradise made it necessary to sow. Food was no longer provided for us. Besides physical sustenance, spiritual inspiration too was no longer readily available. Adam and Eve used to enjoy face to face encounters with God back in the Garden. Those encounters were now history; still this did not mean that God could no longer be accessed. People understood this and they developed a corporate way to seek Him out (Genesis 4:26):

“Seth also had a son, and he named him Enosh. At that time people began to call on the name of the Lord.”

In Adam and Eve’s family history, it was in their grandson Enosh’s generation that people began to organize worship services to formally call on the name of the Lord.

I believe that it is important to realize that both agriculture and organized religion started outside of Eden. It is safe to say that outside of Eden things have never been the same. Although now we have experience under our belt and we know a thing or two about survival, the most important lesson we can learn is how to stay connected to the Lord in this life.

Obstacles to a genuine connection with God are the things we consider more important than Him. If we hold on to anything that separates us from Him, most likely God is currently working on removing those obstacles.

To make the most of our lives we need to focus on our heart and soul, the part of us that can connect with the Lord. Our heart and soul is the engine of our existence. It is our connection with God that carries us into the future, beyond death. As such it takes precedence. We sow into our connection with God, and we harvest a dynamic relationship that will continually lift us up, here on earth and throughout eternity.

Luke 5:15-16: “Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”

At set times Jesus went into the wilderness to pray. His regular practice of personal prayer manifested itself through the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit wherever He went.

Jesus knew busyness. According to the gospel writers, Jesus was the man of the hour. He was wanted everywhere. In His generation, people were looking for leadership that would free them from the political super power of their time – the Roman Empire. Some had Jesus on their agenda to manipulate Him (which by the way never worked). Others sought Him out to receive healing. Wherever Jesus and His disciples went, a crowd gathered quickly. People were fascinated with His message of the kingdom of God. He spoke with authority. And from dusk to dawn, there were people – people – people.

Who has not become tired and frustrated at times with people constantly knocking on our doors? We keep up the good work until one morning we wake up and have nothing left to give. In sport terms, we have been tossed a Red Flag and need to review a challenge.

God gave us freedom of choice for a reason. He empowered us to say “yes” and “no.” Jesus remarked in His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:37):

“All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”

Life happens without our permission. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed because we simply have too much on our plate. If this happens to be the case then it is probably time to exercise some portion control. We need to determine what belongs on our plate. On a personal note, my husband and I have developed the habit to pray before saying yes to any new commitment.

Never underestimate the power of prayer. Our alone-time with God is a sacred time when everything else stops and the noise of the day subsides. We can clear our heads to listen to the voice of the Lord. Jesus once said, “My sheep know my voice”, and this is what our private audience with God is all about. It takes time to sort through all the voices in our heads. In order to receive the Lord’s input we sometimes have to wait things out. Our hearts are wired with sensors and we will know when the Lord has spoken to us.

Alone-time with God is time well-spent – and it pays in dividends of wisdom and joy.

Philippians 2:14-16: “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, 'children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.' Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.”

“Harsh light” is a figure of speech used by painters and photographers when it exposes and draws attention to unpleasant features of a subject. God’s light, however, does not work that way. The Light of the world is not known to be harsh.

Jesus exposes the truth without shaming everybody. In fact, God has no intentions of shaming us. We on the other hand have earned a Master’s degree in blaming ourselves and others. We need to get away from the harsh light of human discernment and leave the judgment up to God. In His light we do not look so bad after all.

Who would bandage a bruised reed? Jesus would. Prophet Isaiah describes the gentleness of Jesus who does not crush a broken blade of grass but instead repairs it (Isaiah 42:3):

“A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;”

Jesus has all the authority given by the Father – and that is a lot of authority – and yet, His presence is not intimidating. We are familiar with despots that are full of themselves and walk all over people. Jesus is not full of Himself. He is full of mercy. He is gentle with the brokenhearted, but firm with the hypocrites.

What is the antidote to power abuse? Is it force? Not according to Jesus. He did not draw a sword to defend Himself. He could have gone down that route and He would have won the battle, but lost the war. Crushing all of His opponents, His rule would have been based on dominance alone, and the world does not need that. This world has seen enough empires come and go.

Jesus has His way with broken people. He makes them shine. Aligned to a shining star, planets are lit up in dark space; and so are God’s children following Jesus. They shine in a crooked generation, as the Apostle Paul puts it. And I believe this is the only hope left to reach even the most hardened heart: not by force – but by light.

John 8:31-32: “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’”

John the Baptist attracted no minor attention in his public ministry. Crowds followed his call for a change of heart and they all got baptized in the Jordan River. Expectations were rising and people debated whether or not John was the long awaited Messiah. When this kind of rumor came to his ears he clearly denied it. In his gospel records the Apostle John wrote about John the Baptist (John 1:20):

He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, ‘I am not the Messiah.’”

Well, who was John the Baptist? Everybody wondered about that. After a thorough investigation instigated by the Jewish leadership, John quoted Isaiah to them to answer the question at hand. He said (Isaiah 40:3):

I am “a voice of one calling: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.’”

John the Baptist not only set the records straight about who he was and who he was not, but he also started testifying about his cousin Jesus. As John saw Jesus walking by one day he turned around and told two of his disciples that Jesus is the Messiah. (John 1:36-37):

“When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God!’

When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus.”

As it turned out, the first disciples to follow Jesus were originally followers of John the Baptist.

The way Jesus selected His disciples can be misread as being random because it happened so casually. And yet, I believe ‘casually’ is how God operates. God’s Spirit is all over the place, all over the world actually, which means that God meets people wherever they are. The late Mother Theresa would testify to the fact that she found Jesus to be walking the streets of Calcutta. The late David Wilkerson would agree that he found Jesus to be walking the streets of Brooklyn, in the middle of gang fights and drug abuse.

Jesus is where the rubber meets the road. He used to mingle with the folks in Galilee, specifically the folks making a living from fishing the Sea of Galilee. A fisher needs a boat and a carpenter knows how to build a boat. It is safe to assume that Jesus was involved in the latter, which is how He was found to be walking the streets of Bethsaida, Capernaum, or any old fisher town adjacent to the Sea of Galilee. He became a known figure to the locals. I imagine that Jesus talked about the kingdom of God as He was building boats just as much as the Apostle Paul was making tents while commenting on Jesus the Messiah.

It is in casual circumstances that people are more prone to listen. Nobody enjoys to be preached at. Working side by side and rubbing shoulders with Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus the boat builder, is how connections began to form by the Sea of Galilee. And when the time arrived that Jesus’s ministry went public, His disciples were not selected out of the blue. Jesus picked up where they had previously left off. Simon, Andrew, James and John were already in relationship with the boat builder. They just never connected the dots recognizing Him as the Messiah. With a little help of Jesus’s cousin John their eyes were opened.

Perhaps, Jesus was too common to be immediately recognized by His future disciples. I am afraid, that is the point. Jesus is right here among us, in the mundane – and so are His disciples – commoners pursuing their trade while living out the kingdom of God. Jesus is Emmanuel – God with us – indicating God is not far removed from us, He is right here in our midst – a message which still rocks our world.

Isaiah 43:16,18-19: “This is what the Lord says— he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

In a time of need, Jacob (one of the many descendants of Abraham) had to move his entire family to Egypt. There he was received with open arms. One of his sons – Joseph – had become an influential man in Egypt, which is why Jacob’s family was treated with much respect. Unfortunately, 400 years later all of this was distant memory. The tides had turned against them. Feeling threatened by Israel’s explosive population growth, Egypt forced them into slave labor.

It was time to leave Egypt.

Israel’s exodus from Egypt was no minor feat. In order to arrive at their destination – a region southeast from the Mediterranean Sea – they had to go through treacherous desert terrain and get past the Red Sea. With the Egyptian army on their heels, the Red Sea quickly turned into a death trap. There was simply no escaping the Egyptians.

And Israel cried out to the Lord.

All of a sudden, right before their eyes the waters began to recede until a pathway opened right through the Red Sea. Led by Moses, the Israelites followed the new pathway. With their children, their livestock and all of their belongings they walked to the other side by foot. Meanwhile, the Egyptians in hot pursuit of the Israelites were dumbfounded at the sight. After a moment of hesitation they too entered the sea bed to catch up with them, but they did not get very far. When the last Israelite had safely arrived on the other side, the Red Sea moved back in with pounding waves and drowned Pharaoh’s army.

A day of tragedy and triumph, it was on this occasion that the nation of Israel was born, a pivotal moment in human history.

And yet, referring to this day the Lord now says: “Forget this miracle at the Red Sea! This is nothing compared to the miracle that is about to happen.”

If every piece of information on the internet was a tree, we would have an endless forest of information right at our fingertips – but how do we crash through the surface and get to the bottom of things? – To cut through a sea of data, we need to remember that one tree matters most to humanity: the tree Jesus was nailed to.

Back in Paradise, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil offered the fruit of death. On Golgotha, the tree Jesus was nailed to stands for victory over death and offers the fruit of Eternal Life. Just as much as the tree of knowledge blew everything apart, Jesus’s death and resurrection picks up the broken pieces and puts everything back together. I believe Prophet Isaiah was right. This outstanding miracle easily dwarfs the event at the Red Sea.

Looking at the Tree of Life, Jesus draws every human being to Him and brings peace to a broken world.

“In all the good times I find myself longing for change and in the bad times I fear myself.
I’m off the deep end, watch as I dive in
I’ll never meet the ground
Crash through the surface, where they can’t hurt us
We’re far from the shallow now!”

Lady Gaga, Andrew Wyatt, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando

John 16:33: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

If life had a name, then I’m sure its middle name would be Trouble with a capital T. First and last name? Constant Change! And we can get overwhelmed; we can get stuck; we can get overly attached; we can get numb; we can get depressed; we can get sweetened or hardened dealing with whatever life throws at us. Note that our hearts are fragile. We need to take good care of our hearts, or else we’ll be overcome by life’s middle name.

How we handle trouble is similar to digestion. Food is worthless and can actually kill us if our bowels refuse to work and our whole digestive system shuts down. Food has to be processed to be of any value. So does life. We need to take time to process life’s events, especially life changing events.

Allow yourself a break when lots of things happen, when we arrive at a crossroad; when changes come our way, when we feel pushed in a corner, when we feel powerless, when we feel angry, especially when we feel defeated and don’t see a way out of a situation. All of that are sure indicators that we need a Time Out.

Jesus spoke words of life into everybody’s struggle when He said:

  • “Take heart!”

We need to take our hearts seriously. The best favor we can do to ourselves is to reconnect with our Creator.

Jesus said:

  • “I have overcome the world”.

Knowing and believing that Jesus can work through every issue with us will guard our hearts from descending into desperation. Jesus added:

  • “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace.”

The most precious ointment on a wounded and broken heart is the ointment of peace: the peace of knowing everything is going to be alright; the peace of knowing that God cares; the peace of knowing we are not alone; the peace of realizing that God is near; the peace of knowing we are being carried.

Jesus can connect us to peace because He is the source of peace. Shortly before His death He told His followers (John 14:27):

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

“Peace be with you” is not an empty wish of His. It is quite real. And Jesus wants to lay it on us. Take it from the One who knows you best and let His peace reign in your heart and soul.

John 14:1-3: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

His heart is fully vested in His creation. Jesus was there when the stars and the moons were put into place. He knows the inner workings of the universe. He knows all the intimate details of star systems, galaxies, our home turf, the Milky Way, and specifically, how planet Earth was put together, how plant life came to be, how the animals were created and finally, how the first human beings were introduced. He was there. As Builder and Creator, Jesus is attached to everything He has laid hands on, and His fingerprints are all over creation.

Then the Creator became flesh and lived among us; born into this world, the Son of God became Son of Man. Incidentally the Builder of the universe was born into a carpenter’s family. Growing up under Joseph’s tutelage, they must have spent a lot of time in the wood shop. They worked with their hands to build things out of wood. Jesus had always been a builder, but when God became man, He came with the mission to restore what He had previously built.

Creation suffered a mortal blow; death crept into His beautiful and perfect creation. But, death was not supposed to have the last word in the matter. At age 30, Jesus began His public ministry, preaching about the kingdom of God. He began to heal the sick, wake up the dead and spread God’s compassion everywhere He went.

The night before His death Jesus talked to His closest friends, His disciples. He shared with them that He was going back to the Father. His disciples were deeply disturbed and unsettled. How could they live a single day without Jesus?  Jesus told them (John 14:1):

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.”

Nothing seemed to make sense to His disciples. How could Jesus save them if He were to leave them the very next day?

It was a hard thing to understand. As it turned out, Jesus did not leave them to their own devices. He left them with God’s Spirit. And to this day the Spirit of God has been working all around the globe to guide people’s hearts towards the truth.

Jesus left planet Earth to reunite with the Father. He also left to build places for people in Heaven, in preparation for their home coming. Passionate as He is about building, we can be sure that His love is carved into the very structures He is working on. We will see them – handcrafted homes in Heaven, custom made by Jesus for the people who believe in Him. This is what He says to you and me (John 14:1-2):

“You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?”