PUTTING OUR HAND TO THE PLOUGH

 
                      
Reading: Luke 9:52-62
 
 

INTRODUCTION

 
(a) As we look to a new year ahead, then  as I am sure we must be aware, if
    we are to make anything worthwhile  of  it,  then we are well and truly
    going to have to put our hand to the plough.
(b) In our text, which of course is  verse  62, a familiar verse to us all,
    it speaks, not only of the necessity to plough, but also of the dangers
    of looking back!
(c) Jesus never uttered warnings lightly! He meant what He said, therefore,
    irrespective of what you may think of me or my preaching, it is wise to
    note the words of the Saviour  in  respect  to our own lives! We reject
    His warnings at our own peril!!
(d) Although the Lord was not a  farmer  He  knew all about ploughs. As the
    Carpenter of Nazareth, I'm sure He had made more than a few.
 

POINT 1

 
(a) The Lord was emphasising the  dangers  of  allowing what was behind, to
    effect that which was in front.
    Or to put it another way, allowing  that  which was PAST to affect that
    which lies AHEAD!
(b) Some  years ago at new year, I spoke  of  the present and the future of
    some people's lives being destroyed by past happenings and events!
(c) For many years, I have  been  aware  that  there  is a section of every
    congregation, irrespective of who is ministering God's Word, who allows
    what is said to go in one ear and out the other!
(d) That is very evident when   there  is   unforgiving  hurtful actions by
    some, who although calling themselves  'Christian', insist in acting in
    the ways of the heathen instead!
(e) However, we must  not   allow   any   such   attitudes   or  actions to
    affect other Christians, or the future of our church!
    Because this has happened in days gone by, is the reason some churches
    are now struggling for survival!
(f) IT IS A DANGEROUS AND A  FEARFUL  THING TO BE RESPONSIBLE FOR HINDERING
     GOD'S WORK.
(g) As a Minister of Christ, I  am  under  obligation to use whatever means
    are necessary to ensure this does not happen!
(h) In a certain Corps, someone said  to  me,  that  if  I didn't do as they
    wanted then they would  stay   away   with   their   husband and family
    connections,  and  this  would  affect   my   statistics   going   into
    headquarters! They really thought that  mattered  more than the welfare
    of the Kingdom!!!
    They tried to use it as a cheap form of blackmail to get their own way!
    IF THAT WAS THE SUM  TOTAL  OF  THEIR  CHRISTIAN  EXPERIENCE, THEN GOD
    HELP THEM, AND INDEED SAVE THEM  TOO,  BECAUSE THEY OBVIOUSLY    
    KNEW VERY LITTLE OF THE SAVIOUR WHOM THEY WERE MEANT TO RESEMBLE!!!
 

POINT 2

 
(a) It is very true  that  the  future  can  be  affected by an UNFORGIVING
    SPIRIT.
    It is impossible for someone to plough  a  straight furrow, if they are
    too busy looking back at what someone has done to them in the past!
    Apart from anything else,  Jesus   makes   it   crystal  clear that GOD
    CANNOT FORGIVE US IF WE DO NOT FORGIVE OTHERS!!
    A mind that is fed on  the   hatred   of   others  is  a SICK MIND, and
    mental disorders often come about in this way!!
(b) It can also be, that we could be looking back at some failing or SIN of
    the past, that can effect the way ahead!
    Perhaps it is a sin no-one else  knows   about, and we feel guilty, and
    can't get it out of our mind!  It's  like  a heavy weight we cannot get
    rid of, that weighs us down and depresses us!
    Or perhaps someone else does know,  and  we   live in constant fear and
    dread, in case they divulge it to someone else!
    Either way, we'll be constantly  looking   over our shoulder, unable to
    forge a straight way ahead!
(c) Something else that can stop  19**  being  what  it  should be for many
    people will be INFERIORITY!!
    How many times have I heard it said, "I could never do that!"
    IN 19** WE CAN BE EXACTLY WHAT GOD WANTS  US  TO BE - IF WE'RE WILLING.
    Any other suggestion, is an insult to  Him  and His ability. None of us
    can be what we should be in our own strength!
    So what if we've made a mess of things in the past??
    It is GOD WE ARE TO PLEASE!
    IF SOMEONE WANTS TO MAKE US SUFFER  FOR  OUR  PAST - GOD WILL DEAL WITH
    THEM!!
    WE MUST KEEP OUR EYES ON THE FUTURE!!
(d) Many will find it difficult to live  for  the Lord to the full in 19**,
    as perhaps they have been BAD EXAMPLES in the past.
    A man in the pub one night, took  great glee in telling me how at the
    reception of a Christian's wedding,  the  bar  was  open, and he was
    able with his friends  to  get  as  much  drink  as  he wanted!! IT CAN
    SOMETIMES TAKE A LONG TIME TO UNDO THE HARM DONE THROUGH BAD EXAMPLE!
    However, when we are  truly  repentant,   and   endeavouring to put our
    hand to the plough, then, with  God's  help,  IT  CAN BE DONE! It might
    take DOUBLE THE EFFORT on our part, but IT CAN BE DONE!!
 
 

POINT 3

 
(a) The thing about the ploughman  is  that  he  didn't supply the power to
    drive the plough - HE SIMPLY DIRECTED IT!!
(b) In order to direct the  plough  straight,  he  had  to  fix his eyes on
    something ahead!
(c) We must set our eyes on Christ!
    You will remember Peter walking on the  water!  As  soon as he took his
    eyes  off the Lord, he began to sink.
    As soon as we take our  eyes  off   the   Lord,  we will not plough the
    straight furrow God Want of us.
    SCRIPTURE SAYS, "LOOKING  TO  JESUS,  THE  AUTHOR  AND  FINISHER OF OUR
    FAITH."
    The chorus says, "Turn  your  eyes   upon   Jesus,   look   full in His
    Wonderful Face, and the things  of  earth  will  grow strangely dim, in
    the light of His Glory and Grace."
 

POINT 4

 
 
(a) Now you might think to yourself that ploughing is tough enough, but any
    farmer will tell you, PLOUGHING IS ONLY THE BEGINNING!!
(b) Ploughing is only preparing the ground for the seed!
    If the ploughing isn't done  properly,  then   we  cannot sow the seed,
    and we will never reap a harvest -  so  you  can  see  how important it
    is! WE CANNOT DO THE JOB BACK TO FRONT!
(c) Often at harvest time, we  speak  about  the  parable of Jesus where He
    speaks of seed being the Word of God, and the soil being our hearts.
(d) Although it changes the  metaphor  slightly,  I  believe  this holds an
    important thought for us for 19**.
(e) If we are to  be  spiritually   benefited   from  the  Scriptures this
    year, then, our  hearts  must  be  spiritually  prepared, the ploughing
    must take place.
(f) Even though some heart may be hard  parched ground, like a desert, when
    the ploughing is done, then God will  irrigate it with the Water of His
    Spirit, and it will then be ready to  receive the Word of God, the Seed
    which can take root, germinate and grow.
 

CONCLUSION

 
(a) I trust that there are none of  us  who are going to determine to waste
    19**, and all that we can be  and  receive, because we are unwilling to
    prepare our hearts! That ploughing must happen NOW!!
(b) May I take the  liberty  of  paraphrasing  the  words  of Jesus in this
    verse?
    "If you wish  to  be  My  disciple   and   do   My   work,  and yet are
    unwilling to forget the past, you are not  fit  to  follow  Me,  or  be
    a part of My Father's Kingdom!"
(c) Looking deeply into our hearts  at  this  moment,  Are we fit to follow
    Christ into 19**, or will some changes have to be made first?
(d) The actions, the opinions,  the  hard  feelings,  the backsliding, the
    unwillingness to  think  for  ourselves  and  make  our  own decisions,
    allowing others to manipulate us:
    NONE OF THESE THINGS WILL DO FOR 19**!!
(e) IF WE ARE UNWILLING TO CHANGE, THEN  THIS COMING YEAR COULD BE A WASTED
    YEAR - ONE WHICH THROUGH OUR OWN ACTIONS COULD BACKFIRE IN OUR FACES.
    I TRUST NO-ONE WOULD BE WILLING TO TAKE THAT CHANCE!
(f) The Lord Loves us so very much, He  wants us to entrust the coming year
    to Him, but that can only be  done through deep commitment, and change
    if He has revealed to us that that is needed!