Most of us only see the final product of the harvest of our food in the grocery store produce aisle. And we are tempted to focus our evangelizing efforts on the final harvest product too–the full ripe fruit of a Christian convert. But as a home gardener or farmer can testify, there’s a whole lot more to the harvest than that.

This week we continue to explore not just what makes a good disciple, but what does a good disciple make. Why are there disciples in the world in the first place? Is it just to gather the harvest, or do we have an even greater role in planting and cultivating the crop than we realize? Is the Holy Spirit to have everything done for us by the time of the harvest? What can we do to prepare the world for the Final Harvest of the Second Coming?

Memory Text: “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples” John 15:8 KJV

What neighborhood gardener doesn’t feel glorified by the harvest of his labors? I’ve seen many a gardener thrilled to give away their bountiful harvest to his friends and neighbors–for free! This goes against all our selfish human instincts, but reveals something about how God must feel about His precious harvest on this earth.

The world looks at the harvest in different terms than God does. A grand evangelistic harvest in the eyes of man involves:

  • membership drives
  • media blitzes
  • public relations campaigns
  • lots of hype and publicity (rather like in the grocery store)

But God has a different foundation in mind for the growth of His human crop and the evangelistic harvest that will come. This foundation must include:

  • acknowledging our sinfulness (a seed planted)
  • heartfelt sorrow for our sins (a seed sprouting)
  • complete spiritual surrender (growing under the influence of soil, sun, and rain)
  • the overwhelming desire to spread the blessings to others (the seeds of the plant spreading and creating new plants)

Christ laid this foundation for us while here on earth, but it goes all the way back to Genesis. Adam and Eve were required to follow the same pattern of evangelism as we are now.

Sunday: Beggars’ Bread

Evangelism has been described as “beggars telling other beggars where to find bread.” Let’s take a look at what evangelism looked like for Jesus’ disciples:

  •  John 1:40-46 The disciples were so excited when they found Jesus, they had to run and tell their family members. Thus Peter and Nathanael, and I’m sure others, were brought to Jesus by personal invitation.
  • John 4:28-30 Here we see a Samaritan woman at the well, leaving her waterpot to testify to the whole city that she met a man who told her everything she did and that surely He must be the Messiah. What a testimony!
  • John 15:26-27 “And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.” v. 27 KJV Under the influence of the Holy Spirit, the disciples become witnesses of their experience with Jesus.

Evidently, Jesus’ plan was for heartfelt testimonies and simple invitations and witnessing to be a part of any evangelism effort. And the Holy Spirit is definitely the driving force.

Discussion Question: With so many angels at His command, why does God prefer using human beings to spread the gospel?

Monday: When Jesus Urged Patience

With Jesus’ final command of “Go, and teach all nations…” ringing in our ears, we often overlook the many times Jesus bids us to wait for something.

“And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.” Luke 24:49 KJV

But even as early as Paul’s day, we find ourselves jumping to places we think God wants us, only to find that perhaps He has a better field for us to labor in. Read about Paul and Timothy’s experience:

“Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia. After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavored to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.” Acts 16:6-10 KJV

We aren’t told how the Spirit forbade their work in certain areas of Asia; but either the Spirit spoke to their hearts, or circumstances were just not going their way there and they knew God was preventing the work from going forward yet in those places.

The point is that patiently waiting for the Holy Spirit is necessary whenever God’s work is done anywhere. It wasn’t just for the early or the latter rains of the Spirit that we are to wait for. God speaks to us continually as we go about the Lord’s business. And we’d better be listening.

Some ways to listen more closely to the Spirit are to cultivate the following spiritual disciplines:

  1. Bible study
  2. prayer
  3. witnessing
  4. service

Discussion Questions: What’s the difference between witnessing and service? Why are they both needed?

What can God’s ambassadors do today to allow us to hear the Spirit’s instructions more clearly than we sometimes do? How do we increase the necessary disciplines in order to stay connected to Jesus?

What kind of distractions are there in our modern world that might prevent us from hearing the Spirit as well? And what are practical ways of alleviating those distractions?

Tuesday: Exercising Authority

We may ask ourselves who has authority to carry on God’s work on earth. It makes sense that someone must be in charge or progress would not be made in this terribly important battle of good and evil.

Here are a few verses to give us an idea of where authority lies:

  • Mark 6:7-13 When Jesus sent His disciples out two by two and gave them power to overcome unclean spirits, He gave them specific instructions on their conduct and message. At that time, Jesus seems to have the needed authority for the task, but He transfers some of this authority to the disciples.
  • Matthew 16:14-19 “…Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church…” We remember the conversation here. Peter answered Jesus with the affirmation He needed–“Thou are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” The Desire of Ages verifies that “Jesus now honored him [Peter] as the representative of the whole body of believers.” p. 413.
  • Matthew 18:17-20 Christ is investing the church with similar language from the announcement about Peter in the previous passage. Both passages use the expression “whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven…”. Therefore, God’s church is also given authority to conduct the gospel challenge.
  • Matthew 28:18-20 The Gospel Commission assures us that the authority to accomplish it will extend all the way to the church at “the end of the world”.

Discussion Questions: What happens when leaders don’t give enough authority to those working under them? [Can you picture a symphony with the conductor playing all the instruments himself?]

Discuss several possible scenarios from dictatorship governments, to micro-managing in the business field, or even families that don’t work together as a team. What do these situations look like and why are they not as successful as they might be?

What causes leaders to be too controlling?

Wednesday: Laborers for the Harvest

“But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” Matthew 9:36-38 NKJV

It’s sometimes possible to get so caught up with worthy projects within the church and even in our community that we neglect another obligation–to reach out to those NOT in “the fold” and bring them to God.

While it’s true that the multitudes that Jesus observed appeared to have been neglected by their shepherd (the religious leaders of the day), it’s also fair to assume that Jesus includes everyone (the multitudes) in our realm of spiritual responsibilities, as part of the worldwide harvest that we are to be involved in as harvesters.

Discussion Questions: Why is it necessary to find the right balance between ministering to the needs of those in the church and at the same time not neglecting outreach to those outside the church?

What are some ways this balance be achieved?

Thursday: Lost and Found

parable-of-the-lost-sheepOne has to admire how diplomatically Jesus chose to refer to us sinners. He generously calls us “lost”, not “depraved, rebellious, or despicable”, or any of the other names we deserve to be called.

This should remind us that neutral language is always a better way to convey our concern for people in need of a Savior. Much like you would try to woo a child or a pet, caught in a thicket or some other place of danger, our words and tone of voice will either drive them away or contribute to their escape and safety.

The three parables of Jesus, taken from Luke 15, are rich stories that have been loved and studied intensely over the centuries. They all revolve around the theme of being lost. First, the lost sheep, then the lost son, and finally, a lost coin.

Different aspects of being lost AND also of being found are expressed. You might say these parables are as much about finding the lost as they are about the lost. Consider them briefly here:

  • The lost sheep reminds us of the hard work and sacrifice on the part of the shepherd. This sheep carelessly falls apart from the fold, knows it is lost, and must be rescued.
  • The lost son also reminds us of a parent’s unconditional love and acceptance. This son willfully separates himself from his family, but returns at the Spirit’s prompting to a father’s waiting arms.
  • The lost coin has no idea it is lost, but the lady of the house diligently searches for it until it is found.

All three stories have a celebration at the end. Maybe our church services should have a bit more of the “celebration” element to them. Some congregations could probably use it. We come to worship and praise God, but shouldn’t we also be celebrating lost souls being found. If not, maybe we haven’t been searching for them enough!

Discussion Questions: How many sons are really lost in the story of The Prodigal Son? Describe them both.

Read Luke 15:29. The older son has been behaving himself like a servant and thinks of himself as one. He wants to be considered a son, but has been serving without love all those years.

How can a church member who legalistically serves God out of duty and obligation be just as lost as someone who is out in the world without ever stepping inside a church? How do we meet the needs of both?

Summary: “The disciples felt their spiritual need and…were weighted with the burden of the salvation of souls. They realized that the gospel was to be carried to the world, and they claimed the power that Christ had promised.” The Acts of the Apostles”, p. 37.


 List the different activities and offices in your local church. Next to them on the list, determine if they would be considered sowing, nurturing/cultivating, or harvesting activities. What areas are needing attention?

Then, with other church members, try to determine which populations in your community are ready for sowing or harvest and make sure efforts are being made to reach them.