O Israel, thou hast sinned from the days of Gibeah: there they stood: the battle in Gibeah against the children of iniquity did not overtake them. It is in my desire that I should chastise them; and the people shall be gathered against them, when they shall bind themselves in their two furrows. And Ephraim is as an heifer that is taught, and loveth to tread out the corn; but I passed over upon her fair neck: I will make Ephraim to ride; Judah shall plow, and Jacob shall break his clods. Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain righteousness upon you. Ye have plowed wickedness, ye have reaped iniquity; ye have eaten the fruit of lies: because thou didst trust in thy way, in the multitude of thy mighty men.
Currently, we are in a series titled “Break Up Your Fallow Ground: It Is Time to Seek the Lord”. I believe that God is calling the church and all Christians to repent because we will not be able to serve Him effectively if we have sin in our lives and if we tolerate sin in the lives of others around us.
In the first message of this series, we saw how the Prophet Hosea called out the children of Israel because of their sins, and how God is calling us, today, to confess our sins and repent — to break up our fallow ground. Just as a reminder, Hosea 10:9-13, is a message which God gave to the Prophet Hosea to give to the children of Israel. As the children of Israel were sliding further into sin and idolatry, God told Hosea to remind them of their past sins. He specifically refers to the story of a Levite who was confronted by a group of homosexuals in Gibeah who wanted to have homosexual relations with him. This wickedness was made known throughout Israel and the tribe of Benjamin, which the men of Gibeah were from, went to war against the other eleven tribes of Israel. This is what Hosea is referring to when he says that Israel has been sinning since the days of Gibeah. This passage in Hosea and the period of time in biblical history in the book of Judges is the foundation for this series of messages.
As we go through this series, we also want to continue to gain a better understanding of this Bible passage. In light of that, please notice this brief insight that Matthew Henry provides in his commentary on what Hosea meant when he commanded the Israelites to sow to themselves in righteousness. He writes, “Let them sow to themselves in righteousness; let them return to the practice of good works, according to the law of God, which is the rule of righteousness; let them abound in works of piety towards God, and of justice and charity towards one another, and herein let them sow to the Spirit, as the Apostle Paul speaks of in Galatians. Every action is seed sown. Let them sow in righteousness; let them sow what they should sow, do what they should do, and they themselves shall have the benefit of it.”
Very briefly, I would like to mention that our passage points to the human as the one who must take the action of repenting and breaking up his or her fallow ground. I am reminded of the song that Michael Jackson sang titled “Man in the Mirror”. Let me share a few lines of that song with you.
I’m going to make a change
For once in my life
It’s gonna feel real good
Gonna make a difference, gonna make it right
I’m starting with the man in the mirror
I’m asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself and then make a change
Before we start pointing out what every body else needs to do to change, we have to start by looking at the man in the mirror or the woman in the mirror and change our own ways.
Based on a list of sins which the great evangelist Charles G. Finney gave in his classic sermon titled “Break Up Your Fallow Ground: It is Time to Seek the Lord”, we began pinpointing some of the sins which we as the church need to confess and repent of. So far in this series, we have addressed the sins of
2. a lack of love for God
3. neglect of the Bible
5. a neglect of prayer.
6. a neglect of Christian fellowship
7. not having the right attitude towards God’s work
8. having a lack of love for our fellow man and the souls of the lost
If you missed any of the previous three messages, remember that you can go online to sundayeveningevangelistichour.com and listen to them when you get the chance. This week, we are continuing this series by addressing the next three sins on our list.
As I said before, these are action messages. If you are not willing to act upon what I am talking about, then you may not want to hear what I have to say. By the end of this message, I want you to be examining your heart, confessing all hidden sin, and having your fallow ground — your hard, unused, unproductive ground — broken up. We must take this time to break up our fallow ground because it is time for us to seek the Lord.
I. The first sin we will address today is neglecting our family duties. The Bible says in Joshua 24:15: “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
Husbands, it is your responsibility to lead, guide, and direct your family in the way that God would have you to go regardless of what others in your family have to say. Sometimes, you may have to ignore the advice of some people in your family who do not want to follow God. Notice what Joshua says: “for me and my house.” Joshua sets the pace for how his household will operate because it is his responsibility to do so. The other Israelites can choose however they see fit, but it is Joshua’s spiritual duty to lead his family in God’s way. He does not say, ‘as for me and my house, if the rest of you agree, or if my wife agrees, or if my in-laws agree.’ He makes the decision. Men, as the leaders of your homes, God expects you to make this kind of concrete, firm decision.
Wives, you also have family duties. Are you honoring and respecting your husband as God’s word commands you to do? Are you being a good mother to your children? Are you supporting your husband’s God-ordained leadership? This is not up for discussion. If you want to have a happy and peaceful home, the fulfillment of your duties is essential. Someone once said that wives and mothers set the tone in the home. What kind of tone are you setting in your home?
There are also other duties which both husbands and wives are expected to fulfill for their families. Now, I could write a whole book on this subject. But, one thing that Charles Finney emphasized is prayer. How often have you neglected to pray for your spouse, your children, and your extended family? Another duty is setting the right example in front of your children and others in your family. This is a part of your duty to your family as a Christian. Sometimes, we tend to let our guard down around our family members, but God wants us to be just as watchful, prayerful, and vigilant for our families as we would be at any other time.
Have you neglected any of your duties as it relates to the spiritual well-being of your family? If so, then it is time to break up your fallow ground. Confess this neglect as sin to God and then choose, like Joshua, to serve the Lord with your family. “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
II. The second sin we will address today is not being watchful over our Christian witness. 1 Thessalonians 5:22 says, “Abstain from all appearance of evil.”
As Christians, we have an important duty to be salt and light in the world. This requires the upholding of our Christian testimony in every part of our lives — in our communities, on our jobs, in our churches, and in our every day interactions with the world. Someone once said, ‘the devil does not want to see every Christian dead, he wants to see every Christian’s testimony ruined.’ You see, if a Christian’s testimony is ruined, he will not be an effective witness for Jesus Christ.
How many times have we allowed ourselves to act in an unchristian manner without first counting the damage it would do to
our Christian witness and considering how it would make us less effective in the body of Christ. It is important for us as Christians to “abstain from all appearance of evil” because the devil will take any infraction and try to use it as a stumbling block for other believers or as a barrier in our witness to nonbelievers.
Before you make a decision, consider how your decision will affect your Christian witness and consider how it would affect the advancement of the kingdom of God. For example, if you were trying to reach the Orthodox Jewish community for Jesus Christ, it would do no good for you to invite a Jewish family to your house, and they sit down at the dinner table, and find out that you are serving pork steaks for dinner. While that may be a small thing to you, the family would be offended and the devil would use that incident to make them less receptive to your witness for Jesus Christ.
Are you guilty of not guarding your Christian witness? If so, then it is time to break up your fallow ground. Confess the neglect as sin and ask God to give you the kind of spirit that considers His kingdom before you make any decision. Remember, if you want to be an effective witness for Christ, you must zealously guard your testimony. The souls of others may depend on it.
III. The third sin we will address today is neglecting the practice of self-denial. Jesus Christ said in Luke 9:23, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” Self-denial is defined as the “sacrifice of one’s own desires or interests. It is unfortunate, but there are many Christians who are willing to do almost anything as long as it does not require self-denial. Many people think they are doing a great deal for God, but they are not willing to deny themselves any comfort or luxury for the sake of serving the Lord. Many people think that they are doing God a favor by serving Him.
These people will not willingly suffer reproach and ridicule for the name of Christ. Nor will they deny themselves the luxuries of life to serve God in a difficult mission field. These are people who love their earthly comfort more than they love the Kingdom of God. Some people, unfortunately think that the Christian life actually comes with ease, material things, and riches.
God did not promise us an easy life after salvation. In fact, He often warned His disciples that they would be persecuted. He said in John 15:20: “Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you…” Oftentimes, the specific mission that God has for your life will be the one thing that you do not want to do.
For years, as a young man, I told people that I would never be a preacher. Even after I got saved, I resisted the call to preach. But I had to deny myself, not do what I wanted to do, and submit my will to God’s.
How about you, dear friend? Is there some sacrifice that God is calling you to make? Is there some work that God is calling you to do that you are resisting because you know there will be hardship and struggle?
Whatever it is, confess the lack of self-denial in your life. Break up your fallow ground. Ask God to give you the ability to truly deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Him. Remember what the Bible says in II Timothy 2:12: “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him”.
In closing, we have covered some important ground today, but, unfortunately, we have many more sins to discuss. I want to encourage you to examine your heart and see if any of the sins we have discussed today or in previous messages are hidden there. If so, begin to break up your fallow ground by asking God to forgive you and cleanse you of your sins. Yes, it may be unpleasant, but this is something that every follower of Christ should engage in. Your spiritual life will benefit tremendously because of it. Your family will benefit because of it. You will find that you become closer to God and have a greater sensitivity to any sin that may be trying to creep in to your life.
If the Lord should tarry his coming and we live, I hope that you will be with us next week so we can continue this journey of getting our hearts right with the Lord and getting back to serving Him. Break up your fallow ground: it is time to seek the Lord.
Now, if you do not know Jesus Christ as your Saviour, allow me to show you how you can be saved from sin and the permanent punishment of sin.
First, please understand that you are a sinner, just as I am, and that you have broken God’s laws. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Please understand that because of our sins, we deserve permanent punishment in hell. Romans 6:23 says “the wages of sin is death…” This is both physical death and spiritual death in hell. That is the bad news.
But here is the good news. John 3:16 reads, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
The phrase, “For God so loved the world”, means that if you are in this world, God loves you no matter what you have done or where you are in life.
The next phrase, “that He gave His only begotten Son”, refers to Jesus Christ. He is God’s son who suffered, bled, and died on the cross for your sins and for mine, and He was buried and rose again.
Our next phrase is “whosoever believeth in Him”. The word “whosoever” means anybody at anytime. The phrase “believeth in Him” means to trust in Him, to depend upon Him, to rely on Him, or to have faith in Him for your salvation.
Our next phrase, “should not perish”, refers to eternal punishment in a place called hell.
And, lastly, the phrase “but have everlasting life” means to live eternally in Heaven with God.
The Bible also says in Romans 10:9 and 13: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved…. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Dear friend, if you are willing to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today and forever. Amen.
If you believed in your heart that Jesus Christ died on the cross for you, was buried, and rose again, may I be the first to say, congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour!
God bless you and have a great week.
Daniel Whyte III has spoken in meetings across the United States and in twenty-three foreign countries. He is the author of sixteen books. He is also the president of Gospel Light Society International, a worldwide evangelistic ministry that reaches thousands with the Gospel each week, as well as president of Torch Ministries International, a Christian literature ministry which publishes a monthly magazine called The Torch Leader. He is heard by thousands each week on his radio broadcasts, The Prayer Motivator Devotional and the Prayer Motivator Minute, as well as Gospel Light Minute X, the Gospel Light Minute, the Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message, the Prophet Daniel’s Report and the Second Coming Watch Update. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from Bethany Divinity College, a Bachelor’s degree in Religion from Texas Wesleyan University, and a Master’s degree in Religion from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. He has been married to the former Meriqua Althea Dixon, of Christiana, Jamaica for twenty-five years. God has blessed their union with seven children. Find out more at www.danielwhyte3.com. Follow Daniel Whyte III on Twitter @danielwhyteiii.
Song: “Is Your All On The Altar?”
Artist: Yolanda Adams
Album: The Essential Yolanda Adams