Farming in the Desert

A friend of mine not long ago said to me that he was wondering why he wasn't bearing fruit in his ministry as a Christian here in our area that we live in.  He is and was having a hard time reaching others for Christ, and even the so called "saints" were not receptive to the truth.  He just couldn't understand why people were rejecting such a wonderful message and practice.  This man is my mentor who God used mightily to hold me accountable and disciple me, and I thought that if he was having trouble, conditions must be bad. 

Americans for the most part have heard one form of the Gospel of Jesus or another. Not all have heard, and many haven't heard the right Gospel.  Therefore, I do think that it is important that we as believers in the Gospel of Jesus Christ make sure that we get the right "Gospel" out there.  Nevertheless, Christianity isn't that new here in America either.  In fact, The United States of America was started mostly by Christian men seeking refuge from Tyranny.  (I don't know if they teach that fact in school anymore, but it is true.)   In the South where we live, many are involved in "a church" of some sort, and that also makes evangelism and exhortation more difficult.

So why is it so hard?  A pastor friend of mine use to take trips to Ghana frequently, and he always enjoyed his stay. So much so that he told me once that he really didn't want to come back to the United States.  I found that to be an incredible statement given our great wealth  and comfort at the time. But then, his answer revealed to me where his treasure really was.  When I asked him why, he said that people there were much more receptive to the Gospel than people in the United States.  He said that people would beg him to tell them the true story of Jesus Christ.  He told me that you could begin speaking to a man about the Gospel story on the street, and you would have a crowd within minutes. It is difficult in America to get one listener.  I certainly can sympathize one some level with my friend and mentor on this.

I had an interesting thought inspired by 1 Corinthians 3:5-17. I told my mentor that doing God's work in the United States is like farming in the desert. We know that God gives the increase, but right now the hearts of men are seared and dry.  It will take a lot of water and minerals to get things started. Many who proclaim to be Christian, do not live according to that testimony, and there is a growing number of those who honestly deny God all together. 1 John is totally devoted to pointing out what a "real" Christian looks like and acts like. It points to what the evidence of true faith looks like.  I found that it is important to understand that a "true believer" produces fruit. A "true believer" grows in confession of sin, repentance of sin, and faith in Jesus. A "true believer" hates evil, especially his own, and seeks to kill it. A "true believer" is humble, there is no sign of arrogance or self pity.  The problem is, I do not see these qualities in the great mass of people who call themselves "Christian" in the United States.  It is hard to witness to someone who is deceived into thinking they are okay with God because they made a profession of faith once, or maybe were sprinkled once at a young age. It is also hard to witness to a hardened atheist who thinks they have all of the answers to life and reason, especially one who has been burned by the "religious goats" professing to be followers of Jesus.

So what do we do?  I think the first thing we can do is to develop a system of accountability for new believers and those seeking membership in our churches. Require them to go through a "New Members Class" for membership so that they will be acquainted with what it means to be a Christian, and what the church expects of one who has left all to follow Christ. I think it is an effective tool to hold accountable those who have made a profession. It is true that all one has to do to be saved is confess his sins, and repent.  It also involves a life long commitment, and many times when people come to Christ at a church, the church either never sees them again, or there is never a real change. Those who do desire real change usually go somewhere where the sheep are gathering to get away from the goats. This isn't a full proof system, but I have seen it in action, and it is very effective. Goats typically don't want to have expectations placed on them when it comes to Church membership and fellowship, so a line up of expectations and basic teachings for the person seeking membership is a good thing. I also think that preachers need to teach the Bible first. I am not saying that an occasional headline sermon isn't good from time to time, but if the pastor hasn't taught from the whole Bible, he has no business preaching on current events or any other "pet peeve" for that matter. I have found that if a person teaches strictly from the Bible, the true followers will stay and the goats will get board and leave. Goats tend to prefer to be entertained and will get board with Bible teaching. C.H. Spurgeon once said: "if you reach them with a circus, you will have to keep them with a circus." Most modern churches are trying to invent the next "circus" to keep people interested.


Most in America worship entertainment and sensuality. Entertainment and sensuality isn't all bad if it is placed in the proper context. I like a good movie once and a while. The Bible lays out the proper context for these things. If a church states up front what it means to be a true follower of Jesus and has an expectation that they behave that way, and the pastor preaches expositorily from the Word, the people who come and/or stay are the people who are suppose to.  If half of your church left because you began only preaching the Word and having prayer meetings during the week, that may not be a bad thing.  If you are rejected for the Gospel, Jesus said you are blessed (Matthew 5). Christians are to be peace loving people who get joy out of God's Word and fellowship with people who are like-minded. Sure, I would love to see more come and be interested in the truth, but right now we are farming in the desert. God will bring the increase if we are faithful. The best thing we can do for the unbelievers in America is to preach the truth, live the truth, mean what we say, say what we mean, and practice what we preach.

Below are some scriptures I thought of while thinking on this subject. I also posted a video about sharing the Gospel that I thought is effective and true in its content.

14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.  2 Chronicles 7:14 NKJV


13 "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. 15 "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them. 21 "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' 23 And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!' 24 "Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall." Matthew 7:13-27 NKJV

"5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. 8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor. 9 For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, you are God's building. 10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. 16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are." 1 Corinthians 3:5-17 NKJV


"10 And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire." Matthew 3:10 NKJV

20 Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, "The kingdom of God does not come with observation; 21 nor will they say, 'See here!' or 'See there!' For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you." Luke 17:20-21 NKJV

"16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them. 21 "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' 23 And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!' 24 "Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall." Matthew 7:16-27 NKJV

"18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace." James 3:18 NKJV

" 16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another." Galatians 5:16-25 NKJV

 1 Masters, give your bondservants what is just and fair, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven. 2 Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving; 3 meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains, 4 that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak. 5 Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. 6 Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.  Colossians 4:1-6 NKJV

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