Sow & Gather

harvest

One Year Of Sow & Gather - Online Devotionals for Women

encourage, harvest, New BeginningsSow & Gather - Tamera B.Comment
sow-and-gather-womens-devotionals-online-free #sowandgather

God gave the Women's Ministry at First Baptist Grapevine a vision for Sowing God's Word and Gathering Women's Hearts via online devotionals --- a blog. What started as a small seed of an idea over three years ago, has blossomed into a gathering place for women of all ages to share in nuggets of God's word. 

As I curate the devotionals each month, I am awed and inspired by how God is using this core group of 7 to 10 women to write such powerful words for His Glory. Be assured, each devotional comes from deep within the woman that put pen to paper. We do not take our calling to this ministry lightly.

I love that Sow & Gather allows talented women a creative outlet to express God's message. If spreading the love of Jesus via an online platform sounds like your calling, there's an opportunity for you to be a part of this ministry.

Our core group of contributors and editors are members of First Baptist Grapevine. That's where we started, but that's not where we end. This is an open invitation to any woman who acknowledges the Statement of Faith to contact us for more information on becoming a volunteer contributor or assisting us with out grass roots social media team.

May God bless you and keep you,

The Sow & Gather team

Give Thanks In A Crowd Of Family

harvest, ThanksgivingMarci Anthony4 Comments
better-a-dry-crust-sowandgather

Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting with strife. Proverbs 17:1 NIV

What a wonderful time of the year!  It is autumn and the leaves on the trees are turning a vibrant red, yellow, and orange. The trees are glowing and the leaves are beginning to fall lazily to the ground waiting to be raked.  The days are getting shorter and the air is crisp in the morning and just perfect during midday.

It is a time to prepare all the yummy foods and indulge in treats only made once a year. The house smells of these tasty snacks and the décor of your house looks like a pumpkin patch. Even the clothes we wear are different comprising of long-sleeved shirts, flashy scarves and cute socks with boots.

Along with these changes of autumn, we have our family.  We not only have our spouse and children in our lives but we have parents, in-laws, our siblings and their spouses, nieces and nephews, grandparents, cousins, and aunts and uncles.  We have a myriad of family in our house and in our life.

From my experience with all this family comes periods of unrest, strife and just basic anger and exasperation.  Even though we love them, strife occurs. It is not always intentional but just happens with so many family members and so many personalities all in the same place. 

I desire peace, so every year during this season I begin to meditate on Proverbs 17:1. I start with asking Jesus to be evident during our family times and to help me to love my family as he does. Second, I try to be “quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” (James 1:19) Being quick to listen for a talker like me is so difficult, but I will conquer listening with Jesus. Finally, I practice the fruit of joy, which comes from the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23) With this fruit of joy, contention, anger, and bitterness cease.

Let peace begin!

Dig Deeper |

1 John 4:7

Action Item |

Decide now to be a house of feasting with peace! With Jesus peace can occur.

Prayer |

Dear Jesus, Thank you for seasons in our lives and especially this season of autumn. Help me to be aware of your presence, to love as you do, be fast to listen and emit a joyful spirit with my family. I know I am able with you. Amen.

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This post is part of Kelly Balarie and Friends #raralinkup.

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How Do We Harvest Spiritual Fruit?

harvestMarci AnthonyComment
harvesting-spiritual-fruit-sowandgather.com

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 NIV

On one of our summer vacations, after watching the mile markers zoom by in the car, we finally decided to stop for gas and a much desired snack. We piled out of the stuffy car and hurriedly walked into the store to view all the appetizing snacks. The color, size, and vast array of candy, chips, and nuts were inspiring. We stood there shuffling our feet feeling overwhelmed with all the choices.

Everyone grabbed quickly except for my youngest son. He stood there and slowly picked one up and then put it back. He repeated this action several times. He just could not make up his mind. His other sibling was practically yelling at him to select one! We had to wait. Needless to say, we gave him the clock countdown. Hurry up. You have 5 minutes. You now have 3 minutes, 2 minutes, and time is out. Whew. He finally had a snack in his hand.

This vivid example is just one of many moments in my life where I have to wait on someone or something. But with each waiting experience, the fruit of the Holy Spirit called patience should appear. It is the ability to accept delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.

I can say without a doubt that patience is difficult. I don’t want to wait. When I do wait, patience doesn’t spring out, but instead irritation, anger, and sometimes self-pity.

However, I know God. He has waited for me, and He has exhibited patience beyond my comprehension with each choice I make. I also know the Holy Spirit lives inside of me, waiting to work patience in my life. If I allow the Spirit to control my thoughts and actions, fruit will be harvested.

And, that long list of fruit shown in Galatians 5:22 will definitely become more evident in my life, including the elusive fruit of patience.

Dig Deeper |

Colossians 3:12

Action Item |

What do you need to do today to harvest the fruit of patience?

Prayer |

Dear Holy Spirit, Thank you for the fruit you produce in my life. Help me to relinquish control of my thoughts and actions so patience can be harvested. Amen.

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How Do Our Seeds Bear Fruit?

harvestMarci AnthonyComment
the supplier of seeds will increase the harvest sowandgather.com

Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 2 Corinthians 9:10 NIV

My beloved California church was quickly outgrowing the worship center, children’s classrooms, and parking spaces. This is a great problem to have, except when you are in California, and by the Pacific Ocean! Land is a precious commodity and difficult to come by where the desert meets the ocean. 

The church began a Capitol Campaign to raise funds for building more space and acquiring more land for its growing congregation. The Pastor held “Town-hall” meetings to discuss the plans and ask for our prayer, and provision.  

During one of the meetings he asked us what we were doing with the seed or resources God had given us? Would we be willing to give to God something beyond our imaginations, not expecting a return for ourselves, but a return for the kingdom and glory of God?  

After much prayer, my husband and I were led to commit to an amount that we did not have at the time. We believed that God would provide the seed to sow.   

A few weeks later, my husband lost his job. This was not news we were expecting and immediately felt the burden of our commitment to our church and our own personal finances.    

It was during that time that God showed up in a miraculous way. My husband received a settlement package that not only covered our commitment to the exact amount but provided for us as well.   

Matthew Henry says “He can cause us to have a sufficiency in all things, to be content with what we have, to make up for what we give and to be able to give yet more.” 

I didn’t see my husband’s job loss as provision, but it was what God used to show us that He supplies the seed for the harvest. The honor of seeing God’s seed bear fruit is everlasting and the reward is eternal.  

Dig Deeper |

Isaiah 55:10, Hosea 10:12 

Action Item |

When we invest what God has given us in his work, He will provide. Where are you investing?

Prayer | 

Dear Father, thank you for all that you provide and give me the eyes to see where you want me to invest your resources. Amen

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What is a Happy Harvest?

harvest, 2 PeterMarci Anthony1 Comment
happy harvest sowandgather.com

“May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord.”  2 Peter 1:2 (NLT)

During the month of October, have you ever seen a sign that reads, “Happy Harvest?” My path must have crossed that wish over 1000 times without any thought until recently. Browsing through a local hobby/craft store (don’t get the wrong idea, I simply cannot do crafts), I noticed a pumpkin that read, “Happy Harvest.” Reflecting my cynical mood, I thought, “What in the world is happy harvest? What does that even mean?” Moving on to the project at hand, I proceeded to forget about that strange wish, but I continued to be perplexed.

Questions came to my mind as I reflected on the interesting wish: Why would I ever wish someone a happy harvest? Have I been missing a special wish in my life for 50 years? Do I need to go buy Happy Harvest cards? Are my children scarred because I haven’t taught them about this oh- so-special greeting? The moment required a conversation with one of my closest advisers, GOOGLE!

Many reasons support October being called the Harvest Month in the United States of America. First, many crops such as pumpkins, vegetables, and apples, are harvested during this month. Each of these crops are planted early in the year and they grow throughout the summer. Second, the full harvest moon is experienced every third year in October. This moon is important for farmers because they can work into the night harvesting their crops during that time. Many other reasons came to my Google- sized search, but I was satisfied with those.

I give in . . . it is harvest season! But the question still remains, why say, “Happy Harvest?” After several days of mulling that over in my pea-sized brain, I came to the conclusion that harvest is the end of the growing season! After all of the work, after all of the watering, after all of the pruning, the plant is fully grown; the growth stage is complete. There is much to celebrate at that completion!

My excitement could not be contained as I compared this experience with my own personal growth in my relationship with Jesus.

As the knowledge of my precious Jesus increases, the harvesting of more grace and more peace proceeds.

This very year has been a growing one for me. It began with questions, frustrations and discouragement. Resisting the urge to eat Snicker bars and drink coffee all day every day, I began to search through my very special, pages-falling-out, Bible. The very difficult journey required much toil and much effort. Through the process, God, the ultimate farmer, pruned me!

Today, I sit here reaping the harvest of grace and peace. The very circumstances that discouraged me are still present, but I have peace growing all around me. I continue to disappoint myself and have others disappointment me, but the flowers of grace abound.

So, here it goes, “Happy Harvest” to each of you!

May you grow in your knowledge of Jesus. May you open the pages of His beautiful love letter to you. May you sit quietly in prayer with your Maker. May you experience the great harvest of grace and peace.

Dig Deeper |

2 Peter

Action Item |

As you read this blog, you may find yourself where I was 1 year ago. If so, make a plan to grow in the knowledge of Jesus. Set time aside, even if it is very short, and begin this journey. You will not be disappointed with the Harvest from your growth process. Happy Harvesting!

Prayer |

God, I come before you tody needing the harvest of grace and peace. Give me the strength and the courage to put effort into knowing You more. God, help me with my schedule and give me the determination to commit to knowing You. Thank You that after much growing, You will give me more and more grace and peace. Amen.

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Harvesting Fellowship

harvestSow & Gather - Tamera B.Comment
Our Fellowship Is With The Father sowandgather.com

What we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.  1 John 1:3 (NASB)

Growing up the word “fellowship” meant Sunday lunches at my church. As a young girl, an all you can eat buffet of homemade dessert and playing hide and seek in the Sunday school rooms was pure joy! 

Be united with other Christians. A wall with loose bricks is not good. The bricks must be cemented together.
— Corrie Ten Boom

As an adult, fellowship has a deeper meaning for me. Fellowship is still gathering with other believers, possibly sharing a meal, but more importantly sharing life together. It doesn’t necessarily mean a large gathering, like my old church, but a smaller gathering.   

What makes this fellowship sweet are the people gathered together who have been called into fellowship with Jesus Christ.

It is a gathering where hurting hearts and struggling flesh are shared, answered prayers are celebrated and real life happens. It is a group of people who encourage you to stay steadfast in seeking the Lord and learning His ways.  Most importantly, there is a shared love for Christ and therefore a love for each other. 

There have been times in my life when I did not experience fellowship with other believers. Having lived without a church or a circle of godly friends makes me treasure the body of believers and the community it offers. 

Dig Deeper |

1 Corinthians 1:9; Acts 2:42

Action Item |

You may find yourself today without a community of believers. Ask the Lord to show you the church you have been called to and a group of godly friends that you can fellowship with.   

Prayer |

Dear Lord, draw me to those friends who seek you first in all they do. May sweet friendships grow out of our love for you. Guide me in harvesting the joy of fellowship. Amen.

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Resting in the Lord Is a type of Harvest

harvestMarci Anthony2 Comments

Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest: even during the plowing season and harvest, you must rest. Exodus 34:21 NIV

Sunday is one of my favorite days of the week. Sure I enjoy Friday or even Saturday with all the activity, but Sunday is the best!

And, like most people, I have a Sunday routine. I arise later than normal to drink coffee with a special aromatic creamer as I hastily get dressed. After dressing, my family and I jump into the car and dash off to church. We arrive to participate in Bible study with our small group of friends and stroll to Sunday service conversing. During the service I am privileged to worship my sweet Jesus, listen to His profound, inspiring words and be encouraged by my friends sitting around me. After the service we enjoy lunch with friends at a tasty restaurant and share our lives together.

After meeting with Jesus and talking with friends, we come home. My final activity for the day is to hop onto the comfy sofa and take a long-awaited nap. Ahhhh… It’s just wonderful. It is truly incredible to rest.

However, on Sunday I am not only participating in physical rest during that long-awaited nap, but I am also able to rest mentally and spiritually at the Bible study and during the service. I soak in God’s word and communicate intimately with Him during worship. I am filled by Him; therefore, I feel more at peace and at rest. I worship Him through music and prayer. I am encouraged by my brothers and sisters in Christ, and in turn, I try to be an encouragement to others.

The verse in Exodus requires that we rest. It is a command to work on six days and on the seventh, rest. Even during the busiest or most active time of the year, plowing and harvest, or for us, the fall school activities and the upcoming holidays, we are commanded to rest. Just as God rested on the seventh day after creating all things, He wants us to rest too.

So, come and rest.

Dig Deeper |

Genesis 2:2-3, Matthew 11:28-30

Action Item |

In what ways do you rest? On what day of the week do you have a routine of resting? Are you resting not only physically but mentally and spiritually? Practice resting this week.

Prayer |

 Dear God, Thank you for being an example of rest and for commanding us to rest. Help me to rest every week. I know by resting, I am rejuvenated and refilled by Your Holy Spirit. Amen.

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The Harvest is Plentiful

harvestSow & Gather - Tamera B.Comment
the harvest is plentiful sowandgather.com

Then Jesus said to His disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore, pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest." Matthew 9:37-38 (NASB)

I lived in a small suburb where I could call the neighbors when I needed an extra cup of sugar or a stick of butter. I was eight months pregnant in April with my second child. Sometime during that year, I came under powerful conviction to pray for my neighbors since every one of them was lost but one. God stirred in me an urgency to beg Him to capture the hearts of the moms I knew.

One afternoon when my son was being active and I was having a quiet time, I headed outside to get the mail. It was a typical spring day in Texas, dark clouds burdened with rain hung low in the sky. A smattering of drops dotted the sidewalk as I made my way to the mailbox. I noticed that just a few steps away my neighbor was also picking up her mail. She waved and we began a conversation.

We talked about the shootings at Columbine which had just happened the day before. She was distressed about the condition of the culture and uttered, "There must be something better in this world." And, there it was, the glorious expectant moment when as the wind swirled around my feet, the Spirit moved in my heart. He whispered, "Tell her!"

Immediately, old insecurities and fear rose up fiercely within my mind. My home seemed to beckon for my return to comfort and peace. I turned to scurry into my house to hide away. As soon as the latch on my door clicked, it was like the door of opportunity for my neighbor had closed. What if she died today? She would not know Jesus. A compelling desire to see my neighbor believe swept over me, and I got down on my knees to petition the Lord to give me another chance.

A few short weeks later, she knocked on my door. "My brother just found Jesus and he says I'm going to hell. Can you help me?" That question began a two month saga of meetings in my home where we spoke openly about Christ-- the fears of giving someone else control, the hope of salvation, the love of a Savior. I got to watch as Jesus drew her into His kingdom. It was an overwhelming event for me as I watched Him passionately pursue her. He was running after her to make her His own; which He did.

Dig Deeper |

Acts 17:26-27; 2 Peter 3:9; Luke 15:4-6

Action Item |

Do you have a neighbor that needs to know Christ? Will you commit to pray for God to give you an opportunity to share? If God determined where you will live, then what does that mean in regard to spreading the good news in your area?

Prayer |

God, please draw the people around us that do not know You so that their eyes may be open to Your salvation. Give us an opportunity to share the good news. Help us to be bold and to work the field of souls together. Send people out to tell the lost about the gospel. Amen.

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Treasure God's Word - Matthew 9:38

scripture memory, harvestSow & Gather - Tamera B.Comment

How Do We Harvest Treasures?

harvestSow & Gather - Tamera B.1 Comment
she-did-what-she-could-sowandgather.com

. . . She has done what she could . . . . Mark 14:8

When we study scripture, there are many treasures to be found.  Some are right on the surface-- easy to grab and understand.  Some, you know you will have to dig a little deeper before you are able to take hold and understand them.  Then, there are those treasures that are right on top, but you don’t even notice the. And, those are the treasures that sometimes hold the most value. 

That’s what happened when I was reading Mark 14:6-9.  The story is about when Mary broke her alabaster flask and poured out the oil over Jesus and then wiped His feet with her hair. Judas and the others criticized her for being wasteful. Jesus immediately came to her defense - just like He does for us. 

If you read that passage in Mark, did you see it?  Did you see the treasure that seems so ordinary?  It’s in verse 8 “. . . She has done what she could . . . .” That seems so simple; nothing worth looking into.  And yet, Jesus said in verse 9, “Whenever this gospel is preached . . . what she has done will be told.”  Jesus thought this was a pretty big deal; maybe it’s not so simple and ordinary. Let’s go back and dig a little. 

“She did what she could." Mary couldn’t keep the priests from falsely accusing Jesus, she couldn’t stop the crowds from mocking Him, she couldn’t change Judas’ mind about betraying Him, and she definitely couldn’t prevent the soldiers from crucifying Jesus.  BUT, in an act of worship, she could pour oil over Him. 

So, she did what she could. 

That’s all God ever asks of us, to do what we can.  Don’t focus on what you can’t do. Focus on what you can do, and then do it!  Can you make a meal for a sick friend? Can you bake cookies for a neighbor? Can you call someone and encourage them? Can you send a card to someone who is discouraged? Do you feel the Holy Spirit nudging you to ________?  Then simply be obedient and “do what you can."  Jesus commended Mary on DOING what she could, not thinking about it, or wishing she could, but on actually doing it!  If you keep reading in Mark, you realize the next night Jesus was arrested and it would have been too late. 

When the Holy Spirit prompts us to do something, even if it doesn’t make sense, we should obey.  We never know how God will use our obedience in His plans.  Even a small gesture can have a huge impact. 

Dig Deeper |

Ephesians 2:10; Philippians 2:13; 2 Timothy 3:17

Action Item |

Do I let what other people think prevent me from showing my love for Jesus? What is one thing I can do today to be obedient when the Holy Spirit speaks to me? 

Prayer |

Lord, help me to want Your approval more than man’s.  Show me Your will and help me to obey immediately and not delay and miss out on blessing others. 

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This post is part of the "A Little R & R" linkup.

God's Harvest is Not Limited by the Season

harvestSow & Gather - Tamera B.4 Comments
to-everything-there-is-a-season-sowandgather

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1 (KJV).

Tomatoes the size of saucers and red as a fire engine are not harvested in October in Tennessee. I never grasped a Fall harvest growing up because our garden was barren come September. The Big Boys were eaten or canned, the Silver Queen corn had long since been shucked. Harvest was over just as the world was telling me to celebrate the season.

I didn't understand all the grain crops that reach their full potential in the Fall. Now I also know that citrus is so much the sweeter (or tart) at Christmas-time because it's picked in November.

While there may be a prime growing season for my Momma's tomatoes, God is not limited by the seasons when it comes to bringing people to know Christ. For the month of October, the contributors of Sow & Gather are visiting what "harvest" means to them.

Join us as we explore the acts of fellowship and resting. Be ready to examine the Fruits of the Spirit and learn how to recognize treasure here on earth.

I look forward to this season of Harvest. I anticipate with gladness the provision God makes for our families and for the salvation of those to come. Join us on our journey of sowing God's word and gathering women's hearts.

Happy Fall and Happy Harvest!

Dig Deeper |

Ecclesiastes 3

Action Item |

Have you ever picked fruits or veggies from the garden? Who were you with? See if you and your family can visit a pumpkin patch or apple orchard and harvest fruit together.

Prayer |

Dear Heavenly Father - I praise your name. I give thanks for my Momma and her garden. I pray for the harvest of souls that you have planned. Guide me today in planting and watering seeds for your Harvest. Amen.

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Gather with us by sharing your "Action Item" or "Prayer" by clicking on the Comment link at the top of the post.