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Bring Them In
by Alex M. Lindsay
Reference: Psalm 126

Here is a Psalm that describes what it is like to get back to a fruitful life, after experiencing failure and the discipline of the Lord. The failures of Judah led to the captivity in Babylon for 70 years. Cyrus released the Jews to go back to Israel and begin the work of rebuilding. Not all Jews went back at once. Many Jews left during the time of Cyrus (Ezra 1-3). The Jewish people would migrate in, over the years, from Babylon and Persia during the reign of Darius (Ezra 6) and Artaxerxes (Ezra 7-8).

The initial joy at the blessing of God to restore Israel (Psalm 126:1-3) was followed by the humble desire to have God's help to restore a decimated nation (Psalm 126:4). Jerusalem, along with the temple of God, had been destroyed and needed to be rebuilt. Other cities and houses, along with the idle farm land needed to be restored and revitalized. The sobering reality was that a lot had been lost because of the discipline of the Lord. The restoration was not only going to take God's help. It would require a lot of work (Psalm 126:5-6). Tears would be shed, as people remembered former blessings lost and the difficulties which lay ahead. But joy would follow, as they saw their efforts blessed by the Lord and hope for the future increased (Psalm 30:4-5; 90:13-17; Hebrews 11:11 [cp. vs.4-14]). See also Psalm 127; 128; 130.

Psalm 126:5-6 brings thoughts of a spiritual harvest, as well as the literal fields of Israel. See II Corinthians 9:10. The principle of sowing and reaping (Galatians 6:2-10) may be applied to how we serve the Lord and participate in the harvest of souls (Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23; II Corinthians 9:1-11). God's word is the precious seed (I Peter 1:23). We need to add the tears of love and compassion to that precious seed (Philippians 3:18). God will bless us with a harvest of souls (Isaiah 55:10-11).

God has given us precious seed and the promise of a harvest, but we need to ask ourselves, "where are the tears?" How much do we want the harvest? See Romans 1:13-16. Paul expressed eagerness to preach the Gospel (Romans 1:15). We may have a general desire to see people come to Christ, but it is not a specific desire that makes us work with passion. We may also have a temptation to be selective. Perhaps there are certain kinds of people that we like to work with: nice people - people like us. Is it possible that we have a temptation to send away the very people God wants us to help? They can be people that are difficult. They make us uncomfortable. They don't get it right the first time. They require a lot of effort. Let's take a few examples of the disciples of Christ, who were tempted to send away the very people that Christ wanted to help.

Overtime and the Extra Mile - Matthew 14:15

It was "after hours." They had worked long enough. There were physical needs that had to be met. It was more than they could handle. It was getting inconvenient. Jesus allowed none of this to stop Him. He was going to bless those tired, hungry peopleā€¦ and He was going to use the disciples to do it. As a result, the power and glory of the Lord would be manifested (Matthew 14:15-21). Has the Lord asked us to do too much, when He gives us people to serve?

No Results, The Lord Must Not Want This One! - Matthew 15:21-28 cp. Mark 7:24-30

So, there was this nagging woman. She's not even one of the group - she was a gentile. Jesus wasn't talking to her. So, obviously, the disciples need to let her go! She's not one of the elect! She was taking up their time! That's when Jesus stepped in and started a dialog, that not only helped her, but also gave Jesus an opportunity to teach an important lesson about grace to the "in" crowd. Does the Lord give us annoying people, from the wrong side of the tracks, to serve?

Keep Those Children Quiet! They're Making Too Much Noise! - Matthew 19:13-15

The word for "children," in verse 13, means infants. Parents were bringing their babies to Jesus. It was probably a very noisy situation, taking up lots of time. The disciples felt protective of the Lord's time. They wanted Him to be effective. Obviously, He had some deep teaching planned for the adults. These babes need to grow up and then they can learn later. As usual, Jesus had a surprise for the disciples. They didn't need to protect Him from eager parents, with their infants and small children. He had time for them. He desired the presence of children to remind the "big" people that the heavenly kingdom is composed of those with child-like faith (Matthew 18:1-4). Jesus took the time to bless those little ones. We have no idea what influence we can be, when we love children and have time for them. Think about I Corinthians 7:14; II Timothy 1:5; 3:15. Does the Lord have some children for us to bless?

So, God's sheep come in all sizes, ages, colors, and social status. There are no guarantees that, when you first meet them, that you will like them. The only way to like them is to love them. If you love them, then you will lead them to Jesus. If you are patient, humble, and gracious, you will find that, after Jesus has worked with them for a while, you will even like them. See Romans 13:8; I Corinthians 9:19-23; 10:31-33; II Timothy 2:10, 24-26.

An old hymn has these words for its chorus:

Bring them in, bring them in,
Bring them in from the fields of sin;
Bring them in, bring them in,
Bring the wand'ring ones to Jesus.

Originally delivered August 6, 2017
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