Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Winnowing Fan is In His Hand

                A winnowing fan is not something we see farmers using these days. Most farmers use machines to bring in the harvest. But in Biblical times the harvest was done by hand, by laborers. When it was time for harvest, one group would chop down the grain and another would do the threshing. This process during
harvest was very precise, because if they were not careful the tares and chaff would get mixed in with the wheat and ruin the crop, and they would have nothing to show for it. The winnowing fan was the last part of the process before they would gather the grain into the barns for the coming winter
                “His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn the chaff with unquenchable fire.” Matthew 3:12
                John the Baptist saw all the religious people of His day coming to him. He listened to their criticism, he put up with their snide remarks, but their undeniable lack of repentance, he could not tolerate. So he spoke to them about the One who would come after him- the One who would put to death all their religion upon a humble cross and would bring true worshipers to repentance and new life with God the Father. One of the things John warns these religious people of is their failure to bear fruit. He tells them to “bear fruits worthy of repentance,” that “the ax is laid to the root” (Matt. 3:8,10) and that if they do not repent they will be cut down.
                Today, we need to heed the warnings of John and do a self check on our hearts. I am not a religious person. Even though I was raised to be religious, I chose to go a different route. I chose to have a relationship with God based off of His grace and not off my works. Religion tells us that we must perform; we must look good on the outside and perform set prayers, traditions and rituals. But religion only looks clean on the outside. Relationship looks completely different. Relationship says I am because He is. Relationship says He is worthy, I am not, but I am made worthy by His blood. Relationship says Jesus is Lord of my life and I will strive to live in obedience to His will and His word. Relationship follows Jesus, religion follows man.  
                Jesus tells us the parable of the wheat and the tares in Matthew 13. During the planting season the enemy came in and planted tares with the wheat. (for more on this parable, click on link) He says that the servants gathered the wheat and the tares together, because pulling the tares out before the wheat was ready would harm the crops. So, they were left to grow together until the time of harvest. John the Baptist describes the next step after the wheat has been separated from the tares. He explains the process for ridding the harvest of the useless grain that has escaped the first separation. This is where I believe the Lord wants us to focus our hearts and open our ears to what He has for us today.
                The winnowing fan was a tool that was used to pick up the wheat that was gathered into the
barns. It could be a fork, a shovel and sometimes a basket. The winnower would then pick up the wheat in portions and throw it up against the wind. The wheat because it was heavier would fall to the ground, but the chaff would be blown away by the wind. The wheat would remain in a pile and the chaff would be gathered up at the end and thrown into the fire.
                Chaff is the stuff that falls off the grain. It is useless. It can also be a stalk of grain that has no kernels and therefore has no purpose or use. It is easily driven away by the slightest wind; it is easily broken and easily burned. It doesn’t take long for chaff to be consumed by fire.  I believe the time of separating the wheat from the tares has come, and those of us who have escaped this first harvest are going to be put through the winnowing fan of our Lord. He is the winnower. He will toss us against the winds of persecution and trials and if we are easily broken, or if we are blown away, then we will become of no use to Him and be as chaff. But if we are His, then we will be as the wheat, and will fall at His feet.
                I believe the time is near, I believe that the coming of our Lord is closer than it has ever been before. The earth is in labor, all we have to do is look at the earthquakes, the storms, the floods, the numerous weather events to see that the birth pangs that Jesus spoke of are here, they are growing nearer and nearer together. I believe that even in our churches today there is chaff. There are those that call themselves Christians but have no real fruit, no real desire to be His. They see Church as a social gathering, a place to meet up with friends, a place to take their kids for a few hours every week, a place to promote their own desires and strive for titles. We need to get real, people. We need to know that even though our God is a loving God, He is also a just God.
                He desires that all men would come to repentance, that all men would see the glory of His salvation and would come to Him. God our Father does not send anyone to hell, they choose to go there of their own accord. Our God is also a just God. He desires His children to walk in holiness, to walk in righteousness, goodness, mercy, grace, love. He has called His people to a higher standard. If we say we are His then we must be like Him. All throughout the Bible God calls His children to live holy, separate lives. Are we? Are we living holy lives? Or are we chaff, being tossed around by every wind of doctrine? Or are we chaff that has no purpose, no fruit, and unfortunately, no point?
           
     My words may sound harsh, but I think we must heed the warnings of John this day and take a close, hard look at our hearts. Jesus tells us that the gate is narrow and difficult is the way through it, and there will be few who find it. (Matthew 7:13-14) Let us take a close, hard look at our lives today and ask the Lord to throw us up into the wind. Are we chaff? Are we deceiving ourselves into believing we are wheat even though there is no fruit? So many people today are deceiving themselves. They look like the world Monday through Saturday, but then try to imitate Christ on Sunday. My friends, my brothers, my sisters, please, stop believing the lies of the world and begin following in obedience the Word of God.
                The time of harvest is near, I believe. That time of separation is coming.  There will be many in the last days that will claim to know the Lord, claimed to have followed Him, but He even says that He never knew them. (Matt. 7:23) We must make a choice to become either hot or cold. We must choose if we are going to be wheat or if we are just going to stay the chaff. If you do not want to follow Jesus all the way, then you will be separated with His winnowing fan, and you will be blown away, gathered up and tossed into the fire. But the wheat, the wheat will remain and will be gathered up into His heavenly barns where we will see the glory and the goodness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

                His winnowing fan is in His hand- are you wheat or are you chaff?