Those of us who have harvested tasty vegetables from our own gardens are quite familiar with the principle of cause and effect.
If I want tasty, organic carrots or green beans or tomatoes or bell peppers or potatoes or whatever, then I have to do a number of things first over an extended period of time.
I have to imagine the outcome, plan the outcome, purchase seed, prepare the soil, plant the seed, water the soil, protect the plant from weeds and critters and, ultimately, pick the vegetable.
There is no success unless there is progress with the process.
I was reminded of this principle today in a way that not only refreshed my understanding of the process, but also gave me an even greater appreciation for God’s merciful nature.
The One-Year Bible reading from today included portions from Isaiah 57-59. In Isaiah 57:18-19, the prophet wrote these words given by the Lord:
“I have seen his ways, but I will heal him. I will guide him and restore comfort to him, creating praise on the lips of the mourners in Israel.
“‘Peace, peace, to those far and near.’ says the Lord. “And I will heal them.”
The prophet Isaiah followed this promise with a description of how the Israelites had fallen into the trap of religion without a relationship with God.
He described how they saw themselves as believers but lived in ways that contradicted that claim.
A gripping indictment is found in Isaiah 58:3-4. The people were doing as they pleased during their spiritually hollow fasts, exploiting employees, arguing with one another and even getting into fistfights.
“You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high,” God said through Isaiah in 58:4.
Rather than zapping all the stiff-necked, phony-faith people among the Israelites, God AGAIN showed incredible patience and mercy as He calmly listed again the fruits of faith that should be found in the faith garden of every believer.
Loose the cords of injustice.
Untie the cords of the yoke (let go of emotional, financial strangleholds you have on others).
Set the oppressed free.
Break every yoke (intercede to help others get free of strangleholds upon them).
Share food with the hungry.
Provide the poor wanderer with shelter.
Clothe the naked.
Do NOT turn away from your own flesh and blood.
Though the above list of actions should be no-brainers to every believer, getting them actually done is not easy. In fact, a lot of advance effort is required for the faith garden to be fruitful in the above ways.
That’s why church attendance and close, mentoring relationships with mature believers are so important. We usually can’t know what to do unless somebody shows us what to do.
Isaiah 58:8-9 describes a very good harvest from servant-hearted actions. As you imagine the outcome, and then start planning the purchase of seed, preparing of soil, planting of seed, watering of soil, protecting of the plant from weeds and critters, visions of the delicious harvest below will serve to keep us in the garden even in the droughts, in the storms and in the infestations.
“Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and He will say: ‘Here am I.'”
What a great garden harvest! Let’s both get to work in the garden, OK?
As always, I love you