Isaiah 55:10-11 "For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it."
Todayís question boils down to this: Do you understand what it is to live by faith? Faith hears, believes and trusts in Godís Word. Faith does not rest on proof, or it is no faith. There are 3 reasons why people fail to live by faith.
1. Some people simply will not hear the Word of God.
2. Some people simply will not accept Godís Word as true.
3. Some people simply will not trust that God will do has He has promised.
So should we see someone who is having great difficulty living by faith, what can we do? In the first place we can bring to them the Word of God, we can make certain they have the opportunity to hear. We do this, not in judgment, but in love, for we want them to share in the salvation that comes by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. We cannot make them hear, but we can bring to them the word.
Sometimes however people have heard the Word of God, and still there is no evidence of faith. What can we do? We always begin in prayer, bringing the person before the throne of grace and asking that God would build faith in this life. Having thus begun, the next thing is not so much something we do, but the way we live. Sometimes it helps to see others who can accept Godís Word as true, and such examples encourage all the people who would live by faith. You cannot argue someone into accepting Godís Word as true, but your life can be an example that encourages them to follow the Spiritís leading in their life.
Sometimes people hear, and accept Godís Word as true, but they find it hard to trust in it. Again we begin with prayer, bringing the person before the throne of grace and asking God to build the faith in this life. Having thus begun, there is next to nothing that we can do, except to live by faith. It may be that by the example of our trust we may encourage those whom God has called by the spirit to boldly step forth in faith, trusting that God will indeed provide.
And as grand as all this is, oftentimes the problem is not with someone else, but with us, and especially with our desire to see results. God never promises that we will always see the results. You donít plan the seed, and go out to the garden the next day expecting to see a mature plant. But we are accustomed to a short season of growing.... and if after many days we fail to see a sprout, we go out and dig to find out what is happening.... which never does the dug sprout any good. You canít dig up the seed of faith planted in people, nor can you examine their heart and watch for daily change. We plant in spring and harvest in fall, but this is not the only schedule, nor must this coincide with Godís schedule.
No one plants an orchard expecting a harvest at the end of the first season. And this is the thing that is difficult for us to learn. It seems we are so focused on the harvest that we forget all that comes before. We have difficulty at times really believing that Godís Word will accomplish its purpose. Its at times like that, that the example of somebody like Johnny Apppleseed comes to mind. The legend goes that as he traveled across the country he planted appleseeds along the way, although he would probably never pass that way again, he knew that in years to come some traveler would pass by, and praise God for the treasure they found, when tired, sweet refreshment lightened their heart as they came upon not the seed, but the tree and its fruit.
An ordinary person might thank their good fortune for having found the apple tree and its fruit. A person of faith, will thank God for sending someone to plant the seed, and bring them to this bounty. And this is the way of faith, there are many laborers in Godís farm. All do not harvest, for if the seed is not sown, how can there be a harvest?
We may not always see at the moment how God will work this for good. We may not always see faith growing like the grain, which reach harvest in a single season. But perhaps this is a good thing, because when we look at ourselves, we tend to see that we are not finished yet. Many have learned the prayer, be patient with me, God is not finished with me yet, I am His work in progress. It is time that we extend this grace to others, not tolerating dead wood, but encouraging growth for Jesus sake; confident that the Word of God can accomplish whatever God sends it forth to do, helping where we can, and being patient where we must, remembering the variety of Godís grace and bounty.