Precious Fruit of the Earth
By Daphne Delay
I'm not a farmer, nor from a farming family. But I have eaten an unripe banana and tasted premature fruit - both of which are bitter and/or hard. And that's exactly what James was referring to when he spoke of waiting for the precious fruit of the earth; except the fruit he spoke of was people.
"Therefore, be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain" (James 5:7).
The early rain helps the seed to germinate. Mature seeds are often extremely dry and need to take in significant amounts of water. In the same way, humans (before Christ) have dry and hardened hearts that must be softened.
After sprouting, germinated seeds need a consistent supply of water to continue healthy growth. This too, is how people who've softened and accepted Jesus as their Savior continue maturing. The latter rain is the presence of the Lord.
"Be glad then, you children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God; For He has given you the former rain faithfully and He will cause the rain to come down for you -- the former rain, and the latter rain" (Joel 2:23).
So we are encouraged to be patient and simply enjoy the refreshing presence of the Lord, for He is faithful to supply it.
When was the last time you were refreshed in His presence? For some, it may be recent; for others, it may be as long ago as the last time you played in the rain as a child. God is faithful to supply the rain (His presence) at any time. Unlike a natural farmer who has to watch the weather report and pray for sweet rain on his crops, you and I only have to stop and pray.
"And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; For You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You" (Psalm 9:10).
"The young lions lack and suffer hunger; But those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing" (Psalm 34:10).
God loves for us to seek His presence. Therefore, He is quick to respond. The problem is people don't always know how to receive. For example, a person may be dry and certainly in need of spiritual rain, yet they remain dry and unrefreshed. Why? It's not because God doesn't respond to their plea; it's because there are requirements for receiving. And the number one requirement is: close your umbrella!
Offenses and unforgiveness are like umbrellas that block the rain. And this is a common misunderstanding among believers. They seek God for healing and refreshing because they've been hurt and wounded, not realizing their guarded condition is what hinders the very thing they are seeking. So many people think forgiveness is a feeling, but it's not. Biblical forgiveness is a choice. Or a better way to explain it is forgiveness is an act of their will. No person (and I mean, NO person) "feels" like forgiving. It's a defense mechanism of the soul to pop up the umbrella and guard their heart. But when we forgive offenses and trespasses simply because Jesus asked us to, the umbrella comes down and the rain of God heals and mends our brokenness.
Disobedience is another hindrance to God's presence. How can God give you instruction number two, when you continue to avoid or disobey instruction number one? God's not holding back - our own rebellion and pride are often the reason for our dryness.
"If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land" (Isaiah 1:19).
We could say, "If you're willing and obedient, you'll receive the latter rain that produces the good of the land." But let us remember we must have hearts that are BOTH willing and obedient! It's one thing for a child to obey his or her parent's instruction, but did they do it willingly? Or with an attitude?
Remember God is the ultimate farmer, watching over the crop of the earth, sending early and latter rain in hopes of a great harvest of people. But He has also allowed us to farm our own lives.
"Sow for yourselves righteousness and you will harvest a crop of love. Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the Lord, that He may come and shower righteousness upon you" (Hosea 10:12).
You and I are the precious fruit of the earth. I pray we never miss even one drop of His presence.
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Daphne Delay is the founder of Mirror Ministries in Seminole, Texas. She is the author of Facing the Mirror: Finding a Self to Live With. Daphne has written over 200 articles for subscribers to Mirror Ministries and other publications, and she blogs nuggets of spiritual growth encouragement every week. Daphne is the wife of a senior pastor and the mother of three. www.mirrorministries.org
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