The Grace of God

That Brings Salvation Has Appeared to All Men (Titus 2:11)

Posts Tagged ‘devil’

Guarding the Fruit (Lessons From the Garden Part 2)

Posted by israeliteindeed on June 10, 2011

In my last post, I described a garden that had a rough beginning, but was really looking beautiful. The lesson I learned was that we must not grow weary in well doing, for we will reap a harvest if we don’t give up.

If I thought that was the end of the story, and I could now sit back and wait for the fruit to drop into my hands, I was wrong. My first culprit seemed to be plant shock, and perhaps fungus. Now that those are under control, my garden has a more insistent predator. In one week’s time, a rabbit has finished off an entire row of lettuce plants, and most of a row of bean plants. Not only that, he destroyed all the marigolds I planted all around the garden. There are lots of leafless and flowerless stems left, looking stark and sad against the brown mulch.  That’s alot of work and watering seemingly for nothing.

I confess I am discouraged. But this time, I know that self-pity is a waste of time, and is a robber of the good fruit that follows patient endurance.

Obviously, sin has ravaged our earth, and producing fruit here is not going to be an easy task, whether we are referring to physical fruit or the more important spiritual fruit. It is going to take more work than we understood when we came to Jesus on that happy day that He washed our sins away and made us “the planting of the Lord” (Isa 61:3). We have to fight more than drought and blight; there are predators sent by satan to make us fruitless even after we have produced life and made some progress. Satan knows that if we are fruitless, we shall be hewn down with all the fruitless trees which are cast into the fire (Matt. 3:10).

Satan is not going to rest while we casually produce fruit and effortlessly plunder his dark kingdom. That is why we must “be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:  whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.” (I Pet. 5:8-9)  After all, God hasn’t called us to a life of ease. In fact, “Woe to them that are at ease in Zion” (Amos 6:1) that stretch out upon their couches and entertain themselves while the church around them falls into ruins and disrepair. God has called us to deny ourselves, take up our crosses daily and follow Him (Luke 9:23).

Follow Him where? Wherever He goes (Rev. 14:4).

What if He leads us into trouble and hardship? Follow Him, for “We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22)

What if He leads us into the valley of the shadow of death? Follow Him. We will not fear evil even there; even surrounded by enemies, He spreads a table before us.

There are many enemies, there is much work to be done, there is the hope of a harvest, but there are so few willing to labor and overcome.

Saints, all around us we see (in the Spirit) the broken walls of a destroyed city–the city of the Great King–seemingly in ruins. Apostasy is here. Because iniquity abounds, the love of many (for Jesus) has grown cold (Matt. 24:12). If these anathemas describe you, there is no time to lose–rise and shake off the dust, repent!  Fan into flame the gift that is in you before your lamp goes out and the light that is in you is only darkness!

False teachers have ravaged the sheep and fattened themselves on their flesh, and those who haven’t utterly been destroyed wander on every hill like “sheep without a shepherd,” following every wind of doctrine. It is easy to think there is nothing we can do, and this is precisely what satan wants us to think. He wants us to grow weary in well doing, so that we pine away in self-pity & the harvest never comes. Wave after wave of setbacks will come. We are called not to wilt under the pressure, but to overcome them in Jesus! You must not shrink back when everyone else says it’s hopeless, for “if thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small.” (Prov. 24:10) And “Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.” (Heb. 10:38) Have the footmen already wearied you, fainting saint? God will soon ask you to run with horses. Has the land of peace seemed  too difficult? The Jordan will soon swell (Jer. 12:5). Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power!  Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom, but you will not take the kingdom without the faith of Joshua and Caleb.

I am reminded of Nehemiah, who arose in the night and went “by the gate of the valley, even before the dragon well, and to the dung port, and viewed the walls of Jerusalem, which were broken down, and the gates thereof were consumed with fire.” (Neh. 2:13)  I don’t think the word choices in this verse are by accident–“the gate of the valley”–“dragon well”–“dung port”–all seems dismal and overwhelmingly hopeless. But our God brings life out of death, starting with the passion in our hearts to make a change whatever the cost to us, however heavy the cross. Just as I must now construct a wall around my ravaged garden to keep future predators out, Nehemiah would eventually oversee the daunting task of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem in the face of tremendous opposition.

I sometimes look at Acts 2 wistfully–all seems blissful–the saints living, eating, and ministering together and enjoying peace while God added to the church daily. But we do disservice to ourselves if we forget that all of life proceeds in seasons. We must understand the times we live in and behave with the wisdom God gives. There is a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted (Eccl. 3:2). There is a time to celebrate the good harvest of the Lord, and a time to mourn for the devastation around us, seeking to repair the breaches in the house of the Lord wherever we find them–we must keep in step with the Spirit. When predators come to rob the fruit in the garden of the Lord, it is not time to go into hiding or to lounge at ease on our couches, feeding ourselves on past harvests, but to stand and fight, not “against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Eph. 6:12)

Beloved, fortify your life and your labor against the wiles of the devil, having your spiritual armor on at all times (Eph. 6) and determining that as long as you have breath, you will serve the Lord wherever you are, however you can. In humbled ruins, there are dormant seeds.

Scripture says “in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron.” (I Tim. 4:1-2) Many of the mighty are already fallen; many are already turned aside after satan. But do not let the ruins and devastation immobilize you; continue rather “in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth…that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.” (2 Tim. 2:25-26)

Every soul recovered is another stone in the rebuilt wall, and even one soul makes a lifetime of backbreaking toil worthwhile.

As for me and my vegetable garden, it is time to dig a trench and plant a fence.

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