The Waiting Spiritual Farmer

James 5:7-12 (NAS Bible):

[7]  Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord.  Behold, the farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains.

[8]  You to be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.

[9]  Do not complain, brethren, against one another, that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door.

[10]  As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.

[11]  Behold, we count those blessed who endured.  You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of Compassion and is merciful.

[12]  But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but let your yes be yes, and your no, no; so that you may not fall under judgement.

“DIGGING FOR RAIN” – A Story of a Farmer and his young son:  [See Footnotes [i] ]

One of my favorite authors, Don Nori, wrote a book that I just finished re-reading titled Secrets of the Most Holy Place – Volume Two.  Although, Mr. Nori’s intentions might not be directed towards PATIENCE and ENDURANCE, the Holy Spirit certainly spoke to my spirit in response to Verse 7 , James Chapter 5:

“Behold, the farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it…”

PATIENCE WITH ANTICIPATION:

A FARMER and his young son were walking through the fields of corn they had planted just before the spring rains came.  They had thought this was going to be the best year ever.  The rains had been heavy for almost three weeks.  When the corn sprouted, it appeared as though it had leaped from the ground.

1196027736_d56d2432f2But that was all the rain that came.

Here is where I believe PATIENCE comes into play. The farmer and his son look towards the heavens daily as high thin clouds passed overhead and still no rain.

They walked together through the rows of stunted cornstalks while kicking up dust of the hardened earth covered their feet as they went.

One afternoon, the young boy mentioned to his father that the neighbors were calling a prayer meeting after supper.  The farmer kneeling beside a cornstalk acknowledged the prayer meeting by nodding, then saying, “The harvest rain will be too little and too late for this crop.”  He was hopeful, but his patience was wearing thin.

“We need water right now and we need the harvest rain too.  That would save this corn, maybe even make it a good year.”

At that point, the young boy thought his dad might not have heard his announcement of the evening prayer meeting asking the Lord for rain.

“Do you want to go? ‘Cause if you do, Mom and I will go too.”

The farmer smiled, nodding his head yes and saying “Yes, we will go to the prayer meeting tonight.”  As they walked back to the farmhouse, the farmer’s son, almost speaking to himself said, how cool it would be if the spring rain for the harvest could be saved.  Just in case the harvest rain wasn’t enough.  Although young in age, he believed in the Lord and knew He would not let them down.

The farmer stopped in his tracks, turning his attention to his son and asked him to repeat his last statement: “What’d you say, boy?”  His son immediately thought he was in trouble for his outspoken thoughts:  “I was just joking, Dad.  I said I wished there was a way to save the spring rain for the harvest.”

But the farmer wasn’t irritated, nor mad at all:  “Boy, I think I hear the Lord talking to me through your innocent little mouth.”

Never reaching the farmhouse and grabbing a pick and shovel laying in the dirt, began digging a hole in that spot.  But what about the prayer meeting they were all going to attend?  With the farmer’s actions, his anticipation of the results, he already knew the answer.  “The spring rain is right here in the dry creek bed at the edge of the cornfield.  Leastwise, it’s where it was the last time I saw it!”

Although Mr Nori’s story lingers on in detail, I wanted to skip over some parts [you can read it in detail by getting his book] and get to the conclusion of the story.

After digging through the night, while missing the prayer meeting, the farmer was strengthened by the prayers of his wife and the confidence of his son while he dug.  When the meeting at the church was over, his son stopped to see his dad’s progress.  There the farmer was still enthusiastically digging in a deep hole, so deep that a needed step-ladder was barely visible above the hole.  Getting his Dad’s permission, climbing into the hole, the young boy climbed down the ladder to help his dad search for the rain.

After some time, digging together by the light of a lantern, the water began to spring up like a geyser as they ran up the ladder as the hole quickly filled with water and began pouring into the field.

3393017119_841f9602f4

Now, what does this story of a farmer and his son, digging for rain, have to do with James 5:7-12?  

I LOVE THE WORD OF GOD!

I can never say this too often, “I love the Word of God”.  I believe it to be  inspired and inerrant.  I believe the Word to be God’s revelation of Him self to man.  As someone once said, no matter whether I believe it or not, the bible is still God’s truth.

The BIBLE is our tool to gauge our life.  It addresses every topic you will ever face, and has every answer we need to live a righteous life.  I LOVE GOD’S WORD!

I do love some of its subjects and situations it deals with more than others such as HEAVEN!  But, I also have to deal with hell’s reality.

I love reading and receiving Holy Spirit’s insight and to God’s voice dealing with FORGIVENESS.  But at the same time, addressing the issue “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

I do have to confess, I don’t enjoy some of the topics while reading, studying and teaching over the years in the Book of James.  I’ve had to examine certain sensitive areas and shortcomings of my own life, as we all should in reading God’s Word with application.

PATIENCE!!!

The “P” word…Now I would rather just skip over this.  The word James uses for PATIENCE and ENDURANCE in the original Greek implies for Christians “to stay put and stand fast when you would really like to run.”

James gives us 3 examples–

The Farmer (verses 7-9):

If you are an impatient person, then you shouldn’t be a farmer.  Like the story of The Farmer and His Son, although discouraged from lack of rain, he wasn’t impatient when awaiting God’s directions, then took action.

FARMERS MUST BE PATIENT!

They must be PATIENT with the SOIL.  The farmer must pain and toil preparing the soil to sow the seed.  Being an avid home gardener, my patience sometimes run thin:  I just added compost and fertilizer last year for the results.  Why do I go through this every year?   PATIENCE…

The Jewish farmer would do the sowing of the seed every year after the early rains.  They must be PATIENT with the seed after the soil is prepared and the seed is shown.  And, they must be patient, with the season.

Why does the farmer willingly wait so long?

VERSE 7:  Because the fruit is “precious”.

I don’t use the word “precious” in my conversation or writing.  Maybe it doesn’t seem manly.  After looking up the definition with the corresponding synonyms, PRECIOUS means “COSTLY”.  You and I, as children of God, are PRECIOUS in God’s eye.  Remember the song Jesus loves the little children…they are PRECIOUS in His sight.

THE HARVEST BRINGS REWARDS:

James is picturing the Christian here as the “spiritual farmer”…waiting for a spiritual harvest.

James reminds us, as Christians, the SECRET TO ENDURANCE is when the going gets tough, is that God is producing a HARVEST in our lives.  He desires the FRUIT of our spirit to grow.

We also must remember the farmer doesn’t stand around doing nothing.  As the farmer in the story tells, “he grabbed the pick and shovel and started digging.”  As James mentions, our faith without corresponding action (“works”) of obedience is dead (James 2:26 AMP).  

Then in James 5:9, James urges these believers NOT to “grumble (complain) against one another.”  Too many times in my own spiritual walk, I become IMPATIENT with other believers instead of letting God have His perfect timing.  He will complete in us what He desires.  In His time.

THE PROPHETS:

The early believers would have been familiar with this example of James of the Old Testament prophets.  When we read how these faithful servants suffered, it should offer us encouragement–ENCOURAGEMENT knowing God is in control, even if our five senses aren’t detecting it.

These prophets encourage us by showing they were in the will of God, yet they suffered proclaiming their message in “the name of the Lord.”

The prophets encourage us by reminding us that God cares for those who suffer for His sake.  Someone once said “the will of God will not lead you where the grace of God cannot keep you.”  As the apostle Paul said, “God’s grace is sufficient.”

JOB (James 5, verses 11-12):

 Job is the classic example of a man who PATIENTLY ENDURED suffering and was blessed by God for his persevering FAITH.

James reminds the believer there are BLESSINGS for those who PERSEVERE through it all.  Job lost all he had except…a nagging wife non understanding, and non supporting friends.  Job didn’t understand what the causes of his suffering were.  He didn’t know what was going on behind the scenes between God and Satan…yet Job endured!

VERSE 12 seems to be out-of-place with the context of James’ message.  Think for a moment, how often during trials and suffering, trying to deal or bargain with God in the process.  “If you will do this and that God, I’ll do this.”  That is an OATH–a promise.  An “OATH” is a verb indicating the action of “invoking a curse” and “binding oneself under an oath” (See Footnote [ii] ).

Waiting for the HARVEST
Waiting for the HARVEST

 

 

Footnotes:

[i]  Secrets of the Most Holy Place – Volume 2 by Don Nori – Copyright 2004.

[ii]  Expository Dictionary of Bible Words.

Photo Credits:  Photo Pin.

 

 

 

 

“God Gave the Song”

I have been reading and meditating in the Book of Psalms for awhile now.  Now I’m sure you are familiar with several; maybe even committed The 23rd Psalm to memory.  But I haven’t heard from the pulpit with much in-depth teaching.  I’ve wondered why not?  Maybe it’s because of the dynamic nature–they’ve got all the ups and downs of life–the nitty-gritty.   But then, I’m just guessing.

The Singer–

My wife’s most favorite book in our library is The Singer Trilogy by Calvin Miller–the mystic retelling of the Story of the New Testament.  Let me quote exerts from Chapter 1, page 14:

“You, too, are higher than the earth!  You sang the higher music once, before the oceans ever crashed their craggy coasts…Earthmaker, tell me if I have the right to sing…”  But then his final word trailed off into the gales.  The gull screamed,  “No,” he thought, “only Earthmaker is everlasting.  His alone must be the theme from which sprung the world I stand upon.”  And so he only loved but never sang the song.”

[Page 15]

“And the song which dogged his aching steps and begged him pleadingly to sing it was completely unfamiliar.  Only stars and mountains knew it.  But they were old.  And man was new, and chained to simple, useless rhymes; thus he could not understand the majesty…But daily now it played upon his heart and swept his soul, until joy exploded his awareness–crying near the edge of sanity,  “Sing…sing…SING!”

A Psalm Sung In 4-Part Harmony.

OUR WORSHIP SONGS–

Sometimes, and I mean sometimes, our worship songs seem a bit to homogenized–nicefied.  

The Psalms Are the Hebrew Hymnal

The words are so raw–dynamic–life & death–the kind of thing we need to hear more of in these turbulent times.  There is so much CHANGE in the air–so much uncertainty.  And in the midst…in the valleys, the Psalmist begins to lead our PRAISES.

Psalm 96–Teaches Us A NEW SONG!

A NEW SONG On A Old Piano
A NEW SONG On A Old Piano

VERSE I:  “O SING to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, ALL THE EARTH!”

I think as we grow older (I’m 72 yrs. old), some of us don’t really like anything new–let alone MUSIC.  What happened to The Eagles, the Bee Gees, The Imperials, The Florida Boys…I could really dig that kind of music.  I knew the tune, the lyrics, the applications to my state-of-being…those were the good old days.

But have you listened to the new stuff on the radio lately?  Even on the local station PRAISE 106.5, I have to turn a deaf ear at times.  A NEW SONG! Blah h…  The new music of the day brings out the curmudgeon in me–the bellyacher–the whiner!  I begin to nitpick, and my wife will whisper in my ear, “You’re ruining my praise.”  It sometimes amazes me how the Holy Spirit can use our spouses to get His point across.

We’re really not different today from the Hebrews of old…

The Hebrews were set in their ways and patterns of life that made things a whole lot easier; they didn’t have to sing a NEW SONG–to change.  It’s easy being in a spiritual rut.  So, to all of us nostalgic people…it’s “time to sing a new song.”

“Okay, okay…if I’ve got to learn a new song–at least you should give us the music!”

And that’s exactly what Psalm 96 is about–teaching people to sing a NEW and different SONG.

A Psalm Sung in 4-Part Harmony:

My life has been involved with MUSIC since I was 4 years old.  I’ve sung in school choirs, church choirs, and a men’s gospel trio in Southern California from 1976 to 1980.  And my enjoyment in singing has been the HARMONY that the music has provided.  So much so, that I tend to forget the MELODY line–once a First Tenor, always a First Tenor!  In saying, I still need to be attentive to the melody line, or I’ll get lost!

As Christians, We ALL Have a part to sing…

When you start looking closely at the words, meditating on the Psalm, you realize that it’s full of four-part harmony–four parts, all of which we’re singing–at once.  But as Calvin Miller would say, “the Earthmaker is always singing the melody line–we join in harmony.”

The New Song Becomes Global…

It is a SONG you can’t miss, and as I discovered, maybe this is the MELODY.

Vs. 1:  “…sing to the Lord all the earth!”

Vs. 3:  “Declare His glory among the nations.”

Vs. 7:  “O you families of the peoples…”

Vs. 9:  “…tremble before and reverently fear Him, all the earth.  (10) Say among the nations that the Lord reigns.”

This IS World Music–

The OLD SONG is insulated; operates on the assumption that it all revolves around me and my issues.  A lot of “I” in the old song.

The NEW SONG becomes Global; it isn’t one that can or should be confined to church walls, or a single group of people.  It should challenge us and look beyond our own needs–our families–our own church–our own people–our own country.  It challenges us to look out and see the Big Picture, the world.

“I’d like to teach the world to sing in harmony…”

Do you have any friends or connections (real connections) with people outside of your circle?

The First Part to learn in harmony: Acts 1:8 describes the NEW SONG as a GLOBAL SONG.

Most of us probably know the tune, but do we hear the harmony?

“But you shall receive power (ability, efficiency, and might!) when the Holy spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and to the ends (the very bounds) of the earth.”

Secondly, the Song to Learn is About the Wonder of it All!

I used to love to hear a song sung at almost every Billy Graham Crusade I ever attended.  It was written and sung by the late George Beverly Shea: The Wonder Of It All!

Psalm 96:2 —  “Sing to the Lord, bless (affectionately praise) His name; show forth His salvation from day to day.”

Psalm 96:6 —  “Honor and majesty are before Him; strength and beauty are in His sanctuary.”

The NEW SONG is a WORSHIP SONG:

The New Song refocuses our lives so that they are responding to…WHO GOD IS! – “awesome”–and what He does!

God SAVES!

“His SALVATION is day to day”  (verse 2).

I find it easy sometimes to get sidetracked to start singing our own songs–or at least songs that are about ourselves.  We like to sing about ourselves–our issues–our struggles–our loves–and perhaps that’s okay–to some degree.  My wife once pointed out how she often changes the “we’s” & “our’s” to “I’.  Instead “we Love you Lord”, to “I love you Lord.”  And I think that’s a great idea to make worship songs more personal.

BUT, there’s a NEW SONG out there waiting to be sung–not about you and I but about the glory of GOD!

Thirdly, the New Song is Exclusive!

Verse 4:  For great is the Lord and greatly to be praised; He is to be reverently feared and worshiped above all gods.

The Bible recognizes other spiritual beings–deities–gods–with a small “g”–deities that have been reduced to idols.  But they are important compared to the LORD who, BTW, is seen in the tag at the end of verse 5, saying “made the heavens.”

The other so-called gods of that day–and in much of our world today–attached to various forms of nature:  gods of thunder, gods of the sky, rivers, ocean, and of nature…but the Psalmist says–THE LORD MADE the heavens–all over these things.  THE LORD OVER ALL!

That now gives us direction and informs our reading of vss. 11-13:

"All the Trees Sing for Joy!"
“All the Trees Sing for Joy!”

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all things which fill it.    Let the field be exultant, and all that is in it!  Then shall all the trees of the wood sing for joy.    Before the Lord, for He comes, for He comes to judge and govern the earth!  He shall judge the world with righteousness and justice and the peoples with His faithfulness and truth.  (Amplified Bible)

The heavens, earth, sea, fields, and crops, the trees–all had gods associated with them in mythology–but here, they are commanded to enter into PRAISE OF THE LORD!

VERSE 11:  LET THE HEAVENS BE GAD, AND LET THE EARTH REJOICE…LET THE SEA ROAR, AND ALL THE THINGS WHICH FILL IT.

UNCONVENTIONAL SINGING–this is not the usual kind of instruments you might expect to hear in worship.  The point the psalmist makes here, is they sing to the Lord!  He alone is WORTHY…ALL of our attention, our affection and our song.  It is the HEART OF WORSHIP!

The Fourth Part of the New Song…

Any great men’s quartet that you may be acquainted with, would sound incomplete without a Tenor, Second Tenor, Baritone,  Bass.  Or in a choir–Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass.  Psalm 96 teaches us the same “singing in 4-part harmonies” principles.

The NEW SONG is based in the future JUSTICE of the Lord:

VERSE 10:  “…He shall judge and rule the people righteously and with justice.”  [Refer to Revelation 11:15; 19:6.]

VERSES 12 & 13:  “Let the field be exultant, and all that is in it!  Then shall all the trees of the wood sing for joy  [13] Before the Lord, for He comes to judge and govern the earth! He shall judge the world with righteousness and justice and the peoples with His faithfulness and truth.”  [See 1 Chronicles 16:23-33; Rev. 19:11.]

So much of what we sing today is grounded in the past–we certainly don’t want to forget the past–but it shouldn’t define who we are.  As frustrating as life gets, as much as the unfairness can eat at us, there is a day JUDGEMENT is on the way.  And so the notes and the lyrics of the NEW SONG we sing should be drawn from that future day.

What if you could see the future?

On August 19th, 2004, Google’s initial public stock offering were at the price of $85/share.  March 7th, 2014, the NASDAQ listed Google’s shares at $1213/share + or -.

If you could have only known this ahead, you might have rearranged your life–re-prioritized your spending habits so you could invest in the future–with Google.

That’s what the psalmist is doing with his NEW SONG.  He sees the future and is saying, the TUNE is getting really old–stale.  But, it doesn’t matter because…I’m singing a NEW SONG anyway!

The Day of Judgement in Psalm 96 Isn’t So Much A Threat…

It is not so much a threat as it is a PROMISE.

We can REJOICE…

We can live JOYFULLY….

We know the Lord’s FAIRNESS and TRUTH ultimately WINS OUT!

“AMUSIA” becomes part of the problem…why we’re not singing in harmony.

According to a Harvard Health Publication from the Harvard Medical School, September 2007, explains in detail, the explanation behind AMUSIA:

Do people cringe when you sing?  You’ve got company.  But researchers have found that only 1 in 20 people truly have AMUSIA, the technical term for TONE DEAFNESS.  Test have shown that some people with bad singing voices hear music just fine.  Amusics, a smaller group have a perceptual problem and can’t pick out differences in pitch or follow the simplest tune.  The Harvard Health Letter goes on to say, the white matter of the brain in Amusics was thinner, which suggests a weaker connection.  Moreover, the worse TONE DEAFNESS, the thinner the white matter.

We are all hopelessly “Tone Deaf” [Bradly Boydston–“Learning A New Song”]

But the GOOD NEWS IS…the Singer has come into the world and started a new song again–we just have to join in with Him–follow His lead. He has given each one of us an invitation to join in commitment to the Singer and His New Song.

GOD GAVE THE SONG TO US ALL! 

Several years ago, Bill and Gloria Gaither wrote a song that many well-known singers (Sandy Patty to name one) and choirs have been introduced to.  I sang this song in choirs on several different occasions in the 70’s, and got goose pimples each time I heard the music and the words.

NARRATION:  Yes, God gave the song.  It’s always been with us.  The song came into our world through a manger in Bethlehem.  It was a simple song–a simple lovely song for every man.  Right from the first, some tried to ignore it.  They said, “There’s no song!  It simply doesn’t exist.”  Others tried to change the tune.  They made laws to stop it.  Armies marched against it.  They killed some who sang the song.  They screamed at it in furry; they tried to drown it out.  Finally, they nailed that song to a tree.  They said to themselves, “There…that should take care of that.”  But it didn’t.

What’s that I hear, I still hear the music.

Day after day, that song goes on. For once you know that source of music,

You’ll always hear it, GOD GAVE THE SONG.