Monday, April 26, 2010
The Garden of God
Adapted from James' message "The Garden of God." Watch it all week on LIFE Today and request the DVD and CD when you support Mission Feeding. http://www.lifetoday.org/
“Come and dine,” the Master is calling. "Come and dine!"
I was working with my son, Randy, to edit an article recently when I quoted some scripture. He stopped me and asked, “Did you mean to repeat yourself? You referenced the hungry twice.”
I grabbed my Bible and turned to the passage in Isaiah 58. "It’s repeated,” I verified. “’Share your food with the hungry,’ it says in verse 7 and then two verses later, ‘if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry…’.” The repeated reference was not a mistake on my part and I don't believe it was a mistake on Isaiah's part.
"God must really care about the hungry," I said.
"Physically and spiritually," Randy said. "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness…”
We can all relate to hunger. When we miss a meal, we notice it. While there is a spiritual component that shouldn’t be overlooked, God does care about our physical needs. Jesus fed 5,000 people because they were hungry. They needed food, so He took a meager offering and multiplied it. He cares about our physical needs and He wants us to care about the physical needs of others, too. But at the same time, He also cares about spiritual hunger.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. "If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” (Isaiah 58:9-11)
Christians are called to meet hunger wherever it exists both spiritually and physically. We can turn a church loose on this world that will be like releasing a river of life. Right now, it’s a dry and thirsty land. People lack food, but we can fill their stomachs. People lack life, but we can share Jesus.
Jesus bragged on Simon Peter, an ordinary fisherman who said, “You are the Christ, the son of the living God!" Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it."
Which rock? The rock of hearing what the Father says to those of His followers with ears to hear and hearts to heed. He will speak to us and the gates of hell, deception and destruction will not stand against this force -- a river -- that flows in harmony with His will.
The hope for this world is a church full of the love of God; not so you can convert everyone to a religion, but so you flood them with truth, love, glory and compassion. God will release the river of life. But we must first learn to hear the voice of the Father.
God then says, “Your light will rise in the darkness, your night will become like noonday.” Like a city set on a hill, the light will attract people. The darkness will flee. That’s the way God created the universe. Light overcomes the darkness, so we must let His light shine through us.
“He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land.” Is anyone feeling sun-scorched lately? God will meet your needs in a recession. He may strip away the “things” that you think you need, but He will replace them with true purpose His purpose and fulfillment that can only come from sitting at His table and fellowshipping with Him. He will lift you from the ditches of debt, depression, defeat and hopelessness.
"You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” Have you ever seen a well-watered garden that didn’t produce fruit? Has an eternal spring ever left anyone thirsty? What an amazing promise! In the garden of God there is joy, satisfaction, bounty and life. This is what God wants for you; He wants to meet your needs so that you can help meet the needs of others. The world is hungry, both spiritually and physically, but we can extend this invitation to them when we experience it ourselves: Come and dine at His table and begin to live as His fruitful garden.