Rain Brings Growth

Dear BPCWA worshipper, With the heavy downpour last Sunday, many of us were quick to thank God for finally bringing some much-needed rain to WA. Living in an agricultural country, we realise the importance of rainfall to the farmers. While Autumn does tend to mean that the trees begin to bare as the leaves fall, the recent rains that we have experienced have also brought with them a tinge of green amidst the browned landscape around us. Despite our best efforts over the past months to water manually and to use our sprinklers, the lawn outside our church stayed stubbornly brown as the grass refused to grow. Now after the recent heavy rains provided on and off by God, the tips of some blades of grass are beginning to sprout. In our current environment around us and especially with the recent months of drought-like dryness, we can easily see with our own eyes the demonstration of the blessings of the rain from God. 

God uses His rain to teach us about His Word. We are familiar with the effects of rain on the vegetation around us because we see it with our eyes. God uses the effects of rain to teach us object lessons about His Word. God tells us about how He sends and uses His Word when He says “For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: 11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Isa 55:10-11).

The beneficial nourishing and flourishing effect of God’s Word. With the recent arid conditions, those attempting to plant seeds may have had little success, as the water evaporated soon after watering. What a difference the rains bring to the soil! The hardened and parched soil broke up and the earth became softer, retaining water more easily for the plant to bud. By a simple comparison, do you expect to have a flourishing spiritual life if you scarcely nourish it with the water of God’s Word? Those who are but mere “Sunday Christians” and don’t or scarcely have a personal reading or study of God’s Word must take note of this. To deny this is just to ignore what God Himself says and declare that you can do otherwise. Either God is lying, or you are being dishonest about the plain facts of God’s Word. Any honest believer will know the simple answer to this dichotomy.

Special times of watering.  Of course, our daily personal quiet times, weekly church Bible studies, and ongoing FEBC courses are important times of coming under God’s Word. But God also provides special times of intensive receiving of His Word. This week, the Chinese congregation will have their Retreat. The English congregation will have their Camp about 3 weeks later. I hope that this illustration will help us to realise why we have these activities every year. A lot of work and organisation goes into their planning, and we do not organise them just simply because “we’ve always done so” and to have activities on our church calendar. Please do realise that we do not plead and encourage people to sign up and use their leave just to boost attendances. Instead, these activities are intended to be times of refreshing as we set aside these days for the hearing of His Word. In the run-up to them, I hope that every reader will join with us to earnestly pray and seek the Lord’s blessings, that the Word preached will minister to hearts. As farmers pray earnestly for rain, so must we pray earnestly for God to rain upon our dry hearts. We receive not because we ask not! We must plead with earnestness in order to receive the spiritual blessings we need.

Much-needed preparations for the watering of God’s Word. God’s Word will always fulfill His purposes. In last week’s pastoral, we saw how the seasons remind us that God’s Word never fails. But we can fail to receive His Word as we should. When we fail, we will miss the sure blessings.  Attending the camp and retreat does not “guarantee” that God will “come and rain righteousness upon you” (Ho 10:12). Why do some profit from the Word but others don’t when the Word of God is preached faithfully? God does expect us to break up our fallow grounds, as He sends the Word. This was so with the children of Israel, though they continued to claim to serve the LORD. God told them “Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.” (Ho 10:12). We live in a world that constantly competes against God for our energy and love. Sadly, the spiritual lives of many of His children are not flourishing as they ought to be. God does intend for us to set times to seek Him. The Camp and Retreat are such occasions. In the run-up to the start, it is for us to prepare our hearts so that we “sow not among thorns” (Jer 4:3). We thank God for arrangements that He has provided for us to receive His Word in an intensive way over planned retreat and family camp days. As we approach the start of the Camp and Retreat, let us prepare our hearts. We are reminded that God has declared that His Word “shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Isa 55:11).

Much needed humble submission to God’s Word. The sceptic may ask “How so when my life before and after the camp is still the same?” We must remember that God is always true. He meant His Word to be “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2Ti 3:16). But when the Word gives reproof or correction, we must “Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy” (Ho 10:12). Even if we refuse to submit to God’s Word, His Word will still fulfill God’s purpose. This is because God says, “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.” (Joh 12:48). The purpose that has been fulfilled then, is that if we reject His counsel, the Word will fulfill God’s purpose of judging us. But for every child of God, such an end is never our desire. I thank God for the many who have signed up for the Camp and Retreat. I hope that every participant will endeavour to start praying that God will speak to us individually. And also to begin preparing our hearts to submit to whatever God rains upon us through His Word when He shows us how to “Walk as Christ Walked” from 1Jn 2:6. What better encouragement to pray than to remember God’s promise of the blessings when Christ reigns in our midst if we walk as He walked. This is a blessing that we should seek personally, in our families, and in our church, particularly as we approach the start of the Camp and Retreat.

Ps 72:6-7   He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass: as showers that water the earth.  7 In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth.

Yours in our Lord’s service,