God is in the fruit making business. That’s the testimony of Scripture this morning. I encountered two witnesses to that fact–one in the Old Testament ,the other in the New. And they testify that though the growing process might be hard, God’s intent is that fruit might be born. That God’s desire is for the harvest.
I have seen his ways, but I will heal him; I will lead him and restore comfort to him and his mourners, creating the fruit of the lips. Peace, peace, to the far and to the near,” says the LORD, “and I will heal him.”
(Isaiah 57:18-19 ESV)
. . . but He disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
(Hebrews 12:10b-11 ESV)
The prophet Isaiah declares the word of God to the worst of men. To those who have exchanged the living God of promise for the dumb idols of pleasure. To those who forfeited life led by the Holy One for an existence bowed before plated images of wood. And though for a time He struck them and hid His face from them in anger because of their iniquity (57:17), yet because of His great love and compassion, and through His inexhaustible grace, the God of heaven promises, “I will not contend forever, nor will I always be angry” (57:16).
And so, the God who is high and lifted up, He who inhabits eternity and whose name is Holy, this One who dwells in a high and holy place reaches down to tabernacle also with those who are of a “contrite and lowly spirit” (57:15). He abides with those who forsake their wicked ways and turn to Him with broken hearts. He settles in with those who humbly purpose to seek Him. He comes down to live with those who look up. Having known their transgression, He responds to their brokenness with healing. Having seen their wandering, He purposes afresh to lead them. Having felt their sorrow, He again draws near to comfort them. He enters the storms of their own making and offers peace, double peace, to those both far and near.
The result? Thanksgiving. Praise. Worship. The fruit of the lips. The harvest.
And then, I’m reading in the book of Hebrews. Addressed also to God’s people. But to those who are seeking a heavenly land and so, have entered the pilgrim’s path. To those surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses and yet are enduring a great deal of suffering. Not necessarily of their own making due to their own sin, but, it would seem, of their own making due to their faithfulness and their determination to stand against sin and its army of opposition.
And in this struggle there is a temptation to grow weary and fainthearted. To cash it in. To tap out. And to these believers the prophetic voice says, “Endure it as discipline. Look upon it at as the Father treating you as His children so that you might share in His holiness.” And to those who see it in such a light, to those who hang in there as they hang onto the promise, to those who lift up their drooping hands and strengthen their weakening knees and make straight again paths for their feet (12:12), their will be a peace-filled reaping from what has been sown.
The result? A participation in the divine nature reflecting His divine character. The fruit of righteousness. The harvest.
I enter the day reminded that my God is in the fruit making business. Mine is to, as much as lies within me, provide some soil to work with. To humble myself in the sight of the Lord and seek His abiding presence. To not be discouraged at whatever trial or testing might be before me, but to invite the hand of a good, good Father to continue to work His perfect work in my life. and in the lives of those dear to me. To know the Potter’s hand through the ever-present Spirit as He conforms me to the image of His beloved Son.
Mine is to keep on keepin’ on as a I participate in the harvest.
Through Him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge His name.
(Hebrews 13:15 ESV)
Because of His amazing grace. All for His everlasting glory.