Oct. 9, 2017

Behold, it was completely overgrown

Proverbs 24:30-34 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible

I passed by the field of the sluggard
And by the vineyard of the man lacking sense,
31 And behold, it was completely overgrown with thistles;
Its surface was covered with nettles,
And its stone wall was broken down.
32 When I saw, I reflected upon it;
I looked, and received instruction.
33 “A little sleep, a little slumber,
A little folding of the hands to rest,”
34 Then your poverty will come as a robber
And your want like an armed man.


There are often parallels between natural principles and spiritual ones. What the writer of proverbs says about the condition of the field and vineyard of the one who does not work is also true about the condition of our spiritual life and faith if we are not diligent to work at it. The psalmist says:  Trust in the Lord and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
 Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light
And your judgment as the noonday.
(Psalm 37:3-6) Psalm 117:1-2 says:  Praise the Lord, all nations! Extol him, all peoples! For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord!     It is not the Lord’s faithfulness which needs to be cultivated. He says:  “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)  He says:  “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)  It is not God’s faithfulness to us which must be cultivated it is our faith in and our faithfulness to Him which we cannot neglect.

Many people wonder why they cannot walk in victory in their lives, yet their Bibles remain covered in dust on the shelf, like the vineyard of the sluggard is covered in nettles. They wonder why it is that God seems so far off, that He doesn’t hear and answer their prayers, yet they have not trusted in Him, they fail to delight in God, simply enjoying His presence. They pray to the God of heaven, that He would change the things of earth. Hebrews 4:16 saysLet us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.    All that we need, all that we desire is available to us and for us in the kingdom of heaven, but rather than calling out to a distant God, we should come boldly into His presence. We should delight in Him. It is not that God doesn’t hear us when we pray from afar. It is that often we don’t hear Him. We don’t receive what we ask from God because He wants to give it to us in His presence. God doesn’t send our blessings and promises, the answers to our prayers by courrier; He delivers them to us personally. He delights to give us the desires of our heart as we delight in Him.


 The proverb saysI passed by the field of the sluggard And by the vineyard of the man lacking sense, And behold, it was completely overgrown with thistles; Its surface was covered with nettles, And its stone wall was broken down.    Often we look at the condition of our spiritual life, the lack in our devotion to the word, the littleness of our time spent in worship and prayer and it seems like too great a task to clear the overgrowth. We already have more tasks to complete than time to do them. We hear of others, great in faith who spend hours reading the Bible, praying or in meditation with God and we are convinced that we could never be like that so we don’t try. Instead we should determine to do what we can. We should pull those thistles and nettles one at a time. We should replace the stones in the wall of our faith one at a time. If we do nothing, nothing will get done. But there is a spiritual principle that can change us. In Luke 16:10 Jesus says:   “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.”    As we begin to be faithful in small things, even in small ways, as we begin to make God our priority, giving Him even a few minutes of sincere devotion, as we cultivate our faithfulness, we will begin to see more of His faithfulness. Jesus says: “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)  When we seek God, when we delight in Him, when we come boldly to Him because of His grace toward us, when first and foremost all that we want is to be in His presence, to give Him thanks, then all of the blessings and the promises of God and the kingdom of heaven will be added to us. He will give us the desires of our heart.

We also need to recognize that we cannot overcome spiritual poverty if we are morally bankrupt. The psalmist says: Trust in the Lord and do good.  1 John 1:5 says:  God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.   If we want to fellowship with God, if we would delight in Him, we must choose light over darkness. In Psalm 139:23-24, the psalmist says:  Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.   As we delight in God, as we seek His kingdom and His righteousness, we must, like the psalmist allow Him to illuminate and expose any darkness that is in us.

All of this may seem too difficult for us. It may seem impossible to clear the overgrowth from our spiritual lives. It may seem that removing all the darkness from within us is too great a task. We may not have the spiritual strength even to begin. In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus says “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is ]easy and My burden is light.”   When we can’t, the Lord will!   In 2 Corinthians 12:9 He says:  “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”  

Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit, strengthen me for the day. Help me to clear all that stands in the way of my faithfulness to and my fruitfulness in You. Like the psalmist I declare that I will:  Trust in the Lord and do good;  I will Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. I will delight myself in the Lord; And He will give me the desires of my heart.  I will commit my way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring forth my righteousness as the light and my judgment as the noonday.     Amen.