God knows that even a believer passing through a winter season in life can develop hard ground, where growth is hindered, and it becomes difficult to break through. Even though we have a personal relationship with Christ, and have been fruitful in the past, the cares of this life and the weight of a winter season can make our once fertile soil impenetrable. The enemy of our souls will do his best to take what was once a person of effective ministry and create a spiritual dryness that reduces us to barrenness.
When our children were young, we lived in a neighborhood with a farm across the street. Every spring the farmer would dig up the ground beaten down by the winter’s snow. Then, he planted seeds, hoping they would grow a crop of corn so he could harvest it in the fall. One year, we noticed that the farmer wasn’t plowing the field. We heard from our neighbors that the farmer was ill and couldn’t plant his crop.
Instead of corn growing in the field, tall weeds made a home for mice, rats and all kinds of critters. They started to infest our homes and do some damage. Our neighbors called for a meeting to talk about what we should do. They decided that since the farmer could not dig and plant his own crop that spring, we would get together and do the work for him. Soon the sound of the tractor could be heard, the smell of fresh dirt was in the air and the seeds were planted. Within a few short weeks the corn began to grow.
I am reminded of a Bible verse that is similar to my experience with our neighbor’s field. “Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground, for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers his righteousness on you” Hosea 10:12.
Take note that the prophet did not make a promise of increase without first giving instruction as to what they had to do in order for things to improve! God desires to revive us and bring productivity back into our lives by showing us exactly what we need to do for that transformation to take place.
Allow the Word of God to penetrate your heart – “Sow righteousness”
No matter who we are, we have to continually guard our hearts from growing resistant to the voice of God. Diligently study and ingest the Word of God, even when it seems routine or dry. If one Bible reading program isn’t working, don’t give up. Search for a devotional that feels right and allow one single verse to bring life to your thirsty soul. Write down what God is saying to you and take that verse with you all day. Ask God to help you apply it to your life in a practical way. Share it with someone else to encourage them! When we take hold of the Word of God, it will change us, and give us hope that we can pass on to others.
“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out of my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” Isaiah 55:10-11.
Be obedient to the Spirit of God – “reap the fruit of unfailing love”
My grandson was asked by his mother to help clear the table of the dishes. He was dragging himself along, and she said to Ethan, “son be quick to listen.” God spoke to me as I listened to her instruction, how I often delay obeying what He has asked me to do? God is clearly speaking in Hosea that there are rewards for instant obedience – literally loving God in such a way that we desire to do His will and obey His word. “Be quick to listen…do not merely listen to the word…do what it says” James 1:19,22.
Is God speaking to your heart through His Word? As you are obedient to God, you will be surprised at the positive outcome. Your fruitful season will be restored, and you will be refreshed in your spirit which will ultimately overflow.
Remove the OLD & Dig into the NEW – “Break up your unplowed ground”
Hosea is clearly encouraging us to “turn over” or “get rid” of the old crusty dirt that cannot be penetrated and get down to the rich, fresh soil that will produce growth. When we become unproductive, it may be time to let go of old ways of thinking, relationships that have held us back, and habits that have diminished our effectiveness. Once they are removed, it provides a receptive heart for the Holy Spirit to begin a fresh work in us as we dive into solid teaching, new truth and discovery of His plans and purposes for us at this season of our lives.
“The seed cast in the weeds is the person who hears the kingdom news, but weeds of worry and…wanting everything selfishly strangle what was heard and nothing comes of it. But, the seed cast on good earth is the person who hears and takes in the news and produces a harvest beyond his wildest dreams” Matthew 13:22.
Change your focus – “It is time to seek the Lord”
The prophet is implying that they were looking in the wrong place for help. They were possibly wanting results, growth and harvest, but for all the wrong reasons. Their focus was temporal, not eternal. The Bible says to “Seek the Lord while He may be found” (Isaiah 55:6). As I watch what is happening in our world and in the church today, I am daily reminded that our time is short, and we need to call on God for His instruction and power to reach as many individuals as possible for eternity.
We can’t do the work all alone. Just like my opening illustration of our neighbor who couldn’t plow his own field for a brief season, so we came along side of him and worked together to see the seeds planted, and as a result, a great harvest. We need to “Pray to the Lord of the Harvest that He would send laborers into the fields” Matthew 9:38. We need each other, working together for one purpose – and that is to see people find Jesus!
Watch what God does – “Until He comes and showers His righteousness on you”
When we do the difficult work of listening, obeying, digging, and letting go, God does the amazing work of producing a harvest we cannot contain. His promises will be fulfilled if we don’t give up and remain obedient to God’s instructions. If you long to see results in your own life and be an influence in the lives of others, do what God is asking of you and you will see it come to pass. “But, you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” Acts 1:8.