Everything has its Place
I was pulling weeds in my garden today as dark clouds began to appear reminding me of the coming storm.
As I sifted the dirt from the weeds, I noticed how dark and rich the soil was. My plants will be nurtured well as they grow this season. Already, my corn, cabbage, kale, lettuce, and watermelon have begun to spring forth with life.
I can’t wait to try my hand at the sweet potato slips we are preparing . . .
“America the Beautiful” reminds us that our amber waves of grain blanketing rolling hills are our heritage even under God’s curse we are to work the land all the days of our lives.
It is from that same soil that God took and “formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and he became a living soul.” ~ Genesis 2:7
It is the purpose that, “God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.” Genesis 2:15
How beautiful and abounding with life was the soil God made for us. In the Garden, man walked, and talked, and lived in perfect harmony with God.
That was, until sin entered man’s heart and caused a change in the whole world around him.
cursed is the ground for thy sake;
in sorrow shalt thou eat of it
all the days of thy life;
Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth;
and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;
In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread,
till thou return unto the ground;
for out of it wast thou taken:
for dust thou art,
and unto dust shalt thou return.
~ Genesis 3:17-19
That rich and perfect soil had changed. It still brought forth food but it was cursed, cursed by sin. The world had lost its natural purpose that God originally intended.
No more would the Earth merely bring forth life and things that God would call “Good.” Now the Earth would bring forth that which brings pain, suffering, and death.
Soil Becomes Dirt
Soil now has very limited uses. We have to regulate our use of it. If we don’t it becomes dirt. If the soil continues to degrade, it becomes dust.
So God’s curse, cast on a once perfect world, is used to curse man, or more accurately, to bring judgment upon the sin that man commits.
In Canaan, the Israelites were instructed to give the soil rest every seventh year.
For six years you are to sow your fields
and harvest the crops,
but during the seventh year
let the land lie unplowed and unused.
Then the poor among your people
may get food from it,
and the wild animals may eat what is left.
Do the same with your vineyard
and your olive grove.
~ Exodus 23:10
We get refreshed when we rest and that is one of the reasons God instructed the Israelites to fallow their ground for a year. There were other reasons to, and they all point to Christ.
The Christian Sabbath is given to us so we can rest in the redemptive work of Christ; to be fed, learn of Him and give Him the first fruits of our lives.
On the first day of the week,
when we were gathered together to break bread,
Paul began talking to them,
intending to leave the next day,
and he prolonged his message until midnight.
~ Acts 20:7
Upon the first day of the week
let every one of you lay by him in store,
as God hath prospered him,
that there be no gatherings when I come.
~ 1 Corinthians 16:2
Rest Brings Life
Obedience to the word of God brings rest and abundant life
When we care for the soil as good stewards, it brings forth life and sustenance. It is the source of our earthly life for that is where we came from and it where we will return.
In addition to being made from soil, the soil also reflects our earthly characteristics; those things foreordained for destruction.
Who is wise and understanding among you?
Let them show it by their good life,
by deeds done in the humility
that comes from wisdom.
But if you harbor bitter envy
and selfish ambition in your hearts,
do not boast about it or deny the truth.
Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven
but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.
For where you have envy and selfish ambition,
there you find disorder and every evil practice.
But the wisdom that comes from heaven i
s first of all pure; then peace-loving,
considerate, submissive, full of mercy
and good fruit, impartial and sincere.
Peacemakers who sow in peace
reap a harvest of righteousness.
~ James 3:13-17
Our thinking, our desires, our goals, the whole of who we are in our natural state by its very nature is worldly and earthen.
Our earthly bodies, its natural desires, and inclinations; mind you none of it is sinful in itself; yet we are cursed to die because of Adam’s sin and because we sin.
But alas, there is a second part of our nature; That which is linked to the eternal. It is that part that longs for heaven and in dire need of redemption.
It is our soul and spirit. They are so closely linked that only the word of God can separate them.
For the word of God is living and active
and sharper than any two-edged sword,
and piercing as far as
the division of soul and spirit,
of both joints and marrow,
and able to judge the thoughts
and intentions of the heart.
~ Hebrews 4:12
God wants to pierce this area of our heart so He can clean out the dirt.
Restoration begins upon initial salvation, when we are no longer subject to serve sin.
We are now justified in Christ and are free to serve God in an exclusiveness that holds no room for the things of the old man, namely fleshly desires that lead to sin.
We are no longer to serve sin or have any part in sin. This is why Jesus came to set us free. If we do sin by mistake we have an advocate but there is no excuse to continue in sin. Christians who do this will perish in their sins.
For if we deliberately keep on sinning
after receiving the knowledge of the truth,
no further sacrifice for sins is left for us
~ Hebrews 10:26
Dirt out of Place
For you were called to freedom, brethren;
only do not turn your freedom
into an opportunity for the flesh,
but through love serve one another.
. . . But I say, walk by the Spirit,
and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh
. . . those who practice such things
will not inherit the kingdom of God.
. . . Now those who belong to Christ Jesus
have crucified the flesh
with its passions and desires.
~ Galatians 5:13a, 16, 21b, 24
If you have not crucified the flesh, its passions, and desires, you do not belong to Christ. You belong to your father the Devil.
This is a hard saying.
Whoever makes a practice of sinning
is of the devil,
for the devil has been sinning from the beginning.
The reason the Son of God appeared
was to destroy the works of the devil.
~ I John 3:8
Dirt in our Heart
Soil has its place. When soil finds itself in places it does not belong, soil becomes dirt. Its attractiveness, bounty, and life giving properties give way to a spoiling nature.
If we get dirt on our church clothes, a new hat, or our children’s hands are soiled, dirt is disagreeable.
It is soil out of place; it is dirt.
Now we know that dirt in or on our body or clothing does not really make us dirty. It only taints the earthly surface.
Even after we are justifies, there is dirt deep inside our soul that needs to be removed. If we do not love God with all our heart, this is evidence that the work is not yet complete.
It does not happen at death. For death is not our savior. Death is a curse. How we are in our current state will be how we are when we die. Jesus explained it to us and the apostles continued His work.
After Jesus called the crowd to Him,
He said to them,
“Hear and understand.
“It is not what enters into the mouth
that defiles the man,
but what proceeds out of the mouth,
this defiles the man.”
Every plant which My heavenly Father
did not plant shall be uprooted . . .
Do you not understand
that everything that goes into the mouth
passes into the stomach,
and is eliminated?
But the things that proceed out of the mouth
come from the heart,
and those defile the man.
“For out of the heart come evil thoughts,
murders, adulteries, fornications,
thefts, false witness, slanders.
These are the things which defile the man;
but to eat with unwashed hands
does not defile the man.
~ Matthew 15:10b, 11, 13b, 17, 18-20
Sin has dirtied our heart. If you are a Christian and you retain any of the characteristics of sin in your heart, you are in need of the purifying work of the Holy Spirit.
A clean heart is one that has nothing in it that ought not to be there. Every good affection is in it, and no evil affection.
If there is one evil affection, it causes the heart to be unclean. A clean heart, in other words, is a heart that is the home of every good affection and has none of the evil affections in it.
It is, “A heart from sin set free.”
~ George Asbury
Every Christian needs a clean heart. God can cleanse your heart of all sin and purify your soul with His word and Spirit.
We are called to act:
No one serving as a soldier
gets entangled in civilian affairs,
but rather tries to please his commanding officer.
Similarly, anyone who competes
as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown
except by competing according to the rules.
The hardworking farmer
should be the first to receive a share of the crops.
Reflect on what I am saying,
for the Lord will give you insight into all this.
~ 2 Timothy 2:4-7
As a soldier, we are to focus solely on the Lord’s will; not allowing any worldly affairs to distract us or impede our mission of serving God and spreading the Good News.
As an athlete, we are to complete according to the rules; the N.T. was given as a rule book. Holy Spirit is given to help us understand it. As a Christian dedicated to winning the race, everything you need has already been given to you.
As a farmer, we are to first receive our share of our labors that have been wrought by Christ. Yes, these are works.
God does not use dead carcasses. He uses living, willing participants who, give of themselves as a service of love and sacrifice to the Lord.
We are not saved by our works, but faith without these works is a dead faith. We are to show our works by our faith.
You believe that God is one.
You do well;
the demons also believe, and shudder.
But are you willing to recognize,
you foolish fellow,
that faith without works is useless?
Was not Abraham our father
justified by works
when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar?
You see that faith was working with his works,
and as a result of the works,
faith was perfected;
and the Scripture was fulfilled which says,
and “Abraham believed God,
and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,”
and he was called the friend of God.
You see that a man is justified by works
and not by faith alone.
In the same way, was not Rahab
the harlot also justified by works
when she received the messengers
and sent them out by another way?
For just as the body without the spirit is dead,
so also faith without works is dead.
~ James 2:19b-26
Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind,
be sober, and hope to the end
for the grace that is to be brought unto you
at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
As obedient children,
not fashioning yourselves
according to the former lusts in your ignorance:
But as he which hath called you is holy,
so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;
Because it is written,
Be ye holy; for I am holy.
And if ye call on the Father,
who without respect of persons
judgeth according to every man’s work,
pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:
Forasmuch as ye know
that ye were not redeemed
with corruptible things, as silver and gold,
from your vain conversation
received by tradition from your fathers;
But with the precious blood of Christ,
as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
Who verily was foreordained
before the foundation of the world,
but was manifest in these last times for you,
Who by him do believe in God,
that raised him up from the dead,
and gave him glory;
that your faith and hope might be in God.
Seeing ye have purified your souls
in obeying the truth through the Spirit
unto unfeigned love of the brethren,
see that ye love one another
with a pure heart fervently:
Being born again, not of corruptible seed,
but of incorruptible, by the word of God,
which liveth and abideth for ever.
For all flesh is as grass,
and all the glory of man as the flower of grass.
The grass withereth,
and the flower thereof falleth away:
But the word of the Lord endureth for ever.
And this is the word which by the gospel
is preached unto you.
~ I Peter 1:13-25
Our bodies will wither away like dust. But the soul that is purified by the heavenly work of the Holy Spirit will endure in perfect love and harmony with God until the end.
The soul that sinneth, it shall die.
Keep up the “Good” work my friend.