July 26, 2020
Pastor John Hering
Just as the rain and the snow come down from the sky and do not return there unless they first water the earth, make it give birth, and cause it to sprout, so that it gives seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 11 in the same way my word that goes out from my mouth will not return to me empty. Rather, it will accomplish whatever I please, and it will succeed in the purpose for which I sent it.Isaiah 55:6-7
I was on my back porch last Monday in the bright afternoon sunshine when my watch pinged with a weather alert – “Moderate rain to begin in 15 minutes.” I looked around and saw no clouds. But, then while the sun was still shining huge drops of rains came down in sheets. I loved it! I also thought, “How unusual for the end of July to receive such rain. I’ll have to mow the lawn again this week!” J
What happens to Texas lawns when there’s no rain? It turns brown. What happens to gardens without water? No tomatoes, lettuce or carrots. You know what makes things grow! Soil, fertilizer, water and sunshine. But, what does the Holy Spirit use to make Christians grow? I’m not talking about extra pounds or inches—we know what does that. What does it take to grow spiritually? “Pastor—I’d like to get better at praying.” “I’d like to be more caring and less self-centered and have a deep relationship with friends.” “I’d like to have the courage to be more generous with my offerings.” “I’d like to have a stronger faith during these difficult days of Covid-19.” How does this happen?
God himself gives us his answer in Isaiah 55. He uses this comparison: The key for plant growth is water and the key for spiritual growth is his Word. God wants his people to grow, so
Let Your Faith Be Watered By God’s Word!
People have to have water to live! Water comes from a well, irrigation ditch, and from your hose or sprinkler system. But, before any of this can happen water has to come down from above. It’s the snow in the winter and the rain in the summer. Whether you’re in the rain forests or the deserts of the world, they all get their water from above. The people living in Phoenix might enjoy life in their warm climate, but they know their water comes form the snow in the nearby mountains. The people living in Vegas know they get their water from the mountains in Utah and Colorado.
Here in Dallas, Texas we get a yearly average of 37 inches of rain. To date we have received 32 inches of rain. That makes us all happy to hear! “Just as the rain and the snow come down from the sky and do not return there unless they first water the earth, make it give birth, and cause it to sprout, so that it gives seed to the sower and bread to the eater” Let’s pause to thank God for this rain. Unless God creates the rain. He orders clouds, thunder, lightning and the rain. The rain we get from our gracious God is truly divine!
There was a terrible storm that caused much destruction around the year 1850. It was the storm caused by the battle for the Bible. You see, before 1850 almost everyone accepted the Bible as God’s Word. But, sadly during the age of scientific reasoning, scientists began to elevate human reason to godlike status. Now, there’s nothing wrong with scientific research, after all God created our minds, our curiosity and our creation to explore. But when human reason collides with God’s Word thunder happened. Miracles are explained away to usual but natural events. The Bible is even evaluated as being a puzzle of stories put together from a variety of sources such as oral traditions, campfire stories, embellished over time to be myths and legends to make you feel good but not really true. The result? In 1970 38% of Americans believed the Bible was God’s Word. Last May, according to a Gallop poll, the number has dropped to 28%! Only 1 in 4 Americans believe Moses and the Israelites crossed the Red Sea on dry land, Jonah was swallowed by a big fish or that Jesus miraculously turned water into wine. And once you start doubting miracles where are you going to stop? Jesus didn’t die on the cross to pay the penalty for sins and rise from the dead to prove it? But, wait! While 75% of American believe we go to a “better place,” only 30% of Americans believe there is a place called hell.
God has stepped into history so many times to bring people back to his divine Word, it makes us wonder what God might be doing today to cause people to rethink what happens to them when they die. God gave us his answer in his inerrant, perfect, divine Holy Word! It is the Holy Spirit who authored each book of the Bible using prophets and Apostles to write it down. Peter wrote: “In fact, no prophecy ever came by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were being carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet 1:21). God’s divine book is not made up of fables, but based on facts and witnessed by hundreds of people. The Bible has over 78 major prophecies and many more minor prophecies that have all been fulfilled, but one, the return of Jesus on Judgment Day. The Lord promised Gideon he would win the next battle. He did with trumpets and torches. The Savior would be born in Bethlehem. He was. He will grow up in Galilee. He did. He would betrayed by a friend. He was. He will not have any broken bones. They weren’t. The Lord will put the payment of all our sins on Jesus. He did. And most of these prophesies were made 700 years before Jesus was born! What other book makes such an impression on people to convict them of sin and release them from fear and guilt than the Jesus of the Bible! Therefore Let Your Faith Be Watered By God’s Word for it is truly Divine!
Yes, we have those days when our faith is feeling a little dried up. We are worried about our marriage, our children, our health and our future. That is the perfect time for “Just as the rain and the snow come down from the sky…11 in the same way my word that goes out from my mouth.” It is true. It is real. It is God’s Word that tells us we’re forgiven, loved and our relationship with him is solid for Jesus’ sake. That is truly divine! And we can depend on God’s Word for
If you lived here in 2011-12 you will remember the drought. There was no water under the Hwy 66 bridge in Rowlett. And instead of putting your boat into the water at the Rockwall Hwy 66 landing, you could unload your bicycles and ride a hundred yards into the lake on dry ground. But, that didn’t last. Who remembers the floods from Hurricane Harvey in Houston that dumped 55 inches of rain! Any flood will cause Bible-reading people to remember the world wide flood recorded in Genesis. But, God made a promise to Noah and all people right after the flood. “22 While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease” (Gen 8:22). In other words, until the day comes that Jesus returns God is going to consistently provide for us and take care of our needs. Droughts and floods are reminders that God is in control. Isaiah said, “Just as the rain and the snow come down from the sky…” and the word Isaiah was inspired to use indicates consistency. Water from above is consistent and enduring.
Then God promises: “11 in the same way my word that goes out from my mouth.” Some of that Word went out today and watered our faith in the second reading. Paul said, “22 For we know that all of creation is groaning with birth pains right up to the present time. 23 And not only creation, but also we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we eagerly await our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. 24 Indeed, it was for this hope we were saved.” (Rom 8:24). Our world is groaning today with the droughts of disease and the floods of Covid, but we have the enduring promise of God that the Holy Spirit is living in us through the Gospel in Word and Sacrament and the day is coming when we will be redeemed. The Spirit worked faith in us and so brought us forgiveness. Other fruits that will follow are the resurrection from the dead and eternal life.
We hold on to these enduring promises from God’s Word, but if you’re like me, you’re still looking and desiring to grow in faith. Why else would you be here or watching online? Isn’t it comforting to know that God will keep his promise to provide the water of his Word for our faith! Not just sporadically, not with drought or flood, not wondering if the Word will work or not, but with the constant, enduring power of the Holy Spirit to bring us growth, just like flowers that bring May flowers! God’s Divine Word is only Enduring but
How many times had Mom and Dad told David, “The living room is not the gym!” But, for kids it’s so hard to sit still and watch TV, they have to keep trying to spin that basketball on their finger! Then sure enough—Crash! The ball spun off into the Christmas Tree! Mom heard the crash from the kitchen and came running in to see three sedimental ornaments on the floor in little pieces. The hurt in her eyes brough tears to his eyes, too. Then the sound of the back door opening and shutting—Dad was home! He knew he was going to get it! More tears! “Go to your room!” and Mom and Dad discussed their discipline. Little David could hear them coming up the steps and his heart was beating out of his chest. Mom and Dad opened the door, drew near to him, held out their arms, hugged him and said, “Honey, you know you goofed, but we still love you and will always love you. We also know you’ll never do it again! We’re still going to give you your Christmas presents.” Now the little guy had tears in his eyes. Their words were dynamic!
Listen to Isaiah, “11 in the same way my word that goes out from my mouth will not return to me empty. Rather, it will accomplish whatever I please, and it will succeed in the purpose for which I sent it.” That’s what happens when God’s Word touches our hearts. It works. They Word of God is dynamic “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword. It penetrates even to the point of dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow, even being able to judge the ideas and thoughts of the heart” (Heb 4:12). Yes, movies and stories can cause our emotions to react, but God’s Word is not stories, but real history of God dealing with real people. Our faith is based on facts, not myths! God’s Word is dynamic because it changes people’s lives for this life and for life in heaven forever! It’s about real discipline and real love. God’s divine, enduring, dynamic word is all about showering us with Jesus.
When you’re standing on the back porch in the sun and rain suddenly comes, it’s a great surprise. Don’t make being showered with God’s Word a surprise, or only during times of drought. Jesus is your answer to growing spiritually as you are watered by God’s Word. Learn of Jesus who taught you how to pray, and he prayed perfectly for you. Jesus showed compassion and care for all people without a thought of selfishness. Jesus gave his generous offering to the Father, yes, gave his life in your place to save you. Jesus is your place of safety during Covid-19 or any other disease or disaster. Therefore, Let Your Heart Be Watered by God’s divine, enduring, dynamic Word to change you from the inside out. Take the repeated and honest encouragement from your pastors to make hearing, reading and digesting God’s Word a priority in your family. Then you can confess: “We are watered by God’s Word and we know we’ll grow.” Amen!