Opening the vicarage door (we had only moved in three days before), I met a visitor dressed in working clothes. “I’ve brought my first fruits to you”, he declared. Somewhat bewildered (remember I was there to teach the Bible) I vaguely responded “Can you explain, please?” This was a first for me.
The farmer explained how his fruit and vegetable crops had been plagued with disease and how he’d used every pesticide available, and much to his chagrin the disease persisted. “I’m a Christian,” he added, “so I searched the Scriptures, where I discovered that if I were to give the first fruits to the Lord He would ensure my crops suffered no disease. That’s what I’ve done for several years with no trace of disease, and no pesticide spraying! So, I bring the first fruits to the vicar and he distributes them to the needy in the town.” This was lesson number one.
Five years later, now a padre in the Royal New Zealand Air Force, the Lord again grasped my attention. Here was lesson number two. He said to me “There are workers in your field who are not being paid” (see James 5:4). Again bewildered, I asked, “Who?” Our chapel congregation was composed of military personnel and their families, but there was one civilian family, and they led our worship, and the husband was unemployed! I realised these were the unpaid workers in our field. The Lord said “I want you to pay them fifty per cent of your salary!” I must say I’d always thought ten per cent was enough for tithing, but, in obedience to the Lord, my wife and I visited them to make the first payment.
Then followed lesson number three. We went away for a family holiday for three weeks. On our return, our garden was an abundant harvest. We’d previously picked the crop of beans, but I hadn’t pulled out the plants – they were bearing a second crop. But, I thought, beans don’t have a second crop! The sweet corn cobs were all very large. We’d never witnessed anything like that before. Our strawberries provided deserts for us, and our neighbours, for three months.
Three plants provided sixty-five pumpkins, yet a market gardening friend said that was impossible. We placed them all in the chapel, telling the story to the congregation, and freely offering them, with the proviso that they could take them only if they were to tell a neighbour the story, and offer them a pumpkin.
A nectarine tree and a peach tree each had a history of producing stones covered with a layer of skin, but no flesh. My predecessor had advised me to chop them down, but I hadn’t. The branches were weighed down to the ground with large juicy fruit. A visiting orchardist friend asked, “Did you spray them with the Holy Spirit?”
My three lessons taught me that the authority and principles of the Old Testament are as powerful and effective today as those in the New Testament, and that the entire Bible is God inspired, and totally relevant today. I learnt that God is covenant-keeping, and totally faithful to His Word to perform it. Paul asked a pertinent question, ‘What if some did not have faith? Will their lack of faith nullify God’s faithfulness? Not at all! Let God be true, and every man a liar’ (Romans 3:3-4).
Where do you stand on God’s Word? Do you believe in the integrity of God’s Word? Are you, today, trusting in the promises of God for your daily walk, and for your family’s security?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You that Your Kingdom is one of generosity and provision, and that Your Kingdom principles aren’t to be compared with the ways of this world. Thank You that we, who have faith in Your only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, are citizens of Your ever-lasting Kingdom, and that, regardless of our earthly challenges, we can hold to that eternal security today and forever. Amen.
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