Spirit of Grace Ministries
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Spirit of Grace Ministries
-- Feeding Jesus' sheep
-- Equipping His servants
-- Proclaiming His Gospel

 

A Plentiful Rain

 

Rain

by Dennis Pollock

Anyone who reads the Bible very much ends up treasuring certain favorite Scriptures. I have a great number of such "favorite" verses, and in this devotional study we'll look at one of them. It is from the Psalms, and it says this:

You, O God, sent a plentiful rain, whereby You confirmed Your inheritance when it was weary. (Psalm 68:9).

God's Inheritance

One of the first things that jumps out to me is that we, the people of God are His inheritance. Most of us understand that God and Jesus Christ are our inheritance, but we often fail to consider that we are His. We who have trusted in Christ and have become children of God are a special treasure to our God, and possess incredible value in His eyes. Moses once prayed, "Pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us as Your inheritance," (Exodus 34:9) and in Jesus Christ the Creator of all things has done precisely that. The Psalmist prays, "Save Your people, and bless Your inheritance; shepherd them also, and bear them up forever" (Psalms 28:9). It is both illuminating and encouraging to consider that when God surveys the great mountains and oceans, the various creatures inhabiting both the land and the sea in our world, it is we lowly, often ridiculed Christians who are the ones our great Creator considers His special treasure, His holy nation, His prized inheritance and the reason for which all things were created. Paul writes, "For all things are yours: whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come --- all are yours. And you are Christ's, and Christ is God's" (1 Corinthians 3:21-23).

Weary

In our verse from Psalm 68 we discover that God's inheritance had become weary. They were dry, parched, and near the place of succumbing to an overwhelming thirst. This hardly seems appropriate for the people of God. Surely God is able to keep His people from weariness and give them continual strength, frequent rain, and never-ending refreshment!

It is built into our very being that we tire after protracted periods of long, difficult labor. There is nothing particularly tiring about watching a movie while eating coconut cream pie and sipping on coffee. We are not normally exhausted by surfing the Internet, or eating out at our favorite restaurant, or searching online for some new toy. But after putting in a long, difficult day's work, we know the meaning of weariness.

God didn't have to make us this way, of course. He could have designed us to stay strong hour after hour no matter what kind of work we do. But in His perfect wisdom and insight He did not choose to create a race of supermen and superwomen who never tire, never grow weary, and stay perpetually fresh and strong. Instead he made us as we are – weak humans whose strength can only last for so long, who get tired and thirsty and hungry and become unsteady on our feet, and who eventually must have rest after long, hard labor. The tendency to become weary and the desperate need for rest are not merely limited to the physical realm. We have a mental, emotional, and spiritual need for rest as well. The Sabbath commandment is certain evidence of God's understanding of and concern for our tendency to wear down.

Rain

In the particular verse of our study, God's inheritance, the people of Israel, had become weary for a lack of rain. There is nothing more ugly than parched earth. The terrible cracks that develop, the dying of vegetation, the ruin of crops, and the drying up of rivers, streams, and wells all reflect an awful truth – a process of dying is happening. If rain doesn't come it will increase until all living things are gone.

Israel was an agricultural nation, and they were in total dependence upon rain for their sustenance. Unlike the people of Egypt, who could create irrigation channels off the Nile River and keep their crops alive during droughts, Israel's only recourse in such times was to pray and hope for rain. And when weeks and months passed without significant rain, God's inheritance became weary. The lack of rain and the need for it became the topic on everyone's lips, and dominated nearly every conversation. Rain represented life, and the desperate need of it became an all-consuming reality that men and women lived with day and night.

A Plentiful Rain

In the verse of our study we see God's response to a time of drought and weariness: "You, O God, sent a plentiful rain, whereby You confirmed Your inheritance when it was weary." The English Standard Version puts it this way: "Rain in abundance, O God, you shed abroad; you restored your inheritance as it languished." What a beautiful thought! God doesn't merely notice that His people need rain and send a few light showers – He sends "a plentiful rain," rain in abundance. Just as becoming weary and exhausted is the nature of man, sending abundant, plentiful rain and refreshment to His weary people springs from the nature of our God.

FallOne thing we learn about God from nature, from the Bible, and from our own experience is that God is a God of cycles; He is a great believer in seasons. Until we grasp this a great many aspects of our lives will be incomprehensible. Some seasons last long and are not especially pleasant; others are wonderfully refreshing and encouraging, and never seem to last as long as we wished they would. Knowing that cycles and seasons are the divinely ordained plan of God for us gives us encouragement during the tough times. Think how depressing a blistering Texas summer would be if we had no expectation of fall's arrival in September! If we assumed that the July/August temperatures would go on perpetually, how miserable we would be! Or imagine how painful it would be for those in northern Michigan if they assumed that the weather of January and February would last all year long. If the snows and frigid, sub-freezing temperatures lasted through June and July, who would want to live there?

But just as the Texas folks know that the blast furnace days of summer will morph into those beautiful crisp days of fall, and the people in Michigan know that the bone-chilling days of winter will melt into the warm and lovely days of spring, the people of God can be certain that those times in their lives when it takes all the faith they can muster just to hold on for another day will eventually come to an end, to be followed with a blessed season of joy and relief.

In My Life

In my life and ministry I have seen this process of weariness followed by plentiful rain again and again. In fact it has happened so often that times of weariness become strangely a foundation for faith in my heart. The more weary I become, the more likely it seems that God is surely about to show up with that plentiful rain. Often I see this in the realm of the finances needed to sustain our ministry. Our costly, overseas missions make finances an especially big issue for us. We cannot pay for airplane tickets, we cannot rent venues, order publicity fliers, and feed conference attendees with our good intentions. The people that provide these things want real dollars, and often they want them well in advance of when we will need what they provide.

At times we have to charge plane tickets on credit cards, long before we even announce to our supporters the mission we have in mind. In these things we are totally walking by faith; we have no idea how much money will be given, who will choose to give, or how much we will have in hand when it is time for us to board the plane and take off for the other side of the world. When we send out letters about our proposed mission, I set apart a couple of days to seek the Lord, where most of my normal work is put aside, and I pray primarily for one thing – that God would move on the hearts of our friends to send the money we need for the mission. After that, all we can do is wait and see how God and His people respond.

Recently we went on a mission to India. The money was much slower coming in than normal. As we approached that critical last week before we were to leave, we were still many thousands of dollars below the amount needed. Somehow my prayers didn't seem to be getting answered this time. Finally it became apparent that we would be well short of the amount needed, and I went to a bank and  a couple of ATMs getting cash advances on several credit cards just to be able to come close to our budget. In those meetings, the Holy Spirit's presence was strong and rich, which was encouraging. I was reminded of Paul's declaration, "When I am weak, then I am strong," and in spite of our financial difficulties, I knew that we were supposed to be there. The response to the gospel was awesome and it was clear that the Holy Spirit was doing very fine work. Yet our difficulties were not over. After a Hindu noticed me preaching at a local church on Sunday, he called the police and we were taken to the police station, where there was so much shouting and pointing at me, I thought a riot would develop right there at the station. Finally we were released, although they took several hours to return our passports.

Just before we left India I developed a terrible cold and had a miserable trip home. When we returned we discovered that very little money had come into the ministry upon our absence, and we were still thousands of dollars in debt. It could have been, and should have been very depressing. Strangely I wasn't that discouraged. I have seen God come through for us so many times in the past, I have seen so many weary seasons followed by plentiful rains, I had to believe a real deluge of blessings was surely headed our way.

A little over a week after returning we heard some wonderful news. Proverbs says, "As cold water to a weary soul, so is good news from a far country," and we heard from a far country that day. A friend of the ministry had received a major financial blessing and assured us that all the needs of the ministry would be supplied and all our bills would be paid. The entire mission and all our outstanding debts were covered. As Benedicta and I learned of this we were in a state of shock and amazement. Yes, I had looked for rain, but not rain this plentiful. I had expected a blessing and some relief, but not to this extent. This was one of those "exceedingly and abundantly above all you can ask or think" kinds of blessings. After a prayer of thanks we sat in stunned silence for some time, occasionally interrupted by a "wow!" and a "God is so good!"

Confirming His Inheritance

This is the nature of our God; He sends plentiful rains and confirms His inheritance when it becomes weary. He never grows tired of this. To "confirm" means to strengthen and revive something that is already alive, but has become weary or is weakening. Paul tells us that the confirming grace of God will go on and on throughout our lives, and writes: "waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 1:8). Through Jesus Christ, the Nourisher and Refresher of God's people, we can count on this again and again and again, as we keep our eyes on Him and follow His ways. Sometimes our rain will be spiritual, sometimes financial, sometimes emotional, sometimes physical, but we will be refreshed and equipped to go back into the spiritual fray and fight the good fight of faith.

Our tender God knows that we are flesh; He knows we tend to get weary and can easily become exhausted. He loves us too much to let our weariness go on forever. Stay in the fight, keep your eyes on Jesus, rejoice in His cross, and watch for those plentiful rains. They will surely come.

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