By Dave Butts
I love a good rain in the summer–especially after it has been awhile since we have had a downpour. Rain changes so much. There is a fresh, sweet smell that comes with it, a coolness in the heat, and all vegetation perks up and greens up. It makes one feel good.
Rain is also a metaphor for the pouring out of the Spirit in our lives and churches. When our souls become parched and dry spiritually, we need something to fill them with fresh spiritual vigor. We need rain.
What is the rain we so long for and need? Ultimately, it is the Lord’s presence. Jesus Himself spoke of the living water that we would need in our lives. The Scripture speaks of “times of refreshing” (Acts 3:19). Such a time as this is not so much an experience as it is a Person–a waking up to the presence of Christ in our lives. The prophet Hosea spoke of this spiritual rain.
“Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge Him. As surely as the sun rises, He will appear; He will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.” (Hos. 6:3)
“Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your fallow ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until He comes and showers righteousness on you.” (Hos. 10:12)
Whether we are asking for ourselves, our church, or our nation, Hosea chapter 10 gives us what we need to do to end drought and prepare for rain.
1. “Sow for yourselves righteousness.”
Both Old and New Testaments teach us the spiritual principles that you reap what you sow. If you plant wheat, you do not harvest corn. If you plant immorality, you will harvest immorality. Many people, including us at times, sow greed, pleasure, immorality, and self-centeredness . . . and as a result, we reap the results of that. Unfortunately, it is all too easy for the church, and us as believers, to join with society in reaping the same damaging seed. God’s Word says to sow righteousness–sow right things. We must speak right things, watch right things, read right things, and do right things. The Bible becomes the means for us to see what those right things are. God’s Word gives us a standard for righteousness. Righteousness is not what seems right to a man, but what is right to God.
If you want to move past spiritual dryness, check what you are sowing. If you are sowing damaging seed here and there, stop. Sow right things!
2. “Reap the fruit of unfailing love.”
When righteousness has been sown, we will naturally begin to harvest the fruit of unfailing love. God loves everyone, but the fruit, the benefits of that love, come to those who are moving to establish God’s righteousness as the standard for their lives. There are many unclaimed blessings. One of the most neglected is the fruit of unfailing love. It only comes to those who have sown righteousness in their lives.
As you sow righteousness, you should start to see clear signs of God’s love at work in your life. Recognize them, and praise the Lord for them. Watch what that does to your parched soul!
3. “Break up your unplowed ground.”
Unplowed ground has a hard time receiving rain. Sun-scorched, baked earth forms a hard crust. When rain comes, it simply runs off hard ground rather than soak in to soften it.
Unplowed ground is a picture of the unrepentant life. The rain of God’s righteousness will not soak in and change a life that is hard and unrepentant. So the command here is: “Repent! Change! Go a different direction!”
That is always God’s call to those seeking revival. Today so many who seek revival, the rain from heaven, seem to want just good feelings or nice meetings. However, the good things of revival come only after times of tears and repentance. God’s command is to break up the hard, unplowed ground of your lives before you will see the rain of revival.
Ask God to break up the hard ground of your heart. Repent of those things that keep your heart hard.
4. “It is time to seek the Lord.”
Those in periods of spiritual dryness often go looking for answers in many places. But God’s Word directs us to the only place where we can experience renewal–the rain of heaven–and it is to seek the Lord.
Hosea 10:12 gives great hope to us today. When we have broken up the unplowed ground in repentance and begin to seek the Lord with all our heart, then the promise comes. It is the Lord Himself who comes in response to a repentant, seeking heart, ready to shower His righteousness upon us. It is Jesus Himself in the midst of His people, receiving our worship, and showering upon us the blessings of His Presence.
A simple, but continual remembrance–and practice–of these four steps can keep your heart always soft before Him. You will experience the rain of His Presence on a regular basis in your life.
If you want to experience a fresh sense of God’s presence in your life–revival–Dave recommends that you take 30 days and go through his prayer guide, Asleep in the Land of Nod. While it is written for a congregation to pray together, each day’s devotional and prayer will expand your desire for God’s presence in your personal life.