“While the earth remains,
Seedtime and harvest,
Cold and heat,
Winter and summer,
And day and night
Shall not cease.”
It’s always joyous to listen to the Word of God, just as it’s always a joy for me to preach it. God’s Word is indispensable to all of us, and that is why He wrote it in the Bible. Noah came out of the ark after the great flood had receded and offered a sacrifice of faith to God. God then accepted Noah’s faith and said to him:
“While the earth remains,
Seedtime and harvest,
Cold and heat,
Winter and summer,
And day and night
Shall not cease” (Genesis 8:22).
When viewed from our human perspective, it appears as though there is nothing extraordinary to this passage. Why then was it recorded in the Bible? After all it’s only natural that as long as the earth exists, there will always be day and night, winter and summer, seedtime and harvest. So why did God have this passage recorded in the Bible?
This passage teaches us that there are ups and downs in our lives of faith. It would be wonderful if we could always live out our faith in comfort, but this is not necessarily the case. When we first received the remission of our sins by hearing and believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit with our hearts, for a while we were so joyful and happy that we thought we were walking on clouds. How wonderful would it be if this joy were to be renewed every day, making it possible for us to live the rest of our lives with this same joy that we had when we first believed in the gospel of the water and the Spirit and received the remission of our sins? We were filled with joy when we first believed in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, but with the passing of time some of this joy may have waned. And then after a while we may once again find ourselves full of joy. Although it would be wonderful if we could always live with the fullness of the Holy Spirit, but our lives of faith are not always as wonderful as this, we certainly experience the ups and downs.
Put differently our hearts do not always stay the same while we carry on with our lives of faith before God. Just as there are four seasons “spring, summer, fall and winter” in the temperate zone, there are eight seasons in our lives of faith. Just as all these four seasons are indispensable to every life form in temperate zones; our lives of faith also need all eight seasons God has given to us. Korea has four clearly distinguishable seasons, and winter is cold enough for every tree to shed all its leaves and some animals to go into hibernation. Winter should be cold. It’s said that if the winter is too mild, farming is likely to be hurt as pests become more active in the following year. Everything seems to be frozen in the winter, but all creatures endure it patiently waiting for the spring to come, when everything bursts into life. There are also many seasons to our faith, and no matter what season we may find ourselves in, we should realize that it’s there to strengthen our lives of faith.
The words, “while the earth remains,” means “while we exist in this world.” In other words, so long as we are in this world there will always be seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night. It would be wonderful if our lives of faith were always bright, but unfortunately this is not the case. Because there are many seasons in our lives of faith, sometimes our hearts are joyful and at other times they face depression.
When we first received the remission of our sins by hearing and believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit with our hearts, we were so full of energy to preach the gospel everywhere and anywhere to plant the Word of God into the hearts of everyone we came across. Because we are filled with joy that Jesus had taken away all our hearts’ sins, we in turn work very hard to spread this gospel everywhere. Just like this, at first we work diligently to plant the gospel seed, but we are not necessarily good at harvesting. But we are very good at sowing the seed that we scatter seeds everywhere regardless of whether it’s on dry land, dense forest or a thorny field.
Once we are saved from our sins we first plant the gospel Word, and then we harvest the crop. After the seed is sown, cold weather and hot weather each take its turn to visit us. There are times when we are disheartened, and there are times when we are filled with the Holy Spirit. Now that we have received the remission of our sins, we are living out our lives of faith to follow the Lord, and in due course spiritual winter will inevitably visit us all. There is no one who will not experience this cold spell. Even our ministers here are also visited by this winter of faith. When this winter comes around, our hearts turn gloomy just as everything gets frozen.
Why do such things happen to us? God’s Church is working diligently to preach the gospel to every soul, planting the seed and harvesting the crop; but when we allow ourselves to be bound by our own weaknesses even after faithfully carrying out the Lord’s work, then our hearts are visited by spiritual winter to render us lethargic. But despite this we have the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit in our hearts, and by this power of this Word we can get rid of this cold spell. There is nothing that we cannot overcome, for we have the Holy Spirit and the Word of God in our hearts. The gospel is full of energy like a blast furnace.
Why Do Our Hearts Sometimes Become Lethargic?
The reason for this is because we look only on our flesh. When we first receive the remission of sins and begin to live our lives of faith, our hearts were overflowing with zeal like a boiling pot. But once our hearts become lethargic for some reason, we become completely immobile for a while. Have you not experienced this happening to your heart? Your heart also changes back and forth, being full of energy one day and completely lethargic the next. Just as seasons change endlessly as long as the earth continues to exist, so do our hearts constantly change back and forth between vitality and lethargy. I know this very well even if I don’t actually look at your life of faith with my own eyes. This is how the born-again live out their faith as it is written in the Word of God. I can know it all because God has already spoken it all.
Even though our hearts may be cold and lethargic one day and warm and vibrant the next, all of us must believe in God’s gospel of the water and the Spirit and His Word unwaveringly, and renew our spiritual strength by this faith. Just as trees and plants blossom when they get sunlight, if we ask for the Lord’s help in our lives by placing our faith in Him, then we will forever be victorious. If we hold onto the Lord-given gospel Word of the water and the Spirit the Lord, then our faith will get back onto its feet and spiritual thoughts will be restored to our minds, for the Lord will help us. Sometimes when we get disheartened we may even think that this is the end of our lives of faith, but there is no need for us to ever think like this. Such worries and such weaknesses will always be there to confront us, and these ups and downs will continue to come our way repeatedly. Whenever this happens we must turn to God’s gospel of the water and the Spirit and His Word, listen to this Word and share fellowship with each other in the Word, renew our strength so that we can continue on with our lives. The Lord told us that seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night will not cease. There are eight spiritual seasons in our lives of faith, and we should realize here that these seasons always repeat themselves in a cyclic manner.
The Lord Is Our Joy and Our Hope; and We Are Nothing without Him
Sometimes our lives are visited by a cold and dark night. When this happens we must think of God and His Word all the more. We are nothing without the Lord. And we need to know that it’s the Lord who has allowed us to go through these eight seasons of faith. That is how the Lord refines us step by step. He refines us to turn us into sturdy and unwavering people of faith, and He shapes us into righteous workers worthy of His use. I know very well that when your heart gets discouraged, you become worried about this and wonder why you feel so discouraged so often. But when you turn and listen to the true Word of God your heart will be lifted up becoming jubilant right away. You may then think, “I was so discouraged just a short while ago, but now suddenly I feel so elated. Is it because I am so fickle?” But this is not because you are so whimsical, but we should know that it is something all spiritual people go through to become stronger. So there is no reason why you should fall into spiritual despair over this.
Every Spiritual Leader Experiences the Same
It takes a long time and much refinement for a tree to turn into sturdy and useful wood. In like manner we also need a long time having a refined heart for our faith to grow. Over this long period of time we will go through these eight cyclonic spiritual seasons’ repeatedly, and that is how we grow. Each and every one of you will inevitably face your seedtime and harvest time, cold and heat, winter and summer. It’s by going through these processes that we are disciplined to stand even more firmly as the people of unwavering faith. Don’t be surprised when you find yourself facing hardship in a cold winter night despite the fact that you believe in the Lord and you have been born again. What you need to realize here is that whenever you face such hardships and trails, God will infallibly grant you a precious spiritually gift. God will not allow anything to happen to you for no reason.
When I look back into my past, there were so many things that happened against my wish. There was too much heartache that made me sad, and during those days I struggled immensely with these difficulties wondering why they were happening to me. Later on however I eventually came to realize that these things happened because they were absolutely necessary to fulfill the will of God in me. Therefore I could not help myself but to confess, just as the Apostle Paul had confessed, “We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
We all want to live a bright, happy and virtuous life. It’s my heart’s sincere desire to walk straight towards God’s purpose like a fir tree towering up towards the sky. But whenever I think back and look at my past footsteps, I realize that I have not lived up to all my dreams. When I faced difficult trials in my life, I sometimes even came very close to blaming God; but with the passing of time, I have now come to realize that God allows such trials to come my way in order to refine me and make me a better man of faith. As I look at how the Lord has led me to this very day, I can see that every hardship I experienced was infallibly followed by spring, every dark moment by the light, and every labor to plant the gospel seed by abundant harvest. I know that trials are followed by far better things. Nowadays whenever I face difficulties, I am no longer saddened or depressed, but instead I look towards God with confidence that He is allowing me to go through these hardships to give me something good, and to grow and nurture me into a stronger, better man.
My fellow believers, even though we know these providences of God, we still feel hurt when our lives do not go as we had planned. We are prone to fall into carnal thoughts when we face some trial, resenting the fact that we have to go through such hardship in the first place. If our hearts are misplaced when facing such trials, we will resent the fact that God is guiding us and working in and on us. However, if we renew our hearts, then we can look forward to the fruit that this trial will bring to us.
It’s very important for us to set the right direction for our life. If we just set the right goal for our faith, all of us will be joyful with everything God allows to happen to us. Everything that God permits to happen in our lives is good. There is nothing that is not valuable. But if our hearts’ direction is set in the wrong direction and our desires deviate from the Lord’s desire even slightly, then it will become inevitable to feel distressed and resentful. This happens when our hearts are dark. Often described as falling into temptation, this happens because the direction is set wrongly. But there is no problem at all if the direction is set right. That’s because whenever difficulties come our way the Lord will renew our strength without fail.
In fact, physical difficulties are not the problem for any true Christian. The real problem arises however when our hearts go spiritually astray. It’s when our hearts are oriented towards a spiritually wrong direction that we face the most serious of problems. Physical or material difficulties pose no problem at all to us Christians. Even if your leg is broken, this is not such a huge problem. The real problem arises when we face a trial and fall into spiritual despair. And through this by allowing our hearts to go astray is the real problem. In fact, if our hearts are upright in God’s sight, then all these difficulties that we Christians face would not pose any problem at all.
We all know how difficult it is for God’s Church to serve the gospel of the water and the Spirit. But despite this even though it’s hard, we must still plant the gospel of the water and the Spirit diligently, for only then can we harvest the crop. When we look forwards to the future and think about this harvest, we are able to work more diligently with a willing heart even though it’s hard for us to be faithful to God now. Even though every farmer has to work very hard, he can still smile because he has hope and looks forward to the day when he will harvest the fruit of his labor. That is what farmers hope for. Unless we plant the gospel seeds like farmers, would we have anything to harvest later on? No, there will be nothing to harvest. For every spiritual work, without the planting of the gospel seed, there can be no harvest.
After Noah came out of the ark, God said to him, “While the earth remains, there will always be seedtime and harvest. And cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night will not cease.” I give all my thanks to God for allowing us to experience all these things.
We have a small garden where I live where my wife grows some vegetables. Once when I saw my wife sowing seeds, I wondered why she was planting so many seeds. I thought she was just wasting them, but I realized later on that this was not the case when I actually saw the plants sprouting up in that garden. Even though my wife had sown many seeds, not many seeds had actually sprouted and even fewer survived to mature for a harvest. This is particularly true when it comes to the work of saving souls: When we compare all the seeds that are sown and planted, the harvest is so small. Although we have sown countless seeds of the gospel of the water and the Spirit all over the world, few of them have actually grown into mature trees of faith.
Yet despite this, we have not lost our hope and we still continue to work hard. That’s because the Lord told us that a soul is more precious than anything else in the whole world. We are therefore grateful beyond words if God saves even a single soul from sin through us. Can we make a single soul enter Heaven by ourselves? Do we have the ability to recreate anyone into a righteous person all on our own? No, by ourselves we are incapable of doing this. But even though we have many shortcomings and are powerless on our own, the gospel of the water and the Spirit the Lord gave us is powerful, and therefore it can lead all who hear and believe in it to be truly born again. The seed that we plant is brought up to sprout and grow into a tree by God, and we are so grateful for this that we keep on planting these seeds of life so diligently.
As gospel farmers, we sow the seeds of the Word of God ceaselessly. God’s servants are so ambitious that they sow the seeds of the Word thinking that it’s spring time all year round, but God also permits winter to come on our way. There are times when our hearts become discouraged that it’s a struggle just to carry on with our lives, far less to sow any seed. Sometimes we may be so weary that we cannot even pay any attention to anyone else but ourselves, not caring whether others are perishing or not. Of course, it’s wonderful when the season of faith is summer or fall; but when it’s winter, it can be very difficult. Even when the spring appears to have arrived being manifested on the outside, it’s still possible for our hearts to be actually visited by spiritual winter. But despite this I am sure that when we are experiencing hardship right now, a better day will come without fail. Just as the morning comes when the night is over, our faith is also visited by day and night, spring and summer, and fall and winter, with each season coming and going in turn. We can endure the harshest of winters because we believe that God will usher in the spring to us again; if we were to be stuck forever in winter then we would have perished a long time ago. Let us therefore never fall into despair even when the winter is upon us, but always retain our hope, for God will infallibly bring back another spring to us. And let us also realize again that when the day is here, it will inevitably be followed by another night.
As the Righteous, We All Experience Ups and Downs in Our Lives
Do you think that it’s because of our own wish that we are carrying on with our lives? In reality we are living only because we were born into this world. Did we receive the remission of sins just because we wanted to receive it? No, we received the remission of our sins because the Lord gave it to us to accept. Now that we have received the remission of our sins, do you think that we are alive because this is what we want? No, we are alive because the Lord keeps us alive. Did any of us ask to have day and night? No, we did not ask for it, but God gave it to us according to His time. We are living inside God’s providence. Even though it may seem as though our lives are maintained by our own efforts, but in reality we are actually living in the great providence of God. It’s only out of ignorance that we think otherwise.
Now that we have received the remission of our sins, it’s according to God’s providence that we are living out our faith. Therefore, all of us must plant the gospel seeds regardless of whether we want to or not. It’s also according to God’s providence that we are visited by every spiritual season. Do we ask for winter because we want it? No, winter comes because it’s what God gives us. But when our hearts become lethargic in the dead of the winter, God brings the spring to us again to warm up our hearts. If only our hearts are strong and unwavering, we will never stagger no matter how our circumstances change and what trials might come our way, but strangely enough our hearts are prone to change quite often.
I am sure that you all have gone through every season of faith. Although there are four seasons to nature, there are eight spiritual seasons. There are twice as many seasons of faith as the natural seasons. The spiritual seasons also change more often and more rapidly. Strictly speaking, it’s actually good for our hearts to face rapid changes of these spiritual seasons. Although it’s not good for our hearts to become fickle, it’s good for our hearts to change along with the seasons. The trials and happiness faced by the righteous are twice as intense as those faced by worldly people. They go through twice as many hardships and joy than the people of this world. The people of this world are satisfied if they can feed and clothe themselves, and find joy in worthless things. But in contrast, its spiritual things and problems that make us happy or sad. That’s our lives. Don’t try to live in prosperity all the time. Don’t try to live in to a bright world. It’s natural for you to face darkness and trials from time to time. If there are times when joy flows like a fountain, then there also are times when you suffer a great deal of spiritual pain.
When you are happy, remember that there also are some people around you who are sad. If there are sad people around you, then you need to comfort them and encourage them rather than just being happy by yourself. The Apostle Peter spoke of these things: “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love” (2 Peter 1:5-7).
As the Apostle Peter admonished us here, all of us ought to live with every member of the Church together as one body, adding love, brotherly kindness, joy and perseverance to our fellowship. Because the whole Church is one body, if any member is in pain, every member is in pain. And no wound is healed by itself. All the members of the Church must be united and they must focus their attention to the suffering one to heal his wound. This wound is healed only when we support each other and help one another. That is why we say that God’s Church is one family. When Noah entered the ark, he was accompanied only by his family. No one else entered the ark except Noah and his family. Spiritually speaking, we are all one family. Therefore, even if you and I have flaws, they pose no problem, for they are our flaws. Because these are our own flaws, we should endure and address them ourselves. Whatever flaw that our fellow saints have is ours, just as whatever merit they have is ours too.
For God’s Church everywhere to mature, the righteous must realize that they are one body, and they must realize what edifies each other. How do the righteous edify one another? This is a very important question and we should all know the answer: Working to plant and harvest the gospel of the water and the Spirit all over the world is what edifies all of us. Apart from this work of planting the gospel in every soul and harvesting the fruit of the Spirit, taking care of one another is also edifying one another, especially when we see our fellow brothers and sisters struggling through the difficult seasons of faith. We need to watch over each other to see if any member of God’s Church is struggling in the cold night of winter, and we must take care of these struggling members so that they can all endure through this difficult season. Those who are strong should share their strength, and those who are struggling should be comforted. We shouldn’t comfort our struggling fellow saints just with words, but rather, we should help them in a concrete way so that they can endure their spiritual winter by faith. And we should take care of them so that they can renew their faith, get back onto their feet, and serve the gospel even more diligently.
God’s Church must continue to walk towards the goal of evangelizing the whole world. This is an unquestionable necessity. At the same time, God’s Church must also take care of its saints as they go through these various seasons of faith, from day and night, summer and winter, and cold and heat. To put it in simpler terms, God’s Church must not only plant the gospel seed and harvest its fruit diligently, but it must also nurture and take care of every soul abiding in the Church. The Church should make it known that all its members are one body; and it should take care of every member in times of weakness. And at other times the Church must wait in patience. A season of trial does not go by that fast for everyone. Although a difficult season may go by fast for some people, but for others, it crawls at an excruciatingly slow pace. Such people need time. If you have just joined the Church’s family, you need to realize and know that it takes a long time before you can really appreciate the love that binds this family together.
If you have really received the remission of your sins and reached your salvation by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, then from now on you must unite with the Church and participate in its work of planting the gospel seeds. As you go on to carry out the Lord’s work like this, you will go through eight seasons of faith. God’s servants must share their wisdom with the saints in the Church, take good care of them, and wait for them to grow in patience so that all the saints, including those who have just been born again and have begun to grow spiritually, and those who had received the remission of sins earlier, should endure through every season of faith. On the one hand, the servants of God must continue to work hard to plant the gospel seed and harvest its fruit, and simultaneously take good care of the saints inside the Church who are struggling through difficult spiritual seasons. All the saints must hold fast to each other. It’s absolutely imperative for God’s Church to meet this task.
So far we have worked very hard to plant many gospel seeds. This work is something that we must continue to do until the day the Lord returns. And while we are doing this, we also need to be more self-reflective to pool our strengths more effectively and strengthen the inner parts of the Church. In other words, we must nurture our fellow saints and take good care of them until every tree planted in the Church grows up to be a useful tree that bears abundant fruit.
Each one of you must stand firmly on your faith first, and you must all grow spiritually. When the people of faith face spiritual trials, they can endure it and overcome it by faith, therefore we should all grow into such people of faith. It’s not good enough for just a handful of saints in the Church to become true people of faith. Everyone in this Church must become like this no exceptions. Just because a few have become people of faith, this does not mean that everyone in the Church is okay. All our brothers and saints, and each and every one of God’s servants, must grow into people of faith who can endure through all the eight seasons of faith to emerge stronger. And for us to grow spiritually like this, we all need time, and we also need to carefully build our inner strengths up.
Since the Church has now achieved considerable success in planting the gospel seed, it needs to pay more attention to nurturing these new sprouts into God’s workers. When there are more workers, it’s obviously easier and more effective to carry out God’s work. After all, a hundred hard working farmers can harvest far more crops than just one farmer. It’s therefore imperative for the Church to nurture those who have been born again by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit and shape them into workers. The Church needs to turn everyone in the Church, young and old into unwavering believers and shape every saint into a sturdy tree that never falls no matter how strong the wind blows.
For us to grow in faith, we need to examine ourselves carefully and ask ourselves the following question: “In God’s sight, am I now obeying the Lord’s providence and following His guidance faithfully? Am I growing well as God wants me to grow?” We were not born just for seed-planting and harvesting. The life of faith is not just about seed-planting and harvesting. Our faith must grow. Of course, it’s the Lord who nurtures our faith to grow. And the seasons of faith are necessary for this. Each and every season, from spring to summer, fall and winter, is needed for our faith to grow, and it also takes time for our faith to mature. What we need now is not anything else but God’s grace and time.
God’s Church everywhere needs time. God is not pleased if spiritual growth is not even across all member churches, and as a result some churches grow spiritually while others are stunted, leading to spiritual imbalances in His Church. But rather God wants a balanced growth of faith across all the member churches. So if there is any member church that is lagging behind, it’s necessary for us to wait patiently for this church to grow in faith. Only then can we really say that we are one family. If a big brother has something good, he should share it with his little brother, and the little brother should willingly accept the big brother’s guidance. The same is true for the branches of God’s Church. All the member churches ought to share their spiritual growth with each other so that every member church can grow evenly. This practice of helping one another is the traditional hallmark of the Early Church, and we should continue with this noble tradition (2 Corinthians 8:13-15).
There is no point in arguing over who is better than the other. All of us are the same in the Lord. But at the same time, it’s still necessary for you to realize whether you are spiritually mature or not. If you do not know the condition of your faith even as you follow the Lord, then you will eventually be deceived by Satan’s lies and your faith will end up crumbling down. This can happen to anyone of us. Although Satan cannot work freely in the God-established Church, if we are not careful we may make ourselves vulnerable to him. Unless our inner faith is strengthened so as to be impenetrable, it may be ruined all at once by the evil wiles of Satan. All of us must therefore strengthen our inner faith to never waiver.
Of course, I know very well that serving this gospel has made you so exhausted physically that it’s making you struggle spiritually as well. I know this very well even as you don’t say a word to me. In reality, there is no one who does not struggle in his life of faith. So when I look at our born-again brothers and sisters, I sometimes see them downtrodden and discouraged. Although their inner beings are glowing, their outside appearance shows all the signs of weariness. Nevertheless, even though our bodies may be weary like this, I have every confidence that deep inside, we are all stalwart believers whose faith never wavers.
My beloved saints, have we really become worthy trees of faith that can be used by the Lord? Noah built the ark with gopherwood, and this gopherwood is useful only if it is thick and strong. Have you become a tree like this? Our God is nurturing each and every one of us to grow into such a tree. We need to examine ourselves to see if our faith is maturing. Each member church’s leader should examine his church to see how much it has matured in faith, find out where it needs to work on, nurture where it needs to grow, cast aside what must be thrown out, and thereby ensure that every member church grows into a sturdy and faithful one. If any member church perishes, then this is an enormous loss to all of us. It’s as simple as that. No saint can live for or by himself. The Bible says that Jesus is the Head of the Church and we are its members. If any member of the body of Christ perishes, then that dead part will rot away and contaminate other members. If a member perishes, then the whole body will perish. Therefore, we need to examine ourselves carefully to see if any church member is ill or is perishing. This should not be considered just by oneself. Nor should any pastor think that everything is fine just because he is fine and facing no trials. Even if you are doing well, if another saint is struggling, then everyone is in the same trouble. It’s natural for all of us to struggle together with our fellow saints, for we are all one body.
We must know how to take care of our fellow church members in both body and spirit. And in doing so, we must renew our strength to continue to plant the gospel seed and harvest its fruit. It’s also important for us to take good care of ourselves, for if we were to just plant the seed and harvest its fruit without taking care of ourselves, then sooner or later we will get too exhausted and may even end up perishing. What use is it if we save others but perish ourselves? It’s also important for us to take good care of our bodies. We should seek treatment if we are ill, and we should rest if we are too exhausted. We all know very well that if there is something wrong with any part of the body, the whole body suffers. We should therefore take good care of every member church. We need to turn our eyes towards them and take good care of them.
All Who Have Received the Remission of Sins Have a Duty of Planting the Gospel Seed
The righteous are faithfully carrying out this work of planting the gospel seed because they have the Holy Spirit in their hearts. Every believer goes through eight seasons, and because the very first season is the season of seed-planting, every believer does this work without even being asked. Now is the time for us to examine our inner selves. All our brothers and sisters, and each and every one of our workers in the whole Church need to seek inner growth.
We ought to examine ourselves carefully. We need to see what mistakes we have made, and what it is that we are struggling with. After all, don’t we all face the winter inside from time to time? Of course, we may think that this is no problem if we keep on looking ahead and endure it with patience. But we can’t do this all the time. It takes time for us to grow our crop, and it also needs to be nourished in a timely manner. Fertilizers are good for the growth of crops, but this doesn’t mean that we can use them at random. There are different kinds of fertilizers, and each season requires a different fertilizer. If too much fertilizer is used all at once, or the same fertilizer is used every day, there will be problems with the crop. If the crop does not receive the proper nutrients, problems will inevitably arise down the road. Even if the crop looks healthy from the outside, the grain it bears would be just an empty shell. It’s what’s inside the grain that’s important.
All of us have the duty to take care of every member church. In addition to taking care of ourselves, our families and our own respective churches, we all need to take care of every member church. This is my heart-felt desire. I yearn to see and share fellowship with all our brothers and sisters from every member church throughout Korea and beyond. I feel very strongly that it’s about time for the servants of God to take care of each other. Do you also think so? Just plowing ahead blindly is not always good. Just as a car needs brakes to stop when it has to stop, sometimes the saints have to rest from their gospel race so that their faith can be renewed so that their inner beings may grow.
Of course, I’m not saying here that we should just stop spreading the gospel; rather my point is that we should not just run ahead blindly even when we still have spiritual shortcomings that need to be addressed. It’s absolutely crucial for us to get all the necessary provisions in a timely manner, wait in patience when we must wait, and resume our march full of energy when we must move forward. In other words, we often need to nurture our bodies, take care of them, and wait for the right time.
Why did God say to Noah that there are eight seasons? Why did God tell Noah that there are eight seasons when in nature, there are only four? Right after Noah disembarked from the ark, God said to him:
“While the earth remains,
Seedtime and harvest,
Cold and heat,
Winter and summer,
And day and night
Shall not cease” (Genesis 8:22).
Why did God say this? From a scientific perspective this passage also makes sense. Some scientists say that the weather was very stable before Noah’s flood because the earth was protected by a belt of water above the firmament. It seems like the seasons were changed after Noah’s flood because the waters above the firmament were all poured down onto the surface of the earth. Climate changes are likely to have occurred on the planet earth to alter its seasons. So God said this to Noah beforehand so that he would not be surprised by what was to unfold but be ready for it.
When I take a look at our brothers and sisters, I see some people focusing all their energy on planting seeds, while others are devoting themselves to harvesting. There also are some who do both these works well. There are some members who get frozen to death in the winter, and there are others who endure the winter to become sturdy people of faith. Some of us are in the middle of the summer, while others are facing the fall already. Some are seeing the daybreak; and for others, the night is upon them.
But there are still some brothers and sisters who have never gone through this process yet. If there are such brothers and sisters who are still stuck in seed-planting and harvesting, and have not gone through every season yet, we need to teach them about the winter beforehand so that they may all endure it in patience. Unless we teach this to the saints beforehand, some of them may think that their lives of faith are over as soon as the winter is upon them, and they may in fact perish as a result. In other words, some saints will want to return to their past despite having been saved, saying to themselves, “I can’t stand this cold! I hate it! I want to return back to my summer time. I want to go back to where I used to live.” That’s why it’s so important for us to teach all the saints about the winter beforehand so that they may be ready for it.
You Should Never Return to Your Past Just Because You Are Facing the Winter
If you abide in God’s Church, then you will be able to endure even the harshest of winter, for the Lord will infallibly give you the unwavering faith and spiritual strength to overcome these difficult seasons. Once you have overcome the winter, you will see the spring arriving when everything comes alive. This season will come without fail, when your whole life flourishes thanks to your faith.
However, there still are many saints in the Church who have experienced neither any cold nor any heat yet. But there is no need for them to worry beforehand. Instead they should look quietly towards the Lord, abide in the Church silently, and wait for the Lord’s guidance. Regardless of whether we are struggling or prospering in our lives of faith, at all times we must abide in the Church, and we must have the faith to live according to God’s guidance. In good times and bad times alike, whether we are rejoicing or struggling, we must be with the Church always. When something good is given to you, consider it as a gift that God has given to you; and when you are facing a trial, endure it in patience knowing that God is allowing you to go through such a trying time to refine your faith and to nurture it. So I admonish you to endure all your trials silently in God’s Church, and wait in patience for the Lord.
I am sure that many of our brothers and sisters, young and old alike, have already gone through such seasons of faith. I am sure that this is also true for our ministers. There is no one amongst the born-again who does not eventually go through such seasons. As we have received the remission of sins and been born again spiritually by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and as we are abiding in God’s Church, all of us will invariably go through these eight seasons sooner or later. Some of you must have already gone through them many times.
But going through one difficult season does not mean that it is completely over. It will come again. However, once you go through a difficult season, you will be able to go through it much more quickly the second time. Although you may struggle a lot when you face a season of trials for the first time, but from then on you can overcome such trials more easily and quickly. The change of spiritual seasons is something determined by God. If God sees that you have had enough of a season, He will allow another season to come, but if not, He will allow this season to continue. Faith is what sustains us through these spiritual seasons, and therefore we must endure them all by faith.
My fellow believers, it’s absolutely critical for all of us to be victorious in each and every spiritual season God brings to us. Do not turn away from the seasons of faith that the Lord has allowed us to go through. Embrace them instead, quietly enduring all the spiritual seasons to become even more faithful saints of God. I hope and pray that as all our member churches go through these eight spiritual seasons, every one of them would become a stronger church both inside and outside.
God will infallibly allow such spiritual seasons to come to every member church, to turn it into an even sturdier church. If we pass through these spiritual seasons by faith, then every member church will grow into God’s unwavering Church, and all of us will also grow into unwavering believers. I have every confidence that our God will reward all of us who seek to live by faith with abundant blessings.