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Living By Faith By Evangelist Charity E. Sephus


I was just a child, when I visited my grandparent’s home in Chidester, Arkansas. The estate was filled with mysteries. Allow me to evoke the most fascinating walk to the spring. The way to the woods was through an uncultivated field where nothing grew because it was not watered. Entering the enchanting woods, I smelled sweet jasmine in the crispy air. Oh! You know the smell of fresh grass after the rain mixed with the fragrance of flowers and herbs. The Boston fern and a variety of plants grew wild, there in some very damp, rich black soil. This garden, planted and watered by the Lord, was filled with colorful delightful flowers: all were gifts from heaven. Underneath the tall pine trees, butterflies, and bees enchanted the arena. Even though the trees crowded into a shade, the light from heaven shown through the branches like strategically placed floodlights warming the glade.

Feeling no sense of danger among the beautiful trees, cool trickling spring and quiet stream, I should have gotten my pail of water and gone right back to the house but I lingered as if I had nothing to do. The garden felt safe, serene, and tranquil; like the presence of God. The only sounds were pleasant like the wind whistling through the trees, and peaceful flutter of the morning glories’ petals. It was a lovely cushy place like a child’s favorite spot on the lawn. Picture the garden, spring, and the stream as a delightful experience. The garden had all its needs provided. The spring was cool without ice. The stream flowed continually with a destination, a purpose all its own and no detours.

God wants us to be like the watered garden described in Isaiah fifty-eight. Being a Christian is a divine privilege made simple possible and profitable. God, in his pristine glory sits waiting to bless anyone who will say Lord I’ll go. The inhabitants of the house of Jacob were coldhearted, phony, religious people fasting for strife and debate; that was wrong in the presence of God. In verse 5 it seems they did everything short of killing while fasting. Why do you suppose anyone would go without eating knowing that they would forfeit the blessings and benefits? What a waste of time and energy. It’s like pouring hot oil on your baking powder, thinking the end will result in fluffy biscuits, but it won’t because the hot oil kills the baking powder. Because of unholy activities and attitudes, they were just hungry people. They challenged God as to why he ignored their so-called sacrifice.

God was just waiting to give them fresh life like the life of the watered garden, and all he asked them to do was change, but that group did as they pleased; with no regards for God’s way. He wanted them to intercede unselfishly for the hungry, homeless, bound and oppressed the chains of injustice needed to be broken. Instead their fasting ended in quarreling, strife and fights. Fasting with sinful deeds and haughty attitudes is a waste of time; one might be better off if he had a banquet or party. They were hypocritical in their reasons for fasting, but they wanted the benefits of an honest caring and consecrated fast. God is watching us. It’s no sacrifice to please him; to the contrary, it is a reasonable service. Some thought they were better than their unholy ancestors. God promised them everything if they would simply turn from hypocrisy to honest honesty. That wouldn’t make them better, but with a pure heart the possibilities are endless. The pure, consecrated change allows the Lord to care for us like a prideful gardener. He keeps the ground watered, organizes plants to maximize their beauty, and weeds do not choke out flowers or edibles. Suppose the most reliable gardener agrees to work for you free. All he needs is access to your garden. God diligently seeks access into our hearts (gardens) making us like a watered garden and a spring of water that will not dry up. Just for changing, God offers rich rewards at no cost. My God shall supply all my needs, according to his riches in glory. The Lord, our prideful gardener strives to give beauty, healing, success, peace of mind, and gentle care. In God’s garden, dead leaves cannot draw strength from a healthy plant, because he allows it to drop off at the right time. In God’s garden, those little sprigs at the bottom of a tree, called sapsuckers, cannot hinder the growth of the tree because God would transplant them to become another tree.

Everywhere we understand our lives differently than our ancestors. One may have thought that he was destined to repeat the sins of parents, guardians or uninformed teachers of certain eras or areas. But listen to the possibility of our glorious change. Anyone with behavior or lifestyles unacceptable to God can change to flourishing like a watered garden or a spring of water. Oh yes, I meant to say anyone; simply because the scripture says whosoever will let him come and take the cup of salvation freely. Ask and it shall be given you, seek and you shall find knock and the door shall be opened unto you by Jesus the Savior Divine.

Who wants to be like a watered garden — beautiful, healthy and thriving? Would anyone want to be like a spring of water — cool, refreshing and clear? If we do things his way for his purpose the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones; and thou shall be like a watered garden and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.

Fasting for church strife, debate, and fighting wickedly, is not a consecration and will not make God hear our voice. (According to verse 4) the picture I get of a successful fast is a pleasant motivated thriving individual. He is also thoughtful and has direction from God.

Come on let’s thrive. Take the change challenge, and stay alive; For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life.