There are two kinds of struggles that we have to face each day. We struggle because we cling to past habits and have a hard time separating ourselves from them. The second struggle occurs because we are attempting to cut loose from past habits. The first struggle where you are clinging to the past habits, is never ending, and will continue to cause you pain and hurt, ultimately defeating your best interest. The second struggle is painful for a while but you end up completely liberated, well, and whole. At some point in our lives we will have to question the status quo and dig deeper, or else we will never achieve the happiness we so deserve!
Spring has sprung here in Virginia! There is so much to do. Quite a busy time as I watch my seedlings develop and sharpen the tools to be ready for cultivating the soil. Just as we have to wait for the right time, when it is safe to plant, so we have to wait for the right times to plant the seeds in the garden of our hearts.
Last year I visited a friend of mine and while I was strolling through her garden I came across this special little rock in her garden which says: “To cultivate a garden is to walk with God”. This rock caught my attention, because in my own experience I have found this to be true. As I reminisce on the last six years of my life, I realize that being a gardener has changed me. It has brought me physical, spiritual and mental development, far more than any of the other hobbies I have pursued. Cultivating the garden has taught me more about God and His love than I could ever learn from any book I’ve ever read. The beauty that is gained in a gardening experience show us clearly what God’s character is like, He is truly beautiful. He seeks to place His character in us so that our fruit will be an awesome one and that we will be successful at the work that He has for each of us to do in this life. It has truly been a growing process being a gardener, because I have had to fully depend on God for all the fruit I plucked out of every garden branch.
Every year the gardening experience is different as the summers vary, sometimes the climate is perfect, but other times there is a drought, or a summer that is too wet. I have had to study when the best times for planting would be and then apply myself after to watch the changing whether to make sure I water those babies just the right amount and watch out for weeds and pests too. It takes work and diligent study to be a successful gardener who gets the best out of each growing season. The best pest repellant is the gardeners shadow. It has truly been a journey based faith. Being faithful to all my gardening tasks will lead to a great crop if it is God’s will.
God is the gardener of our heart, He is always planting good seeds of love, practical lessons based of the principles of His word are nourishment for our souls as we consider them daily and ask Him to make our Christian experience authentic. Remember that the word of God states in Matthew 4:4, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” God is always talking to us, are we listening or are we blocking our ears. Every word that proceeds from God’s mouth also includes those experiences that you have every day with your family and friends, when that still small voice tells you to surrender your heart in that moment of crisis, but you hold on to what you feel like saying. Better to take time and surrender your will to His purifying power, He will cleanse your attitude and thoughts and replace the negative with positive if you allow Him. This is why memorizing scripture passages which are empowering God can be so effective. “A soft answer turns away wrath, but harsh words stir up anger.” Proverbs 15:1
One garden illustration that has stuck out in my mind and taught me a tremendous spiritual lesson, is that of the potatoes. The crop of potato is only ready to harvest after the beautiful bushy green plant has died and dried up. Then you know it is time to fork up those juicy potatoes. Well this is the same for us as Christians, we only produce proper spiritual fruit when we die to self, surrendering our will to be purified by His power and grace. When we realize that God is to be praised and honored for everything in this life and we are vessels of His glory and power, no greater joy can come, for this is our heart’s desire. The fruit of the harvest is something that we all love to enjoy, but it is truly a miracle of God’s creation! Just to think of the chemical reactions that occurred to make every thing happen and the Great Provider . He allows just the right amount of rain and sunshine to be added to each plant, to ensure its’ success. Consider that he will take of you in the same way. In each stage of a plant’s development we see the hand of God who in love sees to the needs of every detail of His creation.
Are you connected to the true Vine? This Vine is Christ Jesus, whom if we are connected to Him we will learn to abide in His presence all through the day moment by moment surrendering our hearts to His loving attitude instead of our own. Have you ever thought about how your heart needs to be fed? What do you think is your heart longs for? How is the garden of your heart getting the nourishment it needs for good fruit? Seek Him with all your heart, for He cares for you! 🙂
“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23
Pretty weighty proverb written by the wisest man who ever lived, have you ever taken time to give it some thought? Diligent heart keeping is essential to experience healthy character development. The heart in this case represents the health of the mind and all of the abundance of what our thoughts and passions are. Left to ourselves, we are helpless and hopeless sinners, but when we consent to be brought into subjection to Christ, the Holy Spirit cleanses us from all defilement. After doing such, we must choose whether we will abide in Christ or not, this is a moment by moment decision. It is our duty to as a follower of Christ to keep our hearts undefiled. Many seem to think that the religion of Christ does not call for the abandonment of daily sins, the breaking loose from habits which have held the soul in bondage. They renounce some things condemned by the conscience, but they fail to represent Christ in the daily life. They live a religion of show, where they seek to please God by outward show but their heart is far from Him.
They do not bring Christ-likeness into their home. They do not show thoughtful care in the choice of the words they speak to their spouses and children. Too often, fretful, impatient words are spoken, words which stir the worst passions of the human heart. Such ones need the abiding presence of Christ in the soul. Only in His strength can they keep guard over their words and actions.
In the work of heart-keeping we must be instant in prayer, unwearied in petitioning the throne of grace for assistance. Those who take the name of Christian should come to God in earnestness and humility, pleading for help. The Savior has told us to pray without ceasing. We should cultivate a love for meditation, and cherish a spirit of devotion. “It is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word which proceeds out of the mouth of God.” Repeating scripture text when we are going through a stormy season of trial and temptation truly works, because we truly make a decision by seeking the Lord’s wisdom in those situations. As we repeat His words and rebuke the enemy we are imbued by His power and grace to overcome our feelings and live by principle. When we seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, then our thoughts will be of things eternal, and this will spill out to our actions being loving. To do such will put life and earnestness into all of our endeavors. It is our privilege as Christians to be “increasing in the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure and stature of the fullness of Christ.” Ephesians 4:13. When we exercise, it helps to increase our appetite, and gives strength and vitality to our body, so will devotional exercises bring an increase of grace and spiritual vigor to our hearts!
So where I am going with this title, you may ask. Well the question I am addressing here is how does God truly expect us to live our lives in a world that is so unpredictable and so unpleasant at times. I have come to the conclusion that God expects all who realize the sacredness of their life to live a life full of their best output in any given situation. So where do we get the power to score so high in our journey of life? The key is in the power of the will, will we surrender our wills to God so that He is allowed to shape us the way He wants to follow His principles which are eternal? Or will we we continue to act on our feelings and continually fail in many areas?
Many who are qualified to do excellent work accomplish little because they attempt so little. Do you feel like you keep falling into the same behaviors day after day, and that you are spiraling down hill because the things that you really need to accomplish never get done? The same spirit and principles that you bring into your daily tasks will be brought into the whole life. If we give as little as possible of our physical, mental and moral powers to what we have to do in the day, how can we expect that God will choose us to pour His abundant blessings on? The example of such folks is contagious. Self-interest is the ruling motive. If we are guilty of such, we will never be a success in this life or in life eternal, because Christ manifested energy, integrity and diligence in all He did and expects the same of His followers.
Many people become inefficient and unreliable because they evade responsibilities for fear of failure or for just plain laziness. They don’t realize the great blessing that comes for those who persevere through whatever the circumstance may be, those who make a plan and work that plan till they reach the product are those who will reap the most benefit out of life. Man can shape circumstances, but circumstances should not be allowed to shape man. We should take hold of the circumstances as the instruments which can help build our characters for eternity. We are to master them, but should not permit them to master us.
We have a great purpose for living, that is to realize our greatest potential in whatever work that is placed before us. We should never be satisfied with reaching a low standard. We should aim everyday to diligently pursue whatever is challenging us so that we improve through Christ’s grace. God can work in and by and through us as we surrender our hearts daily to His leading and let go of the reigns of controlling every aspect of our day. Let God guide us and follow His lead as our day unfolds, retain our joy when the things that we had planned don’t happen. Consider that God knows what is best for us, so that the plans that He has for our day are perfect, compared to the plans that we may have had for ourselves. When we do such, a great weight is lifted, we accomplish much more, because we begin to do every task to the glory of God. It is in considering the big picture, that the pieces of the puzzle of life begin to unfold. For example, as we surrender what may be grumpy attitude for a joyful pleasant one, we reap the benefits of having a happier home, or as we have to deal with life changing circumstances, like an incurable disease or a death, we realize that we have no control over these but we can control how we react to them. We must consider that God says in His word that, “all things work together for good to them that love God.”