What’s in Your Garden?

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23 NKJV

God was with Adam and Eve in Eden. Likewise, God is with me in my garden. Our Father reveals His beauty beneath the endless sky. Yet, if my earthly garden is going to grow, it requires a lot of work! My spiritual growth demands the same effort as well.  

One lesson I learned from Adam and Eve is to keep snakes out of my garden. I’ve thrown moth balls, sprayed repellent and sprinkled granules enough for the entire block! But what about those “snakes” that aren’t tangible. Temptation? Envy? Greed? Apathy?

I must exert the same degree of effort spiritually to keep “snakes” from sneaking into my space. Or at the very least, kill them while they are young. It’s relatively easy to kill a baby. Something several feet long is altogether different!

Some snakes are discreet, and blend in with our surroundings. Others are colorful and easier to notice. Some are just irritants. Others are deadly. It is up to each of us to guard our personal gardens from “snakes” that deceive. I’m pretty particular about what I want in my garden. For my safety and that of my family, I must also be diligent about what I  keep out!  DSC_7170 (2)

When I neglect my garden it is soon overrun with weeds! I am amazed at how a weed can grow through concrete but the seeds I want to grow must be guarded and nurtured. The junk in life comes to us far easier than anything of value. We can allow this same junk to overrun us if we aren’t careful. When we should be plucking up what doesn’t belong, we can easily find ourselves distracted by people and things that eat up precious time. Too much social media anyone? Internet surfing?

Neglect can leave you with a mess. It is a major cause of broken relationships. Marriages suffer when spouses don’t make each other a priority. Children are hurt when they watch parents give valuable time to other people and interests, leaving them with only the scraps that remain.

It requires time to nurture what I want to grow. I spend hours watering and fertilizing what I want to bloom and remain. I am a huge fan of Miracle-Gro because I get better results when I use it. Likewise, I do better when I read my “miracle grow” which is God’s Word.

Scripture gives me faith to stand tall during adversity and persist through my trials. God’s promises give me clarity to recognize potential “snakes.” Reading what God did reminds me of what He can do!

Miracle-Gro works great, but you have to apply it often. You can’t just use it once and be done. God’s Word is effective when we continually immerse ourselves in it and allow scripture to dictate our behavior. I must apply God’s word to my daily life if I’m going to grow stronger and be fruitful.

We all have snakes and weeds to guard against that try to keep us from thriving.  We can bear good fruit or allow any old pest or plague to destroy us. Gods gives us each a choice.

I may never become a “master gardener,” yet I choose to give it all that I have and do the best that I can.  DSC_7135 (2)

What about you?

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” John 15:4-5 NKJV



Buried or Planted?

There are times in life when we feel stressed and overwhelmed by daily responsibilities. Family obligations, job stresses, health issues and an array of other things can make us feel as if we are overcome and buried beneath a ton of bricks.  We often bury ourselves beneath the weight of unnecessary commitments, circumstances, and even our own poor choices.

In addition, the storms of life can pour more rain on us that any umbrella can withstand. It is at this time we must make the pivotal decision that will determine our outcome. We must each decide if we are buried or planted?

Buried is to be overcome by whatever situation is bearing down and you can’t see your way out from under. Buried is seeing a situation as permanent and immovable. When something is buried it lies dead never to emerge again.

Planted is quite different. Dead seeds are covered with dirt just as something that is buried, however they will eventually emerge transformed into something new! You are planted when you are overcome with the stuff in your life yet expect to rise up from under and into something better, something only God can do!

Our storms dump water on a grave from which nothing will rise forth. For that which is planted, those same storms provide the water necessary for growth, transforming that dead seed into something that will yet live and break out from under the dirt.

We can look at the “dirt” that appears to overtake us and believe we are buried or have faith in God that we are instead planted in that same situation.

The dirt that weighs us down may actually hold the nutrients (circumstances, experience, and maturity) required to grow into what God would have us to become. We all require a unique combination of trials and tribulations if we are to grow instead of wither and die. God truly gives each of us what we need (not necessarily what we want) to grow with Him.

Jesus was planted in the tomb and resurrected into something new. His own disciples didn’t recognize Him upon His resurrection. This same power is available to us when we choose to submit ourselves to God and allow Him to transform us into so much more than we were before!

We need only to ask Him and be changed for the better. Obedience may require that we push through some dirt and weather some storms but it is faith in what God can do that fuels our final outcome.

Which do you choose…buried or planted?

“You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world,” 1 John 4:4 NKJV

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world,” John 16:33 NKJV

Flourishing Finish

As I look out at what is left of my summer garden, it is more than evident that this year is quickly coming to an end. Yet, the pictured summer plant is still standing and going strong, having withstood storms, drought and even my neglect while everything around it quickly fades away.

Unlike the plant, I am guilty of faltering when forced to endure my own storms, droughts and neglect. My coleus ran its designated course and continues to thrive. I refuse to be outdone by a plant!

It is my declaration to run my course and finish 2013 well. I commit to no longer allow imperfect conditions to deter me. I have concluded that when I choose to climb higher, strive for better, and act better, the larger the obstacles I am forced to overcome. Sometimes impediments are beyond my control. However, my largest obstacle is often…me.

Temporary disappointments can linger far longer in our minds well after a problem is gone. It can be hard to reprogram our thinking even after we overcome a hardship. It is human nature to look back on old hurts and offensives focusing on what we’ve endured instead of looking ahead to the promise of a better tomorrow. To the inability to “get over” a setback often thwarts the best intentions to move forward and into God’s promises.

“But one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus,”
Philippians 3:13-14

I challenge you to push forward toward your prize!  We all have a God-given purpose, goals to meet, and blessings to give not just receive…the work God has imparted each of us to do while we are here on this earth.

Recommit yourself to finish well. If necessary, begin those things God placed in you. God is infinite in His ability to restore and accelerate. Timing is not a concern for Him; His timing can put you years ahead when you were once decades behind.

Trust God. Have faith in what He can do in you and through you! Ignite your hope! Cast aside your fears! Don’t focus on how you started or even where your race began. God is with you every step of the way. Allow God to finish the good work He began in you!

“But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God,” Acts 20:24 NKJV

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope,” Jeremiah 29:11

“Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ,” Philippians 1:6 NKJV