The Gardening of Our Minds
What is creeping around in your garden? Like millions of others at the beginning of the pandemic, I planted a vegetable garden. I love fresh, homegrown tomatoes. They taste better than store-bought ones.
I discovered there is a joy and a pleasure in carefully placing the plants into the ground and watching them grow. Watering the plants was calming and refreshing to me, as much as it was to the plants. Seeing how they were changing, growing, and flowering daily gave me confidence in my gardening ability.
One day, as I checked on the garden, I was taken completely by surprise. Most of the leaves on the tomato plants were gone. Something had eaten them. I moved in closer and found a big green worm. Yikes! A tomato hornworm caterpillar. The closer I looked, I found more. They blended in with the leaves and were unnoticed until the damage was done. They were a danger to the tomato plants. The garden was overrun with them. I needed to do something quick! Tomato hornworms can destroy a tomato crop overnight. Fear and panic rushed in. I hadn’t properly guarded my garden. What form of control measures was I to take? How could I fend off these devouring critters?
Sometimes this happens to our minds. We forget to properly guard the garden of our minds from devouring critters. We let ungodly messages and negative and worrisome thoughts creep in. These critters creep in unnoticed and help themselves to the fruit of our joy and peace.
The gardening of our minds is like tending a garden. Maintaining our joy and peace requires constant work—constant gardening.
Second Corinthians 10:5 (KJV) tells us to bring “into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”
We have to get to work and capture every rebellious thought and pluck them out. How do we pluck them out? What form of control measures do we take? Scripture—the Word of God. God’s Word is a mighty weapon to use to fend off these devouring critters. It’s powerful and effective.
These critters seek to draw our hearts and minds away from God. Gardening our minds requires us to be aware of how we really think and become more aware of how God wants us to think. We focus our thoughts on His thoughts. God’s Word is His “thought.”
As Paul said to the Philippians, we need to “fix our thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8 NLT).
It is important to fill our minds with the Word of God because it leads to success. The Word keeps critters out. If our minds are not fed daily with the Word, we may awake one day to find that devouring critters have helped themselves to the fruits of our joy and peace. Properly gardening our minds protects our joy and peace. How might God want you to garden your mind today?
Job 9:2-4 2“Indeed, I know that this is true. But how can a mortal be righteous before God? 3Though one wished to dispute with him, he could not answer him one time out of a thousand. 4His wisdom is profound, his power is vast. Who has resisted him and come out unscathed?
Job’s friends came to comfort him and sat silent for seven days. What can you say to a friend who has endured such loss? Then Job spoke of his misery. He wished he had been stillborn. He considered his pain greater than the joys he experienced in life. Good people may experience situations in which they despair of life itself.
Then his friends made an all too common mistake. They tried to counsel him in his grief. One insisted that he must have sinned. Job replied that he was not aware of any specific sin, and if he did not intend to sin, wouldn’t God find mercy to forgive. The other friend insisted no one is perfect before God. Our verse today is Job’s reply. No one is perfect in God’s sight. How can anyone be righteous before God? If we were to have a debate with God, we couldn’t really respond to any of God’s questions. No one can stand before the Almighty and say He has not been righteous in all His acts.
Job did not understand what he was going through. Why should all this trouble be allowed to strike him? He could not see the heavenly conflict or understand how good would come from such suffering. It will be another thirty chapters before his eyes are opened and he submits quietly to the sovereignty of God.
What can we learn from this passage today? Sometimes the best thing is to say nothing, but weep with those who weep. There will be times in our lives that we have no explanation for suffering. Endure, and believe that God is working all things out for the good of those that love Him and are called according to His purpose. There are times when we teach angelic beings about love for God and trust in His character and sovereignty. Satan refused to believe Job could continue to have faith in God, but Job proved him wrong. Though he voiced the fact that he did not understand what God was doing, he never doubted the integrity of God.
Consider: You don’t have to understand what is happening, but you do need to keep trusting God.
The Best Beginning for the Day
SEPTEMBER 17, 2021
“Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.” Psalm 143:8 (ESV)
As the morning sun peeks over the hill, spilling sunlight into the room, I want to soak in this moment, for I don’t how many more I’ll have.
I take in the scene that is not new to me but is ever so precious.
With my Bible in my lap, I sit on one end of the couch. There on the other end, also with her Bible in her lap, is Mom. Quietly, side by side, we begin our day with Jesus, each practicing the words of David: “Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul” (Psalm 143:8).
After a while, a natural conversation begins as we share with each other what we’re learning.
For over 50 years, my mother has begun her day this way, and I have had the privilege of seeing her do so. When she came to know Christ in an intimate way in her mid-30s, she began this practice, building the firm foundation of faith she stands on today. It’s the same discipline she taught me by simply modeling how to spend time with Jesus first thing in the morning.
Though my kids are now all grown and have homes of their own, I’m continuing the pattern of modeling what I learned from Mom. When my kids wake on the mornings they’re visiting, they find me in my chair, reading God’s Word and talking to Jesus. Often, my “good morning” greeting as they come down the stairs leads to a conversation about what I’m reading and what Jesus is teaching me that day. We’ll talk about what God is up to and how we see Him at work.
These are my very favorite mornings, when I have the opportunity to live out Psalm 145:4, which says, “Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts; let them proclaim your power” (NLT). I cherish these moments with my children, just as I cherish my moments with Mom.
You may not have learned from your mom to make reading and studying God’s Word a daily habit. Maybe your spiritual teachers have been neighbors, friends, Bible study leaders and pastors. Maybe you’ve joined Bible studies, read His Word through an app and memorized Scripture sent by text from a friend. The important thing for each of us is to make the Lord and His Word our priority. God’s Word sets the course for our day, empowering us to live out the day before us while honoring Him.
I’m so grateful for what Mom lived out before me. I see the benefits of poring over God’s Word day after day. Nowadays, when Mom doesn’t feel well or strong, she can shut her eyes, and her heart can recall His words. She can meditate on His Truth because she has hidden it in her heart for years and years, and we can continue our conversations of where we see God working.
I hope Mom and I have many more opportunities to read our Bibles side by side, but even if we don’t, I can rest assured that, as I keep talking to Jesus on earth, Mama will be talking to Jesus face to face.
“Saul said to him, ‘Blessed are you of the LORD! I have performed the commandment of the LORD.’ But Samuel said, ‘What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?’” – 1 Samuel 15:13-14 NKJV
Saul was confident that he had obeyed God and faithfully carried out His instructions. But the evidence proved that he was wrong! He had not obeyed God. He had deceived himself! God’s instructions were clear. Yet Saul reinterpreted them, justifying his reinterpretation. Despite his conclusions, he developed his own version of God’s words.
How easily we can be like Saul, thinking that we understand God’s Word. We presume to know His will and are quick to justify our actions. But we’re instead reinterpreting His Word to fit our prejudices.
This is why it’s important to start everything with God Himself. He is not an idol that we can manipulate but the sovereign Creator. He has given us His timeless Word to take seriously. We dare not reinterpret it just to suit our purposes. But He also gives us the choice of how to respond.
If we want to be people after His heart, we will deepen our personal relationship with Him, putting everything else aside. Be humble in His presence. Desire to know the Bible intimately. Hunger for the purity of His Word.
Right now, assure Him that you seek first His kingdom. Ask Him to reveal His truth to you. Read His Word prayerfully and humbly. Hunger to hear from Him, careful not to develop your own interpretations.
Seek to be His servant. And submit your life to Him unconditionally.