The Faithful Gardner

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The Faithful Gardener

woman wearing garden gloves weeding out a weed from the flowerbed

“This is never going to end.” As I scraped the dirt, I stopped to look at all of the grass roots sticking out of the ground. “How did they get there?” I thought.

In our new azalea and hydrangea garden, grass had crept back, finding tiny holes among the chips of cedar mulch to bury its roots. This particular area of the garden had so many stubborn grass roots that I panted and had to take a break from pulling them out. My garden hoe helped to expose the roots, but I had to pull each root out by hand.

Yet I was determined. I didn’t want the grass roots choking the roots of my baby hydrangea.

“Father, I’m so sorry. Please forgive me.”

The scenario hit me full force. How many times have I let a bad attitude or wrong way of thinking take root in my heart and mind? All it needed was a little room to grow, and it created stubborn roots, difficult to pull out.

My prayer for forgiveness turned into gratitude. “Thank You, Father, for being so patient with me.” God is so loving and faithful to work in the lives of His children, tending the garden of our hearts and minds.

“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)

He’ll complete that good work. He won’t stop. No matter how deep the roots go of a harmful way of thinking, feeling, or acting. If we have turned to fear instead of faith, God knows how to rescue us from it. If our default reaction to difficult people or circumstances is intense anger, He knows how to root that out. If the same old habit tries to creep back into our lives and choke out strength and joy, He knows how to guard us if we turn to Him for help.

God’s goal for us is to become more and more like Jesus, to be conformed to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29 NKJV). Righteousness is Jesus’ way of thinking, feeling, and acting. The roots of righteousness are tenacious fibers made out of love, strength, and victory. They are composed of perseverance and faithfulness. And they produce an eternal impact for God’s kingdom.

So God uproots fear and worry and plants seeds of faith in our hearts instead. He uncovers the twisted roots of anger and replaces it with understanding, patience, and His perspective. He shakes loose the creeping tendrils of a me-centered focus and instills within us an eternal focus—on things above, not on things on the earth (Colossians 3:2 NKJV).

God builds within us a garden of beauty and strength, of joy and peace. He makes it appealing so that those around us can see the difference that He makes in our lives and they want to know Him too. To know Him as the One who rescues their own hearts and minds.

If a particular struggle is choking out Jesus’ righteousness in your mind and heart, appeal to the faithful Gardener for help. I’ve cried out to Him so many times to uproot something harmful. His faithful heart moves Him to always work within us, but He needs our cooperation. Life with God is a partnership, and becoming more like Jesus is a lifelong process that produces beautiful results.

How is the faithful Gardener working in your life today? May we always cooperate with His liberating work.

Today’s Devotions

Morning

October 5

Psalms 30:5, 11-12 5For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.

11You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, 12that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever.

It is interesting to note that David wrote this psalm for the dedication of the temple, which he knew would happen after his death. He so longed for the completion of a house for God and a permanent place for people to worship Him, that he made every preparation he could before he died, even the songs to be sung. Do we have such a desire for the spiritual house of God?

In this song David reminds us that our God given afflictions are very brief, but God’s favor lasts all our life. We may cry through the night, but God brings us joy the next morning. Whatever trial we are facing, it helps to remember this truth. Some trials seem long, but in the light of eternity and the favor of God upon our lives, they are fleeting. The Apostle Paul had a thorn in his side for years. It caused him to depend upon the grace and strength of God. This is quite different from dealing with the consequences of our sin. It is the condition of living in a fallen world.

God turns our wailing into an exuberant dance of joy. He takes the sackcloth of mourning from us and gives us a robe of joy. Know that on the other side of every trial there will be times of joy again, not just happiness, but heart filled joy. Why does He do this for us? It is so that we may sing to Him for His goodness to us, and thank Him for the lessons learned. We thank Him for walking through that valley of the shadow of death with us.

Consider: We will give thanks to God forever for His favor upon us, for sharing His victory with us, and for filling us with His enduring joy.

Waiting on the Lord

by Sarah Jennings Phillips, crosswalk.com

I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. – Psalms 27:13-14

I read a book a few years ago for couples discerning marriage called The Exclamation. The author pointed out that God could answer the question “Should I marry him/her” in only three ways: Yes. No. Wait.

I think the toughest of the three is, “Wait.” It’s not just that we live in an impatient society (we do), and it’s not just that we can be selfish, demanding creatures (we can), and it’s not just that we tend to want life on our own terms (we do) — it’s that waiting requires surrender of one of man’s most precious commodities: time.

Our lives are finite. Each day is precious, each month, each year, because we only have but so many. So when the Infinite God whispers to His limited creatures, “Wait,” our responses often sound something like this:

“You see, you don’t get it, God. Sure, it’s easy for you to wait – you have all of eternity. But I really need some answers. You gave Amy answers, and Chuck answers, and Lori answers, so it’s only right and fair you give me answers. After all, you said ‘whoever seeks shall find’ and stuff, so now I’m seeking, and ‘wait’ just isn’t an acceptable response.”

I think it’s even tougher to wait when we have pain lingering in our pasts. We may wonder, “Why should I trust God? Last time everything ended in disaster.” I speak from experience here. I’ve had to wait on an answer to prayer for a long time now – even for someone of my youthful age. I know how tough it is to receive the umpteenth “not yet” from God. I know what it’s like to look back on painful deferments and feel like life is slipping by.

Yes, waiting isn’t for spiritual wimps, but for those strong of heart. Obeying a “not yet” from God requires true faith. It’s handing over our days and years and months to God, trusting that we won’t regret holding off. It’s believing God’s plan is truly the best plan even when several other enticing options tempt us. It’s deferring what is good for what is best.

And there’s the reward of waiting. Even in the midst of my own unanswered prayers, I still believe God isn’t out to get you or me. He doesn’t ask us to wait to torment us. In His infinitely perfect nature, He sees what we can’t and wants to give us more than we’re currently asking for. All the times I’ve ignored God’s “wait” and taken matters into my own hands, a lot of precious time was wasted. But those that wait on Him will experience joy that far surpasses any temporary pleasure that comes with forging ahead alone.

Weeping may last for the night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning. Psalm 30: 5 (NAS)

Streams in the Desert – October 5

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After a while, the stream dried up because there had been no rain in the land. (1 Kings 17:7)

 

The education of our faith is incomplete if we have not learned that there is a providence of loss, a ministry of failing and of fading things, a gift of emptiness. The material insecurities of life make for its spiritual establishment. The dwindling stream by which Elijah sat and mused is a true picture of the life of each of us. “It came to pass … that the brook dried up”—that is the history of our yesterday, and a prophecy of our morrows.

 

In some way or other we will have to learn the difference between trusting in the gift and trusting in the Giver. The gift may be good for a while, but the Giver is the Eternal Love.

 

Cherith was a difficult problem to Elijah until he got to Zarephath, and then it was all as clear as daylight. God’s hard words are never His last words. The woe and the waste and the tears of life belong to the interlude and not to the finale.

 

Had Elijah been led straight to Zarephath he would have missed something that helped to make him a wiser prophet and a better man. He lived by faith at Cherith. And whensoever in your life and mine some spring of earthly and outward resource has dried up, it has been that we might learn that our hope and help are in God who made Heaven and earth.
—F. B. Meyer

 

Perchance thou, too, hast camped by such sweet waters, 

And quenched with joy thy weary, parched soul’s thirst; 

To find, as time goes on, thy streamlet alters 

From what it was at first.

 

Hearts that have cheered, or soothed, or blest, or strengthened; 

Loves that have lavished so unstintedly;

Joys, treasured joys—have passed, as time hath lengthened, 

Into obscurity.

 

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