Sunday, May 18, 2014

Time for Gardening! (Part 1 of 2)

After telling the parable of the sower, Jesus asked “Are you listening to this? Really listening?”

Mark 4.33-34, reading from the Message, it explains the use of teaching in parables:

With many stories like these, he presented his message to them, fitting the stories to their experience and maturity.   He was never without a story when he spoke. When he was alone with his disciples, he went over everything, sorting out the tangles, untying the knots.

The Lord gave us several parallels in Scripture that relate to gardens.  In Song of Solomon 4.12, the Shulamite woman is compared to a garden enclosed, a field shut up, a fountain stopped.

In Song 8.13, the Lord is called Thou that dwellest in the gardens.  In 4.16, 6.2 and 6.11, we see the Lord comes into our gardens to see whether the vine flourishes and the fruit grows, and to enjoy the fruit and flowers there. In 5.1, we see the Lord’s higher purpose for our gardens is to produce enough to provide for others, which is a delight to the Lord. 

So, roll up your sleeves, because we are going to do some gardening!

A.     Assessing your garden.

       The problem with the Shulamite woman is that the fountain was STOPPED in her garden, and the garden was CLOSED.   Let’s look at YOUR garden.  Do you find you are “closed off” to visitors?  Do you sometimes feel that you have “nothing to offer” anyone?  One of the biggest tools of the enemy is to isolate you from others.  One of the best ways to do that is to make you feel like you have nothing to offer or that you just don’t have it together enough to be a blessing to others.   God’s plan for you is totally different:  He’s made YOU to be His hand extended, to be a blessing to others, to be involved in the lives of others!

       You and the Lord, take inventory TODAY.  Take some personal time with the Lord, and take a real, hard look at what your life is producing for Him.

       In John 15 (1-2 and 5-6), Jesus said, I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer.   He cuts off every branch of me that doesn’t bear grapes. And every branch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more.  … I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing.   Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. 

       Have you “separated” from the life in Christ and your walk with Him, and you need to address some things right away?  If you’re already bearing fruit, you still need to scrutinize your garden:  His plan is to PRUNE you back FURTHER so you can bear even more! 

       In Luke 13.6-9, Jesus told His disciples a story, A man had an apple tree planted in his front yard. He came to it expecting to find apples, but there weren’t any.   He said to his gardener, ‘What’s going on here? For three years now I’ve come to this tree expecting apples and not one apple have I found. Chop it down! Why waste good ground with it any longer?’
 The gardener said, ‘Let’s give it another year. I’ll dig around it and fertilize,   and maybe it will produce next year; if it doesn’t, then chop it down.

       As you look at your life with the Lord in your prayer time, is He exclaiming, “WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?!  For (however long) I’ve come to this tree expecting something to be growing, and I haven’t found ONE thing!” 

       After your assessment, get to WORK.  We’re DISCIPLES, and a good garden takes discipline!  Spring is a GREAT time for getting rid of dead leaves, turning hardened ground over, and fertilizing the soil. Throw out the DEAD stuff that cluttering up your life.  Don’t look just at what’s “okay” to do or be involved with, look at what is PRODUCTIVE!  In 1 Cor 6.12, the Bible says, Just because something is technically legal doesn’t mean that it’s spiritually appropriate. If I went around doing whatever I thought I could get by with, I’d be a slave to my whims.

       Are there areas where your heart has been hardened and you need to dig into so that something new can be planted?   The Bible tells us Sow righteousness, reap love.  It’s time to till the ready earth, it’s time to dig in with GOD, Until he arrives with righteousness ripe for harvest.  (Hos. 10.12)  Dig in with God and OVERTURN any wrong thoughts or attitudes that will stop the right things from growing in your life!   Pray Psalm 139.23-24:  Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:   And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

       Do you need to add minerals or nutrients to the soil in your garden? 

       1.  His presence.  Are you spending time with the Lord DAILY. In His presence is strength, wisdom, and joy:  things you need EVERY DAY.  

       2.  Prayer and Bible study.  Do you need to devote more time for prayer or study?  He said when you study, you show you’re approved, and you will be able to “rightly divide the Word of truth.”  I have seen many people with sincere hearts following wrong doctrine because they don’t know the Word of God!  Be sure to study and know God’s Word! 

       3.   Fellowship with other believers.  Have you been neglecting fellowship with other believers? The Lord gave different gifts in the body so that “iron sharpens iron.”  He handed out gifts operating in the Church, HIS BODY, so that we would be “mature.”

(To be continued...)

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