Monday, June 14, 2010

God's Garden -4

Taking care of the Plant

Ephesians 3:14-19 (New Living Translation)

Paul’s Prayer for Spiritual Growth
14 When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father,[a] 15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth.[b] 16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

God's garden doesn't only consist of people we share the gospel with. It also consists of those who have already become plants. They already have roots.
Some plants get transplanted. You go to a nursery, pick out a plant and take it home to plant. That isn't necessarily how it works in the Christian world. TGhe "plants" usually seek out the different churches. Sometimes it is because their job requires them to move every few years, sometimes it is because they are searching for a congregation that meets the needs of their family.

When you bring that plant home from the nursery. You can't just carelessly drop it into a hole and expect it to thrive. You have to learn whether the plant needs full sun, part sun, or full shade. All plants have different needs. Same with watering. Some plants need to be watered daily, some need to be watered occasionally, and some thrive better when not watered much at all.

My point is that not all christians need the same things to grow and thrive. Some need to be encouraged daily, some just occasionally need to be encouraged, and some grow better if they are only encouraged when you can see them withering away.

Ephesians 4:29 (New International Version)

29Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

People don't come with care tags that let us know how to care for them. That means we must know eachother to know what each individual person needs.

God's Garden -3

Planting the Seed Part 2

1 Corinthians 3:6-9 (New Living Translation)

6 I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. 7 It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. 8 The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work. 9 For we are both God’s workers. And you are God’s field. You are God’s building.

Once you plant seeds, you have to water them. If you do not, roots will never sprout out of that seed and a plant will never grow. You can't just throw the seeds down and walk away.

You can tell someone about Jesus, but you have to also water their hearts. We have to love, encourage, and most of all, be patient. A seed doesn't sprout overnight. It needs sunlight and water. Lots of it!! Same thing is true with people we share the gospel with.

Monday, June 7, 2010

God's Garden- 2

Planting the Seed

Matthew 13:3-9 (New Living Translation)

3 He told many stories in the form of parables, such as this one:

“Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds. 4 As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them. 5 Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. 6 But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died. 7 Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants. 8 Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted! 9 Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”

If you plan to grow seeds, you can't just throw the seeds on the ground and expect them to grow. There is a lot to know about sowing seeds. First, you have to know what seeds will grow in what season. Second, you have to know if you have to plant them where they will get full sun, or part sun, depending on the seed. Third, you have to know what soil to plant the seed. Some seeds need soft soil, some can grow in hard dirt.
The same is true when you are trying to plant the seeds of God's word in someone's heart. You can't just throw the word out there. Some people aren't in the right season of life to accept the truth. Knowing if it is the right season, you have to get to know the person. Sometimes, you may plant that seed in the wrong season, but that seed will still be there when their season is right. I planted some bulbs one year. I planted them about a month too late. The leaves sprouted, but it grew no flowers. The next year, when the season was right, I got the flowers I had hoped for the previous year. Just because someone doesn't accept Christ when you offer him to them doesn't mean they never will. They just have to be at the right season in their life for it.

2 Timothy 4:1-4 (New International Version)

1In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

We aren't told to only share the gospel with those who are in season. We can't judge that. We have no way of knowing when it is someone's season. All we can do is plant the seed. God will work out the rest.

Some seeds need nice, soft, firtile soil. Some can grow in hard dirt. Not everyone needs to hear the gospel the same way. To someone, you may need to tell them of his love and forgiveness, grace and mercy. Someone else may need to hear of his judgement. How do we know how to approach each different person? I'm not exactly sure.

I suppose if you come across someone who believes in God, but lives a life contrary to that belief, they probably need to be reminded that Jesus loves them and forgives everyone the same. To someone who doesn't believe in God, but live their lives in such a way you would never even think they don't believe, they probably need a different approach. You're not going to get very far preaching forgiveness to someone who lives a pretty straight life. But have you ever tried to water your plants in the middle of the day without getting the hot water out of the hose first? The hot water burns them. We must be careful when using the judgement approach.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

God's Garden-1

There are some things one has to learn before he/she can plant a garden:
1. If you plant seeds in the wrong season, they will not grow.
2. If you do not water the seeds enough at first, they will not grow.
3. Some plants need shade, some need full sun.
4. Some plants need lots of water, while some flourish more when neglected.
5. Sometimes the instructions that come with the plant don't work well. you have to get to know your plant to know exactly what it needs.
6. If you don't clip the old growth off the plant, new pretty stuff can't grow.
7. Once you clip a flower from it's plant, it doesn't take long for it to die.

All plants are different. They don't all need the same care, or the same environment to survive.
The same is true with Christians. We are all different. In the next several blog posts, I will explore how like plants we really are.

1 Corinthians 3:5-9 (New Living Translation)

5 After all, who is Apollos? Who is Paul? We are only God’s servants through whom you believed the Good News. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us. 6 I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. 7 It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. 8 The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work. 9 For we are both God’s workers. And you are God’s field. You are God’s building.