Sunday, July 28, 2019

What's in Your Garden?

So maybe not exactly Capital One’s catchphrase but my mom gave me this idea recently as she was talking about a man at her retirement home.  She said he was a “rosarian”.  I honestly thought it was someone who was really into rosary beads!  Not so. It actually means someone who specializes in cultivating roses and this man had planted a beautiful rose garden outside of his apartment that my mom really enjoys looking at.  It got me thinking about what’s in my spiritual rose garden and is it pleasing to both God and others.  At the risk of mixing horticultural metaphors, in the parable of the sower and the seeds, Jesus says:

Matthew 13:8 – Other seeds fell on good soil and produced a crop, some one hundredfold, some sixtyfold and some thirtyfold.

Things to think about:
·      For whatever reason, this word picture of a rose garden vividly describes for me how we should be using our time on earth to make something beautiful to honor God
o   Do you have a green thumb?  Do you like to be outside planting, watering, tending to a vegetable garden or flowerbed?
·      What might different flowers and fruit look like in your spiritual garden?
o   Disciples
§   Matthew 28:16-20 - In the Great Commission Jesus says we are to go and make disciples
o   Good works
§  James 2:26 – As the body without the Spirit is dead, so is faith without deeds dead
o   Spiritual Maturity
§  Galatians 5:22-23 - love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control
o   What else comes to mind or is in the Bible that might be a kind of crop?
·      To continue with our botanical theme, Jesus says in John 15:5
o   “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
o   Roses that have been cut off from the rose bush may look pretty for a while but eventually they will die out.
§  We can fake it for a time but a separation from Jesus will result in a wilted and ultimately dead spiritual life
·      We also need to be mindful to keep weeds out of our garden
o   In Matthew 13, Jesus warns of the enemy coming in and planting weeds while we’re asleep.  While we can’t rid the world of weeds until Jesus comes back, we can be vigilant to minimize their impact on our lives.
·      In 1 Corinthians 3, Paul says, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.”
o    When God sees our lives, especially our lives as we cooperate with other believers to build His kingdom, He sees a beautiful, aromatic garden that gives Him great pleasure.
·      Let’s be motivated and empowered by a love for God and others to make our time here count for eternity.   

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Defusing the Bomb

When was the last time you got into a heated argument? This morning, this week, this month? Whenever it was, somewhere along the line someone got angry and said something unkind.  Whether it was you or the other person who lashed out, it escalated the disagreement to another level.  In the end, did that bring you and the other person closer together or push you farther apart (we all know the answer to that question)?  Our verse today offers a godly alternative that yields a much better outcome.

Proverbs 15:1 – A gentle answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger

Things to think about:
·      So when was the last time you got into a heated argument?
o   Were you more the instigator or the recipient?
·      Our natural inclination is to hit back, hit harder, and fight to win. Some of the reasons for this are:
o   In the moment it feels “good”
o   It might seem “fair” or “right”
o   We’re emotional beings by nature so our emotions can rule us
o   Our egos need protection so as not to look or feel weak
·      The Bible is full of counterculture advice when it comes to conflict:
o   Turn the other cheek
o   Love your enemy
o   If your enemy is thirsty, give him a drink of water
o   A gentle answer
·      Have you tried God’s way by remaining calm and being gentle when the other party is getting worked up?
o   If so, how did it turn out?
·      Are you currently in a disagreement or conflict with someone?
o   How can providing a gentle answer yield a better result in this situation?
o   What would a “gentle answer” look like in this situation?
o   How might that gentle answer be like a cup of water to them?
·      Why is God’s way impossible without His help?
o   Jesus says in John 15:3 -“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
o   Let’s ask God for the help we need to live the life He has called us to. 
§  And let’s do it BEFORE the next conflict arises so that He is leading us not our emotions