The Master Gardener

Let me show you my beautiful garden
Although it no longer belongs to me.
With all my toiling, sun up to sun down
My garden was not meant to be.

Little did I know of the seeds,
Seeds of deception and lies—
Until one day a stranger asked
“Why the despair in your eyes?”

“I’ve tried,” said I to this gentle man.
To water, to nourish,
the seeds which were given to me.
For fear of ridicule at what HE would behold,
I hesitated when HE said, “May I see?”

“I love gardens,” HE said,
“Where comes from the earth.”
The most beautiful of things!”
As I opened the gate and said “Come in.”
I thought I would see him cringe.

For row upon row, stood the harvest of my years.
Fear, distress, and worry, watered by my tears.
“Oh, look there.” HE said,
as he pointed to the corner of the field.
“What a beautiful bud, and a healthy plant.
What delightful fruit it will yield.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“But,” I said. “It’s only one—so unlike the rest.
I have given it no time.
I didn’t think it worth my effort.
Neither did I think it mine.

Blown, perhaps, by some distant wind,
From where I knew not of.
Left to itself—it was its own—
With nothing for me to solve.

The others required all of me—
And I’ve given all that I know to give.
With nothing in return—no delight—
No reason for me to live.”

HE knelt beside me in the dirt.
As I crouched and poured out my tears.
From His eyes came the same.
As if HE knew my fears.

“What can I do dear Sir—kind man,
For these, my plants, my friends?
Do you have plants? Do you have a garden,
To which you must attend?”

HE said, “I thought you might need help.
That’s why I came along.
Yes, my child, I have many gardens
To which I belong.

They were given to me
By friends who knew my art
Of taking gardens just like yours
And giving a new start.”

“What will you do with mine?” said I.
“What give you in return?”
“The fruits of my labor.” He said,
“More seed, more beauty
than you could ever earn.”

“What are you saying dear man, kind Sir?
A garden is meant to grow?
What else can you tell me?
What more do I need to know?”

He sat with me then and told me the plans
His Father had given Him
For gardens that flourish, reflecting His care—
Knowing and touching each stem.
101661160-jpg-rendition-largest

F. R. January 1993

Image
I
mage

Three Obstacles to Spiritual Growth

I would rather write than eat; pray than sleep; read His word than play, because the one about whom I write, and the one to whom I pray, is the one who gives me life, and the one for whom I live.

This has all been through a process of growing and bearing the fruit of the Lord’s work in me. Though I sometimes wonder in my thoughts and my actions, He always brings me back to the path and continues His guidance.    (Galatians 5:22-23)galatians5v22-23-700x329

Spiritual growth is from the seed of new birth, rooting, the buds, flower, and fruit, all the work of the gracious and powerful God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ ~the vine dresser, the giver of life.

By the supernatural working of His Holy Spirit He births and brings to maturity those who are His children. (John 1:12-13; 1 John 3:1-3)

None of the life of faith is without some struggle through the wilderness in which we live, but it is where God chose and placed us to bring us to Himself.

This growth is described in Psalm 1:3. A man who turns from walking in the counsel of the ungodly, from standing in the path of sinners, and sitting in the seat of the scornful, to delighting in God’s Word, is like a tree that bears its fruit in its season. Its leaf also shall not wither and whatever he does shall prosper.

Why do some Christians not grow and bear fruit?

Let’s compare this to a child born to a family. Consider how this child matures to adulthood as we look at these obstacles.

  1. Words: As a child grows, baby talk is put aside and new words are used to describe how we live. The family leads the child to discover new things, new tastes, and new adventures. New words are explained so that they can understand how to relate to others, new surroundings, etc.

As a new Christian, we grow through the training of God’s Word. When we find words that we do not understand, we stop and take the time to find the meanings and how they apply to our new life in Christ. Words like “propitiation,”  “justification“  and “sanctification” need to be understood, along with other words that are in the Christian’s vocabulary. With the study and discovery of these spiritual things, we experience the new tastes and the new adventures that enable us to grow.

  1. Feelings: When children exhibit their feelings and the family gives in to them, they learn to manipulate, and these keep them childish. They will never grow to positive and joyful adulthood if they never learn to get past their feelings.

Feelings are usually a normal reaction of the flesh to whatever is happening, either in our imaginations, our conversations, or our relationships to others.

As Christians, we do not live by feelings. They most often keep us stunted in our growth, keeping us dependent on how we feel about our circumstances and others. Instead, God’s Word brings us into the fellowship of His Spirit and grace to examine our feelings in comparison to how we should think, speak and act in our circumstances. We grow when feelings are put aside and we minister to and serve others.

  1. Influences: Everything around us is an influence either for our spiritual growth or against it. Responsible adults guard their children from the influences that would harm them. We see the results in our society of children who are exposed to violence, drugs, etc. They are planted in the middle of the darkness and chaos of this world and bear the fruit of it.

God’s children no longer enjoy such an environment. Their new hearts are fertile soil in which He plants His seed, the seed of His Son, Jesus Christ. By His Spirit He waters, and by His Word He continues to nurture His plants to full maturity, so that we are compatible for an eternity with Him.

The importance of relationships with other strong but humble and fruitful Christians cannot be understated. The fellowship of a local church that studies, applies and lives according to His Word, along with personal Bible study and prayer, are the means of watering and nurturing, so that there is no question that we are God’s children. He bears the fruit of His Word and Spirit in us ~ to His own glory, and our joy.

Dear Father, Thank you for the new heart, and the seed of the Life of your Son that you have planted in us. By your Holy Spirit, draw us to your Word, assure and nurture us, grow us in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Bear the fruit of the Spirit of Life in Christ through us, so that the world sees true life in the middle of the darkness and decay. In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

(To learn more how God works to grow us, check out our book The Garden of GOD’S WORD ~ The Purpose and Delight of BIBLE STUDY. Profits from all our books are designated for missions.)

HUMILITY: Chapter 2 The Secret of Redemption

Consumer advocates continue to report the dangers of a polluted world. We are told how to avoid certain toxins and how to overcome others.  Our mind-set changes as we gain new knowledge of what affects us physically and personally.

The same is true as we consider what affects us spiritually. For though we need not be ignorant about our physical welfare; and should do what we can to care for this body that is the temple of God’s Spirit, we remember that it is only temporary.  Our spirit with His Spirit returns to Him with all that He has given and grown in us through the power of His grace.  He is here preparing us for His glory by His Spirit, which He has given us.

In the second chapter of his book, Humility, Andrew Murray hones in on the secret and reality of the work of Christ; His power that was in God at the beginning of creation, His continued power throughout history, and now in the lives of His people. (PDF)

In the following chapters of this book we shall see the mystery, the power, and the beauty of God’s grace for mankind revealed in Jesus Christ, His Son.  But first, we must come face to face with the problem and the need of all mankind; the real reason that we all come into this world with a death sentence over our heads.

Along with the prophets, the apostles, and the early church fathers, other believers and advocates for life in Christ continue to seek God’s word and to alert us to their findings of the dangers of a corrupt world.

Murray points out the stark truth that man’s problems come not from the air we breathe or the food that we eat.  These may be toxic, but the poison that is destroying us is within each of us.  We were born with it.

  “But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men,
And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.”
John 2:24-25

The Deception
“When Satan spoke his words of temptation into the ear of Eve his words carried with them the very poison of hell.”  She believed the lie and the true knowledge of life was hidden from all men.

Her yielding to Satan’s temptation “destroyed forever that blessed humility and dependence on God, which would have been our everlasting happiness.  Instead of this, her life, and the life of the race that sprang from her, became corrupted to its very root with that most terrible of all sins and all curses —the poison of Satan’s own pride.”

images

The Need for Redemption
“Wars, selfishness and suffering, ambitions and jealousies, broken hearts and embittered lives, and daily unhappiness are a result of this same wicked pride.  These are the historical and ongoing danger signals of this toxin in man.

“Our insight into the need of redemption will largely depend on our knowledge of the terrible nature of the power that has entered our being; that is working daily—hourly—with mighty power throughout the world.”

No one can escape this pride. We may try in our own power to defy it, but to no avail. No food, medication, or vitamin supplement will overcome the sin of pride within us.  There is nothing in the knowledge of man that will produce an antioxidant for this threatening power.

The only means of detoxification is through Christ.  The only antioxidant is the humility of Christ.  The blood of Christ covers and cleanses all our sin.

 The Power of Pride
Murray uses the word “power” at least ten times in this chapter, comparing two different seeds and roots, two trees, different fruit; imagestwo men  — the first and Second Adam, and the power and nature in each.

 “Pride has its root and strength in a terrible spiritual power, outside of us as well as within us.”

How are we to respond to this truth, this reality?  The knowledge from God’s Word and the power of His Holy Spirit is meant to bring us to the end of ourselves.  In Note B we read that “our salvation consists wholly in being saved from ourselves, or that which we are by nature.

Hence the first unalterable term of the Savior to fallen man:  Except a man denies himself, he cannot be My disciple (Matthew 16:24).  Self is the whole evil of fallen nature; self-denial is our capacity of being saved.  Self-denial is the work of humility in us, so that we may “confess out pride, deplore it, and be aware of its Satanic origin.  This may lead us to despair of every conquering it or casting it out.

But it will also lead us all the sooner to that supernatural power in which alone our deliverance is to be found  — the redemption of the Lamb of God.

All the evils of fallen angels and men have their birth in the pride of self.  On the other hand, all the virtues of the heavenly life are the virtues of humility.”

It is humility alone that makes the unpassable gulf between heaven and hell.”

“We must honestly fix our hearts on our own lack of the humility revealed in Christ’s life.  Only then will we begin to feel what Christ and His salvation truly are.”

The Power of Christ’s Redemption
“Even as we need to look to the first Adam and his fall to know the power of the sin within us, we need to know well the Second Adam and His power to give within us a life of humility as real and abiding and overmastering as has been that of pride.  We have our life from and in Christ, as truly, even more truly, than from and in Adam.”

 How are we to respond to this truth, this reality?  The knowledge from God’s Word and the power of His Holy Spirit is meant to bring us to Christ, our Redeemer, that we may properly comprehend who He is — His chief characteristic — the root and essence of all His character as our Redeemer — His humility. 

Scan 140590000“Jesus said, If ye continue in my word then are ye
my disciples indeed;
And ye shall know the truth,
and the truth shall make you free.” 

John 8:31-32

Pride Free
As we continue in the following chapters we will learn to study the life and work of Christ, and His humility.  He will enable us to remember the original intent of our Creator: that we do not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.  (Matthew 4:4)  We will look more diligently at this heavenly attribute of humility in God, who condescended to reveal and share His glory with His creatures; who, has maintained and cared for a people even during our ignorance and rebellion against Him; who, in His timing came to reconcile a people to Himself through His Son, Jesus Christ; who, living and dying has saved His people; who continues in His humility to save us, and to sanctify us for His own glory; who lives now at the right hand of the Father, humbly interceding for us, and by His Holy Spirit working His humility in us.

Have this mind… that is in Christ Jesuswho humbled himself…”
Philippians 2:

Humility is the rock-bottom place where we begin to experience re-creation — new life; and it is not without a struggle between the spirit and the flesh that we live daily; in the strife between pride and humility, the two master powersthe two kingdoms at war for the eternal possession of man.

“The life of God, which in the incarnation entered human nature, is the root in which we are to stand and grow.  It is the same almighty power that worked there, and from then on to the resurrection, which works daily in us.  Our one need (now) is to study and know and trust the life that has been revealed in Christ as the life that is now ours.”

“It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing:
the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.”

John 6:63

“He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself:”
“He that hath the Son hath life;”
1 John 5:10, 12

“According as his divine power hath given unto us all things
that pertain unto life and godliness,
through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue
:”
2 Peter 1:3

“..we have the mind of Christ.”
1 Corinthians 2:16

Dear Father, open our minds and hearts to see that it is not what goes into us that defiles us, but what is in us and comes from us.  Please work in our hearts to believe that Christ  —whom You have given us — will work in us, overcoming our sin of pride; making us what You want us to be.  Return us to that place of humility, of full dependence on You, for the life that You planned for us.  Bring us to look beyond this world to Christ, the author and finisher of our faith, our Redeemer and life eternal.
“Of your great goodness make known to me and take from my heart every kind and form and degree of pride; and awaken in me the deepest depth and truth of that humility which can make me capable of your light and your Holy Spirit.”  In Jesus name, we pray. Amen

There is much more that could be said about this chapter.   Your comments are welcome.
Fran

Related Posts
A Year for Humility: Preface
HUMILITY: Chapter 1  The Glory of the Creature