When I think about the fruit of the Spirit, I think about the sowing and reaping involved in gardening. The care we invested into preparing my rose and fruit tree garden serve as a spiritual lesson.
The Lord has been dealing with me on the condition of my heart “soil.” Is my heart prepared for sowing seeds that produce the fruit of the Spirit?
Recently I was having a really hard time with my middle child. It seemed like everything I tried with him failed. After many months of frustration, guilt, and exhaustion, I broke down. My husband and I began seeking the Lord and praying for insight into this situation.
The Master Gardener, Jesus, helped me get to the heart of the matter. I began meditating on Proverbs 4:23 and realized there were some roadblocks in my own heart that were preventing healing. God showed me parts of my heart AND my son’s heart that had been neglected. I was sowing seeds (trying to be patient, kind, loving), but the seeds fell on poor soil.
Isn’t it a relief to know that we can talk to the Master Gardener anytime we need to? If you feel stuck or stagnant in an area of life, ask the Master for insight into the situation because He has the answer.
When I allowed God to work on my heart and mend the soil, I began to feel a change from the inside out. Instead of “trying to be patient,” I felt peace. Rather than trying to give my son more attention to curb his outbursts, I felt more joy when we were together. And the Master replaced my feelings of resentment with pure love. Peace, love, and joy— real, lasting fruit of the Spirit began to grow.
What is the condition of your heart? Is it dry and resistant, or well-watered and ready to receive? Ask the Master Gardener to show you what He sees.
In the physical garden, the soil mixture and properties must be high quality to grow beautiful roses and produce much fruit. The same is true for our spiritual gardens-- we must cultivate the heart soil so the Holy Spirit can help us bear much fruit. Laying the right soil can be a humbling and hard process, but when you ask the Master Gardener to show you the way, He will always get to the heart of the matter.
Truth be told, I don’t know very much about the 924 accounts I’m following. But I do know that what or whom we choose to follow can lead us to truth, or the twisting of it. I say “twisting” because sometimes the lies are subtle, and if we don’t recognize lies for what they are, they become intertwined with the truth. That’s when all the “noise” can make us feel overwhelmed and confused.
As Christians, it is imperative that we correctly handle the word of truth. And I think that’s increasingly important in our current culture. We have become a culture obsessed with influence, personality, fame, likes, and follows. It’s natural to want to follow someone whom we admire. Our challenge is to follow the Gospel of Christ versus the gospel of a personality.
Our ultimate goal should be to become more like Christ— not someone else. In Malachi chapter 2, we read that “the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge.” If we are following messengers of the Lord to instruct us, we also need to be rightly dividing the knowledge they profess. Is it in line with God’s truth? Do they preach the gospel, or push their personality? 2 Timothy 2:15 requires me to periodically take stock of what I’m following, because after all, I feed on what I follow.
I enjoy following encouraging and beautiful accounts on Instagram, and social media can be a helpful resource when used with caution. But I also know how easy it is to “follow” without following through to vet the sources that influence us. Let’s challenge ourselves to hold the modern day Priests to the standard of God’s truth. Ask God to give you discernment when you read a post or comment about Him and His word.
Even in “happy places,” we need to be on the lookout for twisting of half-truths. Make it a point this week to pray about the feeds you follow, and ask God to fill your heart and mind with His truth.
When I was in middle school, my mom bought me a decorative ceramic cross with Jeremiah 29:11 written in the center. Throughout high school and even college, the scripture verse became a source of comfort in the face of many unknowns. “God knows the plans for my life, so I don’t have to worry,” I reassured myself whenever I had a hard day. That cross hung in my room until I moved out of my parents’ house. When I left home I made sure to pack the colorful keepsake as a reminder of God’s promise for my future.
Jeremiah 29 is a message to the Exiles about their future in Babylon and beyond. Jeremiah tells them to build houses, marry, have children, and seek peace and prosperity in Babylon until they are restored to their homeland in 70 years. They are not just given the promise of restoration— they are given instructions on how to live as exiled people in Babylon.
In Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Jeremiah 29, he explains, “Promises are given, not to supersede, but to quicken and encourage prayer: and when deliverance is coming we must by prayer go forth to meet it.” The promise for a hope and a future shouldn’t make us content, it should quicken us to seek God. The promise of Jeremiah 29:11 is a call to action rather than just a sentimental verse about our bright future. When we read beyond Jeremiah 29:11, we see another promise in verses twelve and thirteen: When we pray, He listens. When we look for Him wholeheartedly, we will find Him.
Here’s a prayer I’ve been praying in the troublesome days of our world. “Stir up my faith, God.”
We know the ultimate promise of God as believers is salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord. The Bible says “all creation is groaning,” as we patiently await the second coming of our King. In our quest to follow God and know Him on a deeper level, it behooves us to read beyond the more familiar verses that have always brought us comfort and hope. Cling to the hope we find in Christ, but let that great hope also stir up our faith and prompt us to pray.
Recently I hung up that very same cross in my 4-year-old daughter’s room. When I hammered the nail to display the colorful keepsake, I couldn’t help but feel sentimental. The promise that gave me hope is now a display of hope for the next generation. When I read the passage that brought me hope for the future, now it beckons me to pray...
Stir up our faith, oh God! May your promises prompt us to seek your face.
After reminding them of God’s provision and protection, Joshua charges them with this decision: “Choose today whom you will serve.”
This choice is the same God asks us to make. The truth is this isn’t a one-and-done decision— it’s a choice Christ-followers must make every single day.
I’ll admit there are times when I don’t feel very wholehearted about serving God. As a mom, many days I am just trying to make it to bedtime. I know that I can come back to a place of renewal with God anytime, but I’ve also learned that if too many half-hearted days go by I start to feel distant from God. When I am overwhelmed I tend to hide parts of myself from Him. Instead of giving my whole self, I only give a little. I pull away from prayer and reading my Bible.
Maybe, just maybe, you’re finding yourself in a similar place today. Have you, too, ever grown weary of following wholeheartedly?
In these times, how can we continue to serve the Lord and pursue a deeper relationship with Him?
Buried within Joshua 24 is some insight to this problem. The setting for God’s covenant renewal with His people is a city called Shechem, which translates to “shoulder” in the Hebrew language. What a beautiful picture I get when I think about leaning on the shoulders of the loving Father. He is the One who gives us victories and vineyards.
Remembering that He is the One who shoulders the weight fills me with strength to serve Him wholeheartedly. Remembering that He pursued me first fills me with passion to run after Him relentlessly.
Trying harder didn’t work for the Israelites— it won’t work for us either. The more we choose to open our whole hearts to His love, the more we will serve Him wholeheartedly. Today, find a quiet place and remind yourself of the victories and vineyards God has provided. Allow His love to nourish your soul, and respond by choosing Him, again.