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.
The Acts of the apostles were acts of obedience in the midst of uncertainty. Since we know the endings of these famous followers’ stories, we can forget it wasn’t easy for them to trust God in the middle. Peter wasn’t a “yes man”; in fact, he had a bad habit of arguing with Jesus.
“No, you’ll never wash my feet,”
“I’ll never let that happen to you,”
“I’ll never deny you,” and
“I’ll never eat that”
These were just a few of his headstrong responses to Jesus’ directions. Yet by Acts 12, we find him wholly obedient despite being half awake. Each experience taught him that however unclear the reason for the request is, saying yes to Jesus is always worth it.
I’m so glad we said yes before we understood how or why. Ours is a God who reveals Himself gradually. He builds our faith by requesting obedience before offering an explanation or guaranteeing an outcome. This method requires trust and a closeness that ushers us into a deeper relationship with Him.
In hindsight, Peter could tell you that abandoning his religious traditions was worth learning the truth of God’s heart for all people, and that he’s glad he formed a habit of obedience so strong that he could do it in his sleep. In my own story, I can tell you that God moved us here because there was a non-profit organization He planned to start through us, as well as providing an amazing church family we didn’t even know we needed— and a level of trusting I didn’t realize was possible. But two years ago, the only reason to say yes was because He asked us to. And that was enough because He is trustworthy.
I’m convinced people with great faith don’t understand God’s plan better than anyone else, they’ve just learned that understanding isn’t a prerequisite to walking it out. If we wait to move until everything makes sense, we’ll never do anything.
We walk by faith, not by hindsight.
If we wait until the fog lifts, we’ll miss the growth that comes from clinging to the hand of the One who sees past it. Tomorrow we’ll have hindsight; today we have His hand. And that’s enough and infinitely better.
As hesitant as I am to admit, this charge from the Lord scared the living daylights out of me. After we had had time to process what the Lord had spoken to us, I couldn’t help but ponder on the instrumental role that Ananias had played in Paul's story.
Acts 9 tells us that Saul had been persecuting Jews, killing them, and doing so in the name of the Lord. However, the Lord intervened and spoke to Saul on his way to Damascus. He convicted him of the persecution of His people and, leaving him blind, instructed him to enter Damascus. There, the Lord spoke to Ananias regarding Saul. Ananias was a man that, before that day, Saul would have persecuted and killed had he had the chance. The Lord instructed Ananias to go and to lay hands on Saul, restoring his sight so that the Lord could use him to proclaim His very name to the Gentiles.
Ananias protested at first, and secretly, I’m pleased that he did! After all, Saul was responsible for the deaths of many who shared his own prerogative. Yet, Ananias was steadfast, and obedient to the charge of the Lord. Because of his obedience, another was saved — Saul, who would become Paul. Ananias took hold of what the Lord instructed him, and a movement was set into motion. The works of the Kingdom followed swiftly as Saul took on a new purpose.
With great obedience comes great reward, not just for ourselves, but for those around us. I was reminded that to walk into the proclamation the Lord had spoken over us, would mean that so many others would come to know our Savior as we did.
Is there something God has asked you to do, but you’re frozen in fear today? Maybe it’s changing your career, starting a ministry, or sacrificing part of your weekend to help someone in need.
Jesus is inviting us to take part in His great mission. We will never know how much hangs in the balance of our obedience (or lack thereof). Imagine if Ananias had responded to the Lord with “no.”
If we, as His disciples, remain obedient and ready ourselves, how much more can be done for the Kingdom? Let’s set our minds on obedience to Christ’s mission to “go and make disciples of all nations”. The benefit to our brothers and sisters in Christ, as well as the Kingdom, is endless.
I imagine Jesus’ disciples felt the same kind of grief. They had spent three years doing life with Jesus, and ministering with Him… now He laid in a grave. They mourned his death, their hopes for the promised kingdom dashed. Jesus was supposed to conquer death— now he was given over to it. It wasn’t supposed to be this way.
Three days later, Mary and the disciples were slow to believe they were in Jesus’ presence. They were slow to believe that he lived again; slow to turn their mourning to rejoicing.
Upon seeing Mary and the disciples, Jesus does not admonish them or ask them, “Why are you crying?” Instead, He says, “Peace be with you!” Friends, we are not called to stifle our cries of pain and suffering. Death and sickness still hurt. Jesus knew he would raise his friend Lazarus, yet he still wept over him. Jesus knew that his own death was part of God’s plan, and yet he asked for another way. Jesus knew his death was not the end and that he would rise, yet He felt forsaken.
The disciples found peace and joy in their grieving because Jesus was alive— he conquered death as He said He would. We can weep over this world and the tragedies that come with it, and still have hope because of this same truth. We can bring our hurt and sorrow to an empathetic savior who has endured suffering. Because Jesus rose from the dead, we can have hope in the midst of our pain. We can have peace even in the darkest of places.
Are you sitting in darkness? Do you find yourself wondering why God has forsaken you? Is your soul shouting, “It isn’t supposed to be this way!”?
Peace be with you, friend.
He has overcome. He has conquered the grave and is bringing light to the dark.
My baby left me and entered into the arms of Jesus. This truth has made me more aware of the reality of heaven. Though I mourn, it is not without hope. Jesus lives. I will worship at his feet, and I will see my baby again.
Life may not look the way it is supposed to right now, but friend, we have not been forsaken. We are not alone in our grief. Good news and hope and peace are waiting for us. Jesus endured pain and death, to take away our own. He has overcome.
When God tore the curtain, He ripped through every social circle layer and hierarchy of people preference, leaving nothing but complete access to Himself to everyone who believes. And He doesn’t just allow us to come close because He’s nice and feels sorry for us. Before you were born, God intentionally carved out a place not just near Him, but in Him, and He in you. He has the scars to prove it.
Did you notice that on Jesus’ last day on earth He surrounded Himself with previously distant people? You’d expect the needs of His darkest hours to be met by His best friends and family, but on the road to the cross, it was a complete stranger, not Peter, who helped Him carry it. And as He hung there, a criminal, not James or John, would be by His side, sharing His last conversation and encouraging Him with his last-minute faith. And it wasn’t his family who carefully took His body down and buried it. That role was filled by two men He’d once called whitewashed tombs themselves.
He didn’t allow these people to draw near and touch Him just because they happened to be around. Those interactions were planned since the beginning of time. Isaiah 53 prophesied that Jesus would die with the wicked and be buried with the rich. He loved that criminal and those rich, religiously elite men. He allowed distant people to minister to Him because He wanted them close. He didn’t want fear, guilt, shame, or pride to keep them from drawing near. He gave them their strength, words, spices, and tomb so they could come close enough to hand them back to Him.
The same is true for us. We’ve been entrusted with the resources and gifts we have on purpose and were chosen to live in this time on purpose. You are essential to the body of Christ. There’s a place for you. Not on the street admiring from afar, but in a seat next to Him.
This is the good news. Jesus doesn’t have an “inner circle only” policy because He only has an inner circle. He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever. And since He paid what it cost to demolish the barriers between Himself and every human heart 2,000 years ago, He doesn’t want anything to keep you from Him today.
If you’ve been allowing other people’s gifts and abilities to intimidate you and paralyze you in fear, recognize that their proximity to Him doesn’t exclude you. He’s made you worthy and wants you close, so pull up your seat at His table.