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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Grin and Grow with Kathy 08/21/19

Gardening to Transform

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STORY: How Does Your Garden Grow?

August in Texas is notorious for being a scorcher, making flower gardens wilt or worse, die. So you can imagine our delight when we see buds and blossoms blooming! One way I keep a focus on the positive is to capture these beauties with my camera as a reminder that even when life heats up, beauty abounds.

It takes a lot to have pretty flowers in our yard. We have the worst soil, the worst weather, rocks, roots, cypress knees, you name it! Then there are the squirrels whose sole mission seems to be stealing our blooms right at the peak of their splendor. These furry robbers jump up, snatch the blossom, and run off, separating the bloom petal by petal, not even eating their booty. They leave them decimated in a pile, a reminder of their former glory.

Mom adopts $1 plants from a big box store and nurses them back to health. It’s amazing to see the transformation!

We see Jesus using gardening terms to teach spiritual truths several times in the gospels. Let’s look at two of these parables.

STUDY: Jesus Grows a Garden

Parable of the Farmer Scattering the Seed

One day Jesus told a story in the form of a parable to a large crowd that had gathered from many towns to hear him: “A farmer went out to plant his seed. As he scattered it across his field, some seed fell on a footpath, where it was stepped on, and the birds ate it. Other seed fell among rocks. It began to grow, but the plant soon wilted and died for lack of moisture. Other seed fell among thorns that grew up with it and choked out the tender plants. Still other seed fell on fertile soil. This seed grew and produced a crop that was a hundred times as much as had been planted!” When he had said this, he called out, “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.” His disciples asked him what this parable meant. He replied, “You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of God. But I use parables to teach the others so that the Scriptures might be fulfilled: ‘When they look, they won’t really see. When they hear, they won’t understand.’ “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is God’s word. The seeds that fell on the footpath represent those who hear the message, only to have the devil come and take it away from their hearts and prevent them from believing and being saved. The seeds on the rocky soil represent those who hear the message and receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they believe for a while, then they fall away when they face temptation. The seeds that fell among the thorns represent those who hear the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity. And the seeds that fell on the good soil represent honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest. (Luke 8:4-15 NLT)

  • Read this passage from Luke in a different translation or paraphrase of the Bible, to gain additional insight. What questions still come up in your mind as you read this Scripture?
  • Jesus used this parable to explain some of the different responses to hearing the gospel.
  • Who is the sower/farmer?
  • What is the seed?
  • What does the hard ground represent?
  • What does the stony ground represent?
  • What does the thorny ground represent?
  • What does the good soil represent?
  • The state of your heart is an important part of the salvation and growth process. What is your takeaway from this parable?

Parable of the Mustard Seed

Here is another illustration Jesus used: 

“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.” (Matthew 13: 31-32 NLT)
  • Note that the other times in Scripture the mustard seed is used, it is used as an example of faith. (Matthew 17:20, Luke 17:6)
  • God can make big things from small beginnings. Recall a time in your life when something almost insignificant in your life story became part of your testimony. How did God use it to make a difference for the Kingdom?
  • God’s power can take something small and grow it into his intended outcome. He can also take something that seems irreversible (a soul going down the wrong path) and transform it into an amazing story for his glory. Just like Mom can adopt a $1 clearance plant and transform it from dying to thriving, God’s presence in a life can take it from failing to flourishing.

STEPS: Personal Growth

  1. Remove the rocks. What needs to be removed from your life?
  2. Till good additives into the soil. What needs to be added to your life?
  3. Plant the seeds. What spiritual seeds make up your garden?
  4. Water the plants. Water is often a symbol of the Holy Spirit and of new life. What will you do to nourish your soul?
  5. Get a good balance of sun and shade. What form of activity and what form rest will you add to your week?
  6. Pull out intruding weeds. What is threatening to choke out your productivity?
  7. Wait for God to turn the work into beauty. What does God want you to wait on right now?

After all of this remember that it is God who makes us grow. He is at the center of the process.

I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow.  It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. (1 Corinthians 3:6-7 NLT)

Copyright © 2019 Kathy Carlton Willis, used with permission.

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