The complexities of an amoeba at microscopic view. It says something of the magnitude of life created. Existence. Generated by a holy God. Taking shape everyday. The mysteries of a galaxy in telescopic view. It shows something of the fortitude of what lingers beyond the atmosphere. Infinity. Sustained by a living God.
He is a living God. Who creates life from His own Spirit.
Terrestrial life once began in the Garden. A Garden formed by His hands with nothing tainted. I wanted to be next to you… He says. Walking with you side by side.
“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as He was walking in the garden in the cool of the day…” Genesis 3:8
It’s why I came… God says. To be close to you…
God wants a personal relationship with you. One that is healthy. And vibrant. And pure.
with fluorescent bows
how does a garden
in sunlight ablaze
a flower cascades
to light up the way
We are all en route to somewhere.
In the forest the ivy wraps around the cedars traveling up into the canopy where the stars shine. To see the colors twinkling overhead. Like fireworks brightening up the sky. Everything longs to be where the light is. Where the life is. And life showers from a place beyond where the eyes gaze into the galaxies. There’s a higher majesty. Receive the promised reality of mysteries unveiled for us. From Jesus Christ’s own sparkles pouring down on us.
Sparkling… seeping… into the ground…
“I designed royal gardens and parks,
and I planted all kinds of fruit trees in them.”
In the soil you can see the ecosystem flourishing. Because His oil infused it. He designed it to produce life. A habitat. A bounty. A beauty of foliage, flowers and fruits that cover the earth. Vegetation sprouts naturally. Because it’s roots are healthy.
Are you healthy? Where you’re planted?
You first must be healthy in your own heart before you can impart healthiness to the environment around you.
“My son, give me your heart and let your eyes delight in my ways.” Proverbs 23:26
The environment you plant yourself in will reap the effects of your substance. When Jesus entered the broken world, it felt the effects of His purity entering into impurity. Compelling hearts to change and souls to turn back to the Lord in repentance and devotion. The world felt the effects of His truth restablishing the standards by which life hinges on. Compelling a realignment of hearts to follow His ways and not the society’s nor their own culture’s.
“Delight in My ways…” the Lord says in Proverbs. When you delight in His ways it invigorates the environment you’re in with a pure, potent roots. Roots of healthiness. Roots that generate life and good fruit to spring forth.
God made you to garden.
“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” Genesis 2:15
Jesus trusted Adam with this responsibility of working the garden. This tells us that God wants us to be involved in the cultivation of life He created. How we garden makes a difference. Being faithful to garden honors our God-given purpose.
Soil is an essential ingredient needed for gardening. Before you can work a garden, it needs to have a good foundation of soil for the plants to grow healthily. Knowing that the Garden of Eden was perfect, we know the soil was also perfect. Adam did not need to replace the soil but only to work what was there and take care of it. Thus, maintain it. When you have good soil in place, you can garden productively.
Jesus highlights this importance of good soil as he speaks about spiritual growth in Matthew 13.
“That same day, Jesus went out of the house and sat by the sea.” Matthew 13:1
I love Jesus’ affinity for the nature He created. How He sought rest and solitude in places outdoors, revealing the beauty of creation. It’s while He is sitting by the sea that He begins to talk about the important of good soil. About the importance of the environment you are in. Jesus prioritized placing Himself in environments that gave rest and replenishment while doing ministry everyday in environments that were not as restful.
He acknowledged the root cause of this reality of the earth’s brokenness: Not everyone will receive the words of the Lord. Just as not every seed that falls will grow and flourish.
You need the right foundation for life to grow. The right soil. Without the right soil, seed will not take root and thus not produce what it could have produced. The environment of spiritual growth matters.
Jesus said in Matthew 13:3-13 there are 4 kinds of soil/ground.
“Then He told them many things in parables, saying: “Consider the sower who went out to sow.” Matthew 13:3
Jesus wants us to consider what He is about to say. Pay attention to His words.
When seed fall on these 4 grounds, a particular result follows. Jesus explains what happens when the seeds fall on these 4 different kinds of ground…
- A path. Result: Birds eat it. (verse 4)
- Rocky places where soil is shallow. Result: Fast growth but withered when sun came. No roots. (verse 5-6)
- Thorns. Result: Grew and choked by the thorns. (verse 7)
- Good soil. Result: Produce grain up to 100 fold. (verse 8)
Only one kind of soil generates life. Only one makes good things arise. The others do not.
Jesus teaches this parable on purpose so that He can demolish these bad foundations and incite growth for a healthy one. But only those who truly want Him as Lord will be able to hear it and receive it, and so invite this soil of healthiness into their own heart.
Ground #1. This ground is an impoverished environment. Where love, time and investment is not given. To scatter seed along a path is to sew in haste but to leave and not water. To scatter and not cultivate. Because the path signifies “passing through.” Seed must be nurtured and taken care of over time in order for it to grow. Jesus says how the seed that falls on the ground gets eaten by the birds because it doesn’t seep into the ground to grow. Why doesn’t it seep in to grow? Because it wasn’t tilled by anyone. This is the ground of discontinuity. Where a lack of commitment is present. There exists a disconnection between the intent and the execution of a purpose. Seed is meant to be scattered and then waited upon with patience for it to grow but the one who scatters seed on the path has no intent of remaining faithful to the seed to help it grow. It sews then goes. It is a foundation of seeking truth but never finding it because the journeyman is always “passing through” in how he relates to God but never commits to God.
Ground #2. This ground is an unsustainable environment. Where growth cannot be sustained in longevity. The rocky places signify the ground that is hard and unresponsive, like a hardened heart that does not want to hear God nor follow God. This kind of ground must be softened and tilled in order for any seed to take root. This ground also signifies the allure of new things and impulsivity, but reveals the lack of fruit from it because there is no sustaining of roots. This is the ground of discontentment. The ground of chasing after what’s next in order to feel happy but cannot satisfy because there is no root to grow anything enduring. Nothing lasts very long in this kind of ground. There is a surge of immediate excitement in this kind of ground but then a withering. There is plethora of broken promises found in this kind of ground. It is a foundation of feeling excited about God at first but then losing love and relationship with Him, wandering away from Him altogether.
Ground #3. This ground is a hostile environment. This ground will not submit to God’s authority as Lord. This ground reveals a refusal to be pruned by God, the gardener. When God brings up areas of refinement, this kind of foundation acts defensively instead of with humility and teachability. So there is never any growth or willingness to change. There is a stagnancy and an unhealthy build up of contaminants that have never been purged. And an abundance of weeds and thorns as a result. Thus, the seed cannot grow in this environment because its gets choken by the thorns. These are thorns of bad habits, addictions, pride, heart issues, spiritual immaturity, etc. There is no relationship with God in this kind of ground and there is a resentment towards God for asking this ground to change. This kind of ground damages themselves and the environment around them because of the thorns they are unwilling to prune.
Jesus’ words do not reach growth in grounds #1-3.
Jesus’ salvation does not reach grounds #1-3.
Any kind of ground that rejects the nurturing of God and a love relationship with Jesus Christ is a ground that will never produce anything good.
Ground #4. This is the healthy environment. ground produces fruit exponentially. This ground signifies a healthy environment and a healthy foundation. This foundation is established by the Gardener, because the person allows God to have complete Lordship and jurisdiction over his or her life. The exponential growth is a community-beneficial growth where God blesses the environment because of their presence. This ground is a chain-breaking ground. A healing ground. A life-awakening ground. A saving ground. This ground imparts change where it’s needed and acts in courage to impart Jesus’ beauty, ways, and words. This ground blesses the earth. Thus, God is able to grow beauty in their life and for the lives of those around them. This is a kind of ground that possesses a deep-rooted abounding love relationship with Jesus Christ and they bless everything in their proximity because of it. Their roots are deep within and thus they are strong and enduring in every season. This ground generates life.
Ground #4 is the only ground we see blossom into beauty.
Healthy environments invigorate the Spirit of Life.
But hostile environments kill the Spirit of life. Stay away from those grounds.
God never asks you to stay planted in a hostile environment.
“Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.” Matthew 7:6
Jesus Himself did not remain in a hostile environment. But He did live in it for 33 years. And they took His holiness and trampled all over Him. His death and resurrection led to His ascension into Heaven where He resides until He will return for His people one day… and when He does the hostile environment of earth and demonic places will be devestated forever and for good. So that the New Heaven and New Earth can arise.
Jesus sent Himself into hostile territory not take up residence. But to purge out evil.
When God sends you into hostile territory, the purpose is to rescue and save.
He does not send you there to make a home there. He send you there to change it. To fight for His people! To save the weak and revive the hearts longing for their King.
“Proclaim among the nations: Prepare for war! Rouse the warriors! Let all the fighting men draw near and attack.”
This is a prohecy from Joel in the New Testament foreshadowing the day of reckoning when the Lord shows up a second time. He says get ready! Don’t ignore the evil in the earth I came to slay. The good you crave… it’s only possible war ensues and overtakes the evil so good can reign.
On the day of the Lord all the warriors will slay Satan and evil forever. And this does require war. The only way peace is possible is if there is war fighting for it. To end all wars. And initiate the beginning of Heaven. Jesus came to war against sin and He won. Now we don’t ever have to be enslaved by it because we have a mediator between us and God who covers us by His blood, purging our sin and giving us the blessing of growing into His own likeness.
Like the soljourners en route to Zion, the city of Jerusalem we await the day of the Lord.
Like the pioneers of faith en route to their promised King, we await the day of the Lord.
When ministering to people it’s important to be aware that you will come across people of all four kinds of grounds just as Jesus preached. Know how to share the gospel’s truth without worry of how it will be received. You cannot control someone’s elses response. That is up to God and how He is at work in their heart. But you can control your own heart and surrender yours to the Lord so He can cultivate good soil in you, as ground #4.
“The LORD will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the LORD. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing.” Isaiah 51:3
Our effectiveness as ministers of the gospel is only effective as we are healthy in our own hearts spiritually.
You must be healthy in your own heart before you can impart healthiness to the environments around you. You must be a garden first before you can expect to help another garden theirs.
If you want to show others the hope and love of Jesus, let that hope and love first be invigorated in you… by His Spirit.
The Spirit of life!
“You send forth Your Spirit, they are created;
And You renew the face of the ground.” Psalm 104:20
God can renew the broken grounds! He is still moving in the earth to beckon souls to Him… Every kind of soil… and every kind of soul… is still being wooed by Jesus Christ. May we pray that God will renew the grounds of hearts to be cultivated and ready to receive the love of Jesus.
It’s important to also understand that we cannot force change anywhere.
Guard your heart when in hostile environments. Deception and trickery plants itself in hostile environments. Death and murder prowls around. All kinds of evil fester.
Jesus told the disciples, “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” Matthew 10:16
Don’t ever compromise who you are or what you believe in order to reach a people or a community. If you start to feel your heart and soul being negatively affected by the hostile environment of the mission, it’s time to leave it. Jesus left the earth after they killed Him. He didn’t stay. You don’t have to stay either, when hostile forces try to destroy you. Let God take over and send his next fleet in to carry on and you go where He send you next.
When in places of hostility towards God, Jesus’ presence is your virus and threat protection.
You will not be shaken by the enemy. But God will only use it for good.
“For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign LORD will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations.” Isaiah 61:11
Joseph said to his brothers who tried to kill him years earlier when they came for help “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” Genesis 50:20
God is never outdone by the enemy. His strategy is only advanced. Let the Lord be your shield and your strength and you will see His power at work.
His goodness is your good.
His light is your light.
His Words are Your wisdom.
His ways are your direction.
Seek Jesus and cling to Him… don’t let the turmoil makes you lose heart. In fact, let it encourage you that something spiritual is taking place in the warzone of the spiritual forces. You are making change and that is when it gets the most chaotic. Because God is fighting off demons in places He wants to bring light to.
I’ve learned from experience that in every place I have lived and ministered, it’s what I possess within me that grounds me. That strengthens me. That invigorates me with life and love. Because it’s His Spirit imparted to me.
Paul said as he ministered, “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” Ephesians 3:16-18. Jesus’ love compels us forward.
Jesus’ presence is my healthy environment.
You’re in me
and so I can be
full of love
full of joy
anywhere and everywhere
You’re with me
and so I’ll always be
more of You
Heaven with You
here with You
it’s perfection infused
at peace with You
Jesus’ presence is my constant environment. And no evil can penetrate it. No matter how hard they try. He is the stabilizer. And He is the guide. I love how He leads me and how He stretches me. How He cares for me and leads me on to replenish me. He is a good God. Let Him produce good soil in you. To grow fruit for the benefit of those around you so they can also experience Jesus.
But only 1 produced fruit.
What kind of ground do you want to be?
Jesus invites you to be the healthy ground… He says so here in the passage of Matthew 13.
“Anyone who has ears, let him hear!” Matthew 13:9
Jesus wants you to hear what HE is saying! That there is a presence of evil in the earth and it ruins ground. Only Jesus Himself can cultivate the soil of your heart and grow beauty where there was death. He loves you… and He wants you to flourish if you would let Him be Lord.
Invigoration awaits you.
Of your spirit.
Your inner person. That is where a soul is sustained into infinity. By His Presence. The Spirit of life.
Plant yourself in the environment of Jesus’ presence and thrive forever.
A love relationship with Jesus as King is how your garden grows.
there’s a garden
I’m going to plant
because You planted
and beauty arises
when love approaches
my garden grows
because Your love was sewn
in my soul
“They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.”