Sunday 15 February 2015
This is the third Sunday in the Family Month. We will be looking at our lives as gardens and areas we need to break up our fallow grounds. I want to believe God that your gardens will be better, healthier, more enriched at the end of this month than when we first began. Amen.
Hos ea10:12-13 (NKJV) “Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord, till he comes and rains righteousness on you. Verse 13. You have planted wickedness; you have reaped iniquity. You have eaten the fruit of lies, because you trusted in your own way, in the multitude of your mighty men”.
Fallow means hard ground, unplowed ground, ground that has not been sown on- maybe it was once cultivated but now neglected. Breaking it up means to plow on it again; to turn the soil over and make it soft for planting.
From our text, we can plant righteousness. You can sow wickedness. You can sow mercy, you can sow the fear of the Lord. They are all fruit bearing seeds and you get to choose which ones to plant. A wise man said: “You reap the exact same type of what you sowed. You reap more than you sowed. You reap later than you sow”. This calls for wisdom.
Proverbs 5:5-7 (NKJV) “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and depart from evil”.
You are God’s garden. Even if you are single, your life is still God’s garden. If you are married, the Garden is the family unit you plant together with your spouse under God. Therefore, God is interested in us as individuals and also in the family units we belong to.
God is interested in the quality of your life, the quality of His garden. We as God’s people must become interested in quality. The quality of our character, quality of choices we make, quality of the actions we take, quality of our attitudes etc. (Character means the moral or ethical quality of someone; the sum/ addition of traits and features that form the individual’s nature). Integrity, honesty, self control/ discipline, courage to say ‘no’ when it is required, loyalty, faithfulness, goodness, kindness are character qualities that you expect to see in God’s garden.
Quality of character does not just happen. “Strong characters need strong nourishment” (Stendal 1822). Quality is hard work. Quality is purposeful i.e. You have to want it so much that you will give it all it takes. Quality is not a destination. You work towards achieving quality and then work at maintaining it. Quality is rewarding because it sets you apart. Quality will distinguish you from others.
– If we want quality gardens, we need to prune. Prune means to cut off superfluous, undesired twigs, branches or roots. It means to trim off or remove anything considered as undesirable.
Who does the trimming? Who knows what is not desirable? The gardener who is paying attention to details and takes time to continuously check on and examine his garden.
– If we want quality gardens, we need to add manure. Manure enriches the soil and adds nourishment that the plants need to grow better.
– If we want quality gardens, we need discipline. Discipline comes from the same root word as disciple. It means to train to act in accordance with rules. It means to bring to a state of order and obedience by training and control. Obedience and discipline go hand in hand.
There is a time to drink milk. But there is a time to be weaned from milk and to eat solid food. Hebrews 5:13-14 (NIV) “Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil”.
The kingdom at this time needs more people to come into maturity, people who by reason of exercise have trained themselves to distinguish between good and evil, the right and wrong. Are you training and instructing your family with maturity (righteousness) in view? Or are we feeding them with milk only (convenience)? What we feed our garden will determine the quality.
Let us tend our gardens knowing that there is a cycle to life: the seeds will grow, mature and bear fruits themselves. A wise gardener knows the seasons (when to give milk and when to give solid food/ strong meat and discipline) and then optimizes the opportunities in each season.
We need to know that as we hold a seed in our hands, inside the seed is the tree and the fruit that the tree will bear. (Genesis 1:29). When God looks at a person, He sees the seed, the tree and the fruit- generations.
Genesis 18:17-19 (NIV)
Then the Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he promised him.”
God looked at Abraham and saw generations of quality-minded people who would be a blessing on the earth. God knew Abraham would instruct/ teach/ direct/ command his generations after him to keep the way of the Lord. Abraham will set the pace and make them follow after him to display qualities that set them apart as God’s garden. God has chosen you. Do not delegate your ‘gardener role’ to someone else.
God thinks generational, We need to think generational too. Is your garden planned to accommodate your generations? Myles Munroe has said ‘the quality of your parenting will be measured by the lives, values, attitude, behaviour, choices of your children, their children and children’s children after them’. Our decisions today will affect our generations.
When you look at yourself or look at your family what do you see? Do you see and think “Today” only (the seed) or do you see “Tomorrow” also (the tree in the seed and the fruits on the tree)? Do you see that far? God is saying to us: begin to look beyond yourself. Look far ahead and be purposeful about your gardening.
I noticed that the seeds are not all the same. It is okay for your garden to be different from the garden of others – in a godly way. God creates masterpieces everyday, one-of-a-kind people, different species of animals and plants. Your finger prints are one-of-a-kind among the more than seven billion people on earth. Each snow flake that falls is different. Imagine how many snowflakes fall to make up the carpet of snow we see as a white sheet covering streets and cars! Did you know that each one is uniquely different? Each one is one-of-a-kind. What is unique or different about your own garden? Have you taken time to look for your uniqueness? What do you want your generations to be known for? What qualities do you want to be associated with your family line? It starts today – by your purposeful gardening and choices. You can work with God to create a masterpiece garden.
The story of the Rechabite family is told in Jeremiah 35:1-17 (NIV). We will read a few verses:
Verse 2: Go to the Rechabite family and invite them to come to one of the side rooms of the house of the Lord and give them wine to drink. Verse 5-8: then I set bowls full of wine and some cups before the men of the Rechabite family and said to them “Drink some wine”. But they replied, “We do not drink wine, because our forefather Jonadab son of Recab gave us this command: “Neither you nor your descendants must ever drink wine. Also you must never build houses, sow seed or plant vineyards; you must never have any of these things, but must always live in tents. Then you will live a long time in the land where you are nomads. We have obeyed everything our forefather Jonadab commanded us. Neither we nor our wives nor our sons and daughters have drunk wine …. Verse 13-14: This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel says: Go and tell the men of Judah and the people of Jerusalem, “Will you not learn a lesson and obey my words?” declares the Lord. Jonadab son of Recab ordered his sons not to drink wine and this command has been kept. To this day, they do not drink wine, because they obey their forefather’s command ….. Verse 16: the descendants of Jonadab son of Recab have carried out the command their forefather gave them but these people have not obeyed me’.
No proper farmer plants without an expectation of the harvest. No gardener plants/ tends a garden without an expectation. No gardener puts in time, money, effort, attention, emotions etc into his garden without any expectation of a positive outcome.
God planted a garden in Eden and put man there to tend it. God had expectations. Have you planted a garden? Are you tending it? Are you investing in your garden? What are your expectations about your garden? Are your actions today going to bring about those expectations? There will be a reward. I pray that your own expectations shall not be cut off! In all labour there is profit. May we receive a good reward for our labour.
So many gardens need more attention. Some gardens may require intensive care. Please do not be a ‘careless owner’. Let us take a look into your own garden. What can you see? May God give us eyes that see well.
– Some gardens are so dry. The plants in them are wilting. Some are already scorched. Please water your garden and let the watering start today. Shower it with love, water it with affirmation, compliments, affection and tender care. Apply faith and hope to it as manure.
– Some gardens need pruning. Please look into your garden and look for those plants that require pruning. You need to prune so that the plants can be more fruitful. Pruning may not be a very pleasant experience for the plants but the end is that there is more fruit. Your garden will look more beautiful when you prune.
– Some gardens look so well kept. Well watered plants. Colourful! Beautiful! Delightful! It has been hard work. Please do not rest on your oars. Keep up the good work!
– Some gardens are overgrown with weeds, shrubs and trees we did not plant. Whilst we slept, an enemy sowed the tares. It is not too late to start uprooting the unwanted plants. It would have been better if you did it yesterday but yesterday is gone. You still have today. Let us start today. Pay more attention to your gardens and put them in order. The Master gardener is very interested in your own garden.