Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Two Patches of Earth

I have these two lovely hydrangeas with beautiful puffs of lilac blue blossoms on which the butterflies dance and I have a pot of lily of the valley all of which are awaiting a garden patch shaded from the burning rays of the Georgia sun. My problem is I don't have a shade garden prepared for them. The sunny patches have been prepared--their soil turned, the weeds removed. But the shaded areas are so overgrown with wild plants, saw briers, and rocks that I can't even turn the soil let alone place a plant and watch it grow. Two gardens, one prepared and the other not ready. The book of Titus offers a great deal of comparisons between the healthy soul and the unhealthy--the spirit who has heeded healthy, sound teaching and the one who has not yet absorbed truth into their inner being. Here are two lists--as you read, will you as I am, ask God to reveal which of these things may be growing in the garden of your soul. Just take a moment before you read these to genuinely invite the Holy Spirit to show you how these words of truth might relate to your own life. He is faithful to honor those kinds of requests. First List Slave of God Apostle of Jesus Christ chosen ones sons in the common faith blameless faithful children not arrogant not prone to anger not a drunkard not violent not greedy for gain hospitable devoted to what is good sensible upright devout self-controlled hold firmly to the faithful message of truth give exhortation in healthy teaching correct those who speak against truth healthy in the faith not pay attention to myths or people who reject the truth communicating behavior that goes with sound teaching temperate dignified self-controlled sound in faith in love in endurance behavior that is holy not slandering not slaves to excessive drinking teaching what is good love husbands love children self-controlled pure fulfilling duties at home kind being subject to husbands self-controlled examples of good works in every way in teaching shows integrity dignity sound message subject to masters not talking back not pilfering showing all good faith bring credit to teaching of God in everything rejecting godless ways and worldly desires live self-controlled upright godly subject to rulers and authorities obedient ready for every good work not slander anyone peaceable gentle showing courtesy to all people heirs with expectation of eternal life insist on truth intent on engaging in good works engage in good works meet pressing needs Second List chargeable with dissipation chargeable with rebellion arrogant prone to anger drunkard violent greedy for gain rebellious idle talker deceiver misleading people teach for dishonest gain reject the truth listen to myths minds and consciences are corrupted profess to know God, but deeds deny him detestable disobedient unfit for any good deed godless ways worldly desires lawless slander foolish disobedient misled enslaved to various passions enslaved to various desires spending life on evil and envy hateful hating one another involved in foolish controversies quarrels fights about the law divisive twisted by sin conscious of their twisted nature unfruitful The things on these lists are not necessarily going to describe all of us. In fact most of us will probably discover there are some things from both lists in our lives--we're works in progress--straining toward what is ahead. But so often we accept status quo. We assume that if there is some good fruit, it's good enough. If we are relatively moral and decent than we are miles ahead of the other people in the world. And the thing is--that's not why Jesus died. "He gave himself for us to set us free from every kind of lawlessness and to purify for himself a people who are truly his, who are eager to do good." (Titus 2:14) Truly His. Are you? Am I? Am I identifiable as a daughter of Jesus Christ? Or do I "profess to know God but with my deeds, I deny him..." (Titus 1:16) No matter where we find ourselves today I want to end reminding us all that "It is God who works in your both to will and to do His good pleasure." (Phillipians 2:13) It's so tempting to think we need to get out to our gardens and start pulling weeds and tossing rocks. But my squash plants have not once used their tendrils to pull the crab grass that insists on sprouting beside them. They've patiently waited for me to pull them. Likewise my friends if you are reading this post, God is already at work in the garden of you spirit--all you need to do is allow Him to work and respond in agreement. We are the branches, not the gardeners. Pray with me: Father help us to yield to your revealing truth. Help us to see who we are and agree with you. Help us not to strive but to surrender to Your hand at work in our lives. May we be truly yours. Amen.

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