A Well-Watered Garden Makes For a Well-Prepared Evangelist

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We have a small garden in the front of our house. It’s nothing extraordinary, but it’s special to us. Like any garden, we have weeds that often sprout up, and they spread very quickly. We’re constantly having to maintain it. I started thinking recently…

Our hearts are much like gardens. Before Christ redeemed us, they were so darkened that nothing good could grow. We had no light. Our soil was bad. The only thing that sprouted from our garden was sinfulness – anger, pride, lust, selfishness, etc.

The same God who once spoke to a formless world, “Let there be light” spoke again to a lifeless soul and shined His light into our hearts, raising us from the dead! We have great soil anchored on the Rock of Christ, and we have brilliant light since we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Now we may bear fruit! Jesus said, “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” (John 15:8)

The thing about gardening is that it takes work on our part. Fruit doesn’t just appear. One of the things we need to do daily is remove the weeds of sin from our lives. They will grow rapidly and spread all over destroying the good fruit we might have yielded. This is why Paul said, “Put to death what is earthly in you” and then proceeded to give a “hit list” of different sins we need to kill. (Colossians 3) It’s important to note that you must pull weeds out by their root or they will grow back quickly. We must not merely deal with sin at a surface level (managing it); we must destroy it! Pluck it out. Rid yourself of it. Put it to death or it will put you to death! Jesus said, “And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.” (Matthew 5:30) That is far deeper than managing sin; it is killing sin.

Gardening also requires daily watering. We need to be watered by the Word of God every single day. His Word nurtures our soul and grows us into the image of Christ. As we make His Word our meditation and our great delight, we will be like a tree planted by streams of water which yields its fruit in season, and its leaf does not wither. (Psalm 1:3) Peter said, “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.” (1 Peter 2:2-3)

We must cultivate the garden of our hearts so that we may give to God the fruit He is worthy of. Solomon said, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” (Proverbs 4:23) Just as a gardener keeps his garden with all vigilance, protecting it from weeds, pests, and malnutrition, so we must also guard our hearts and ensure they are nourished with Christ, and protected from spiritual pests.

From our heart flows our words, actions, thoughts, and the motivations behind the things we say and do. 

A well-watered garden makes for a well-prepared evangelist. When we tend to our hearts – ridding ourselves of sin, watering our souls with the Word, growing closer to the Lord  we will be more sensitive to the Holy Spirit and more tender to His compassion for the lost. We will also have a greater sense of urgency with which we carry the Gospel into the world. As Paul spoke of being Christ’s ambassadors, he made this distinction, “For the love of Christ compels us..” (2 Corinthians 5:14) If our garden is not tended to, the love of Christ will be waning. We must be compeled by the love of Christ as we fulfill His Great Commission.

May our gardens blossom and bear rich fruit for all the grace that has been poured into it!

 

Allison and the Orlando Shooting

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While waiting to be seated at a restaurant this afternoon, I started talking with our hostess Allison about her day. She immediately mentioned how awful it was hearing about the mass shooting in Orlando last night that killed 50 people and wounded many others. I told her I was very saddened by it as well, and then handed her a Gospel tract mentioning it was a card that contained life-changing information.

I said to her, “If you were to talk with any of the guests seated in this restaurant right now about where they’re going when they die, I’d be willing to bet that most of them would tell you they’re going to Heaven because they’re good people. Sadly, this is not the case. The Bible shows us that no one is good from God’s perspective. He sees us in truth. When we compare ourselves with the Orlando terrorist, we appear good; we don’t shoot people. When we compare ourselves with rapists, we’re great; we don’t rape. However, God will not judge us compared to other people; He will judge us compared to Himself. He is the standard of righteousness, and we fall short. Very much so. We have all sinned and turned our backs on God to do our own thing.”

Looking very surprised, she said to me, “That’s crazy! I’m that person! I’ve always considered myself a good person and I’ve always thought that God would forgive me based on my good works.”

I started to go through some of the Ten Commandments to help her understand the nature of her sin, “We’ve all lied to people and taken things that don’t belong to us. We’ve taken the name of God and used it flippantly, or even as a curse word in moments of anger. In fact, Jesus told us that when we hate one another, we commit murder in our hearts. Likewise, when we lust after someone we’re not married to, we commit adultery in our hearts. Nothing is hidden from God’s sight, and that is terrifying for us when we are covered in sin. If God simply swept our sins under the rug as if they weren’t a big deal, He would be corrupt and unjust. But God is perfectly holy and perfectly just. Because He loves you, God went on a rescue mission to save you from your sins and grant you everlasting life. The only way He could do this without compromising His holy character was by becoming one of us, a human being, and being punished in our place. Jesus, fully God and fully man, lived a life of no sin. This perfect, spotless Lamb of God was mocked and mutilated and nailed to a tree that He Himself created. He was spit on and humiliated. While He painfully hung on the cross, God the Father poured out His fierce anger toward sin on His very own Son and crushed Him. Jesus paid for your sins with His own blood shed on the cross. This is why you can never work your way to Heaven. Jesus paid your debt by His sacrifice, not by your good works. Three days after He died, Jesus rose from the dead proving that He is God. After showing Himself to over 500 people, He ascended to the right hand of His Father. He now offers you forgiveness of your sins, but you must recieve this gift. Jesus commands you to turn from your sin to Him, placing your complete trust not in your good works, but in the work that He did on the cross.”

Alison listened intently the entire conversation and then said to me, “Thank you so much for sharing this with me. It’s perfect timing! I’ve never been open to these things until recently. My mom is battling stage 4 colon cancer right now and it has caused me to feel so helpless and hopeless, but I’ve started to read the Bible and pray lately, and now you’re sharing this with me!”

I would never have known these things about Allison if I hadn’t spoken with her. So many people are struggling with the issues of life and eternity. They aren’t ready to take their final breath, but it will come upon them suddenly just as it did for 50 people last night in Orlando. The Lord has commissioned us to preach His Gospel of salvation to all the world. He desires to use us in people’s lives, but we must open our mouths.

The Gospel shared with a shaking voice of fear is infinitely better than the Gospel not shared at all.