Tending the Garden

Isaiah 37:31-“Once more a remnant of the Kingdom of Judah will take root below and bear fruit above.”

Before we can grow to have the abundant life that Christ has for us and experience our full potential in Christ, we must become planted in a church family so that our faith will become strong (Hebrews 10:25, John 10:10, Ephesians 4:11,12).

I don’t know if you’ve ever done any gardening but growing up as a boy it was one of the chores my father insisted that I do. So, I can tell you from experience that it is time-consuming, hard work, and one of my least favorite things to do. But for us to grow up spiritually and bear fruit of righteousness it is going to take the work of tending to the garden of our hearts.

Satan would love nothing more than to stunt your growth by getting into your root system. Hebrews 12:15 warns us, “not to fall short of the grace of God so that no root of bitterness grows up and defile you and many.” In this life, we will have countless opportunities to become offended and bitter. You can count on it – somebody will hurt you. Disappointments will occur. Some injustice will happen to you. At these moments you’ll have to decide to get BETTER or get BITTER. Satan doesn’t decide how we respond – we do!! It’s in those moments that we come face-to-face with who we are and who we will become. And just like the tribe of Judah whatever is in us will come to the surface. It’s only natural to become wounded when someone does something that hurts us. But through the grace of God, we can be supernatural people that live as Jesus lived. Jesus gives us instruction and warning in Matthew 6:14,15- “IF you forgive others when they sin against you (offend you), THEN your heavenly Father will forgive you. IF you do not forgive others of their sins, your Father WILL NOT forgive your sins.” Did you hear that? You can go to church every Sunday and pray every day but if you are living in offense, God doesn’t hear your prayers or forgive your sins until you forgive someone of how they’ve hurt you. By not forgiving others of their offense we are not hurting them. We are retaining their sin – which hurts us. The root of bitterness begins from not forgiving someone of an offense. The longer the unforgiveness goes the deeper the root goes into our hearts. Until it eventually becomes a stronghold. The Apostle Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 10:4- “The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to uproot strongholds.” God has given us weapons and if we will use them when we are hurt and offended, they will keep us from staying hurt and getting bitter. But when we chose to not forgive, the door to our heart remains open for a root of bitterness to form – which will eventually become a stronghold. A stronghold simply means that something has a stronger hold on you than God.

You must decide to get BETTER or get BITTER.

We can choose to get better (and not bitter) by using the weapons of warfare. The first weapon against offense is forgiveness. You must choose to not be offendable. I have survived 32 years of ministry with people getting mad at me, betraying me, rejecting me and even cursing me because I have decided to be like a duck. You must let all offense roll off you like water on a duck’s back. Forgive, Forgive, Forgive! To be like Jesus you must forgive like Jesus! Whatever it is that you might be facing, decide to GROW through it, get better, not bitter. We have the same weapons as the tribe of Judah. Judah means praise. Be intentional about praising God, especially through the hurt. No matter what’s been done or said, God is bigger and greater. If you will decide to praise God instead of being offended, God will work it out for your good (Romans 8:28). By forgiving and praising God you will prevent evil strongholds from taking root in your heart and God will reward you. Then you will grow stronger and get better. Reject bitterness, envy, and strife from taking root in your heart by being a “praiser”.  Let roots of Christlikeness go deep by REJOICING in FAITH and FORGIVING in LOVE.

To be like Jesus you must forgive like Jesus.

My prayer for you today is that through every trial and test you will rejoice instead of complain so that you will become better and stronger.

Pointing People to Jesus,

Rocky Byers

“On Earth as it is in Heaven!”