Gardens…

Morning all, I hope you all had good weekends. This is the third and last in my series of updates of re-posts over the weekend following on from Mountains and Rivers.

I came to realise, like many others over the lockdown restrictions, that it was such a blessing to have a garden – either a place which is yours, a sanctuary to enjoy and take pleasure from or a communal garden.    A place to reflect, enjoy the beauty of nature and time to relax.    Gardens draw us in and make us feel better – they are food indeed for the soul.   There is something in our DNA which draws us to a garden – even if we are not green fingered ourselves – we can appreciate the beauty. This is me with my dog peeking through a floral display in the park.

It got me thinking about gardens in the bible.

God was the first Gardener:

Genesis 2 v 8  “the Lord God planted a garden“- the Garden of Eden.    How amazing and beautiful that first garden must have been, planted and designed by God’s own hand.   It says that every tree planted was “pleasant for the sight” and “good for food“. God made that garden especially for Adam and Eve.   He took the time to create a special place for them.   A place of nourishment and also a place to meet for fellowship.    God would walk in the garden in the cool of the day and meet with Adam and Eve – a special time of relationship.  

I love that as Christians there is also a special place for each one of us – a place where we can go and meet with God – a place to be in His presence.

Life was in that very first Garden:

Life was formed there in the Garden of Eden. God created Eve from Adam’s side and the Tree of Life – eternal life- was also there in it’s midst.    Jesus came to give us life in all its fullness and the bible teaches that we find life – true life – in our relationship with Him.    When we come and meet with Jesus we meet Life.

Jesus said “I am the way, the truth & the life. No-one comes to the father except through Me“.     

We won’t find true life or relationship with God any other way. After Adam and Eve had eaten of the tree of knowledge of good and evil they were put out of the garden in case they ate of the tree of life and lived forever in sin.     Jesus through his death and resurrection has cleansed us from sin to make a way back into the garden of fellowship with God for us. We are now partakers of eternal life.

Death was also in that Garden:

When Adam and Eve ate of the tree of knowledge then death came.   God made tunics of skin to cover them – an animal had to die to provide those skins for clothing for Adam and Eve.  Death had entered into creation for the first time.  

Death was also drawing near to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.    Jesus met with his Father in prayer that night in the Garden.    On that night the Garden was a place of betrayal, pain and suffering for Jesus.   He was in great sorrow and in deep distress.   He had been betrayed, let down by His disciples and was facing death and torture.    

The garden is a place that God wants us to come when we too are in such times of sorrow – times of anxiety and fear.  Times when we feel overwhelmed and think that we can’t continue – when it all seems too much.    Times when people close to us have betrayed us or let us down. God will draw us to Him, will comfort us and strengthen us so that we can continue.

Beware of the enemy in the Garden:

Satan entered the garden of Eden and deceived Eve. Watch out for the lies of the enemy. Don’t let satan lead you astray by his lies and deception.

The garden can provoke others to jealousy. Jezebel schemed and plotted to have Naboth killed because her husband Ahab desired the vineyard garden that belonged to Naboth. The king wanted it for a vegetable garden but Naboth refused to sell. It was his inheritance and not for sale.

The enemy always wants to steal your inheritance in Christ. The enemy is jealous of your position in Christ and he will do what he can to steal from you. Guard yourself and trust in God. The enemy will try and stop you enjoying relationship with God. He will tell you that you are not good enough and all sorts of lies to interfere in your relationship with God.

New Life and hope was in the Garden:

When Jesus conquered the grave and rose from the dead, He appeared to Mary. She thought at first that he was a Gardener.   I had never really thought about that before but my friend mentioned it to me the other day.     Why would Mary have mistaken Jesus for a Gardener unless he was in a garden and it was a reasonable assumption to make.   From a place of sorrow and grief the garden became one of hope for Mary. There is hope in the garden – Jesus was dead but now He is alive.   The garden is a place of hope. It’s a place of victory. It’s a place of new beginnings.

Nourishment in the Garden:

The plants which were in the Garden of Eden were good for food and there was a river which flowed through it.    We all need food and water to survive and flourish.  

Jesus said “I am the bread of life.  He who comes to Me shall never hunger and he who believes in Me shall never thirst”  – “Man cannot live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God“. 

There is spiritual nourishment in spending time with God in His presence. Hearing what He has to say to us in those quiet times as we spend time in His word – the bible.   Jesus is the true bread of life and out of Him spring rivers of living water.  I am becoming more aware of my need to spend more time in His presence, in His word than being busy doing things for God.  I am blessed by the giftings and ministry which God has given me but being in relationship with Him is the most important thing – Reminding me of my first love.

Love is in the Garden:

Unconditional love is in the garden. God loves us.

You will hear God’s voice in the garden speaking to you. As He spoke to Adam you will hear His still small voice speak to you saying- I love you.

God is love. If you seek Him you will find Him. If you are looking for love you will find it in God the father and Jesus the son.

 

A Sacrificing Seed

Jesus replied, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.

Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honour the one who serves me.

Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour”?

No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!’

Then a voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.’ John 12:23-28

Last week I thought a lot about this scripture and Jesus’ words. There have been many, many Christian seeds that have fallen to the ground since Jesus himself suffered and died. Through the obedience of the Son to death there has been seeds of everlasting life sown for us all. We reap life eternal through Jesus’ death. The Seed sown for us who sprang to life in resurrection glory. Praise God.

Many Christian believers have been prepared to follow Jesus even to the point of death and martyrdom. Were those deaths in vain? Not at all.

In their deaths, the truth of Jesus’ words are revealed. I understood this a bit more last week when visiting Rome. What was once a pagan city, culture and nation turned to Christ and became Christian.

Those seeds that fell to the ground and died produced many seeds. Those seeds gave birth to life, grace, love, mercy, truth, endurance, faith, forgiveness and righteousness in Christ Jesus.

Rivers…

I love rivers.

These are photos I took recently of the river Mawddach as it flows into the sea at Barmouth, Wales. It is such a beautiful place.

We stayed in a little cottage right on the banks of the estuary. We could just sit, relax and enjoy these beautiful views. God’s creation is so beautiful.

The river as it flows to the sea
The view from above on the hill..

The bible speaks of a beautiful river. The river of life which flows from Gods throne.

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.

No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever”.
Revelation 22:1-5 – https://www.biblegateway.com

I long to see that heavenly river but the good news is that we don’t have to wait to experience spiritual life in all its fullness until heaven. We can drink of that living water right now and the river of life – the Holy Spirit can fill us and also flow through us to help those around us.

Jesus says that He is the living water. If we drink of Him, we will never thirst again. Not only that but we will be assured of Eternal life. We will live forever with God.

To have that assurance of eternal life, the bible teaches us that it is necessary to repent and confess our sins, accept Jesus as our saviour who has taken our sins on himself and be baptised and follow Jesus.

John the Baptist came with the message of repentance in preparing the way for Jesus. People were convicted of their sins and went to him to be baptised in the River Jordan. Even Jesus who knew no sin went to be baptised by John.

A believer being baptised

What an amazing experience it is to be baptised. I still remember being baptised at my local church back in 1977 in the baptismal tank just like in this photo. My brother was fortunate to go to Israel and get baptised in the River Jordan…how wonderful that was.

Healing – The river Jordan was also a place of healing for Naaman the leper – we read the story in 2 Kings 5. The prophet Elisha told Naaman to go and wash in the River Jordan which Naaman was not happy about at all.

His ego was hurt because Elisha the prophet did not come out to see him personally and would not take any gifts from him. Naaman thought the River Jordan was dirty and nothing compared to the rivers of Damascus. It wasn’t the river itself in the story that healed Naaman but his obedience to the word of God. God healed him according to the prophet’s word.

Don’t let ego or pride stop you receiving what God has for you whether that is salvation or healing.

I pray that you too will discover the river of life in Christ Jesus and drink of that living water if you have not done so yet.

“On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice,

“Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’

By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.
John 7:37-39 – https://www.biblegateway.com

There is a scripture that is very precious to me which to me speaks of revival and an outpouring of the Spirit of God many coming to know Jesus. I pray that for these times we live in now. That many will discover Gods love for them and salvation in Christ Jesus.

“The man brought me back to the entrance to the temple, and I saw water coming out from under the threshold of the temple towards the east (for the temple faced east). The water was coming down from under the south side of the temple, south of the altar. He then brought me out through the north gate and led me round the outside to the outer gate facing east, and the water was trickling from the south side.

As the man went eastward with a measuring line in his hand, he measured off a thousand cubits and then led me through water that was ankle-deep. He measured off another thousand cubits and led me through water that was knee-deep. He measured off another thousand and led me through water that was up to the waist.

He measured off another thousand, but now it was a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough to swim in – a river that no one could cross.

He asked me, ‘Son of man, do you see this?’

Then he led me back to the bank of the river. When I arrived there, I saw a great number of trees on each side of the river. He said to me, ‘This water flows towards the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, where it enters the Dead Sea. When it empties into the sea, the salty water there becomes fresh.

Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live. Fishermen will stand along the shore; from En Gedi to En Eglaim there will be places for spreading nets. The fish will be of many kinds – like the fish of the Mediterranean Sea.

But the swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they will be left for salt. Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear fruit, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.’
Ezekiel 47:1-12 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage

I pray the dry valleys will be filled with the river of God and we will allow the river of life to flow through us. That the water in us won’t become stagnant like the salt marshes but will be always fresh.

As the disciples became fishers of men I pray that this is a time for many fishermen to arise and proclaim the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is eternal life, a river of living water and it is found in Jesus.

Blessings to you this day.