March 24, 2020 // Pastor Luke shares his thoughts in this encouraging blog post on strengthening your faith.
I was out in the garden yesterday evening weeding. It’s the one job that every gardener loathes but the one job that must be done. It’s the job that separates gardeners from the black thumbs of the world. Very few people realize that indeed this one task can make a world of difference, not by making what you see look good but it has implications on the very health of all your plants. My garden is full of daffodils right now. Peony’s are pushing through the soil and roses are pushing their spring shoots. My quince has become the harbinger of spring with its crimson studded limbs. But there are weeds from the winter. Most folks move quickly from the front door to the car door and never mind the garden during the winter. But under their noses the weeds spread. Yes, even in the winter. These weeds can choke out the new life of spring in the garden and at the very least make an otherwise tidy winter garden look like a vacant lot. The weeds can even soak up fertilizer and use up vital nutrients that play a key role in the prospect of a healthy spring and summer garden. In short, no matter what time of year, no matter the season, weeds are there. They impact the fruitfulness of your garden.
Your spiritual Garden is no different.
As Christians we really want our lives to look energetic. We want people to be attracted to our “faith”. We want our garden to be fruitful. We want to look charismatic in worship and we love to post on Facebook or Instagram about our faith. Our faith can look great from afar. Any garden from a distance looks ok at worst. But upon further inspection, we all find things that aren’t right within our garden. And behind the memes and the shared post, I think we all can be honest and say, “there are weeds that are trying to choke out my faith.”
Jesus taught us in Matthew 13 about the seed of the word of God. In verses 20 through 23 we read the following: “The seed sown on gravel represents the person who gladly hears the kingdom message but his experience remains shallow. Shortly after he hears it, troubles and persecutions come because of the kingdom message he received. Then he quickly falls away, for the truth didn’t sink deeply into his heart.
“The seed sown among weeds represents the person who receives the message, but all of life’s busy distractions, his divided heart, and his ambition for wealth result in suffocating the kingdom message and prevent him from bearing spiritual fruit.
“As for the seed that fell upon good, rich soil, it represents the hearts of people who hear and fully embrace the message of heaven’s kingdom realm. Their lives bear good fruit – some yield a harvest thirty, sixty, even one hundred times as much as was sown.”
Right now, I really believe that many of our hearts are being exposed. Mine included. I’ve found some weeds that need to go. I’ve found areas in my life where the truth of the Kingdom message has truly sunk in and has a firm root. For me, one of those areas is divine protection. I was tested in this years ago while interning for the National Park Service through SCA. While there, my crew encountered copperheads and rattlesnakes frequently. My team was exposed to giardia, a terrible water-based pathogen, we were exposed to ticks and mosquitoes daily, we camped in 13 days straight of rain. I learned then to begin taking Psalms 91 very literally. Over the last couple of years, the Lord has reminded me about the need to abide with Him as a part of Psalms 91. What does that look like? Well, the short of it is this: I must have an active relationship with the Holy Spirit that isn’t based whatsoever on what is going on around me, whether with my schedule, circumstances and most certainly not events within the world. That will cause you to look like to some as if you are disengaged philosophically from whatever hits the fan in the world and that’s because you are abiding with the Lord where His perspective isn’t the world’s perspective. Abiding with the Lord means, you have the mind of Christ, the peace of Christ and the solutions of the Kingdom available to you at a moment’s notice. I don’t choose to believe that only when…… I cannot be moved by anything happening in the world at any time, rather I must move according to God’s plan for a world in chaos. After all, didn’t Jesus say we would see these things during the birth pains? That’s what it means to be rooted. We must not argue that we are seated in heavenly places, we must have an experience that we are seated in heavenly places.
Now for the weeds. Here’s the deal, your faith will grow even when there are weeds. Jesus says in the same chapter of Matthew that the weeds and wheat grow at the same time and they will be harvested at the same time. I’ve noticed something over the years with gardening. When climate conditions are right, both the weeds and plants grow simultaneously. But underground the roots of the weeds are competing with the roots of the plants. So long as there are sufficient moisture and nutrients, they kinda grow ok with each other. The problem comes when the climate shifts. Weeds do just as well when it gets hot and dry. The problem is if weeds exist in your garden when the climate shifts, your desirable plants suffer because their root is not as healthy as it needs to be. We are in a climate shift.
Plants that produce a flower or a fruit require much energy to produce such. Giving the plant every advantage in energy is necessary for the maximized production of flowers and fruit. It is not enough for us to just read God’s word and say simple prayers. We must take God’s word, eat it, meditate on it, live it and allow it to challenge any thinking that isn’t Christ thinking. We must take God’s word and allow it to challenge any thoughts of the media that have sown weeds in us. Should the believer buy hook, line, and sinker everything the media puts out? If the power of life and death is in the tongue and we hear people all the time confessing with their tongue “it’s just going to get worse before it gets better,” and then we agree with that or confess it with our mouth, which kingdom are we aligning with? What are we prophesying? Are we empowering, through our agreement with the Kingdom of darkness, the curse?
When we do that we assume, knowingly or unknowingly, the position of the seed sown on the gravel and the seed sown in the weeds. Prepare your hearts. Remove the weeds that are small now before this new season’s climatic shift takes full hold. Is there doubt in your garden? Is there fear in your garden? Is there philosophy in your garden? Is there obsession in your garden? We are seeing people right, even in the church, obsessed with what is happening in the kingdom of darkness rather than being rooted in what is happening in the Kingdom of God. Fast if you need to.
Psalm 91 is not just a Psalm of protection. There are three parts: Abide, protect, destroy. We know about abiding, and we know about protection. But do we see the part where you tread upon the lion and the cobra? Do we realize that we also destroy the work of the devil? The believer that abides in the presence of the Holy Spirit isn’t just protected to be protected. They are protected to then use their authority. Read the great commission in Mark 16, then go pull some weeds in your prayer life. If you are responding in any way to what is happening in the world the world would respond, don’t get under condemnation, but go pull weeds. Then your faith will have every good thing available to grow and produce fruit in this season. Feed your faith, starve your fears.
Lastly, this is the season of revival. To be revived in this moment is what those around us need. But you can’t bring revival to someone when death or fear has a root in you at the moment. We are praying that this region will be a safe zone. However, there is much being spoken against the region, even by Christians themselves. I encourage you all to strengthen your faith, use your authority and pray in agreement that COVID-19 will be weeded out and removed from our garden, these mountains, its people, and that the goodness of God will be experienced here through signs, wonders, and miracles. People need solutions that are only found in the spirit realm. Give them that fruit, that beauty which is your spiritual garden full of faith.