March 11, 2018

The Gardener

Tribe Recap of March 11, 2018 | Lk 14 | Jn 15 | Ezk 47 | Heb 12

“I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener,” John 15:1.  As we abide in Jesus, depending on him for guidance, comfort, insight, and the very air we breathe, his Father attends to our growth and faith like a gardener attends his garden.

Gardeners do many things to keep life thriving, some of which may not be fully understood by the flowers and trees he is attending.  One of those things is pruning.  Scripture tells us that the Father will prune every branch that bears fruit so that it will bear more fruit.  In other words, the branches (us) will be cut back by the Father (Gardener).  When we get pruned, it may hurt, but it is part of the necessary process of becoming more fruitful.  The Gardener will cut away all that does not belong in our lives, as we are faithful to surrender every corner of our ‘garden’ to him.

Even life-saving surgery has a painful recovery.  Luke 14 asks us to be the salt of the earth, to provide the flavor of heaven.  What do we taste like to the world?  Do we add flavor to the pain and drudgery that surrounds us?  Or are we too bitter to deliver what God tastes like?  Salt for the 1st century Christian was most likely taken from the Dead Sea, and it had to be processed before use, the impurities removed.  If the impurities were not carefully removed, the salt was bitter and useless.  Do we allow the Gardener to ‘process’ us?

Gardeners also water their gardens deeply.  Ezekiel 47 shows us a vision of water trickling from under the inner room of the Temple.  This water became deeper as Ezekiel and his guide walked downstream until eventually it was deep enough to swim in and too deep to cross.  Our Father wants to water us with his presence, his life, until it is deep enough to swim in.

In the sanctuary of his presence, the Gardener waters our soul.  His voice shows us the way, His hand heals our minds, the knowledge of the Lord gives us hope as we realize we are in the hands of a sovereign and loving God. 

Do we take the time to ‘wade’ in God – spending quality time with Him?  We also are like the water in Ezekiel because we carry the presence of the Lord.  Wherever the water from the Temple went, death gave way to life.  In the Kingdom, life kills death.  Light destroys darkness.  Wherever the water of the Gardener goes there is life.  Wherever we take the living water of the Spirit of Jesus, life will explode.  The Gardener gives us living water that becomes deeper the more we walk with him – until, we are swimming in God surrounded by explosive life.

People often believe God is either distant or angry, but can you think of a master-builder who despises the thing he has made?  Can you imagine a good father who hates his child?  This God of ours is a good father, a master builder, and a Gardener who loves to be in the gardens he is tending.  The Father takes pleasure in those who are his (Ps 149).  Jesus endured the cross because he looked forward to the joy of being with us (Heb 12).

The Gardener will prune away the debris of our lives.  The process of having our impurities removed may hurt, but it is a necessary step for any Gardener who truly loves the garden he is tending.  The alternative would be to abandon the garden to suffocation by weeds, thorns, and thistles.  Our Father will not allow this.

The Great Gardener, will come with the deep refreshing waters of his presence and water us deeply until we are swimming in life giving joy.  And he will look upon us as promised in Numbers 6 with divine approval, enjoying the wonderful creation that bears his image.

Ken JensenJustin Kofoed