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toddler playing in a flower garden April 25 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: 1Samuel 31:1-13; 1Chronicles 10:1-14; 2Samuel 4:4; 2Samuel 1

Tending Your Spiritual Garden

In North America it is time for gardening. What are your favorite things to plant - flowers, potatoes, onions, tomatoes, peppers, or something else? After you carefully plant them do you just leave them alone until it is time for harvest? What happens if you do not clear all the weeds out? The plants do not produce well, and in fact sometimes the life is choked out of them. The same is true in our spiritual lives; spiritual seeds may be planted, but if our spiritual life is not tended, what is planted may bear little or no fruit. Luke 8:14 says, “The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life's worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature,” (NIV). Is the spiritual garden of your heart well tended, or is it choked so that it does not mature?

King Saul did not tend the garden of his spiritual life. He started out well. Saul was humble and even reticent to take the leadership of the nation. When he was appointed king, Saul was led by the Spirit of God to give Israel early victories over her enemies. Saul gave glory to God for victories and resisted petty revenge. That was the seed. Unfortunately, pride, power, and position choked out the spiritual fruit of his life; he could not grow in spiritual maturity or lead Israel spiritually. Because of his pride and disobedience, God sought to replace him with David, a man after his own heart. One of King Saul’s sins was not completely wiping out the Amalekites. He wanted the praise of his men and their wealth more than obeying the LORD. Ironically, it was an Amalekite who finished him off when he was dying from the injuries he received fighting his last battle with the Philistines (2Samuel 1:6-10).

Contrasted to Saul's disobedience was David's obedience. The seed of David's spiritual life started with humble beginnings as well. However, David sought the help of the LORD his God. God was his refuge and strength. David grew in spiritual maturity because he kept the weeds of pride, power and position out of his life and nurtured his relationship with the LORD, the giver of life and blessings. God protected David in the wilderness from the murderous pursuits of the jealous King Saul. Though pursued by him, David respected God’s choice of Saul as his anointed and did not kill him, even though he had two opportunities to do it. God blessed David's military exploits and surrounded him with brave fighting men. God even protected David from an unwise alliance with the Philistines that would have caused him to fight against his own people. As we learned yesterday, when David returned to Ziklag with his men, the Amalekites had taken the advantage to raid and burn their town while the Philistines and Israelites were engaged in battle. They carried away plunder and took their families captive. While Saul had not wiped out the Amalekites and was finished off by one, David and his men took revenge on the Amalekites to rescue their families. God blessed his band of men, and they were able to recover everyone and everything and plunder those who plundered them. They defeated the Amalekites with a great slaughter.

David’s spiritual maturity was again manifested when he received word of the death of Saul and his sons on the battle field. He did not rejoice in the death of his enemy. David mourned the loss of the LORD's anointed one, composed a song in tribute to King Saul and Jonathan (2Samuel 1:19-27), and ordered the men of Judah to be taught this lament. How do we react when God's spiritual leaders fall? Do we rejoice and seize opportunities for ourselves, or do we mourn? David was indeed a humble man. David realized he started out as a lowly shepherd boy. He never forgot his roots. He never sought to dethrone Saul or his sons. David realized that God was fully capable of bringing his kingdom into fruition when it was time; he did not need David's help. Romans 12:4 says, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you,” (NIV).

What weeds do we need to clear from our spiritual gardens? Are we eager to do what is good and tend our gardens, or do we let the weeds of wickedness choke out any spiritual growth? Let's be good gardeners so that the LORD will make us fruitful in what we do. Let's make sure we reap good things from the things we sow.

Lessons to live by:

  • Spiritual seeds may be planted, but if our spiritual life is not tended what is planted may bear little or no fruit. Is the spiritual garden of your heart well tended, or is it choked by worries, riches and pleasures?
  • Like David, let’s weed out the sins of pride, power, and position from our spiritual gardens. Let us nurture our relationship with God, the giver life and blessings (more...).

Today’s Bible memory verses:

Galatians 6:7-8

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (NIV)

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