God Our Refuge – Garden Gleanings (March)

by Alyssa Hage

This is the final in a five-part weekly series; we pray it has been a blessing to you! Thank you to our guest writer, Alyssa, for sharing these gleanings from your times with the Lord.

Photo by Brielle A.

“The LORD is my defense; and my God is the rock of my refuge.”
{Psalm 94:22}

Our heart, like a greenhouse, is suited for growing, fertile, ready to produce good fruit, and has to be managed. Your thoughts are like seeds—some become flowers, some become weeds. As you are selective in the seeds you allow into your greenhouse, even more importantly you must be careful about what thoughts you allow to grow in your heart. The more selective you are with seeds, the more delighted you will be with the fruit. Stand watch as a trained soldier at the gateway of your heart. Guard your heart and deny wrong thoughts entrance. Submit your thoughts to God’s authority. Your mind is your heart’s doorway, where you determine which seeds to sow and which seeds to discard. The Holy Spirit helps you manage and filter thoughts trying to enter by standing at the threshold with you.

Transient squirrels and migrant birds pausing on a rock illustrate how rocks are resting places for the weary. In the same way, we find refuge in God. Rocks speak to us of strength, permanence, and stability. God is dependable, immovable, all-powerful, and always present during grievous times and gladsome times. God, the Rock of Ages, is always near, ready to provide safety and solace. 

“Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from Him cometh my salvation.
He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense;
I shall not be greatly moved…My soul, wait thou only upon God;
for my expectation is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation:
He is my defense; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory:
the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.
Trust in Him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before Him:
God is a refuge for us.”
{Psalm 62:1-2,5-8} 

Photo by Martha B.

Alpine plants grow very close to a rock, enjoying extra water from runoff and a bit of shade from the rock’s shadow. We also ought to live continually very close to our Rock, the Lord Jesus Christ, daily taking in the water of His Word and seeking to bring glory to Him.

“And the LORD said, Thou canst not see My face:
for there shall no man see Me, and live.
Behold, there is a place by Me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock:
and it shall come to pass, while My glory passeth by,
that I will put thee in a cleft of the rock,
and will cover thee with My hand while I pass by:
and I will take away Mine hand, and thou shalt see My back parts:
but My face shall not be seen.”
{Exodus 33:20-23} 

Throughout the Old Testament, when people found themselves in trouble of many kinds they would seek refuge and relief in physical rocks, i.e. mountains and caves. David especially came to see this from a spiritual perspective as the Lord became his refuge and strength for every trial he faced. 2 Samuel 22:2-3: “And he (David) said, The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; the God of my rock; in Him will I trust: He is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; Thou savest me from violence.”

When going through any kind of trouble, look to the Lord as your rock and refuge and thus be able to say with David, “God is our refuge and strength; a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).

 Tips for Your Garden
For an alpine rock garden, select porous rocks such as limestone, sandstone, and shale. These rocks absorb water, keeping roots cool and moist. Impermeable rocks such as marble, basalt, and granite are preferable rocks for desert rock gardens.

God’s blessings to you sisters, as you plant healthy seeds in your hearts, that the fruits of God’s spirit will be able to take root in fertile soil!

~Alyssa K. Hage
{Guest Writer} 

God Our Protector – Garden Gleanings (March)

By Alyssa Hage

This is the forth in a five-part weekly series – we’d like to celebrate spring and the opportunities it presents, both physically to the new life on earth, and spiritually to the work Christ is springing forth from our hearts.

Photo by Kayla M.

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”
{Proverbs 4:23}

Our heart, like a greenhouse, is suited for growing, fertile, ready to produce good fruit, and has to be managed. Your thoughts are like seeds—some become flowers, some become weeds. As you are selective in the seeds you allow into your greenhouse, even more importantly you must be careful about what thoughts you allow to grow in your heart. The more selective you are with seeds, the more delighted you will be with the fruit.

  • Stand watch as a trained soldier at the gateway of your heart.
  • Guard your heart and deny wrong thoughts entrance.
  • Submit your thoughts to God’s authority.

Your mind is your heart’s doorway, where you determine which seeds to sow and which seeds to discard. The Holy Spirit helps you manage and filter thoughts trying to enter by standing at the threshold with you.

 Tips for Your Garden
For growing plants indoors…When cutting off brown tips of leaves on potted plants, leave a narrow brown border; cutting into live tissue will cause further drying and dieback.Do not use leaf shine products, as they may clog leaf pores. Enhance leaf luster by wiping them with a damp sponge. Keep plants free of dust, as dust can clog leaf pores. If the house has low humidity, spray a mist of water on the leaves to give the plant a bit of humidity.Have any gardening tips to share? Feel free to leave a comment!

~Alyssa K. Hage
{Guest Writer} 

Our Living Water – Garden Gleanings (March)

By Alyssa Hage

This is the third in a five-part weekly series – we’d like to celebrate spring and the opportunities it presents, both physically to the new life on earth, and spiritually to the work Christ is springing forth from our hearts. Have a blessed spring rejoicing in Christ’s glory!

Photo by Haley F.

Jesus answered and said unto her,
If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee,
Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of Him,
and He would have given thee living water…
Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:
but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst;
but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water
springing up into everlasting life.”
{John 4:10,13-14}

The cactus plant retains water to survive living in a dry climate. Be like a cactus. Retain the water of God’s Word and you can live cheerfully anywhere, even in a desert. John 7:37-38: “Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink. He that believeth on Me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” It’s important for the gardener to be regularly present—to observe and prevent, to notice and nourish—in order for the garden to grow. It’s important for us to be regularly in God’s presence in order to grow spiritually; if I am not, I won’t notice His songs, hear His voice, or respond to His instructions. As we are persistent in cultivating a lovely garden, so we should persist in the cultivation of living in God’s presence. As we draw near to Him, our gardens (our lives and homes) reflect the glory of His presence. Our relationship with God, like a garden, is a place of creation, consecration, and calm.

“Thou wilt show me the path of life:
in Thy presence is fullness of joy;
at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”
{Psalm 16:11} 

God gave Adam work to do in the Garden of Eden, but it was also His idea to just walk together in the cool of the day (Genesis 3:8). Often we think we need to do great things for God, but He wants us to simply enjoy the great things He has created and done for us. Contemplating the flow of water down a waterfall…A minute passes, is it the same stream still? Yes. But is it the same water? No. The liquid mass that passed me a few seconds ago now fills another section of the channel, new water has replaced it; water instead of water. John 1:16: “Of His (Jesus) fullness have all we received, and grace for grace.” The word “for” means “instead of.” The picture is of a perpetual succession of supply, a displacement ever going on, like a waterfall. So hour-by-hour and year-by-year, grace takes the place of grace through Christ. One stream has continual water displacement. Our lives in Christ have continual grace. James 4:6-7&10: “But He giveth more grace…God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you…Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up.”

Photo by Sara F.

Just as plants can’t grow in a garden having hard ground, so our lives can’t be fruitful with a hard heart of unbelief. God grows beautiful things from the soil of depleted lives. Go to the Lord and exchange your ruined garden for a garden full of roses. Isaiah 35:1-2: “The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing…” 

“And the LORD shall guide thee continually,
and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones:
and thou shalt be like a watered garden,
and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.”
{Isaiah 58:11}

Just as we restore ruined gardens, God restores ruined lives. As a Father, God envisioned His children having fellowship with Him in unbroken harmony. In the Garden of Eden, His vision was fulfilled only temporarily and then disobedience brought ruin. It took Jesus Christ to restore the fellowship between God and mankind by taking the penalty for our sins. From fulfillment to ruin to restoration; now for those who receive Jesus Christ as Savior, the Garden of Eden still exists. Psalm 51:10-12: “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Thy presence; and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation; and uphold me with Thy free spirit.”

Keep the soil of your heart well-cultivated for the seed of God’s Word to take root in. Then He will plant within you a garden of beautiful roses in the midst of the spiritually dry and thirsty land in which we live.

“O God, Thou art my God; early will I seek Thee:
my soul thirsteth for Thee, my flesh longeth for Thee
in a dry and thirsty land,
where no water is; to see Thy power and Thy glory, so
as I have seen Thee in the sanctuary.
Because Thy lovingkindness
is better than life, my lips shall praise Thee…
Because Thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of Thy wings will I rejoice.
My soul followeth hard after Thee: Thy right hand upholdeth me.”
{From Psalm 63} 

 Tips for Your Garden
The centifolia roses are often called cabbage roses because their whorled petals and lush rounded blossoms resemble cabbage heads. Feed roses with a granular slow-release fertilizer or apply a dousing of fish emulsion. Water “modern” roses (varieties of the 1900s) several times a week to a depth of three inches; “old” roses (varieties of the 1800s) need watering once a week. Avoid wetting foliage to discourage black spot.

~Alyssa K. Hage
{Guest Writer}

Planting Seeds – Garden Gleanings (March)

By Alyssa Hage

This is the second in a special five-part weekly series for March – we’d like to celebrate spring and the opportunities it presents, both physically to the new life on earth, or spiritually to the work Christ is springing forth from our hearts, and pray this series blesses you as you blossom in Christ!

Photo by Beverly B.

“And Jesus answered them, saying,
The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified.
Verily, verily, I say unto you,
Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone:
but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.
He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world
shall keep it unto life eternal.”
{John 12:23-25}

Seeds are little storehouses entrusted with a plan of God’s design and once planted they release the design imprinted on them. Each of you has God’s plan imprinted on your heart and when God settles you in places that nurture growth, you may accomplish all God intends. Unless a seed falls into the ground and dies, it remains a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Unless the Lord Jesus had died for us, He would’ve been the only One to spend eternity in Heaven. But because He died, many are saved from sin and will spend eternity in Heaven with Him.

Plant seeds are perishable, but the seeds of God’s Word endure forever. The seeds of God’s Word are planted in fertile hearts and are propagated in yielded lives. 1 Peter 1:22-25: “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: but the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.”

The parable Jesus taught about the seeds in Matthew 13:1-23 is summarized by the following quote, “One for the rock, one for the crow, one to die, and one to grow.” How a seed will grow depends on where it’s planted; how God’s Word is heeded depends on the heart of the hearer. What kind of heart do you have for the Word of God to grow in?

Photo by Hannah K.

I reap only what I sow. No planting of bulbs in the fall, no tulip blossoms come spring; no effort in speaking to a new girl at church, no friendship will bloom. We harvest according to the kind of seed we plant; so it is with our actions toward others. 2 Corinthians 9:6-8: “But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.” Notice the superlatives—all grace, always, all sufficiency, all things, every good work? God always supplies everything we need to bring forth fruit to His glory. The more bulbs I plant in the fall, the more blooms I will have in the spring. The more I do what God commands, the more Fruit of the Spirit He will produce in my life. Galatians 6:7-9: Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”

 Tips for Your Garden
Seeds that are more than two years old are less likely to sprout and produce flowers, fruits, and vegetables. As the growing season comes to a close, pluck extra blooms from vegetable plants. These late blooms won’t mature into produce, and removing the blooms will divert growth to already developing produce.Feel free to share any gardening comments below!

Next week, we’ll be back to rejoice in the water with which the Lord waters our heart-gardens.

~Alyssa K. Hage
{Guest Writer} 

Rooted in God’s Love – Garden Gleanings (March)

By Alyssa Hage

This is the first of a special five-part weekly series for this new month – we’d like to celebrate spring and the opportunities it presents, both physically to the new life on earth, and spiritually to the work Christ is springing forth from our hearts, by focusing on this topic on our forum. We pray it is a blessing to you, sister!

Photo by Janae G.

“As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord,
so walk ye in Him: rooted and built up in Him,
and established in the faith, as ye have been taught,
abounding therein with thanksgiving.”
{Colossians 2:6-7}

Plants will not survive without roots. We are much like plants; we will not survive without roots. Roots are the avenue by which the plant receives nourishment; they hold the plant stable and store extra nutrients. Sincere love in action (what the Bible calls “charity” in 1 Corinthians 13) nourishes, stabilizes, and provides us with stores for the fruit of the Holy Spirit. The most deeply rooted people are those who are grounded in God’s perfect love and thus they flourish, not easily blown away by the fierce wind of adversity. Ephesians 3:17-19: “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.” There has been much debate about these four dimensions of God’s love, but a little child held in the loving arms of his mother knows exactly how all-surrounding love feels. This is the everlasting love with which God loves us!

As we grow in God’s love, our garden and our character both reflect the amount of weeding done during the growing season. Weeds are unsightly, rob soil of water and nutrients from cultivated plants, harbor diseases, serve as hosts for pests, cause unwanted shade, crowd crops, and block air circulation. Weeds rooted in the heart, like jealousy, self-pity, unjustified anger, and bitterness are more destructive than weeds rooted in the earth. An offense can cause a bitter spirit. It will germinate and spread, color our personality, affect our behavior, and choke our relationship with God. The longer a weed grows, the harder it is to uproot. The more sin grows, the harder it is to get rid of. Prompt removal is the way to avoid trouble made by weeds and it’s the only way of dealing with bitter roots that can overrun the heart. Hebrews 12:14-15: “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, f and thereby many be defiled.”

Photo by Amelia B.

Every evil thing Satan plants shall be rooted up. Matthew 15:13: “But He (Jesus) answered and said, Every plant, which My heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.” Trials are God’s experiment to prove us; suffering is a wonderful fertilizer to the roots of godly character.

The root of the matter: let God’s love take deep root in your life.

 Tips for Your Garden
Rooting hormones, a chemical compound synthesized in powder or liquid form can be introduced to new plants or transplants to encourage new root production. A recommended amount is simply added to water in the planting hole before placing the plant firmly in the hole.

~Alyssa K. Hage
{Guest Writer}