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The Garden of God - Youth Sunday 2014

. 7 min read


Youth Sunday (and Mother’s Day) 2014 – Nikki and Grace share the message.


Introduction-

Amen and amen. First off I would just
like to wish everyone a happy Mother’s Day, whether you are a mother, a mother
to be , or are honoring a mother figure in your life. Today we all have
something to celebrate, memories to commemorate, and someone to honor and
cherish. Like little seeds being planted into the ground we all need nurture to grow. Such as, love, advice, teachings, and
wisdom. Without these we wouldn’t be able to stand on our own.
Now today we read Romans 12:9-13.
1) and in Romans, Paul tells us to:
(Romans
12:9-13)
Let
love be genuine
Hate
what is evil,
Hold
fast to what is good;
However I for one can attest to the
difficulty of embracing this ideal. At times it can be so confusing to know
what is good and what is bad. Not everything is black and white, or cut and
dry. Sometimes we stray from the right path. While some of the decisions  we make may still go awry, they should not slow us down. There is
this one phrase that all of the ten commandments fall under, love God and love
everyone. This may be hard to do at sometimes, but if we do get off the path we
can always learn from it.  
He also tells us to:
love
one another with mutual affection;
      (and to)
Outdo
one another in showing honor.
I can remember when I was younger, my
father used to take me and my brother out to the park to play soccer. We both
had joined a team and we wanted to impress him with our soccer abilities. Both
of us wanted to be the best in his eyes, and so we would push ourselves to new
limits to make him proud. Every time my brother demonstrated a new skill, i
would counter with another. We became each others friendly competition and
began to improve alongside each other. By going up against each, and learning
from each other, we began to become better players. In the same way Paul wants
us to continue to outdo one another in demonstrating christian values. Not
necessarily to be the “best” or to compete with each other, like my brother and
i, but to improve and grow from each other. He wants us to make better
disciples of ourselves by learning from others examples and striving to outdo
ourselves. In the same way I and my brother wanted to make our father proud, he
wants us to want to desire to make god proud.  Paul also says,

Do
not lag in zeal,

Be
ardent in spirit,
Persevere
in prayer.
(and
to)
Contribute
to the needs of the needs of saint;
Although at times it may be
difficult we should stay firm in the faith. We can do this by preserving it in
prayer, and by exercising its values in everyday life.
Paul also says that we should,
“Extend
hospitality to strangers.”
This line really hits home for me and has
especially affected my life. As some of you may know, I am adopted, and
originally from China. A stranger found me and placed me into an orphanage.
Papers were sent out  about me by the orphanage, and that’s when my current parents learned about me, and fell in
love. 15 years ago they traveled to china, and now
here I am. I have two amazing
sisters, a loveable mom and dad, and fantastic grandmas. I am very fortunate to
be here, and to be well loved and nurtured by my family.
To me my parents are like precious jewels that help me grow. I have learned so much from them,others, and also God. I have learned not only how to be a better
Christian , but also how to prosper as a disciple. My family and god love me unconditionally
and they always help me learn from my mistakes. I know God has been watching
over me my whole life. Words cannot express how blessed I am. While not
everyone may have a mother, everyone has a mother figure they can learn
from.Each day is a new learning day.
In addition to Romans, we also heard
a few verses from Proverbs. (Proverbs 31:10b 25-30)
Now, in Proverbs Solomon writes,
“She
is far more precious than jewels.”
This sentence is meant as a heading or Solomon’s
main assertion, in which he spends the rest of his writings explaining. In the
rest of his writings he attempts to prove his assertion and answer for us why
she is far more precious than jewels. By explaining to us why she is, he
creates for us a model of a better disciple. A model that he hopes  will
guide us into becoming better disciples. He states
Strength
and dignity are her clothing,
And
she laughs at the time to come.
These are the first virtues of a better
disciple that he mentions. Clothes are what you show people. They tell what
kind of personality you have. Strength and dignity is what she provides as her
personality to show people that she is strong and confident.
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
And
the teachings of kindness is on her tongue.
She
looks well to the ways of her household,
And
does not eat the bread of idleness.
By this Paul means that a better
disciple acts in the ways of the lord. And how a better disciple will act,
speak, and carry themself, with christian ideals in their heart. He also says
that they will look out for ways to act through god and maintain the ways of a
christian in their household. He also says a better disciple will spread the
word of god to their children and to other people of god. All while ignoring
the drama and temptations to stray away from the ways of the lord.  Next
he says:
Her
children rise up and call her happy;
Her
husband too, and he praises her:
“Many
women have done excellently,
But
you surpass them all.”
He also means by this that all of these
people lift up this person who makes everyone around them happy. Not just
thinking of themselves, but others also. They are happy making other people
happy and many people can do this, but this particular person makes a special
effort.
charm
is deceitful,
and
beauty is vain,
But
a woman who honors the LORD is to be praised.
Paul is explaining to us that while we
may believe that material things or personal images might be important. That a
person who rejects the temptations and relinquishes such focus, for the lord is
to be honored. There are more important things in life than that new phone, or
tv. We need to look at the big picture.
3)big picture
Now how does this relate to the garden
of god? Think of yourself as a seed, what does a seed need to grow and develop?
Water, sunlight, food, the nurturing care from skilled hand. Well God is like
all those things. He can help us prosper into better disciples. This can also
be eluded to a mother figure trying to help us through our whole life.
Everyone has their own garden. A garden
that needs to go through certain steps to flourish. When planning to plant a
garden one must use the proper tools, and make a conscious decision to plant a
garden. Accordingly we must decide what to plant in it. We must make a
conscious decision both to plant this garden and what is worthy of planting in
it. Both Paul and Solomon give us inspiration and ideas of what to plant in
their writings. The fruits of the spirit give us inspiration of what to plant
in it. But ultimately we must choose to plant the values of a better disciple in
our garden. And we must actively remove weeds and any other unwanted materials
from our garden, that have the potential to be toxic to it. After we have
decided to plant our Garden, we then must remove rocks in our way and prepare
the soil. We must give ourselves the tools to have a successful garden. To do
this we need to resolve obstacles that act as rocks in our garden, and add the
words of god as fertilizer into our garden. Outside forces will work against
our garden, attempt us to distract us from it, tempt us to do things that could
harm it, or neglect it. But we must stay strong, ignore their idleness, and
continue to cultivate our Garden. We have no control over these outside forces,
we cannot control how much sunlight our garden will get, or what the weather
will be like. We do however have the ability to control how strong our garden
is. We must make it strong enough to overcome all of these impediments, and
uncertainties. We must give our garden the defenses to weather the storm.
However we will not be alone in this task. God will guide us, and help us. He
will protect our garden even if we slip up. He will watch over it even when we
arent. And he will continue to work on it when outside forces do not permit us
to. He will be the water that saves our garden from a drought, and the sunlight
that saves us in an endless winter. God is the ultimate farmer and he will
protect us from what life and outside forces throw at us. All he asks of us is
that we put in the time and effort. It won’t always be easy, and it will be a
labor of love. But if we work hard and are dedicated we will see the benefits.
We will see how god is changing us. God is giving us the potential to grow and
mature into better disciples. All we have to do is be willing to let him guide
us.

In the same way mothers, help us, and
Guide us. As we are born we are the seeds being planted. As we grow and
prosper, we are guided by wisdom, experiences, advice, and love. Those are like
the water, fertilizer, air, and sunlight to our seeds. God and our mothers help
us. Without someone, a stranger, looking out for me, I would not be standing
here today. Everyone has a mother or a mother figure that helps them grow and
learn as time goes on. God is looking out for everyone always. He is always
helping us to become a better person that we are potentially to be and also
become into a better disciple. Our mother figures and god nurture us always as
we continue to grow. They love and care for us through the rough times and help
us follow the right path in our darkest times and help us shine too. In the
name of the Lord I invite all of you to grow your own garden. Amen.