“The mind of sinful man is death,
but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace;
the sinful mind is hostile to God.
It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.
Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.”
Romans 8: 6-8 NIV
Today the invitation from the Master Gardner is clear. He beckons, “Come to the garden!” The same invitation was issued yesterday and he will invite me to come tomorrow. In fact, Jesus offers me a standing invitation to come to the garden every single day of my life. Come to the garden! It is not just a suggestion. It is a loving plea from Jesus. Jesus’ invitation to come to the garden is different from a casual invitation that we might get from a friend or family member. We often say, “Call me if you get a minute,” “come over on Sunday day if you don’t have anything better to do,” “stop by sometime,” or “we need to get together soon”. Our Lord’s invitation is not a casual suggestion nor is it an enforced command. It is a loving invitation to spend time alone with him. It is hard to comprehend that the One who made us desires to spend time with us. He desires our praise and worship and loves to know that we love him. Our words of gratitude are music to his ears. He also wants to love on us, comfort us, and teach us new truth. He wants us to leave the garden with a heart full of joy and a mind that is at peace.
Sometimes the term “Quiet Time” is misunderstood. In a legalistic mindset “Quite Time” is a place for one to gird up their holy robes and falsely feel holier than another person because the other person is not keeping the “Quiet Time” law. I used to view “Quite Time” as an obligation and feel guilty if I missed the daily legalistic ritual. Part of the problem is that every day has its own special set of circumstances. Most days these circumstances are busy, loud, demanding, timely, and intrusive. The thought of “Quiet Time” may often sound like it is a place off in a far away county situated across the ocean of life with not even a row boat to carry us there. Satan would ask us to believe that “Quite Time” is an impossible journey. Oh, we would like to visit that garden but for now we are convinced that we must be satisfied to simply look at the travel brochure. That type of thinking, my friend, is a victory for Satan! It is God’s desire that we come to the garden out of love for him, not responsibility or guilt.
When life is busy and hard, why does a loving God continue to call us to the garden no matter what we are experiencing? Doesn’t an all knowing God know that we are busy and that we have more on our plate than we can possibly do? Yes, he does. Nevertheless, Jesus Christ stands ready to help you custom make your “Quite Time” to fit your needs no matter what life stage you are in. For me, recognizing my continual need for more of God made me realize that going to the garden was no more of an option than going to the grocery store for food. It was something I needed to do for spiritual survival.
I need to go to the garden because the mind of sinful man is death. The mind of Christ is exactly the opposite of the mind of man. God calls men and women out of his love for us. We often react to God and our life experiences from our humanistic, emotional data base. This is extremely dangerous because our sinful mind leads to death. This can be death of a relationship, the death of reputation, the death of our spiritual joy, or premature physical death. I am finding that my “Quiet Time” should not be the place I go to read a verse of scripture and give God my list of needs and desires for the day and then rush out of the garden. No! “Quiet Time” is a time for me to be still in the presence of my Creator and know that he is God. When I become still before God he stands ready to forgive, comfort, sustain, and empower me with his grace and love. God always knows what I am going through, he knows what it is that others expect of me, he is aware of my busy schedule, and he sees my raw emotions. “Quiet Time” is the place where God begins to rein me in because he knows that I’m like a loose cannon capable of going off at any given moment! God wants me to give him a few minutes at the beginning of each day and a few more minutes throughout my day, and a few minutes at the end of the day. “Quite Time” is indeed that private time alone with God without interruption where we seek to know his mind in solitude. It can also be those unsuspected moments when we quickly turn our minds heavenward in the heat of the moment and ask God for his mind. “Quiet Time” is a place for seeking God’s response to all that concerns us and when we lay aside our first response and choose to take on the mind of Christ, he then rescues us from our sinful thoughts that can only lead to death.
I need to go to the garden because the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace. Our Heavenly Father walked this earth for thirty-three years. He understands what it is like to have people crowding in on you, having people misunderstand you, and feeling tired and needing a nap. So if we are to know his mind and follow his example we will make a time and a place to be the recipient of his peace and rest. A mind that is controlled by this world and its expectations is a life of stress and anxiety. Jesus calls us to “Quite Time” so that our life will be controlled by the Spirit. Jesus knows that those who are made of dust are in need of restoration. “Quite Time” is meant to be a time to redirect our thoughts from things below to things above. Jesus knows that we need to learn his way of peace so he says, “Come away from the whirlwind of life, come to a quiet place, and come to the garden!”
I need to go to the garden because the sinful mind is hostile to God. When we avoid the garden we give Satan a foothold in our life. We become stressful, anxious, self-centered, and hostile to others and that is offensive to God. We label our negative thoughts, actions, and reactions as “mistakes” that are made in the heat of the moment. But God calls this behavior sin, and that sinful behavior is hostile to God. God’s Word cautions us, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith…” I Peter 5:8-9a NIV It is in the garden of “Quiet Time” that the Holy Spirit equips us to exhibit control over sinful behavior. It is in the garden that we sharpen our senses and become more alert so that we can recognize the enemy when he strikes. "Quiet Time" is where we learn how to stand firm in our faith and walk away from sinful responses.
I need to go to the garden because it is impossible for this type of sinful thinking to submit to God’s law. God calls us to “Quiet Time” so that we can learn about humility. “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” I Peter 5:6-7 NIV Humility is not the ability to put our self down. One with a humble heart simply knows they have a huge need for Jesus. Humility is being open and vulnerable before the Lord. Humility is honest. A humble heart recognizes that the focus of their thinking must move beyond oneself. Humility gives credit to our Maker for all that is good in our life, for all he provides us with, and for sustaining us in all of our times of need. A humble heart identifies us as a true follower of Jesus Christ. Humility allows us to fall deeper in love with Jesus and then be obedient because of our love for our Savior. I know no other way to find this level of relationship and fellowship with Jesus outside of intentional “Quiet Time”.
I need to go to the garden because if we are controlled by our sinful nature we cannot please God. If I am to please God I need a safety lock applied to my heart daily. Every day I need a fresh anointing of the oil of the Holy Spirit upon my head drenching me from head to foot. I need to study the example of Jesus and begin to learn his way of thinking. I need a special time to worship and praise my Lord. I need to express my gratitude daily. Otherwise I might become a bitter, ungrateful, complaining child. I need the Holy Spirit to apply hot coals to my mouth because an unbridled tongue above all things is sinful.
Everyday when I hear the gentle whisper of Jesus calling me to come to the garden, I must go! I would like to suggest that when we disregard and ignore the call to come to the garden it is entirely possible, as time goes by, the whisper will become fainter and fainter until we can no longer hear Jesus calling. Of course, he still stands ready to meet us in the garden but our daily reminders that are for our own good seem to disappear from our ears. Then out of nowhere some fine sunny day the rug gets pulled out from under our feet and we find our self flat on our kiester! Now it seems we can’t get to the garden fast enough. God is good. He will be waiting at the garden gate with open arms, anxious for us to enter. But never underestimate the personal loss of blessings that we miss or the personal cost we encounter from living our life apart from the sweet fellowship with Jesus that is to be found only in the garden. The garden is NOT a place of obligation it IS a place of privilege, divine guidance and blessing. It is a habit that only gets only sweeter as time goes by. The argument of not enough time, seems to go away when you learn how sweet connecting with the Lord really is. It is not a matter of how much time you spend in "Quiet Time", but rather what happened between you and God during this time. When you left the garden was your heart full and your mind at peace?
It is God’s hope that you will always want to return to the garden and spend time alone with him and it is his joy when you do! The garden is a special place of intentional, uninterrupted fellowship with God. However, when I leave the garden, the One who lives inside me goes with me out into the world of responsibilities. He is always available throughout my day for continued fellowship. God loves receiving my brief thoughts of gratitude that I shoot up to his ears in a moment of joy. He welcomes a prayer for myself or another when those needs come to mind. God loves my phrases of trust when fear rears its ugly head. God hears my requests for instant help in my moments of temptation and times of need. Conversational prayer throughout my day is both an amazing privilege and a fantastic blessing!
- Do you have a special time each day when you meet with God to pray, read his Word, and listen for his voice?
- Do you think it is absurd to suggest that Satan might delight in keeping us away from God’s Word by pushing us in the direction of other good Christian reading opportunities instead of reading God's Word?
- Will you consider this scripture? “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thought and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 NIV
- Do you believe this scripture is true?
- Are you willing to pray and ask God to help you re-evaluate what you are reading?
- Are you currently enjoying your time alone with God in the garden? If not, why do you think this is?
I confess that in the past I have been guilty of misunderstanding the purpose of “Quite Time”. Forgive me when I reduce this experience to a specific amount of time, a specific time of day, a place, a routine, or an obligation. I am reminded that Jesus went to pray when he felt a need for fellowship with his Father. He made time to pray before any major event in his life. Jesus blessed bread and called upon the Father for strength before performing miracles. Jesus instructed his disciples to stay awake and pray so that their faith would not fail. God, the idea that “Quite Time” should be the same time every day is valuable to all of us who live shrouded in human frailty. I thank you Lord that you allow me to set the time and place for our standing “Quite Time” appointment. I am confident that when I establish this time with you, I know that you will faithfully call me at that time and to that place every day. God help me to understand that “Quiet Time” is where I praise and worship you. It is where I express my gratitude for all that I am and all that you have provided for me. It is during this time alone with you that you allow me the privilege of casting my cares on you. “Quite Time” is where you will open my eyes and teach me your ways. It is the place where I will hear your voice. God, I am so blessed that you minister to me in ways that help me change my negative attitudes. I am so grateful that you meet me in this special place and administer your balm of healing to my emotions. God, I now understand that “Quiet Time” is the very special place where you fellowship with me and equip me for the challenges of this life, not a place of obligation. I thank you God that you love me enough to call me every day to come to the garden!
It is in your Son Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.