From Garden to Garden

This month let us meditate on God’s good work done in various gardens from which His glory shines and through which He extends us every good thing for our body and spirit.

The Garden of Eden (Genesis 2: 7 – 25).  It is where “the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed.” (Genesis 2: 8)    It was good and God tells us that He “made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” (Genesis 2: 9)  It was in this good garden God tested Adam and Eve’s faith and love for Him through the devil’s deadly and unholy temptation.  Adam had walked with God, had received God’s command and single prohibition, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2: 16 – 17)  Adam and Eve failed the test of their faith by: providing for themselves; testing God; and worshipping Satan (Matthew 4: 1 – 11).  The first Adam plunged all mankind into sin, death and the power of the devil.  Yet, God promised Adam, Eve and all mankind a second Adam that would defeat these enemies and reconcile God to man.  God graciously covered their shame with innocent life and removed them from that garden so that they would look with eyes of faith for the promised Messiah.

The Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26: 36 – 46, Mark 14: 32 – 42, Luke 22: 39 – 46, John 18: 1).  The God/Man came into this garden with His disciples on the night when God tested Him to the extreme and the devil sought a more advantageous time to tempt Christ (Luke 4: 12).  Jesus prayed His Father’s will be done for He had come into the world not to judge it (the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil – John 3: 18 – 21) but to save it (the Tree of Life – John 3: 17).  Christ is the fruit of the Tree of Life that hung on the cursed tree.  He is the fruit that is pleasing in God’s sight and desirable for the salvation of mankind:  “…he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.  He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces, he was despised, and we esteemed him not” (Isaiah 53: 2b – 3).  Unbelief, fear, darkness and chaos blinded men that night to the salvation with which God is reconciled with man and we are raised up as children of God.

The garden in which our risen Lord arose again on the third day (Matthew 28: 1 – 10 , Mark 16: 1 – 10, Luke 24: 1 – 12, John 20: 1 – 18).  In this garden God tested Mary, Peter and John’s faith while Satan tempted them with an empty tomb.  The Prince of Peace would not allow Mary to be overcome by the temptation to grieve but spoke to her, calling her by name (John 20: 16).  While the first Adam kept silent the second Adam spoke clearly and personally to her.  He proclaimed the reconciliation of God with man, commanding her to “go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” (John 20: 17).  From this garden our Lord and God points us to our future and final home.

As we live, move and breath in this veil of tears God will test us, proving Himself trustworthy and true as He sustains, strengthens and safeguards our faith, comforting us as He conforms us more and more into the image of His Son by the power of His Holy Spirit. 

These three gardens are historical and on which we should marvel and meditate upon God’s good and gracious provision.  Yet, God gives us eyes of faith that look – not for a return to a garden of testing and temptation but to the entrance into our heavenly Father’s home where He will have us recline at His eternal wedding feast that will never end.

God’s peace be upon you, your family and your work.

Pastor Bob



In Luke 9:30 Jesus speaks of His exodus with Moses and Elijah.  Certainly Jesus knew about the exodus story, but it appears in this text He is applying it to Himself.  Why would He do that?

Jesus was an active participant in the first Passover Feast which foreshadowed the New Covenant in His blood.  He was there leading and guiding the nation of Israel in that feast.  Jesus led Israel’s exodus from slavery to freedom which culminated in taking possession of the land promised to Abraham (John 14:6-11).

The Word made flesh appeared with Moses and Elijah where He discussed completing His exodus through the cross and grave with them.  Jesus was prepared to fulfill the promise made to Adam in the Garden of Eden as He began His final journey to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover and institute a new covenant in His blood.  Jesus had begun His exodus through the water of baptism in the Jordan just as Israel had when they passed through the waters of the Red Sea.  He had withstood 40 days of temptations in the wilderness.  Jesus successfully defeated the devil in each and every temptation unlike the Israelites who were forced to wander in the wilderness for 40 years because they had failed to trust God.  Jesus was advancing the Kingdom of God through His ministry just as Israel physically advanced into the Promised Land through military conquest.  Even more, Jesus exodus involved being scorned, betrayed, falsely convicted, scourged, crucified for their sin, arise again on the third day, appear to His disciples and people, and ascend to the right hand of God Almighty.  Jesus completed His exodus in victory and won the true and eternal peace for His people. 

You and I have heard and read the Book of Exodus but have we applied it to ourselves?  As we prepare for the Lenten Season, Holy Week, and Easter have we recalled God’s promises made and fulfilled in Jesus?  Jesus tells us to remember that in our baptism the Holy Spirit worked through water and God’s Word to join us to Jesus.  In that blessed union God took us from bondage to the devil and death to freedom and life as His child.  Christ tells us to remember that He and His Spirit live in us as we sojourn through this lost and dying world.  The Son of God reminds us we are God’s children. God’s children whom He has taught and trained to advance His Kingdom through the hearing and study of His Word, prayer, weekly worship, Christian education and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  The King of kings reminds us He advances it through His church into the Kingdom of Power where we live, work, socialize and vacation.  Jesus advances and overcomes all adversaries and opponents through the Gospel, wishing that all would come to a knowledge of the truth and be saved by faith alone in Him.  Our Savior sustains, strengthens, and preserves you and me in the one true faith with the true manna from heaven:  the true body and blood of Jesus in, with and under the bread and wine.  The Lamb of God assures us that on our final day, whether by death or His glorious return, He will usher us into the Kingdom of Glory where we will join the angels, archangels and all the company of heaven forever.

Yes, Jesus calls us to apply His exodus to ourselves because He is with us as we again prepare for Lent, Holy Week and Easter.  He instructs us to prepare our soul, mind and body for the exodus He leads us upon as we travel upward to the true and eternal Jerusalem. 

Pastor Bob




One of the easiest things for me to talk about is “focus” and yet it is the hardest thing for me to do.  I start out with a determination to get a task done and not be distracted by competing or external events.  I start out with determination to study the Scriptures and not be distracted.  I start out with a determination to pray and not get distracted.  I start out with a determination to be a Christian husband, father, brother and friend and not get distracted.  Yet, the old Adam in me works to shift my focus from these things to competing or external things, driving me to distraction.  I fall short of the mark because my focus drifts from the more important to the least important things.  From others to myself.  From God to myself.  Then I’m further distracted by the things I should have done that remain undone or incomplete.  Then I hear the Lenten Midweek sermons with God’s truth and He puts all things back in the proper focus:  Jesus.


As we sojourn on our 2021 Lenten exodus with Jesus and His disciples we are inclined to focus on the shortcomings of the disciples.  The drama that results from their lack of focus:

+ self-importance;

+ a theology of glory;

+ physical and spiritual shortcomings;

+ betrayal;

+ denial;

+ change;

+ self-serving love;

+ self-consuming grief and shame;

+ and a poor memory.

If we focus on the failures of others we miss something critical!  Even if we were to focus on our own shortcomings we would miss the one critical thing!


Jesus is focused on the one critical thing:  His Father’s will to save man from sin, death and the power of the devil.  Let us keep our eyes on One whose focus is perfect and holy: Jesus.  Though the very glory of God He comes to His creation in humility, taking on all the weaknesses found in the human body.  He is true God and true Man – divinity veiled in human flesh.  Jesus, though innocent, will take upon Himself the full divine wrath for our sin.  He struggles with and overcomes the weight of His divine appointment without rest or sleep.  Jesus remains steadfast and faithful to God and man amidst the betrayal or abandonment of His disciples.  Christ Jesus continues to love and justify those who suffer the agony of failure and experience self-condemnation.  Immanuel refuses to deny either God or His people even when all have turned their backs on Him.  The Lamb of God brings change to a world that is incapable of either recognizing their need for change or accomplishing it.  The King of kings offers the love of God and life to those who sit at His feet and then betray Him to their enemies.  The Prince of Peace comes to His people amidst suffering and death with true comfort and eternal life.  The God who never even forgets one of His promises gives His people His Spirit that they would remember, believe and receive the peace, joy and comfort found only in His promises:  Jesus.


My brothers and sisters in Christ, God leads us on our 2028 Lenten exodus, calling us to focus not on the shortcomings of others but the steadfastness and love of His only begotten Son.  God gives us His Word that, by hearing it, His Spirit gives us both the will and desire to focus on what is critical:  Jesus Christ.  Jesus upholds us with His mighty arm and outstretched hand – hands of flesh and blood that were nailed to the cross and still bear the scars of His redeeming love.  Keep your eyes on the love of God: Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior!


Be Still.

Being still is either at the top or near the top of the list of things that are incredibly difficult for us to do.  When I enlisted in the Marine Corps I was immediately sent to Recruit Training at San Diego, CA for 12 weeks and was introduced to “being still.”  There I was forced to “be still.”  Combat veterans made sure that there was no doubt when they gave the command “ATTENTION!” all activity would cease and all attention would focus on them, what they had to say and what they had to demonstrate.  They were deadly serious about us being still.  They knew the benefits of stillness when engaging an enemy on the battlefield. 

The Psalmist, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, tells us to “be still” and know God is God.  Our heavenly Father knows the joy and the anguish we have experienced, are now experiencing and will experience.  Our Lord knows our thoughts before they take form in our hearts and minds.  The Spirit knows our sinful inclination to act on our own reason and strength without first coming to God in prayer.  Our Creator knows the good He has prepared for us this day and that we are inclined to seek a “good” thing of our choosing.  Our Redeemer knows that when we are actively doing what we want to do we will not see the good He is doing for us, those we love and those we know.  Our King knows if we will not “be still” we will never know He is God because we are too busy trying to be god.  My brothers and sisters in Christ, what joy we often forfeit and what needless pain we bear because we will not “be still.”  

Rather, by the power of His Holy Spirit may we “be still,” listen, remember and believe.  Let us from now on begin our days by awaking from a night where He has kept us from all harm and danger and “be still.”

Even before we move a hand to throw off the bedding let us lie quietly and listen – listen to the still small voice of our God.  He speaks to us through His means of grace, promising us each and every good thing for our mind, body, and spirit anew this morning.  He has prepared all things for our good this day, just as He had yesterday and as He will tomorrow.

His Spirit helps us to “be still,” reminding us how God has delivered us from our enemies by the innocent suffering and death of the Crucified One.  He reminds us that we draw the breath of eternal life because the Lamb who was slain on the cross breathed His last breath before giving up His Spirit in death as the full payment for our sins.  The Spirit of Truth comforts and reassures us that though the nations rage and kingdoms totter we have nothing to fear for God is our refuge and strength.  God bids us to “be still” – behold and remember the works of the Lord in our lives, the lives of those we love and those we know.  He does marvelous things with which He gives us joy and peace amidst the trails and struggles of this present life.

God tells us to be still yet a moment longer before we arise.  He calls us to believe that He is God and has done all these things for His glory and our good.  God has made us a new creature in Christ through our baptism.  He gives us His strength so we would drown the Old Adam who is desperately trying to get us up to do his works.  His Spirit calls us, the new creature in Christ, to arise anew from our beds.  He sustains, strengthens and safeguards us for the work that our heavenly Father has prepared for us to do in His kingdom this very day.

Our heavenly Father bids us to arise and follow His Son onto the spiritual battlefield of this fallen world.  The Son leads us forward amidst the noise and din of battle against our defeated enemy and his arrayed forces.  The Holy Spirit calls us to be brave and courageous for He has clothed us in the whole armor of God.  God knows the fight will soon be over, our adversaries forever silenced and He will welcome us into our eternal and perfect joy and peace. 
Pastor Bob