Natural Habitat

Will this camellia live or not?

Last month we had several days with temperatures in single digits. This is unusual for us and it has taken a toll on our evergreen perennials. Yet walking around our yard I noticed something. The native perennials like American Holly, dog hobble, balsam fur, white pine, native magnolia, rhododendron, and mountain laurel are just fine. Their leaves or needles are just as green as ever.

It is the non-native species that are suffering. Our variegated ornamental bush has lost most all of the green and white leaves that in the past looked lovely all winter. We have three different varieties of camellias which are all suffering with browning leaves and frozen buds. Several azaleas have leaves which are turning brown and only time will tell if they will recover or not. We have mostly perennials in our yard because we appreciate that they grow and bloom year after year. The big freeze has changed that!

Those native plants flourish because this is their natural habitat with the conditions perfectly suited for them. Seeds and plants have “planting zones” for a reason. They are flourish in specific temperature conditions.

This is true in our spiritual life as well. God has prescribed certain conditions that ensure optimum spiritual growth potential. We are studying Acts in our Women’s Community Bible study and I was reminded of those conditions this week.

Acts 2 describes the birth of the church of Jesus Christ. This is the CHURCH that we are ALL a part of if we have accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord. This church is not a building or a denomination or even a specific congregation, but is comprised of the followers of Jesus. In Acts 2 Peter gave his amazing sermon relating God’s plan to redeem us from the fall. Acts 2:41 – 42 says –

41 Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day—about 3,000 in all.

42 All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals, and to prayer.

So here are the four ingredients needed to create the “natural habitat” to ensure spiritual growth. Just as plants need sunlight, rain, the correct soil composition, and conducive temperatures, we need

  • Biblical teaching
  • fellowship
  • sharing meals
  • prayer

The apostles’ teaching is contained in the New Testament and often quotes portions of the Old Testament. Biblical teaching renews our minds and we learn what it means to follow Jesus. Fellowship encourages us and allows us to encourage others as we share in the ups and downs of living in this fallen world. Sharing meals together is a special way to connect with others. The Bible is full of places where God “shows up” while people are eating. Paul says in Hebrews 10:24-25 –

24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Prayer is essential. My dear friend, Ann Melton, shared this week that all our prayers should begin with praise. Jesus taught us that example in what we call the “Lord’s Prayer”. Prayer is our opportunity to communicate with God which involves listening as well as speaking. Prayer is our direct channel to God.

We must nurture our spiritual lives and cultivate the natural habitat that will allow us to grow and flourish spiritually.

Then our lives will produce beautiful fruit of the Spirit for the Glory of God.