The strength, growth and fruitfulness of a tree depends on the depth of its roots and in like manner the values, beliefs and his friends reveal the pattern of his life. Whatever is the source of our material and spiritual nourishment, from that itself we draw the guidance, direction and strength to move towards our destination for life. It depends entirely on us to decide who we want to follow; the lies, evil and darkness of the devil or the holiness, righteousness and the light of the glory of God and His Word. For our life to be full of blessings and to be a blessing to others, we must make the right choice, though we can always change our ways.
The meaning of strong roots of a believer – While explaining the parable of different types of soils, Lord Jesus said, ‘The seed is the Word of God’ (Luke 8:11). God has chosen each believer and the sower is the Holy Spirit. Every believer is supposed to, ‘watch, stand fast in faith, be brave, be strong’ (1 Corinthians 16:13). The wood of the cedars of Lebanon was used extensively in construction of Solomon’s Temple and palaces in Jerusalem as well as various buildings. A cedar tree would eventually grow to a height of up to 120 feet with its root going about 30 feet underground. The tree would thus be very strongly bound to the earth where it grows and can withstand strong winds and storms. The higher the height, the stronger and more is the wood from that tree. A believer is expected to bear much fruit in his life and this is evident in the works that he does for the heavenly kingdom.
A blessed person is compared to a tree that is ‘planted by the rivers of water, that brings its fruit in its season’ (Psalm 1:3). Lord Jesus told the Samaritan woman on the well about the specific quality of the water that He gives; first, that the one who drinks that will never thirst; second, it ‘will become in him a fountain of water’ and finally, it will bring in ‘everlasting life’ for that person (John 4:14). Every believer is assured of salvation and everlasting life being a child of God through faith in the Redeemer (John 1:12). This spring that comes up in us by the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit is to be a blessing for others that we reach out with the message of the Gospel. That is the fruit that we bear in our lives.
A person’s nature is thus reflected in the fruit that he bears for ‘every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit’ (Matthew 7:16-17). Moses was barred by God from leading the Israelites into the Promised Land but that did not stop him from being their spiritual leader and the Book of Deuteronomy was written by him as last instructions from God to his people. Likewise, Joshua also at the end of his mission of leading his people into the Promised Land, told them to serve the LORD their God with diligence (Joshua 24:14-15). And then he said, ‘And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served …….But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD’. Moses had chosen Joshua, a young man, as his assistant and he performed this role for forty years. Joshua had assisted Moses for forty years, led the Israelites for a period of approximately twenty years or so. During this period and before that he had been a close follower of the LORD God.
‘God spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he would return to the camp, but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tent of meeting’ (Exodus 33:11). Lord Jesus would go a little distance from the three chosen disciples to pray but they would hear His words to God. Joshua was with Moses for forty days on Mount Sinai and his period of forty years of being his assistant strengthened his foundation and helped him be deeply rooted in God’s love and His Word.
Apostle Peter is seen by most as a brash person but he was fully aware of his own sinful nature and the holiness of the Son of God. While teaching a large number of people on the shore of lake of Gennasaret, Lord Jesus used Simon Peter’s boat as a pulpit, while he was repairing his fishing nets after toiling the whole night and catching no fish (Luke 5:1-8). After His teaching Lord Jesus asked Apostle Peter to ‘launch out into the deep and let down your net for a catch’. Peter, an expert fisherman, tried to resist but then cast the nets that were filled with a great catch forcing him to call his friends for help. The nets did not tear and both the boats were filled ‘so that they began to sink’. Peter saw his present state in the light of the glory of the Lord to cry out saying, ‘depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord’. This humble attitude was the key to his spiritual growth and bearing fruit by establishing strong roots in the Lord, our rock and refuge. He could then face various challenges and seek to be crucified upside down to avoid being in the same position as our Lord. Growing on the strong foundation of faith in Lord Jesus results in standing in His protection and escape being tossed around or fail during the storms of trials and temptations.
How do we develop deep roots in the Lord? Lord Jesus contrasted two types of people of faith comparing them to two builders (Luke 6:47-49). The one who comes to Him, listens to His teaching and then follows it is like the one building on a deep foundation on a solid rock. Such a house withstands the floodwaters of life’s trials. The second is the ‘one who hears and does not obey’ and is compared to a house built ‘right on the ground, without a foundation’ and is easily swept away with least resistance. King David because of his strong faith could easily declare, ‘The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God, my strength in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold’ (Psalm 18:2). David did not become so strong in faith in a day, he had tested the Lord in the wilderness while tending to his father’s sheep while facing a lion and a bear and other dangers. He would sing praises to the Lord and rejoice in the feeling of His strong presence with him.
Apostle Paul has taught the way to this by first, living your lives in Lord Jesus, rooted and built up in Him; second, remain focused on the teaching of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God; third, be thankful for everything, thus displaying humble submission and not through claiming some rights; fourth, test and reject ‘hollow and deceptive philosophy which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ’ (Colossians 2:6-8). Our Savior warned us to ‘beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves’ (Matthew 7:15). The Jewish faith was taken over by Pharisees, Sadducees and the leaders and most of them were focused on recognition and honor from men. They have added more than six hundred commands to the Word of God for a Jew to follow, which no one including themselves can and do follow. Some of these had come into faith and the controversy regarding non Jews to first be circumcised to become Christians was started by such believers and even today various differing views prevail in the church.
Apostle Paul has said, ‘All Scripture is God breathed’ and the Greek word used is ‘theopneustos’ where ‘theo’ means God and ‘pneuo’ breath or inspiration (2 Timothy 3:16). At the time of creation God breathed into the form of dust to give it life. In like manner in all of Scripture, though written by various writers over a long period of time, the central theme is the same for the Holy Spirit is the writer using different people. When we focus ourselves on such a powerful Word, His light starts acting from within us to transform us bit by bit. Lord Jesus is ‘the author and finisher of our faith’ and our ‘looking unto Him’ is to look away from other worldly things and never shifting our gaze from Him (Hebrews 12:2). As the author and finisher of our faith, He is with us at the start point as also at the finishing point of our worldly race. Apostle Paul assures us ‘that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ’ (Philippians 1:6). God has chosen us for His good purpose of destroying the works of the devil as followers of Lord Jesus. Every believer has a designated role and it can never be fulfilled in our own strength but in the power and authority of the Lord.
Until and unless we are closely connected to the Lord, we are in no position to receive His blessings. The psalmist showed us the road to a blessed life, ‘Delight yourself in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass’ (Psalm 37:4-5). To delight in, to commit your way and to trust in Him is to be in a close relationship with Him and that is being deeply rooted in Him. Prophet Ezekiel was shown water flowing from under the Temple threshold and he saw (Ezekiel 47:12) various trees used for food, planted by the banks of the river. These trees’ leaves will not wither and their fruit will not fail. They shall bear fruit every month’. The final fulfillment of this prophecy was seen by Apostle John (Revelation 22:2) and in a believer’s life this continues throughout his life on earth when they are grafted into the ‘True Vine’, Lord Jesus. This result of continuous fruit bearing is not because of some special soil but due to the nourishment that is received from the house of God. When we are continually connected to the Lord through His Word, prayer and worship, we are blessed with the Manna from heaven to nourish, strengthen and lead us on the path of fruitfulness.
The Israelites had to collect Manna from heaven every day except on the day of Sabbath when they were supposed to be worshipping and communing with God. In hot climate countries a plant must be watered daily for it to survive, for otherwise it will wither away. Lord Jesus cut off life to the fig tree by saying, ‘May no one ever eat fruit from you again’, for He Himself is the source of light and life (Mark 11:14). Anyone who is not receiving his supply cannot bear good fruit though supply from the evil one will help in producing rotten fruit. We have the freewill to choose where we want to plant ourselves. Being rooted in the Word of God we are nourished by the Son of God, the Living Word, but with this we must also be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. It is only with the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit that we can ever be what God wants us to be. Apostle Paul reveals to us the source of power in us, ‘Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine, according to the power that is at work within us, to Him be glory’ (Ephesians 3:20-21). The Holy Spirit is ‘of power, love and of a sound mind’ and who can be useful to God and others in a fruitful manner without these attributes? The deeper we go to draw on the source, the more is the flow, for most people are content with just the skin deep touch from the Lord.
Need and way of being rooted in God – Job was severely tested and he lost everything while his three friends also blamed him for some unconfessed sin in his life. Yet he stood firm in faith to say, ‘I know that my Redeemer lives, and in the end He will stand upon the earth’ (Job 19:25). Just like a tree can withstand storms because of its deep roots that keep it anchored to the earth, our deep and strong faith helps us face all trials and temptations in the power of the Lord and be victorious. Daniel’s three friends were to be thrown into the fiery furnace for not bowing to the idol that king Nebuchadnezzar had got made (Daniel 3:17). But they could confidently say to the king, ‘our God, whom we worship, is able to save us from the blazing furnace, and to deliver us out of your hands’. They could boldly even say that even if He did not save due to any reason, we will still not bow down to this idol because of their strong roots of faith in their God.
We are born and chosen to be fruitful and Lord Jesus has given the urgency of being rooted in Him, ‘I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing’ (John 15:5). No one can bear fruit by himself.
Third, to discern and not be deceived –Lord Jesus warned all believers, ‘watch out that no one deceives you, For many will come in Mt name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah’ and will deceive many’ (Matthew 24:4-5). There are many today who claim to possess supernatural powers equal to Lord Jesus and seek their own glory.
Five practical ways to develop strong roots in Lord Jesus – One, surrender all areas of your life to God for one cannot serve two masters (Matthew 6:24) for loyalty to one will always be at the cost of other.
Two, Meditate on Scripture, God commanded Joshua to study and meditate on His Word ‘so that you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success’ (Joshua 1:8). It is not only for success but even for a good life in the Lord. God has warned, ‘My people perish for lack of knowledge’ (Hosea 4:6) and the source of all knowledge and wisdom is His Word and His Spirit.
Three, We must worship and pray to be wise and understand the will of God. Apostle Paul has shown us the way by singing ‘psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord’ (Ephesians 5:19). This is the way to a close relationship with the Lord and be blessed.
Four, monitor your friends and associates – Just like a tree planted in the wrong soil and surroundings will wither away (Psalm 1:2-3) the same is with us, believers. Identify your friends from the fruit of their life.
Five, humble yourself before the Lord –The first point of the first sermon of the Lord on the mount, He preached, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’ (Matthew 5:3). This is humility and no other poverty of any kind. In his psalm of repentance, King David prayed, ‘The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit’ (Psalm 51:17) that surrenders to Him in humility seeking forgiveness and restoration of relationship after sin. God’s love for mankind, expressed through His Son is not to condemn the world, but to save the sinners and graft them back into the ‘True Vine’. He loves and leaves the choice to us to decide to follow Him and have eternal life or chase the desires of the flesh and suffer eternal damnation.
God did not give any dominion rights to his angels anywhere and only mankind is blessed in this. After falling from our glorious state and coming under the control of the devil, the only way for all of mankind is to surrender to that immovable Rock, the Son of God. It is only then that in His strength we aree able to face any and every challenge and storm brought in by the forces of darkness in our lives.