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Roots and Fruit

March 1st, 2017

Your influences determine your natural expressions

 May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love.” Ephesians 3:17 NLT

My thoughts and comments today are about, “roots and fruit.”

You gradually become more like the persons you admire and choose as companions. You may not intend to do so; you may not even notice when that is happening, but your relationships shape the process of who you are becoming. Unnoticeably, you will begin to think like, talk like, and act like the people you are most frequently with and most comfortable being around. The strongest influence you allow will eventually determine your most honest and natural expressions. Those influences could be the friends you seek, as well as the music you prefer, the books you read, the movies you attend, the television programs you watch, or the people you envy or admire. Regarding those things, what do you presently see expressed from your life, through your opinions, attitudes, vocabulary, choices, values, priorities, or lifestyle?

Now, consider the vast difference when God and His Word are the strongest influences in your daily life. Spend time with God. You will notice the difference. What about you could be – should be – different and better than you are now? The Apostle Paul offers a description of the sordid expressions of your natural enemies, the world, the flesh, and the devil. See Galatians 5:19-21 NLT. Paul contrasts that with the beauty the Holy Spirit brings into your life. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23 NKJV.

Let those spiritual qualities describe what you really want your life to be. The Bible describes the process; “When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, your life will produce these evil results . . but when the Holy Spirit controls your life, He will produce this kind of (Christ-like) fruit in us.” Galatians 5:19/22 NLT. Your choice makes a difference, for better or worse. The worst expressions come from your carnal, unholy flesh. Christ-like expressions come from the Holy Spirit who dwells within you.

The problem is not as evident as it may at first seem. The root is the problem, not the fruit. For better or worse, fruit merely reflects the life that is at its source. Be clear about this. Symptoms are external and superficial; they only reflect the problem. The source is internal and always influential. You waste your time trying to control the fruit, when you should first choose the right Source. Jesus said, As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit.” See John 15:1-8 NKJV. Time spent with God’s Word and Holy Spirit is valuable beyond price, transforming everything about you in the best possible way.

Today, I pray “. . that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love really is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it. Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” Ephesians 3:17-19 NLT.

Christian Communications 2017

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Rooted and Established

September 13th, 2013

“May you be rooted deep . . and founded securely on (God’s) love.”  Ephesians 3:17 AMP.

Grow a life with depth of character, fidelity of discipleship, and sincere spirituality.

My thoughts and comments today are about “rooted and established.”

There is more than a single dimension to a meaningful life. Everyone wants to reach high and spread wide. A successful life has depth. “I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power . . to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:16-19 NIV. That’s depth! Shallow living is quickly exposed as inadequate for stability and strength. Growth that is high and wide is external; real and enduring growth is first internal and unseen.

Did you know that a tree’s sustainable growth is symmetrical? The tree that spreads its branches wide and towers heavenward will fall with the first strong wind unless its roots sink deeply into the earth. A strong, healthy tree stands because its taproot reaches deeply in proportion to its height, while its other roots extend broadly proportional to its breadth.The spirit of man is that way.

The Bible describes the person who would be, “like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf shall not wither, and whatever he does shall prosper. The ungodly are not so . .” Psalm 1:3-4 NKJV. And what does that person do differently from others? There are several things a successful person does not do: he does not regard the opinions, beliefs, or counsel of the ungodly; he does not companion with sinners; he does not regard lightly what is holy. Read Psalm 1:1 NKJV.

Even more importantly, this is what a successful person does. He delights in and does what God says, and his life is absorbed with God’s truth. Psalm 1:2 NKJV. Information only takes you so far, however much you gain and however highly you prize it. God’s Word is inspiration, giving a rich depth to your life where you draw strength that nourishes and establishes your soul.

It is not information about God that grounds you; it is your intimate, personal knowledge of God and your relationship with Him that deepen your love for Him. Since college, a life verse of mine has been a cry from the heart of the Apostle Paul, “That I may know Him in the power of His Resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable even unto His death.” Philippians 3:10 NKJV. Power, suffering, death – those are anything but shallow living. The heart with a passion to know Jesus has roots planted deeply where life will flourish for a lifetime.

In His parable about seed and soils, Jesus warned of a sterile, shallow life. “Other seeds fell upon shallow soil with underlying rock. The plants sprang up quickly, but they soon wilted beneath the hot sun and died because the roots had no nourishment in the shallow soil . . the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and receive it with joy. But like young plants in such soil, their roots don’t go very deep. At first they get along fine, but they wilt as soon as they have problems or are persecuted because they believe the word.” Matthew 13:5-6/20-21. Go deep. Grow a life with depth of character, consistency of practice, fidelity of discipleship, and sincere spirituality. Attach your life securely to the One who is eternal.

My prayer for you today is that your roots go deeply into God’s character, truth, and love.

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Where Is Love?

May 14th, 2010

“Abide in My love.” John 15:9 NKJV

“Having the right kind of feeling for the wrong person or  wrong things is not where love is found.”

My thoughts today ask “where is love?”

Isn’t love a wonderful feeling? Maybe that’s why people talk about “falling in love,” only to later find themselves falling out of love. If love is just a feeling, however grand it may be at the moment, then you can lose it as readily as you felt it. Feelings are whimsical, changing with your moods and circumstances.

Thinking love is no more than a feeling may be the reason that some people find themselves having the right kind of feeling for the wrong person or the wrong things. If it’s love, they reason, it must be right. If it feels so right it must not be wrong. The problem is a dangerous misunderstanding of love. Be very aware of this; the right kind of feeling does not make it the right kind of thing.

Love does feel wonderful, and it should! Love does produce incredible feelings as it should, but those feelings are the fruit of love not the root of love. Love is rooted in your will, and then expressed in your emotions. For love to fully be what it can and should be, your will needs to be firmly anchored in God’s will and your love planted deeply in God’s love.

There is an insightful prayer of the Apostle Paul that is particularly relevant to my previous statement, “I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources He will give you mighty inner strength . . and I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in Him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love really is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it. Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” Ephesians 3:16-19 NLT.

Where your love is rooted will evidence its reality and reliability. If it rests only on your feelings, what will be left when your emotions differ from now? When love resides in what is eternal, you discover that love is also eternal, not subject to yours or others’ transient moods and whims.

Love is a wonderful thing when you find it. Everybody is looking for that; not everyone finds it. You will only find your full capacity to give and receive love when you abandon your life to God’s will, and allow yourself to receive and give God’s love. That’s where real love is found. Your will and love are inseparable; either without the other is incomplete. “When you obey Me, you remain in My love, just as I obey My Father and remain in His love. I have told you this so that you will be filled with My joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!” John 15:10-11 NLT.

Here is Jesus’ wise counsel: “Abide in Me . . My words abide in you . . abide in My love . . keep My commandments . . love one another as I have loved you . . your joy will be full.” Read John 15:1-12 NKJV. Do that and your will find where love is! Trust me; God’s way is always the right way. It cannot be otherwise.

My prayer for you today is that your love finds it source in God, and is real and lasts.

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Poison of Bitterness

February 22nd, 2010

“Looking diligently . . lest any root of bitterness spring up.” Hebrews 12:15 NKJV

“Be quick to bring every hurt and disappointment to God’s healing hands.”

My thoughts today are about the “poison of bitterness.”

There are things that may not seem very big at the time, but later can have bigger and further reaching effects than you expected. Some emotions are like that, and bitterness is one of the worst of those that do. It begins innocently enough, with some minor offense that leaves you feeling slighted, overlooked or mistreated. What does it hurt to recount to yourself how that should not have happened, or to seek the comfort of sharing your feelings with an understanding friend? No big deal, you say? But it often is a big deal.

A hurt feeling can readily become the seed of far more serious emotions, which eventually take root and produce fruit you never intended. Contrary to it name, bitterness at first may taste sweet. There is an initial but short-lived satisfaction, but the aftertaste is everything the name implies. The fruit of a tree identifies the nature of that tree. The root of a tree determines the abundance of its fruit. Picking the fruit won’t change the expression of a tree’s nature; killing the root will!

I have observed that the more a person entertains or expresses a negative emotion the more that grows, the stronger it develops, and the larger the circle of people it touches. Hurt feelings easily become settled attitudes. Watch out when your wrong attitude sows the seeds of bitterness. Bitterness destroys happiness, poisons hearts, and separates friends.

It may begin as targeted at a particular person or situation, but will ultimately touch all of your relationships, coloring every interaction and subsequent action. The Bible advises, “See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many . . trouble you and defile many.” Hebrews 12:15 NIV/KJV. The insanity of a bitter attitude spreads its poison to any and all.

You can see that in a person’s clouded countenance and tense features, or uncharacteristic reactions and sharpness of words without apparent cause. The Bible says, “watching diligently,” which suggests you alone are finally responsible for your attitudes and reactions. You can’t control what others do or say, but you must guard your own heart and choose your own responses. Guard your heart diligently, choosing your responses wisely. Your own happiness and spiritual well-being is at stake. “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Proverbs 4:23 NIV.

Beware of any root of bitterness, however subtle or harmless it may at first seem. Let me suggest a better way. “Give all your cares to God, for He cares about  you . . that Christ may be more and more at home in your heart as you trust in Him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love . . remain in Me, and I will remain in you; you cannot be fruitful apart from Me . . that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault . .” 1 Peter 5:7 NLT/Ephesians 3:17 NLT/John 15:4 NLT/Philippians 2:15 NKV. Be careful about your roots; the fruit will then care for itself.

My prayer for you today is: bring every hurt and trust it into God’s healing hands.

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