I woke up one morning to a terrible, ferocious weather forecast. The possibility of violent thunderstorms – 100% Plus, we could expect hurricane level winds.
Do you think that weather forecast stopped my mom from going shopping? And whom do you think she insisted be her chauffer?
When we walked out of her favorite store in the middle of that afternoon, we were alarmed. The sky was black. The wind gusts made it difficult to walk.
The thunder was deafening.
Furthermore, as we drove through one section of town, dozens and dozens and dozens of trees had been knocked over, crushing cars, damaging homes, pulling down power lines, turning streets into obstacle courses.
I’ve never been in a war zone, but seeing all that destruction gave me a hint of what a war zone would be like. Some of those trees had been there for 60 years and a mighty wind comes along and bam. Leveled. Destroyed.
As we passed fallen tree after fallen tree one thing stood out. The fallen trees seemed to have shallow roots.
So – what does that story have to do with us? Everything. The Bible compares believers to trees. Who doesn’t stop to look at a tree overloaded with luscious fruit? What is more appealing than a believer dripping with love, joy, peace & all the other fruit of the Spirit and constantly introducing others to our Savior? This is what we want the Christian life to be: Solid. Positive. Productive. Influential. Blessed. Attractive. Rich. Luscious.
If you have trusted Jesus as your savior, that is what HE wants for you.
But no tree is exempt from blasting, destructive winds, and this tree is in for a rough future because it has no roots.
In fact, it isn’t going to happen. No roots, no tree, no exceptions.
The fallen trees I saw paid a huge penalty for not having deep roots. So do you and I. If we want to be all God intended us to be, each of us must develop a deep, substantial root structure for our Christian live to nourish us, support us and help us withstand the blasts of the devil.
GET THIS: The way up to fruitfulness is down through substantial roots.
The way up is down. Focusing on the fruit and forgetting the roots brings
certain failure. Do not expect a bright future if that is your strategy. Roots are power.
During the darkest, most discouraging times of my life my roots carried me.
They gave me a strength not of myself.
What kind of Christian you turn out to be will be determined by your roots. So, where do we start?
The Root of Daily Bible Reading:
It is key to the success of everything else.
Over the years I’ve read my Bible for five different reasons.
- My parents gave me a Bible and nagged and nagged me to read it. So I read my Bible, and they agreed to stop nagging.
- I trusted Christ, realized I had some problems to deal with so I read the Bible to help me. Great reason.
- People started to ask me spiritual questions, I wanted to give good answers, so that motivated me to read – and that is a good reason
- Pride crept in. I wanted to know more than you know. I wanted to win the arguments at the Bible studies. Not a good reason.
- The God of the universe, my creator, my Savior, wants to talk to me daily.
Why would He want to talk to me? Isn’t it mind blowing that every time I open the Bible God wants to talk into my life? There is no more powerful reason for me to get into the Bible than that.
It is common for our lips and maybe our t-shirts to loudly proclaim that Jesus is
our Lord. Well, there is a question we ought to ask when people say that.
And the question is, “What has Jesus been teaching you lately?”
Sadly, the response often is that the person doesn’t have time to read his Bible. Like that makes any sense? A Lord is someone you listen to, do everything possible to please. You want to know what He wants you to do, and you do it. So Jesus is your Lord, but you have no time to listen to what He wants to say to you?
Be honest. If you don’t make time to listen to Him, don’t tell people He is your Lord. He isn’t.
One of the most jolting things I’ve heard on mission trips is pastors who make no secret of the fact they are so busy with ministry they have no time to read their Bibles. They don’t get it that that is just ministering in the flesh. Who wants to go to a church with that kind of pastor?
But how thrilling to be a church where everyone – most importantly all the leaders – are listening to God daily through their daily Bible reading.
We need to keep 2 Timothy 3:16 in mind.
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness
All Scripture is from God’s mouth & all of it will benefit you. Unlike anything else in your life, the book you hold in your hand has never been revised, has no expiration date, and won’t rust or rot. Unlike thing else in your life, this book is completely profitable, useful, helpful, advantageous. Turn this book loose in your life and rejoice at the transformation into Christlikeness that will take place.
There is nothing sacred about the order of the roots we look at today. If you want to change the order, go ahead. If you want to add more, fine. But I think you’ll see that daily Bible reading is so explosive that it impacts all the other roots and deserves priority one.
How deep, how regularly will you work on your Bible reading root? Want to bless your church? Make or keep daily Bible reading priority one.
The Root of Worship:
And we might wonder why is worship a root? We know that worship means to bow the knee, to honor God, to give Him the praise and adoration and devotion that He deserves.
That’s true. But if worship is a root, that means WE benefit when we worship. How? As we thank God for His majesty, His power, His attribute after attribute that we don’t have, we get the right perspective. We remind ourselves who is our daddy. We remind ourselves how secure we are in a relationship with Him. We are reminded of the resources we can draw on. Worship gives us God’s perspective of reality.
Furthermore, AND THIS IS BIG, we become like what we worship. Worship athletes, and only winning matters to you. Worship businessmen, and only money matters. Worship Jesus, and becoming like Him is all that matters.
I was a believer for years and was totally clueless what worship was. So it didn’t bother me a bit if I dragged in late to Sunday morning church. But when I started seeing how important worship is to God and how I benefit from worship, I didn’t want to miss a second of the worship service.
God deserves all the worship we can give Him. But it also will lift you to new heights.
The Root of Scripture Memory:
Here is a question I have for every church I have attended since I trusted Jesus as my Savior. All of those churches strongly pushed kids to memorize Bible verses in Sunday school, kid’s club, teen group. All the time.
But, why didn’t they push adults just as hard to memorize Bible verses? Because kids need verses to deal with temptations in their lives but adults don’t? You know that isn’t true.
The lack of emphasis on Scripture memory is a blind spot in 21st century Christianity.
Nine years ago a friend challenged me to spend 15 minutes a day, 6 days a week either memorizing new verses or reviewing verses I’ve already memorized. What a spiritual muscle builder that routine has been! I wish he had done that the day I trusted Christ. Scripture memory does not make my life easier. But it gives me a strength and wisdom not of my own.
The Bible gives lots of reasons to memorize verses. Romans 12:2 is my favorite.
2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Transformed is from the Greek work “metamorphosis” – the process that changes a caterpillar into a butterfly, changed into a different form.
You renew your mind by filling it with God’s word. Your name stays the same, your body stays the same, but inside you are a different person. You are being transformed into Christlikeness.
Listen up:many people memorize verses faster than I do. Praise God for their superior brain. That doesn’t take away the need for me to do it. Scripture memory is not a contest. Don’t compare yourself to others. Just do it.
A Bible search will turn up many more reasons for Scripture memory. God’s word in your brain! Think of that power!
I am firmly convinced that the difference between the men and the boys in the Christian life is Scripture memory. You will never be the person GOD wants you to be, you will never be the person YOU want to be without Scripture memory.
The Root of Prayer:
A businessman was sharing his life goals and said, “Let’s see – I want to be the CEO of my company, I want to make my company into the industry leader, I want to strengthen our overseas position, and I want to live comfortably.”
His listener replied: “That’s it? Why such short term goals when you could focus on goals that will reap rewards for eternity?”
What about us? Are we praying for tiny things, temporary things when we should be praying for God to move mountains?
He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
Does this verse drive your prayer life? Are you praying for big things? Eternal things? Christ honoring, church strengthening, life changing things?
Let’s pray for God to move mountains of indifference in the hearts of our towns. Let’s pray for God to move mountains of sin out of hearts so they can trust Christ. Let’s pray for God to move mountains of laziness and materialism and immorality out of the lives of believers so we can be more effective for Christ.
Often I’ve made my own Matthew 17:20 list, taped it to my window, prayed the list intensely, and seen some exciting answers.
Isaiah 62:6,7 builds on that intensity.
I have posted watchmen on your walls, Jerusalem;
they will never be silent day or night.
You who call on the Lord,
give yourselves no rest,
7 and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem
and makes her the praise of the earth.
Watchmen are being appointed whose job description is to pray nonstop for Jerusalem, giving God no rest in prayer.
Can you imagine meeting Jesus in heaven and with a smile on His face He says, “You – you gave me no rest in prayer. You were FIERCE in praying for your family, your church, your community, your country.”
What an excellent reputation to earn for yourself! Go for it. How deep will your prayer root be?
And with prayer is often linked……
The Root of Fasting:
Why is this a root? Many of us would like to forget fasting and move on. We would be wise to turn to Matthew 9:14:
Then John’s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?”
Uh, Jesus, you’ve got a problem. Everyone else is fasting but not your disciples?
:15a Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them?
My followers have so much joy that I am with them they are unable to fast.
:15b The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.”
“They” includes you and me – health permitting. When Jesus leaves planet earth, He is confident, certain, definite that His followers will fast.
Real disciples fast – health permitting. Check out your Bible, and you’ll see that fasting is mentioned over 50 times. Check church history, and you see believers fasting century after century. Check out believers who take it seriously, and you see blessing.
Years ago I heard a pastor say that when he looked at his church with the huge potential but also the problems and strugglers he couldn’t imagine not fasting one day a week for all those needs. I’ve tried to follow his example ever since.
How often do we hear believers say, “Wow, I’ve got this big problem and done everything possible to resolve it.”
And my question is, “Have you fasted?” The answer is usually no. Then don’t say you’ve done everything possible to resolve your problem. Fasting is not a good luck charm, but it is a tool for us to use – health permitting.
To take fasting seriously allows God to feed us rich insights into His Word and fill us with Himself – among many other blessings. Time to put yourself into the fast lane?
The Root of Life Long Learner:
There are a few Christians in my life who when asked to share what God has been teaching them share the same thing – day after day, month after month, year after year. Every day is a rerun of yesterday. They haven’t let God teach them anything new for as long as you’ve known them.
On the other hand you can’t wait to talk to those believers who take Solomon seriously:
My son, if you accept my words
and store up my commands within you,
2 turning your ear to wisdom
and applying your heart to understanding—
3 indeed, if you call out for insight
and cry aloud for understanding,
4 and if you look for it as for silver
and search for it as for hidden treasure,
5 then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.
Solomon is challenging us to take our spiritual shovel and start digging in the Bible and never stop looking for priceless treasure. Like a deep, deep mine treasure is waiting for us to dig it up.
Here is a question EACH OF US needs to ask: “If God doesn’t have more to teach you, why aren’t you dead?” Learners are the exciting believers to have in your life Every time you talk with them they have fresh, new, exciting discoveries to share from the Bible.
There was a lady who would send me three letters a year. Each letter told of something exciting she was learning in the Bible, some sin she was struggling with and one person she was trying to reach for Christ. Every year three letters. I received the last one when she was 103.
That is a lifelong learner. Picking up her shovel. Start digging in the Bible. Never stopping.
By the way, on her 104th birthday several friends went to visit her. She had a question for each of them. The question was NOT, “what Bible verse have you memorized recently?” The question was, “what chapter of the Bible have you memorized recently?”
The Root of Giving:
For the life of me I can’t figure out why Philippians 4:17 is ignored. Satan tells you that if you give to the Lord you lose. You put money in the offering plate this morning? Why did you do that? You’ll have less money. Your budget will be tighter.
Now look at this verse.
Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account.
It says you give, you gain. If you have trusted Christ, you have your own personal account in heaven. Every time you give to the Lord that amount is deposited into your account. No, you can’t take it with you, but you can send it on ahead, and you will benefit eternally from your account in heaven. Pretty cool, huh!
The Root of Service:
Some people have damaged their health by allowing themselves to become obese.
Well, what about spiritually obese Christians who soak up much good teaching but do nothing with it? That leads to stagnation and bloated, sour Christian lives. Spiritually obese Christians haven’t learned a key principle: those who reach out the most grow the fastest. They share their lives and truth with others, come home drained, recharge their spiritual batteries with truth from the Bible, and turn around and go out to serve others again. They see God bless their efforts. They are developing spiritual muscles and getting into great spiritual shape. And service becomes addicting.
You were never intended to sit at the kitchen table to eat 24/7. You were never intended to sit and soak up spiritual goodies 24/7.
One spring we had a signup sheet for a church work day. If you want to paint, sign your name. If you want to wash floors, sign your name. Etc
I watched as a deacon walked up to that signup sheet and crossed off some names. Surprised, I asked him why he did that.
The answer was, “ those people sign up for everything but their word means absolutely nothing.”
Guess what: on work day none of the people he crossed off showed up. They had made a reputation for themselves and lived up to it.
Someone has written:
“Every week churches must improvise because volunteers didn’t prepare or didn’t show up or didn’t even have the courtesy to say they weren’t coming.”
Is a man who is faithful to his wife 70% of the time a faithful husband? HARDLY. Well, is a believer a faithful servant if he keeps his word 70% of the time?
It has been said that a good follower of Jesus should be like the ox – ready either for the plow or the altar, for service or for sacrifice – totally available for God to use as He pleases. Are you a good ox today? How is your service root?
The Root of Obedience:
CS Lewis said that he asked Jesus into his life to fix a leaky faucet. Instead Jesus wrecked the whole house and rebuilt it. What did he mean? He meant that when he turned to Christ he thought of himself as someone who didn’t sin much – the equivalent of a leaky faucet. But Jesus could see all the sin in Lewis’ life and busted up Lewis’ goals, desires, dreams, habits. In their place He built a whole new man in Christ.
Obedience can be painful at times. If you are looking for a religion centered around you, Christianity is a poor choice. To obey God is to let Him build a new life in us that centers on His dreams, His visions, His goals, His plans.
Let’s not confuse Jesus with a genie. You cannot rub a magic lamp and command God to do your will. If He refuses to do what you want, do you discard him? Has the time come to submit to the One who made you and saved you? Submit totally?
The Root of Evangelism:
And maybe this is another head scratcher. Why is this a root? Of course, if you help someone to come to faith in Christ they are blessed, but if evangelism is a root that means you are blessed also. How?
Well, think about it. Evangelism:
MOTIVATES you to be sharp in your Scripture memory so you can have appropriate verses to share with others.
PUSHES you to be diligent in prayer for your witness and for receptive hearts
DRIVES you into the Bible so you can answer questions fired your way.
PUTS you in the center of the spiritual battle for planet earth where you were intended to be.
And who doesn’t usually come home from a witnessing opportunity on a spiritual high knowing you were trying to give others what they really needed to hear?
If we need any motivation to witness, stop to think what it’s like for a person to enter hell. No Savior. No grace. No hope. No goodness. Just endless regret. And you have no one to blame – but yourself. Forever. And we can keep silent when those around us face that kind of future?
Be assured God will bless your efforts to reach the lost no matter how awkward they are. How many people will be blessed because you open up your mouth and share Christ with them?
The Root of Community (Fellowship):
I have access to an older , fruitful missionary…..so I just had to ask him what is the secret of his success. He has stayed on God’s path, always moving forward, no scandals, just faithfulness since he was a teen. What is his secret?
About four decades ago he was part of a men’s Bible study. He came home one day from the study and told his wife he was quitting. No, she said, you are staying in it. Every time you come home you are in a better mood. He stayed.
Slowly the Bible study started to change. Each man, slowly, cautiously took off his mask. One guy shared he struggled greatly with pornography. One guy shared his struggle with pride. One guy shared he had the self image of a rock. Another struggled with anger. I forget what #5 struggled with.
The verse that has held that group together is Proverbs 28:13.
Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper,
but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.
Each of them knows that wearing a mask is hypocrisy and a waste of time. They have met – sometimes over Skype – for over 35 years. And when they meet it’s get to the point: How are you doing with porn, with pride, with anger, etc.?
My friend said that the encouragement, accountability and prayers of those men is the secret to his staying on God’s path. That is what community or fellowship is. The Christian life was never meant to be lived alone. Time for you to start your own Proverbs 28:13 group?
The Root of Rest:
If you can look at your roots and they are rest, rest, rest, rest, rest, rest, there is a problem. We need balance.
In Genesis 1 God set the rhythm of life by working for 6 days and resting on day 7.What are you accomplishing by running yourself into the ground? It’s pride that drives us to ignore rest so we can walk around bragging about how burned out we are God. Ignore rest and watch your ineffectiveness rise and your vulnerability to sin surge.
So there you have key roots necessary for a strong Christian life.
Have you noticed what’s missing from that picture?? Worms. Worms attack roots. What keeps you from reading the Bible daily? Is it the TV? Laziness? Poor planning? You answer that question, and you’ve just figured out what one of your worms is.
Every one of those roots has a worm that would keep you from working on that root. Face your worms. Declare all our war on your worms and see your root structure be strengthened.
Please remember these are roots, not whips. If you didn’t read your Bible yesterday, don’t beat yourself up. Just ask God’s help in doing better today. Be assured – I have never been able to give myself top marks in every root. There are always some roots that that are weak.
Roots need constant work.
What is my definition of a disciple? Right there in the picture that ends this article.
What is my vision for my life? Right there in that picture.
What was my vision for my church? Right there in that picture.
When you step out of bed in the morning you step into a spiritual battle field. The spiritual weather forecast for our world is frightening and getting worse. Expect to be blasted, pounded by winds from the devil. Will those winds knock you over? Or will you stand tall because you prepared ahead of time by going deep with your roots?
Find one root that you need to work on for the next month. Just one. What specific action steps will you take this week to strengthen that root?
And if you’ve never joined God’s family by admitting you are a sinner, agreeing that Jesus died on the cross for your sins, and receiving the free gift of salvation He offers you, why don’t you do that right now?