This is an interactive lesson, so if you’re game, stop reading and go grab a sheet of paper and a pen or pencil (or, if you want to be really creative, a couple of crayons.) I’m going to write about roots again. Go ahead and draw the trunk of a tree.
In Isaiah 37:31 (NIV), God said of His people, “Once more a remnant of the kingdom of Judah will take root below and bear fruit above.” I think God wanted to remind us that we need roots before we get fruits. Roots do plenty of growing underground, often before we see any results. Matthew 7:16-17 says, “By their fruit you will recognize them… A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.” We want good fruit, but we need good roots first.
Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit;” (John 15:5). Jesus is our taproot, the main root out of which our support roots spread.
Draw a long root straight down from your trunk. Label it Jesus.
“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness” (Colossians 2: 6-7).
Draw two roots out from the taproot. Label them faith and thankfulness.
I like rocks. I have one from an ancient fort in Honduras, and one from a glacier I walked on in Alaska. I picked one up in Greece at the site of the first Olympic Games, but happened to see a sign that removal of any rock or plant was prohibited. I put it back.
My husband Bert is happy that I like rocks. They make for cheap souvenirs. Some women buy jewelry. I pick up rocks. Yes, I’ve reminded Bert that diamonds are rocks, but he didn’t offer any for my souvenir collection.
Rocks are also a good reminder of our Lord. Psalmists called the Lord God a rock many times.
“The Lord is my Rock, my fortress and my deliverer. My God is my rock, in whom I take refuge” (Psalm 18:2 NIV).
“Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me” (Psalm 31:2-3 NIV).
“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the Rock and firm strength of my heart and He is my Portion forever” (Psalm 73: 26 AMP).
When life is hard, we feel as if we’re walking through mud, slipping and sliding and trudging along. Where can we find firm footing? Here’s where:
“I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand” (Psalm 40: 1-2 NIV).
We need the Rock. In Psalm 61:2 (NIV), David cries out to God, pleading, “Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.” He is the One who knows more about everything than we do. He can put us on the right, high, firm path. Why will he do that? Because he loves us.
When things all around us are crumbling, God is firm. 2 Timothy 2:19 (AMP) promises that, “The firm foundation of God stands, sure and unshaken.”
My dad was a humorous, kind and hardworking man. I loved him, and was blessed to know that he loved me. We were churchgoers, but Daddy often fell asleep during the sermon. In the superior attitude of my teen years, I wondered if he was really saved. Daddy always said, “People shouldn’t talk about politics or religion. It always causes an argument. Just talk about fishing or pretty girls.” So we didn’t talk about church. Then one day I learned that Daddy’s favorite hymn was The Solid Rock. From then on, I always knew where and how Daddy stood on faith.
I hope you’ll pick up a rock today and carry it in your pocket or purse, or maybe put it where you pray or where you will see it often. Let your little rock remind you of the Rock, the One upon whom we can stand firm. Christ is still the rock and wants to be, as David declared him to be, our Savior, our Refuge, our Fortress, our Sanctuary, our Redeemer, our Deliverer, our Firm Strength, and the Cornerstone of our lives.
All other ground is sinking sand.
Words by Edward Mote, circa 1834. First appeared in Mote’s Hymns of Praise, 1836.
Imagine this conversation between God and a typical Christian. (I’ll call him Chris.)
God: “What sort of person do you want to be?”
Chris: “I want to be filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”
God: “Terrific! That’s just what I created you to be. ‘Made any plans for becoming like that?”
Chris: “Well, I do as many good things as I can and try really hard not to do bad things.”
God: “How’s that working for you?”
(We’d all have to answer just like Chris) “Honestly, it isn’t working.”
God: “Well, let me remind you of why you’re failing. Apart from me you can do nothing. But, with me all things are possible. If you want to be that sort of person, to have that good fruit, you’ve got to be planted in the right place.”
Chris: “But, God, how do I get planted in the right place?”
You’ve heard it said, “When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.” I have a better idea. When you come to the end of your rope, let go and grab on to God’s rope of hope.
Years ago, our youngest daughter gave birth to a nine pound boy. He was whisked away to the neo-natal intensive care unit before his parents even got to hold him. The doctors put him on oxygen, IV antibiotics, and four monitors of various types. This was scary for parents and grandparents alike.
But, praise God, we have a strong rope of hope, a lifeline made up of five strands.
The York Candy company once ran a series of commercials, each beginning with the words, “When I bite into a York Peppermint Pattie, I feel…” followed by images of extreme refreshment—like falling into a pristine pool on a hot summer day. While I love Peppermint Patties, the refreshment I get from God is even better.
Refreshment can mean relief, and God gives us relief from sin. “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” (Acts 3:19).
Sometimes when we say we need refreshment, we mean we’re desperate for renewed strength. The Bible promises us that as well. “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31).
Maybe the refreshment you’re looking for stems from some other need. Still covered! Philippians 4:19 promises that, “my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”
The help, the refreshment we need, often comes from God’s Word. Once I was very nervous about flying to Europe. I prayed about it, but I was still really scared. Here’s the Bible verse that freed me from fear. “Even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast” (Psalm 139:10). God helped me with his Word, and I was refreshed! He’ll do the same for you. Tell him what you need, and the expect him to come through.
Part of the refreshment God gives us comes from a renewing of our minds and bodies as we submit to him. Paul wrote, “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:1-2 NLT). Note, please, that our part is to submit to God. His part is to change us, to refresh us, to supply our needs.
Next time you are refreshed, whether by a mint, or a cool drink of water, or even a nice long nap, think about the ways God refreshes you. Praise him. And keep on going to him—reading his Word, spending time in prayer, submitting to his ways, choosing to trust—for refreshment every day.
Years ago, when my granddaughter Elizabeth had just turned six, we were all sitting in church together. It was Christmastime, and I had a new black velvet skirt. Elizabeth tiptoed up to where I was sitting and asked to sit on my lap. Without even explaining that I didn’t want to mess up my wonderful, new, precious black velvet skirt, I said, “No.” Well, the Holy Spirit used the hurt look on that child’s face to convict me forever of this truth: “People are more important than things.” (I pray she doesn’t remember the incident, and that I’ll never forget it.) The lesson bears repeating. People are more important than things.
People need our light, they need for us to punch holes in our dark world. We have endless opportunities to do that.
Give a frazzled clerk a smile, a compliment, a peppermint—especially if she makes a mistake or is oh, so slow.
Let someone go in front of you in line. I guarantee you God will give that bit of time back to you later.
Bake or buy a gift for someone who would never expect it.
Take children to a nursing home or a retirement home. The residents love to see children. Let the children sing for them. (‘Might need to wait a bit longer to do this. Or maybe arrange something from the parking lot?)
Write a special note thanking a missionary for punching holes in the darkness where you cannot go.
Hug a whole bunch of people. You never know who needs a hug. (Okay, not right now, but catch up when Covid is over!)
You’ve got more ideas of how to shine. Just remember that things do not see Jesus. People see Jesus.
Sometimes, we begin to feel “punched out.” We may be thinking, “I’d like to do these things, but I’m not shining very brightly right now. I’m tired and busy, and I’ve got problems of my own. I have my own darkness to deal with.” Where do we go for oil for our lamps? We go to the source of all light – Light that no darkness can ever extinguish.
“In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1: 4-5 NIV).
“The Lord will be your everlasting light” (Isaiah 60:19 NIV).
“For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light” (Psalm 36:9 NIV).
“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path” (Psalm 119:105 NIV).
God punches holes in our darkness so that we can share his love with others. So, let’s get punching!