Rooted to thrive-2
The following are notes from the teaching on Rooted to thrive - 2 from our online service on Sunday 3rd May 2020. If you would like to catch up on the teaching by video, you can do so here.
Delighted to say that Basil, our new Assistant Pastor is with us again. There was a lot of positive feedback following his appearance last week as well as some encouragement to help his roots grow good and strong!
Well, I hope that you took some encouragement from last week to get firmly rooted in Christ, so that you can thrive, whatever the circumstances of life throw at us.
Some of the wiser horticulturalists amongst us let me know that Basil needed a bigger pot, to allow his roots to spread, so he could be the healthiest he could be.
I was walking up through the woods at Hopwas last week, and saw several trees that had been blown down.
They didn’t have deep roots, or broad roots – and it’s the same for us, if our roots don’t go down deep into Christ, if we are not well rooted in him, then we are in danger of getting blown over in our faith when the tough times come. If we are well rooted in Jesus, we may get blown and battered by the storms of life, but we stay standing!!
So, I took the horticultural advice to heart, and here is Basil repotted into a larger pot.
Many things in life can restrict our ability to grow. Hold us back from developing into the people that we are meant to be in Christ.
‘So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fulness of Christ.’
Now, it doesn’t say that we all become apostles (incidentally, next week we have Steve Uppal, as our apostolic input, bringing our teaching – he is preparing an apostolic input to be shared with all who identify with him and the All Nations Movement) – it doesn’t say that we all become apostles, or prophets, or evangelists, or pastors or teachers – this is not about gifting and calling – but it is about being the fullest we can be in Christ – knowing him well, being mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fulness of Christ – letting our roots so go down into him so that his life flows through our lives, that we truly become Christ-like.
Which brings us to our reading for today from Isaiah 61
Turn to it and read Isaiah 61:1-3 now
‘They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendour.’
We talked last week about being planted in the right place, in Christ, and of the danger of putting our roots down elsewhere, and getting our nutrients from other sources. We often forget the start of the 10 commandments says: ‘You shall have no other gods besides me.’ Deuteronomy 5:7
The LORD calls us to Jesus, to root us in him, so that his life flows in and through us, so that our lives are then ‘for the display of his splendour’ & to use the words of Paul, in Ephesians, ‘attaining to the whole measure of the fulness of Christ’. That’s why we can be ‘oaks of righteousness’. Righteous, because we are in Christ. Oaks because there is an incredible strength, and spread and majesty in an oak tree.
I’m sure the Holy Spirit inspired Isaiah to prophesy of oaks, rather than some other lighter, more spindly trees, because he wanted to make it clear that he wants us to thrive, to be majestic in representing Christ to the world he has brought us into – we are not just to display his nature (the knowledge of the Son of God), but to ‘display his splendour’, ‘attaining to the whole measure of the fulness of Christ’.
When we do that, when we are so rooted in him, when we have his life flowing through us, when we are transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory (2 Corinthians 3:18) then we are able to say like Jesus, as Jesus read this passage from Isaiah in Luke 4 ‘Today, this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’ ‘The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor… and so on’.
We’ll explore more of the outworking of that in coming weeks, what it means to thrive because we are rooted in him, in all areas of life.
We are the body of Christ here on earth now. At the start of the book of Acts, Luke writes and explains that his gospel, his former book, was about ‘all that Jesus began to do and to teach’ and through the book of Acts he goes on to show how God’s people, the body of Christ, here on earth, continue the work that Jesus has begun, in the power of the Holy Spirit.
As the body of Christ here on earth, we are not immune from struggles, from pain, from hurt – Jesus faced these things – he understands how we struggle with them at times – as he hung on the cross, in the physical agony of that moment, Jesus cried out, ‘My God, my God! Why have you forsaken me?’
He knew what it was like to face feeling abandoned by his Father, so he knows and understands what its like when we struggle with stuff.
But he has come to ‘bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives, release from darkness for the prisoners, and sight for the blind, to comfort those who mourn, to provide for those who grieve.’
So we can pour out our hearts to him, knowing that he understands as the storms of life hit us – and he promises that in the midst of the turmoil he will give ‘a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.’
These are what we get when we are well rooted in him, as his life flows into us and through us – he who went through death on a cross and came out alive on the third day, bursting with new life, changing the disciples mourning to joy!!
Basil hasn’t had much to say yet, but it’s good to have his presence here! He’s actually quite quiet! In fact, if I’m honest, I don’t think I’ve heard him say a word!! But, he still has much to teach us!
He has been planted well. He has been replanted. Interesting that we are a planting of the LORD – that planting is metaphorical, in it being our planting in Jesus, our being grafted into Jesus… But there is a sense too that our Father plants us in families, in the families of his church. And sometimes he replants us.
We were replanted from Bedfordshire to Staffordshire, and we have had to put down new roots. Tamworth is now home. Coton Green Church is now home. It is the place where we are rooted. And we’ll perhaps come back some more in future weeks to what rooted to thrive in and as church means.
Why was Basil repotted?
To give room for his roots to grow, so that there is good support to hold him strong, to allow the pulling of maximum nutrients.
A little earlier in his prophecy, Isaiah wrote this: (Isaiah 54:1-4)
Now, I know we are mixing metaphors here, but do you get the thing about letting your roots spread out in Christ – ‘spread out to the right and to the left’!
Isaiah prophesies this in the context of talking to someone in pain, someone going through tough times. That someone is of course the people of God. The barren woman was being used as a metaphor for the people of Israel.
All the things of shame for a woman of that time – being barren, being single, being widowed, were applied to the people of God.
They may not have brought to birth, but one day they would, and that one brought to birth would be the Saviour of the world, Jesus – and there would be a bursting into song – the angels praised God; the shepherds praised God; Mary and Elizabeth praised God; Zechariah praised God; the elderly Simeon and Anna at the Temple praised God.
When you spread out your roots in Jesus, and you are filled with more of him, you are filled with praise and it bursts forth in song. Why? Because you know that you were made to thrive!
(Hope you like our ‘anthem’ song ‘Thrive’ – we’ll sing it again at the end of the service!!)
If our roots are restricted it limits our ability to thrive. It limits our security in the storms of life. If we have deep roots, and broad roots, then we are free to thrive, and to stand tall and strong in the midst of the storms.
How can the growth in depth and spread of our roots be limited?
It can be the result of shame, whether justified or not! For Zion, God’s people referred to by metaphor in Isaiah 54 as the ‘barren woman’, the ‘desolate woman’ who has no husband, the one who bore the shame of their youth and then the shame of ‘widowhood’ it could crush their ability to thrive and be the people that God had raised them to be.
Shame, poor self-image can do the same to you.
This is where we need to be so firmly rooted into Christ, so that we know the value of who we are.
Isaiah prophesies to people in that place: v4 ‘Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated.’
Some of you need to hear the Holy Spirit speaking that into your life.
You do not need to be afraid. You will not be put to shame. You do not need to fear disgrace. You will not be humiliated.
Instead, ‘Sing!’ ‘Burst into song!’ ‘Shout for joy!’
Because if you are a Christian, you’ve put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ and set your life to follow him, you are now an adopted child of God, chosen by him to be his son or his daughter – that’s worth being excited about – that’s worth putting deep roots down into – that’s worth letting your roots spread wide so that you can absorb from all he has for us.
The apostle Paul prays in Ephesians 3:17ff:
‘And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, 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 to the measure of all the fulness of God.’
You are to be rooted into the love of Jesus.
There is no place in that love for fear, for shame, for disgrace, for humiliation. Instead, its a place to thrive, because you know you are utterly loved! You can be whom God created you to be.
You no longer have to be held back by shame from the past; you no longer have to be held back by past sins, because now in Christ you are a new creation – the old has gone – the new has come!
Your roots into Christ are there to explore how wide, and long, and high and deep is the love of Christ! You get to spread out to the right and to the left; to extend your borders, to let more of his Kingdom rule and reign come into your life, establishing and upholding you in him.
Years ago, I had the same prophetic picture shared with me 3 times by different people in different contexts – it was of a lion wandering back and forth around his cage – but the cage was no longer there!
In Christ, the cage of your past life is taken away, and you get to roar with the Lion of Judah!! (Let out a roar!!)
Isaiah continues his prophetic word in Isaiah 54 with these words in v9,10:
‘To me this is like the days of Noah, when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth. So now I have sworn not to be angry with you, never to rebuke you again. Though the mountains be shaken, and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,’ says the LORD, who has compassion on you.
Just as in the time of Noah when a flood covered the earth, so we have a pandemic covering the earth. But at that time God was bringing judgement against people. Now instead, he comes and says, whatever is happening around you, whatever is going on in your life, be so rooted in the eternal love, the unfailing love expressed in my Son that you will not be shaken; that you will stand firm; stand strong and more than that, thrive! Be established as oaks of righteousness. Be established to display my splendour. Know that I have planted you and I want you to thrive, rooted firmly in my Son. Spread your roots deep down into him. Let your roots expand out left and right that you might know the fulness of his love in all its height and depth, it’s width and length. Arise and shine now, for the glory of the Lord is arising upon you! Thrive!!
Final prayer and blessing
16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
If you would value prayer from anything raised in these notes, please do message us and we will be in contact to pray with you.