rooted to thrive - 3
Here are some notes from our teaching in our church service today
Our Bible reading for the day was taken from John 15:5-17
Good morning, or hello, if you’re watching this later!
Basil and I are back to share some more on ‘Rooted to Thrive’.
Now I have to say, Basil has been getting some rave reviews from folk, and honestly, there is no jealousy coming from what I share this morning, in relation to Basil. In fairness, as well as good comments, there have been some not so pleasant ones…. I was in one conversation earlier in the week where the prospect of making Basil into Pesto was raised….. poor Basil!!
Well, Basil is doing pretty well. He’s benefitted from being potted into a bigger pot with more room for his roots to grow and go deep in getting nutrients, but he lacks something if he’s to be a good illustration for what it means for us to be well rooted in Christ so that we can truly thrive….
You see, Basil is on his own. Yes, he’s alongside me. We’re in the same room, but we’re maybe not as connected as we could be – in fairness, most of the week he stays by the patio doors, pretty much disconnected from the rest of life with us – apart from when Julie or me go and give him a drink, or turn him, so he can get an even sun tan!!
You see, that’s not the way we are supposed to be as Christians. We are supposed to be interconnected. We are supposed to be totally connected to one another, interacting with one another, supporting one another.
It’s been pretty windy at points this week. If Basil had been put outside on his own, there are times this week when he might have been ripped to shreds.
In the same way, for us as Christians, if we try and go it on our own – hey, it’s me and Jesus against the rest of the world ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’ with the focus on the ‘I’! Then we set ourselves up to fail! We have been conditioned by the world’s values, which set us up for you in your small corner and I in mine
When we come to Christ, and we give our lives to him, we don’t just do it to save our souls! We come in repentance and we confess our sin, and we give our lives to him as our Lord and as our Saviour, and we set ourselves to be his disciples, to follow him! And if we follow him and live out our lives as disciples, then we seek to be like him, to follow his example, to follow his teachings.
Have you ever noticed how Jesus didn’t do things on his own?
He engaged in them with others.
Even his first miracle – changing water into wine – (hmmm…. Nice idea! – pick up glass of water!) – he didn’t do it on his own. He was there at the celebration with family and with friends, and his mother comes to him and says, ‘Son, they have no more wine’ with the implication, ‘Do something about it!’ which Jesus initially retorts against, but then goes ahead and does!
Sometimes we need others to come alongside us and prompt us into action – but equally, that doesn’t mean we do nothing, because no-one has asked us to!
When Jesus did the miracle of feeding the 5000+ people with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish, or the miracle of feeding the 4000+, did he do it on his own? No, he didn’t he involved his disciples in sharing in administering the miracle!
He involved them in considering how they would feed all the people; he asked what they had available; he encouraged them to reexamine their position and not be limited by the natural view of things so that supernatural provision could come.
We serve a God who loves to work in supernatural ways, as well as through the natural.
When we pray for healing, I don’t mind much whether God answers through miraculous, supernatural healing, or whether he brings it about through the skills of medics and medication and treatment he has allowed us to achieve – the thing is, he so often loves to involve us in it… So, at the end of this morning’s service we will have our prayer ministry rooms open on Zoom, and if you need healing in some way, come, and ask us to stand together with you, to be well rooted in Christ so that we thrive! (If you would value prayer, then please message us, we would be glad to be in touch and to pray with and for you.)
During the week, Paul Wilcox sent me a word from God which was entitled ‘Because I am God’.
It’s an affirmation of who God is, of his power and his authority.
Hear this from the Lord, ‘Because I am God’.
I tell you the truth.
1. Because of the blood shed by my son on the cross
Coronavirus will be beaten
2. Because of my steadfast love
Coronavirus will be beaten
3. Because of the grace poured out on my people
Coronavirus will be beaten
4. Because of the Holy Spirit
Coronavirus will be beaten
5. Because of my presence, my great mercy, the peace that I bring and the faith that I give
Coronavirus will be beaten
6. Because of my Name and for my Glory coronavirus will be beaten
I mentioned 2 weeks ago seeing trees that had been blown down in Hopwas woods. They were blown down because their roots didn’t go deep or wide, but I can’t help wondering whether, if they hadn’t been in the midst of other trees, whether they might well have got blown over earlier – the other trees surrounding them, holding them up in the storm.
Often we need others to hold us up in the storm. In the midst of the storm of the coronavirus at this time we need one another to hold us up in the Lord. Sometimes that holding up is in prayer – standing with one another in prayer in the midst of health issues relating to the virus and other factors. Sometimes it’s helping practically and emotionally. I’m aware of one much loved lady in the congregation who has struggled emotionally with the isolation recently, and it was just wonderful to see many gathering around to be in touch to support practically and emotionally. Equally, in practical need, great to hear of one couple making a fridge-freezer available to someone else in need during the course of this week.
I wonder how folk would cope if they didn’t have that support around them?
Jesus said, John 13:34,35
‘A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.’
These are practical examples of being rooted together in Christ, so that we live out the values that he lived out.
Jesus, as he shared these words with his disciples had lived it out earlier in the evening as they shared a meal together. If you were to look back in John 13, you would find Jesus washing his disciples’ feet – Simon Peter struggled with letting his Lord and Master wash his feet, but, Jesus said to him, John 13:8 ‘Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.’
Couple of things to note.
Jesus was with his disciples – they were together, supporting one another. No doubt some had been responsible for preparing the room where they were meeting; others perhaps responsible for preparing food, and they were relaxing over their meal. They were together in the ordinariness of daily life. Sharing life together. And they were stronger for it.
Later Thomas would have his faith challenged, because he hadn’t been with his brothers and sisters – he’d gone off on his own. We set ourselves up to struggle if we go off on our own!
ILLUSTRATE grass v lawn
What’s the difference between a single grass plant and a lawn? It’s the interconnected nature of the roots. The roots are all going down into the same soil, but they interconnect with one another. A single grass can be easily pulled up, but that which is interconnected in a lawn can’t be easily pulled.
When we become Christians, when we give our lives to Jesus, and we become his disciples, we don’t just stand on our own to follow him, we get adopted into a family where we stand together and support one another.
Even Jesus needed the support of his friends. After this meal together Jesus went out and prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives – and he took some of his friends with him and said to them, Matthew 26:38, ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.’
Sometimes we need to stand together with our brothers and sisters who are feeling overwhelmed by their circumstances, and so we gain a strength to be able to stand, as our roots go down together into Christ, enabling us to thrive, even when we go through tough times.
When a lawn is established and rooted well, even when it goes through drought seasons and parts of it have become brown and dry, when the rains come the lawn revives, and that which looks like it was going to fail is restored.
It can be the same for us – but if we are a grass on our own, and the dry periods come, we can end up drying up…. And the life leaching out of us…
If we want to thrive, we need our roots to go deep down into Jesus, we need to let our roots spread wide and interweave so that we can support one another, so that we can stand tall together, bursting with the life of Christ flowing through us, because we are family!
God doesn’t save us as individuals, just to have a relationship with him, he saves us to bring us into his family, so that we can be connected together.
I mentioned in past weeks that there are two similar, though different horticultural analogies used in scripture – that of our being rooted into Christ, but also that of our being grafted into Christ.
Our Bible passage for today, John 15:5-17 pulls together many of the things that I felt led to bring together this morning.
If you didn't read it earlier, turn to it now and let’s reflect on it briefly as we come towards the end of our time together.
Jesus says, v5, ‘I am the vine; you are the branches.’
You cannot be a branch on your own. You have to be grafted into Jesus – he’s the vine you get all your food and sustenance from (just as an aside, amazing how much of what Jesus said and did, involved food and drink!! Think about it!!)
You have to be grafted into Jesus, and when you are, you are not a sole branch on its own, you are a part of the vine, together with all the other branches.
Jesus says, v5, ‘If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit
You will THRIVE!!! ‘Rooted to THRIVE!’
That’s why Jesus calls you to himself, to be a part of who he is, to have his life flowing through you, because he wants you to THRIVE, to bear much fruit!
But, look at the warning if you separate from the vine… you end up withering, drying up and being fit for nothing but being thrown onto the fire and burned… Now that’s not what Jesus wants for you… God’s heart is that all would be saved and would come to repentance and put their faith and trust in Jesus… he wants you to know life in all it’s fulness! You can receive it now, be knitted into his family, and as you put down your roots into Jesus, as you spread out your roots and see them knit together with God’s people, you can grow in Jesus to bear much fruit, to thrive!
How are we rooted? How do we stay connected so that we thrive?
Well, there’s a whole series of stuff in these few short paragraphs.
I’m gonna touch on them briefly, and we might come back and unpack a bit more in future weeks.
Firstly, Jesus says, v7, ‘If you…’
English has a problem, we don’t have singular or plural forms for the third person.
The third person here is plural. If you were in Scotland, they would say, ‘yous’, plural of you. In French it would be ‘vous’, the plural, not ‘tu’, the personal and singular.
Jesus says to his disciples together, ‘you are the branches (together), if you remain in me (together).
If you want to be rooted deep into Jesus, you need to have his words remaining in you – you need to be immersed in his word, so that you become so familiar with his voice that you recognize his voice when he speaks to you in other ways too.
If we remain firmly rooted in Jesus, and his words flood our hearts and minds, then we will have the mind of Christ, and he will move us by the Spirit to live in accordance with his will and purpose, and we will be able to ask whatever we wish, and it’ll be done for us by our Father in heaven, because we will be in tune with God’s will and his purpose – his good, pleasing and perfect will, to take us back to Romans 12:2.
And this prayer is again a plural thing. It’s written to ‘you’ plural. Jesus reminds us in Matthew 18:19,20 that ‘if two of you agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I with them.’
The point being, that if we are gathered together in his presence we will be discerning his will and purpose and praying in line with that, your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
Does Jesus want us to thrive?
Yes, he does!!
This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
We’ll unpack some more from this passage next week.
But for now – know this, Jesus wants you to thrive, he wants you to be fruitful; he wants your roots to go deep down into him and into his word; he wants us to engage with him and with one another – love one another as I have loved you.
Let’s immerse ourselves in him, in his word, in his presence and in being rooted together by loving one another as he loved us.
We concluded our worship by singing Thrive
Final prayer and blessing
Father, I pray that you will fill each one sharing in this with that joy unspeakable, flood our hearts afresh with the joy of our salvation in Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit. I pray that we might walk with a faith unspeakable – thank you for that word to us that says that coronavirus will be beaten – give us faith unsinkable to pray and see deliverance come to those whom we know have been affected by this dreadful virus.
Let us flow with a love unstoppable – thank you that your love for us is so great that it invades our lives through the wonder of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross – let us let that love flow out of us and touch one another’s lives, touch those who are currently outside of the church that they might be drawn to you. Thank you Father that with you, anything is possible. Keep us looking to you Father, keep us focused on you, rooted in you Lord Jesus, keep us dependent upon you and your incredible power dear Holy Spirit, that we might be to our Father’s glory, bearing much fruit, showing ourselves to be your disciples. In Jesus’ name.
If you, as you read this, would value prayer, please don’t hesitate to call or message us. We would be glad to pray with you.
You might also like to look at the 'Questions to Consider' blog which will follow