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rooted to thrive (4)



These are notes from the teaching brought in our series 'Rooted to Thrive' on Sunday 24th May 2020. The video of the service can be found on our Vimeo page here.


The teaching was based for a second week from the passage of Scripture John 15:5-17. You might like to read this before looking at the notes from the teaching following


I was reminded this week of a phrase Brian Johnson came up with as we reflected as a Leadership on this series of teaching: we are

‘rooted to thrive, not booted to strive’


I’ll just say that again, we are

‘rooted to thrive, not booted to strive’


We are called to thrive through having the life of Christ flowing through us as we root ourselves down into him, into his love, into his grace and into his word. All that then has an outworking in our lives – the closer we are to him, the more that will work out in how we live out our lives!


Its not about us putting on our boots and saying I’m going to strive to be a good Christian now!

Its about us getting so into him, that we start to gain his heart, his love, and his grace towards others, so that it becomes the way we live.


Ezekiel prophesied words from the Lord: (Ezekiel 36:25-27)

‘I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.’

This isn’t about striving to meet God’s commands, but being moved to live in that way – wanting to do what is right. Doesn’t mean we’re perfect; doesn’t mean we get it right all of the time, but it does mean there’s a desire to live in the right way.


If you want to live in the ‘booted to strive’ way, then you will approach things with a spirit of ‘What do I have to do? What am I allowed to do?’


Perhaps at the moment, we see that being manifested in some attitudes as far as responding to the coronavirus situation.


‘Booted to strive’ says ‘What am I allowed to do? What can I get away with? What can I push against?’ Just look at some of the crazy scenes in some of our National Parks and other beauty spots last weekend, where, when you look at the crowds of people, you might not have known that there was an issue with a pandemic at all!


‘Rooted to thrive’ takes the attitude, ‘What’s the wise way to live and act at the moment? For my benefit? For the benefit of my family? For the benefit of others?’


As a Leadership as we reflect and plan for being able to gather again physically, we’ll be taking the rooted to thrive approach, not the booted to strive one – not ‘what can we get away with?’ We are praying, planning, and preparing to be able to do so in the best possible way so that everyone can thrive!


Similarly, Jo Scott and Sophie, and the rest of the Preschool team have been planning for the reopening of Preschool in just that way – not ‘what can we get away with?’ But ‘What can we do so that everyone is safe and can thrive?’


Last week, we shared a prophetic proclamation from Paul Wilcox. I want us to share in it again now to build our faith, as an affirmation of our faith and of who our God is and of all he can do – we’ll be doing it, so that we are rooted in him, to thrive!


Read this out loud as a proclamation:

‘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

AND

6. Because of my Name and for my Glory coronavirus will be beaten


Now, I recorded my preach for last Sunday on Thursday last week. During the evening at our 7-11 Prayer, after the preach was recorded in the afternoon, Paul Wilcox was there and the Holy Spirit birthed in him another word – it was a challenging word – calling us to action – I’ll share it in a moment.


There’s 2 ways we could respond to it – either ‘booted to strive’ – okay, right, so I’d better get on with this then – or the ‘rooted to thrive’ way – Lord, help me to go deep into you so that you can help me live this out and I can be a blessing!


The Lord says

My people are hurting, they are hurting.

They are afraid, they are fearful.

Where are you!

What are you doing!

Will you not show them care?

Will you not show them love?

Will you not reach out to them and touch them?

Will you show them compassion?

My people need you!

Where are you!

What are you doing!

Why are you not helping them?

They’re crying out

Will you not help my people?

That word comes to each one of us, and we can respond in different ways – Don’t you know what I’m already doing Lord? The people I’m in contact with? The people I’m helping?


We could be responding to it ‘Yes! Why isn’t anyone showing me care, showing me love, reaching out and touching me?! Don’t people know how I’m hurting?’


Or a hundred and one other ways inbetween….


Last week we reflected on the need to be rooted into Christ, not on our own, but together, as family, as his body, his church, here on earth – our roots interconnected.


Fascinating that in God’s timing the word we have just shared comes after the call to love one another as I have loved you, which I had shared when recording my preach earlier in the day.


We are going to unpack a little bit more to help us live this out, and give some practical application to respond to the word brought.


I want to suggest several ways in which we need to be rooted, so that we thrive in living out this word, rather than striving to do so:


I touched on this last week, but say it again, and expand on it this week.

We need to be:

1. Rooted in God’s Word

V7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you.

Remain is an interesting word isn’t it?! It has a sense of permanency – this is not about a quick skim of a verse to give us the inspiration we need for the day – this is letting the word inculcate into our very beings. If you are not in the habit of reading God’s Word the Bible regularly, can I encourage you to start doing so?


If you need some help doing so, there are lots of resources available to help you read God’s Word – if you need something physical, ask and we can help you find something.


If you want a physical devotional, UCB produce the Word for Today, which they will post out to you free of charge.


If you are happy online, there are many resources available – YouVersion Bible app has a superb collection – with Bible reading plans to help you read through the Bible over varying schedules, along with devotionals on just about every subject under the sun.


But we are not supposed to just skim read, but read in such a way that the word remains in us!

How can we do that?


One way is journaling – writing down the scripture and your reflection on it – prayer that comes out of it – this is something I regularly do. I go through notebooks – I use them for making notes of things to do, notes from sermons I hear, diarying, and writing down scriptures that God speaks to me and what it stirs in me.


You don’t have to do it in a notebook though, you can do it digitally if you prefer.


Writing it down, or typing it down, helps you remember it. Sharing it with others helps you remember it. Whether that’s chatting with someone you meet or speak to on the phone, or whether it’s sharing it via social media, or putting it in a card.


You can of course very deliberately memorise scripture, so that it really does ‘remain in you’.


So, if you want to thrive, 1. Be rooted in the Word, and then:


2. Rooted in God’s love


V9,10 ‘As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.’


Jesus is always our model. We are his disciples! We follow his example. He said, I remain in my Father’s love by following his commands.


God wants us to remain in his love, so that we are bursting with his love flowing through our veins.


But we all know, when we do something that offends or hurts someone we love, it causes pain in the relationship and so it dampens the love and our ability to enter into the fulness of it.


I’m sure that’s why God made the promise through Ezekiel that he would give us a heart of flesh rather than of stone; that he would move us to follow his decrees and to be careful to keep his laws – not as some oppressive booted to strive but as a delighted rooted to thrive!


We don’t put on boots to strive to try and earn God’s love by the things we do – we are not trying to earn his love to receive it – we are rooted in his love, his liberal, lavished love, freely available to all who will receive it, so we don’t need to earn it – it’s our desire if we are rooted into Christ to obey his commands, because we don’t want anything to block his love or put our roots down into anything else so that we lose the fulness of what he wants to give!


To go back to horticultural imagery – we don’t want to allow weeds to grow around us, so that our attention is taken by them and they steal the nutrients we should have be being rooted in the love of God.


Thirdly, to be rooted to thrive, we need to be:


3. Rooted in God’s joy


God wants you to know joy as you are rooted in him!

V11 ‘I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.’


Scripture is full of reflection on joy.

Nehemiah 8:10 ‘the joy of the LORD is your strength’


The fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5:22 is love, joy


Joy is the thing after love that God wants to manifest in your life! It’s okay to be excited about your relationship with God.


The Psalms repeatedly speak of shouts of joy. It’s okay to be loud in your expression of joy!


At a football match or a rugby match it’s fine to be excited about a goal scored or a try made – why not all the more the sheer joy of being saved by God and adopted into his family!


When Jesus was baptised, you sense the joy of the Father, as he exclaimed, ‘This is my Son whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’


Zephaniah 3:17 says that the Lord rejoices over us with singing

Shouldn’t we have joy in a God who rejoices over us!


Jesus says in Luke 15:7 that there is much joy in heaven over one sinner who repents.

When we turn from our sin and we put our faith and trust in Jesus and his sacrifice on the cross, it brings joy to us too, as we know forgiveness, acceptance, reconciliation, no longer any barriers between us and God. A new spiritual life birthed in us!


If you’ve never come to that place, why not do it now? And then the joy and love of God will come and invade your heart and mind and you will enter into life in all its fulness!


To be rooted to thrive, we need to be rooted in God’s Word, rooted in God’s love, rooted in God’s joy, and we need to be:


4. Rooted in the love of God’s family


READ v12-17


Over this evening meal Jesus repeatedly says the words ‘love one another’, ‘love each other’.


Why does he keep on about this?


Because he knows how self-centred we are! Looking at what others are doing; comparing ourselves to one another.


So he’s direct! V12 ‘My command is this….love each other.’


Not, ‘try to love one another’, like parents to arguing children, ‘Oh, do try and get on will you!!’


No, this is a command – and its key to being rooted to thrive as a body of God’s people; its key to remaining in the Father’s love and in his joy; it comes out of remaining in his Word.


Jesus tells his disciples, he tells us, to love each other, like he has loved us. And Jesus goes on to speak of how the greatest love is to lay down your life for your friends – which within the next 24 hours Jesus was to do for his disciples then, and for us today.


And he says, be prepared to lay down your life for your brothers and sisters.


The time may come when opposition and persecution of the church comes in the West and we may have to lay down our lives for one another, or for the cause of the Gospel. It already exists for many of our brothers and sisters around the world.


At the minute, for most of us, maybe we don’t have to lay down our lives physically, though of course some have done so through serving in health and care systems, in the midst of the effects of the coronavirus…


But we can lay down our lives metaphorically. Being prepared to sacrifice to love and support our brothers and sisters.


One of the major ways we can do this, and in response to the prophetic word brought by Paul, is to be in touch with one another, with each other as Jesus puts it in our passage today.


As leaders, we set up some groups to help members and associates of the church stay in touch with one another. Some of these are overseen by members of the leadership, others are overseen by others. Some are based around existing groups, like home groups, or ministry groups, like the worship team. Others are more adhoc.


We recognise that with the best will in the world, there is always the danger that someone slips through the net – and I am sure that is why the word from Paul came to birth at this time.


If you’re aware of anyone, then please let us know as a leadership, but more than that, be in touch with them!

Jesus makes the command to all of us: love each other.


This is body ministry – all of us looking out for one another – all of us, loving one another – we are the body of Christ.


Here’s a practical suggestion to apply this at this time:


What if each one of us rang or chatted on social media with at least one different person each day during a week – that would mean we would chat with at least 7 different people during the course of a week! And if others rang us, or messaged us too then we could be communicating and loving far more than that!


Jesus said, v16 ‘You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit – fruit that will last – and so whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.’


Jesus has chosen you and he’s chosen me to bear fruit for the Kingdom. There is a real sense at this time that we are on the edge of something big for the Kingdom – maybe even seeing the firstfruits of revival!


We want to be rooted to thrive, to prosper in God’s Kingdom – so let us get ourselves rooted in God’s Word, rooted in his love, rooted in his joy and rooted in the love of his family. Let’s be a people who have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches – who hear what God is saying through words that are brought to us, like that from Paul – but let’s not just be those who hear the word, but also those who do – because when we are obedient to his commands we know his love.


I know how blessed I have been when I have taken the time to just ring or video call, or message different folk on a personal basis during this period. Why don’t we all enter into the blessing that is waiting as we serve one another in love?!


Concluding prayer

Thank you Father that you have chosen us to go and to bear fruit, fruit that will last. Help us to be deeply rooted in your word and in your love. Let your joy bubble up from within us by the Spirit. Cause us to rejoice in God our Saviour. Release us from striving, so that we can be thriving, through our relationship with you. Come Holy Spirit. Give us ears to hear, and hearts of flesh to respond to your word to us. Let us live out lives of love to one another, just like you have loved us.

And now, may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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