"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me." - Galatians 2:20

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Friday, July 27, 2012

ROOTS - PART 2

Jeremiah 17:7 (ESV)  "Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord."



While running errands awhile back I ventured into a discount clothing store.  I scanned a few aisles, checked a few price tags and kept looking.

When I turned the next corner an item grabbed my attention like a shepherd's hook reaching for me.  

A black sweatshirt.  Not just any black sweatshirt.  This one was bold and daring.  It caught me off guard.  I had never seen one like this before.

The words on the front described the demise of most individuals:  "Trust in Yourself."  

Hhmmm.  Really?  Whenever I trust in myself I make foolish decisions, seek approval from the world, worry over situations I have no control over and start to lean toward my Type A control freak nature.  

Although the tendency is there for each person, Scripture instructs us to put our trust in the Lord, not ourselves.  Jeremiah 17:5-6 reminds us what a person is like who trusts in himself.  

"Thus says the Lord: 'Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord.  He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come.   He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land.' "

These are devastating consequences for those who trust in self: a lonely, barren, unproductive life in the desert.

Jeremiah 17:7-8 exhorts those who choose to trust in the Lord.

"Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord.  He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit."

This passage reveals the blessings and benefits for those who trust in the Lord.  It also shows the response of those whose roots are deep enough to withstand trials.  

  • These roots do not fear when a crisis or difficulty arises.  
  • The leaves on this tree remain green, revealing life and vitality.   
  • These roots are not anxious during a season of difficulty and barrenness because it has been properly cared for and sustained.
  • This tree continues to bear fruit according to its design and purpose. 

Why does this tree not fear or have worries?  Why does this tree have green leaves and never cease to bear fruit?  Because its' roots are nourished by the water.  This tree sends out its roots by the stream.  It searches to find the right food to strengthen the root system for proper growth.  

Jeremiah uses this metaphor to teach us we are either like the tree planted by the water or we are like the shrub in the desert.  The distinction between the two is determined by where we place our trust; in ourselves or in God.

"Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord." (Jer. 17:7)  The word for "trusts" (batach) in this part of the verse is a verb meaning to place confidence in the Lord.  

"Whose trust is the Lord."  In the second half of this verse, "trust" (mibtach) is used as a noun.  The object of trust is the Lord.  This means the Lord is our confidence, our refuge and our security.  Not only do we put our trust in Him, but He, by nature, is our trust.

Oftentimes, the weakness of our flesh pushes us to put our trust in man.  We deposit our security in money and 401K's.  We place hope in our homes. We live our dreams through our children.  We emphasize our desires in climbing the corporate ladder.  We strive to attain a physical standard of beauty beyond normalcy.

Most people have the above mentioned items.  It's not wrong to have obtain or possess them unless they become an idol.  When they become an idol is when our trust shifts from God to these things.  Then, we look to self to provide, protect, heal, or give us security.

Ultimately, we have to choose who and what we are really living for?  Others?  Ourselves?  Or God?  When we live for God, our perspective changes in how we view the material things that may seek to lure us from Him.  Thankfully, by the strength of the Holy Spirit we can resist these urges. 

Trusting God means we place our confidence in the integrity and character of who He is.  We establish our security in Him and His provision.  We place our hope in heaven.  We live His dreams, for His Kingdom, as His children.  We emphasize our desire to humble ourselves to make His Name great.  We nurture our physical bodies in order to care for His temple.

To place our trust in God we must nourish the health of our roots by making choices that reflect our desire to grow spiritually.  To be women who are God-dependent we must reach for the Living Water to fill us, refresh us and mature us into His likeness. This enables us to withstand the pressures we face, experience vitality in life and produce godly fruit.  

The health of our roots will determine the extent of our fruit.  Just today I witnessed an apple tree with small apples.  Other signs of bugs and discolored leaves revealed the unhealthy state of this tree.  With proper care and nourishment this tree possesses the potential to produce big, juicy, delicious apples.  

As Christ followers, our spiritual fruit should unfold the beauty, bigness and nature of our Creator.  Our spiritual fruit also shows others the health of our roots, the stability of our life when difficult seasons come and ultimately, it reveals where we place our trust.

How healthy are your roots?


Heart Work:
If you had a sweatshirt what would it read?  "Trust in Yourself" or "Trust in God?"  Consider this: While you may not physically wear this shirt, you spiritually wear one of them.  The way you live actually reveals where your trust is found.

Write Jeremiah 17:5-8 on an index card.  Put it in your purse, on your monitor, fridge or bathroom mirror.  Strive to absorb this verse into your memory and meditate on its precepts.

Heart Exam:
How deep and healthy are your spiritual roots?  How are you seeking to grow in your faith?  Why is trusting in God vital in your relationship with Him?

Where are you tempted to place your trust?

What pitfalls occur when you trust in yourself?  What blessings do you experience when you trust in God?

Heart Changing Word:
Isaiah 49:23b  "Those who trust in me will never be put to shame."

Isaiah 50:10b -11  "Trust in the Lord and rely on your God.  But watch out, you who live in your own light and warm yourselves by your own fires.  This is the reward you will receive from me:  You will soon fall down in great torment."

Psalm 1:3  "He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.  Whatever he does prospers."

Psalm 20:7  "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God."

Proverbs 3:5-6  "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and he will make your paths strait."

Matthew 13:20-21 "The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy.  But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time.  When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away."


Copyright 2012 by Hester Christensen.  All rights reserved.