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Are You Rooted or Held?

Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Colossians 2:7 NLT

Appearances can be deceiving.

This morning while watering my outdoor plants, I noticed a withering vine. I couldn’t tell anything was wrong with it until I stood right next to it. From a distance, the entire plant appeared to be thriving, the little shoot disappearing into beautiful cascades of green blooming with bright pink flowers. But when I got close, a cluster of withered leaves drew my attention.

They hung there—limp—entwined and hiding among the healthy leaves.

A little investigation uncovered the cause. Strong winds from a recent storm had broken the vine at the top, disconnecting it from its life source. True to their climbing nature, leaves from the healthy shoots had wound around it, holding the broken piece in place, but their grip couldn’t offer the life it needed.

Being held in proximity to the root system is no substitute for being rooted yourself.

As I looked at the little broken piece, my heart began to stir for the church. I saw how the enemy has sent storms, strategically designed to sever our connection to Jesus. He has succeeded in more ways than we have realized.

Hidden within our churches, detached hearts languish and wither. From a distance, they appear to be growing and thriving alongside everyone else, but their prosperity is an illusion.

They are held, not rooted.

Instead of connecting to Jesus themselves, the arms of rooted believers hold them close to Him. They receive some level of strength from the people supporting them, their corporate experience of worship and fellowship offering periodic comfort to their wounded souls.

But it can’t restore them.

So, although they’re held close by loving members of the body, they continue to wither. Without personally connecting to Jesus, they will never thrive, no matter how entwined they are with the people who know Him.  

Unless we are rooted in Jesus ourselves, we forfeit our ability to bloom. Click To Tweet

Jesus said in John 15:4, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.”

Jesus wants you rooted, dear one. He wants you to personally experience the depth of His great love for you. Only knowing that love becomes an anchor that sustains His life in you, even in difficult times. In Christ’s kingdom, storms shouldn’t destroy and deplete us. When we draw from the Life Giver, they only serve to strengthen us and establish victories over the enemy we didn’t know were possible.

Open your heart to the reality of God’s desires for you, beloved.

…that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17-18

God wants to fill you with the complete expression of who He is. It begins when you personally encounter His love for you and dare to return it. In that place of unbroken fellowship—rooted in His vast love expressed toward you—the Life He brings will begin to revive and restore what pain has left dead and broken in you.

Oh, dear one. Regardless of the condition you presently find yourself in, you can take hold of this miraculous promise. In Christ’ kingdom, broken and detached branches can be grafted back in!

And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. Romans 11:23

Precious one, don’t settle for earthly expressions of divine fellowship. Go to the Source. Dare to surrender your heart to the One who made it. Offer it to Him freely, and He will give you His in return. Confess your unbelief and invite Jesus to lead you.

And experience the love that will leave you overflowing with thankfulness.

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My Journey into Glory, Part 2

Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Romans 5:2

Grace can be a tricky thing.

We toss the word around a lot in Christian circles, but most of us don’t really know how to live in it. We don’t even really understand it, but we want it. Desperately. So, we keep striving to attain what we’ve already been given. Then we end up frustrated, because we never seem to reach the thing we’re striving for.

Can you relate, dear one? I can.

According to Scripture, only two things give us access to God’s grace and manifest the power of His promises: faith (Romans 5:2) and humility (James 4:6). No amount of striving can acquire it, only faith that submits our hearts to believe in what God has already done.

Faith and humility give us access to God's grace. #graceandglory Click To Tweet

But here’s the real root of our struggle. The deceiver tricks us into believing that we’re trusting God, while underneath, hidden from our own awareness, our faith remains firmly established in a lie that he fed us. That lie—anchored to a painful life experience or old wound—serves as a dam, blocking the flow of power that grace provides to manifest God’s promise. And while our hearts still hold onto that lie, we’ll never believe the truth we’re reaching for—and never realize the fulfillment of that promise. Beloved, your heart can’t believe two opposing things at the same time.

We always reject one to make room for the other.

That’s where I got stuck. Thinking I was leaning into the glorious image of myself God had revealed to me (see My Journey into Glory), while actually resisting it. And I couldn’t understand why I felt this growing distance from God.

I began to cry out in prayer, asking Him to reveal the obstacle I felt between us, and again I saw the image He had shown me. Only this time, I saw cracks fracturing the image, like seeing my reflection in a cracked mirror. When I asked Jesus about it, I heard, “You still pass judgment on what I’ve forgiven. Your slate is clean. The image I showed you is true. The cracked glass is a deception.”

I believe that’s a lie that many of us get caught in. We know what Jesus says about us, but we see it as a “someday” promise.

I’ll be that someday…when I get my act together.

I’ll be that someday…when I get past…

Beloved, the truth is, Jesus already did everything that needs to be done. The only thing left for you and me to do is believe He did what He says He did. And He made that pretty clear in 2 Corinthians 5:17,

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

According to Scripture, you and I have already been made new. We are presently new creations in Christ. The old version of us has passed away, and the new one is already here. I knew those Scriptures—and I thought I believed them—but this nagging feeling of separation from God continued to rob me of peace.

Eventually, I attended an intimate weekend retreat to set apart time with the Lord. After dinner the first evening, I discovered that a believer in another state had been praying over my name and had received a word from God for me. I’d never met her or even heard of her, yet God met me profoundly through her as the retreat hostess shared what God had given her for me.

She began by saying, “Welcome to your healing.” Those words alone set my heart beating with fresh hope. She went on to say that when she asked the Lord about me, she saw my hard-working hands bandaged and wrapped. Then she told me the Lord wanted to “heal the scars, swollenness, and open wounds one by one to reveal unblemished hands.”

Tears surfaced as I listened to these words and other encouragements spoken over my life by this precious stranger, relating to many of them. But I didn’t understand it’s full meaning until the following morning in worship when God showed me another vision.

This time I saw Jesus holding my limp body in His arms, my head leaning against His chest. And I saw my bloody hands, red streams trickling down my forearms from the torn flesh of my knuckles. Then the image of my cracked reflection appeared again, and I knew. I had bloodied my own fists smashing the glass, rejecting God’s image of me for a lesser one.

That’s how the enemy works, dear one. He deceives. He binds our hearts with his lies so we can’t believe the truth of what God says, and only truth sets us free. I realized I had been held so long by his lie of rejection that I had become it, pushing away the very thing I believed I was reaching for.

What happened next still astonishes me. Jesus set me down and knelt before me, preparing to dress my wounds. Only before He washed and bandaged my bloodied hands, He took them in His own and did something unthinkable. He kissed them.

Can you imagine it? My Jesus—King of Kings and Lord of Lords—sullied His own lips on the blood of my rejection. He had every right to be impatient with me, to judge my heart for rejecting His provision for me. After all, I’ve been serving in ministry for 11 years, leading others into His promises. I should’ve seen it. Should’ve known.

But He didn’t choose any of that. Instead, He simply loved me. Right where I was. In the mess. In the pain. I didn’t need to clean myself up to receive that love. He was right there, willing to give it. Kissing me in my brokenness, before He ever washed my hands.

Jesus never judges our brokenness. He restores even our self-inflicted wounds. #KnowHisHeart Click To Tweet

That’s the real Jesus, beloved. Kind, merciful, loving, and yours—if you’ll have Him. He is a King with authority to command. He brings victory in His wake. And He loves like no other. But you and I won’t experience that victorious power if we never experience Him.

We need to know Him, dear one. Not just His words, but His heart.

Love makes all the difference.

 

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The Power of One

“I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one:  I in them and you in me.”  John 17:22-23a

Feeling stirs my heart as I ponder the words of our opening Scripture today. They flowed from the mouth of Jesus on the night of His arrest. You just read some of the last recorded utterances of the Word made flesh before His body dangled for you from a bloody cross.

We observe an intimate moment between God the Son and God the Father, the heart of God laid bare before us in His perfect Word. Did you know Jesus’ final prayers were for you?

Jesus had just finished praying for Himself and the disciples He would leave behind. Then in verse 20 He adds, “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message.” That’s you and me.

What did He pray for, dear one?

 “… that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”  John 17:21

Witness the Father’s revealed will spoken through the voice of His Son. His highest priority? Unity within the body of believers. Jesus prayed that believers would be one with each other in the same way that He is one with the Father. The resulting unity would cause the world to believe that Jesus did indeed come from God.

How is that possible?

Jesus and His Father are completely one in every way. Jesus declared it in John 10:30, “I and the Father are one.” They share the same thoughts and desires; their actions flow from the same perfect will. So how can men and women with very different preferences and desires, longings, and needs truly share one mind . . . one heart . . . one will?

They can’t, at least not within the realm of the natural. But those who believe in Jesus and have received the seal of His Spirit within them aren’t limited to the natural. They possess the very glory of God.

Look at Jesus’ words in our opening verse. “I have given them the glory that you gave me.” According to Jesus, that glory will enable us to become one.

John 17:23 reveals His purpose in uniting us:

 “May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

Unity within Christ’s church will reveal two things to the world.

  1. Jesus did indeed come from God
  2. God loves them

I have to ask you to consider something, dear one. Is our generation giving Christ what He asked for? Are we allowing His Spirit within us to crucify the desires of our flesh and unite us with His glorious will so that we can become one with our brothers and sisters? Or do we hold tightly to our own desires and allow our differences to separate us?

Beloved, our unity in Christ will release the glory of God.

Let’s visit a prayer meeting that took place in the early church after Peter and John had been arrested for preaching about Jesus. Upon their release, a group of believers united together in fervent prayer with spectacular results.

Here’s how they began.

“Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”Acts 4:29-30

Do you notice anything significant about their prayer? Is that how you have prayed?

Let your thoughts settle on the words you speak when you approach God in prayer. When I did, the Spirit revealed one obvious difference about their request. Instead of asking God to rescue them, they asked God to reveal His glory.

Amazing. They didn’t ask God to take away the danger, stop the persecution, or even to protect them from the threats coming against them. Instead, they asked Him to empower them to boldly stand for Him in the midst of it. They asked for strength to speak His word with boldness in spite of the threats. They asked Him to reveal the power that comes through the name of Jesus.

These believers had one, single-minded purpose. They desired to see God reveal His glory through them. In spite of the danger, in spite of their fear, they cast aside their own desires to exalt His. And how did God respond to His humble, unified servants?

After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.  Acts 4:31

Oh, that we would once again become a body so united in heart and purpose that our prayers shake our meeting halls! Notice that God granted their request. He filled each of them with His Spirit to empower them and equipped all of them to speak His Word boldly. Not one of them was exempt from the gift.

Dear one, when you submit your heart to the Father’s will instead of your own, neither are you.

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