Fruit From a Root

Spring seems far away as the days of March, well, march along with cloudy and dreary days. History and experience tell me that lush, green grass isn’t far away. I know it’s coming. Roots, deep in the ground, will provide proof-of-life as they spring forth and bear leaves, flowers, and eventually fruit over the coming weeks. That’s the goal – to bear fruit. Everything at some point will bear fruit. It may not be easily seen, but seeds will be produced in order to perpetuate the next generation.

Go with me to the Exodus story in the Old Testament. As the Israelites leave Egypt, we bear witness to their journey through nations not their own. They witnessed idols and images of other gods throughout their 40 years in the wilderness. Temptations due to lack of food and the unknown were powerful. We read about the challenges Moses faced in leading God’s people. Frustration and concern were mixed with a deep love for the Lord and desire to see God’s people fruitful and obediently prospering.

As Moses’ life nears the end, he summons Israel in Deuteronomy 29. God’s covenant promises and evidence of faithfulness are recounted as Moses pleads his case with warnings to reciprocate faithfulness to God. Moses warns Israel to keep their hearts towards the LORD their God and worship only him. And with a heart fully postured to God, Moses exclaims, “Be sure there is no root among you bearing poisonous or bitter fruit.”

Moses was aware of what may be rooted deep in the hearts of Israel, and with God’s revelation he knew what fruit would be born in future generations. Loving, worshiping, and abiding in God would bear desirable fruit. Not fruit in the sense of apples and pears, but fruit in the form of love, joy, peace, and patience. Actively removing and guarding themselves from sin, and the seeds of sin, would be necessary to living an obedient life to the Lord. It is necessary still.

Every heart is rooted with something. Whatever root has taken up residence in our heart will bear fruit. Our thoughts, actions, and reactions are evidence. Living in this world, we have all sinned (less Jesus) and passed through temptation. It’s part of being human and living post-fall from Eden. But we do have a choice in how we cultivate the deep roots in our heart. We have a choice to love the Lord and actively remove any root that grows poisonous or bitter fruit. God is love, and choosing to be rooted in Love will bear good, sweet, bountiful fruit.

Eradicating deeply-rooted things is hard work. It’s uncomfortable and messy. But it is honorable and good work. Doing this work a form of actively consecrating ourselves to the Lord. Over and over, the Lord tells us to consecrate ourselves in preparation for wonders. (ex. Joshua 3) As we do the hard work of rooting out what is not from God in our hearts, whether it be bitterness, selfishness, or unforgiveness, I truly believe that we will bless God and he will bless us. Sweet and healthy fruit will be enjoyed by all.

Would you join me in asking God to reveal any sin in our heart? Then actively seek ways and do the hard work of removing whatever might be revealed? Sin becomes a barrier in our relationship to God and others. As we actively root out the poisonous and bitter fruit in our hearts and minds, it allows space for deeper love and closer walk with the Lord and those we love. I’m so grateful for you. Let’s be brave together and do the hard work, and be expectant of good fruit to come.

With gratitude,

Amy

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Open Wide

The other day, my to-do-list seemed to grow faster than I could keep up with. Overwhelmed, I had placed another helping of ‘Yes, I can do that!” on my plate. Unfortunately, when my commitments get bigger and a little out of control, my quiet time with Jesus suffers and I neglect to sit and read Scripture, journal, or pray.

Psalm 81 is a call to obedience. Perhaps the people of Israel also struggled with prioritizing God over ll other tasks. I know I had a hard time this particular day, and began to let that to-do-list encroach upon my time with Him.

God declares, in Psalm 81:10, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.” In that quick and unfocused quiet time, I did not open my mouth wide. Instead, I barely parted my lips; I opened myself up to just a smidge of what God had prepared. The temptation of getting started on my tasks  for the day was greater than my desire to be filled with God’s Word. I opened my mouth to be filled with something else rather than what I genuinely need to feast on each day – time with Jesus.

In Psalm 81:10, God speaks of provision and release from bondage. Jesus has delivered us out of slavery and into freedom. And He who is faithful to deliver us from sin, shame, addiction, or that to-do-list is also faithful to provide for our every need. God declared, “Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.” That, dear sister, is a promise.

Later that morning while I was working on our farm, conviction whispered to my heart. I stopped, dropped my tools and looked up to heaven. With a repentant heart, I closed my eyes, opened my mouth wide, and asked God to fill me up. He did. My day no longer seemed daunting;  instead it became a chance to offer each item up to the Lord and ask for His strength and wisdom. I was no longer tackling things in my own strength, but God’s. I wasn’t tempted to shut God out, and instead partnered with Him. Be encouraged! Take him up on that promise, open yourself wide and be filled.

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This devotional first appeared in Journey, April 2018, LifeWay Press.