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Sermon Central Staff
TYING OFF THE TAP ROOT
The Japanese introduced a tree to the world that is called a Bonsai tree. It is measured in inches instead of feet as other trees are measured. It is not allowed to reach anywhere near its full growth potential but instead grows in a stunted miniature form.
The reason for it growing in stunted form is that when it first stuck its head out of the ground as a sapling, the owner pulled it out of the soil and tied off its main tap root and some of its branch feeder roots and then replanted it. By doing this, its grower deliberately stunted its growth by limiting the roots ability to spread out and grow deep and take in enough of the soils nutrients for a normal growth.
What was done to the Bonsai tree by its owner is what Satan has purposed to do to the believer, if he can. He is going to try to tie off our tap root of prayer. He wants to limit our receiving in prayer what God supplies for our spiritual growth.
(From a sermon by Ajai Prakash, Rooted in Jesus, 4/29/2011)
SPIRITUAL GROWTH TAKES TIME
There was once a farmer who went to town to purchase seeds for his farm. As he was returning home one of the squash seeds he had purchased fell from his pocket onto the ground. It happened that within a few feet was another seed of a different type. The place where the two seeds lay was rather fertile, and miraculously they took root.
After about a week the squash seed showed signs of growth. The second seed showed none. After two weeks the squash began to sprout leaves. The second seed showed none. After seven weeks the squash began to show fruit. The second seed still showed no progress. Four more weeks came and gone.
The squash plant reached the end of its life bearing much fruit in that time, but the other seed finally began to slowly grow. Many years later, the squash was all but forgotten, but the other tiny seed, an acorn, had grown into a mighty oak tree.
So many people want their faith to be like the squash. They want to experience it all right now... Spiritual training -- like Epaphras understood, requires hard work and patience -- as anything worthwhile does.
(From a sermon by Steve Smith, "Pursuing Godly Living" 2/15/2009)
Why do we have such a hard time quitting sin?
a. We enjoy sin
God, make me good, but not yet.
b. There is much to do
When a person becomes a Christian, he usually undergoes some radical life changes, especially if he has had an immoral background. Through the first steps of spiritual growth and self-denial, he gets rid of the large, obvious sins. But sad to say, many believers stop there. They don’t go on to eliminate the little sins that clutter the landscape of their lives.
Gordon MacDonald, in his book Ordering Your Private World, told of an experience in his own life that illustrates this truth. "Some years ago, when Gail and I bought the old abandoned New Hampshire farm we now call Peace Ledge, we found the site where we wished to build our country home strewn with rocks and boulders. It was going to take a lot of hard work to clear it all out....The first phase of the clearing process was easy. The big boulders went fast. And when they were gone, we began to see that there were a lot of smaller rocks that had to go too. But when we had cleared the site of the boulders and the rocks, we noticed all of the stones and pebbles we had not seen before. This was much harder, more tedious work. But we stuck to it, and there came the day when the soil was ready for planting grass."
- Our Daily Bread.
DEAD OR ALIVE?
When elderly Adele Gaboury turned up missing four years ago, concerned neighbors in Worcester, Massachusetts, informed the police. A brother told police she had gone into a nursing home. Satisfied with that information, Gaboury’s neighbors began watching her property. Michael Crowley noticed her mail, delivered through a slot in the door, piling high. When he opened the door, hundreds of pieces of mail drifted out. He notified police, and the deliveries were stopped. Gaboury’s next-door neighbor, Eileen Dugan, started paying her grandson $10 twice a month to mow Gaboury’s lawn. Later Dugan’s son noticed Gaboury’s pipes had frozen, spilling water out the door. The utility company was called to shut off the water. What no one guessed was that while they’d been trying to help, Gaboury had been inside her home. When police finally investigated the house as a health hazard, they were shocked to find her body. The Washington Post (10/27/93) reported that police believe Gaboury died of natural causes four years ago. The respectable, external appearance of Gaboury’s house had hidden th...
The Japanese introduced a tree to the world that is called a Bonsai tree. It is measured in inches instead of feet as other trees are measured. It is not allowed to reach anywhere near its full growth potential but instead grows in a stunted miniature form. The reason for it growing in stunted form is that when it first stuck its head out of the ground as a sapling, the owner pulled it out of the soil and tied off its main tap root and some of its branch feeder roots and then replanted it. By doing this, its grower deliberately stunted its growth by limiting the roots ability to spread out and grow deep and take in enough of the soils nutrients for a normal growth. What was done to the Bonsai tree by its owner is what Satan has purposed to do to the believer, if he can. He is going to try to tie off our tap root of prayer. He wants to limit our receiving in prayer what God supplies for our spiritual growth.
April 21, 2005 “Give Me A Shrub With Character!” Proverbs 12:3 Key verse(s) 3:“A man cannot be established through wickedness, but the righteous cannot be uprooted.”
There are some plants that you can’t kill! I have long been fascinated by the differences exhibited in hardiness among the many plants––vegetables, bushes, weeds, et. al.––that share our little valley. Some are tender and fragile. If you bruise a root during transplanting or cultivating, you could send them into a state of dormant growth; or, worse yet, wilt and death. Last fall I transplanted a shrub that had spent nearly a decade growing next to our well. It had become very large and had begun to crowd out everything around it. So, spade in hand, I carefully dug a wide trench around the root ball and then gently pried the mass loose. The bush came out rather easily and I was pleased with the amount of smaller sucker roots that came out with it. I transported it but a few yards away to a newly dug and enriched flower bed in the middle of the driveway turn-around. The soil had been deeply cultivated and manure and nitrogen thrown into the mix. I was sure the new bed would be far healthier than the old one. The carefully dug hole, filled with water and nutrients waited to receive the root ball. The shrub was gently laid into the hole, root mass covered and watered again in anticipation of spring and new growth.
Yesterday as I bent down to examine what I hoped would be new buds bursting on my transplanted shrub, I plucked a brown bud only to find it dry and lifeless. As I pressed the bud between my fingers the branch it crowned snapped revealing a dry and lifeless core. The bush had died over the winter. Despite the fact that it had been carefully transplanted, fed, and covered for the winter, the shock of transplantation had been too much. The root ball had shut down and the shrub had died. As I pulled the lifeless mass from the ground I chanced to look across the expanse of our front yard at another bush, much larger and just beginning to burst into spring bloom. It had also been transplanted months ago before the winter snows had hit. Since it was already fairly mature and over six feet high, I had been unable to dig around the root ball. And, since I had wished to leave part of the bush where it was, just removing part of the root ball, it was hard separating the bush into two shrubs. So, with chain in hand, I pulled a tow chain around the base of the portion of the bush to be moved, hooked the other end to my John Deere and literally pulled it out of the ground. It came out missing a good portion of its root mass and there was little if any cradling dirt that came with it. As it lay on its side in the yard, a few gangly roots protruding, I dragged it across the yard to its new home atop a nearby mound. I didn’t have a lot of hope for it, but it went into the ground nevertheless.
Now, as stared across the yard at the blooming bush, I just couldn’t believe why that one had survived but the one I had babied, now lay dead in my hand. Had I been too careful? Perhaps that drag across the backyard behind the tractor had somehow invigorated the one? Who knows! It seems that there are just some plants you can’t kill while there are others that are easily damaged or killed. Till up a garden fill of raspberry bushes and no matter how many times you course through the layers of dirt with those tiller tines, the following spring there will be sucker roots reaching out to another part of the garden. Yet, till to closely to the asparagus tubers and you can forget about those luscious spears in early summer. They won’t be there.
Plants that can handle a bruising and come up in spades, those are the kind of plants that I like. You can count on them season in and out. In a drought they shut down and conserve. In a drenching rainstorm they stand firm because they always have root mass to spare. They brace against winter with hidden stores and are always very forgiving no matter what the weather or the gardener. Clip a root with a tiller or break a branch with a mower and they simply heal themselves and come back for more. Plants, especially shrubs like that have, well, character. They stand out from the rest because they try harder and possess a great deal of endurance. Ah, give me a shrub with character!
Christians are like that; those that have their hearts firmly planted in the love of God, who put their roots down deep, clenching the fertile promise of what God’s Word has to offer, are the kind of folk that you just can’t uproot. When the unrighteous flourish but are suddenly confronted with a crisis that pulls them from the comforts of this world, they quickly wither and die. But the righteous, those clinging to Christ, are stubborn. They will not die. But, like that shrub dragged and injured, simply take root again when hard times are past. Give me a Christian with character any time!
Heavenly Father, thank You for giving us spiritual roots that endure no matter what the world may throw our way. We know that hard times will come; but they can’t kill us. You have planted us here to grow and bear fruit. There no man, devil or world that can ever destroy our faith. We will flourish planted in You. In Jesus name we pray. Amen!
I remember when I saw a program showing how they used to film Gunsmoke, one of my favorite TV shows as a kid. I learned that Dodge City was really just a place in the middle of nowhere not even close to the real one. There was no Longbranch Saloon, no stores or jail, it was all front with nothing behind it — a facade, a wooden structure that only made it look like a city on television. If you looked through the door you would only see more of the prairie. Kittie, Doc Adams, Chester, Festus and Marshal Dillon were sitting on a set somewhere, not the Longbranch where you thought they were. The Gunsmoke set is like many people. They only have a front with nothing behind it. They are all facade. That is why they cannot afford to be transparent — people would see right through them.
But an important part of the Christian life is the development of something behind the facade. It is the growth of character, and a spiritual life that supports who we are. Only when we really come to Christ and have a relationship with God do we begin to have substance. We are not just keeping up appearances, we are developing a quality of character. Being a Christian means being real.
A LIFE OF RESOLUTIONS
Jonathan Edwards, the 18th-century revivalist, sat down at age 17 and penned 21 resolutions by which he would live his life. Throughout his lifetime he would add to this list until, by his death, he had 70 resolutions.
He put at the top of his list: "Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God’s help, I do humbly entreat Him by His grace to enable me to keep these Resolutions…. Remember to read over these Resolutions once a week."
Edwards didn’t casually make New’s Year’s resolutions with an expectation of eventually breaking them. Each week he did a "self-check." He regularly summed up how he was doing and sought God’s help in the process.
Christ calls us to commit to actively work at becoming conformed to His image. This coming year resolve to be come a person committed to a ...
Sermon Central Staff
HOW TO PROMOTE GOOD HEALTH IN INFANTS
A person who is "born again" starts a new life similar to that of a newborn infant. Seven rules that promote good health in babies can be adapted and applied to a Christian’s spiritual growth.
1. Daily Food. Take in the "pure milk of the word" through study and meditation.
2. Fresh Air. Pray often or you will faint. Prayer is the oxygen of the soul.
3. Regular Exercise. Put into practice what you learn in God's Word.
4. Adequate Rest. Rely on God at all times in simple faith.
5. Clean Surroundings. Avoid evil company and whatever will weaken you spiritually.
6. Loving Care. Be part of a church where you will benefit from a pastor's teaching and Christian fellowship.
7. Periodic Checkups. Regularly examine your spiritual health.
(From a sermon by Steve Trail, The Character of the Early Church, 9/1/2011)
Sermon Central Staff
PLAYING IN THE DIRT
If you see a baby playing in the dirt, the baby may be dirty but you pretty much don’t make a big deal about it because it’s understood that babies play in dirt. Babies try to eat dirt. Babies scrub themselves in dirt. Dirt is a toy to a baby. But if you see a twenty-one-year-old man playing in the dirt, rubbing himself with the dirt, or trying to eat the dirt, you know (there’s trouble). The only difference between the two is time. By twenty-one, that man ought to know that dirt is not a toy.
Someone has said that: we have too many Christians who have been saved too long that are still playing in the dirt. They play in the dirt and they have fun in the dirt. You can’t come and listen to the Word of God every week and not realize that the dirt is not where you are supposed to be.
[Spiritual Maturity, Lack of, 1 Cor. 3:3; 13:11 Evans, T. (2009). Tony Evans’ book of illustrations: Stories, quotes, and anecdotes from more than 30 years of preaching and public speaking (304). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers. From a sermon by Matthew Kratz, Hope that Stands in the Storm, 9/16/2011]