Daniel Fast Day 17

Continue To Follow

Have you ever started something that you haven’t finished? Maybe as you’re reading this you are staring at an unfinished project and it is talking to you right now. We all start things. Some of us continue working on the things we start and fewer finish what we started. If we are talking about pet projects or hobbies, things that don’t affect our lives or the lives of others, then it really doesn’t matter. Procrastinating in certain things will not hurt you. Procrastinating in others might cost you your life. To delay the unimportant for the urgent is sometimes necessary. But delaying the important for the urgent speaks of confused priorities.

As followers of Christ, we are encouraged to continue in our following of Jesus. It is wonderful that we have been born again, through the work of the Holy Spirit. We have accepted Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior of our lives and are trusting in Him for our salvation. A glorious start. But now we must continue to follow Him. Paul writes: “And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him.  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 2:6-7(NLT)  

The way we continue to follow Jesus, is to be rooted in Him and to be built on Him. Following Jesus means, we are in Jesus and our lives are built on Jesus. To be in Jesus means I am one with Him. We are not into Jesus; we are in Jesus. We can be into a lot of things both good and bad. Being into something could mean that we are infatuated with something or someone. We all know that infatuation can wear off. Let me explain it like this. We can be really into water without ever getting in the water. We could love just sitting by the water or simply looking at pictures of waterfalls, waves, or lakes. We could even take pictures of the water and talk about the water because we are really into water. But we can only truly know what water is like if we get in the water. Admiring water from a distance doesn’t make us wet, getting in the water does. Being into Jesus does not mean you are in Jesus.

To follow Jesus means He is in me and I am in Him. How? Paul uses the analogy of roots. Why roots? A strong root system is crucial for the health of plants and trees. Roots of trees and plants are their feeding systems. It is how plants get the right nutrients from the soil. Roots are like straws that suck from the ground and from water the very nutrients a plant needs to thrive. Roots also serve as a stability mechanism, so that as the tree grows it remains stable and upright. Healthy roots produce healthy trees. An unhealthy root system is usually revealed when a tree gets uprooted during a storm. We have seen a fallen tree with its roots sticking up out of the ground. Why does that happen? The tree might have a compromised root system due to a root disease or the hardening of soil around the tree. Over time as a tree matures, its roots are more subject to decay and rot. Since we can’t see this, we often don’t know until the tree falls. It happens because the root system of that tree is compromised. 

What does this have to do with us? Let me ask you; how healthy is your spiritual root system? Where are you placing your roots? Is your root system compromised because you have placed it in the soil of culture instead of Jesus? Are you rooted and grounded in God’s love or in self appeasement? We might look good when the sun is shining, but will we be standing after the storm? A diseased root system will be evident to all eventually, even if we think we can hide it beneath the soil. “But the godly shall flourish like palm trees and grow tall as the cedars of Lebanon.  For they are transplanted into the Lord’s own garden and are under his personal care.  Even in old age they will still produce fruit and be vital and green.  This honors the Lord and exhibits his faithful care. He is my shelter. There is nothing but goodness in him!” Psalm 92:12-15(TLB) I love how the Psalmist expresses this truth. This does not sound like a, barely making it, kind of spiritual life. This is a thriving one. All because we are planted in the Lord’s garden and we are under His own personal care. I love how the Living Bible phrases it, “We are transplanted into the Lord’s own garden…” Our roots were once planted in the things of this world, the flesh. We followed the desires and lusts of the flesh because they were from the world, and from the world system, we derived our values. But now we are following Christ and we are letting our roots grow down into Him. There’s vitality, there’s fruit and there’s growth, regardless of age. It is very evident when your roots are in Christ Jesus, you thrive!

Paul writes to the church in Rome and says, “If the first piece of bread is offered to God, then the whole loaf is made holy. If the roots of a tree are holy, then the tree’s branches are holy too.” Romans 11:16(NCV) In context, he is talking about the Jews and Gentiles, but the principle applies. Holy roots produce a holy tree. If we are rooted in the Most Holy God, then the fruit of holiness will be part of our lives. To continue to follow Jesus as we are being exhorted by Paul means we are being sanctified. We are being perfected as we follow Christ. To be holy means to be set apart. The Hebrew writer encourages us to keep our lives free of impurity. “Try to live in peace with everyone. And try to keep your lives free from sin. Anyone whose life is not holy will never see the Lord.” Hebrews 12:14(ERV) Some of the things we allow in our lives are nothing but hindrances to our growth. They weigh us down. It’s like trying to run with heavy weights. Trying to grow your life while having your roots in the wrong soil is a recipe for spiritual failure.

The problem with most people is that they see boredom in holiness instead of beauty in holiness. Stop seeing holiness as a chore or a place to arrive at but see it as grace being imparted daily for victorious living. The first words out of the Seraphim in the presence of the Lord is, “Holy, Holy, Holy…” Our God is Holy, and we are His children, so we must reflect His holiness. Be careful who you listen to. There are people who are twisting the truth of God’s Word to fit lifestyles that God does not approve of. We start in grace, we continue in grace, and we will finish in grace. But we must not see God’s grace as a license for living any way we want. “So you see that God is kind and also very strict. He punishes those who stop following him. But God is kind to you, if you continue following in his kindness. If you do not, you will be cut off from the tree.” Romans 11:22(NCV) 

We must continue to follow Jesus by being rooted in Him and built on Him. Our theme is “Deeply Rooted.” What does it mean for our roots to grow down in Christ? To have your roots in Jesus means that He must become your first reference and your final authority. Therefore, we shun evil and we emulate Christ because sin causes our trees to be susceptible to collapse, but following Jesus by living righteously gives us solid ground. “Sin cannot offer security! But if you live right, you will be as secure as a tree with deep roots.” Proverbs 12:3(CEV)

You accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, now continue to follow Him.

Prayer and Reflection:
  • Consider the way you live your life. Are you in Jesus or into Jesus? Can you tell the difference?
  • How healthy is your spiritual root system? How can you know? Could holiness be an indicator?
  • Having our roots in the right soil is crucial for spiritual vitality and growth. Looking at your own spiritual growth, can you identify the areas that you have changed? 
  • Is Jesus your first reference and your final authority? Give an example.
  • If you could physically see Jesus with you all the time, would that change some of the things you do, some of the things you watch, or some of the things you say? Be honest about how you answer this because Jesus knows even if you think He doesn’t.

Father, help me to always overflow with gratitude. Thank You that I can be rooted in Christ Jesus and built on Him as my foundation. Help me to continue to grow in faith by holding onto the truth that I have learned. I know that there are many voices competing for my attention but help me to be focused to hear Your Voice and obey Your Word.

Thank You for making me more like Jesus every day and help me to grow in the beauty of Your holiness. Forgive me where I have failed and give me the wisdom to make the choices that lead to life. I pray for my fellow believers. Help all of us to be more devoted than before. Renew within us a committed heart and help us to respond like Jesus in all things. Father, thank You that we are all under Your personal care and that You are the One that will receive the glory as we bear the fruit You desire.

Help us to follow You, and honor You in all things. Thank You Father! In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

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