This morning, I believe that God wants to start off by reminding us that we were create by Him on purpose and for a purpose. As long as we draw another breath, we have the opportunity to seek out that purpose and to fulfill it. We get to cooperate with God; to hear His voice and to follow His lead as He equips, empowers, and does the impossible through us.
How often do we unfortunately settle for far less? How often do we just float through life instead of intentionally living it well? How often do we excuse away ourselves? Perhaps we can relate a bit to this encounter between Jeremiah and God?
4 The word of the Lord came to me, saying,
5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
6 “Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.”
7 But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. 8 Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.
9 Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth. 10 See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.”
11 The word of the Lord came to me: “What do you see, Jeremiah?”
“I see the branch of an almond tree,” I replied.
12 The Lord said to me, “You have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled.”
13 The word of the Lord came to me again: “What do you see?”
I’m convinced that every day, God’s voice is speaking all around us in so many different ways. The question is, do we recognize His voice as He calls? Are we intentionally seeking out His revelation as it is poured out all around us? Jeremiah just saw simple objects, but God wanted to reveal something greater through them.
This week, I was driving along route 210 toward Elderton just past the Keystone Dam as I’ve done thousands of times before. There’s a tree in a field behind where Frailey’s building supply used to be. By the way, that’s all my family that lives right in that area.
That tree has caught my attention several times, but I never really took the time to ask God why. On Tuesday, I noticed something I never had before about that tree and it reminded me of a Bible verse.
At a glance, it looks like a healthy tree. It’s branches are full and symmetrical and well rounded.
At a closer look, however, it appears that the tree was damaged at some point. The main trunk suddenly stops. The top branches are actually vertical extensions off of a large branch on the right.
When I noticed that, a verse came to mind and I knew that God was sharing something with us through it.
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
Trees are interesting plants. Job shared this reality that most of us know well.
7 “At least there is hope for a tree:
If it is cut down, it will sprout again,
and its new shoots will not fail.
8 Its roots may grow old in the ground
and its stump die in the soil,
9 yet at the scent of water it will bud
and put forth shoots like a plant.
Trees aren’t the only ones of God’s creation that are resilient like this. Surely if there is hope for a tree, there is an even greater hope for us! After all, we have more than just hope, we have a living hope! Like a tree, even if we are struck or damaged or cut down, if we remain rooted in Jesus, we will rise up again!
After all, that shoot that rose up from the stump of Jesse, that capital ‘B’ Branch that became fruitful from the roots of Jesse, was none other than Jesus!
1 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
2 The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might,
the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—
3 and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.
He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,
or decide by what he hears with his ears;
4 (NLT) He will give justice to the poor
and make fair decisions for the exploited.
The earth will shake at the force of his word,
and one breath from his mouth will destroy the wicked.
10 In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious. 11 In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the surviving remnant of his people from Assyria, from Lower Egypt, from Upper Egypt, from Cush,[b] from Elam, from Babylonia,[c] from Hamath and from the islands of the Mediterranean.
12 He will raise a banner for the nations
and gather the exiles of Israel;
he will assemble the scattered people of Judah
from the four quarters of the earth.
Matthew 1 and Luke 3 both record the earthly genealogy of Jesus from God to Adam to Abraham to Jesse to David and on through to Joseph and Jesus. He is both the Son of Man and the Son of God! Jesse was David’s father and God made a covenant with David that his throne would be established forever.
6 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this.
On this side of history, we of course know that this prophetic word of Isaiah would be fulfilled through Jesus. God’s promises and His word will always come to pass. It may not be when we expected it or how we expect it and we may experience pain and trial while we wait, but it will certainly come to pass!
This gives us hope, a living hope, a hope firmly rooted in God, Himself! This hope causes us to spring back to new life and to rise up in life to reach our full potential no matter how broken or cut down we may be otherwise! We can live a fruitful, abundant life!
In days to come Jacob will take root,
Israel will bud and blossom
and fill all the world with fruit.
Isaiah 37:31-32 (also 2 Kings 19:30-31)
31 Once more a remnant of the kingdom of Judah
will take root below and bear fruit above.
32 For out of Jerusalem will come a remnant,
and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this.
7 “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
8 They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.”
This very prophetic promise of Isaiah was quoted by Paul as well encouraging God’s people to dare to hope once again; to be joyful and to be at peace as we place our trust in God and in the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit!
12 And again, Isaiah says,
“The Root of Jesse will spring up,
one who will arise to rule over the nations;
in him the Gentiles will hope.”
13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
In case there is any doubt, at the very end of the Bible, Jesus confirms His identity as the fulfillment of this prophetic promise of Isaiah.
16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”
17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.
Job said that even at the scent of water, a tree will put up shoots and begin to grow anew again even from a dead stump and old roots. Jesus offers us more than just a scent of water! Jesus offers us rivers of living water through the Holy Spirit!
Through the Holy Spirit, we can live life anew! We can rise up from the ashes and be fruitful once again! We’re never too far gone and there is hope that we will find and fulfill our purpose. The resurrection power of the Holy Spirit filling our lives with living water refreshing our souls happens as we intentionally place the roots of our lives firmly in Christ.
Although we might experience loss in our lives, although we may get cut down, it will only serve as a pruning to make us even better and stronger on the other side of it! Jesus explained:
1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
Let’s remain and abide in Christ. Let’s allow our lives to become rooted deeply within His Presence so that we might truly live through Him! We can’t just run to Him when we sense the need for Him, we need to live life with the understanding that we always need Him and that life can be truly lived only with Him as our source!
6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
We need to stay connected to Jesus, our vine, our source. We need to remain rooted in Him and established in Him.
16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.