Root of Gratitude

Root of Gratitude

This Thursday, we celebrate Thanksgiving.  It’s important for us to take time to reflect on our lives and to give thanks for the many blessings that we have.  No matter what season of life we may find ourselves in, no matter how challenging our circumstances, there is always something to be thankful for.

This is especially true when we shift our focus from our circumstances to Christ and see more clearly who He is and all that He has done for us.  Even at our worst, when we place our lives into His hands, everything changes!  There’s nothing too hard for our great God!  Every one of His promises are yes and amen!

When fix our eyes on Christ, hope rises.  We realize the truth that it’s not over yet and that we will experience the goodness of God here in the land of the living.  God is able to redeem and restore, to heal and comfort, to breathe new life into any circumstances.  Not even death is too far gone for the power of our great God!

That is why Paul wrote these bold words that are likely being quoted all over the US this morning.  We’re just going to begin a few verses before them and continue on to the next verse as well.

1 Thessalonians 5:14-19

14 And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

19 Do not quench the Spirit.

So often we struggle trying to discern the will of God for our lives as if though it is one big event in our lives like when Moses parted the Red Sea.  Sure, we might experience a huge miracle in our lifetime, but we must recall what lead up to that world-changing event.  It was years of struggles and weaknesses and even some arguments with God.

However, it was lots of time spent with God.  It was time getting to know who God was and learning His ways.  And, it was a life learning how to fully trust God and simply obediently following His lead.

What is God’s will for each of our lives?  To rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances.

To be able to give thanks in all circumstances, thankfulness needs to become for us more than just a holiday that we celebrate once a year where we watch a parade, overeat, and watch football.  Thankfulness needs to become so rooted in our lives that it transforms the way that we think, defines the way that we perceive, and saturates who we are.

Roots are incredible!  A plant’s roots define the entire plant.  Even if you cut it completely down, if the roots are intact, it will rise back again.  Often, it will grow back even bigger and stronger.  You may cut down a single plant, but many may rise up in its place.

Roots can break through anything and overcome any opposition that they may face.  They reach far and deep and wide until they are able to provide all of the water and nutrients that a plant needs to reach its full potential.

As amazing and critical as roots are, all of the work that they do and all of the growth that they achieve mostly goes unnoticed.  It’s all happening underground and often long before any activity is seen above the surface.  Depending on the plant, it can be weeks, months, or even years before any fruit comes from that growth.

It’s also a process that begins with death.  The death of a seed results in the brand new life of a new plant that can produce thousands more seeds and multiply over and over again from now until Jesus returns.

God’s word uses these plant analogies over and over again representing everything from our physical lives, our physical death, our spiritual lives, entire nations, and even Jesus, Himself.  He is the root of Jesse and the root of David!  Jesus is the vine and we are the branches.  We Gentiles are saved only because we have been grafted into the promises given to Israel, the Jewish people.

There are different things that we can allow to take root in our lives.  Whatever we allow to take root will grow and bear fruit in our lives; whether good or bad.  Just as a gardener is responsible for what grows and what doesn’t grow in their garden, we are accountable for what we allow in the field of our lives.

The devil wants to sow seed that will grow roots of division and discord that bear the fruits of our flesh that ultimately steal the good things from our lives.  It leaves behind a life of regret.  He desires to steal away any good seed of God from our lives or to prevent it from taking root or to mix it in with bad seed so that it gets the life choked out of it.  The devil wants only bitter roots to remain.

Hebrews 12:15-17

15 See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. 16 See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. 17 Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. Even though he sought the blessing with tears, he could not change what he had done.

By the grace of God, our hands can be trained to discern and remove any bitter roots of the enemy in our lives.  The grace of God empowers us to rise above a life of regret and His mercy brings healing and restoration to whatever those roots affected.  We can’t change what we’ve done in our past, but those roots don’t’ have to keep tripping us up from running into a hope-filled future!

God wants to sow seed that will grow roots that nourish our lives that bear the fruits of the Spirit that ultimately equip us to reach our full potential in life.  We can learn how to plant God’s word in our lives and cultivate it so that it roots deep throughout our lives and bears good fruit.  We can learn to discern good seed from bad before it ever even begins to take root.

Better than me going on about this, let’s turn now straight to the words of Jesus as He shares several parables on this topic.

Matthew 13:1-43

The Parable of the Sower

1 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. 2 Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. 3 Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. 9 Whoever has ears, let them hear.”

18 “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19 When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 20 The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 22 The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. 23 But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

The Parable of the Weeds

24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.

27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’

28 “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.

“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’

29 “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”

The Parables of the Mustard Seed and the Yeast

31 He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. 32 Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”

The Parable of the Weeds Explained

36 Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”

37 He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.

40 “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42 They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear.

Being righteous, being a kingdom people, is nothing that we can become on our own efforts.  The only way to become righteous is to put our faith in Jesus.  He is the only one to ever live in this flesh a sinless life and then to take on Himself the penalty of death for our sin on the cross.

Trusting not in our own efforts, but in Jesus is the only way to put to death our old lives just like a seed and to be raised up to a new life as a brand new creation that bears good fruit.

Jeremiah 17:5-8

5 This is what the Lord says:

“Cursed is the one who trusts in man,

    who draws strength from mere flesh

    and whose heart turns away from the Lord.

6 That person will be like a bush in the wastelands;

    they will not see prosperity when it comes.

They will dwell in the parched places of the desert,

    in a salt land where no one lives.

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 week, let’s trust in the Lord and allow our confidence in Him to rise up in hope once again.  Let’s make Thanksgiving not just an annual holiday, but allow it to take root in our lives so that we never fail to bear the fruits of the Spirit! Let’s grow a root of gratitude!