“Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” — John 7:38
Balled & Burlapped Believers, by Randall D. Kittle

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As I was praying for the Church to mature — to move from settling for the superficial to becoming established in the things of the Kingdom of God, the Lord spoke to me saying, “So many of My beloved ones are shallow, weak, and easily swayed by every new wind that comes along. This is because they have not allowed themselves to be firmly planted by Me. Unless they are truly rooted into the soil of My Word and intertwine their roots one with another, they will have little spiritual strength and will wither instead of enduring. But if they will choose to be firmly planted as I desire them to be planted, they will be fruitful and able to resist every wind of adversity they will face.”

With that, I saw a vision of a church sanctuary with all the people worshiping God. Suddenly, the worshipers began to change in appearance until they looked like various types of trees. Across the congregation, there were trees of many different types: ash, hickory, maple, and oaks just to name a few. Some had become brightly flowered and fragrant crabapple trees; others were ever-green pines. A few of the trees had branches laden with apples or cherries.

As I marveled at this diverse forest, the Lord instructed me, “Look at their trunks!” With that, I was both shocked and saddened. While some of the trees were firmly planted in the soil, the vast majority did not have their roots in the ground at all. Most of the trees had their root ball wrapped in burlap. They weren’t planted; they could be moved at a moment’s notice.

Firmly Planted
Isaiah 61:3 tells us that God has a heart for us to be His planting. “So they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” Towering oak trees do not just grow roots that touch the ground. They are solidly planted because they sink their roots deep into the soil. Unfortunately, too many believers are more like those trees you see for sale in your local nursery. They may look like a healthy tree, but their roots are “balled and burlapped,” not sunk into the soil at all. To have the fullness of Christian-life to which God has called us, we must become truly rooted where God has planted us.

Psalm 1:3–4 is a promise for those who are firmly planted. “He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but they are like chaff which the wind drives away.” This verse promises that the firmly planted tree always “yields its fruit in its season.” Those who are firmly planted will be fruitful. They will both display the fruit of the Spirit, and reproduce in others the new life they have been given by the Lord.

The Psalmist goes on to remind us that the leaves on a firmly planted tree “do not wither.” Here we are promised to possess perseverance. If we are like a tree firmly planted, we have God’s assurance that we will persevere when faced with trials, tribulations, and temptation.

Not only does the tree firmly planted yield its fruit in season and endure in harsh times, this verse promises that those who are like a tree firmly planted “will prosper in all they do.” If we are planted as God desires us to be planted, we will do more than just survive … we will thrive! We will prosper. I am not sure all that this entails, but it is certainly a great promise from the Lord.

Who Are The Firmly Planted?
So are you “like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,” or are you more “like chaff which the wind drives away”? How can we know if we have become “trees firmly planted by streams of water”? The Lord told us in the preceding verses: “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:1–2).

Most of us fit somewhere in between these two extremes. We are not exactly planted firmly, but we are not chaff either. While we may not “walk in the counsel of the wicked” or hang out with scoffers, how many of us meditate on the Word of God “day and night”? This is not some trivial question to be easily discarded. How we answer this question is critical. It is the difference between being blessed and not being blessed. The Psalmist says, “How blessed is the man who … delight(s) in the law of the Lord.” The Hebrew word here for “blessed” means far more than just to be happy. It describes a “fullness of joy.”

Like it or not, the plain truth is that if we do not often meditate on God’s law, then we have something in common with the wicked. If our delight is not in God’s Word, we more closely resemble “chaff which the wind drives away” than a “tree firmly planted.”

Delighting in the Lord and in His Word demonstrates that we have Jesus Christ as our first love. It is hypocritical to say we love Jesus more than anything if we seldom take the time to read His Word. Meditating on the Word of God expresses our love for Him. The Hebrew word for “meditate” here literally means to “mutter repeatedly.” Those who meditate on God’s Word don’t just think about it, they mutter repeatedly back to God what He has revealed to them. Biblically, we meditate when we read the Word of God and then pray it back to Him.

Truly Rooted
There is another very important part of being the planting of the Lord that I discovered while tearing out some shrubs a few years ago at my first house. The old hedge had become so overgrown that I decided to remove it. The problem was that no one tree or bush was independent of any other. Their roots had grown so intertwined that removing any one plant meant having to dig up all the ones around it. While their roots had grown into the soil, they had also grown around each other. In this, their roots had become both a source of sustenance for themselves and a source of support for others. This made the process of unearthing them difficult and time-consuming.

As believers, God calls each of us not only to be planted in His Word, but to be planted together with other believers in a local expression of the Church. When we are truly planted with others, we are not only able to draw in life from the soil; we will be more able to resist the winds of adversity the enemy wants to send. As Charles Spurgeon once proclaimed, “Alone, the fine old beech yields to the blast and falls prone on the meadow. In the forest, supporting each other, the trees laugh at the hurricane.”

Unfortunately, the importance of this corporate calling is frequently lost in the Church. Too often, people are only involved when things benefit them or utilize their gifts or talents. Otherwise, they let the “business of busyness” dictate their schedule, and fail to truly be there to support others. Many in the Church are willing to be engaged when they are drawing in life or when they are being used in ministry, but they are not willing to spend the time to support others — a need much more vital than any of us will ever know.

In the days in which we live, it is more important than ever that we truly become the planting of the Lord. Listen to how the apostle Paul prays for the church in Ephesians 3:17, “I pray that you, being rooted and established in love …” If we want to be rooted and established — able to stand in these trying times — we need to be planted in God’s Word and rooted together one with another. If we will say “yes” to being the planting of the Lord, we will be fruitful … enduring … prosperous … and strengthened by our interconnection — able to face anything the enemy brings against us as we advance the kingdom of God.


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