Colossians 2:6-7 (NLT)
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.
Just as you have accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord…would seem to imply there is more to this Christian life than originally thought to exist. At least, that is what I believe! You must continue to follow Him. I have shared many times about the stick that became a crepe myrtle tree thriving in my backyard. My dad promised me that if I stuck it in the ground it would grow. I did it just to appease my dad quite honestly. I did not believe for one minute that there was any life in the twig even when my father broke a piece off to show me the green hidden within. I did it out of obedience. Yes, even though I was well in my thirties I still felt compelled to do what my father told me to do. Today it is overtaking an entire corner of the backyard needing constant pruning or our deck will be gone. My husband cut it back significantly about a month ago. Our daughter dutifully reported the massacre which one might call tattling which is her trademark. She really didn’t need to tell me. It was quite obvious. I noticed again today that the little branch now full-blown tree has made another comeback with branches, leaves and flowers galore. The Lord uses that little tree that could to remind me of His Power and Potential even when I don’t totally believe but choose to obey.
“Let your roots grown down into Him, and let your live be built on Him.” Trees are significant in the Word of God. They existed from the beginning. In Genesis 2:8-10, God planted trees in the Garden of Eden placing the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil right in the middle of it all. With only one commandment to his people, you can eat from all the other plethora of trees in this garden EXCEPT those two. One rule. One commandment other than to go forth and multiply. Two people, one rule, and we blew it. I believe the Tree of Life is what kept the whole garden alive and prospering. The roots of all vegetation planted, rooted, and grounded in close proximity drawing from its life. To choose disobedience, made people subject to the penalty of the Law. We had one command yet chose to do the opposite. God’s Heart was broken for His People so He sent them from the garden so they would not take from the Tree of Life in the midst of sin. This would subject them to living forever under the penalty of sin with no possibility of salvation. (Genesis 3:22-24) Consider this…had Adam and Eve eaten from the Tree of Life after disobeying God it would mean that people could not die but would remain subject to the things that sin brings into our life like sickness and disease. Imagine being plagued with an illness that never went away and progressed. There would never be the relief of Heaven but constant torture forever. There is a Heaven. There is a hell. There is also forever. God protected our forever but banishing us from the Tree of Life at that time. After watching many people I love suffer from cancer and brain tumors, I thank God closed the gate to the garden until Jesus could come make our way back home!
John 15:1-8 (NLT)
“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.
When you produce MUCH fruit, you are my true disciples. We must produce fruit if we are connected to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Salvation severs us from a life of sin and engrafts us to the Tree of Life. Now what? Making Him Lord means disciplining our life to remain faithfully connected to Him. We cannot bear any fruit outside of Christ. His Spirit produces good fruit in us. (Galatians 5:22-23) The Spirit, the Son and the Father are one. You cannot have one without the other. I can tell you the egg story symbolizing how it all works, but truthfully it is still only a feeble human attempt to unravel the mystery of the Trinity. Simply put you cannot have part of God – He is a total package – it is all or nothing. Why? Because my Father said so.
The promise is this – Remain in Me and I will remain in you. There is power in submission to the Authority of God in our life. He is All-Powerful, All-Knowing and everywhere at the same time. He knows what we do in the light and the Lord knows our life in darkness. He examines our heart constantly looking for our intent. Thank God that He evaluates us by our heart and not our actions. I can do nothing worthwhile apart from my connection to Jesus Christ. It also says that “if you remain in Me and My Words remain in you” that there is nothing you will ask for that will not be granted. We were banished from the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden but given the opportunity to reconnect thanks to Jesus. It is all about abiding or remaining attached, planted, rooted and grounded in His Love.
Revelation 2:7 (NLT)
“Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. To everyone who is victorious I will give fruit from the tree of life in the paradise of God.”
To everyone who is victorious…I will give fruit from the Tree of Life in the Paradise of God. As we flip to the end of the Book and try to tie this who abiding, remaining, and producing thing together what is the Spirit telling us? Are we listening? Do we hear what He is saying? I had an interesting conversation with a man who is a believer. He loves God. In our discussion about the church, it came down to living what we believe. Though we have different beliefs on many world issues, we both agreed that our connection with God is personal and should be lived out in life and the church. Not the other way around. When I read this today in my study of the Tree of Life, I had to look back and see what the Lord was basing this successful victory upon.
Revelation 2:2-5 (NLT)
“I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. I know you don’t tolerate evil people. You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not. You have discovered they are liars. You have patiently suffered for me without quitting. But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first. If you don’t repent, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place among the churches.”
The Church of Ephesus was doctrinally sound and very religious but they didn’t love the Lord like they did at first and it was not bearing fruit in the form of loving others as instructed to do. It is easy to become religious. Just a little hard work and motivation will get you there with some self-discipline. There are some people that are darn near perfect when it comes to the letter of the Law, but do they love. Love Jesus like when He saved them. Love others with the Grace poured on them. Do I? This is my connection to the Tree of Life. It’s the difference between doing a good job and becoming godly. Our connection with Christ is based solely 100% on His Love for us that allows us to grow in His Grace, Mercy and Love until we spill forth the Fruit of His Spirit into a lost world starving for such gracious, unconditional, and unfailing love. A little goes a long way when planted in the Tree of Life. I literally stuck a 12-inch twig in the ground and God grew it into a thriving Crepe Myrtle tree with vibrant pink flowers that refuse not to bloom among an abundance of leaves. The only thing I did was to be obedient. I didn’t have faith at that time. I didn’t even really believe. I just did it because my earthly father asked me to. Imagine what might happen if we decided to be radically obedient to our Heavenly Father? To pour over His Word again and again for nuggets of truth to invest in our life. (Proverbs 3:18) Or if we decided to get lost in praise and worship inviting the Spirit of God to give us dreams and visions of hope to hold on to. (Proverbs 13:12) Our words would begin to hold power and change the outcomes in our life because we become connected to the Tree of Life. (Proverbs 15:3-4)
Luke 21:29-36 (NLT)
Then he gave them this illustration: “Notice the fig tree, or any other tree. When the leaves come out, you know without being told that summer is near. In the same way, when you see all these things taking place, you can know that the Kingdom of God is near. I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass from the scene until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear. “Watch out! Don’t let your hearts be dulled by carousing and drunkenness, and by the worries of this life. Don’t let that day catch you unaware, like a trap. For that day will come upon everyone living on the earth. Keep alert at all times. And pray that you might be strong enough to escape these coming horrors and stand before the Son of Man.”
The fig tree is used symbolically all through the Word of God. In this passage, Jesus is telling His Disciples that He is coming back. Before that there will be many trials and temptations – don’t lose focus stay on task. Do not let His Second Coming catch you unaware. We must be connected to Christ by faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God. Faith is expressed by total trust and dependency on God as we move our life from this world to His Kingdom. We have the keys. We have His Mover who is the Holy Spirit. We have simple instructions on what to do and how to get there in His Word. We must abide in Christ. We must draw from His Love and love others. As I studied the fig tree, I noted it like a place marker to things that the Lord wants to produce in us and through us.
- Proverbs 27:18 – Provision
- Luke 13:6-9 – Grace
- Habakkuk 3:17-18 – Joy
- Haggai 2:18 – Blessing
- Zechariah 3:10 – Prosperity and Peace
- Luke 6:43-44 – Goodness
- Mark 11:20-22 – Faith
- John 1:49-51 – Dreams and Visions
- James 3:11-12 – Obedience
The disciples noticed when the Lord made the fig tree wither up and die. They took note. The Lord is pointing us to the fig tree today and reminding us with faith all things are possible. Without it, we can expect the same in our life. Provision will dry up. Joy will leave us. Peace will turn to turmoil. Faith to fear and grace will be forgotten if we live apart from Christ. But those who choose to dig in deeper even if they don’t really believe or have just enough faith to step one step closer will find that His Unfailing Love will overtake them. With the same hopeful desperation that caused the Lord to lock the gate to the Garden – He is holding it wide open right now. His Invitation is simple. Just come to me. Just step in. Dig a little deeper. Just move in. “Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.” (Psalm 1:1-3)
I want to be like that tree. And this will be the rest of my life – “Then the angel showed me a river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb. It flowed down the center of the main street. On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month. The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations. No longer will there be a curse upon anything. For the throne of God and of the Lamb will be there, and his servants will worship him. And they will see his face, and his name will be written on their foreheads. And there will be no night there—no need for lamps or sun—for the Lord God will shine on them. And they will reign forever and ever. (Revelation22:1-5)