The Root of the Matter

Dr. Lilian Stanley

     Prophesying about the people of Judah who escaped the slaughter by enemies, Isaiah says, “The remnant who have escaped of the house of Judah shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward” (Isa 37:31). This can also mean us who have escaped the onslaught of satan and are a minority today. God has hopes on us that we will once again take root and fill the earth. “In days to come Jacob will take root, Israel will bud and blossom and fill all the world with fruit” says Isaiah (27:6). Exciting, isn’t it? Let’s see something about taking root.

When we discuss an important matter, we say, “We must get to the root of the matter.” That says it all. The root is where you start to know anything fully and rightly. Root is the most important part of the tree or plant. But when we look at a tree, we don’t even think about the root. We appreciate the foliage and clap for the sweetness of the fruit. We never say, “The tree is so good. It’s root must be good.”  Root is the unnoticed, unappreciated part of the tree, yet the most important. It is hidden, yet vital.

What is the origin of the root? – Seed. When a seed is planted it starts to die even as it gives birth to the root. How does it die? It must first of all fall, fall from the place where it is comfortably seated. We are all wheat alright. But if we are still in the sack, comfortable and cozy, we will be barren, single and unproductive. Most of us love this kind of life – to be a wheat in the sack.

We must obey the Farmer, the Lord of the harvest, and not grumble when He throws us in the soil. As long as we are in His hands we are warm, safe and secure and we think that the moment will last forever. But suddenly thunder bellows, lightning strikes, the showers come, the season is come and it is time for us to go. The Farmer throws us. It appears rude. The seed cries and thinks the Farmer has decided to throw him away and has no need of him, etc., But no, it is out of love for the seed, the Farmer throws him. He does not want the seed to languish in loneliness but to multiply merrily.

The seed falls where? Not on a bed of jasmines but on the ground, on the slushy ground full of smelly manure. We all need to experience this. It is good for us to fall to the ground. We will not put out root on mosaic or marble. We must lie on the ground, wet and lonely on the nasty soil. Many of us are on mosaic and marble. That’s why we are not growing roots.

It is good to fall down. It humbles us. It makes us to understand where we belong. We belong to the ground. That is where our job lies. We cry, we weep, “Why Lord have you cast me to the ground?” The seed lies there weeping. The rains come. The soil covers it and it dies, or so it thinks. It thinks the end has come. But no, life has just begun. It remained in solitude so far. If it had remained in the gunny bag even for a thousand years, it would be breathing and alive but will never put out roots. It must die.

Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seed.  Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (Jn 12:24,25). Jesus compared Himself to a seed. It was hard for Him to fall to the ground and die. He wanted the cup of suffering to be taken away from Him. Nevertheless, He submitted Himself to the Father’s will. From His Father’s hand He fell to the ground. Rather, His Father dropped His darling Child to the ground, to the dirty slushy soil where He was mistreated, spit upon and abused. He died a cruel death. He cried, “Father, why have you forsaken Me?” But the miracle started after His death. He put out root and shoots and started bearing fruit by the millions.

Oh, how we love our lives! We are one with the world. Jesus also lived on this world and ate and drank. But He never once allowed the world to master Him. Let us follow His lifestyle. “Love not the world or anything in the world,” says John (1 Jn 2:15). How we have fallen in love with the things of the world – our jobs, our salary, our qualification, our clothes, our jewels, our houses, our cars, our lovers! The list is endless. Why should we not love the world? “The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever” (v17). So what is the will of God for us? He wants us to fall to the ground and die so that we may die and live forever. But we refuse. Those who let themselves fall to the ground will grow root. Jesus humbled Himself, took the form of a bonded labourer and became obedient to the point of death (Phil 2 : 5-8).

Now let’s see the journey of the Seed. Genesis 3:15, “I will put enmity between your seed and her Seed.” When Jesus the Seed, fell to the ground from heaven, satan was horrified because he knew when the Seed died, He would produce many seeds. He tried to kill Baby Jesus through Herod’s wicked scheme. It is this terror that brought satan to the wilderness to tempt Jesus and thwart His plans for the redemption of the world. He came as an angel of light offering glamorous things to Jesus. He was offering Jesus a shortcut to achieve His Messianic goal. Through Peter He was discouraged from death on the cross. He was rebuked. Jesus immediately recognized it as a ploy of satan and scolded Peter. Probably in the Garden of Gethsemane too He told Jesus that there was still hope of escaping the cross by asking the Father to remove the cup. But Jesus was firm on executing the Father’s will. The devil made one last attempt when Jesus was convulsing in agony on the cross, asking Him to come down and make a display of His power so that all those who were there could believe that He was the Son of God. Was it not a temptation to a man writhing in pain? But Jesus denied Himself and thus brought many sons to glory (Heb 2: 10,11).

When Jesus was a helpless Baby, God sent His angel to save Him. But when He became a man, God forsook Him to make His own decisions. At times when we are helpless and weak and run into rough weather, God will certainly help us miraculously, but other times God expects us to wilfully choose His will.

Satan will show us all the glories of the world and promise to give us “all” and coddle us that we may not fall to the ground and die. Sadly many have fallen at his feet to worship him. Today they are blessed by him and made to believe they are God’s blessing. The sure sign that all your blessings are from God is your death to worldly gain and pleasure. Today if God tells you, ‘Sell all, give to the poor, take up your cross and follow Me,’ what will be your response? Will it rattle your spine with fear? The disciples sold their possessions (because they loved not the world) and kept them at the Apostles “feet,” because they were also dead to riches. By faith Moses ‘left’ not ‘got’  (Heb 11). Faith is leaving, not cleaving.

Our missionary Peter Luis left his job in the Gulf and along with his wife Elizabeth and two little daughters settled in a God-forsaken place in Maharashtra. He is now multiplying like yeast. Missionary Ponniah and his wife Satyavathi pushed themselves to cross unfamiliar thresholds in the jungles of Odisha and gave birth to numerous churches. They taught to read and write to knots of men in the night and brought hope and dignity to hundreds. These people were willing to fall down and die on dirty soil.

Like Peter, our well meaning friends and relatives may put a block to our death. We tell them we want to renounce the world, we want to give away a substantial portion of our wealth to God’s work, we want to resign our prestigious job and serve God, we want to dedicate a child for ministry, they “rebuke” us that such a thing should not happen to us (Mt 16:22). We do not have the guts to tell the relative/friend/disciple, “Get behind me satan.” “Don’t be foolish,” they tell us. “We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us,” says Mr. Joseph Campbell. It is jumping into the unknown. When my relative was told that I was going to marry a preacher she told me, “So you are going to take a tambourine and go on the street.” Thank God, that did not discourage me. People have said I wasted one medical seat. I don’t think so. My medical knowledge is fully utilized in God’s service. It had been a bumpy beginning, but so much had come full circle. If I died now, I would think that I made the best out of my life. There are many ways by which we think we can please God. But do we try to please Him the way He wants? Martha wanted to please Jesus by her cooking. But Mary pleased Him the way He wanted.

I don’t in the least mean that all of us should resign our earthly jobs to serve God fulltime. No. We need the basic amenities of life. But all of us must fall to the ground and die, that we may not suffer loneliness, but produce plenty of grain. Jesus said: “Here I am … I have come to do Your will, My God”(Heb 10:7). All of us must tell God this and proceed to do His will. Heart of hearts we know the will of God for us, but we seek loopholes to wriggle out to do our own will. Risk indeed; but big rewards go to those who take big risks. Only a small percentage does this, and that is the remnant.

May be you have fallen to the ground and weeping, “How long Lord, how long?” Wait. Keep putting one foot in front of the other towards your next goal, with faith, prayer and trust. Charles Spurgeon said, “By perseverance the snail reached Noah’s Ark.”  “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain – first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come” (Mk 4 : 26-29). You need patience brother, sister. You cry about your dirty situation; you complain about the way you are treated – but you don’t realize it is the dirty “soil produces grain.” Winning is often the result of persistence, of not giving up when your goal appears to be in jeopardy. “Be patient then, dear brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near” (Js 5:7,8).

Some get discouraged. Lose patience and stop the work. Jesus called His disciples 2-4-75-120 and left. But today His disciples are all over the world. “The Kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. 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” (Mt 13:31,32). That is the future of the seed that dies. That is the future of the remnant. Would you be part of it? “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom”(vv 37,38). Is it now clear to you that God throws us down on the soil that we may die, take root and populate the earth?

So now the root takes nutrients from the seed and grows. It was Isaiah who prophesied that, “The remnant who have escaped of the house of Judah shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward” (2 Ki 19:30; Isa 37:31).

Talking about the root the Apostle Paul says, “If the root is holy, so are the branches” (Rom 11:16). This is the first requirement of a root, if it is to produce holy branches. Remember, if the root is to be holy, we should take root  “below” the dirty soil and not towards the world (Isa 37:31).

God cautioned Moses, “… there may not be among you a root bearing bitterness or wormwood; and so it may not happen, when he hears the words of this curse, that he blesses himself in his heart, saying, ‘I shall have peace, even though I follow the dictates of my heart’” (Dt 29 : 18,19). See the wickedness of our heart! When God wants us not to go as the world goes, we think, “It’s OK. The Bible is impractical. I cannot be displeasing my friends. I can only live like this. Even though God has warned, nothing like that will happen to me.” That is the root of bitterness and wormwood says God. We become bold to do wrong. We encourage ourselves to go ahead with whatever wrong we are doing even though we know we are displeasing God. This is what is called wilful sinning (Psa 19 : 13). It is the hidden life, the root. Do not allow yourself to be dragged into sin. The remnant is “very” small (Isa 1:9). We are living in such days that very few spiritually discipline themselves to be worthy of being called the remnant.

See what Jeremiah prophesies to those whose feet walk in the direction of their choice in 9:13-15, “And the Lord said, ‘Because they have forsaken My law which I set before them, and have not obeyed My voice, nor walked according to it, but they have walked according to the dictates of their own hearts and after the Baals, which their fathers taught them, therefore thus says the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel: ‘Behold, I will feed them, this people, with wormwood, and give them water of gall to drink…” God forbid that we take His word lightly and follow our heart. When you turn every corner, stop, think, “Am I going to follow my heart or God’s word?” and then proceed.

Jeremiah 17:7,8 says, “Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. 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 is immediately followed by the description of a deceitful heart. Our heart can become our own enemy and deceive us into disobeying God. But if we put our confidence in God and listen to His gentle whisper, our roots will not lack the water of life and we will be a strong tree loaded with fruits.

How to take root?

The root should not be on the surface. Then the plant can easily fall or be uprooted. The root should go deep down. “When the Sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away” (Mt 13:6). If you think you fall within the bracket of the remnant, God wants you to spruce up. How?

1. Righteousness: “The root of the righteous cannot be moved” (Pro 12:3,12). Righteousness means doing the right thing. Rigid adherence to truth and facts pays. Self-discipline is choosing to do what is right when you feel like doing what’s wrong. It’s knowing you can, but deciding you won’t. Often we face conflicts in life, whether to do this or that. For example: To pay and get a seat or pray and wait for God’s will. Which is right? If you pay you wouldn’t know whether it is God’s will or not. But if you take the other route you will know for certain that you are in God’s will. A family met me after a Blesso and wanted counsel regarding their daughter, whether to shift her from CBSE to State Board, so that she could score high marks (NEET was not introduced yet). I told them not to do it, but decide never to pay for a seat so that they will be sure of God’s will. They did exactly that. She got a seat in MBBS. November 2019 Jebilyn’s picture was in the newspaper as the best outgoing student! God honoured their faith and His name was glorified. People’s conscience has become so blunt that nowadays many wrong things are accepted as unavoidable. God will always stand by the righteous (2 Chr 19:11c). No matter how far down the wrong road you’ve gone, it’s never too late to turn around.

Read the following verses and be strengthened in your faith:-

“Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken” (Psa 55:22).

“The righteous are bold as a lion” (Pro 28:1).

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled” (Mt 5:6).

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do no worry about tomorrow” (Mt 6:33,34). Meditate on the word “But.”

“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives… eager to do what is good” (Tit 2 : 11,12). The grace of God does not encourage us to sin but teaches self-control.

“The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and ears are attentive to their prayers” (I Pe 3:12).

2. Holiness: “If the root is holy, so are the branches” (Rom 11:16). Root is the hidden part, our inward being. Jesus called the Pharisees as hypocrites. Outside they appeared holy but inside they were full of wickedness. They were like white-washed tombs (Mt 23:27,28). Jesus advised, “First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean” (v26).

Unsurprisingly we take all efforts to show ourselves holy to the world. Even a prophet like Samuel was carried away by the looks of Eliab. God told him, “People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Sam 16:7). Let us concentrate on the area which is important to God. Clean up your insides. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Mt 5:8). The fig tree Jesus cursed withered from the root. Why? It was putting up an outward show (Mk 11:20). “These people honour Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me,” says God (Mt 15:8). That’s why David prayed, “Search me O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psa 139 : 23,24). No wonder God was looking at his heart.

So the first step is to learn to speak the truth to yourself. Don’t cheat yourself. I hate to put on weight. When I gain one kilo, I turn the pointer of the weighing scale down by one kilo and feel happy. What am I doing? I am telling a lie to myself, I deceive myself. Honesty is speaking the truth to others; integrity is speaking the truth to yourself. “Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill? He who … speaks the truth in his heart” (Psa 15: 1,2). It does take a little practice, but you will soon get the hang of it.  We need to be ruthlessly honest with ourselves. Of all the lies we tell, the ones we tell ourselves are the most deadly.

3. Love: “…that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 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, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Eph 3 :17-19).

In other words, unless we learn to go out of the way to love people, especially the unlovables, we will neither be able to understand the dimensions of the love of Christ nor be filled with the fullness of God. This kind of rooting and grounding in effusive love is very much lacking today. That’s why Christians have become the laughing stock of the world. The lack of love among Christians is ubiquitous and obvious. That’s why Jesus said, “A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another” (Jn 13 : 34,35). This has a message for us. Unless we love one another the way Jesus loved us when we were dirty sinners, we will not be able to understand the four dimensional love of Christ which is, “Wide, wide as the ocean, high as the heavens above, deep deep as the deepest sea.” Let us fall prostrate at God’s feet and weep and beg that He may fill us with His love with which we may love our family, friends, neighbours, coworkers, others and enemies. We are a bad testimony to the world in the love aspect. Ask yourself, “Does the world see a love that is different and divine in me? Does the world know I am a disciple of Christ by the way I love?” Strive to get a ‘yes’ answer. “Do ordinary things with extraordinary love,” said Mother Teresa. Let us make it our lifestyle.

4. A Christ-centered life: “So then, just as you received Christ as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him, rooted and built up in Him” (Col 2:6).

We will focus only on three things here.

a) Living our lives in Him. We received Christ Jesus as the Lord of our lives. The story does not end there. We must continue to live our lives in Him. He must be our everything. He must own us completely.  He must be our Master.  “For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain,” said Paul (Phil 1:21). We must have no other passion in life being totally sold out for Him. He wants us either all or none. Behave like His gloves, totally pliable to Him.

b) Rooted in Him.  The deeper the root goes the harder it will be to pull out the plant. It is “taking root” as Isaiah puts it (37:31). You have seen roots holding on to rocks. That’s how Paul was rooted in Christ and could say, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” (Rom 8:35). Can we say that?

c) Built up in Him.  This speaks about fellowship. Christianity is not a loner’s religion. We are “fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone, in whom the whole building being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord…”(Eph 2:19, 21). We must live in close fellowship with other saints of God. Start with family – brother, sister, father, mother, husband, wife, in-laws, aunts, cousins… in the Church, neighbours. Only then we can be a holy temple. Or else we will be a dilapidated shed.

5. Sweet root:  “See to it that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many” (Heb 12:15). These are people who are trouble makers. Jude warns us to keep away from them. “These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds, late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots” (v12). They never bothered to be rooted in righteousness, holiness, love or Christ. So they could be easily uprooted and thrown out. Bring to mind the fig tree that Jesus cursed, withered from the root. Let us put roots of sweetness.

Once again read John 12:20-26. Jesus was not flattered that Greeks sought an interview with Him, that His fame had crossed the boundaries of Israel. He started speaking about His death. As His death was nearing, His eyes were on His glorification. In another week He would be crucified. Instead of speaking about His sorrow and suffering, He was speaking about His glorification. Death is glory for a believer.

Jesus is telling us a “truth” here. The truth is: Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it will remain a single seed. It is a truth. But many try to multiply without dying. They refuse to fall to the ground, clinging on to the world. They don’t die. They think they can multiply just the way they live, without dying. It is a fantasy. There is no way to multiply without death. Only if the seed dies it can produce many seeds.

The person who does not want to fall to the ground, who does not want to die, will never experience glorification. But if he gives himself over to the will of God, to fall to the ground and die, he will put out root, give fruit, multiply and will be glorified. The man who loves his life will refuse to fall to the ground, he will refuse to die to the world and its glories. He will lose his life. He will become rotten. Rats and worms will eat away such seeds.

But the man who hates his life in this world, who is willing to fall to the ground and die will live forever and ever. If he serves Christ, he must follow Christ to the ground to die. No monument may be built for him, no streets named, no parades thrown. But the Father will honour him who serves His Son. Very few opt for such a rigorous discipline. That’s why the remnant is always a little flock.

May we fall to the ground and die and take root below that we may bear fruit above!

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      Oct 19, 2016
    Vacation wind is blowing and the air is heavy with the fragrance of holiday. With the exams behind you it?s time to rest, relax and recoup. Holiday is an oasis in the harsh and fiery deserts of modern existence more...
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 General

  •   Foliage or Fruits?
      May 10, 2020
    God brought Israel from Egypt to the land of Canaan where they flourished. But when they picked up the idolatrous practices of the neighbouring nations, God in His vexation drove them out of the land more...
  •   The Root of the Matter
      Apr 05, 2020
    The Root of the Matter more...
  •   WAKE UP!
      Mar 28, 2020
    WAKE UP! more...
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  Address for Correspondence Contributions

Dr. Lilian Stanley
13 Church Colony
Vellore 632006, India
 +91 9843511943
  lilianstanley@gmail.com

Blessing Youth Mission

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  Blessing Literature Centre

To buy books written by Dr. Lilian Stanley, kindly reach to us in the follwing address

Blessing Literature Centre
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Chintadripet,
Chennai 600 002, India.
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 Daily Devotional for Women (Tamil)

  •   August 3 Who shut your mouth?
      Aug 03, 2020
    Who shut your mouth? more...
  •   August 2 Who cares?
      Aug 02, 2020
    Who cares? more...
  •   August 1 Serving all the time
      Aug 01, 2020
    Serving all the time more...
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 Daily Devotional for Women (English)

  •   367. December 31 Golden Girl
      Dec 31, 2019
    Now the Golden Girl has climbed from her state, step by step, to the right hand of the King. She is now the bride and the queen. Let?s see the blessings of the right hand of God more...
  •   366. December 30 Golden Girl
      Dec 30, 2019
    The enemy has all the gold but God will give it to us more...
  •   365. December 29 Golden Girl
      Dec 29, 2019
    Your faith is costlier than gold more...
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 Little Stories for Little Hearts Vol 4

  •   051. Blessed Accident
      Feb 21, 2018
    A sailor wanted to go round the world in a boat and set up a record. Sadly, a storm lashed his boat and it broke to pieces. The sailor swam and reached a small uninhabited island. He ate wild fruits and roots and survived. He made a more...
  •   052. Offense
      Feb 21, 2018
    An elaborate feast was arranged for all the palace staff on the occasion of Queen Elizabeth?s birthday. It was a grand affair. The table was loaded with a variety of dishes. Everybody enjoyed the feast and sat down for dessert. In the meanwhile the table more...
  •   053. Great and Small
      Feb 21, 2018
    A small zero collided with a big zero. ?Don?t you have any sense? Don?t you know I am much bigger than you?? asked the big zero; ?You must be ashamed of yourself.? more...
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 Little Stories for Little Hearts Vol 3

  •   094 Ant and Worm
      Jun 01, 2016
    An ant was majestically walking along a forest. She saw a worm crawling. The ant told the worm: ?Look at me. I am so brisk and smart. You should be faster and dress up beautifully. You look ugly.? Despising the worm the ant moved along. more...
  •   095 Diligence Pays
      Jun 01, 2016
    Ragu was very jealous of the humble minister, Ra more...
  •   096 Poor Minister
      Jun 01, 2016
    A poor minister of God used to go to a rich businessman asking for contribution for the work he was doing in villages. The rich man would give excuses and ask hi more...
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 Little Stories for Little Hearts Vol 2

  •   001 The Modern Prodigal
      Jul 11, 2013
    The Modern Prodigal more...
  •   002 Lower One Foot, Lord!
      Jul 11, 2013
    Lower One Foot, Lord! more...
  •   003 Beautiful Cheques
      Jul 11, 2013
    Beautiful Cheques more...
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 Little Stories For Little Hearts

  •   Introduction
      Jun 06, 2013
    Story Behind The Stories more...
  •   001. Is GOD For Real
      Jun 05, 2013
    There were two scientists. One was a believer in the true God and another was an aetheist more...
  •   002.The Language of Love!
      Jun 05, 2013
    A circus was running in town, and crowds elbowed each other to buy tickets. One day an unusual incident happened more...
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 Sweet Sixteen

  •   019 - Mala the Great!
      Jun 25, 2015
    7 Dec 1988 Dear Aunty, It?s been 2 months since we were in touch. I?m saturated with ?news? to give you and nearly bursting with curiosity to hear what?s been happening at your end. The last letter you wrote to me was an eye-opener. To more...
  •   020 - The Rainbow
      Jun 25, 2015
    On the day she arrived, she was at my doorstep! ?Hi aunty? ?Oh Mala, how are you?? She shook my hand so long and hard that it ached, and planted a kiss on my cheek - so unusual of her. ?Why didn?t you write aunty?? ?Oh, I knew you?d be coming soon. So more...
  •   021 - What to Do?
      Jun 25, 2015
    7 Jan 1989 Dear Aunty, Christmas holidays were great fun. It was lovely getting in touch with friends and relatives. On New Year?s Day I gleaned thro? my diary- There was so much to thank God for! My friend Esther is in Rajasthan. She wrote asking for g more...
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 Family

  •   Creepers Without Support
      Sep 30, 2016
    Creepers Without Support The Bible mentions ?pure religion? only once. ?Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unspotted from the world? (Js 1:2 more...
  •   Mothers,Be Mothers!
      Sep 30, 2016
    Mothers,Be Mothers! In the first chapter of Proverbs we meet the dynamic personality called mother. She is presented not as a wobbly- footed weakling but as one who passes the law. Even inside the home she does not appear as a second class citizen, ra more...
  •   The Mother-in-laws Son!
      Sep 17, 2016
    Many a wife would introduce her mate as her mother-in-law?s son, rather than as her husband. Nearly 80% of Indian husbands continue to be (their mother?s) sons. According to a recent statistics, not less than 10% of suicides in India are due to the proble more...
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 Ministry

  •   I am a Missionary!
      Aug 14, 2018
    1. I am a missionary and so I work for God and not for an organisation. Though I am under the discipline of an organisation, whatever I do, I do with the fear of God. God is my Master and so I subject myself to the leaders. I quell any rebellious spirit t more...
  •   Sewer turned Sower!
      Mar 13, 2017
    To understand John chapter 4, we must first understand about the Samaritans. Samaria was between Judea and Galilee so much so any Jew travelling from Galilee to Judea or Judea to Galilee needed to go through it. Many Jews, because of the aversion they ha more...
  •   Afraid of Iron Chariots?
      Jun 29, 2016
    Afraid of Iron Chariots? more...
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 Women

  •   Golden Girl
      Aug 27, 2018
    As India basks in the glory of the golden girls who kissed their gold medals in the 2018 Asian Games, let us meditate upon the Golden Girl who glitters in the Scriptures. The Psalmist profiles her in his 45th Psalm: ?At Your right hand is the royal bride more...
  •   Sister Sodom
      Jan 16, 2017
    Sodom is always associated with wicked ''men''. But here God calls her as 'Sister Sodom!' more...
  •   Women,Leaven and Heaven!
      Sep 30, 2016
    Women,Leaven and Heaven! 'The Kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened ' ,said Jesus (Mt 13:33). more...
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 Youth

  •   A Teenagers Story
      Oct 04, 2017
    In the Bible we read about many teenagers. One such is David. When we are introduced to him, he is probably fifteen or sixteen, trying his more...
  •   Why Not Wait ?
      Oct 21, 2016
    It was a whirlwind romance - all moon-beams and star dust; until one day in a moment of madness, they succumbed to each other?s charms. That was the last cruise of their love boat. The world seemed to crash around her when she fo more...
  •   May Days are Gay Days!
      Oct 19, 2016
    Vacation wind is blowing and the air is heavy with the fragrance of holiday. With the exams behind you it?s time to rest, relax and recoup. Holiday is an oasis in the harsh and fiery deserts of modern existence more...
  • Click here for more 

 General

  •   Foliage or Fruits?
      May 10, 2020
    God brought Israel from Egypt to the land of Canaan where they flourished. But when they picked up the idolatrous practices of the neighbouring nations, God in His vexation drove them out of the land more...
  •   The Root of the Matter
      Apr 05, 2020
    The Root of the Matter more...
  •   WAKE UP!
      Mar 28, 2020
    WAKE UP! more...
  • Click here for more 

The Root of the Matter

Dr. Lilian Stanley

     Prophesying about the people of Judah who escaped the slaughter by enemies, Isaiah says, “The remnant who have escaped of the house of Judah shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward” (Isa 37:31). This can also mean us who have escaped the onslaught of satan and are a minority today. God has hopes on us that we will once again take root and fill the earth. “In days to come Jacob will take root, Israel will bud and blossom and fill all the world with fruit” says Isaiah (27:6). Exciting, isn’t it? Let’s see something about taking root.

When we discuss an important matter, we say, “We must get to the root of the matter.” That says it all. The root is where you start to know anything fully and rightly. Root is the most important part of the tree or plant. But when we look at a tree, we don’t even think about the root. We appreciate the foliage and clap for the sweetness of the fruit. We never say, “The tree is so good. It’s root must be good.”  Root is the unnoticed, unappreciated part of the tree, yet the most important. It is hidden, yet vital.

What is the origin of the root? – Seed. When a seed is planted it starts to die even as it gives birth to the root. How does it die? It must first of all fall, fall from the place where it is comfortably seated. We are all wheat alright. But if we are still in the sack, comfortable and cozy, we will be barren, single and unproductive. Most of us love this kind of life – to be a wheat in the sack.

We must obey the Farmer, the Lord of the harvest, and not grumble when He throws us in the soil. As long as we are in His hands we are warm, safe and secure and we think that the moment will last forever. But suddenly thunder bellows, lightning strikes, the showers come, the season is come and it is time for us to go. The Farmer throws us. It appears rude. The seed cries and thinks the Farmer has decided to throw him away and has no need of him, etc., But no, it is out of love for the seed, the Farmer throws him. He does not want the seed to languish in loneliness but to multiply merrily.

The seed falls where? Not on a bed of jasmines but on the ground, on the slushy ground full of smelly manure. We all need to experience this. It is good for us to fall to the ground. We will not put out root on mosaic or marble. We must lie on the ground, wet and lonely on the nasty soil. Many of us are on mosaic and marble. That’s why we are not growing roots.

It is good to fall down. It humbles us. It makes us to understand where we belong. We belong to the ground. That is where our job lies. We cry, we weep, “Why Lord have you cast me to the ground?” The seed lies there weeping. The rains come. The soil covers it and it dies, or so it thinks. It thinks the end has come. But no, life has just begun. It remained in solitude so far. If it had remained in the gunny bag even for a thousand years, it would be breathing and alive but will never put out roots. It must die.

Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seed.  Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (Jn 12:24,25). Jesus compared Himself to a seed. It was hard for Him to fall to the ground and die. He wanted the cup of suffering to be taken away from Him. Nevertheless, He submitted Himself to the Father’s will. From His Father’s hand He fell to the ground. Rather, His Father dropped His darling Child to the ground, to the dirty slushy soil where He was mistreated, spit upon and abused. He died a cruel death. He cried, “Father, why have you forsaken Me?” But the miracle started after His death. He put out root and shoots and started bearing fruit by the millions.

Oh, how we love our lives! We are one with the world. Jesus also lived on this world and ate and drank. But He never once allowed the world to master Him. Let us follow His lifestyle. “Love not the world or anything in the world,” says John (1 Jn 2:15). How we have fallen in love with the things of the world – our jobs, our salary, our qualification, our clothes, our jewels, our houses, our cars, our lovers! The list is endless. Why should we not love the world? “The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever” (v17). So what is the will of God for us? He wants us to fall to the ground and die so that we may die and live forever. But we refuse. Those who let themselves fall to the ground will grow root. Jesus humbled Himself, took the form of a bonded labourer and became obedient to the point of death (Phil 2 : 5-8).

Now let’s see the journey of the Seed. Genesis 3:15, “I will put enmity between your seed and her Seed.” When Jesus the Seed, fell to the ground from heaven, satan was horrified because he knew when the Seed died, He would produce many seeds. He tried to kill Baby Jesus through Herod’s wicked scheme. It is this terror that brought satan to the wilderness to tempt Jesus and thwart His plans for the redemption of the world. He came as an angel of light offering glamorous things to Jesus. He was offering Jesus a shortcut to achieve His Messianic goal. Through Peter He was discouraged from death on the cross. He was rebuked. Jesus immediately recognized it as a ploy of satan and scolded Peter. Probably in the Garden of Gethsemane too He told Jesus that there was still hope of escaping the cross by asking the Father to remove the cup. But Jesus was firm on executing the Father’s will. The devil made one last attempt when Jesus was convulsing in agony on the cross, asking Him to come down and make a display of His power so that all those who were there could believe that He was the Son of God. Was it not a temptation to a man writhing in pain? But Jesus denied Himself and thus brought many sons to glory (Heb 2: 10,11).

When Jesus was a helpless Baby, God sent His angel to save Him. But when He became a man, God forsook Him to make His own decisions. At times when we are helpless and weak and run into rough weather, God will certainly help us miraculously, but other times God expects us to wilfully choose His will.

Satan will show us all the glories of the world and promise to give us “all” and coddle us that we may not fall to the ground and die. Sadly many have fallen at his feet to worship him. Today they are blessed by him and made to believe they are God’s blessing. The sure sign that all your blessings are from God is your death to worldly gain and pleasure. Today if God tells you, ‘Sell all, give to the poor, take up your cross and follow Me,’ what will be your response? Will it rattle your spine with fear? The disciples sold their possessions (because they loved not the world) and kept them at the Apostles “feet,” because they were also dead to riches. By faith Moses ‘left’ not ‘got’  (Heb 11). Faith is leaving, not cleaving.

Our missionary Peter Luis left his job in the Gulf and along with his wife Elizabeth and two little daughters settled in a God-forsaken place in Maharashtra. He is now multiplying like yeast. Missionary Ponniah and his wife Satyavathi pushed themselves to cross unfamiliar thresholds in the jungles of Odisha and gave birth to numerous churches. They taught to read and write to knots of men in the night and brought hope and dignity to hundreds. These people were willing to fall down and die on dirty soil.

Like Peter, our well meaning friends and relatives may put a block to our death. We tell them we want to renounce the world, we want to give away a substantial portion of our wealth to God’s work, we want to resign our prestigious job and serve God, we want to dedicate a child for ministry, they “rebuke” us that such a thing should not happen to us (Mt 16:22). We do not have the guts to tell the relative/friend/disciple, “Get behind me satan.” “Don’t be foolish,” they tell us. “We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us,” says Mr. Joseph Campbell. It is jumping into the unknown. When my relative was told that I was going to marry a preacher she told me, “So you are going to take a tambourine and go on the street.” Thank God, that did not discourage me. People have said I wasted one medical seat. I don’t think so. My medical knowledge is fully utilized in God’s service. It had been a bumpy beginning, but so much had come full circle. If I died now, I would think that I made the best out of my life. There are many ways by which we think we can please God. But do we try to please Him the way He wants? Martha wanted to please Jesus by her cooking. But Mary pleased Him the way He wanted.

I don’t in the least mean that all of us should resign our earthly jobs to serve God fulltime. No. We need the basic amenities of life. But all of us must fall to the ground and die, that we may not suffer loneliness, but produce plenty of grain. Jesus said: “Here I am … I have come to do Your will, My God”(Heb 10:7). All of us must tell God this and proceed to do His will. Heart of hearts we know the will of God for us, but we seek loopholes to wriggle out to do our own will. Risk indeed; but big rewards go to those who take big risks. Only a small percentage does this, and that is the remnant.

May be you have fallen to the ground and weeping, “How long Lord, how long?” Wait. Keep putting one foot in front of the other towards your next goal, with faith, prayer and trust. Charles Spurgeon said, “By perseverance the snail reached Noah’s Ark.”  “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain – first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come” (Mk 4 : 26-29). You need patience brother, sister. You cry about your dirty situation; you complain about the way you are treated – but you don’t realize it is the dirty “soil produces grain.” Winning is often the result of persistence, of not giving up when your goal appears to be in jeopardy. “Be patient then, dear brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near” (Js 5:7,8).

Some get discouraged. Lose patience and stop the work. Jesus called His disciples 2-4-75-120 and left. But today His disciples are all over the world. “The Kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. 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” (Mt 13:31,32). That is the future of the seed that dies. That is the future of the remnant. Would you be part of it? “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom”(vv 37,38). Is it now clear to you that God throws us down on the soil that we may die, take root and populate the earth?

So now the root takes nutrients from the seed and grows. It was Isaiah who prophesied that, “The remnant who have escaped of the house of Judah shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward” (2 Ki 19:30; Isa 37:31).

Talking about the root the Apostle Paul says, “If the root is holy, so are the branches” (Rom 11:16). This is the first requirement of a root, if it is to produce holy branches. Remember, if the root is to be holy, we should take root  “below” the dirty soil and not towards the world (Isa 37:31).

God cautioned Moses, “… there may not be among you a root bearing bitterness or wormwood; and so it may not happen, when he hears the words of this curse, that he blesses himself in his heart, saying, ‘I shall have peace, even though I follow the dictates of my heart’” (Dt 29 : 18,19). See the wickedness of our heart! When God wants us not to go as the world goes, we think, “It’s OK. The Bible is impractical. I cannot be displeasing my friends. I can only live like this. Even though God has warned, nothing like that will happen to me.” That is the root of bitterness and wormwood says God. We become bold to do wrong. We encourage ourselves to go ahead with whatever wrong we are doing even though we know we are displeasing God. This is what is called wilful sinning (Psa 19 : 13). It is the hidden life, the root. Do not allow yourself to be dragged into sin. The remnant is “very” small (Isa 1:9). We are living in such days that very few spiritually discipline themselves to be worthy of being called the remnant.

See what Jeremiah prophesies to those whose feet walk in the direction of their choice in 9:13-15, “And the Lord said, ‘Because they have forsaken My law which I set before them, and have not obeyed My voice, nor walked according to it, but they have walked according to the dictates of their own hearts and after the Baals, which their fathers taught them, therefore thus says the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel: ‘Behold, I will feed them, this people, with wormwood, and give them water of gall to drink…” God forbid that we take His word lightly and follow our heart. When you turn every corner, stop, think, “Am I going to follow my heart or God’s word?” and then proceed.

Jeremiah 17:7,8 says, “Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. 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 is immediately followed by the description of a deceitful heart. Our heart can become our own enemy and deceive us into disobeying God. But if we put our confidence in God and listen to His gentle whisper, our roots will not lack the water of life and we will be a strong tree loaded with fruits.

How to take root?

The root should not be on the surface. Then the plant can easily fall or be uprooted. The root should go deep down. “When the Sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away” (Mt 13:6). If you think you fall within the bracket of the remnant, God wants you to spruce up. How?

1. Righteousness: “The root of the righteous cannot be moved” (Pro 12:3,12). Righteousness means doing the right thing. Rigid adherence to truth and facts pays. Self-discipline is choosing to do what is right when you feel like doing what’s wrong. It’s knowing you can, but deciding you won’t. Often we face conflicts in life, whether to do this or that. For example: To pay and get a seat or pray and wait for God’s will. Which is right? If you pay you wouldn’t know whether it is God’s will or not. But if you take the other route you will know for certain that you are in God’s will. A family met me after a Blesso and wanted counsel regarding their daughter, whether to shift her from CBSE to State Board, so that she could score high marks (NEET was not introduced yet). I told them not to do it, but decide never to pay for a seat so that they will be sure of God’s will. They did exactly that. She got a seat in MBBS. November 2019 Jebilyn’s picture was in the newspaper as the best outgoing student! God honoured their faith and His name was glorified. People’s conscience has become so blunt that nowadays many wrong things are accepted as unavoidable. God will always stand by the righteous (2 Chr 19:11c). No matter how far down the wrong road you’ve gone, it’s never too late to turn around.

Read the following verses and be strengthened in your faith:-

“Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken” (Psa 55:22).

“The righteous are bold as a lion” (Pro 28:1).

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled” (Mt 5:6).

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do no worry about tomorrow” (Mt 6:33,34). Meditate on the word “But.”

“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives… eager to do what is good” (Tit 2 : 11,12). The grace of God does not encourage us to sin but teaches self-control.

“The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and ears are attentive to their prayers” (I Pe 3:12).

2. Holiness: “If the root is holy, so are the branches” (Rom 11:16). Root is the hidden part, our inward being. Jesus called the Pharisees as hypocrites. Outside they appeared holy but inside they were full of wickedness. They were like white-washed tombs (Mt 23:27,28). Jesus advised, “First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean” (v26).

Unsurprisingly we take all efforts to show ourselves holy to the world. Even a prophet like Samuel was carried away by the looks of Eliab. God told him, “People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Sam 16:7). Let us concentrate on the area which is important to God. Clean up your insides. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Mt 5:8). The fig tree Jesus cursed withered from the root. Why? It was putting up an outward show (Mk 11:20). “These people honour Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me,” says God (Mt 15:8). That’s why David prayed, “Search me O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psa 139 : 23,24). No wonder God was looking at his heart.

So the first step is to learn to speak the truth to yourself. Don’t cheat yourself. I hate to put on weight. When I gain one kilo, I turn the pointer of the weighing scale down by one kilo and feel happy. What am I doing? I am telling a lie to myself, I deceive myself. Honesty is speaking the truth to others; integrity is speaking the truth to yourself. “Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill? He who … speaks the truth in his heart” (Psa 15: 1,2). It does take a little practice, but you will soon get the hang of it.  We need to be ruthlessly honest with ourselves. Of all the lies we tell, the ones we tell ourselves are the most deadly.

3. Love: “…that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 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, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Eph 3 :17-19).

In other words, unless we learn to go out of the way to love people, especially the unlovables, we will neither be able to understand the dimensions of the love of Christ nor be filled with the fullness of God. This kind of rooting and grounding in effusive love is very much lacking today. That’s why Christians have become the laughing stock of the world. The lack of love among Christians is ubiquitous and obvious. That’s why Jesus said, “A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another” (Jn 13 : 34,35). This has a message for us. Unless we love one another the way Jesus loved us when we were dirty sinners, we will not be able to understand the four dimensional love of Christ which is, “Wide, wide as the ocean, high as the heavens above, deep deep as the deepest sea.” Let us fall prostrate at God’s feet and weep and beg that He may fill us with His love with which we may love our family, friends, neighbours, coworkers, others and enemies. We are a bad testimony to the world in the love aspect. Ask yourself, “Does the world see a love that is different and divine in me? Does the world know I am a disciple of Christ by the way I love?” Strive to get a ‘yes’ answer. “Do ordinary things with extraordinary love,” said Mother Teresa. Let us make it our lifestyle.

4. A Christ-centered life: “So then, just as you received Christ as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him, rooted and built up in Him” (Col 2:6).

We will focus only on three things here.

a) Living our lives in Him. We received Christ Jesus as the Lord of our lives. The story does not end there. We must continue to live our lives in Him. He must be our everything. He must own us completely.  He must be our Master.  “For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain,” said Paul (Phil 1:21). We must have no other passion in life being totally sold out for Him. He wants us either all or none. Behave like His gloves, totally pliable to Him.

b) Rooted in Him.  The deeper the root goes the harder it will be to pull out the plant. It is “taking root” as Isaiah puts it (37:31). You have seen roots holding on to rocks. That’s how Paul was rooted in Christ and could say, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” (Rom 8:35). Can we say that?

c) Built up in Him.  This speaks about fellowship. Christianity is not a loner’s religion. We are “fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone, in whom the whole building being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord…”(Eph 2:19, 21). We must live in close fellowship with other saints of God. Start with family – brother, sister, father, mother, husband, wife, in-laws, aunts, cousins… in the Church, neighbours. Only then we can be a holy temple. Or else we will be a dilapidated shed.

5. Sweet root:  “See to it that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many” (Heb 12:15). These are people who are trouble makers. Jude warns us to keep away from them. “These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds, late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots” (v12). They never bothered to be rooted in righteousness, holiness, love or Christ. So they could be easily uprooted and thrown out. Bring to mind the fig tree that Jesus cursed, withered from the root. Let us put roots of sweetness.

Once again read John 12:20-26. Jesus was not flattered that Greeks sought an interview with Him, that His fame had crossed the boundaries of Israel. He started speaking about His death. As His death was nearing, His eyes were on His glorification. In another week He would be crucified. Instead of speaking about His sorrow and suffering, He was speaking about His glorification. Death is glory for a believer.

Jesus is telling us a “truth” here. The truth is: Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it will remain a single seed. It is a truth. But many try to multiply without dying. They refuse to fall to the ground, clinging on to the world. They don’t die. They think they can multiply just the way they live, without dying. It is a fantasy. There is no way to multiply without death. Only if the seed dies it can produce many seeds.

The person who does not want to fall to the ground, who does not want to die, will never experience glorification. But if he gives himself over to the will of God, to fall to the ground and die, he will put out root, give fruit, multiply and will be glorified. The man who loves his life will refuse to fall to the ground, he will refuse to die to the world and its glories. He will lose his life. He will become rotten. Rats and worms will eat away such seeds.

But the man who hates his life in this world, who is willing to fall to the ground and die will live forever and ever. If he serves Christ, he must follow Christ to the ground to die. No monument may be built for him, no streets named, no parades thrown. But the Father will honour him who serves His Son. Very few opt for such a rigorous discipline. That’s why the remnant is always a little flock.

May we fall to the ground and die and take root below that we may bear fruit above!

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