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“This is what the LORD says: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the LORD. He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes. He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives. But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. He 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.” (Jeremiah 17:5-8)
“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.” (Psalm 1)
In order to bear genuine, lasting spiritual fruit (Galatians 5:22-23), we must be planted in God himself and continually drink his living water (John 4:1-42; 6:35; 7:37-39, Revelation 22:17). Jesus, using a similar metaphor, said:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener…Remain in me, and I will 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. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:1, 4-5)
Counterfeits and substitutes to the living water of the Holy Spirit evidence themselves when the heat of trials and drought of circumstances come. We droop and wither if our roots are not continually drinking from the stream of God (confer The Parable of The Sower in Matthew 13:1-23). (See “The Parable of The Sower” (Events of The Bible Series).)
There are many counterfeits and superficial supports we Christians can rely upon to prop up a less-than-healthy spiritual life. As the saying goes, ‘”We are what we eat (or drink)”. Many times we are not even aware of these alternative things we ingest and rely upon until they are taken away from us.
There came a time in my life where the Lord called my husband and I out of an “organized” church and led us to pursue fellowship with other Christians in homes.
In the early days of making this transition, I initially started to wither because for so long a number of my roots had been planted in other things rather than in Christ himself. I was shocked as the Lord began to expose the areas where I was ashamedly drawing upon the structures and organizations of “the church” as well as upon other people to find and sustain my “life”. When these things were abruptly removed, the place where my roots were planted was revealed and the counterfeits I was drinking were exposed. I also realized that some of the “fruit” I was bearing was “religious” rather than “spiritual”, though they looked very similar.
In order to genuinely spiritually survive and thrive in this environment, I had to drive my roots deep down into God and drink from his living presence. I thank God a million times over for sending me into this trial because I only want to drink genuine living water and bear genuine, spiritual fruit! Because of this experience, God has taught me the secret of being fruitful at all times: Drink him in abundantly and continually!
The faithful, constant sustenance of the presence of God in our lives makes even the harshest environments and circumstances completely irrelevant factors in our fruitfulness.
During this season of being “re-planted” in God, Psalm 1 and Jeremiah 17:5-8 (above) came alive to me. “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul…They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold…” (Psalm 19:7, 10)
This drawing is primarily based upon Jeremiah 17:5-8 and was inspired out of this experience. In the background, there are 6 withered bushes in the wasteland. This is the fate of those who trust in the flesh (themselves or other people) rather than in God to sustain them. Six is representative of the number of man. In the foreground, the seventh tree depicts the man who trusts in the Lord and is planted in him. He drinks of God’s presence and consequently bears much fruit.
The river of God is never intermittent but is always abundantly available to us in times of heat and drought.
False teaching has circulated in some parts of the church saying that sometimes God revokes this river from us and sends us into dry, desert seasons. This false teaching is primarily based upon man’s subjective experience, but it is not what the Scripture teaches. Though God sometimes sends us into the desert to be tested (Matthew 4:1-11) and allows the drought and heat of trials and circumstances into our lives, he will never, ever revoke his living water from us. It is constantly there to sustain us in times of drought (See John 4:13-14; 6:35, Isaiah 27:2-3, 1 Corinthians 10:3-4).
“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.” (Colossians 2:6-8)