When God puts a word on your heart, it does something to you. It has this very interesting, stir your soul kind of feeling… but sometimes it can be hard to understand. Thoughts can creep into your mind and distract you from what it is the Lord is actually trying to communicate with you. “Is that really from You, God?” “What does that mean?” “What am I supposed to do with this information?”
Sometimes if we aren’t careful, we can convince ourselves that a thought or a word from God is just that – a thought. And before we know it, a message that was designated just for us to hear, from our Lord and Savior, is lost in translation… all because we didn’t have the faith to pursue that word. How devastating can that be?
That is all to say that if you feel the Lord whisper to you, pursue it to the very end. That is what happened to me when I woke up one morning several months ago. I don’t know why, but the word ‘bitter root’ kept permeating my mind. Over and over again, from the time I woke up, all throughout the day, all I heard was “bitter root, bitter root, bitter root.’ Instantly I knew it was from the Lord. and it turns out that in Hebrew, the word for bitterness is this word “Pikria’,’ which when translated actually means “a bitter root, and so PRODUCING bitter fruit…” Iʼll say that again… a bitter root, and so producing bitter fruit. Hebrews 12:15 says “See to it, that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and by it— many become defiled.” Bitterness, if not taken care of… if not treated at the very root can come in and disrupt our calling and the purpose Jesus has for our lives and the lives of those around us. You see— when we harbor bitterness in our lives, it doesnʼt just infect us to our very core.. it affects our FRUITFULNESS… the fruit we produce in our lives becomes contaminated.. Galatians 5 says it like this— “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness.” All of these things, yet if we have a bitter root within us, we can become contaminated.
In preparation of this devotional, I actually looked up a lot about gardening and what actually happens to plants that bear bitter fruit.. and what I found out was really interesting. It turns out that almost all fruit bearing plants, cucumbers, strawberries, melons, all plants and trees that bear fruit have this chemical called cucurbitacin. It actually said “it is a chemical that is always present within the roots, leaves, and stems of these plants” but that when these plants are under extreme amounts of stress.. it causes this chemical to be released and overly produced, so much so that it affects the health of the entire plant… causing the entire BODY to become bitter, fruit and all.
So I started thinking… isnʼt this what happens to us in our lives? Donʼt WE respond to stress the same way? We live in sin… constantly. Itʼs embedded in us, because of who we are as human beings, we will never ever not have sin in our lives— its a chemical that we have inherited that started at the very root of our existence… much like this chemical cucurbutaCIN… we have sin in us.. and donʼt we handle it the same way? When weʼre overly stressed, especially during a time like now, whatʼs the first thing we produce? Bitterness. When weʼre stressed or lacking proper nutrients in our life what fruit do we bear? Discomfort. What does the ENEMY want us to produce in our lives? SIN. And honestly, if it were up to him, he doesnʼt want us to bear any fruit at all! He doesnʼt want us to bear love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness. So much like these plants, this bitter, nasty chemical called SIN… if not dealt with accordingly.. can pour out and affect our entire bodies and the fruit we produce.
So what are ways that we can deal with this bitterness, this sin problem we have in our lives? And how can we prevent it from spreading to our fruitfulness, outwardly affecting others?
There are 3 things we can do to live a life that is fruitful.
Find the Root of the Problem
When I was doing my research for this devotion, the article I referenced earlier said that if your plant has already gotten to the point of bearing bitter fruit– the best possible thing and the only way to salvage the plant’s fruitfulness… is to cut it out at the root and start all over.
And we can see a similar story in the book of Mark where Jesus recognizes this very same issue… it’s in Mark chapter 11 verse 12… “On the following day, when they came from Bethany he [Jesus] was hungry. And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. And he said to it “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And the disciples heard this.
It picks up again in verse 20 “As they passed by in the morning they saw the fig tree WITHERED AWAY TO ITS ROOTS. And Peter remembered, and said to him “Rabbi Look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.”
Jesus knew the plant was defected, so he cursed the tree, why? Because he didn’t want the cursed tree’s fruitfulness (or lack thereof) to affect others. He knew, it was better off to just let it wither off and die… But the beautiful part is what Jesus says next, when Jesus turns back to Peter, look at what he gives us as a solution:
d. Verse 22 “And Jesus answered them ‘Have faith in GOD. Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain be taken up and thrown into the sea, and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.. (Mark 11:20-25)
We go to God in prayer. See, Jesus shows us here that we can turn to him in prayer and ask for the things we don’t have… Jesus already knows we are defected, that’s why he went to the cross! We can start over, we can start fresh, we can have a second chance and we can ask for forgiveness for the bitterness, the bitter sin in our lives and HE, WILL, PROVIDE. But we have to get to the root of the problem first, and we have to get into position where we humble ourselves, take ownership of our sin, find repentance and pray.
Find the Right Soil
Another reason these fruit-bearing plants fall under this insane amount of stress is simply because they’re not in the right environment. They’re lacking nutrients. They aren’t planted in the right soil.
Matthew 13:3 “A sower went out to sow, and as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”
Verse 19 “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself but endures for a while, and when tribulation and persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word and it proves unfruitful. As for what is sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”
Jesus understood that in order to be fruitful, we need to be in good soil. Where are you planted? Is the environment you’re in suitable for your spiritual growth? Are you taking the time to invest in your soil? Are you surrounding yourselves with the right friends? Are you being intentional about your surroundings? What you’re absorbing? What music your listening to you? Are you in the right community?
Romans 12:5 “So we, though many, are ONE BODY in Christ and individually members one of another.” We have to ask ourselves, where are we planted?
Find Our Source of Water
One of the major, major reasons why so many of these plants found themselves under stress was due to irregular watering. They simply weren’t connected to a consistent source of water.
John 7:37 “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” Now this he said about the Spirit…”
Did you catch that last part? Now this he said about the what? About the SPIRIT.
Our source, the source we must be consistently connected to, is the Holy Spirit.
1 John 5:6 “This is he who came by WATER and blood— Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree.”
Now, what I noticed in this article I was reading, when I was doing my plant research, is that, it didn’t just say ‘not enough water’ or ‘too much’ water.. but IRREGULAR watering. We can’t go through seasons of irregularity. We can’t be in a drought for one season, then over-saturate ourselves the next, only to go back in the drought.. that irregularity and that irregular relationship with the Holy Spirit is not how the Lord designed our relationship with Him to be!
John 14:16, this is Jesus speaking “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you FOREVER.” A synonym for the word forever, is continually. We have to be constantly connected to our source of living water.. our source of living water is Jesus.. it’s the Holy Spirit.
Nehemiah 9:20 “You gave your good Spirit to instruct them. You did not withhold your manna from their mouths, and you gave them water for their thirst.
The thing I noticed the most through these last weeks of really spending time with the Lord and creating this devotional, and what I’ve seen all through these scriptures.. is not only how much God loves us, but how much he pursues us… he constantly chooses us.
“I am the true vine, and my Father the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. ABIDE in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.”
We don’t have the ability to take care of the bitter sin problem in our lives… Sometimes our bitterness can be attached to things that are so deeply rooted in our lives, we cannot POSSIBLY remove it on our own. And that’s okay! Because our answer to this issue.. It’s Jesus. Apart from him, we can do nothing! JESUS came and HE SAVED US. Look at what it says in verse 16.
“You did not choose me, but I CHOSE YOU, That you should go and bear fruit and that YOUR FRUIT SHOULD ABIDE, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, He may give it to you.”
He already chose us. He already appointed us to go and BEAR FRUIT! We can stop letting stress and anxiety and all of the things in our lives we have no control over cause bitterness in us because guess what— as long as we have Jesus, we have our perfect peace, our perfect source of holy, living water.