The Secret to Rooting New Life (Part 2)

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Copyright 2013 by Sarah G. Pemberton

Allow me to unpack this for you in more detail, looking up the Scriptural significance of “cut branches,” “wounding,” “honey,” and “soil”:

[1] Cut branches and fruitful growth:
15 Jesus: I am the true vine, and My Father is the keeper of the vineyard. My Father examines every branch in Me and cuts away those who do not bear fruit. He leaves those bearing fruit and carefully prunes them so that they will bear more fruit; already you are clean because you have heard My voice. Abide in Me, and I will abide in you. A branch cannot bear fruit if it is disconnected from the vine, and neither will you if you are not connected to Me.

I am the vine, and you are the branches. If you abide in Me and I in you, you will bear great fruit. Without Me, you will accomplish nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is like a branch that is tossed out and shrivels up and is later gathered to be tossed into the fire to burn. If you abide in Me and My voice abides in you, anything you ask will come to pass for you. Your abundant growth and your faithfulness as My followers will bring glory to the Father. ~ The Voice (VOICE) Bible (Jn. 15: 1-8)

Many Christians I know have experienced difficult seasons in which they felt “cut off” from the rest of the Church.  Sometimes, they have cut themselves off because they got hurt in church, and didn’t know how to let God heal those wounds of abuse, neglect, or rejection.  Others were pressured into leaving churches because they had a vision for ministry which was not well-received in that particular congregation or denomination.  God wants all believers to find their true place where they fit in the Body of Christ, so that their gifts will be celebrated, not just tolerated.

Joseph (Genesis 37:2-45:28) was a perfect example of one who had every right to feel rejected and offended, as he kept suffering injustice after injustice, not seeing his dreams from God coming true.  Yet because he served both God and people faithfully everywhere he went, without manipulation as his motive, God promoted him into the very thing he dreamed of, from the least likely prospect he could imagine – a slave condemned to a dungeon.

I also know a few Christians who got kicked out of some churches because of sins in their lives of which they were either unwilling to repent, or some cut themselves off because they had no idea how to find victory over a chronic struggle with sin, though they desperately wanted it.  (I Cor. 5:1-13; II Cor. 2:4-11)  God always wants us to experience the Death of Sin in the Cross and the Life of Christ in us; (Gal. 2:20) but some simply have not had anyone with experience in overcoming the same sins to show them the path of victory.  Many get stuck in legalism and striving through self-effort to change (which never works) because they do not understand the power of supernatural grace.  (Paul’s epistle to the Galatians addresses this.) This is like being told to drive a car with no gasoline. 

Others swallow the lie that forgiveness is the only goal of grace, that they may keep sinning, thinking it is OK as long as they “confess it and ask forgiveness.” (Rom. 6:1-18)  This is like taking a car to the mechanic to replace a bad part, but then smashing the new part as soon as you get the car out of the mechanic’s garage, and taking it right back in, to ask him to replace it again.  Eventually you’ll go broke on the repairs, and you’ll have never gone anywhere in that car.

[2]  Wounding:

There are four types of wounds in life:  [a] the wound experienced by an accident; [b] the wound experienced by one’s own or by someone else’s deliberate malice; [c] the wound experienced by surgery in order to heal and cure a deeper and more devastating issue; [d] the wound of a punishment for a wrong committed.  God is the Healer of the first two, for all who come to Him; and He is the Author of the third.  He Himself took the fourth on the Cross, so that we would not have to be destroyed by and for our sins.

Job pleaded for God to heal the wound of what felt like an unjust punishment, not knowing that God had never punished him at all, but merely given Satan permission to test Job’s faith and his trust in the ultimate goodness and faithfulness of God to bless him more than ever, if Job did not give up.  David felt unjustly wounded by his friend and king, to whom he always remained faithful, even as King Saul persecuted him unjustly.  David passed God’s test of grace and forgiveness toward his enemies, and of not seizing by self-effort what God had promised him; thus David was promised a lasting dynasty, through which the very Savior of the World would one day come.  Jesus was willing to be “wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities” (Is. 53) in order to trust God to raise Him from the dead, conquering for all time Sin, Sickness, Death, Hell, and The Grave.  (Rev. 20:10-14)  Paul was wounded by such persecution – both by his fellow Jews, as well as by the pagan Gentiles, everywhere he went – to the point that he called this constant battle of opposition his *“thorn in his flesh.”  (I Cor. 12:1-10)

*[(Gen. 3:18)  “Thorns” are sent to curse the ground the man works upon, implying that thorns symbolize a hindrance to fruitful work efforts.  Persecution hindered Paul’s work, because of the long-term effects of his own past persecution of Christians.  This hindrance was not a punishment, since he was saved by grace, but merely a personal challenge to keep him humble, in appreciating the sufferings of others gone before him, (Php. 2:17) lest Paul think God was successfully using him because of his impressive pedigree, education, and prophetic visions.  (Php. 3:3-14) Numbers 33:55 and many other Old Testament passages makes it clear that thorn in the flesh” is a Hebrew metaphor used to refer to negative consequences of our own mistakes, usually referring to irritations from other people, particularly our enemies – never referring to physical ailments, as many scholars interpret Paul’s “thorn.”  “But if ye will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you; then it shall come to pass, that those which ye let remain of them shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall vex you in the land wherein ye dwell. (I Cor. 12:1-10, King James Version) ]

[3] Honey:  In I Samuel 14, Saul and his armies are pursuing the Philistines, and become exhausted from the battle.  Jonathan and his armor bearer had just experienced a miraculous victory over about twenty Philistine soldiers, by themselves, but had gotten separated from the rest of the army, not knowing his father’s foolish vow:


24 Saul did something really foolish that day. He addressed the army: “A curse on the man who eats anything before evening, before I’ve wreaked vengeance on my enemies!” None of them ate a thing all day.

25-27 There were honeycombs here and there in the fields. But no one so much as put his finger in the honey to taste it, for the soldiers to a man feared the curse. But Jonathan hadn’t heard his father put the army under oath. He stuck the tip of his staff into some honey and ate it. Refreshed, his eyes lit up with renewed vigor.

28 A soldier spoke up, “Your father has put the army under solemn oath, saying, ‘A curse on the man who eats anything before evening!’ No wonder the soldiers are drooping!”

29-30 Jonathan said, “My father has imperiled the country.  Just look how quickly my energy has returned since I ate a little of this honey! It would have been a lot better, believe me, if the soldiers had eaten their fill of whatever they took from the enemy. Who knows how much worse we could have whipped them!”  (I Sam. 14:24-30, The Message Bible)

Jonathan was only spared from the death penalty because the people pleaded with the king because of Jonathan’s heroic victory.

But the main spiritual symbolism from this story is that many intercessors can wear themselves out, praying diligently, but focused on the Enemy and the need for victory, instead of focusing on the Lord in worship and meditation upon Scripture, which produces heavenly revelation, which gives quick strength and insight for a much swifter and easier victory.  Revelation brightens the spiritual eyes, and honey was part of the diet of John the Baptist, symbolizing his only receiving what the Lord had produced from the Seed of His Word as the strength of his message.

[4]  Good soil:  In Matthew 13:23, the Lord explains in the Parable of The Sower that the soil represents the condition of one’s heart, that the good soil is: [a] that which has not been walked all over by others, due to a lack of healthy, protective personal boundaries, to a point of hardness of heart, in which nothing of freeing truth can sink into one’s spiritual understanding; [b] that which is free of offense, which hinders deep rooting, when pressures or persecutions come; [c] that which is free from worry, anxiety, greed, or other worldly obsessions, which choke out true faith.  In the good soil of trusting faith, enduring hope, and reception of God’s love, the seed of God’s Word can grow deep roots, able to withstand tough seasons, and still be fruitful.

So back to Joseph as our example:  He did not allow offenses to burn him out; he didn’t allow worry to choke him out; he didn’t allow being walked all over to harden his heart against hearing God’s Word accurately, because he was willing to humbly serve, instead of seeing himself as a “victim.”  He kept his heart pure and open, even when his miserable plight seemed to go from bad to worse.  He stayed open-hearted and let God teach him, making him wise, creative, and resourceful in the worst possible conditions.  In other words, when he was cut off from his family, and felt cut off from his destiny, Joseph allowed God to wound him in such a way as to strongly root his spirit in the revelation of what he knew to be Truth, no matter how barren his circumstance felt.  This caused him to put down roots in this foreign place, without losing the true spiritual DNA of who he was.

So, putting all this together:  how many of you feel like cuttings which just haven’t made it well, so far, in the vase of water you’ve been stuck in?  How many feel like pruned, fruitless branches which have been thrown away?  First, ask Holy Spirit to wound you in the very place where you felt cut off – the wound of the Surgeon who knows how to heal you by planting you with a new heart, free of the hindrances of the past.  That wound may look like honoring someone in authority who doesn’t appear to deserve it;  it may look like not defending yourself against false accusation.  It will include forgiving people who hurt you.  L

Secondly, look for Him to feed you and sooth that wound with the honey of fresh divine revelation, especially in the midst of exhausting spiritual warfare.  Soak up the sweetness of Who He is, no matter what your circumstance.  “Taste and see that the Lord is good!” (Ps. 34:8)  Don’t let anyone tell you that you have no right to receive that refreshing truth of Revelation until after the battle is won “their way.”  God’s revelation will give you His strategy for victory, and the people of faith to help you win that battle.

Then let Him plant you by faith, even if the place He plants you first feels like it is far from the promise you have hoped for.  (Ps. 1:1-3; 23:1-6)  As you let those new roots grow down, let love, forgiveness, humility, grace, patience, service with your gifts, and never losing sight of who you are in Christ, keep your heart pure and free of those old rocks and weeds of offenses and obsessions.  And even if family or old friends betray you, keep the sweetness of what God said surrounding that old wound, so no one can pluck you away from your promise.

Then, as you serve the great and the humble with the same love, watch expectantly for the loved ones you never thought you’d see again.  The very wagons of your own gifts will ultimately bring back to you all that you thought you’d lost when you were cut away.

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