God bless you. It’s a joy to come into your homes. And if you’re ever in our area, please stop by. Be a part of one of our services. I promise you, we’ll make you feel right at home. I’d like to start with something funny, and I heard about these three men that were travelling together. A Hindu priest, a Jewish rabbi, and a televangelist. They stopped at a farmhouse for lodging. The farmer said, “I only have room for two of you in the house. Somebody’s going to have to stay in the barn.” The Hindu priest said, “I’ll do it.” A few minutes, there was a knock on the door. He said, “I can’t stay out there. There’s a cow, and cows are sacred in our religion.” The Jewish rabbi said, “I’ll do it.” A few minutes, there’s a knock on the door. He says, “I can’t stay out there. There’s a pig. That wouldn’t be kosher.” The televangelist finally said, “All right, I’ll do it.” A few minutes, there was a knock on the door. It was the cow and the pig. Some of you got it anyway. I thought it was funny.
Say it like you mean it. This is my Bible. I am what it says I am. I have what it says I have. I can do what it says I can do. Today, I will be taught the word of God. I’ll boldly confess. My mind is alert. My heart is receptive. I will never be the same, in Jesus’ name. God bless you.
I want to talk to you today about deep roots. During a storm several years ago, one of the big oak trees in our front yard was blown down by the winds. It had been raining for several days and the ground was very saturated. And when I walked out that morning and saw it on the ground, I was so surprised because it wasn’t a hurricane. The winds were strong, but it wasn’t anything unusual for this part of the country. A company came out to remove it, and I was talking to the foreman. I said, “I can’t believe those small winds were able to blow over this big sturdy tree.”
He explained that while the oak tree has an extensive root system that extends even beyond the canopy, most of those roots are less than 12 inches deep. And because the ground was so saturated, when the winds started blowing, those surface roots didn’t have anything to anchor to. The roots and the ground came loose, and the tree toppled over. We have some tall pine trees in our yard as well, some close to the house, and I said, “I hope it doesn’t happen to them.” He said it won’t. That type of pine doesn’t rely on surface roots for stability. Its roots go down deep. It won’t be affected by a lot of rain, by high winds, by loose soil. It has deep roots.
It’s the same principle in life. We all have things that come against us. A health issue, finances go down, child gets off course. The winds and rain come to every person, and what’s going to determine whether or not you stand strong and outlast that storm is how deep are your roots. The reason some people are always worried, upset, offended, is they have shallow roots. They’re moved by the traffic, the weather, a grouchy boss, by what somebody said. Always being tossed to and fro. But when you have deep roots, when you know God is in control, when you know he has you in the palm of his hand, when you know no weapon formed against you will prosper, when you know he’s equipped you, empowered you, and anointed you, you’re not moved by everything on the surface.
You don’t get upset when you get caught in traffic. You know God is directing your steps. You don’t get offended when somebody did you wrong. You know God is your vindicator. You don’t live discouraged because you didn’t get the promotion. You know God has something better in store. You don’t go around guilty because you made a mistake, give up on your dreams. You know God’s mercy is bigger than that mistake. When your roots go down deep, you’re not moved by what doesn’t go your way. You live from a place of peace. The winds may blow, the storms may come, but you know when it’s all said and done, you’ll still be standing. You’ll still be praising. You’ll still be smiling. You’ll still be victorious.
The scripture tells us here, “Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.” This is a choice we have to make. “I’m not going to be moved by these circumstances. I’m not going to let what they’re saying about me steal my joy. I have a destiny to fulfill. I’m not going to live worried about my finances. I’m going to do my part and trust God to do what I can’t do. I’m not going to base my value on how this person treats me, if they make me feel special. I know who I am. I’m a masterpiece. I’ve been fearfully and wonderfully made. My self-worth doesn’t come from people. It comes from my creator.”
Are you steadfast? Immovable? Do your roots go down deep? If not, life is going to be like a rollercoaster. Your joy and peace will depend on your circumstances, how people treat you, what goes your way. That’s surface living. That’s shallow roots. God is saying, “Be steadfast. Be immovable.” You have to dig down deeper. As long as you’re allowing circumstances to determine whether or not you’re happy, you’ll never have real victory.
And sometimes, we’re using our faith to try to control our circumstances. I’ve learned it’s better to use my faith to control myself in the midst of those circumstances. When you’re in peace, that’s a place of power. Here’s the key. If you don’t have peace on the inside, you’re not going to have peace on the outside. And some people wonder why they can’t have good relationships, why they can’t be successful, why they can’t get ahead. It’s because they have shallow roots. If you’ll stay in peace on the inside, not fight everything that doesn’t go your way, then you’ll see things on the outside begin to improve.
And every morning, before we leave the house, we should make the decision, “Nothing that happens to me today is going to upset me. I have the grace to handle anything that comes my way.” You have to decide ahead of time. If the traffic is bad, you’re not going to get upset. If somebody is rude, you’re not going to be offended. If you don’t get the contract, if your plans don’t work out, you’re not going to go around sour in self-pity. That’s having deep roots.
Victoria and I were at a lake not long ago. The water was like glass. It was as calm and peaceful as can be. I took this little rock and threw it way out to the center. It sent ripples across the whole lake. It looked like I had created a big disturbance. I had affected all the water. The truth is a foot down, the water didn’t move. It was still as calm and peaceful. There wasn’t one fish saying, “I’m worried. Do you see that ripple?” Not one turtle called 911. “Something’s wrong.” Nothing on the surface affects the water down deep. It stays calm.
One way you can tell how deep your roots are is how easily do you get upset? If the pebbles that get thrown into your lake are causing you to lose your joy or be frustrated, you need to go down deeper. “Joel, somebody’s talking about me at work, trying to make me look bad. That’s why I’m sour.” That’s a pebble. The reason it’s bothering you is you’re on the surface. “Well, traffic was backed up last week. It took me an extra hour to get home.” Another pebble. When you have deep roots, you’re grateful to be alive. You’re grateful to have the job. You’re grateful to be healthy. You’re not focused on what’s wrong. You’re too busy thanking God for what’s right.
“I didn’t get the promotion. The medical report wasn’t good. A friend betrayed me. That’s why I’m discouraged.” And I’m not making light of those things, but in the big picture, those are pebbles. When you know God has beauty for those ashes, when you know he’ll pay you back for the unfair things, then even though the surface is disturbed, deep down where you choose to live, you’ll feel a peace. You’ll be at rest. You’ll know this, too, shall pass.
Paul tells us in Colossians, “Let your roots grow down deep in him.” What are your roots going deep down in? If you put your trust in people, sometimes people will let you down. If you put your trust in your job, your career, your money, unfortunately, things can change and you don’t have what you had. But when you let your roots grow down deep in him, and you say, “God, I know you’re my provider. You’re my healer. You’re my vindicator. I recognize you’re the source of everything good,” then when difficulties come, somebody does you wrong, you have an unexpected challenge, you won’t fall apart, live in self-pity. You’ll be strong, stable, immovable. Why? Your roots go down deep in him.
This is what a lady did in the scripture. Some workers brought her young boy in from the field. He’d had a terrible headache and passed out. They placed the boy in the mother’s arms. She soon realized that he wasn’t breathing. He had died. This wasn’t a pebble. This was a boulder. Everything on the surface was disturbed. It looked like it was all out of control, but this lady had deep roots. She knew that unexpected challenge wasn’t a surprise to God. She didn’t fall apart. She didn’t get bitter. She was steadfast, immovable.
And she got on a horse, headed out to see her friend, the prophet Elisha. When he saw her coming in a hurry from a distance, he sent one of his men to go see if something was wrong. They stopped her and said, “Ma’am, Elisha is concerned. Is everything okay?” She said, “Yes, all is well.” Kept on riding. He called back up and asked her the same thing. “Are you sure everything’s okay?” She said it again. “All is well.” How could she make that statement when she was in the middle of a crisis? She wasn’t living on the surface, responding to how she felt. She went by what she knew, and she knew God was still on the throne. She knew he could make a way, even though she didn’t see a way. Elisha ended up coming to her house and praying for the little boy. He was healed. He came back to life. A great miracle.
But like this lady, sometimes it’s not a pebble thrown into you water, so to speak. It’s a boulder. We all face unexpected challenges, things we didn’t see coming. A loss, a layoff, a divorce, a sickness. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, go around in self-pity, wondering why it happened. But if you’ll go down deeper, not talk about the problem, not complain about how bad life is treating you, instead, like this lady, have a report of victory. “All is well. God is still on the throne. This, too, shall pass.” Because you have deep roots, then even when life throws you a boulder, even when you should panic, you will feel a peace that passes understanding. You will have a strength to endure what should have taken you out.
The enemy did his best. He thought for sure you’d be toppled over, depressed, giving up, but he miscalculated. He could only see the outside. What he couldn’t see was what was underneath the surface. He didn’t realize you have deep roots. You are steadfast, immovable. Yes, he changed your circumstances, but you weren’t rooted in your circumstances. You were rooted in the most high God. He never changes. He has all power.
A friend of mine was diagnosed with what looked like a terminal disease. It was a virus that he’d picked up overseas. And he has several children, a beautiful wife, successful career. He’s always been healthy, active. We played sports together, and life was good. Then this unexpected challenge. He could have been depressed, started complaining. But like this lady, he had deep roots. He didn’t tell anyone about the diagnosis. He just kept doing what he had always done.
When you face unexpected challenges, something big, don’t let that become the focus of your life. Don’t let it consume you to where all you think about is my sickness, my mistake, my breakup, my loss. Keep living life. Keep to your same routine the best that you can. Some people let the problem become their identity. They become known as the crisis, so to speak. You know, like “I’m the man that went through a divorce. I’m the lady that has cancer. I’m the young person that lost a loved one.” That’s what happened to you. That’s not who you are. Don’t let a temporary event become a permanent label.
In the scripture, Thomas doubted that Jesus rose from the dead. Eight days later, Jesus appeared to Thomas and he changed his mind. Thomas’ doubting was a very short period of time. A little over a week. But he became known as doubting Thomas. Sometimes, people will try to label you. If you don’t stay on the offensive and keep moving forward, you can become what happened to you instead of becoming who you were created to be.
And this young man, he just kept going to work, loving his family, not letting that sickness dictate his life. He was taking an experimental drug. The doctors had told him how he’d probably lose his hair and not have the energy he needed. He’d have to cut back on his schedule. He kept going to work. Nobody knew anything was wrong. There were times he’d get tired and have to go lay down, but he didn’t complain about it. He just kept doing, to the best of his ability, what he would have been doing if he didn’t have that sickness.
When he was first diagnosed, the cell count of the infected cells was 27 million. Just two months later, that cell count had come down to less than 2000. The doctors were baffled. They said, “We don’t understand it, but we consider you cured. This disease basically is undetectable in your body.” That was years ago. Today, he’s still healthy and whole. What am I saying? When you have deep roots, when you’re not moved by circumstances, you’re saying by your actions, “God, I trust you. I know you’re bigger than this sickness, greater than this opposition, stronger than this difficulty,” that’s when God will make things happen that you could never make happen.
The apostle Paul in the scripture, he had a lot of challenges, unfair situations. He was falsely accused and beaten with rods. He was lied about and put in prison. He was shipwrecked, spent the night on the open sea, went without food and water. If you study his life, it was one challenge after another. But in Acts 20, Paul gives us a secret of living a victorious life. He said, “None of these things move me.” He was saying, “Yes, I was falsely accused, but I didn’t let it steal my joy. I didn’t spend my life trying to pay people back. I let God be my vindicator. Yes, I was shipwrecked. My plans didn’t work out, but I didn’t go around complaining. I knew God was still on the throne. Yes, I was put in prison. It wasn’t fair, but I didn’t sit around in self-pity. I started writing letters. They had me chained up and wouldn’t let me leave, but they couldn’t keep my words from going out.”
Paul wrote over half of the New Testament, much of it from a prison cell. How could he do this? He had deep roots. He said, “None of these things move me.” We all have these things. Maybe a grouchy boss, negative medical report, business that slowed down. There’s always something trying to move us, trying to pull us out of peace, pull us out of rest. Somebody cut you off in traffic. That’s a “these things.” Are you going to let it move you, get upset, ruin your day, or are you going to live from a deeper place and stay in peace? That coworker that’s rude left you out of a meeting. That’s a “these things.” Or somebody sat in your favorite seat in church. You’ve been sitting there for 30 years. They knew it and came on purpose to beat you. These things can happen even in church. Ladies singing behind you totally off-key. These things. The Patriots beating the Texans without Tom Brady. These things. That’s a boulder, not a pebble.
Are you allowing these things to move you? You can’t pray them away. That coworker that gets on your nerves, if he does leave, three more people are going to show up just like him. These things are tests that we must pass. Jesus said, “Stop allowing yourself to be upset.” He didn’t say, “If you’ll stay in faith, if you’ll pray hard enough, I’ll take away all the traffic, the opposition, the criticism, the disappointments.” He said they will come, but you don’t have to get upset. You don’t have to be moved by them.
Look at that negative medical report and say, “You don’t move me. I’m not going to live worried. God’s restoring health back into me.” Look at that child that’s off course and say, “You don’t move me. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” It’s just a matter of time before you get into your destiny. Look at that bank statement and say, “You don’t move me. You may be low right now, but I know increase is on the way. I know I will lend and not borrow.” That coworker that’s always getting on your nerves, trying to aggravate you, when you see them Monday, just say, “Hello, these things. I know who you are. Joel told me…” No, leave my name out of it. “I know who you are. I know the secret. I have deep roots. I’m staying in peace.”
Jesus told Peter to take his boat and launch out into the deep. Peter caught a great hall of fish. Jesus was saying in effect, “Peter, get out of the shallow waters. Quit living on the surface.” As long as you’re letting that getting your circumstances determine your joy, then it’s going to limit you. And Peter went out to the deep waters. He caught so many fish that his nets began to break. When you do it God’s way, you’re not moved by people, circumstances, disappointments. Because you’re in the deep, you’re going to have an abundance of joy, abundance of peace, an abundance of what you need.
I wonder how much more we would enjoy life if we’d quit living on the surface and go down deeper. We let too many things upset us. Somebody talking about you on social media. That’s one of these things. Your job is not to respond to every person, try to straighten them out, prove your point. Your job is to be steadfast, be immovable. That means let it go. Don’t pay it any attention. The scripture tells us to rule our own spirit. It doesn’t say to rule somebody else’s spirit. You can’t control what other people think about you, what they say about you. If you’re trying to rule them, that’s manipulation. You’re going to be frustrated.
I’ve learned it’s a fulltime job to try to rule my own spirit. I don’t have the time, the energy, the wisdom, or the responsibility to try to rule somebody else’s spirit. We spend too much time worried about what they’re saying, trying to change their mind. Quit letting that move you. Part of ruling your spirit is to not let that poison in you. Ships don’t sink because there’s water all around them. They sink when the water gets in them. There may be negative circumstances all around you. Somebody is spreading rumors. You’re dealing with an illness. Finances have gone down. You’ve got good reasons to be upset, offended, worried.
Here’s the key. Don’t let it get in you. Rule your spirit. You can’t rule your boss, your neighbor, the internet, the stock market, but you can rule your own spirit. It’s powerful when we can say with Paul, “None of these things move me. I’m not upset by what they’re saying. God is fighting my battles. I’m not worried about the medical report. Nothing can snatch me out of God’s hands. I’m not discouraged by this disappointment. I know God didn’t bring me this far to leave me. He’s made a way in the past. I know he’ll make a way this time. ” That’s ruling your own spirit. That’s a sign that you have deep roots.
“Joel, this all sounds good, but I made a lot of mistakes. I got off course. It was my own fault.” If you just stay on the surface, you’ll live guilty, condemned, down on yourself. The accuser will constantly whisper, “You blew it. You’re done. God is never going to bless you.” But when you have deep roots, you know God’s mercy is bigger than those mistakes. You know his calling on your life is irrevocable.
The message translation says, “God’s gifts and calling are under full warranty, never cancelled and never rescinded.” That means God doesn’t change his mind because we made mistakes. He doesn’t give up on us because we’re not where we’re supposed to be. When God handpicked you, before you were formed in your mother’s womb, when he breathed life into you, he put you under a full lifetime warranty, saying “They’re mine. No matter where they go, no matter what they do, I have a destiny for them to fulfill.”
What am I saying? Your mistakes did not cancel God’s plan for your life. Quit believing those lies. “You’re washed up. Settle for second best.” Get back in the game. God is not finished with you. He knew every mistake you would make and he has already lined up a new plan. You may have fallen down. The right attitude is “I’m not staying down. I know I am under full warranty. I know God will get me still to where I’m supposed to be.”
It’s interesting when the winds blow a tree back and forth, put pressure and strain on the root system, you would think that was damaging the tree and making it weaker, but researchers have found that it’s actually strengthening the root system. It seems like the pulling and the stretching would be tearing the roots apart, but the movement is making it easier for the roots to grow. It’s the same way with us. That difficulty should have toppled you, damaged your roots, so to speak, brought you out weaker, but just the opposite happened. You came through that challenge stronger, with greater confidence. Your character was developed. The storm was sent to stop you, but God turned it around and used it to strengthen you. That mistake, that divorce, that sickness should have left you defeated, lonely, discouraged. But when you come out, you’ll not only still be standing. You’ll be better than you were before. Your roots are getting strengthened.
I’m asking you today to quit living on the surface, being bothered by everything that doesn’t go your way. Go down deeper. Quit being moved by these things. Life is way too short to let circumstances determine your joy. Start ruling over your spirit. The next time you’re tempted to get upset, to be worried, offended, discouraged, try a new approach. Be steadfast. Be immovable. If you’ll do this, I believe and declare, because you have deep roots, God is going to fight your battles. He’s going to vindicate you, promote you, heal you, and take you to the fullness of your destiny, in Jesus’ name. And if you receive it today, can you say “Amen”?
I’d like to give you an opportunity to make Jesus the Lord of your life. Would you pray with me? Say, “Lord Jesus, I repented my sins. Come into my heart. I’ll make you my lord and savior.” If you prayed that simple prayer, we believe you got born again. Get in a good Bible-based church. Keep God first place. Victoria and I will be right back to speak a blessing over you.