Maureen Spies - Williams, Western Australia Convention

Hymn 347  


Our hope and confidence today are deeply rooted in the Lord and we just know where our roots are. Our roots are in the Lord Jesus, and from far and wide, we are united here because of that. Jesus was a root out of the dry ground, but from heaven the Lord sent His Son; and He lived as a man and He became our example. He suffered, loved and lived for us, and today, we are invited in that same root.

We know that roots are the unseen force of something that’s living. Roots are strong; some roots are deep and some shallow. I remember a time when I was at home when we had a break; and a letter from our local council came to my parents’ home, and they had to uproot certain trees that grew in the area because they had shallow roots and damage was done to property, to the pavements and the road. There was evidence of that. There were other trees, too, but nothing was said about them. Others had to do it too, and if it wasn’t done we had to put up with the damage. Others discovered the same so before the trees grew too big, they had to be uprooted.

I thought of Jesus as the noble youth of Galilee; and I thought of Joseph as the noble youth of Egypt. And children have heroes and they were some of my heroes in the Bible. Joseph was a young man but he was a noble young man. Joseph had no family around him in the absence of his brothers, but he kept true. He had to watch his heart, and he had to watch his spirit; like we read of in Hebrews of the ‘root of bitterness.’ In the absence of his brothers, he kept connected to the root, the Lord Himself; and that time came when he saw his brothers, he said, “Come near unto me,” and then “Be not angry with one another.” It was good advice and I just thought he was connected and he was deeply rooted and lived a Godly life.

I told you the other day that I have two nieces: one 4 and other 7. But when the older one was 3 or 4 years old, she got hold of the scissors one day and do you know what she did? She cut her plait off. She looked at this thing in her hand and then put it under the other plait and then she went playing and forgot about it. Then Mother came home and it was time to bath and then she started crying because she realised what she had done. Mother took this piece of hair and told her, “Look, here’s two pieces now; this piece is dead now but the other piece that’s on your head, that will grow.” She didn’t realise that she had severed it from the roots. She had to learn that and she didn’t do it again. But when we get severed from the root, there’s a gap and the gap causes the one bit to die; there’s lifelessness.

The Lord wants us to keep connected to the root; to Jesus Himself. We all know this root needs care, outward care for this root. How we care for this root is that we want to be deeply rooted; but it just doesn’t come automatically and we need to take care for it. I was glad to think about our little meeting where we know Sunday morning and Wednesday evenings we care for it. And then prayer: we need to pray. That’s a wonderful way of caring for this root. Then we have the Word of God where we are encouraged. And we encourage our young people to read verses that will feed your heart every day. We heard, “Begin the day with God,” and I need to be reminded of it often. Go through the day with God. Remember that verse and feed on that verse in the times, and during the day when temptation comes, we will need that. And then prayer, we mustn’t forget to watch.

We have a very dear older brother worker on our staff, who is not able to continue in the work. And he told us when he first listened, he always prayed but never always watched. And he said in the times of special need, God sends His special love. He’s 92 going on to 93, a dear older brother. So if we can take care of this root and if it has life; the unseen part will grow. There are some things that grow and bear fruit and because it’s alive, we have to care for it. But if it was something artificial, we don’t have to care for it because it doesn’t grow, doesn’t get leaves, and doesn’t have fruit because it’s artificial. And we can pray for the help of God’s Spirit, God’s Word: those are ways in which we can take care of that.

Roots get tested and strong winds are often the test. In our country, like here, there are large areas of forests; beautiful, tall trees standing upright. Often we have forest fires but they keep standing. In the part where we were, there had been a fire. We passed by it after a fire, but when we came back later, they were green, amongst the black. Whatever is green grows again after the fire. Roots get tested and strong winds are often a test for roots. In our country, like over here, we have large areas of forests: beautiful tall trees standing up. Often we have forest fires and the trees are blackened but they keep standing; and in the parts where we were, when we came back after a week or two, there was the green again and the black, after the fire.

Roots get tested and the experiences of life are like tests to our root system. The other day, I told you about a lady who had been attending our mission. Earlier this year, she had a few children at home. Last year, we had a few meetings and so this year, we started our meetings again but she wasn’t too well and needed surgery, so we needed to make arrangements to have the meeting in another home; which we did. When we said goodbye to her, she was very sad and was crying. We thought she was sad about the meetings she would not be having. Well, she kept crying; but that wasn’t it; she was scared. She had a sad, concerned mother’s heart for her children. It wasn’t a test of her faith, but for her spirit. When children don’t do well, it does concern the parents; and if parents don’t do well, it concerns the Father. Just as our Father looks down on the earth, it really does concern Him. The Lord has given all the provision that we can have and do need for this root so that there can be growth.

Our experiences are a physical help and strength, as well. And I thought of that verse, “Be not weary in well doing." And we have seen some of our dear couples, and in mission time; and often when experiences come, they stop coming. That experience was a test to their faithfulness and I just thought our experiences are a test to our physical strength, as well. And as I said when the parents don’t do well and the kids don’t do well, it’s a concern and we are glad for all the help that’s sent.

In Proverbs 12, there’s a verse that says, “The root of the righteous shall not be moved.” And another verse that says, “The root of the righteous bear fruit.” It’s beautiful to think of the possibility that the root has to bear fruit because it’s taken care of. And there’s the possibility that once fruit comes, we know that fruit bears the seed; and then there’s the possibility of more fruit. In John we read about fruit and then ‘more fruit’ and we also read about being ‘fruitful.’ When we take care of the root, we will also take care of the fruit. In Galatians 5, we read there of the beautiful fruits of the Spirit; and in that hymn we sing, “Lord, teach me how to grow in grace,” and I think I counted about 19 different fruits that can grow, if we take care of the root.

I also thought of the weeds: we don’t care for them but they must be plucked out and must be removed. We also read about different weeds in Mark 7 and Romans 1:29, “Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant breakers, unmerciful.” Those are weeds and we don’t want them to grow around our roots.

I thought of what we read in Luke’s gospel about the seed. 8:13 says, “They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.” And it was prayed earlier, “That we with joy partake today.” So we partake with joy today, that that would take root and we would take care of it. This morning, some young people took the step of baptism; and there would have been seven pairs of parents, young sisters and brothers, siblings watching their brother or sister taking that step of baptism. And baptism that we helpfully learned yesterday is the step that the Lord Jesus took. And when we do what He did, we know that deepens our root system. It is a safe step that we needn’t be ashamed of; and it’s a step that brings joy to us and joy to others. There was a time when the children were baptised and they looked at their parents; and now it’s the parents who look at their grandparents that had taken that step of baptism.

In Job 19:28, we read about the “root of the matter,” this matter of salvation; nothing matters more than that. And because of that we would like to take care of this root. More than 100 years ago, a ship came from Ireland with 8 workers; some of those workers got off; they disembarked at South Africa, and from there, others came to Australia. And those workers, young workers, came with the seed of the gospel; and that seed has taken root in our country and there are many Conventions there today. And that seed that was taken to your country has taken root here and some of our dear folks have gladly taken root here. We are safely connected to that root. We know if the seed is connected to that root, we won’t be sorry for the time we put in to take of it.

I did mention a verse in Hebrews about the root of bitterness. I remember we were in a Convention in another country and an older brother took part in the last Convention, and he said, “Don’t get bitter. Bitterness destroys you and it destroys others.” And I was sitting there and some words came to me, “Keep sweet. Sweetness preserves. It preserves you and sweetness preserves others.” And I was glad for that hymn we sang yesterday, “Jesus, the very thought of Thee, with sweetness fills my breast.” That has often been a help to me. Those were my thoughts, and I have been very glad to be meeting like-minded people here; and greetings from my homeland.