Psalm 42.7 says that deep calls to deep. There is a language, a calling, that deep people have – they can communicate in a way that shallow people cannot ever communicate. They understand words like honour and truth and life. Strong people are deep people. They have deep roots.
One of the greatest principles that ever has been shared by anyone in history is when Jesus tells us that the quality of harvest from the seed depends entirely on the ground that it is sowed in. A good heart brings a great harvest from the Word of God. A weak heart cannot produce a strong harvest! We need strong hearts that are deep.
Jesus said that the seed that lands on the rock (in his parable) means people who “when they hear, receive the word with joy, and these have no root, which a while believe and in time of temptation fall away” (Luke 8.13).
Weak Christians get excited but they cannot stand, they fall away. Because they are not rooted! Can I let you all know a secret – you will have a time of temptation at some point? You will be tempted. You will have pressure. There will be things happen in your life that will make you want to compromise, want to quit. Whether you fall away or stand depends on how strong you are – how rooted you are.
I have noticed recently a number of Christians who are just not rooted. They do not even really fellowship with the Lord, they don’t know Him, they just know about Him. They do foolish things and you ask them why and they cannot even tell you. I know Christians who go to churches that do not feed them, and they do not know why. I know Christians that hate tongue talkers, but do not know why. They get offended at the slightest things, they fall apart and fall away in times of temptation. They have no backbone, no sense of conviction.
We had a lady in our church left our church, she went and joined a cult. They told her she was not saved when she was with us because they were the only church in London that preached the true gospel. They told her that speaking in tongues was from satan, and she stopped speaking in tongues. They told her how to dress, how to speak, how to behave – it was very controlling. That woman was not strong in the things of the Lord, not strong in the gifts of the Spirit, and under pressure, she fell away from the Lord. I know many stories like that, and they are sad. I know Christians who do not know the difference between the true gospel and what that Jehovah Witnesses and Mormons believe.
You need to know what you believe, you need to know why you believe it, you need to know what the Bible says about this. You might be going to church, but when times of temptation come will you stand? Your commitment to the house of the Lord will absolutely be tested. People fall away when they are weak. I am not talking about being led by the Lord to another church, I am talking about falling right out of the church, right out of speaking in tongues, right out of reading their Bible, and right out of walking with the Lord.
You have to be a really shallow Christian to fall away from church because someone lets you down. You have to be a really weak Christian if the sins of someone else affect you walking with the Lord. You have to be shallow if you leave Christ because your pastor made a mistake or two!
My people in Tree of Life Church on the whole love me, but I tell them to follow me as I follow Christ and if I do something that is not following Christ, not to follow that. I make mistakes! I don’t always get it right. I tell my leaders you can always ask me “what Scripture is that based on? where in the Bible are you getting this revelation from?”
Pastors who do not base things on the Bible are the pastors who can steal from their church members, they can lead people far away from the Bible and lead them down a merry path. Shallow people will very quickly turn their back on the Lord and worship a golden calf. Shallow people listen to the ten spies above Joshua and Caleb. Shallow people will very quickly turn on Jesus and scream for Him to be crucified. Shallow people follow the crowd.
So, the first step to getting strong is to go deep. You need to go deep. What that means is three things:
- You have to have a backbone. You need to develop a strength of character in your own heart that means you do not follow the crowd, but you follow your heart. You need to fellowship with the Lord and spend time with Him until you are strong in the Lord. You need to read your Bible and pray until the truths of the Word go deep in your heart. Until the seed is not on the surface, but it changes how you think, feel and decide.
- You have to know why you believe what you believe. Get some books and start studying. Think about what you believe, read what the Bible says. Why do you speak in tongues? Why do you lift your hands? Why do you pray the way you do? Is it what the Bible teaches? Why are you sexually pure? Why do you vote the way you do? Is it Biblical? Ask yourself why and make sure you build a foundation that is deep. Not shallow.
- Decide in advance what you are going to be deeply committed to, deeply loyal to in advance. Your wife or husband, your church. You need to decide in advance. I never get up on a Sunday and decide “I wonder if I will go to church”, I never get up on a weekday and decide “I wonder if I will pray”. I made those decisions well in advance. Some people will never miss a day’s work, never turn up late for work, but they don’t ever make it on time for church! This is because – and absolutely because – they are not committed. You should make a list of things that you will every day whether you feel like it or not. You should make a list of things that you will do every week whether you feel like it or not. That will make you a deeper person, that will bring strength and wisdom to you.
I know people who miss church because family just came round and turned up. I don’t do that, I miss family when church comes round. I tell all my extended family – if you turn up when church is on, and you want to spend time with me, I will be in church, and you will be welcome to join me, but as for me and my house – we will serve the Lord. I know people who miss church because they are tiling their bathroom. They are very weak people, and they are making choices that keep them weak! Selah.
God wants you to develop deep roots. You do not build deep roots moving around all the time. A plant cannot build deep roots when moved around, it needs to be planted and rooted somewhere. Selah.