“… Like a tree planted near streams of water.” (Psalm 1:3)

Spring may not be here yet, but today is still a good time to think about planting—not flowers and vegetables but yourself. Plant your­self near the river of life, the river that flows from the throne of God (Revelation 22:1). Send roots down deep into the rich soil of faith—soil that will produce life in you.

Do you want to know the best way to do this? Root yourself in the Scriptures. Spend time each day reading and pondering the word of God. Don’t just plow through the words but stop to consider what they mean. Listen for the voice of the Spirit in your heart. Ask him how these words apply to your life. Whenever you feel an inner stirring, stop and pray. Don’t go on until the Spirit has shone his light on them.

What will you hear? Maybe you’ll hear Jesus saying: “Neither do I condemn you” as you ponder past sins or wonder if you’ll ever break free of present ones (John 8:11). Or maybe you’ll hear him say: “Come to me … and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28), and you will know for sure that he is with you in a hard situation. You can be con­fident that God is speaking if you find yourself filled with a new confi­dence and hope.

Maybe as you contemplate today’s first reading, you’ll hear him say: “I … alone probe the mind and test the heart” (Jeremiah 17:10). You can be sure it’s from the Lord if the words move you to open your heart to Jesus more fully rather than fill you with fear and dread.

The psalmist promises that those who sink their roots into the word of the Lord will bear fruit—and who doesn’t want that? Who doesn’t want more peace and patience, faithfulness and self-control, joy and kindness? Who doesn’t want more vitality or divine protection or wisdom or direction for his or her life? These are the blessings for the happy ones who plant themselves in the soil of God’s word!

This is the key to discerning the word of the Lord. It always brings life!

“Holy Spirit, help me settle myself near the river of life. I want to sink my roots deeply into the word of God so that I can bear fruit in his kingdom.”

Jeremiah 17:6-10; Luke 16:19-31