Sunday, May 31, 2020

Out of Season Fruit

Out of Season Fruit
June 1, 2020
Mark 11:13 "Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit."

Both in the books of Matthew and Mark, there is an account of the story where Jesus curses the fig tree. In the accounts, Jesus walked up to the fig tree, desiring some fruit from it. When He noticed that it did not have any fruit, He cursed the fig tree and it quickly withered up and died. The accounts detail there were leaves on the tree, which meant summer was present, but Mark notes that it was not fully fruit season yet. Mark declares that no one expected figs yet, since it was not season, and yet Jesus walked up to the tree anyway because He was hungry and wanted some fruit. Why would Jesus have walked up to the tree expecting some fruit? Jesus knew it was not fruit season yet. Why would Jesus expect something from the tree inappropriately and then punish the tree when it was not producing fruit out of season? The story goes on to impress the power of the spoken word that the Disciples would have in their lives, creating an analogy to the actions of Jesus at the fig tree, but is there something more to the fig tree?

Recall that Jesus was present and an active participation in the original creation during Genesis. The Bible says that by the power of the spoken word, the world, and all that is in it, was created.  Life was spoken into that fig tree from the very beginning and it was given instructions to bear fruit. Back then, in the Garden of Eden, there was no rain or seasons, and no curse of winter. Back then, the fig tree was instructed to bear fruit at all times, and it was able to bear fruit constantly. If a fruit tree had leaves on it, at the original creation, it had fruit on it. There was no such thing as in-season fruit; it was always in season. Jesus and the fig tree that He cursed, had a prior relationship, one where Jesus walked up to any tree in the Garden of Eden and it was always bearing fruit. Since the fall of man, fig trees came under the same curse, the curse of winter and only bearing fruit in-season. Jesus knew this particular fig tree would not have fruit on it, since it was subject to the rules of times. But Jesus remembered that fig tree when it wasn't under a curse, when life was spoken into it and when it was commanded to bear fruit at all times, and when there was always sweet fruit to satisfy hunger.

Jesus used the cursing of the fig tree to communicate to the Disciples the power they would have in their ministries, but was that the reason Jesus walked up to that fig tree that day, looking for fruit? No one knows if Jesus used it as a set-up to teach the Disciples, but there is more to the story than communicating the power the Disciples would be able to display. It was a reminder of what spoke that fig tree into life at the beginning, that life was created by the power of the word, but also that bearing fruit was a requirement. The Lord's original intent for that fig tree was to bear fruit at all times, without consideration for a season.

Like that original fig tree, you and I were intended to serve the Lord at all times, without regard for seasons. There is more to the analogy of the fig tree than just communicating the power the Disciples would have; Jesus wanted to communicate that if we do not bear fruit then we will be cut off from the Lord permanently. He does not require that we bear fruit only when we feel we are ready; we were created to bear fruit at all times. The Lord's intent for you life is for fruit, even today when you do not feel you are coming into your season yet. The Lord expects you to bear fruit and if you do not, then you will reap the rewards of that fig tree, you will join the fig tree in its curse. Its time to bear fruit, even if you think it is out of season for fruit.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Gen 1:1-13, Jer 17:8, Matt 7:15-20, Matt 21:18-22, Mark 11:12-26, John 15:1-8

Monday, May 18, 2020

Will You Respond

Will You Respond
May 18, 2020
Philippians 3:16 "But we must hold on to the progress we have already made."

Jesus appeared to John, one of the original 12 disciples, when John was in his 80s, exiled on the isle of Patmos, where John penned the book of Revelation. Jesus told him to write down all that he saw, both for the present and the future.  There was revelation for the present churches that Jesus wanted to get out, and Jesus called out seven churches specifically, with a brief word from the Lord for them. It was a prophetic word detailed for the specifics of the respective church at that time. The churches, however, represent churches today, too, as the issues addressed were not unique to anything that isn't going on in churches today.

Without going into detail on the seven specific churches, the issues were: forsaking their first love, false doctrine and false prophets inside the church, asleep Christians who still have work to do, and lukewarm Christians needing discipline. While each church clearly had their specific problem the Lord wanted to call out, these issues represent problems that go on inside the walls of our churches today. In fact, we are all likely guilty of one, or more, of the items on the list (at some point). The Lord wanted each church to finish well and admonished them to repent and correct the error.

Your church is not perfect, since is full of imperfect people, but the Lord gives each of us opportunity to repent and correct, both collectively and individually. His message to the churches was clear and John delivered them to the letter. What we don't know, however, is how they responded when they read the letter from John as a prophetic word from Jesus. Did they crumple up the letter and discard it as fake? Did they hear the word but disregard the call to action? If you had received that letter this week in your church, one detailing an error in practices and a call to repent, would you believe the letter and respond? John was pretty credible, so it is not likely they did not believe the message was from Jesus, but how did they react and how far did they get in repenting and correcting the errors in the church?

Churches get it wrong daily, so do Christians. When Jesus had John pen the letters to the churches, He did not wish to destroy the whole church or close their doors, simply adjust what was wrong.  He commended each of them for something because they were getting some things right and perfect, but He wanted them to be blameless in everything. How would you have responded? Jesus wrote you a letter, too, its the whole Bible that you've likely read before. When you read it, do you readily see the error in your ways and repent and correct? How do you respond? Will you respond? You are not likely to get an unique letter from Jesus, rather His Holy Spirit will bring to light your failings, if you're willing to give Him the opportunity. How often do you give Him the opportunity? When He points out the things you need adjusting, are you going to close your ears and refuse to change? This is our biggest tactic when confronted with our imperfections; we deny its truth or discount its validity. What if its true? What if you've forsaken your first love or what if you've fallen asleep and there are still things you need to do for Him?  The Lord is speaking to you even now, about your shortcomings. Will you respond?

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Rev 2-3