Because we have limits and God doesn’t, He sometimes speaks to us in pictures so we can understand. Being a believer in Christ I am going to assume three things: God knows everything, Jesus is coming again in power and glory, and we must be prepared for Christ’s return. To be ready is important, and can be done by knowing Jesus’ teaching, and actively making it a model in our daily lives.
The story of the fig tree shows us a truth about the end of time when Christ will return. During his last week on earth Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the colt of a donkey to cheers of Hosanna, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. At night he stayed in Bethany with friends. The next morning Jesus is walking back to Jerusalem and pronounces a judgement on fig tree in Matthew 21:18-22
18 Early in the morning, as Jesus was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. 19 Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered.
20 When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?” they asked.
21 Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. 22 If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”
Here is a picture of a worthless tree with no fruit according to Jesus, just like the unbelievers in Jerusalem who did what was right religiously, but bore no fruit of true faith. These were the Pharisees and religious leaders who said they were leading people to God, but rejected Jesus in their midst, and whipped up the crowds who shouted, ‘Crucify Him’. When Jesus cursed the leafy tree it withered immediately and became a reminder that there is judgement if we reject the truth. From afar the tree looked good, but a closer look revealed no fruit, no prayer, no belief, and no power. To bear fruit is to pray, to believe in Jesus as the way to God, and to bring others to Christ. Jesus will supply the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome anything, and to produce fruit to feed and enrich others lives. How else would this book have even made it to the 21st century?
Are you testing Jesus like the religious leaders or are you committed to reading God’s Word and living by it’s truth?
Are you looking for what you want and expect instead of accepting what Christ did on the cross?
Wherever you find yourself, it is true that Christ will come again to judge, and to gather believers to himself. Many signs point us to the end of the age such as false Christs, wars, disasters, persecution and false beliefs in loving stuff more than people. Believers are called to be prepared, so the question you can ask yourself is, am I a fig tree with only leaves, or am I bearing fruit? We are also called to stand firm until the end, in sharing Gods Word and in loving God and loving others. Using all Christ has provided, make Him known so all will hear and be given the chance to be Children of God, to be a part of God’s heavenly family for eternity.
The photo below shows a section of an old family Bible from the 1800′s. I don’t know who it belonged to, but it suggests that there were believers somewhere in the family line who cared for and handed down this book. It contains some interesting background on the fig tree too. Did you know that Adam and Eve covered themselves with fig leaves in the Garden of Eden? The fig tree is mentioned at the beginning and the end of man’s time on earth, and I wonder if that isn’t a clue that it’s important not to use the leaves to cover us up, but to eat the fruit of faith and pass it on to the next generation.
In the study of Matthew 22 and 23, we were asked how to be real in all that we do, instead of like the Pharisee’s who were in for a good dose of ‘woe’ because they hurt rather than helped the people when they came to the Temple. The question that formed in me was, ‘how do you use your hands to love one another?’
In Jesus’ day the “religious” leaders would make life difficult for everyone. Their minds were full of lists, regulations and rules, but their hearts were far away. Abusing those who came to the Temple was common, like extracting excess money for offerings supplied by the authorities because the people’s offerings were not good enough. The Pharisees would, “ tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them,” from Matthew 23:4. If they wouldn’t lift a finger, their love was a noun and not a verb.
This got me thinking about how we use our hands to help instead of hurt those around us. Instead of looking good outwardly, knowing and following all the rules, liking being recognized in public, trying to out-perform each other, tithing yet cheating people out of justice, mercy and faithfulness, why not do what is good in God’s eyes instead of trying to be looked up to by lowly man? Instead of shutting people down, why not welcome them by giving them grace, mercy and the keys to the kingdom? Give to both God and people, for He is the one who has done the cleansing so we can be clean on the outside and alive in Christ inside, wanting to use our hands to bring good change
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Here are a few ways to use your hands to fulfill the greatest commandment from Matthew 22:37-40.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms
with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the
Spirit of the living God,
not on tables of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
2 Corinthians 3:3
Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others,
as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God.
If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.
To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen
1 Peter 4:9-11
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh;
rather, serve one another humbly in love.
For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command:
“Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind,
be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other,
love one another deeply, from the heart.
1 Peter 1:22
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
How are you practicing? What are you doing with your hands? I’d love to hear from you.
In honor of the Irish, this unbeatable hot corned beef panini recipe takes only 10 minutes to make. We’ve recently fallen in love with Boar’s Head products and wanted to try their corned beef to celebrate St. Paddy’s Day this weekend. It was a good decision with a simple shopping list and easier recipe that was done in a snap.
Ingredients for the Corned Beef Panini Recipe:
Boar’s Head Corned Beef, thinly sliced
Boar’s Head Sauerkraut
Marble Rye Bread
Kraft Thousand Island Dressing
Simpy butter the outsides of the marble rye and spread Kraft Thousand Island Dressing on the inside of the bread.
Layer lot’s of Boar’s Head Corned Beef, sliced swiss cheese and Boar’s Head Sauerkraut atop the Thousand Island dressing side of the marble rye.
Once assembled your sandwich is ready to toast on the Panini grill. With the grill turned almost to hot, it only took a couple of minutes to be grilled to perfection, melted and gooey on the inside, crispy on the outside. Dan is rather a connoisseur of the Reuben Sandwich and has ordered it on many an occasion. After his first bite, he was singing it’s praises and we knew we had another winner. I really liked that the kraut was fresh tasting and packed in plastic so I could see what it looked like.
Fast and easy, that’s how it’s done. Now it time to enjoy a St. Paddy’s Day favorite.
Dan & Laurie