I hope you enjoy this recording Shannon and I made called "The Fig Tree."
The story of Jesus cursing the poor fig tree has always bothered me a bit. The scripture says it wasn't the season for fruit so I thought it wasn't really the fig tree's fault it didn't have fruit. This talk has made me feel a whole lot better about this story. If you ever read something in scripture that bothers you do some research. God is good all the time. If we think something is wrong that He does, it is usually because we don't understan the entire situation.
I hope you enjoy this recording Shannon and I made called "The Fig Tree."
“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? 47 As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. 48 They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. 49 But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.” Luke 6:46-49
It was a strategic time for Jesus to talk about this -- right after He chose the 12 apostles and rthe Sermon on the Mount.
Israel -- much of the land is full of clay so it gets very hard. They would have built homes in the summer because winter is the rainy season. The problem with summer is that the clay would make the soil like "bronze." It would take a lot of work to dig a foundation. It would be tempting to take a shortcut. But shortcuts would mean the house would be in danger of sliding off the foundation during the rainy season, during the floods (which would definitely be coming).
The clay turns to mud. If the house isn't anchored down it will slide off.
In the valley the builders might have to dig down 10 feet to hit bedrock. They had to go all the way to bedrock or the foundation would not be solid. On the top of a ridge it might just be down to 2 ft.
Jesus used parallel rhetoric.
Good -- hear Me and do it.
Floods will come.
Both builders know the right way to do things. One chooses to do the right thing. The other doesn't.
"Therefore hear the word of the Lord, you scoffers
who rule this people in Jerusalem.
15 You boast, “We have entered into a covenant with death,
with the realm of the dead we have made an agreement.
When an overwhelming scourge sweeps by,
it cannot touch us,
for we have made a lie our refuge
and falsehood[a] our hiding place.” Isaiah 28:14-15
All the gods of Egypt were gods of death. Isaiah tells them they had chosen death gods rather than the God of life.
So this is what the Sovereign Lord says:
“See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone,
a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation;
the one who relies on it
will never be stricken with panic.
17 I will make justice the measuring line
and righteousness the plumb line;
hail will sweep away your refuge, the lie,
and water will overflow your hiding place.
18 Your covenant with death will be annulled;
your agreement with the realm of the dead will not stand.
When the overwhelming scourge sweeps by,
you will be beaten down by it." Isaiah 28:16-18
Isaiah is talking about the coming Messiah. Jesus' crowd would have known about this prophecy. When Jesus says to build on Him they know He's calling Himself the Cornerstone.
Jesus has given us all the materials. Jesus has given us all the plans. We have a choice on how we build.
There is heaven and hell. Choose the foundation. Choose heaven.
Jesus probably was a bit frustrated as to why people just don't do what He says. Just do the right thing.
We've been given everything. There's nothing God can't do through us if we let Him. We have to hold ourselves to a higher standard. Yes, we have to dig through the clay. It's hard work!
“As for you, son of man, your people are talking together about you by the walls and at the doors of the houses, saying to each other, ‘Come and hear the message that has come from the Lord.’ 31 My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to hear your words, but they do not put them into practice. Their mouths speak of love, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain. 32 Indeed, to them you are nothing more than one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays an instrument well, for they hear your words but do not put them into practice." Ezekiel 33:30-32
Jesus is not an entertainer. We have no excuse.
Building on the Solid Rock.
1. Dig deep into the Word, get a solid foundation so that when challenges come, we stand (Hear the Word). We each have to build our own foundation, our own faith house.
2. The storms are coming.
3. Build on that foundation (Do what I say).
Our lives need to be laid out in the foundation. Work on till it is finished. Houses are never finished. Hear Me and Do My words.
Just do what He says.
Am I building on the rock?
We're all unfinished.
What are we doing now?
(This is the third part in now 4 parts about the armor of God.)
17 "Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." Ephesians 6:17
Helmets are meant to protect your head.
To the left you see a Roman helmet, the kind most likely that Paul had in mind while writing the letter to the Ephesians. it has neck protection, face protection, head protection; you can tell what rank the solider is by the horsehair broom thing (don't know the name of it) on the top; it has a ledge above the eyes that stops arrows from above. It is the most important piece of armor the soldier wore. A soldier could sustain a wound in many parts of the body, but a head wound would take him out immediately and very likely prove fatal.
The head is vulnerable like our mind is vulnerable to spiritual attacks. A soldier never went anywhere without his helmet so he was always ready for attacks. If he wasn't wearing it he had it tied on his belt with the chin strap. We always needs to have our "helmet of salvation" with us.
The Roman helmet was the most identifying piece of the soldier's armor. Our salvation is to be worn in the same way. It's beautiful, important and should be worn out in the open for all to see.
We must work on our minds. Our minds have to be involved in our faith. If we can't control our minds, we won't be able to live the faith life well at all. Satan will attack our minds. We know this. We need to live purposefully and prepared at all times guarding our minds. Where our minds are, we are.
"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2
It's very easy to fall into a worldly mindset. If you allow something to enter your mind it will affect it. This can be good or bad. We are to be renewing it -- a continual, daily thing.
Thoughts lead to actions. Actions lead to habits. Habits are hard to break and easy to fall back into even after we break them.
The helmet of salvation will protect us from:
"Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do." James 1:8
We can't have it both ways. We have to be committed. We can't live for God and for the world. One or the other. Don't be led astray. Don't be lukewarm.
Pay attention to what's in front of you.
"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."
Keep your eyes on the prize!
Satan will try and trip us up.
If we aren't facing forward we don't see the traps waiting for us. He disguises them. He is sneaky.
2. A Deceived Mind.
"But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning,your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ." 2 Corinthians 11:3
3 Steps Satan uses:
a. He casts doubt.
"Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” Genesis 3:1
“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman." Genesis 3:4
c. Substitute a lie for God's truth.
“For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:5
How do we get the doubt out?
Focus on God. Focus on what is right. Daily, hold up the word of God. Daily fill your mind with the word of God.
"But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet." 1 Thessalonians 5:8
We must be protected to stand.
The world is a fallen place. We are surrounded by "fallenness."
Yet, this is not the end of the story. God will prevail in the end. God told us the ending for a purpose. The big picture is heaven.
Spiritually, we are what we think. Where our mind is, so are we.
That is where we have the most power to fight Satan. Focus on hope, on salvation.
"We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." 2 Corinthians 10:5
Someday we will exchange the helmet for a crown. The head covering won't be necessary anymore (in heaven).
We have to stay focused.
We are at war.
The Word of God is the blacksmith that forges our spiritual armor.
Time is the one great equalizer.
We all get 24 hours each day.
A lot of demands on our time.
Will we be master over or time or will time master us?
Americans spend six months in their lifetimes sitting at stop lights. They spend six years eating.
Average teen spends 9 hours a day on electronic devices.
How are we managing time from a stewardship perspective? The says we get 70, maybe 80 years.What happens in the dash -- the time in between your birth and death?
"Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom." Psalm 90:12
We cut our time into pieces.
What do we do with each day?
"As for the days of our [a]life, [b]they contain seventy years,
Or if due to strength, eighty years,
Yet their pride is but labor and sorrow;
For soon it is gone and we fly away." Psalm 90:10
No way we can extend it. The goal is to gain a heart of wisdom.
Discern what is of value and apply it to our day.
Everything we have is set on a certain time (like start of business day, appointments, meal times).
Think about how fast your life is moving.
As we run we miss stuff.
"the hurrier I go the behinder I get"
Time almost becomes a nuisence. Are we slaves to time?
Triage: the sorting of medical patients to treat the worst one first -- put them in priority -- most important to the one who can wait. We must triage our time.
Do the important things first. Prioritize things.
God wants all of us.
Tendence to forget God.
He wants our time because we want to spend time with Him.
First fruits. Give off the top.
16 "[a]making the most of your time, because the days are evil. 17 So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is." Ephesians 5:16-17
Days will get away from us.
Satan loves to get us so busy we forget God and people.
You can tell what someone values by what they spend their time on.
Make the most of what we have.
Budget our time.
How have I served God faithfully with my time? How do I show others Jesus with my time?
36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the great and [a]foremost commandment. 39 The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:36-40
Are we spending our time honoring God and loving others?
Average Christian spends 15 minutes a week in prayer!
What's the most important part?
We go so fast we miss stuff. If we live distracted we won't see the needs around us. It is no accident to live deliberately.
Take time to slow down and notice people around you. Notice God around you. Notice what God is doing.
A little bit of distraction can cause a lot of damage!
Jesus spent time with God. It is necessary. Deliberate alone time with God is necessary. Jesus had to step back. It's that important.
"Redeem our time . . . Save all you can for the best in life." John Wesley
It is not our time. It is God's time.
16 [a]making the most of your time, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:16
Rescue the opportunities in front of us. See what's most important.
1. Find out what you can and can't do. You can't do everything. You know what's important.
Are you too busy for God? If so, why? What's in the way?
What is it that I can cut out to give more time to God?
Are you robbing God and others of your time?
Who gets your time?
(Notes from today's sermon taken by Jane)
Work the prayer muscle.
Prayer should always come first.
He was preparing himself for a crisis. It has to become a habit.
When apostles asked how to pray Jesus gave them this:
Little bit of a change means we need to make some adjustments.
Go to God confidently.
If you can't think of what to pray, sing. Hymns (and choruses) can open up our hearts to God.
"I need you, Oh I need you. Every hour I need you."
Come to Him.
You don't need to "fix" yuorself before you come to God. Prayer changes everything within us. Prayer doesn't change God. He is always the same. We're in a different place when (and after) we pray.
We have no idea how many things haven't happened becaues of prayer (for good and bad).
Can we sense God? If we know Him we can learn how to sense Him continually.
1 John 5:14-15
Confidence comes from consistency.
Dupree Baptist Church Pastor