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?
13 If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.” Exodus 33:13
Moses just wanted God. Why did He ask this?
Maybe he was lonely. The people, including his brother Aaron, had strayed from God.
"The Lord replied, 'My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.'” Exodus 33:14
God knew what Moses needed.
It's easy to get swept up into chaos, into politics of people around you.
"How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” Exodus 33:16
He was probably questioning his own leadership. He hasn't seen a lot of change in the people.
You hit the end of your rope. You hit a wall.
"And the Lord said to Moses, 'I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.”
Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.'" Exodus 33:17-18
Sometimes the answer we want is not what we need.
God told Moses He would show Moses His back. He was going to show Moses where He had been.
Look where He's already been in your life. If you look around you will see His presence. God has already shown you. Look where He's taken you already.
21 Then the Lord said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock.22 When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.” Exodus 33:21-23
Sometimes we haev to look at the weaving, at the individual threads. God is everywhere always. Stop and look.
We need to get into the Word and see God's presence.
Text is taken from Matthew 2:1-12.
What do we know?
Herod recognized them as being important people.
The East meant Persia (Modern-Day Iran and Afghanistan).
Magi means wisemen, magistrate.
Daniel was a magi, the head magi. Magi were also scholars, legal minds, scientists.
The ones in Matthew were wise enough to seek Jesus.
They were gentiles.
They followed through on their seeking of Jesus even though the journey was fraught with danger and expense.
"After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod,Magi[a] from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him." Matthew 12:1-2
Star means something in the sky that was extraordinary. Possibly it appeared as a pillar of light over the house where Jesus was when the wisemen got to Bethlehem.
The journey the wisemen took was anywhere from 500 to 1000 miles.
Dangerous journey: bandits, desert conditions.
They would have had lots of people with them.
They had to wholly believe Jesus was the promised king to take such a journey!
In Jerusalem they enountered hostility toward Jesus from Herod and indifference from the religious leaders. They still continued on.
Herod was a tyrant. He killed his mother-in-law, a brother-in-law, his wife and three of his own sons!
Magi were probably expecting a celebration of the king's birth. Instead they saw indifference.
3 "When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born."
It was six miles from Jerusalem to Bethlehem. The chief priests didn't even bother to go check out the wisemen's story.
GOLD -- symbolizes royalty
FRANKINCENSE -- symbolizes worship. It is the incense used in worship.
MYRRH -- used to embalm bodies. Symbolizes death.
All three pertained to Jesus!
These were expensive and special gifts.
The wisemen followed through:
-- on going
-- on worshipping
-- on giving.
"And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route." Matthew 2:12
This was no small thing to do. As desert dwellers they would have planned their trip out specifically to get access to water and safety regularly along the way. To change that plan was a dangerous thing. But they did it to protect Jesus.
There are 3 different types of people:
The Herods -- hostile to Jesus
The religious leaders -- indifferent to Jesus
The Magi -- true followers of Jesus
Which one are you?
We are on a journey ourselves. Jesus is either Lord of all in your life or Lord of nothing in your life. We are either for or against HIm.
(Goodness! Jane got a new digital recorder for the podcasts, but she couldn't find it this morning. So, following are the notes she took this morning at the service. If you weren't there, you missed an incredible sermon! )
Following are the notes:
Shannon talks about football and his love for football. He speaks about the first round draft picks -- how his team, The Minnesota Vikings didn't get a First Round Draft pick.
It's all wonderful to be a first round draft pick, but now the 'rubber meets the road." Now, it's down to what you do with what you have.
(An aside -- A lot of players who weren't first round draft picks -- even third, fourth or ninth picks -- are in the Football Hall of Fame or going to be.)
There are three people sitting in your chair: the person you are today; the person satan can make you into; and the person God can make you into. We might not be a "first round draft pick" but that gives us no excuse.
Joshua 17:12-18 states: 12 Yet the Manassites were not able to occupy these towns, for the Canaanites were determined to live in that region. 13 However, when the Israelites grew stronger, they subjected the Canaanites to forced labor but did not drive them out completely.
14 The people of Joseph said to Joshua, “Why have you given us only one allotment and one portion for an inheritance? We are a numerous people, and the Lord has blessed us abundantly.”
15 “If you are so numerous,” Joshua answered, “and if the hill country of Ephraim is too small for you, go up into the forest and clear land for yourselves there in the land of the Perizzites and Rephaites.”
16 The people of Joseph replied, “The hill country is not enough for us, and all the Canaanites who live in the plain have chariots fitted with iron, both those in Beth Shan and its settlements and those in the Valley of Jezreel.”
17 But Joshua said to the tribes of Joseph—to Ephraim and Manasseh—“You are numerous and very powerful. You will have not only one allotment 18 but the forested hill country as well. Clear it, and its farthest limits will be yours; though the Canaanites have chariots fitted with iron and though they are strong, you can drive them out.”
The Israelites crossed over and took their allotments of the Promised Land. Manasseh was told to clear it out and take it. They had the same potential as all the other tribes. The did not complete what they were supposed to do. They didn't finish what they started.
Incomplete obedience is disobedience. Obedience means you finish the job.
You have all you need.
Incomplete means failure.
There is victory or defeat, obedience or disobedience.
The Manassites were comfortable with the forced labor. They didn't mention it of course. Instead they made excuses. They didn't want to work, do what God required of them. They wanted to be given everything.
We all have those partial obediences, partial commitments. When our fervor fades over time and choose to give up, this is disobedience.
If we have a sin in our lives and refuse to let it go, this is disobedience.
Partial obedience = complete disobedience.
Jesus has a high impossible standard for life, but in Him we can be live it.
We say things like, "It calms me down" or "This is the way all the men/women in my family are."
There's a straight, narrow path we are called to be on. Manassah left that path.
Some of the Canananites were kept and some were feared. The Manassites sinned in their comfort and they sinned in their fear.
1 Corinthians 10:13:
"No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it."
He always gives you a way out -- He is the way out.
Jesus says in Matthew 11, "My yoke is easy, my load is light."
Joshua 17:14, "“Why have you given us only one allotment and one portion for an inheritance? We are a numerous people, and the Lord has blessed us abundantly.”
They're asking for hand outs even though they were already blessed. We are entitled to more (they thought). When you ask for more because you think you deserve it this is being prideful.
We want to fulfill what God wants us to do. We want to be successful. But do we want to work for it? Or do we have the attitude, "I'm here so you better pay me."
We tell God, "If you let me win the lottery I'll give all this money to the church."
God says, "How about you don't win the lottery and do it anyway."
If you take what you have and make it the best you can, God will give you more (remember the Talents parable).
The song says, "I never promised you a rose garden."
God didn't either.
Proverbs 16:18 -- Prides goes before the fall.
People like to see people fall off their pedestals. We like to see someone else fail. It's easy to knock someone down.
And it's okay to fall in the mud, but it isn't okay to wallow in the mud and enjoy it.
The Manassites said in verse 18, "We need more!"
Joshua told them they had more than they were claiming. So do we. You are strong and can drive the enemy out. You can do it if you just get off your behinds and do it.
Is God saying that to us?
Clear it! And you'll have more land. You want it -- get it. Cut the clutter and make space for what you need to do. What do I have to clear away? What's stopping and hindering me from putting God and His will first? That clutter is going to interfere with this, with being obedient.
It could be familiy, jobs, sin, entertainment, gossip, anger, bitterness, resentment, spite, hatred -- absolutely anything.
All of these are junk between us and God. You gotta clear it out. You're piling up garbage between you and God. Clear the hill country!
Yeah, you've got some challenges. Whoop-de-do! You can still win if you fight. Are you going to have a pity party or are you going to fight?
We did all the work and you wouldn't take the test because you said it was hard. Take the test!
God asks us to do such few things. Love God. Love people.
"It's hard," you say. "There's that one guy . . . "
Clear the clutter. Get rid of sin. Get rid of the excuses.
Do these two things! Clear away the clutter and get rid of the sin, the excuses.
We can't worship God if we haven't gotten off our behinds.
God told us we have everything we need. So what's stopping us?
Do it. Just do what God calls you to do.
Dupree Baptist Church Pastor