Barefoot

bare-feet-1bare-feet-2Since warm weather has arrived, I have exchanged my winter shoes for summer sandals. These summer shoes reveal more of my feet and provide a little less protection. However, I also like to throw off even my sandals and go barefoot. There is something special about being able to run barefoot through a thick lawn of green grass on a summery day! It is freeing to feel the grass between my toes. Maybe I can identify with Moses and Joshua who went barefoot in the Lord’s presence. In fact, they were personally instructed by God to take off their sandals in His presence.

In Exodus 3, Moses was intrigued by a bush that appeared to be on fire and yet was not being consumed. As he went closer to the bush, God spoke to Moses saying in Exodus 3:5, “Do not come any closer. Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” In the following verses, Moses and God have a conversation regarding God’s desire for Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. When Moses argued with God, God had an answer for him that revealed His willingness to help Moses in all he asked Him to do. In a sense, taking off his sandals signified Moses’ vulnerability to what God asked of him. I wonder if God is asking me to take off something so He can better use me according to His plans and purposes. I do not have to provide my own shoes, or my own strength. In contrast, God asks me to remove any confidence I have in my flesh. In II Corinthians 12:9-11, Paul records, “And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” … Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

In Joshua 5 while Joshua was preparing for the battle of Jericho, he encountered a man with a sword. When Joshua inquired about whether he was for them or against them, the man revealed himself as the commander of the army of the Lord. In Joshua 5:15 it says, “The commander of the LORD’s army replied, ‘Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.’” Joshua obeyed this command out of reverence and respect. I want to follow Joshua’s example and take off my shoes in the presence of the Lord. Like the soles of my shoes that pick up the dirt of the ground around me, my soul within me can pick up sin from the world in which I live. Out of reverence to my holy God, I want to remove sin from my life. I Peter 1:15-16 says to me, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, ‘YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.’” Taking off my sandals or shoes can be an outward expression of worship revealing my inward reverence for the Lord.

While walking barefoot, I feel a closeness to the God of all creation who has created the grass upon which I walk. I am aware of being in touch with the Lord when my feet are touching His creation. A few scriptures come to mind that inform me of how to walk with the Lord. Micah 6:8 says, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Then II Corinthians 5:7 KNJV tells me to “walk by faith and not by sight,” while Paul reminds me in Galatians 3516 NKJV to,Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.”

Bare feet and summer seem to go together, but I need to remember that in order for me to walk with the Lord I should be barefoot in His presence no matter what season of the year. I John 2:6 NASV says, “the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” In order for me to walk as Jesus walked, it will be beneficial for me to be barefoot so I can place my footsteps in His footprints.

My Reader, do you want to go barefoot today?

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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Anchored to Hope

While HOPE is one of my favorite topics to blog about, I have chosen to emphasize it today in honor of a dear friend of mine, Judy, who went to be with Jesus a year ago in April. June 17 was her birthday on earth, and while she is celebrating that day in heaven now, I want to honor her with the following insights regarding HOPE. She anchored her faith to hope throughout her illness. The anchor with a yellow ribbon pictured above, was given to each of us at her celebration of life service. I still cling to this anchor pin as well as to the spiritual promises of hope.

In the bigger picture, the view from which Judy now experiences it, hope is the eternal full manifestation of eternity with God. Our eternal hope is promised in Revelation 21:4, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” But in the meantime, we walk by faith and not by sight because according to Hebrews 11:1, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

My Reader, what comes to your mind when you hear the word HOPE? Do you perceive hope as a fluffy, flimsy desire floating through your mind or do you picture hope as an anchor uniting with faith in your heart? We often have trouble describing hope because it is invisible. There is an anonymous quote that says, “Hope sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible.” A scriptural definition of hope is found in Romans 8:24-25, “But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”

Although HOPE is invisible, I want us to envision the anchor as a picturesque image of hope.
Hebrews 6:19 states, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Sarah Young says in Jesus Calling, “A good way to remain anchored to Jesus is to whisper His name as often as needed. We can pray and proclaim “Jesus, You are my HOPE!’”

With this in mind, I have created an acronym for HOPE that elaborates upon four descriptions of the Lord that will help us understand why He is the One in whom we must put our hope and trust.

H.O.P.E.

H = Helper – Zechariah 4:6
John 14:26 NASV says, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” In this verse, Holy Spirit comes from the Latin term paraclete that means advocate or helper. II Corinthians 5:7 tells us to walk by faith and not by sight, but as human beings this is hard for us to do. We tend to want to follow what we see and what we know in our heads, so we need the assistance of the Holy Spirit to help us secure HOPE deep in our hearts.
In Zechariah 4:6, the Lord Almighty declares that victory is attained “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit.” So, with this assurance, we can assume that Helper is an accurate word for the letter H in our acronym for HOPE. Only as the Holy Spirit helps us, can we grasp the assurance of hope.

O = Omniscient – Isaiah 55:8-9
Omniscience is defined as “the state of having total knowledge, the quality of knowing everything.” Although God is beyond our full understanding, He is omniscient. He is sovereign and knows all about all His creation. We serve a God who thinks about our lives, our world, and Yis creation on a completely different level than even the smartest human being can think. Psalm 147:5 says, “Great is our Lord and mighty in power; His understanding has no limit.”
With this in mind, I have chosen Isaiah 55:8-9 as our scripture to describe how the omniscience of God is appropriate for the letter O in our acronym for HOPE. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

P = Perfect – Jeremiah 29:11
Psalm 18:30 begins by saying, “As for God, His way is perfectand Deuteronomy 32:4 declares,His works are perfect.” God is the only one who is perfect, being without sin or weakness. As I looked for a definition of perfect I read such phrases as “complete and right in every way; having nothing wrong” – “exactly right for a particular purpose or situation” – “being entirely without fault or defect.” I also think of the hymn Holy, Holy, Holy that describes the Lord as being “perfect in power, love, and purity.” God is the only one who is perfect!
When I want a reason to have hope in God, perfection is a good choice of words to use for the letter P in the acronym for HOPE. Jeremiah 29:11 supports this by stating, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’

E = Emmanuel – Deuteronomy 31:8
When the angel announces that Mary will conceive a child by the Holy Spirit and have a son, it is declared in Matthew 1:23 that they shall call His name Emmanuel which is translated “God with us.” This is a fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14. In Genesis 28:15 the Lord says, “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go.” Not only does He promise to be with us but He also promises to watch over us! So, if God is with us, we can rely upon His help because of what we previously said about the Holy Spirit being our Helper. And, we can trust His help because God is omniscient and perfect, also based on previous statements.
T
he choice of Emmanuel as an applicable word for the letter E of our acronym for HOPE is supported by the scripture found in Deuteronomy 31:8, “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” It has been said that “Hope is the only thing stronger than fear.”

The anchor of HOPE prevented death from having a hold on Judy. I desire the anchor of hope to prevent hopelessness from having a hold on me. To us, our situation may look hopeless, but according to Mark 10:27, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” I like the New Living Translation of Hebrews 11:1 that says, “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” These are the words upon which I desire to anchor my heart to God’s heart.

I want to conclude by extending to all of you the message of Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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A Pocketful of Promises

pocketMy Reader, is there anything in your pocket? I encourage you to fill the pocket of your heart with the promises of God. These promises are good stuff to find in your pocket because Joshua 21:45 says, “Not one of all the LORD’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.” If His promises did not fail the Israelites, neither will His promises fail us. II Corinthians 1:20 also assures us that, “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ. And so through him the ‘Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God.”

God wants you to accept His promises as personal words that He whispers to you when you need encouragement or direction or forgiveness or strength. These are reminders of His love for you and His interest in your life. II Peter 1:4 NLT says, “He has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.” The Lord wants you to have His promises close in your heart pocket so you can pull them out at specific times. If His promises are hidden in the pocket of your heart, you will not have to get out a Bible or concordance to hear His words of wisdom.

Be ready to pull out a promise from your pocket and apply it to your present circumstances. The Lord gives you His promises to transform you as well as to inform you. It is valuable for you to know His specific promises, but it is of even more important to put the power of His promises to use in your life. At the time of creation, God spoke “Let there be…” and it happened. When God speaks His promises to you, He is saying “Let there be” whatever the promise provides for you personally.

Let me help you fill up your heart’s pocket by sharing a few promises spoken personally by Jesus.

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.
Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.
For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30

So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find;
knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives;
and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened.”

Luke 11:9-10

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness,
and all these things will be given to you as well.

Matthew 6:33

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.
I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

John 14:27

I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper,
that He may be with you forever;

John 14:16

And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Matthew 28:20

Today, I challenge you to fill the pocket of your heart with an abundance of God’s promises. Do not let doubt create a hole in your heart that could cause you to lose the power of the personal promises spoken into your life by the Lord. Allow these promises to overflow from your pocket but never lose them.

I want to close on a lighter note by sharing my adaptation of the Mother Goose rhyme about Peter Piper.

Personally pick a pocketful of precious promises;
A pocketful of precious promises please pick;
If you pick a pocketful of precious promises,
What will the pocketful of precious promises provide?

Joyfully,
Cheryl
gold apple new

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IF…

bible-studyAnd a leper came to Jesus, beseeching Him and falling on his knees
before Him, and saying, “
If You are willing
, You can make me clean.”
Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him,
and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.”
Immediately the leprosy
left him and he was cleansed.
Mark 1:40-42

Today, I want to consider two different interpretations of the phrase “If You are willing” found in the verses of scripture I have quoted from the gospel of Mark.

I usually have interpreted this phrase to reveal a lack of faith by the leper. He does believe because he seeks Jesus for healing and he shows a reverence for Jesus by coming humbly to Him. I have perceived the leper as possibly being a relatively new believer who was not extremely confident in his faith. Jesus is touched by the honesty of the leper and reaches out to touch him. While the leper was healed by the touch of Jesus, I also believe he developed a deeper relationship with Jesus because of this personal encounter. Jesus assured the leper that He was willing and able to do what the leper asked. Previously, I have pictured the leper as one who was wanting to know more about who Jesus was and what He could do. This man had faith, yet he lacked faith.

Recently while reading these verses, I thought about the possibility of the leper expressing this phrase for a different reason. I wondered if the words, “If You are willing,” revealed a more profound faith and understanding of who Jesus was. In John 5:19, Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” Then in John 8:28 Jesus said, “I do nothing on my own.” I have to wonder if this leper had a greater understanding of who Jesus was than I had originally accredited to him. He may have been respecting the fact that Jesus was only able to do what was in agreement with His Heavenly Father.

Regarding both interpretations, there are three points I want to highlight.

First of all, I want to note that although leprosy is a physical disease, it is also spiritually symbolic of sin. I may not have the disease of leprosy in my body but I do admit that sinfulness can be found within me. So, I ask the question, Do I sincerely believe that Jesus can forgive my sins? I John 1:9 assures me, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

My next focal point is related to the fact that the leper came to Jesus in person and asked to be healed. To put it into other terms, I can say that he prayed. Do I take time to pray and specifically ask the Lord for what I desire? Jesus says in Matthew 7:7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” However, in addition, I need to remember to surrender to God’s will when interceding in prayer. I must follow the example Jesus gave to His disciples as to how to pray. In Matthew 6:10 Jesus told His disciples to pray “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Pastor Bob Reeves of Calvary Assembly of God has said that we need to recognize both the power of God to do something and His right to do something. We do not dictate our terms when praying. We follow Jesus, not ask Him to follow us.

Finally, I must examine my level of faith. Does the phrase “If You are willing” reflect a lack of in my faith that would benefit from being deepened? I may need to cry out to Jesus the words of Mark 9:24, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Or, am I exhibiting a faith in God that surrenders to the will of God when I verbalize the words, “If You are willing”? Maybe I should heed the words of Hebrews 10:36, “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” The truth I must remember from our scripture for today is found in Mark 1:41 when Jesus says, “I am willing.” Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Jesus will meet me and touch me no matter what level of faith I am experiencing as long as I call out to Him.

My Reader, how deep is your faith today? How do you interpret the leper’s words? You can receive a touch from Jesus no matter which interpretation is currently most appropriate for you as long as you cry out to Him.

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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The Resurrected King

resurrectionSince we just celebrated Jesus’ resurrection this past Sunday, it is not surprising that I am still singing the Elevation Worship lyrics of the current Christian song Resurrecting The specific phrase that I am pondering declares, “The resurrected king is resurrecting me.” Please join me in pondering this phrase and searching the scriptures for a more complete comprehension.

The rresurrected King…”

He is not here, but He has risen.
Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee,
saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men,
and be crucified, and the third day rise again.”
Luke 24:6-7

You killed the author of life,
but God raised him from the dead.
Acts 3:15

Resurrection comes from the Greek word anastasis that is a compound word composed of ana meaning again and histemi meaning to stand. Jesus was standing – He was not on the cross – He was not in the grave. Jesus was resurrected on the third day. He was brought back to life.

and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead,
and the ruler of the kings of the earth.
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood,
and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father
Revelation 1:5-6

On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:
king of kings and lord of lords.
Revelation 19:16

Resurrected King” is an appropriate description of Jesus! He is King over all kings, and we are to be part of His kingdom. In the final book of the Bible, He is declared King of kings and Lord of lords.

“… is resurrecting me”

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God
unless they are born again.”
John 3:3

To intimately know Jesus, the Resurrected King, we must be born again. Being born again is a form of resurrection for us because this means that our spirit is born again, brought back to life.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:
The old has gone, the new is here!
II Corinthians 5:17

The new life we are given in Christ is a resurrected life. To be resurrected is to be used again, but in a new way.

I want to know Christ–yes, to know the power of his resurrection
and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,
and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
Philippians 3:10-11

To fully comprehend the necessary power for Jesus to resurrect us, we may have to share in some form of suffering. It is often through suffering that we come to more intimately know Christ.

Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves
and take up their cross and follow me.
Matthew 16:24

Jesus died on the cross before being resurrected. We are each required to take up our cross which means for us to die to our selfish ways before resurrection life is possible for us.

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

The renewing of our minds is part of the resurrection life the Resurrected King is offering to us. We have a new mind. We have the mind of Christ

I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:13

Because of the resurrection power of Christ that now lives in us, we can fulfill God’s purposes for our lives.

The Resurrected King is resurrecting me.”

For if we have been united with him in a death like his,
we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.
Romans 6:5
In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Romans 6:11

Although I have only quoted two verses from Romans 6, the first 11 verses of this chapter proclaims the resurrection life that our Resurrected King is offering to us. When we confess our sins of selfishness, anger, pride etc., we die to them and then we are resurrected to selflessness, love, humility etc. We can now live the resurrection life that Jesus is offering to us.

Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead
the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant,
even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will,
working in us that which is pleasing in His sight,
through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever.
Hebrews 13:20-21

I cannot think of a better verse to fulfill this complete phrase from the song Resurrecting! Just a few days ago we proclaimed, “He is risen!” and “He is risen indeed!” Now I am also praising the Lord and saying, “He is resurrecting me!” and “He is resurrecting me indeed!” My Reader, are you ready to make these proclamations?

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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PS: I am also including the Elevation Worship lyrics of Resurrection as there is a wonderful message in the complete song.

The head that once was crowned with thorns
Is crowned with glory now
The Savior knelt to wash our feet
Now at his feet we bow

The one who wore our sin and shame
Now robed in majesty
The radiance of perfect love
Now shines for all to see

Your name
Your name
Is victory
All praise
Will rise
To Christ our king
[x2]

The fear that held us now gives way
To him who is our peace
His final breath upon the cross
Is now alive in me

Your name
Your name
Is victory
All praise
Will rise
To Christ our king
[x2]

By Your spirit I will rise
From the ashes of defeat
The resurrected king
Is resurrecting me
In Your name I come alive
To declare your victory
The resurrected king
Is resurrecting me
[x3]

The tomb where soldiers watched in vain
Was borrowed for three days
His body there would not remain
Our God has robbed the grave
Our God has robbed the grave

Your name
Your name
Is victory
All praise
Will rise
To Christ our king
[x2]

By Your spirit I will rise
From the ashes of defeat
The resurrected king
Is resurrecting me
In your name I come alive
To declare Your victory
The resurrected king
Is resurrecting me
The resurrected king
Is resurrecting me

Your Thanksgiving Feast

thanksgiving-dinner-2thanksgiving-dinner-1pumpkin-pie-2While planning and preparing the Thanksgiving meal for our family, I realize not everyone will eat everything that is served. That is OK because everyone is allowed to have their likes and dislikes regarding food. I also know that everyone will still have thankful hearts whether or not they help themselves to every dish. I wonder if this is not true for us spiritually as well. God prepares many types of food and experiences that are placed before us on our table of life. We may not like the taste of every situation we encounter but these are still things for which we are to be thankful. I Thessalonians 5:18 says, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Let’s develop a thankfulness in our hearts as we look at this verse from two different perspectives.

First, Paul tells us in this verse to give thanks IN all circumstances, not FOR all circumstances. Even though we walk through difficult situations in our lives, we are to keep a perspective of thankfulness. It helps us get though tough times when we remember who God is and that He is with us. We can be thankful for this fact. The assurance of the Lord’s presence is recorded in early times of the Old Testament. Deuteronomy 31:6 says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Another way to look at the concept of thankfulness in all circumstances is found in Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” This is harder to understand but I think it has some validity. Our testimony of how the Lord helps us through difficult times can be an encouragement to others who are struggling. God does not CAUSE these difficulties but He can USE them if we allow Him to do so. We never know how or when He will be able to use our not so pleasant crises for the benefit of others as well as for ourselves.

My Readers, take time to give thanks, especially on Thanksgiving Day. I encourage you to not forget the difficult times you have experienced. It is OK that you may not have liked everything that has happened but you can be thankful for the Lord’s presence with you through the good and the bad and the miraculous. The turkey on your banquet table may look as delicious to you as the joy you feel for your job that provides financial security for your family or you may feel stuffed with unpaid bills. You can still be thankful for God being Jehovah-Jireh, our Provider, because He will provide in some way that may yet be unknown. We all know that we should eat our vegetables. Some of us may eat the green bean casserole with thankfulness for health while another person is served a helping of a different vegetable. The person sitting next to you may feel squashed by upcoming surgery or cancer treatments. When it comes to the type of potatoes, one person at your table may feel sweet by the presence of a newborn baby while another person may feel their thankfulness mashed by the empty chair at the table since a family member has passed on to be with the Lord. As a relish plate is passed, some may identify with the sour dill pickles while others may like the crispness of a carrot stick. Likes and dislikes will abound around the table. However, I presume everyone will like dessert. The final course of the meal ends with a tantalizing tastiness. The final bit of physical hunger can be filled with a sugary treat while the spiritual hunger can be satisfied with thankfulness. I want to offer each of My Readers an ample piece of Thanksgiving pie in the form of scripture cut from the Biblical pie. It is my prayer that you will thankfully chew and meditate upon who God is within your life on Thanksgiving Day.

Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good;
His love endures forever.
I Chronicles 16:34

I will give thanks to the LORD because of His righteousness;
I will sing the praises of the name of the LORD Most High.
Psalm 7:17

Praise the LORD. Give thanks to the LORD,
for He is good; His love endures forever.
Psalm 106:

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed,
do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks
to God the Father through Him.
Colossians 3:17

Happy Thanksgiving!

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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Go FIGure!

fig treeOn the next day, when they had left Bethany, He became hungry. Seeing at a distance a fig tree in leaf, He went to see if perhaps He would find anything on it; and when He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again!”
Mark 11:11-14

Poor little fig tree! What did it do to deserve to be condemned to die? It wasn’t even the season for it to have any figs. So what if Jesus was hungry?” This is how I used to feel when I read about Jesus cursing the fig tree in the gospel of Mark. However, I have come to gain a deeper understanding of these and the following verses of Mark 11.

Jesus says in John 15:1-2,5-6, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit….I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.” There may be some branches of my life that need pruning, but I do not want to be cast out. So, I look to find out what kind of fruit I should bear. My answer is in Galatians 5:22-23, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” I would rather yield to my Heavenly Father’s pruning of the unfruitful branches of my life and allow for the growth of new fruit than to risk the curse of Jesus at the final judgment.  I don’t want to be like the fig tree Jesus cursed.

In Rev. Cheryl Schang’s book entitled Heal Them All, she makes an application of the withering of the fig tree to physical healing. She points out that since the fig tree was not useful to Jesus, He cursed it to die. Her analogy is that we can curse a tumor or unnatural growth in our bodies to die because it is not useful to our bodies. Like cleansing the temple, we have authority in the name of Jesus to cleanse our bodies of sickness and spirits that do not allow us to function as temples of the Holy Spirit. (“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you?”I Corinthians 6:19) This is definitely something for me to think about!

Then they came to Jerusalem. And He entered the temple and began to drive out those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves; and He would not permit anyone to carry merchandise through the temple. And He began to teach and say to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a robber’s den.”
Mark 11:15-17

According to notes I have read in the Life Application Bible, the withering of the fig tree is an acted-out parable of Jesus cleansing the temple which is recorded in further verses of Mark 11. The temple was supposed to be a place of worship but true worship was no longer taking place within the temple walls.

Jesus wanted spiritual fruit produced in the temple just as He wanted physical fruit produced by the fig tree. The leaves on the fig tree made it appear that fruit could be produced and the actions of these men in the temple looked good on the outside. However, Jesus saw more deeply into both the fig tree and the men’s actions inside the temple. Jesus wanted faith and fruit. If I relate this to my life, I need to look carefully at my life and evaluate if I am producing fruitful fruit for the Lord. If I appear to have faith without putting it to work in my life, I am like the fig tree that withered and died because of no fruit. Genuine faith means bearing fruit for God’s kingdom. James 2:17 says, “Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.” As Jesus cleansed the temple, I want Him to cleanse my life of anything that hinders either my faith or my doing good works that would bless the Lord and further His Kingdom.

In the outer courts of the temple, doves were sold for sacrifices and money changers  cheated people who needed currency exchanged so they could buy the sacrificial animals. An angry Jesus threw them out because this was not the purpose of the temple. Jesus came to offer salvation to both the Jews and the Gentiles and the outer court of the temple was where the Gentiles could come to worship. The actions of the dishonest men offended Jesus. This causes me look closely within myself to see what I may be allowing in my life that is crowding out my time of worship. Am I causing Jesus to become angry? Jesus wanted “His house” to return to being a house of prayer. Making a personal application, I search my heart to discover what might need overturning in my life to allow me to be a person of prayer.

In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!”
“Have faith in God,” Jesus answered…. “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
Mark 11:20-22, 24

Reading further in the 11th chapter of Mark, I find out that the poor little fig tree did indeed die. It died because it did not produce edible fruit. The temple was cleansed because it did not produce spiritual fruit. However, Mark 11:22 reveals to me the solution for my being able to bear fruit for Him. I need to have faith in God. I need to believe in Him. If I have faith, then I will be fruitful in my prayer life according to verse 24. I will be a fruitful temple of the Holy Spirit.

Joyfully,
Cheryl

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