Where’s the Figs?

Intro story-old friend

He did a good job pretending to be someone he wasn’t

On the outside he was fake

Up to the point to where it almost cost his life

He began to hang out with a group of guys that were pretty rugged

He started to try to act like them as well

they were kinda hardcore

they would often get in fights

they would talk trash but back it up

It was fun for them

He wasn’t like them, he was soft

One night when he was out by himself, he ran his mouth to the wrong person

He ended up getting stabbed through the stomach

He almost died, he had to spend weeks in the hospital and have many surgeries

All of this was because he tried to act like something that he wasn’t on the outside

But on inside he was deceitful 

Matthew 21:18-22

18 Now in the morning, as He returned to the city, He was hungry. 19 And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it, “Let no fruit grow on you ever again.” Immediately the fig tree withered away.

20 And when the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither away so soon?”

21 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done. 22 And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”

Jesus had come into the city and the people praised Him saying hosanna, hosanna

Jesus headed to the temple and overturned tables of money changers

He rebuked the people for turning the house of prayer into a den of thieves

He healed the lame and the blind as the chief priests and scribes scoffed 

Jesus leaves to Bethany to stay the night and the next morning as he was returning to the city He was hungry

He saw a fig tree full of leaves but no figs to be found

Jesus said “Let no fruit grow on you ever again.” Immediately the fig tree withered away.

The withering of the tree was more than just a withered tree 

It was a sign to Israel that there was judgement coming to them

As you read the bible sometimes its easy to overlook things the bible is saying

People often read the story about the temple and the withered fig tree separately

But they should be read in context to each other

Everything that Jesus did had a deeper meaning to it

Ive seen people preach this scripture as Jesus being hungry and because there were no figs He was angered

So He curses the fig tree out of a humanistic anger or selfish need because He was hungry

That is inaccurate, it would go against the very teachings of Jesus

Jesus saw the tree full of leaves and knew that it would be a teachable moment to the people

This story is also found in mark 11

And said it wasn’t in season for figs

So why would Jesus go to the tree if it was out of season

Well the fig tree is different than other trees

It grows figs first then the leaves

By the time the tree would be full of leaves it should also be full of figs

Even out of season it could’ve been an anomaly of nature, but the figs should’ve been there

And Jesus knew that

Ezekiel 17:24

24 And all the trees of the field shall know that I, the Lord, have brought down the high tree and exalted the low tree, dried up the green tree and made the dry tree flourish; I, the Lord, have spoken and have done it.

Jesus was using this tree as an example of what the Israelite people and pharisees had become

Remember He just rebuked the people in the temple

He was saying the nation had become a tree with huge leaves on the outside but on the inside there was no fruit

The people would confess, we love the temple, we love God, we are children of Abraham

But on the inside they were dead

The outward appearance would look like they abundantly loved God

But they didn’t

They were a greedy people only caring about their own power and selfish ambition

The people were so consumed with themselves that they not only missed their messiah

They crucified Him, they went from Hosanna to crucify Him 

There was no fruit to be found. Only leaves

It was fruitless confession to God

And for that they would be destroyed

The withered fig tree was both a miracle and a parable

Matthew 21:20

20 And when the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither away so soon?”

Jesus told them that it was possible by faith

He began His answer with the phrase  “Assuredly, I say to you

Some versions say truly

Since we have a language barrier and do not fully understand the culture we can miss important phrases

The expression Jesus is using is indicating that Jesus is speaking from the direct authority of God

He wasn’t teaching based on something He learned from another rabbi which was customary 

Jesus was drawing from His own divine authority

This is the way Jesus taught, with authority 

You see it all through out the Book of matthew

Since Jesus taught this way it amazed the crowds

And it was an offense to the religious leaders

Matthew 7:28-29

28 And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, 29 for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

Jesus explained His answer that faith enabled Him to wither the tree

And if they have faith and do not doubt they could do even more

Like “say to this mountain and be cast into the sea”

Jesus was likely talking about the mount of olives 

A visible mountain they could see

Jesus was not trying to teach them how to do these big miracles, but rather to have faith in God

And they would be able to overcome monumental obstacles in their lives

Because with God all things are possible

What does this mean to you

Make sure you don’t have a fruitless confession

The state of where the church is today is obvious that there are plenty of fruitless confession

The church is almost unrecognizable from even 5-10 years ago

It has become a place of selfish ambition and pandering

It has leaves but no figs

Much like the pharisees and people of Jesus time

There were 400 years between Malachi and Jesus birth

There is no biblical text from this time, 400 years of silence

They passed down religious traditions and ceremonies but their heart was far from the Lord

They honored God with their mouth but the heart was far from Him

Isaiah 29:13

 Therefore the Lord said:

“Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths
And honor Me with their lips,
But have removed their hearts far from Me,
And their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men,

Very similar to where the church is headed

The pharisees taught out of their own desires 

Like many pastors and teachers today

They are creating leaves without figs in many people

“Come to Christ, its easy, just a simple prayer”

Then they head back to their old life with no real change, but they said the prayer so they’re good

Unfruitful confessions that the Lord is displeased with

“Come to Christ, His grace will cover your sin

You don’t have to change, let the people do what they want

God is the judge”

The church has allowed a place, where people can attend and on the outside appear to be changed, but their hearts are still wicked

When did the church allow such blasphemies

I will tell you how this happens

Fruitless confessions

With sorrow I will say, I have played a part in leading to fruitless confessions

Story-youth in leadership

On the outside everything looked good

The works, speaking messages, being in youth leadership

They talked the way we wanted them to 

They played the part well

But in the end it was meaningless, it was fruitless

I knew something was wrong but I didn’t address it

I didn’t want to lose youth, the youth group just started to grow

I ignored what the Lord was telling me. I became a hindrance 

They no longer attend church or live a life set apart for Christ

When we become ok with the way someone lives that doesn’t line up with the word

We are just adding to the problems within the church

It seems that when the world says something is ok, the church is very quick to adapt

Lets look at cohabitation for example

This is where a man and a woman live together in a sexual relationship and aren’t married

Its sin

But in the 60’s and 70’s it became normalized

The church shortly after stopped addressing it. Now it is common

The divorce rate in church skyrocketed when divorce became the norm

People divorcing their spouse for no biblical reason

Just because it got hard

Another thing that the church began to ignore

I could go on and on about things the church became ok with, but God isn’t

I believe there are 2 reasons people continue to live in habitual sin after confessing Christ

Either they have had a fruitless confession

Or they have hardened their heart to the point where there is no more conviction

Which can lead to a fruitless confession

The church should be a place where we faithfully serve God

We should desire change, 

We should want to honor God with our whole lives

We should welcome it

Even if you have had a fruitless confession there is still hope

Don’t let it cost your eternal life

Repent, turn back to your First Love

There will be grace for you

Not just a grace that covers your sin, but a grace that gives you the power through the Holy Spirit to change

It is a change that leads to a faithful confession

A confession that says “God no matter what you say, I will follow”

Whatever you ask of me I will do

When you have this faithful confession and your life begins to honor God you will be at peace

You will no longer care what the world says is right

You will begin to view everything through the lens of the bible

Story-when I gave my life to Christ

I wanted nothing more than to honor God with everything I had

It is a lifelong change

I was willing to do anything

I lost friends many friends. People I had been close with for 15 plus years

But it didn’t matter

I was going to honor God

A faithful confession to Christ is the best thing that will ever happen in life

If you ask any true Christian they will never say they regret following Christ

What they regret is not doing it sooner

We need to be people that are fully engulfed in the Lord

Nothing the world says matters, nor scoffers

Because we know where our hope lies, in Jesus Christ

Fully God, and fully man, who walked this life sinless

He was tempted, tried, and tested, but he never sinned

He was crucified because of our sinful ways

He took our place

He sacrificed Himself that we may be in right standing with God

Repent and be cleansed of unrighteousness

1 John 1:9

 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

The time to repent is now

He is pure and Holy

He is the messiah

He is coming back for His people that have had faithful confessions

Having a faithful confession to Christ leads us to a faith that can move mountains

Matthew 21:21-22

So Jesus answered and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done. 22 And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”

Jesus wasn’t teaching His disciples about miracles

He was teaching them to have faith in God and believe

You didn’t see disciples after this casting physical mountains into the sea

He wanted them to understand that God makes the impossible possible

We all face obstacles in life

What matters is the way we approach them

Do you try to handle it on your own, or do you have faith in God that His will be done through prayer

This scripture isn’t saying that God is our personal genie either

Granting us whatever we pray for

I gave my life to the Lord at a prosperity gospel church

They often use scripture like this out of context acting like God will give you everything you ask for as long as you believe

This is false

Often people will pray with wrong motives

God knows what is best for His people, so if His answer to a prayer no, rejoice

If it is yes, rejoice

God is in control of all things and knows all things be faithful to Him and have faith in Him

The person that had the most faith in the bible asked God for something and God didn’t do it

He didn’t get mad, He followed the will of God

Mark 14:35-36

He went a little farther, and fell on the ground, and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. 36 And He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.

Jesus prayed for the cup to pass, but He still needed to go to the cross

It was the will of God, and He was obedient

We must know that God will answer according to His will

1 john 5:14-15

 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.

He hears us, whether you get the answer you want or not

We still must believe and pray in faith

You know whats been on my mind lately

we have had this building for 8 years now

It took a lot of prayers of faith to achieve it

But God came through

We were going through a program where people could pledge money to get the required funds

We had raised 500,000 dollars the amount that we needed

Well the program didn’t work like we thought it was going to 

We lost 250,000 dollars 45 days before the building was supposed to close

People stepped up and helped

But we still needed 50,000 with only 3 days to left

People that didn’t even attend our church stepped up and closed the Gap

People in this room helped and if you are here now and couldn’t you still reap the reward

This was just the beginning of monumental faith moments

Not too long ago

Covid hit and while other churches died off

We thrived 

Because of you, the people in this room

Because of your faith, and your prayers of faith to God

It gets even deeper

Pastor matt had the vision to one day own this block

We purchased 3 houses during covid

We didn’t even seek them out

The man that lived in the house rob lives in Had been sick

I built a relationship with his father, and helped however I could

My son even kept up on his lawn care

The man ended up passing away

Out of the fathers thankfulness he offered us the house first

A few weeks later I was edging the lawn and a lady pulled up and said

Im selling the house across the street, do you guys want to buy

SO we now bought another house

Awhile later the man that lived behind us passed away

His children came to the office one day and said my father wanted us to ask you first

He wanted it to belong to you

3 houses all while other churches collapsed

You, as a church thrived

There will always be naysayers

So I want to address this

People might say that it wasn’t in Gods will because it was financed

Which is odd to me because im almost certain that at least a majority of people didn’t pay cash for their house

How is it that people can finance a house and it is according to Gods will

Posts on facebook like Look what God did

But if the church does it its not in Gods will

How holy are they 

that its fine for them, but not a church

It’s a double standard, its called hypocrisy

The very thing we preach against

I fully believe that these were monumental obstacles that through the faith of the congregation

And faithful prayers, God delivered these things to us

There are always going to be areas that take an enormous amount of faith

Be faithful, pray faithfully, and God will answer according to His will

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