Never Ever Give Up

(Luke 18:1-8)

Winston Churchill uttered those famous words at the height of the second world war to motivate the Britons against their enemies. He said, “Never, ever give up.” He encouraged the people to fight to the bitter end and to have the guts and determination to carry through the war to its conclusion. Jesus too taught his people this same lesson, but there were even better promises in His teaching.pray

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Persistence in Prayer

(Luke 11:5-8)

Recently I received an email from someone who had all but given up. He said he had been praying for nine years for the conversion of some members of his family and nothing had happened. They still had not come to the Lord and the essence of his note was, why bother praying when the Lord had not answered the prayer.

There was a lot more in the note, but this was one of the key issues. My response was the need for persistence in prayer. Sometimes we need to persist and continue to come to the Lord with our issues and concerns, especially where it relates to other people.

Every person has a choice and can choose to accept or reject the Lord. He does not force anyone to be a Christian so it can take a long time to see the results of prayers for other people.

The Lord does and will answer prayers, but he does it in His timeframe. Recall the situation of Abraham who was told that he would become the father of many nations and the promised son would be born through his wife Sarah. At the time this promise was made Abraham was about ninety years of age, Sarah was about eighty years old, she had passed through menopause and had been barren and unable to bear children.

But Abraham believed God was able to do anything (a good reminder for all of us), and did not count any of those issues as being insurmountable for God.

However the promised child was not born for another ten years after the promise was made. God works in his time, not ours and like Abraham we need to remember that God is able to do anything but he will do it when and how he chooses, which will always be the best timing and result.

Pray Constantly and Never, Ever Give Up

So when we pray for anything, if we don’t get the answer we should not stop praying. We should continue to bring the issue to the Lord fully convinced that he will give us the answer.

Just as the man in this section of scripture continued coming to his neighbour with shameless persistence, and eventually received what he was seeking.

What we need to learn from this section is to never, ever give up. God is good and he will answer your prayers. You also must understand that sometimes his answer is to say “No.” But when that happens it is the best answer and we may not understand why at the time.

Let me give a personal example of this. Some years ago I applied for a role in the company I worked for. I was the best candidate for the job, which everyone including the interviewer agreed was the case, and yet I did not get the job. I had prayed about it and asked the Lord why he said “No.”

Several years later I found out why. The company was restructured and that role I had applied for was made redundant and I would have been out of a job. Instead I took a different path and actually ended up with a better role with the company.

The Lord knew better. He knows the end from the beginning and he knew the best path for me. So when he says “No” now I don’t worry because I know that his plans and his results are better than the things I can see.

But we need to be persistent in our prayers so that the Lord knows we mean what we are asking for and then he will give us the best answer and the best result. But like Abraham, it might take a while but the result is always going to be magnificent.

The Lords Prayer – How to Pray

(Luke 11:1-4)

Do you know how to pray? Did you know that the Lord gave a master class on how to pray and we can learn from it? This post looks at the process of praying as the Lord taught his disciples and which we can and should learn from too. This lesson is contained in the Lords Prayer.

Teach Us How To Pray

The disciples came to Jesus and said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” (Verse 1)

The first thing we must recognise is that they did not ask the Lord WHAT they should pray, but HOW to pray. Many people today use the Lord’s Prayer and pray it word for word from the bible. This is not what the disciples asked for, they wanted to know how they should pray.

In fact when people pray the Lord’s Prayer they are actually doing the opposite of what the Lord taught the people. He said to them, “And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (Matthew 6:7-8)

When people pray the Lord’s Prayer they are actually heaping up empty phrases. They are not asking the Lord for what they want or for things that may be specific to their life or their needs. Instead they are just repeating by rote a set of words that were not given for us to pray, but to teach us how to pray.

Addressing God

So let us look at the Lord’s Prayer in a little detail. First the Lord shows that we need to address the prayer. In the same way as we speak to any person we need to get their attention. If someone wants to talk to me they will usually get my attention addressing me by name.

When we want God’s attention we need to address him by name and so Jesus taught us to say, “Our Father in heaven,” or similar words.

Now because he is God it is important to petition him appropriately. Give God the praise and glory he is entitled to for He is God and we are not. Thus Jesus tells us to offer praise and worship next in our prayers. We might say things like “Holy is your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” These words are measures of respect, praise and worship. Similarly we might praise God for the things he has done in our life. We might thank him for the blessings he has given us.

These things are the beginnings of your prayer. Address God by name and offer him the praise he is due for what he has done in your life, not empty words that are not meaningful to you and the God has now heard millions of times (and is probably bored with) Praying empty words is probably the equivalent of prayer spam!

Put Your Requests to God

The next phase of the prayer Jesus taught to his disciples and us is to put your requests to God. Ask him for the things that you need: advice, help, assistance, wisdom, insight, knowledge, forgiveness, mercy or the necessities of this life.

It’s a bit meaningless for a middle class person in western society asking the Lord to “Give us this day our daily bread.” It may be appropriate for someone in destitute circumstance or struggling in a third world country, but for most people in western society it is pointless.

The Lord wants to hear what our needs, wants and desires are, not some empty words.

Closing the Prayer

Finally when you close your prayer it needs to be a definite closing process. Jesus said that we are to ask the Father for our needs in his (Jesus) name. He said, “Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son; if you ask anything in my name, I will do it.” (John 14:13-14)

So when we close our prayers we should do exactly that. We should close our prayers saying something like, “In Jesus name, Amen.”

Why say amen? Because it is a validation of what we are praying. The word amen means something like “so be it” and it says that what we have prayed is what we mean and want.

So take the lesson from the Lord as he taught his disciples. The Lord’s Prayer is meant to teach us how to pray not what to say. Go to the Lord in prayer for he wants to hear what you have to say and offer him the praise he is due.

Jesus Chooses the Twelve

(Luke 6:12-16)

Have you ever had to make a really important decision? Have you ever had a choice to make and needed some guidance on which direction to take? If so, then this section of the scripture is worth noting.

Jesus went up on the mountain alone to pray. He prayed all night to God and when day broke he called together his disciples and selected the twelve who were to be the first appointed to carry the message to the world.

decisionsNow this was an important decision that he had to make. We know there were more than just twelve who were with Jesus at the time, for in Acts 1:21-23 we see that when the disciples sought to replace Judas who betrayed the Lord, they needed to select someone, “…who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us–one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection. And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsab’bas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthi’as.”

Jesus had to choose from among all that followed him who were to be the chosen twelve. Before he made that decision though he sought the counsel of God. He spent the night in prayer seeking God’s insight, direction and what would be the fulfilment of God’s plan for the selection of these men.

This is good insight for us too. When we need to make an important decision, we too should put the matter before God for his guidance and insight. And it can be any, and should be every, important decision you might need to make.

The purpose of prayer is to have a relationship with God and decision making is part of the ongoing relationship. He wants us to bring to him all of our concerns, issues, problems and decisions. He also wants us to share our joys, hopes, aspirations and blessings. Jesus and the Father want to help us and to share our life with them. Not just the bad times, but the good times too. Likewise when we need to make decisions, what better counsellor could we seek than the creator of the universe. And he has said that there is no problem too big or too small that he will not help us with. Recall that he said he cares so much about each and every one of us that, “…even the hairs of your head are all numbered.” (Matthew 10:30)

So in relation to making important decision there are three scriptures that come to mind that are worth remembering. The first is in relation to your business or job and comes from James 4:13-15 and says,

13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and get gain”;
14 whereas you do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.
15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.”

The key to this is what does the Lord will. Whatever decision you need to make, seek the will of God and the Lord Jesus Christ first, because it is the will of God that will be done.

The second and third scriptures comes from the Old Testament in Proverbs 16:3 and Proverbs 16:9 which say,

3 Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.

9 A man’s mind plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.

So if you are making plans of any kind, whether work, holidays, family, finances, hobbies or anything else, commit them to the Lord. Certainly if you commit your plans to the Lord and you receive his guidance, then the likelihood of success increases exponentially. If your plans are aligned with the Lord’s plan for you, how can it fail? The Lord will direct the steps of the plan and lead you to the desired outcome, but first and foremost you must follow the example that Jesus set. Put your decisions and your plans before God for his insight and instruction and be led by his wisdom.

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Let This Cup Pass

(Mark 14:32-42)

Jesus took the disciples, Peter, James and John with him into the gardens at Gethsemane to pray, knowing his betrayal was at hand. He was greatly distressed and deeply troubled as he knew the suffering that he was to suffer on our behalf. And in this section we see how deeply that pain was affecting Jesus.

let-this-cup-passOne of the scriptures in this section has been badly translated in almost every bible I have seen. It is verse 38 which reads, “…Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” You will note I have made the word “you” bold. The original Greek text does not have this word “you” in it, and when it is removed it changes the whole context of what is being said here.

Typically when people read and explain this section of scripture they believe that the Lord is upbraiding the disciples because they fell asleep. It is generally explained as being that the disciples spirits are willing, but their flesh is weak and thus instead of watching with Jesus they nod off. But is this what the section is really talking about? I believe it is something altogether different from this normal view.

Consider for a moment what is going on and what is about to happen. Jesus is praying to the Father asking if it is possible, the hour, that is his impending death, might pass from him. He says, “Abba, Father, all things are possible to thee; remove this cup from me; yet not what I will, but what thou wilt.” (Verse 36) Jesus was about to suffer extreme humiliation, pain and great suffering and he is asking the Father if there is a way out.

So who is being tempted in this situation? The disciples? No. It is Jesus who was being tempted to escape the suffering that was to come. Were the disciples being tempted in any way? No, they were simply tired and unable to remain awake. Jesus knew that he had to go through this pain and suffering so that the New Covenant could be brought into effect and so that we could receive life. But he knew it would be painful and he was seeking whether there was any other way to do what had to be done.

Thus when he said, “…the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak,” he was not talking about the disciples but his own spirit and flesh. In his spirit he was willing to go through what had to be done, but in his flesh he did not want to go through the suffering. It was Jesus speaking about himself when he was saying these things and he was looking for support from the disciples in his hour of need and trouble.

Three times he besought the Father over this, which shows how pained he must have been, but in the end the answer from the Father was “No.” And even though he would have liked an alternative way to achieve this result, Jesus was obedient to the Father and went through the deadly process which was to our advantage. At no time did he disobey but through his obedience he showed himself worthy of all praise as the Son of God.

Jesus was not worried about the disciples spirit being willing but the flesh weak and failing, he was concerned that his own flesh would cause him to fail. He was concerned that the weakness in his own flesh would cause him to run and to disobey God the Father in the very hour for which he came. That is why he prayed the way he did and that is why he sought the support of the others.

And we learn from this too that sometimes when we ask God for things, the answer will be “No.” Sometimes we will have to likewise go through difficulties and troubles for the purpose of strengthening us so we can learn to stand. But always let us remind ourselves of the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ and the wondrous gift that he gave us through his suffering. For it was through this one act of obedience to the Father that he assured we would have access to the Father and to life, if we believe in him and live according to the will of God.

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Have Faith in God

(Mark 11:20-26)

The lesson of the fig tree was covered a few posts ago. We see an additional lesson here when the disciples note that the fig tree is withered and they point it out to Jesus.

move-mountainsThe disciple were amazed that the fig tree had withered after Jesus spoke to it. But Jesus’ response was, “Have faith in God.” (Verse 22) He said to them that if they have faith they could say to a mountain to be cast into the sea and it would be done for them. In essence he was saying that when you ask God anything in prayer and you have faith, it will be done.

How often do we take the Lord literally at his words? How often do we doubt the power of God? It is not uncommon for Christian to doubt, but the lesson we need to learn is that there is no need to doubt. God through Jesus Christ is able to do anything we ask, and more. It is our doubt that limits us in what the Lord can and will do for us. We are the limiting factor, not God.

Consider the “faith” chapter in Hebrews chapter 11. It opens with this line, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Heb 11:1) Whatever you hope for you will receive if you have faith and the assurance that the Lord will bring the thing you are hoping for to come to pass. You cannot see the thing you hope for because it has not yet come to pass. That is why faith is so important because it is through faith that we receive the conviction to carry on so that we will receive the things we are hoping for.

Faith is essential is we are to come to God and please him. The writer in Hebrews 11 continues on to say, “…without faith it is impossible to please him. For whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” (Heb 11:6)

That is why faith is so important. Faith is the key to coming to God and to receiving his promises. You must believe to receive. You must believe to be able to enter God’s kingdom for the entry is vai faith in Jesus Christ. There is no other way than by faith for faith is spiritual not physical.

Does it work? Absolutely! Look at the rest of Hebrews 11 and you will see how faith enabled the prophets and people of God to do many mighty things, “…who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, received promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, that they might rise again to a better life.” (Hebrews 11:33-35)

There is much more that can be said on the subject of faith and we will cover those scriptures over tiem as I continue to work through the New Testament. For now it is enough to say that faith is the key and anything you desire to receive from the Lord is possible if you will believe, pray and ask for it and hold firm your faith.

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Making a Request of God

(Mark 10:35-45)

James and John were two brothers and disciples of the Lord. They came to him asking if Jesus would grant them to sit at his right and his left hand in his kingdom. (Verse 37) There was a lesson for them and the rest of the disciples to learn and Jesus used this discussion to show them the problems of pride and the value of humility.

Jesus came to serveJesus responded to the two saying that they would suffer as he had suffered and go through same baptism as the Lord. But to grant their request was not for Jesus to give. (Verses 39-40) To sit at the right and left hand of the Son of God were high positions of power, authority and glory. Seeking such places of honour is a mark of pride. It is the way of the world to seek to be in power over other people and this is not the way of the Lord.

What is interesting in this scripture is that Jesus did not say they could not sit at his right or left hand. He said only that, “…it is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” (Verse 40)

You can ask the Lord for almost anything, but the answer may not always be “Yes.” When we ask for anything though we need to examine our own motivations. What or who is the beneficiary of the request? Is it for ourself or others? Will it bring glory to God or not? Will it help or hinder our walk? Is the request motivated by pride and arrogance or humility and love?

When we consider questions such as these it can bring some perspective to our prayers and requests of God so that we ask rightly and then have a greater chance of success in our requests. When we ask rightly we are more likely to be granted the request than if we ask in a self-seeking or arrogant and prideful manner.

Let us consider the request of James and John in the light of the questions posed above. Who benefited? James and John. Was it for themself? Yes it was. Will it bring glory to God? No it would bring glory to James and John. Would it help or hinder their walk with Christ? It could be neutral, but I would suspect if Jesus had said “Yes” they could have been trapped in pride which definitely would not help their walk. Was the request motivated by pride or humility? Pride would be at the root of a request of this nature.

As we can see, an analysis of this request suggests it is not the kind of thing we should ask of God, and the likelihood of a successful outcome would always be remote.

If we took a modern request that thousands of people in the world make of God asking him that they could win the lottery. Consider such a request in the light of the questions above and you will see it fails in every point as well.

But we see the compassion of the Lord for these two men, as well as the rest of the disciples, needed to learn this lesson. He did not get annoyed or angry with them, nor with the other disciples who became indignant at the two brothers for making such a request. Instead Jesus taught them the lesson of the Servant-Leader.

In Christ, those who are called to positions of leadership, as the two brothers were, are called to serve and not be served. In the world as a person gets promoted into leadership they rise through the ranks of an organisation and have others serve them. But in Christ as a person is given the responsibility of leadership they do not rise above others, but they move into the positions of service where they are serving others and thus working for the Lord. They may be the leaders of the church, but they are to guide, teach, counsel, preach, minister to and aid the flock. They are not meant to “fleece” the flock and use the flock as their servants, holding them in positions of bondage like a tyrant.

As Jesus himself said in verse 45, “For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” He provided the example for us. Jesus came to serve God, we must do the same. It is not for us to seek personal honour or glory, but to seek the glory of the Lord and God. We are working for him and as “employees” or servants of the Lord it is our responsibility not to bring the name of the Lord into disrepute, but to give him glory and honour. Thus we serve as servants for the true Master.

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Casting Out a Deaf and Dumb Spirit

(Mark 9:14-29)

A boy had been brought to the disciples of Jesus for healing. This boy was possessed by an evil spirit that had taken control of the boy and was hurting him badly. The spirit caused him to be cast into fire and water, seized him and cast him to the ground foaming at the mouth and grinding his teeth.

The disciples were asked to cast the spirit out of the boy, but the were unable to do so. When the father of the boy saw Jesus he came to him imploring him to help if he was able.

jesus-heals-boy-with-deaf&dumb-spirit2Here we see one of the keys to healing, both in this and all other cases. There is a question of faith in this section of scripture. The man begged Jesus to help him “If you can.” (Verse 22)

Jesus responded saying, “If you can! All things are possible to him who believes.” (Verse 23) Here is a powerful call to faith for the people of God. What Jesus is saying here is that for those who have faith nothing will be impossible. If a matter is in the will of God and a person has faith, then it will be done for them. There is no “maybe” in Jesus’ words but a positive statement that through faith anything can be done.

The father of the boy recognising his unbelief, possibly because the disciples had not been able to heal the boy, cried out, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Verse 24) This man was desperate and desperately wanted to believe so that his son would be healed. Jesus took compassion on the man and the boy and rebuked the demon from him.

Now faith is a funny thing. You either have it or you don’t. The disciples once asked Jesus saying, “Increase our faith!” But Jesus replied, “And the Lord said, “If you had faith as a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this sycamine tree, ‘Be rooted up, and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.” (Luke 17:5-6)

What he showed is that you don’t need a lot of faith to be able to do remarkable things. But how do you get faith and then how does it grow? There is no doubt that faith can grow but what is the process by which this happens?

Knowledge is the key, and specifically the knowledge of Jesus Christ. Paul wrote, “So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ.” (Romans 10:17) When a person hears the words of the gospel and they internalise it, that is when faith as a grain of mustard seed is born. As a person continues to learn more about Jesus Christ and the kingdom of God, their faith is strengthened. They begin to see the power of God working in their own life and the lives of those around them. That is how faith grows and strengthens over time.

When Jesus healed this boy, faith was born in the father. It is clear from the father’s own comments that he had little or no faith prior to this. He brought the boy to the disciples in the hope that the boy might be healed, but their inability to heal the boy would have crushed the father’s hope until Jesus arrived.

As for the disciples, after the event they asked Jesus why they were unable to cast out the demon. The Lord said here that, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.” (Verse 29) By this he is saying it required the direct intervention of God to cast out this demon.

Jesus had given the disciples the authority to cast out demons, but it is evident that the disciples own faith was weak. We see this in Jesus first statement when told that the disciples could not cast the demon out. He said, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you?” (Verse 19) In other versions of this event we see Jesus say to the disciples that the reason they could not cast the demon out was because of their lack of faith, again emphasising that faith is the key to healing. However he also provided the process by which that can be overcome, and that is through prayer.

When our faith to do something is weak, even when we have the authority to do it as the disciples had been given (Mark 3:15), we can always put the matter into the hands of the Lord through prayer. When we come to God in prayer we are humbling ourselves under his almighty power and putting the issue into to his hands. We are laying our burdens at the feet of the Lord for his intervention and resolution. And this is OK for we are told to, “Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you.” (1 Peter 5:7).

Anytime we are overwhelmed by the issues of the world or have what appear to be insurmountable problems, let us remember this teaching. Have faith and anything is possible to you. And if it seems too daunting, give the problem to the Lord in prayer for his resolution and in good time it will be resolved.

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Jesus Prays in the Garden at Gethsemane

(Matthew 26:36-46)

After the Last Supper we see Jesus take the disciples and go to the garden at Gethsemane. What we see when Jesus prays in the garden at Gethsemane is that these are the last few hours before his betrayal. He spends this time knowing that his betrayer approaches and that he will be delivered into the hands of men for execution.

What we see then is that the Lord takes aside Peter, James and John asking them to stay awake and keep watch. He knew that the betrayer Judas would soon be upon them and so he was going through great anguish for he also knew what was to come. But the disciples were tired and could not stay awake. Three times the Lord stepped aside to pray to the Father and three times he returned to find the disciples sleeping.

The prayer the Lord made to the Father was a prayer of great anguish. He asked the Father saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.” (Verse 39) Jesus was asking whether there was any other way this thing that had to be done could be achieved without him having to suffer, as he knew he would. He was seeking if there was a way out, but even in this hour of anguish he was obedient to the Father for he sought the will of the Father in this matter and not his own will.

It is evident that he was going through a great temptation. In his suffering and sorrow he was seeking a way out and knowing he had to die he would have been under tremendous pressure and temptation to seek to escape it if he could. Thus the words in verse 41 seem odd as in all translations I have read they say a similar thing. “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Verse 41) The question I raise here is how were the disciples being tempted? By falling asleep? The person being tempted at this point in time was not any of the disciples; it was Jesus being tempted.

When you review the original Greek texts we find that the word “you” is not in this verse. The translators have added it. A literal translation of this verse says, “Pray that not enter in temptation.” There is no “you” in this section of scripture. As such I believe that Jesus was asking the disciples to watch and stay awake and pray that HE (Jesus) did not enter into temptation. If Jesus succumbed to temptation at this crucial point in time, the whole work from the beginning of time would be wasted. The New Covenant could not come into being without the perfect sacrifice and the blood of Jesus. And if that happened there would be no hope for man as we would not be freed from sin and able to come into the presence of God.

No it was not a temptation to the disciples that Jesus was concerned with but a temptation to himself. He needed their prayers as support so that he would have the strength to carry out the role he was destined to play and thus give man the opportunity for life. It is evident from the prayer of Jesus that he was sorely tempted and would have desired some other way to do the will of God rather than die in the painful and torturous manner that he was about to go through. He knew Judas was to betray him there in the garden at Gethsemane and it would have been a great temptation to just leave before the betrayer arrived. But if that happened how would he have achieved the will of the Father and provided man with the means to escape from sin and be reconciled to God?

It was necessary that Jesus suffers and dies for us. And we see in the prayer that although he would have liked an alternative route to the one planned, God did not give him an alternative. In fact the answer to his prayer was “No.” Sometimes we too ask for things but the answer is “No.” We need to understand also that as Jesus had to go through this trial so that we might live, we too will go through trials for our learning, understanding and strengthening.

There are some valuable lessons in this section of scripture, which we should take to heart. Also we should praise the Lord Jesus even more for the fact that he did not succumb to temptation and thus we have the opportunity to receive his grace and the freedom that only comes through faith in Jesus Christ. Praise God for this glorious gift.

Ask in Faith and it Will Be Done

(Matthew 21:18-22)

This is an unusual teaching for on the surface it might look like the Lord was being vindictive or cursing. But this is not the case, as we will see. There are several messages here, the main one being to ask in faith and it will be done.

First we see the Lord come to a fig tree in the morning seeking fruit for he was hungry. But there was no fruit on the tree and he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again.” (Verse 19) The tree then withered at once at these words, and the disciples marvelled at this turn of events.

Now there is a lesson to ask in faith and it will be done coming, but there is also an allegory in this message too. Jesus came to this tree expecting to find fruit. It was a healthy tree for it was covered in leaves and we must presume that there should have been fruit on it. Under normal circumstances it takes a fig tree some years to produce fruit. They can produce as early as two years after planting, but 4-5 years is more typical. Thus they need fertilisation, water, food and sunlight to ensure they crop well.

Christians are like these fig trees. We are expected to show some fruit over the course of time. Christians are called to walk with Jesus, which indicates a steady progression forward. As we progress we should mature and like the fig tree in due course we should begin to bear fruit. Jesus does not expect us to bear fruit immediately. There may be many issues in our lives to be dealt with first, but eventually a Christian should begin to bear fruit. This allegory of the fig tree seems to suggest that as the fig tree was expected to have fruit, which may have been a tree of four or five or more years old, so too we should be seeing some fruit in our life after a similar time frame. We should begin to exhibit the fruit of the Spirit described in Galatians 5:22-24.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law.
24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”

This is the fruit we should be bearing as we mature in Christ, the most important being that we crucify or put to death the passions and desires of our flesh. And we see a warning that if we do not bear fruit as the fig tree bore no fruit, we may be uprooted to wither and die spiritually.

The disciples marvelled at the withering of the fig tree. But Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and never doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it will be done. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” (Verses 21-22)

The power of prayer and faith combined is an awesome thing. The promise the Lord gave us here that whatever we ask in prayer, if we ask in faith, we will receive is something to truly marvel at. The withering of the fig tree caused the disciples to marvel, but the promise of the Lord is much more marvellous. When we seek the Lord and look to him, when we put our requests, problems and issues to him, do so in faith and know fully that they will be done. This is Jesus promise to his people. If you believe you can move mountains, and you ask the Lord in faith, know that it will happen.

Naturally there would need to be a good reason to have the mountain moved and it would need to be in the Lord’s will, but you must know that if that is the situation, it will be done if you ask in faith. Jesus does not want us to be frivolous in our prayers, but to commit to him those things that are important to us. He might still say no, but he will do that for a reason. Sometimes we do not know what the future holds and to have the mountain moved might not be what is required. The mountain may be providing us with protection or a barrier from cyclonic winds or trouble on the other side. We may not find this out until later and then see the wisdom of the Lord in saying no to us. But if this is not the case, then the mountain will be moved if we ask the Lord in faith.