Archive for March 2020

Live In The House of Wisdom

The Path Principle

Proverbs 24:3-4 Through wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; By knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches. 

Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;  Fear the LORD and depart from evil.     

Proverbs. 4:26 Ponder the path of your feet, And let all your ways be established. 

WISDOM

Proverbs 4:7 Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding. 

Walking in wisdom is about making good choices. Wisdom is essentially the ability to look at several options, and select the best one. But that's not something we do very well all by ourselves. We need the wisdom that comes from parenting. We need to wisdom they comes from education. We need the wisdom that comes from training. And most of all, we need the wisdom that comes from God.

Interesting, what people seem to do most, being entertained, provides almost no wisdom at all. Some of the definitions of entertain include the words, Similar: amuse, divert, distract

Wisdom always comes from sources that are bigger than ourselves:

Isaiah said 55:8, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. 9  “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.

The apostle Paul said: 1 Corinthians 2:16 “For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

The best way to know if you're walking in wisdom is to think about the path that you're traveling. There's something called the “path principle.” This is something I heard Pastor Andy Stanley talk about many years ago.

If you don't like where you are now, you only need to think about the path you've been walking.

What is the path principle?

The path is a direction leading to a destination. When you step onto a path, you begin toward the destination of that road, regardless of your intentions. It doesn't matter what you intend to do, it only matters what path you are on.

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Romans 15:13 I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

We usually think about hope in one way or one dimension. We understand hope as something that people need who are struggling and feeling hopeless. Thank God that when we struggle, there is hope to sustain us. When life does not makes sense and hope seems lost, there is a great hope from God to lift us up. 

Hope is more than a survival strategy. Hope is not only for the hopeless. Hope gives substance to faith. Hope is a picture. Hope is a sustaining power from the Spirit of God. Jesus is the true hope giver.

The Biblical Greek definition of hope simply means,  “An expectation.” (noun); “To anticipate” (verb).

A modern dictionary definition of Hope: 1) a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen, 2) grounds for believing that something good may happen

I want to suggest that there are three dimensions, or aspects, of hope: 1) Expectation, 2) Desire, and 3) Purpose.

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We Have Come This Far By Faith

Part Four: Dealing With Your Mountains: Leaves or Figs?

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Mark 11:12 Now the next day, when they had come out from Bethany (modern Al-Eizariya, Palestine), He was hungry. 13 And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it. When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. 14 In response Jesus said to it, “Let no one eat fruit from you ever again.” And His disciples heard it. 

20 Now in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. 21 And Peter, remembering, said to Him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree which You cursed has withered away.”

22 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. [“Be faithful to God and fruitful. Don’t be like this tree, putting out leaves, but showing no fruit.”]

23 For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. 24 Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. 25 “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. 26 But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”

In this text, Jesus gave a faith lesson. He talked about dealing with mountain sized obstacles when he said, “Have faith in God.” Having faith in God, asking for things when you pray, and believing you receive them, you will have them.

This particular lesson on faith is different the the one in Matthew 17:20 where he said , “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. 21 However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”

In the teaching from Matthew Jesus attached a qualifier to it when he said, “his kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” As he dealt with the inability of the disciples to heal of boy brought to them with spirit of infirmity that looked like epilepsy.

In both of these lessons, Jesus taught about the nature of faith in God as well as something within the believer that was necessary.

Faith in God is not all about getting stuff, it is about doing God’s will. Don’t forget this statement:

Faith begins where the will of God is known.

The will of God is never found first in wanting things for your enjoyment. The will of God is always connected to His purpose and your character.

Jesus teaching in Mark 11 is dealing with personal character and doing the will of God.

Important question: Why did Jesus curse the fig tree, if it was not the season for figs?

At this point in late spring in Israel and Palestine, most fig trees had not yet developed mature fruit (Mark 11:13). But this particular tree draws Jesus’s attention because it already has a full covering of leaves. It’s an early bloomer. Its foliage signaled that it should have early figs.

With that expectation, Jesus inspects the tree. He is immediately disappointed. The tree is all leaves, no fruit. There was expectation, but no satisfaction.

He said, Let no one eat fruit from you ever again.” And His disciples heard it.

It appears shocking that Jesus cursed the tree and made it wither from the roots, never to yield fruit again. This seems stunningly out of character for Jesus

What should we learn from this peculiar scene?

On the surface, it’s an object lesson on the power of faithful prayer and how to have faith (Matt. 21:20–22). But more is going on here. The fig tree cursing when understood as a parable, is also a sober warning for us today.

Fruitlessness leads to judgment.

Throughout the Old Testament, Israel is described as God’s vineyard, tree, or planting. Fruitfulness is one of God’s priorities

Exodus 23:19 The first of the firstfruits of your land you shall bring into the house of the Lord your God. 

Isaiah 5:1,  Now let me sing to my Well-beloved A song of my Beloved regarding His vineyard: My Well-beloved has a vineyard On a very fruitful hill. 2  He dug it up and cleared out its stones, And planted it with the choicest vine. He built a tower in its midst, And also [b]made a winepress in it; So He expected it to bring forth good grapes, But it brought forth wild grapes. 3  “And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, Judge, please, between Me and My vineyard. 4  What more could have been done to My vineyard That I have not done in it?

Jesus said in John 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you[b] will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples

When he created Adam and Eve, He said, “Be fruitful and multiply.” 

Being fruitful in doing God’s will is part of human nature and God’s purpose.

In our relationship with God: as his own special planting, it is His will to yield spiritual fruit as his covenant people.

Psalm 1:3 He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.

Jeremiah 17:8, For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, And will not [a]fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit.

Think about your own figs.

When the disciples ask Jesus to explain what just transpired, he pivots and talks about prayer and forgiveness. 

Jesus said in Mark 11:24 Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. 25 “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. 26 But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”

Thus the fig tree cursing was not just about a fig tree, it was historical Israel. And it is also about us. It’s about all the people of God throughout time.

This is a sobering passage, this passage that reminds us of this truth: A follower of Christ, a true Christian, by definition must produce spiritual fruit —even if only small early figs).

In our lives we can show “leaves,” but no fruit. Things in people and churches can appear to be big and flourishing, but it may only be leaves and not figs. That does not please the Lord.

Your leaves can fool you. What will the Lord find upon close inspection? Will he find only leaves? Or will he find figs, too?

In our lives, there may be no fruit of holiness, no intimacy with God, and no faith serving, giving, loving, and honoring. 

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1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. 

2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

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