Today’s devotional thoughts are written by Jesse Weeks - enjoy!
Christ rarely used destructive miracles to illustrate His point. One of the most memorable was the acted out parable of the cursing of the fig tree which was related to the clearing of the temple in Mark 11. Let’s focus on the cursing of the fig tree and what Christ was teaching. In the context of the times, He was chastising the nation of Israel for their fruitful appearance, like the fig tree with green, healthy leaves, but spiritually barren like the fig tree with no fruit. Their faith was all ”talk” and no “walk”. As the NIV Life Application bible explains; “Fig trees were a popular source of inexpensive food in Israel. Each tree yielded a great amount of fruit twice a year. The figs normally grew as the leaves filled out, but this tree, even in leaf, had no figs. The tree looked promising but offered no fruit. Jesus’ harsh words to the fig tree could be applied to the nation of Israel. Fruitful in appearance only, Israel was spiritually barren.”
As in every other lesson that Jesus taught during the days He was on this earth, there is a lesson for all of us today and in the future. Our confession of faith came with a promise to produce good fruit for the Lord. Be fruitful in appearance and produce fruit abundantly! How can we bear fruit for the Lord in obedience to our faith? Try focusing on your God given abilities as we are encouraged in 1 Corinthians 10:31 “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” To find those God given talents we look to Romans 12:6-8 in the NIV, “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.” Let’s look at the definition of each of these talents and see if we can find your niche.
Prophesying is the ability to foretell the future just as the prophets of the old testament. Not many of you will possess that talent, but the Message paraphrase of the Bible substitutes preaching for prophesying. “If you preach, just preach God’s Message, nothing else;” We are blessed to have Chris and Johannes fill those roles in our church family.
Serving is simply using your skilled or unskilled abilities or labor to assist the efforts of the church. “if you help, just help, don’t take over;”
Teaching is the talent of sharing information to educate others such as is necessary in Sunday school or Bible study, or in small group “digging deeper”.
To Encourage is the ability to give hope or promise, causing a hopeful feeling in others, whether they are individuals or corporate. “if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don’t get bossy;”
Giving is a talent that we all possess but our individual financial condition may limit that ability, but if you are so predisposed, give generously and be quick to respond to needs.
Leading is the talent or ability to provide direction or guidance. “if you’re put in charge, don’t manipulate;”
Showing mercy is the ability to alleviate the suffering of another person. “if you work with the disadvantaged, don’t let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face.” 2 Corinthians 2:7 tells us, “When people sin, you should forgive and comfort them, so they won’t give up in despair.”
Our concern should be what is expressed in Matthew 3:10 “The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown in the fire.” Our focus should be on what the Lord told us in Matthew 7:20 “Thus by their fruit you will recognize them.”
Genuine faith has great potential to load your “tree” with abundant fruit in order to fulfill your promise to the Lord. Pray that you might find your talent. Ask God to help you bear fruit for His kingdom.