A Fig Tree

Today I share some further thoughts on the fig tree from a fellow blogger Bruce Cooper. He gives us some further thoughts on the power of prayer but also its limitations. We cannot, for example, pray outside of God’s will.

Anyway, I shall leave it to Bruce to explain! I hope you enjoy the post and do encourage you to check out his blog.

I was reading a post by Andy Brown this morning, where Jesus curses a fig tree, as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew, which you can view here. These …

A Fig Tree

Anything

This passage from the Gospel of Matthew has been on my heart of late. Well, particularly verse 22.

In the morning he went back to the city. On the way he was hungry.

19 Along the road he saw a fig tree. He went to the tree. There was no fruit on it, only leaves. He said to the tree, `No fruit will ever grow on you again!’ Right away the tree died.

20 The disciples saw it and were surprised. They said, `So soon the fig tree has died!’

21 Jesus said to them, `I tell you the truth. Believe God. Do not doubt him. Then you can do what I did to this fig tree. But that is not all. You can even say to this hill, “Go and jump into the sea” and it will be done.

22 When you ask God for anything, believe that you will have it. Then you will have it.’

Matthew 21:18-22 WEB

The “He” in verse 18 refers to Jesus, in case it wasn’t clear. As Jesus passes by this fig tree, which apparently offers the promise of fruit, He finds only leaves on it. He then curses it, causing it to wither. Many feel sorry for this poor little fig tree, but in context, we realise it is an allusion to the Pharisees and teachers of the Laws aka the religious leaders of the day. They, like the fig tree, promised fruit but instead delivered nothing.

But the fig tree really did wither. It was not just a clever analogy for the religious leaders. There was a real tree, and Jesus spoke to it, and it died. We ought not to miss that simple truth.

Like Moses when he struck the rock twice, and God punished him for it. This was a serious problem because the rock symbolised Christ who would only be struck the once. Yet, irrespective of the symbol, there was a real piece of stone and Moses, in his anger, actually hit it twice with his staff (see Numbers 20). Symbolic or not, it was a real event.

Verse 20 of Matthew 21 shows us that the disciples were surprised at the withering of the tree. They perhaps did not fully understand the power of Christ’s words.

Jesus answers their astonishment with verses 21 and 22, and I restate them here because they are so utterly amazing.

21 Jesus said to them, `I tell you the truth. Believe God. Do not doubt him. Then you can do what I did to this fig tree. But that is not all. You can even say to this hill, “Go and jump into the sea” and it will be done.

22 When you ask God for anything, believe that you will have it. Then you will have it.’

Matthew 21:21-22 WEB

Believe God. Do not doubt. Then you can do what I did to the fig tree, and not just that, but tell the hill to go jump into the sea, and it will be done. Let that sink in!

And likewise, the next verse, the Lord says, when you ask God for anything, believe that you have it and you will have it. It sounds so matter of fact, and yet is seemingly beyond the realms of our prayers.

Ask God for anything – anything! No limits, no boundaries! Although I hasten to add that there are those who would take this Scripture on its own, ignoring all others, and claim whatever their flesh desires. Within the confines of the Bible and the will of God, we can ask for absolutely anything! Yet, I so often pray like I’m bothering God or that He is a miserly, stingy Father unwilling to part with anything. Not so! God knows how to give good gifts to His children.

I want to start praying Matthew 21:22 prayers. I want to ask God for what is on my heart. I don’t wish to be greedy, but I do want to recognise who He is and the kind of Father I worship. He is generous, and kind, and more powerful than anything we can imagine. I want my prayers to reflect that.

More than just asking though, I also need to believe. There is little point asking God for something, and then saying to my family, “That’ll never work!” Nothing pours cold water on the fire of faith than words of doubt.

Nothing pours cold water on the fire of #faith than words of #doubt – Andy #Believe #Jesus

Nothing is too big for our God to handle. There is no request we can make which will dim the lights in heaven because it uses so much power. God is more than able to respond to our needs and our prayers. Let each of us step more boldly into prayer, being specific, recording what we ask for and praising Him when the answer comes.

Those points are important. If we cannot be specific, then we cannot know for sure if God answered or not. If we do not record what we pray (in a journal or note of some kind), then there is a good chance we will forget what we have asked for and so, when it comes to pass, may not give proper thanks.

My prayer life can be sporadic at times, but I want to press into it more and more. Not every prayer I utter may be answered the way I expect, but if I do not pray at all, it certainly won’t! I want to partner with God, praying His will and seeing the answer come. The point of my post today is to do no more than encourage you to pray; pray more and pray bolder.

What will you ask for today? Whose life will change for the better because you prayed for them? For what will you give thanks to God for when you see Him moving?

Thanks be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ – to whom we can ask anything in His Name!

What is Prayer? – Andy Brown

Recent news has reported a big increase in the number of Google searches for the term “prayer.” The stories suggest that the increase in these searches is in step with the spread of Coronavirus and in general perhaps reflects people’s growing fears in recent times. Just yesterday I caught a video on Facebook of Russell…
— Read on andy-brown.org/2020/05/15/what-is-prayer/

Plumb line

I really enjoyed this post which I read a couple of days ago. So I thought I would share it with you today for some Saturday reading

Have a blessed weekend!

If you search for the definition of a biblical plumb-line then the reference to the book of Amos will often come up. “Thus He showed me: Behold, the …

Plumb line

This Sunday at Church: Pray for Ukraine

For this Sunday here’s what you can do: Pray for Ukraine.

This Sunday at Church: Pray for Ukraine

Home Group Healing #TestimonyTuesday

One evening, a group of Christians and I met together for a home group (this was in a previous church I belonged to). I forget the subject of our Bible study that night, but I recall vividly what happened during the prayer time at the end.

As I prayed for the group, I got this nagging sense that someone was struggling with migraine headaches. From time to time, I believe God shows me such things and that this is part of my spiritual gifts. I shared what I had sensed, and as it happens, two of the eight people gathered admitted to having struggled with severe headaches all that day. Neither had mentioned them during the course of the evening.

We prayed together, and prayed for these headaches to cease. For one of the two, they did. I remember that person saying so clearly, “It’s gone!” for the other person, they said it had helped but they could not admit that the headache had completely gone.

Even so, it sticks in my mind as a time when God was truly faithful. It highlights that for a whole variety of reasons that not everyone receives healing every time we pray. That should not stop us asking however, and to see someone freed from an intense headache was truly something to thank the Lord for.

I have had migraines in the past, and they are no fun at all! It was an immense privilege to be able to hear God’s direction that day, and to be able to pray for a sister in need.

When it comes to spiritual gifts and the healing ministry, it is something I remain passionate about. God has blessed us with these gifts, and we are to use them to build up His church. Yes there are times when things do not quite work out as they should. For instance, this weekend I had a sense that someone had hurt their ankle. When I reached out to them, they had not. The most likely reason was that I was simply wrong.

Being wrong is something I have grown used to over the years, but that does not stop me trying to listen to Jesus and acting on His voice. The pain of a migraine, sore ankle or whatever ailment can be a real drag to people. if God should wish to use me to bring that relief, then I am humbled and clearly the glory is all His.

Have you ever had an experience like this? I’d love to hear about it.

I hope that this brief testimony has encouraged you. God cares. He loves you. He cares about your headaches, your bills, your entire life. For the most part, He will direct us through His Word, but I rejoice in the times He directs us through His Spirit too. Praise the God of love who cares for us each and every day! Amen!

Praying for Ukraine

At our church yesterday, we had our “World Focus” spot. This is a time where we think about another part of the globe, and see what the Lord is doing there. Often it also involves thinking about the challenges a country or region face, and helps us think on how we can support the church in that place. Given events in the Ukraine right now, this was our subject.

We learned about a woman named Jessica who works with orphans in that nation. She lives in a fairly dangerous region of the country in “normal” times, and even more so now. As of yesterday, she was heading for the border following the advice to flee. She leaves behind one of the orphans she has helped to raise, a young man now aged over 18, and so he cannot leave in case he is called upon to fight for his country.

This is but one story of thousands. How many families are being torn apart by this dreadful situation?

I have seen a number of blogs about the war in Ukraine, and many prayers uttered. I join with them today, and pray for peace in that land. I also pray for wisdom for both sides, and for leaders across the world. We know that such situations can quickly escalate, and it takes only a spark to set a great blaze.

We pray for the citizens of Ukraine as they bravely defend their homes. We ask you Lord to move in that place, to bring forth all or any good You can out of this time of trouble. We pray, too, for a swift end to this conflict, and that lives on both sides would be saved.

May Your church arise in that part of the world. May those who know You, and are seeking to follow You, be blessed with strength, wisdom and resources to shine Your light in that place. We pray for our brothers and sisters in Ukraine and Russia, asking You to unite them with one purpose in serving You. May their love for You far exceed the hate of people, and may their example and ministry bring many souls into Your glorious kingdom.

Lord, when we see such things happen, it can be hard to know what exactly we should pray. Give us wisdom, and direct our prayers so that Your will is done, and You may be glorified. Where people suffer, may You be there to offer comfort. Where there is hurt, may Your church bring healing in Your Name.

We pray in the mighty Name of Jesus, amen!

Thank you for joining me in these prayers. And do add your own in the comments if you wish.

Have a blessed day.

Family Prayer Time, Season 1, Episode 1, The Globe.

Peter & JoJo are back with Family Prayer Time, encouraging us as always to pray together as a family. This week, JoJo & Peter encourage us to use the…

Family Prayer Time, Season 1, Episode 1, The Globe.

Lost in Paris #TestimonyTuesday

In this audio clip, Andy shares a story of a time he and a group of friends were lost in Paris.

The Eiffel Tower in Paris

In case you missed any of my previous posts…

Nod from God #TestimonyTuesday

Not wanting to miss the boat on #TestimonyTuesday, I thought I’d share a brief snippet with you.

It is not my testimony but rather a minor thing which happened to me once.

A skyscraper

When I left university, I had little idea of what I wanted to do with my life. I took a job at a local employer and consider it my first “real” job. I was young then, both in age and experience, and it was rather daunting to step into this new world.

On day one, someone came by and handed me a wadge of papers. “Fill these out,” they said, “and give them to Alice.” Before I had a chance to ask anything, they were gone. I did indeed fill them out, but literally had no idea who Alice was! The building housed 1500 employees, and for me (with problems with my sight) the thought of trying to find said mystery woman was no easy task! I asked a few of my new colleagues, and they were not exactly sure.

I did all I could, and prayed! I asked God to help me find this Alice, and then set the papers to one side and carried on doing my other work. A while later, I looked up to see a small group of colleagues talking, and one of them said, “Alice…” addressing one of the others. This was the Alice I needed, and she walked right past my desk and I was able to hand her the papers then and there.

This is, in the grand scheme of things, a miniscule event but it was God’s way of reminding me of His presence in my life. I knew, in that moment, that Goid had answered this simple prayer and I knew that He would continue to support me.

Has God given you these little nods from time to time? Just small encouragements that remind you of His constant love for you?

Praise Him for the big things in life, yes, but don’t forget to thank Him for the small as well!

Do share below any “nods from God” which He has given to you.

Have a great Tuesday!

Andy’s Aims – Audio

Andy shares a brief audio update.

A short update from Andy about his writing projects.

In case you missed it…

Pray for your Neighbour – Sunday Suggestion

This Sunday, after church of course, why don’t you take a walk around your neighbourhood and pray for those living there. You could focus on your own street, or else wander a little further afield. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you, and see if He will lead you to pray over a particular house or area.

Prayer walking is a great habit to get into. Not only does your physical body get some exercise, but it also gives you the chance to stretch those spiritual muscles. There are many practical ways to bless your neighbour, but only prayer allows you to invite God into their lives and do His miracle work.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Mark 12:30-31 (NIV)

Love your #neighbour as yourself #Bible #Jesus #Christianity

The chances are that the most popular name on your prayer list is your own… I know that’s true for me, I’m ashamed to admit. Yet verse 31 tells us to love our neighbour as we do ourselves. Well, if we pray mostly for our own needs, then let us each love our neighbour that way, and lift them before the Lord.

Perhaps it just isn’t possible for you to prayer walk right now, and that’s ok. If you can, pray at home for those living near you, as that will be beneficial too.

Finally, if you live in the UK, don’t forget your raincoat!

Have a great weekend!