Friday, December 30, 2011

The Fruitless Fig Tree


Mark 11:12-14; 20-21

It was early Monday morning of our Lord’s Passion Week.

As the Lord Jesus and His men traveled from Bethany back into Jerusalem, He was hungry.

As He walked, He saw a fig tree in a distance.

Since the fruit grows as the tree produces its leaves, it was reasonable for the Lord Jesus to assume that there would be fruit when He came to it.

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As the Lord Jesus searched the tree, He found it was all leaves. There was no fruit to be found.

The leaves promised fruit, but there was none.

So was Israel. They had all the signs of spiritual life, but they had no fruit. They were religious in every detail, but they had no spiritual fruit. They looked alive, but was spiritually barren.

So can we. We have been given every spiritual advantage. There is no excuse for us to be fruitless.

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The Lord Jesus pronounced a curse upon the fruitless tree. It was to be fruitless forever.

The Lord Jesus cursed the tree for its hypocrisy. The tree was making promises it could not deliver!

So was Israel! We know from the historical record that Israel was judged for their rejection of the Lord Jesus. They paid a high price for their hypocrisy.

So can we if we have the appearance of life, but bear no fruit. The Lord will judge us too!

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The disciples heard the Lord Jesus when He cursed the fruitless fig tree.

The next day, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots.

Usually, when a tree withers, it does so from the top down. The root system will be the last part of the tree to die. Not this tree! The Lord Jesus cursed it and it died from the roots up. It is a picture of total destruction!

So was Israel! They were destroyed from the root up.

So can we if we refuse to honor, obey and serve Him. He will chastise us.

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The disciples saw what happened and took it to heart.

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Judas Iscariot was like Israel.

He was all leaf and no fruit.

He preached, healed and cast out devils.

But there was no reality in what he did.

It was all hypocrisy! He did not know the Lord.

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The Lord is looking for fruit in the lives of His people.

The Lord is looking for fruit in His church.

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When He examines us, does He find what He seeks?

Or, is it all leaf and no fruit?


Saturday, December 24, 2011

The King Is Here


Mark 11:1-11

It was early Sunday morning, the week leading up to the Passover.

The Lord Jesus Christ chose this moment to let Israel know that their King had arrived.

He and His disciples were prepared to walk towards Jerusalem.

Many people would crowd there for the Passover celebration.

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They approached Bethphage and Bethany, two little villages near the top of Mount Olives.

The Lord Jesus Christ sent two of His disciples to a village to get a colt.

He told them exactly where they would find it and what the people standing around would say to them. He even gave them some details about the animal.

His disciples found that everything was just as He said it would be.

The Lord Jesus Christ was a local celebrity. He had just raised Lazarus from the dead.

When the people heard that it was He who wanted the colt, they immediately sent it to Him.

The Lord Jesus Christ promised to return it shortly.

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The disciples returned and put their outer garments over the colt in place of a saddle.

The Lord Jesus Christ climbed on the colt’s back and started down the mountain.

The King of Israel was ready to present Himself to the nation of Israel.

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The Lord Jesus Christ was fulfilling the ancient prophecy of Zech. 9:9 as a lowly Messiah.

Here was a humble Man on the back of a humble beast, making a humble declaration of His identity.

Here was a humble Man surrounded by throngs of common people waving palm branches.

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The Lord Jesus Christ is the lofty One.

As the crowd descended the slopes of the Mount of Olives, they were praising Him.

Here were the people the Lord Jesus Christ had healed, delivered, and ministered to.

They were practicing “antiphonal” singing. The people in front would say a part and the people in back would answer them. It was a cry for the Messiah to deliver His people.

The people were shouting, dancing and singing. They were praising God for His deliverance. They were excited and they were vocal in their excitement.

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The Lord Jesus Christ went through the procession.

He went to visit the Temple.

He took the time to look at everything. He saw the beauty of the buildings. He saw the priests carrying out their rituals. He saw the people bringing their sacrifices to the priests. He saw it all.

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The Lord Jesus came to the nation of Israel as prophesied.

But many were not ready for His coming.

The nation of Israel as a whole rejected Him as King of the Jews. They eventually crucified Him.

But a remnant received Him.

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The Lord Jesus Christ is here.

We must acknowledge His presence and glorify Him.

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Are we ready?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Blind Bartimaeus


Mark 10:46-52

Bartimaeus was blind from birth.

He was a beggar.

He depended on the generosity of others in order to survive.

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Like Bartimaeus, the lost person is spiritually blind.

He is blind to his condition, to his sin and to his impending eternal doom.

He is also a spiritual beggar.

He has to beg for the Lord Jesus to save him.

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Bartimaeus knew who the Lord Jesus Christ was.

He knew what the Lord Jesus Christ could do.

He knew it was the day of his greatest opportunity.

So he began to cry out for the Lord Jesus Christ to have mercy on him.

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We need to know that now is the greatest opportunity we have to come to the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved by His grace.

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Bartimaeus repeated his cry.

He simply cried louder when other people stopped him.

He was determined to be healed!

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Let us get serious about coming to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Let us stop at nothing to come to Him.

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Bartimaeus received a response.

The Lord Jesus Christ called for him to come to Him.

His faith was honored.

The Lord Jesus Christ wanted to talk with him.

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The Lord Jesus Christ is not too busy to hear our cries.

If we will cry out to Him, He will save our souls today!

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When the Lord Jesus Christ called, Bartimaeus cast away his outer coat and jumped up to go to Him.

This coat was very valuable to him.

But he wanted to come to the Lord Jesus Christ fast.

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There are personal costs to pay in order to come to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Sometimes the price can be very high.

But what are all these costs compared to the worth of our souls?

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When Bartimaeus came to the Lord Jesus Christ, he was asked an important question and he responded in pure faith.

He trusted the Lord Jesus Christ to heal him and he received his sight.

Bartimaeus got far more than physical healing that day.

He also got spiritual healing as well.

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This is what happens when the lost person responds to the Gospel of grace.

Immediately the power of God saves him instantly, completely and eternally!

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After Bartimaeus was healed, the Lord Jesus Christ told him to go his way.

But Bartimaeus chose to follow Him.

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When salvation comes, the saved person will want to walk with the Lord in holiness.

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Many of us are spiritual blind.

We need to come to the Lord Jesus Christ right now to be healed.

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Some of us Christians are spiritual blind too.

There are many things in our lives that we need to get right with the Lord Jesus Christ.

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Let us come to the Lord Jesus Christ now.

He will receive us, forgive us and restore us if we will only come to Him humbly.

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The Lord Jesus Christ is here!

Please do not let this opportunity pass.

Come to Him now and be made whole.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Way Up Is The Way Down


Mark 10:35-45

James and John approached the Lord Jesus asking that they be allowed to sit with Him in the highest positions of His coming kingdom.

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They wanted preeminence.

They wanted the glory and honor that came from being elevated to a throne.

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They wanted proximity.

They wanted to be close to the Lord Jesus in the Kingdom.

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They wanted power.

They wanted positions of great authority in the coming kingdom.

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The Lord Jesus responded by telling them that they had no idea what they were asking for.

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He confronted them by asking them if they were willing and able to experience all that He was about to endure.

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They told Him that they could.

But they did not understand what would await the Lord Jesus.

Their response revealed a complete lack of understanding concerning what the Lord Jesus was about to suffer and of the load He was sent to carry.

The Lord Jesus was on His way to Calvary where He would bear the sins of His people on a Roman cross.

The Lord Jesus was about to experience the undiluted wrath of the Almighty God against sin and sinners.

The Lord Jesus was about to die at the hands of the Heavenly Father.

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The Lord Jesus told them that they would suffer and die for their faith.

But they could never endure what He was about to suffer.

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The Lord Jesus told them that positions in the kingdom would not be given out based on selfish ambition.

It would be given according to the will of sovereign God.

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When the rest of the disciples heard about what John and James were up to, they became angry.

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The Lord Jesus didn’t allow their anger to simmer.

He addressed the issue at hand and called their attention to the Gentile world around them.

He told them that “high seat seeking” is the way of the world.

Those who ruled in this world rose to the top by grabbing power and oppressing their opponents.

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But for Christian believers, the path to the top is through the bottom.

If they want to reach the top, they must start out at the bottom.

If they want to be a leader, they must first learn how to serve.

If they want to be recognized and respected, they must give up all ambition and selfishness.

They must live out their days serving others.

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The Lord Jesus gave them an example of Himself.

He is the Son of God.

He is God in the flesh.

Yet He did not come to be served.

He came to serve.

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If our God is willing to serve sinful humanity, we should be willing to serve as well.

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The Lord Jesus went willingly to take the place of a slave.

He washed His disciple’s feet.

He washed the feet of Peter who would deny Him 3 times before dawn.

He even washed the feet of Judas Iscariot who would betray Him into the hands of His enemies that very night!

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The Lord Jesus freely served those who would break His heart.

When the next day dawned, the Lord Jesus performed the greatest service of all when He went to Calvary to die on the cross for sinners who hated Him and wanted nothing to do with Him.

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The cost of service for the Lord Jesus was extremely high.

It cost Him His very life.

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The Lord Jesus willingly went to His death to save those who cared nothing for Him.

He suffered the shame, the pain, the humiliation, and the agony of the cross to serve lost sinners.

He experienced the undiluted wrath of the Almighty God to serve us.

He took the place of a common criminal and was judged as rebel so that sinners could be saved.

He willingly entered into death so that others might enter into life.

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For Christian believers, the way up is always down.

How about us?

Are we actively seeking ways to serve others?


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Tragic Man


Mark 10:17-22

He was a rich man.

And he lived a clean and moral life.

But he was unhappy.

He wanted peace with God.

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He came quickly to the Lord Jesus Christ.

He fell down on his knees and cried.

He was not ready to die.

He needed eternal life.

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He came to the Lord Jesus Christ.

He came to the right Person.

Only the Lord Jesus Christ could save him.

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He came to the Lord Jesus Christ.

He came in the right way.

He came running.

It was very urgent.

He came kneeling.

The Lord Jesus is worthy.

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He came to the Lord Jesus Christ.

He came with the right purpose.

He wanted to know the way to Heaven.

It was the most important thing in his life.

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He came to the Lord Jesus Christ.

He came at the right time.

He came when the Lord Jesus Christ was passing by.


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But....

There were several things that he got terribly wrong.

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He thought salvation can be earned.

He wanted to earned salvation.

He wanted to earn eternal life for himself.

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He thought salvation is a reward.

He thought if he did enough good things, God would reward it to him.

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This man was a tragic man.

He needed help!

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The Lord Jesus confronted him regarding the Person of the Savior.

He told him that Jesus Christ isn’t just a good teacher.

He is God in the flesh.

Before he could be saved, he must recognize Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6)!

He is his only hope for salvation!

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The Lord Jesus confronted him regarding the problem of sin.

He told him, “No one is good—except God alone.”

He was trying to get him to see that he was a sinner.

And as a sinner he stood guilty before God.

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The Lord Jesus wanted him to see that he was morally and spiritually bankrupt.

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But the man was unable to understand what the Lord Jesus said.

When he responded to the Lord Jesus Christ, he declared that he had kept the Law and had not broken it.

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The Lord Jesus Christ loved this man regardless of his sins, and his improper understanding of the things of God.

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Patiently, He told him how to be saved.

He told him to sell his possessions and give the money to the poor.

He wanted him to give up everything.

He wanted him to take up the cross.

He wanted him to follow Him!

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The Lord Jesus Christ wanted him to turn his back on power, prestige, position, and possessions, and then carry his cross and follow Him.

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But this man chose his possessions over the Lord Jesus Christ!

He loved his money more than he wanted to be saved.

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His face fell.

He went away sad.

He was a tragic man.

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The Lord Jesus summed up his dilemma with these words, “One thing you lack.”

This man had everything.

But he lacked the Lord Jesus Christ!

And he was not willing to give up everything for the sake of the Lord Jesus Christ.

And he went away sad.

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Here was a tragic man.

Does it describe you?