Australia Ministry Trip (Sept 26-November 10, 2017)

Australia Ministry Trip (Sept 26-November 10, 2017)
From September 26 to November 10, 2017, my husband, daughter and I will be on a ministry trip in Australia and New Zealand. The places we will be visiting are shown on the map above - along with the dates in which we'll be in these places (and what we'll be doing while there). Please keep this ministry trip and all of us in your prayers! Blogs will appear daily throughout this time, as I have written them and scheduled them in advance. I welcome your comments - and enjoy them! Just know I will not have Internet access for much of this time. So, I will look forward to reading your responses upon my return. Thank you for your understanding! And please keep reading to complete the "Reading the Bible in a Year" challenge and blessing! I am very grateful to Claire for her faithful blog comments (please everyone - join her in sharing each day as a discussion blesses everyone so much more!) And I am thankful that Claire has graciously agreed to add a bit more into her daily comments during my time of absence. Please direct special comments or questions which require immediate responses to her (on this blog). Blessings as you continue your journey through God's Word this year!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Daily Bible Reading - July 1, 2017

Today's Reading:

Mark 11:1-14

1 Kings 1

Hosea 4:12-5:4

Listen to the Bible

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading  

In Mark, we read a strange story of how Yahshua - Who was usually busy blessing everyone - suddenly decided to curse a fig tree. It was Christ's only miracle which was performed to destroy something. The story almost seems strange and out of place. But it wasn't that Yahshua was angry or frustrated at not being able to find figs to eat. There is so much that is really going on beyond the obvious and the lessons it bears are worthy of note.

In Scripture (Judges 9) we find that trees represent different kinds of people. Each kind of tree exemplifies a different characteristic of a person. Fig trees are mentioned very frequently in Scripture. And as we examine the times when the fig tree is mentioned, we gain insights into the spiritual meaning of this tree.

The fig tree is a symbol of Righteousness - The first mention of the fig tree is in Genesis 3:7. Here we find Adam and Eve using the leaves from a fig tree to cover their nakedness. Nakedness is a shameful result of sin. Without Christ in our lives, we are shamefully naked, in a spiritual sense:
Revelation 3:17-18  "Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent." 
Without the covering of Messiah's Righteousness, we are spiritually naked. But His Righteousness clothes us, covering our nakedness.
Job 29:14  "I put on righteousness, and it clothed me..."
Isaiah 61:10  "I will greatly rejoice in Yahweh, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness..." 
The fig tree is a symbol of a Spirit-filled life, which bears the Fruits of the Holy Spirit - The fig tree was valued first of all for its delicious, sweet fruit (Judges 9:11). In a spiritual sense, sweet fruit represents the Fruits of the Holy Spirit
Galatians 5:22-25  "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit."
When we abide in Christ, His Grace, Power, and Character flow into us. We bear His Fruits in our lives. And it is the presence (or absence) of His Fruit which determines whether or not we truly belong to God - no matter what we claim. If we say we belong to Him, but do not bear His Fruit in our lives, our claim of being "Christian" is nothing more than hypocrisy.
1 John 4:7-8  "Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love." 
Finally, the fig tree was a symbol of spiritual prosperity and security.
1 Kings 4:25 "...And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, every man under his vine and under his fig tree."
When Yahshua cursed the fig tree, He did so because it had leaves without figs. Since the presence of leaves indicated that the tree would have fruit, the fact that it had leaves was the perfect symbol of a life steeped in hypocrisy. 

Israel, like the fig tree, claimed to be covered under the Righteousness of Yah. Israel, like the fig tree, appeared to be prosperous and secure. But Israel, like the fig tree, did not have the Fruit of the Holy Spirit. They claimed to belong to God, but their claim was merely hypocrisy. 

Messiah Himself had come and had personally tended the "fig tree" of Israel. But, if after being well-tended, a fig tree (representing a life claiming Christ) doesn't bear His good Fruit, it must be removed:

Luke 13:6-9 "A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? And he answering said unto him: let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it and dung it. And if it shall bear fruit, well and if not then after that thou shalt cut it down."
The parable was preceded by Messiah's words: "Except ye repent ye shall likewise perish". The explanation of this parable was obvious to the listeners. The owner of the vineyard is the God of Israel (Isaiah 5:7). The dresser is the Messiah, Who, through His ministry had been spiritually digging and fertilizing, so that the professed people of God would bear the fruit of God. 

But they, like the fig tree of Luke 13, were not responding to the tender care of the Master. Thus, the sad warning was clear. All who resist God's Grace, failing to be transformed into His Likeness and bear His Fruit, are hypocritical fig trees, who will ultimately be cursed, instead of blessed. Thus, the story of the fig tree is a warning to each of us to guard against hypocrisy.

It is not Yahweh's desire to curse - but to bless. Thus, the experience was actually a warning, with an opportunity to change. Let us heed the warning, and (by Gods' Grace) take the opportunity He has graciously offered. For it is God's Will to bless us, establish us, and see to it that we flourish.
Malachi 4:1-2  "For, behold, the Day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith Yahweh of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall."