Your purpose. Mark 11:12-25. WBC 7 Sept 03 pm
In the words of Diana Ross- ‘do you know where you’re going to?’
- not ultimately, when you die!
- > do you have a purpose here. Now. In this life.
- Do you know whey God is allowing you to stay, here?
The words “without a vision the people perish” is actually a poor translation of Prov 29:18
- is really more like “without the word of God people act in an unrestrained manner!”
o so- one purpose is to saturate yourself with God’s word/vocabulary!
- But it’s true none the less!
o It’s not hard work that kills people: it’s lack of purpose, significance, vision
You can just DIE unless you know what God has for you.
- do you know God’s purpose for your life?
Actually- what God has for you is similar to what He had for His Son. Listen to His purpose:
- Mk 1:38 “I have come to preach the Kingdom of God!
- Lk 19:10 the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”
- Lk 5;32 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance
- Mk 10:45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
- John 10;10 I have come that you may have life, and have it to the full.
- John 12:47 I did not come to judge the world, but to save it
Like Jesus knew His purpose, we need to know ours:
- Illustr: me speaking to boss about ‘need to know the larger picture, to motivate us’
- George Satayana “imagine people going to work day after day without knowing their company business – yet that’s exactly what happens when church members don’t know what the church is about”
Do you have a purpose? Do you know where you’re going to?
I want to show you what Jesus is looking for from you, tonight, from Mk11:12-25
- the story of the fig tree… with the REAL meaning of the passage sandwiched between the two mentions of the tree
1. FRUITFULNESS Vv12-14
Believe it or not, this passage shows God’s purpose for you, us as Christians… the church
- it’s in picture language
It’s all about figs. In fact, the region is called ‘Bethphage and Bethany’
- Bethphage means house of figs. = fig growing area
You might think Jesus is a bit unreasonable expecting fruit from the tree when (v13) “not the season for figs”
- but, in fact, there WOULD be figs on a good tree. The BEST Figs
- Jeremiah 24:1 Jer has a vision of exceptionally good figs (2 “One basket had very good figs, like those that ripen early”) and bad figs
- So- the main crop wasn’t there, yet- but there should have been the early figs… the best ones…
o Not least with all those leaves!
In fact: that’s the issue for Jesus- He goes to the tree, attracted by the leaves, but when He gets there- LEAVES are all there is. There’s no FRUIT!
- he curses the fig tree for it’s appearance of fruitfulness, promise of fruitfulness…. But lacking the REALITY
He’s looking for REALITY. And FRUIT. FRUITFULNESS
And, in fact- that’s exactly what happened with the temple and Judaism.
- this is an enacted parable of what He’s looking for from God’s people
o and what He’s going to do to God’s people
You see- in Scripture the Fig Tree is the classic picture of Israel. The people of God.
- a fig tree that is supposed to blossom. Produce fruit. Be a blessing to ALL nations of the earth
o that was God’s promise to the seed of the fig tree: Abraham
he received a blessing to BE a blessing
- And provide a HOUSE for all nations (the Temple)
What’s the Lord’s vision for you?
- to be fruitful. ‘You did not choose me… fruit that will last”
- what kind of fruit? – yes the fruit of the Spirit. But HERE:
o fruit of multiplication for the nations. The people
Illustr: Gives me such a buzz! Out for Drink with C Monday night. Within 15 mins “what’s this Alpha thing, then. I think my wife K wants to come”
- knock me down with a feather!
The externals don’t matter: the singing, ministry, preaching, the full programme
- although good and important!
o (I just won’t settle for less than God’s presence!)
- Isn’t it just possible to think ‘I’m so busy… even in church- but what’s the point? So what?!”
- It’s because God is looking for FRUIT. The fruit of multiplication. Of the nations. Of all people’s. We are made to multiply
- (sorry to say it again: it’s what you’re designed for and they need)
o all healthy things multiply
Many of us are elephants for Jesus, I’m telling you! When we should be rabbits
- Elephant fertile 4x a year. Rabbits are virtually constantly fertile
- Elephants: 1 baby. Rabbits ~ 7 babies
- E: 22 months gestation R: 1 month
- E: 18yrs before able to breed. R: 4 months
- An elephant can produce 1 offspring in 3 years. In 3 years one rabbit can lead to 476 million offspring!
“Multiplication! That’s the name of the game!” Be a rabbit for Jesus!
- not multiplication of ministries…. But of fruitful multiplication
We need FRUIT. Not leaves.
- and Jesus does not want our lives… leaves… to be cursed!
- HE bore the curse on a tree so our lives might be fruitful.
o And they CAN be
Do you have a purpose from God… vision for God- or are you really just messing around with this Jesus business?
2 FOREIGNERS v12 -15
Why Jesus was so grumpy was because the selfishness and greed of these so called ‘people of God’ was stopping others coming in!
- God fearers got mugged on their pilgrimage to the temple, by thieves in the caves along the way
- Then got mugged in the temple, in the court of the gentiles
o Where they could ‘buy all the things that made them acceptable to God’
He was enraged. What the ‘religious’ was doing was keeping the Seekers out!
- out of the ‘court of the gentiles’- a space specifically designed for them, to welcome them. Where they could come and pray
In fact- Jesus quotes Jeremiah 7.
- In it all the folks are going “oh, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord. How special. How precious” Jeremiah informs them- it’s become a den of robbers!
I wonder if this can be said it be true of our churches. We become preoccupied with consumerism, ourselves,… our fulfilment
- and we shut the door of heaven in other’s faces
Actually- you lot are really pretty good! Honest truth
- and it’s just as well. I don’t want to be part of a church that has
o no welcome
o no seekers… new figs…. In it
Let’s not become so preoccupied with ‘the temple of God’ that we forget the ‘God of the temple’ and His plans for it
- let’s welcome Him. Crave His presence. The cloud of His glory
o get the cloud, you get the crowd
Lets’ make space for Seekers… in our lives and in our church
- it’s what God designed us for
Illustr: K. Into fen Shui- but seeking!
So- here’s your purpose: to be fruitful…. In multiplying new life. To be welcoming to ‘foreigners’… and
3 FAITH v20-25
We’re back to the fig-tree, again.
- The bit about the foreigners was really the main emphasis of this passage, sandwiched between the two (parabolic) bits about the fig tree
Jesus says- the other thing you can learn from the fig tree is not only about FOREIGNERS, but also the power of faith
- almost seems arbitrary faith, doesn’t it… & the power of positive thought
o but I don’t think it is. See what it ACTUALLY says:
V22 “Have faith in GOD”
• THEN believe you have authority
o But it’s not just ‘blanket authority’/carte blanche
Because if you’re not right with your brother/sister it won’t happen (v25)
if you’re not right with God it won’t happen – you need to be cleansed, righteous (v25)
So- let’s not cop out, here. Here is a clear indication of something God has purposed you for
- if you are right with God, walking in holiness with Him and your brother..
o you have authority to move mountains
Is this literal? Can a Christian actually move a mountain?
- well. A lot of what Jesus said was parabolic, metaphorical
o but you’d expect ‘cursing a tree’ to be metaphorical, as well. Not literal
But it was Prophetic symbolism (so DID have a more significant meaning, not gratuitous)
AND it happened
- So- don’t cop out. The person who is right with and available to God COULD
o Walk on water. Get transported. Make exe heads float
If God wanted
We need to have faith in God and in His mighty power- and be prepared to ‘do exploits’ for Him
- and not let the church, world and devil stop us ‘believing that we have received it’ (v23)!
Illustr: Children know how to pray and believe. Clive H telling me about Nicaraguan kids. 2 hrs of intercession
- Mark Stibbe tells story about Japanese orphanage, on coast, hill behind, road on one side, and hi-rise on another- and nowhere to expand to! Missionaries go out to do fundraising, but the kids go out the back and apply what they’ve been taught. They pray that the hill will be removed
- Next day- bulldozers arrive and level it! The earth was needed… chosen… for ballast at a nearby wharf
- Missionaries came back to be astonished!
Apparently Smith Wigglesowrth used to try out on flies! (we can’t heal a fly, but God can!)
Don’t let anything rob you of this truth
But also- be aware,
- that the greatest miracle IS a changed life… fruit… conversion, actually
- that sometimes we plead, proclaim, speak words of authority… ask- and DON’T get what we ask for
o for all kinds of reason that I don’t understand.
- SOME of it, to me, is this element of the KOG not being here in fullness, yet. It’s not that God doesn’t want to. Jesus would!
o But WE are just not fully moving in that Kingdom dynamic, yet. And it’s not something you can force or ‘hype yourself’ into. You have to live, eat, breathe it- and we are not used to doing that.
- OFTEN it’s that we’re ‘commanding’ something that is not in the Lord’s will. You have to be close to Him, abide in Him, to command it. ‘Abide in me and ask whatever you will… you will bear much fruit’
And THIS is where the real faith is. Not when the mountain is moved, but when it isn’t. When the prayers don’t SEEM answered
- the person who has faith IN that has greater faith than the mountain mover
We walk a tightrope between the miracles that are wrought in the name of Christ, and the mystery of the Christian life
- BOTH are our experience.
- In BOTH we must walk by faith, and not by sight.
So- it comes down to faith and simple trust, again
But I would rather go on praying for the mountain to be moved… for the sick to be healed…. And ALL my friends to come on Alpha
- than not at ALL!
o I can’t help myself! It’s in my bones. It’s in my calling. It’s in my spirit. Because it’s in the Scriptures!
o Robin: 1/10 healed. ‘well, must pray for more’
I’m offering to ALL unbelievers at moment. (Peter)
Friends. Do you know where you’re going to? Do we know where we’re going to as a church. As the Edge?
- to fruitfulness. Multiplication. Rabbits for Jesus
- to foreigners. Led to the lost
- to faith. That can move mountains. And the rightness with god that produces that.
Songs: We shall stand with our feet on
Your eye is on the sparrow
You led me to the cross