Summary: Discussion of being fruitful for God
What We Can Learn from a Dead Fig Tree
(Part 1 – Being Fruitful for God)
July 6, 2008
NOTE: THE ME/WE/GOD/YOU/WE FORMAT USED IN MY MESSAGES IS BORROWED FROM ANDY STANLEY’S BOOK, "COMMUNICATING FOR A CHANGE."
Me: I gave my life to Jesus in the fall of 1982. I was a freshman at SDSU, 18 years old, and thought I was God’s gift to music and women.
As I matured a bit, I found out that I was God’s gift to music like Barry Manilow was God’s gift to heavy metal.
And I found out that I was God’s gift to women like Yugos were a gift to automotive excellence.
I was the “Yugo” of studliness in college.
I mention that because as I came to these realizations, I also started having doubts that God could really make me a good Christian or that I could be effective for Jesus.
In other words, would I amount to anything for God – would I make a difference for Him?
We: The word that I would use for my desire would be “fruitfulness.”
If you’re a follower of Jesus, then I believe God puts something in you that makes you want to be fruitful for God – maturing in your own faith and touching the lives of others for Christ.
I think that those who are serious about Jesus find that just obtaining forgiveness of sins and a home in heaven isn’t enough.
We want to be people who mature and make a difference for Jesus.
And we all struggle with that from time to time, whether you’re new to faith in Christ or if you’ve been walking with Jesus a long time.
For the new person, it’s a very natural struggle because you’re still trying to just get a handle on what it means to live for Jesus.
But for others, it can be a question on whether we’ve passed our time of fruitfulness – sort of like a professional athlete who only has so many years to play until his body says, “Retire, already, man!” And their years of “fruitfulness” on the playing field are over.
Well the good news is that you can be fruitful from day one of your life in Christ and you can be fruitful until your dying breath.
But is this fruitfulness thing really a big deal? Is fruitfulness really that important to God?
God: Our passage in Scripture would tell us that it is.
Matthew 21:18-22 (p. 698) –
18 Early in the morning, as he was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. 19 Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, "May you never bear fruit again!" Immediately the tree withered.
20 When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. "How did the fig tree wither so quickly?" they asked.
21 Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ’Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. 22 If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer."
There are two big issues that Jesus seems to be bringing here with the tree: being fruitful for God and faith in prayer.
Today I want to discuss the first of these, and it’s what I think Jesus is addressing in verses 18-19: