What Good is a Figless Fig Tree?

Jesus Curses a Fig Tree

18 Early in the morning, as Jesus 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, “Truly I tell you, 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. Matthew 21

On the week before He died, Jesus cursed to withering a fig tree because it bore no fruit. You would think that everything that Jesus did, including lessons he taught, were particularly important in his final week. The withered fig tree is such a lesson. The purpose of a fig tree is to bear figs. What good is a fig tree that fails to do that? Our purpose is to bear fruit. What good is a Christian who fails to do so?

We like to think that fruit bearing is a pleasant extra. We are wrong. Failure to live up to our purpose, makes us worthless. Jesus could take his followers to heaven as soon as they take the first step in His direction. He doesn’t, because they have a purpose, a mission.

That purpose and mission had to be at the forefront of His mind as the date of His painful execution drew near. You would think that foreknowledge of everything that will happen would be a wonderful blessing. I bet Jesus didn’t think so on the Monday and Tuesday preceding the Friday of His death. As he cursed that tree, He had to have on His mind those of us whom He would call and save, but who would fail to produce a single fig for the Kingdom. Even knowing that, He moved on toward Friday.

Thank you Jesus. Isn’t the least I can do is to be a fruit bearing follower?

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NIck's been an attorney for 34 years, served as a pastor and blogs almost daily.

Nick’s been an attorney for 34 years, served as a pastor and blogs almost daily. nicksigur.com

Live or Die – Does it matter?

21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Philippians 1

Most of the time I can’t help but believe that Christians are full of it. By that I mean they are completely inconsistent. To a man they claim to await eagerly the return of Christ, praying for it to promptly occur. On the other hand, they cling to life ferociously. If we really, want to be with Christ, shouldn’t we as eagerly await death as we do his return?

Nevertheless, we pray for miracles for ourselves and others. We seek healing even after our lives have been full, our mission obviously complete, and we lay racked with pain and the despair of uselessness. I don’t get it. Well, maybe I do.

Is it that we don’t really believe the promises of Christ that to die is gain and to leave this life is to join Him in the next? I suppose upon His return we will have the evidence of His presence and we will be all in it together. The return itself being proof of the validity of the promise.

Death is more murky. Even if we trust the promises, we doubt we have completed the required checklist that assures that the promises apply to us. We scoff at the theology of once-saved-always-saved, but earnestly hope it is true.  We demean the universalist, yet hope the love and forgiveness of God is broad enough to include us.

What we really need is the assurance of Paul that to live is Christ and to die is gain. With that assurance there is no fear. Lives of courage flow from such assurance. Yet such assurance eludes most of us.  It ebbs and flows like the tides. In good times, we feel assured. When things go south, not so much.

It’s the central issue of the Christian life for which I wish I had the answer.

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NIck's been an attorney for 34 years, served as a pastor and blogs almost daily.

Nick’s been an attorney for 34 years, served as a pastor and blogs almost daily. nicksigur.com

Glorious Day

Sometimes the words of a song say it all:

Listen to the song. 

Jeff Johnson – Glorious Day Lyrics

One day when heaven
Is filled with His praises
One day when sin was as black as could be
Jesus came forth to
Be born of a virgin
He dwelt among men, my example is He

[Chorus:]

Living He loved me
Dying He saved me
Buried He carried my sins far away
Rising He justified
Freely forever
One day He’s coming
Oh, Glorious Day
Oh, Glorious Day

One day they led Him
Up Calvary’s mountain
One day they nailed Him
To die on a tree
Suffering anguish
Despised and rejected
Bearing our sins, my Redeemer is He

One day the grave could conceal Him no longer
One day the stone rolled away from the door
Then He arose o’er
Death He had conquered
Now is ascended
My lord evermore

[Chorus]
Oh, Glorious Day
Oh, Glorious Day

One day the trumpet will
Sound for His coming
One day the skies with His
Glories will shine
Wonderful day
My beloved was bringing
Glorious Savior this Jesus is mine

[Chorus]

Oh, Glorious Day
Oh, Glorious Day
Oh, Glorious Day
Oh, Glorious Day
Oh, Glorious Day
Oh, Glorious Day

One day the trumpet will
Sound for His coming
One day the skies with His
Glories will shine

 

The fact that THE Glorious Day is coming and coming soon, makes every day just a little bit glorious.  Be thankful for and enjoy THIS glorious day.

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NIck's been an attorney for 34 years, served as a pastor and blogs almost daily.

Nick’s been an attorney for 34 years, served as a pastor and blogs almost daily. nicksigur.com

If It’s Green It Must Be A Weed

Spring has sprung. The vast brownness of winter has given way to spring green. I have heard this season described as “If it’s green, it must be a weed.” It’s as if in its excitement to respond to warmer temperature and summer rains, everything comes charging out of the ground. On closer examination, what really looks good is mostly just weeds.

My front ditch looks like a rain forest. Our flower beds are covered in weeds. Even the lawn, to the extent it’s green, on closer examination, it isn’t so much grass as it is a variety of weeds.  You want to charge in with a weed eater and herbicide, but care is needed because the first shoots of the “good” plants are buried in with the weeds. Some of my worst spring disasters have occurred when in my weed killing frenzy I have destroyed some of my wife’s favorite plants.

The great thing about spring is newness. There is new life coming out all over. We seem to love newness. Like the spring growth, life produces new things which aren’t all great. There are more new weeds in our lives than anything else.

We are suckers for the new, new clothes, new friends, new cars. We even like the “new” in the spiritual: new churches, new teachers, new ideas, new theology. The truth is there isn’t really much new that’s better than the truth recorded centuries ago in the scriptures. New ideas tend to be more things we hope are true and not things that are truly true. We want “truths” that will allow us an easier path. We want to be able to hold on to more of our life. We want new life without anything dying. We want to hear much about forgiveness and little about repentance. We want to hear about empty graves and not carrying crosses. We want to bring a message that the world is eager to hear and not one that it needs to hear.

Spring brings a need for cleaning, not just our messy houses and our weed choked gardens. We need to go through our lives, our belief systems, our value systems. We need to weed out that which is not true and embrace, water and encourage the really valuable true plants that bring not just life, but life worth living.

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NIck's been an attorney for 34 years, served as a pastor and blogs almost daily.

Nick’s been an attorney for 34 years, served as a pastor and blogs almost daily. nicksigur.com

Ungrateful Child

On rare occasions I have a brief period of amazing clarity. In these flashes the normally cloudiness of spiritual life lifts and I seem to be able to see things clearly. Regretfully, if I look into a mirror during these brief periods, I see an ungrateful child, me.

During most times, I seem to consider myself put upon, poor, old, and ugly. It’s not mysterious why this is the case. Look around, particularly at the media. It seems everyone is young, beautiful, rich, and living a life of ease. I like to laugh at the Housewives of Beverly Hills, but deep down we think that most folks live like them.

The reality is so much different. If you work for minimum wage in America, you would probably be considered wealthy in most of the third world. For most of the world’s people, how they look is the least of their worries. In much of the world, folks don’t worry about living to an old age, they just want to live through the day.

The reality is that I have a great life. I have a wonderful family. I make a good living not working really that hard. I will probably live longer than most folks in world-wide. I have almost unlimited opportunities to make a difference and reach some degree of life satisfaction. The task is to hold fast to those truths. To live in thanksgiving for them and to give back in proportion to how I’ve been gifted.

What about you?

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NIck's been an attorney for 34 years, served as a pastor and blogs almost daily.

Nick’s been an attorney for 34 years, served as a pastor and blogs almost daily. nicksigur.com

Greater Things

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have done, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. John 14:12

As followers we seek to be more like Jesus, who we follow. We certainly want to adopt his servanthood humility. However, Jesus is God. Can we become more like the fully God Jesus?

The wonder of the new birth is that our spirituality is awakened. We become children of God. With that comes incredible capacity; even the capacity to do the things Jesus did and more.  Consider the awesome responsibility. If we believe we should live up to our capacity, do we understand how incredible that capacity is?

It’s a tight path we walk, recognizing that we have great capacity, but realizing that capacity comes, not from us, but from Him. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

We are far different from those who think they are gods. Those folks take pride in what they consider is a natural state that just has to be recognized. “We are all gods.” The Christian recognizes his spiritual capacity is a gift from God which flows from the new birth that comes from following. We do nothing on our own. All we do, we do in Him. It’s what makes us potent servants.

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NIck's been an attorney for 34 years, served as a pastor and blogs almost daily.

Nick’s been an attorney for 34 years, served as a pastor and blogs almost daily. nicksigur.com

66

Come and hear, all you who fear God;
    let me tell you what he has done for me. Psalm 66:16

Yesterday was my sixty-sixth birthday. I must say it lacked the drama of my sixty-fifth birthday. Number 65 was a big deal. This one, not so much. I got just a handful of “happy birthdays” on Facebook. I was overwhelmed with well-wishers last year. My wife gave me an outfit obviously designed to make me look younger. I haven’t tried it on. I don’t know if I will be able to handle her disappointment if it doesn’t have the desired youth producing effect.  Sixty-six just isn’t as sexy as sixty-five.

I got tons of mail last year as everyone seemed to be trying to sell me a medicare supplement. This year I just got a bill for the supplement.

Last year I was often asked about retirement. This year it was kind of like, who cares. Are you still around?

Trying to find some meaning in the birthday I turned to Google. The only thing significant about the number 66 seems to be old Route 66 which runs from Chicago to Los Angeles. It used to be a road of high adventure, travelled by biker gangs and snow birds trying to escape the brutal Chicago winters. There was once a television series called Route 66, but most of you are too young to remember and too busy to care.  Age 66, seems to have none of the adventure or romance of the famous highway, too bad.

I turned to scripture and looked at Psalm 66. It’s pretty upbeat. I guess it is summarized in verse 16. “Let me tell you what he has done for me.” He’s done a lot. It’s been an awesome 66 years full of love and family and blessings, lots of chance to serve and to see Him do marvelous things. I had a doctor’s appointment today. Looks like chances are I may have some more years of blessing and adventure. That’s great.

I started to google “67,” but I wasn’t sure I could take the excitement. One year at a time is the way I roll.

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NIck's been an attorney for 34 years, served as a pastor and blogs almost daily.

Nick’s been an attorney for 34 years, served as a pastor and blogs almost daily. nicksigur.com

Following

Make my joy complete by being of a single mind, one in love, one in heart and one in mind. Nothing is to be done out of jealousy or vanity; instead, out of humility of mind everyone should give preference to others, everyone pursuing not selfish interests but those of others. Make your own the mind of Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, did not count equality with God something to be grasped. But he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, becoming as human beings are; and being in every way like a human being, he was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross.

–Philippians 2:3-8

Having decided that following Jesus is the only way to go, how exactly do we do that? We know it’s more than a social media follow. We are not just interested in Jesus. It’s not just fan; it’s follower. Following Him means becoming like Him. How is that possible. He’s God. We can’t see Him. He’s seated at the right hand of the Father. Is following the Son of God even possible? Is it just a carrot dangled before us that we can never reach?

It’s certainly impossible on our own, but we are not on our own. We have helps that make following possible.

We have the Word which reveals Jesus from first verse to the last. It shows us Him as Messiah of Prophecy, Incarnate Babe, Suffering Servant, Savior and Soon Returning King. Though His Word, He is more knowable than any other person in history, living or dead.

We don’t just have a written record We have living help. The promised Helper indwells and makes Jesus not just a knowable historic character, but real and intimately close. He teaches, comforts, directs and inspires. He makes the spiritually impossible, possible.

Of all the attributes of Christ for us to know and adopt, the most important one is His humility.  The first and continuing step of being like Christ is a humility that achieves death of self. [O]ut of humility of mind everyone should give preference to others, everyone pursuing not selfish interests but those of others. Make your own the mind of Christ Jesus:

Sin has made us above all selfish. Jesus is above all selfless. Remember that Jesus told us that we would be known as His by how we loved each other. Real love is seeking the interest of others and not ourselves.  The Holy Spirit draws us to Jesus. Teaches us humility. Draws us to Christ in others. In others we find Christ’s love demonstrated to us and through us. We abandon selfishness and learn selflessness.

As we gather tomorrow on the Lord’s day, let’s do so with following in mind. Let’s worship with a goal of focusing on God and remembering how great He is and how small we are. Let’s move to thanksgiving that as insignificant as we are He seeks a relationship with us. But Sunday isn’t just a God and us thing. It’s a vertical and horizontal experience. Let’s look around. Let’s see Jesus in our brothers and sisters. Let’s also see the need to be Jesus to others. Let’s be the living, loving church Jesus envisioned. Let’s start by being Jesus to each other and then to the world.

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NIck's been an attorney for 34 years, served as a pastor and blogs almost daily.

Nick’s been an attorney for 34 years, served as a pastor and blogs almost daily. nicksigur.com