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Leafy Religion

Words of Faith Final

Leafy Religion
Words of Faith 2-22-2024
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2024
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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Mark 11
[12] The next day, as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. [13] Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. [14] Then he said to the tree, "May no one ever eat fruit from you again." And his disciples heard him say it…
[19] When evening came, they went out of the city.
[20] In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. [21] Peter remembered and said to Jesus, "Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!"

And now, for the rest of the story. Apparently, more was going on than simply a revelation about the humanity of Christ. To understand the withering of the fig tree, we must know a bit more about the timing and the plant itself.
Passover occurs in the middle of the month of Nisan or April. In Palestine, fig trees produce crops of tiny edible buds in March, followed by the appearance of large green leaves in early April. These early green buds were a typical food for local peasants. The absence of these buds, despite the tree's green foliage, indicated it would bear no fruit that year. Eventually, these buds dropped off when the usual crop of figs formed and ripened in late May and June, the fig season. It was reasonable for Jesus to expect to find something edible on that fig tree shortly before Passover, even though it was not the season for figs.
What we don't want to miss is that the tree and the fruit symbolize something else. Jesus' rebuke of the tree was a dramatic prophetic sign of God's impending judgment on Israel, not an angry reaction because Jesus was hungry and found no food. The promising but unproductive fig tree symbolized Israel's spiritual barrenness despite their religion's divine favor and impressive outward appearance. God was hungry to find the fruit of righteousness in Israel, but it was not found. The cleansing of the Temple amid this episode showed just how bad things were.
Here is the question: Do we have the leafy appearance of religion in our lives without the genuine fruit of God's Spirit? Do we have inviting leaves that look good from a distance but, upon examination, are nothing more than show? Do we have the trappings of faith without the reality of a vital relationship with the Lord?
If we are honest with ourselves, we realize how easy it is to say the right words and go through the motions of religion. We can even say the latest catchwords and phrases. We may even sway and sigh a little during prayer when, deep inside, we know that our hearts have grown cold and there is no fruit to go along with our leafy appearance.
Fortunately, there is an alternative to the curse. It is called revival. Jesus loves to make things come alive. He did not come to curse but to give life. Jesus said: "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me, you can do nothing (John 15:5)." Even when our coldness is hidden deep within religious trappings, He can make us alive.

Lord, may the sap of Your Spirit flow through me. May the life of Your Spirit so run through me that I cannot help but bear the fruit of Your Spirit. Renew me. Revive me. Restore me. In Jesus' name, Amen.

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© Jeffrey D. Hoy 2024
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy - Faith Fellowship Church (EFCA)
2820 Business Center Blvd.
Melbourne, Florida 32940 (321)-259-7200
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The Words of Faith devotion is published five days a week by E-mail, excluding Federal holidays. Please feel free to forward this devotion to a friend who might be blessed by this devotion. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is quoted from the New International Version (R) of The Holy Bible. Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. Words of Faith (c) 1997, 2024 Jeffrey D. Hoy. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward this copyrighted material or use portions of it with appropriate notation of the source for non-profit purposes.