At prayer meeting this week, we read Mark 11:12-26. There are two stories in this passage, related to each other. On his way into Jerusalem, Jesus curses a fig tree that has only leaves and no fruit. Then, he goes into the temple and throws out the businessmen who were crowding out the worship of God. Returning home from the city, Peter notices that the fig tree was already withered up!
The theme of this passage is the importance of fruitfulness. We should be always be bearing fruit for God, not merely displaying nice-looking religious foliage. This was the problem with Israel at the time: right there in the temple they were yielding the foliage of sacrifices, but there was no fruit of worship because everything was being done for commercial gain. As he had cursed the fruitless fig tree, now Jesus cursed the fruitless temple. A few days later, the temple’s veil was torn in two. A few decades later, the temple was destroyed.
So, we must be bearing fruit for God, otherwise we are under God’s chastisement, or even judgement. But how can we? It seems like an impossible task to understand and apply the Scriptures, grow in holiness, exhort others to do the same, evangelize, help the needy, build churches, conduct worship, influence society, and on and on.
This is the question tucked away in Peter’s exclamation: “Look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” Jesus answered that faith in God moves mountains. We know that he did not mean a literal mountain, because faith always looks to God’s promises and commands, and God has nowhere promised or commanded that we move a physical mountain. What he has promised is that:
It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it, and many peoples shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. (Isaiah 2:2-3)
This is the sort of mountain-moving that Jesus had in mind, and he says that we should express our faith in bold prayer: “whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Unbelieving prayer is fruitless, but faith-filled prayer is the way to fruitfulness.
How can we tell if our prayer is rooted in real faith? The best indicator is whether the desires we express in our prayers match the priorities we enact in our life. Jesus concluded by exhorting his disciples that when we pray we should be ready to forgive others, so that our Father in heaven may forgive our trespasses—including our fruitlessness.
Sunday school is at 9:45am.
The morning service is at 11:00am.
The evening service is at 5:00pm.
Prayer Meeting is on Wednesday evening at 7:15pm, at church and on Zoom.
Baby Shower for Momei: at the Hettervicks’ home on Saturday, January 15 at 11am.
Pulpit Swap: Next week, Pastor Goligher will be preaching at New Covenant OPC in South San Francisco. Our pulpit will be filled by Pastor Michael Grasso.
Congregational meeting: Our annual meeting will be held on Wednesday, January 26 at 7:00pm.
Teens Lunch: Teens are invited to the Golighers’ home for lunch on Sunday afternoon, January 30.
Snow rally: Teens are invited to the Snow Rally on February 25-26. This is a presbytery youth event, hosted in Sonora. Please let Pastor Goligher know if you would like to go.