Gracefully Truthful

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Discover the original intent of Scripture. Make good application to our everyday lives.
Become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

Read His Words Before Ours!

Mark 11:22-25

22 Jesus replied to them, “Have faith in God. 23 Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.

24 Therefore I tell you, everything you pray and ask for—believe that you have received it and it will be yours. 25 And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven will also forgive you your wrongdoing.”

The Original Intent

1) How is this section on faith and prayer related to the previous passages about the fig tree and cleansing the temple?

In verses 12-14, Jesus and His disciples come to a fig tree that has plentiful leaves, but no fruit. Fig trees simultaneously bear fruit while growing leaves; not one before the other. If there are leaves, there should be fruit.

Plus, it wasn’t even the season for figs, so no one could have come along and eaten all the fruit, leaving it empty when Jesus arrived. Jesus uses this tree as an illustration to show how the Jews, God’s chosen people, especially the Pharisees, were displaying plenty of leaves without any actual substance.

For all their knowledge about God, they still remained unchanged for God. In the temple scene, Jesus is righteously angry because His Father’s house, intended for prayer and communion between Himself and His people, had been turned into nothing more than a place for exchange of material goods.

It was fully self-seeking, having nothing to do with intimate communication of prayer. Then follows our section on prayer where Jesus’ teachings are meant to be viewed in strikingly vivid contrast to both of the previous scenarios.

The other two examples pointed to brokenness and misalignment of God’s intentional design, now Jesus teaches a better way.  

The Everyday Application

1) How is this section on faith and prayer related to the previous passages about the fig tree and cleansing the temple?

Without taking the time to study the context of this passage on prayer, it would be easy to walk away with some big misconceptions on these verses. But, when we couch Jesus’ words correctly in context of Mark’s other recordings of Jesus, we get a much clearer picture of what Jesus was really intending to teach.

As you spend time studying God’s Word, determine to be a good student of the Bible. Read verses in context of other, surrounding passages. Slow down and look for over-arching themes. Ask questions like, what does this passage teach me about God, about people, and finally, about me?

Get some good study tools to help you read God’s Word well like studylight.org or ask a pastor or trusted Christian friend for help as well. Studying Scripture does take intentional work, but it is always worth it! 

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The Original Intent

2) What is Jesus contrasting when He says, “Have faith in God”?

With the fig tree example fresh in their minds, and the image of Jesus overturning tables in the temple engraved in their memories, Peter remarks, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered!”

To which Jesus responds, “Have faith in God”. Jesus was pointedly teaching them that a relationship with God is foremost. No other idols, no other gods, only the One True God alone can satisfy. He is the only one who can bring true fruit from the inside out.

He is the one who brings fullness in your life that far exceeds material things. Intimacy with Him, communion with Him, loving surrender to Him while allowing Him to grow you in depth and richness and fullness is the only way to find true, meaningful life that isn’t fraudulent.

The Everyday Application

2) What is Jesus contrasting when He says, “Have faith in God”?

The disciples were learning, with physical examples right before their eyes, that Jesus was the only One worthy of their full faith and trust. Money would never be able to “buy” them intimacy with the Almighty; in fact, nothing material could.

Neither could any outward act or deed grant them the fullness of a flourishing life in Christ. Doing all the “right Christian things” is meaningless without a genuine relationship with Jesus. The best we can hope to accomplish with outward “modified-Christian-like” behavior is imitation at best, with no life-giving fruit.

Imitation that, at its core, is simply a pretty cover for ugly hypocrisy. (Matthew 23:27)

Where are you covering up with pretty leaves? Hoping no one will notice that your lovely foliage is all there is? Are you fearful of being “found out” or do you find yourself worrying that you aren’t doing “enough” to please God?

Rest assured that there is so much fullness waiting for you, and it all begins with faith in God.

The Original Intent

3) What does it mean to not “doubt in your heart”?

The Greek word for doubt is “διακρίνω” (pronounced: dee-ak-ree’-no) and it means literally to divide or discriminate, making a distinction.

James uses the same word in his letter when he also speaks of praying to God. “Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God—who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly—and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith without doubting…..(For the doubter) should not expect to receive anything from the Lord, being double-minded and unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:5-7) 

To doubt while praying is to be split in your heart, making a pre-judgement on whether God will hear and respond to you. Jesus calls us to pray with hearts full of unwavering “faith in God” and who He is.

The Everyday Application

3) What does it mean to not “doubt in your heart”?

A general lack of understanding about prayer, its purpose, and its effectiveness result in confusion when praying and wondering if it really matters anyways. Jesus’ teaching, as well as James’ through the Holy Spirit’s leading, remind us that prayer must first flow from a whole-heartedness, a 100% belief with no wavering.

A belief in what?
To use Jesus’ words, “faith in God.” (verse 22)

Prayer is intended to rely 100% on God and on His character, not in a specific outcome. Praying for healing, and believing wholeheartedly that God will do it in exactly the way you are laying out in your prayer, is not a faith-based prayer according to Scripture.

Praying with a heart of un-divided faith, lays our requests, from the very big ones to the very small ones (because nothing is un-important to the Father God –  Luke 12:6-7), trusting fully in WHO we are praying to.

We are trusting that the Lord hears us, that He knows our aches, our groanings, our joys, and our sorrows, and that He intimately cares about every single detail. This is the God to whom we pray! Additionally, we pray trusting in God’s character to do exactly what He sees as best. We trust that God will absolutely act in accordance with His good character.

To quote the great leader of the reformation, Martin Luther, “You should confidently expect from God one of two things: either that your prayer will be granted, or, if it is not granted, the granting of it would not be good for you.” ie: God will do a greater good in the not granting.

Herein, lies the battle to trust in God, and not in ourselves, our wisdom, our understanding, or our sense of need (Isaiah 55:8-9).

The Lord God invites us into prayer, He fights for that intimate relationship. (Mark 11:15-17) He welcomes us to approach Him confidently (Hebrews 4:16), reminding us that He cares about every detail, wanting our hearts and our tongues to become un-burdened with our cares at any moment of every day (1 Peter 5:7).

In the whole delightful process, He will show Himself to us, unveiling His heart for us, teaching us to become more like Him! Delight in prayer, beloved daughter of the Most High God!

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