Jesus Curses the Fig Tree

series: A week to live

title: Jesus Curses the Fig Tree

date: April 9, 2017

teacher: Jacob Bender

scriptures: Mark 11:12-25, Luke 6:40, Luke 11:11-14, 2 Chronicles 7:14, Matthew 25:14-30, Ezekiel 17, Mark 11:27

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#2 Busyness

series: Thawing

title: Busyness

date: January 15, 2017

teacher: Jacob Bender

scriptures: Mark 4:2-20, Psalm 46:10 (mentioned), John 14:26 (mentioned), Jeremiah 31:33, Hebrews 10:16 (mentioned), 1 Timothy 5:8, Proverbs 11:29, Matthew 27:50-51, Matthew 11:30

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#5 Resting

Series: Realities

PLEASE NOTE: This book was written by a 20th century Jewish Rabbi and takes the Jewish perspective.

PLEASE NOTE: This book was written by a 20th century Jewish Rabbi and takes the Jewish perspective.

Title: Resting

Teacher: Jacob Bender

Date: October 18, 2015

scriptures: Deuteronomy 5:12-15, Exodus 20, Exodus 31:15-17, Genesis 2:7, Genesis 2:2-3, 2 Chronicles 36:18-21, Exodus 16, Mark 2:27, Hebrews 4:1

The word sabbath is the Hebrew word “shabbath” (sha-baath) and it means “To cease.”

The Old Testament speaks of different kinds of Sabbaths. There is, of course the 7th day of the week. A day of rest. That is what we know as “The Sabbath Day” – then there is something called the Sabbath Year… and it was the same concept as the Sabbath Day, but it was the 7th year… and every 7th year, the Israelites were commanded to take an entire year off from labor. And then on the seventh year of the seventh set of years, so it would be “every 7th sabbath year” was something called “The Year of Jubilee” which we are going to talk about in the series we are doing in December so I won’t get into it today, but its absolutely incredible. But the point is that God laid out all of these incredible structures to make sure that his people were okay. Because nobody can go and go and go and still maintain sanity. So he said, every seventh day, rest. Every seventh year, really rest. Vacation. Stop everything, and let me show you that even when your world is paused, the world I created keeps producing. God commanded them (Leviticus 25) to not even work the land. Give the land a break, for a whole year.

Now, if you do a little research, even now, studies have shown that the even today, land will produce more if every seven years you allow it to rest. Over the course of the next seven years, you would get more out of your land by letting it rest the seventh, and then working it the next sixth, than you would by working it all seven. God knows what he is doing.

But this is how human minds think… We like to think we have faith, but we don’t like actually relinquishing control as if we truly have faith. So we hear, “take a day off…” or even, “take a year off…” and we think, “That sounds great, but too much would fall apart during that time. If we don’t work the land for an entire year, there will be no harvest, and there will be nothing new to grow.”

Whatever that may look like in our lives… Take a day off…

“yeah, but if I am mid-project, I have to finish this, and then I will rest.”

Take a day off… “Yeah, but its “4 days” this week, so I will make sure to take a day off next week.”

And so we go and we go, until what happens? We start getting sick. We start not functioning at the capacity that we know we are capable of… our work sort of starts to fall apart, our bodies begin to deteriorate, and before long we are FORCED to take a significant period of time off.

Have you ever seen that happen to someone?

Has that ever happened to you?

I obviously, being a pastor, am most familiar with that church world, but i see this happen to pastors ALL THE TIME. A lot of people have no idea that they are going through it, but they have moments when they feel like they are literally dying.

and they end up in the hospital, and nobody can figure out what is wrong with them. And suddenly they are forced to take extended periods of time off, and I can’t help but wonder, in the back of my mind, if those moments are God just getting his days back.

God saying, “if you won’t break, I will make you break. You haven’t taken a day off in 14 weeks, so now you won’t work for 14 days.”

You may say to me, “God wouldn’t do that.” But remember, this day is Holy. This day is set apart. There is more to this day than we think. This is one of the most significant issues in the whole bible. Let me tell you about what God allowed to happen to Israel.

You see, God gave them this command. A day off… and every 7th year, a year off.

They heard the command, take a sabbath. Give the land a sabbath.

But nobody actually does that, right? We don’t rest.

Now, this is incredible.

They plowed the land anyway. On that seventh year, they relied on their own strength, just like we do so well today. And instead of trusting God, they plowed. They worked the land. They gave the land no rest and they took non themselves.

And they did this for 490 years. 490 years went by, and Israel never, once took a Sabbath year as the Lord had commanded. And perhaps after 490 years they thought, “Ok, we are doing just fine.”

But then something happened. Something that the bible makes very clear that God allowed to happen, and we have talked about it a couple of times before briefly, and we won’t get into to much today either… but The Israelites are attacked, and they are captured and put into exile in a place called Babylon.

A place different than all they had ever known.

And do you know how long they were in Exile for? Does anyone know?

70 years.

70 years they were removed from the land that they refused to let rest, and became slaves to a godless ruler.

They become slaves. While the land enjoyed her sabbath.

For 490 years they did not honor the command to let the land rest every seventh year, but God said “the Sabbath is Holy. It is set apart. Its unavoidable.

The Israelites owed God 70 Sabbath years, and he got them all at once.

Look at what 2 Chronicles 36:18-21, this is talking about the Israelites and how they were attacked, captured and taken into exile.

All the vessels of the house of God, great and small, and the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king and of his princes, all these he brought to Babylon. And they burned the house of God and broke down the wall of Jerusalem and burned all its palaces with fire and destroyed all its precious vessels. He took into exile in Babylon those who had escaped from the sword, and they became servants to him and to his sons until the establishment of the kingdom of Persia, to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its Sabbaths. All the days that it lay desolate it kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years. 

The word “enjoyed” is the Hebrew word “ratsah” (rawt saw) and it actually means “to satisfy a debt.”

Do you see this?

You can’t cheat God out of what is his. You can’t. This is not about grace. This is about Holiness. Can you skip a sabbath day and still be saved? Yes. Of course. But you won’t live a Holy life, and you will live a shorter life than you should. God told us that this covenant will last forever. This must be kept forever, it will go on and on and on forever, because this is Holy. If you want to be Holy, you must keep the Sabbath.

#9 Gentleness

Series: The Fruit of the Spirit
Title: Gentleness
Teacher: Jacob Bender
Date: August 30, 2015

scriptures: Luke 22:24-30, Isaiah 55:8-9, Acts 17:6, John 14:6, Acts 24, Luke 22, Matthew 5, Psalm 37:1-13, Proverbs 15:1, Romans 12:19, Acts 7:22, Exodus 2:13, Exodus 3:1, Exodus 4:1-12, Acts 7:22, James 4:6, 1 Corinthians 9:22, Revelation 5:1-10, Isaiah 29:19

William Barclay wrote in his Daily Study Bible, that the Greek word praotēs (the word that we translate as “Gentleness”) is the most untranslatable word of all of the Fruit of the Spirit, so tackling its meaning is no small task. So, here is my best try at explaining it.

Gentleness can also be translated as “meekness.” And we know that the “meek” shall inherit the earth. But who, or what, are the meek?

When Jesus says this (Matthew 5:5) he is quoting Psalm 37 when King David says “The Meek shall inherit the land.” When King David wrote this, the Hebrew word that he used is the word”anawin” 

Primarily, unlike the other words we have been studying, anawin is not a word used to describe a moral or even necessarily a character trait.

At least right here in Psalms, the Psalm that Jesus is quoting in “The Beatitudes,” Its more to describe a group of people. The word I want to use is counter culture but that really doesn’t do it justice… It is more like the voiceless. It is the people who lack the social status, the power, the money. Its the poor, the vulnerable, the outcast, the marginalized. They are the people with no voice. They don’t control anything, they are not Caesar, and never in a million years would they even be able to gain the ear of Caesar for him to hear even their most valuable petition.

These are the people who are the least likely of everyone, to ever inherit any sort of kingdom, or any sort of authority, they are in no succession of royalty and will never have the throne and yet they are the ones who Jesus says, in quoting the Psalmist, will inherit the earth.

And that leads us to the New Testament, where we have Jesus quoting this amazing Psalm in Matthew 5, and in the Greek language that the New Testament is written in the word Matthew used there is the word praÿs

Blessed are the praÿs for they shall inherit the earth.

Which is the same word (different tense) that Paul uses when he is listing the fruit of the spirit, that modern bibles translate as gentleness, and The King James version translates it “meekness” it is the word praotēs, that “most untranslatable of words” according to Barclay.

It seems, by definition to be pretty self explanatory. If you were to search the meaning the words you would immediately find are: gentleness, mildness, or meekness, but where it comes from gives us a little different perspective.

The word comes from a wild animal, that has been tamed. (see Barclay commentary, Matthew 5:5) – For example, a couple of months ago we partnered with a great church from Down River and did “Bless Fest” in Patton Park, and it was awesome. And all of my children, including my one year old daughter, were able to ride on horses. They were thrilled, they absolutely loved it.

But how is it that both my three year old AND even my one year old, tiny daughter, could ride on a horse that weighed 50 times as much as they do… A horse that was completely capable of at any moment throwing her off of its back and crushing her… Yet it didn’t?  and we trusted it not to?

Because it had learned to restrict its power. 

But not only was it holding back on what it was capable of, but it had learned how to hold back so well, that it’s first instinct was now nurturing. It’s first instinct was to gently walk with the child on its back. It’s first instinct was to be gentle even though it was the largest and strongest creature in whole the place.

That concept is where we get the word gentleness from. What Paul is saying, essentially, is this: make yourself like the anawin. Maybe you have the strength, but God gives grace to the humble…. Because it is the people who are broken for Him that He can use.

With that, I encourage you to watch the whole sermon or read the PDF if you would like to learn more about “Gentleness” and what it means for us today.