How to Defeat Your Problems
When we read the “parable of the fig tree,” one should immediately start asking questions. For instance, “Why would Jesus curse the fig tree?” And, “Why did Jesus go to the fig tree expecting to find figs on it if it wasn’t the season for figs?” Since I am a curious person, when I see a story like this that doesn’t appear to make sense, I start asking questions. Howbeit, through my study of the scriptures, I have come to understand that everything Jesus did in the natural realm during His three years of ministry on earth, He did to teach a life lesson through which His disciples were expected to learn a spiritual principle; and if they didn’t understand something He did or said, they were to ask questions. There were times He demonstrated the same lesson more than once, for example, feeding the four thousand and the five thousand men, not counting women and children; and the two different sea crossings. Both of these stories are found in the Gospel of John. Since there were spiritual principles involved in these demonstrations that was so important for the disciples to understand; Jesus demonstrated them until His disciples got the understanding He wanted them to obtain. When we understand Jesus never did anything without a reason, and when we search for the reason, we will discover the truth behind that particular teaching. Jesus was dealing with natural men; so He used natural things they were familiar with to teach them a spiritual principle that would help them through their most trying of times after He was gone from the earth.
The lack of food in the story of the feeding of the five and four thousand, and the barren fig tree represent a need, such as a shortage of food, money, etc, people encounter in life as a Christian. They will have to learn to overcome such situations by looking to Jehovah Jireh, our Provider, instead of their lack, if they want to live in victory and fulfill their purpose in God’s Kingdom. Let’s go the story of the fig tree in [John 11:12-14] and learn how to deal with a problem. “Now the next day, when they had come from Bethany, He (Jesus) was hungry. And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He went to see if perhaps He could find something on it. When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs.” In response, Jesus said to the tree, “Let no one eat fruit from you ever again.” and His disciples heard it…” Now let us skip down to [John 11:20-26] and read the conclusion to this story, “Now in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. And Peter, remembering, said to Him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree which you cursed has withered away.” So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God,” For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive them; that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven, forgive your trespasses.”
Jesus informs us in [John 16:33b], “In this world you shall have tribulation, (unexpected problems that arise) but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Or, in other words, “I have demonstrated for you how to deal with problems.” As surely as God made little green apples, we will have problems in this life, and if Jesus had left us hanging without providing an answer for them, we would have no hope and be forced to live defeated lives. But in the above scriptures, we see that Jesus begins His teaching by telling us first and foremost; the place to begin solving our problems is by “Having faith in God.” If we do not have ‘Faith in God’, there can be no victory for man. Paul tells us why in [Ephesians 6:10-14a] “Finally, my brethren,(my fellow Christian’s) be strong in the Lord (full of Faith in God)and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles (evil desires) of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts (forces) of wickedness in the heavenly places.(the spiritual realm)therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, (this present time) and having done all to stand. Stand therefore…” (My parenthesis.) In these verses of scripture Paul is telling us someone is behind the problems we encounter in life, and if we are to defeat those problems; we will have to understand where our problems originate, and we will have to deal with the source of the problem.
Next, we see that for us to defeat our problems, we begin by speaking words to the problem. How many times was the word ‘say’ mentioned in the “Parable of the fig tree?” Jesus spoke to the wind and the waves to calm the sea and the fear of His disciples in the sea crossings. And after He received the bread and fish, He looked up to heaven, gave thanks to God, blessed or spoke to the bread and fish, broke them, and then distributed them to His disciples to be distributed to the hungry people. Notice Jesus told His disciples in the story above, that after they spoke to the problem, they were not to, “doubt in their heart, but believe that those things they said would be done, they would have whatever they say.” This confidence comes from knowing that God is always for us, and that He hears all of our prayers. If we do not understand (fully believe) these two things, doubt will creep into our hearts and minds and we will not win over our problems. Jesus continues, “believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” Now Jesus continues with perhaps the most important part of gaining the victory over our problems. “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive them; that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.” Here is the key element in gaining victory over our problems. We have to forgive if we have anything against anyone. Jesus made it very clear that we will not receive victory over our problems if we cannot forgive our neighbors for their sins against us with His last statement in the lesson. “But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven, forgive your trespasses.” Here is another tidbit of information: “Faith (Having Faith in God)works by love.” And “Love operates through our willingness to forgive.” If we do not forgive a person of their sins against us, we do not love them, and the unforgiveness in our heart (spirit) over time will turn to bitterness, and steal from us not only our victory, but the joy of our salvation.
Next let us take a look at the fig tree and why Jesus cursed it. Very simply, the fig tree was not fulfilling its role in creation – which was to bear figs to meet the needs of man. And if a person is not fulfilling the role we were created to fulfill, we become like the barren fig tree that was robbing nutrients in the soil from other fruit producing trees. Do you understand? The non-fig bearing tree was a taker, a user, stealing the much needed nutrients from the other trees, thus the amount of fruit the other fruit trees should be producing would be reduced. Therefore in all actuality, because the barren fig tree was not doing its job of producing figs, it was good for nothing, and the owner should have removed it and replaced it with another tree that would produce fruit. Do you see the role of the Christian in this story? To other people this barren fig tree might not have been a problem, but in the Kingdom of God which Jesus brought to earth, it was not fulfilling the purpose for which it was created. And if it wasn’t fulfilling its purpose for being, it was good for nothing but to be cursed and burned. Are you making the connection between the purpose of the fig tree, and the Christian life? Do you understand why Jesus stressed in [John 4:35b-36] “Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white (ripe) for harvest! And he who reaps receives wages, and gather fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together.” The Christian’s purpose is to sow love and to reap lost souls that they might receive wages. When we do not fulfill our role in God’s kingdom of sowing and reaping souls; do we really think God will be anymore pleased with us than He was with the barren fig tree? Our eternal future hangs on our actions, not on our words.
Next, the barren fig tree represented something in the life of a Christian that is not producing as it should. It could be your business, your income, whatever it might be, it represents a problem that needs to be dealt with. Notice what Jesus did: He spoke to the tree and went on His way. He didn’t hang around to see if what He said to the tree was going to take place. And He didn’t run back to the tree an hour or so later to see if the tree was dying. But while He was away doing other things, the words He had spoken to the tree was working on the tree. The barren fig tree in this story represents our problems which come in two parts; the part of the problem we can see, and the part we can’t see that is feeding the problem. Notice the roots of a tree is the part of the tree that is hidden from sight and from which the portion of the tree above ground that we can see draws its sustenance. The words Jesus spoke began working on the root system that couldn’t be seen, and continued working its way up to the upper most leaves at the very top of the tree. When we attack our problems the way Jesus attacked this tree, we will see a significant difference in the results we have been getting. Remember, Paul told us in Ephesians chapter six that someone is behind our problems, and that someone isn’t God, but he is spiritual and he is the source that is feeding the part of our problem we can see. Satan is the author of our problems, and it is with Satan (the root) that we must take issue. Since Satan is an angel spirit, and God’s Word is Spirit, we have to use God’s Word to defeat Satans work. We cannot defeat Satan with our flesh or use fleshly actions because flesh is no match for spiritual foes. Satan has to be dealt with on a spiritual level. That is why Jesus spoke to the barren fig tree and cursed it in front of His disciples. They had to learn the power of words and see the effectiveness our words will have on our problems if we trust in God. [Proverbs 18:21] “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Upon their return, Peter noticed the dead fig tree; Jesus then explained to them how His Words had killed the tree, and how they would deal with their own problems after He was gone. DThrash