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Refreshment in Refuge

    by Gina Burgess

Of Prayers and Fruit
Date Posted: August 30, 2015

Jesus had a huge problem with the moneychangers because they were sticklers for Law rather than ministers to the people’s needs. When those scribes and Pharisees asked, “By what authority do you do these things?” Jesus uses the same source as He did with Satan… “It is written.” Reformation is always right, when laws corrupted by humankind are reduced to their primitive institution; in other words, going back to basics of the Ten Commandments, or rather to God’s literal words. In this case, to God’s decree that His house is a house of prayer.

This comes from Isaiah 56:6-7 and is prophecy that God opens His arms to all those, Jew and Goyim alike, who come into His house with praise and thanksgiving.

They could have taken all the tithes without making the people exchange the coins. Money is money, so to speak. Therefore, having bake sales or country stores to raise money for various church activities is not sinful in God’s eyes. It is when people lie, cheat, and blatantly steal from their siblings in Christ that brings about chastisement from God Almighty.

Perhaps not so amazingly when the children were crying out “Hosanna” in the Temple as Jesus healed the sick, lame, blind, and deaf, the scribes and Pharisees were greatly indignant and infuriated. Not only was Jesus in the right, but they couldn’t deny the miracles He performed in front of their eyes. They couldn’t duplicate the miracles, and their lack of compassion was like a beacon to the coldness of their hearts. They had gotten caught up in “leading the people,” but had neglected to minister and care for them. The hole this created in their leadership and dug by their own hands was too great a chasm to be crossed. So that got angry with the one who highlighted their deficiencies. That is just so human!

And again Jesus went back to the original and said to them, “Yes. Did you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings You have perfected praise?’” (Psalm 8:2-3)

His work in the Temple done, Jesus turned His back on them and left them standing there alone without peace, without comfort, and without healing. Let no such fate befall you!

The next day He walked up to a fig tree to eat some fruit because He was hungry. And seeing one fig tree by the road, He went up to it, and found nothing on it except leaves only. And He said to it, Let there be no more fruit from you forever. And the fig tree immediately dried up. Matthew 21:19

Years ago when Hurricane Charley blasted through Florida, my cousin's grapefruit tree was six years old and was about to bear some fruit. Charley ravaged it badly. In the following year, it leafed out beautifully, but no fruit. My cousin consulted an arborist who told her the tree was sacrificing its fruit so that it could survive, and it might take several more years before it finally bore fruit. Survival of itself was more important to the tree thanbearing fruit and its own procreation.

However, to God, fruit is the purpose, not the tree. The lesson from Jesus? No fruit... no life. There is always the possibility that a believer will become useless to God. If there is no fruit to nourish those God puts in our paths, what use are we?

Jonah blathers about Nineveh’s repentance and pouts on a hill. God causes a vine to grow that protects Jonah from the scorching sun and the beating heat. Then God causes a worm to eat the vine, the vine withers and Jonah, fainting from the sun and heat, pouts even more. I can see God shaking his head at Jonah.

“Don’t you get it yet, son?” God asks. “You have pity for a plant that lasted 24 hours, how much more pity I have on the more that 120,000 innocents of Nineveh who do not know their right hand from their left hand." God gave those innocents mercy and grace, and the people of Nineveh repented of their wickedness, turning to the One True God. Though they did not deserve it, they had Grace. While they were yet sinners, God gave them a chance to live for Him. Those people of Nineveh were just like that grapefruit tree and the fig tree. One hundred years after Jonah pouted under a withered vine, the great city that Nimrod built and that Sennacherib made even greater and more lavish crumbled under the heel of Nebopolassar, a Babylonian leader. It was destroyed just as God told Jonah to prophesy that would happen if they did not repent.

They did repent, and God relented, but then they did not secure their grandchildren’s future salvation from God’s wrath. The prophet Nahum cried out against Nineveh... A nation that had the opportunity to bear huge amounts of fruit, but went back to worshiping gods that had no eyes to see and no ears to hear.

Nahum href="http://www.studylight.org/desk/index.cgi?q1=Nahum+3:1-4&t1=en_nas">Nahum 3:1-4 Woe to the bloody city! All of it is a lie, all of plunder; the prey is not withdrawn. The sound of a whip, and the sound of rattling of a wheel, and a galloping horse, and of a bounding chariot. The horseman lifts up both the gleam of the sword and the lightning of the spear, and many are slain, and there are a mass of dead bodies, and no end of corpses; they stumble on their dead bodies, because of the many harlotries of the well favored harlot, the mistress of sorceries who sells nations by her harlotries, and families by her sorceries.

God spent a lot of time teaching me, training me, carrying me, dancing with me, loving me and walking with me just as He did with His disciples. There comes a time in all believers’ lives when they must put aside the childish things and walk His way, follow His steps, wait for His timing, bear His fruit, and work His works.

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Biography Information:
Gina Burgess has taught Sunday School and Discipleship Training for almost three decades. (Don't tell her that makes her old.) She earned her Master's in Communication in 2013.

She is the author of several books including: When Christians Hurt Christians, The Crowns of the Believers and others available in online bookstores. She authors several columns, using her God-given talent to shine a light in a dark world. You can browse her blog at Refreshment In Refuge.

If you'd like to take a look at some Christian fiction and Christian non-fiction book reviews before the books hit the book store shelves, check out Gina's book reviews at Upon Reflection

Gina is a partner and COO of Common Sense Marketing Strategies, LLC that owns Authors Community and eBookChristian.com
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