April 18, Wednesday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

Read Mark 11:20-25

As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. 21 And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” 22 And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God.23 Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 25 And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”

Recently, I had dinner with a missionary who I’ve known for a very long time. And one of my favorite things about meeting with him has always been the stories he would share about how God has been moving in his ministry. Although each story is different, the underlying thread is the faith that the missionary has in God to do the impossible—whether it’s reaching out to someone who seems hopelessly lost or the huge financial deficit that needs to be resolved by a certain deadline. Each challenge isn’t met with anxiety, fear or trying to work harder to overcome the roadblocks; instead, he chooses to go to God and ask for mountains to be moved.

In our passage for today, Jesus challenges us to do the same. Here we find an interesting story about a fig tree that’s withered as a result of Jesus cursing it; and then, He begins to talk about prayer and faith. What’s the connection? The fig tree represents the temple that Jesus had just cleansed in the previous passage. Just like the fig tree, the temple was useless because it bore no fruit— it was busy with religious activities but did not further the mission of God. For Jewish readers, this was a shocking statement since the temple was the focal point of their religion. Jews who were not living in Jerusalem would face east towards the temple when praying, because it was where the presence of God resided.

However, Jesus in this story is suggesting that the temple no longer functions in the same role. With His coming, the temple has dissolved, and as a result, prayer and faith must be directed towards Him. For this reason, the disciples should not lose heart over the failures of Israel exemplified by the temple; instead, they should have faith in God (v. 22) and pray for the impossible. Their movement is not dependent on an institution but on the God who loves them, the One who would ultimately die for them.

Jesus invites His disciples to pray impossible prayers—like having mountains taken up and thrown into the sea—as they continue in their mission to usher in the kingdom of God. I wonder how many of us approach God in our prayers with that type of faith and audacity. As we try to live for God as believers, do we have faith as we pray? Do we easily get discouraged by the difficulties of life, or do we boldly approach God in prayer knowing that He can pull us through? As followers of Jesus, let us be people of faith. Let’s spend some time in prayer, asking God to move the mountains in our lives for the sake of His glory!

Prayer: Father, thank You that You are a great God who can do the impossible. I ask that You grant me the type of faith that asks with certainty for mountains to be moved in Your name. Help me to trust in Your power and not in my own strength. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Thessalonians 3


Lunch Break Study

Read Philippians 4:6-7

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Questions to Consider

  1. What are we called to make known to God?
  2. What is the result engaging God in prayer and supplication?
  3. How do you deal with things that make you anxious in life?

Notes

  1. We are called to make known to God about everything. Oftentimes we simply engage God with only the bigger things of life; however, Paul commands us to bring everything before God.
  2. We are given the peace of God. This does not always mean we will understand the struggles and difficulties of our lives, but nonetheless, God will grant us a peace that is beyond our own understanding.
  3. Personal response.

Evening Reflection

Our busy lives are often full of worry and anxiety. Instead of trying to figure things out on our own, take some time to name them and surrender them before God. Tell Him about all the “mountains” in your life that need to be moved.

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