A brief Bible study for the Sixth Midweek Lenten Service:

Matthew 7:15-20:  “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.  You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?  So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.  A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.  Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.”

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I am terrible in picking out produce at the store.  I can’t tell what is ripe and what just looks pretty.  Maybe you are the same way.  But when we are at the store, we are only looking at the fruit and are not concerned at all about the tree from which this came from.

In this reading from Matthew, Jesus says that a healthy tree bears good fruit and a diseased tree bears bad fruit. The quality of the fruit depends on the quality of the tree!  So, we continue to consider trees during these midweek times during Lent.

As Jesus speaks about trees and bad fruit, we can imagine the impact that this would have had on the religious leaders that surrounded Jesus on that day.  He later would call them a “brood of vipers.”  Yes, there wasn’t anything good coming from them.

But are we in any way different? Our words and actions don’t always show “good” fruit in us.  You can go down the list (Galatians 5:19-21):  impurity, sensuality, idolatry . . .   We are not far from Jesus’ accusing words – where that tree that bore the bad fruit would be cut down.

Remember, though, that Jesus says that a healthy tree bears good fruit.  So, the tree must be made different.  And that is what Jesus did for us on the cross – He changes those who believe in him from bad trees bearing b ad fruit to being good trees bearing good fruit. It is called “repentance” and “forgiveness.”

So, how does this good fruit show in us?  It comes in those things that we do each day as we live out our lives in accord with God’s Word.  It comes in our work and school and neighborhoods as we labor each day.  It comes in our praise and prayer as we continue to thank God for his blessings and ask him for safety in each of our earthly days.

 

Sermon for Sunday, March 29

Our brief message for the Fifth Midweek Lenten Service.  Since we can’t gather together tonight, here is a brief study:

It is based on Ezekiel 17.  If you don’t read the entire chapter, just focus on verse 22:  “Thus says the Lord God:  ‘I myself will take a sprig from the lofty top of the cedar and will set it out.  I will break off from the topmost of its young twigs a tender one, and I myself will plant it on a high and lofty mount.’”

 

In these midweek times during Lent, we have looked at various trees in Scripture.  This week, we look at Ezekiel 17 and see that there is an image of a tree – and it will relate to something else.  Ezekiel speaks of a tree that is planted which represents the recent history of the people.  The tree isn’t cared for properly and as a result there are problems.  In Ezekiel’s time, those problems involved invading armies and military alliances that were not adhered to along with promises that were not kept.

How we relate this to us is in our baptism, where we renounced the devil and all his works and all his ways and then also in our confirmation.  Yet, we have not always lived according to God’s Word and we have strayed.  – looking a lot like that tree image.

So, here comes God in verse 22. The Lord will take a similar action (planting), but he will do it correctly and that will be done in through Jesus.  Where that “planting” is done properly, it will be in the manner that Jesus will be faithful to God’s Word.

Where we could not be faithful, Jesus was.  And in that Jesus went to the cross to suffer and die for our sins that we may be forgiven and comforted in that in our lives.  What we cannot do, Jesus does for us.

Back to that image of a tree. Where we feel ourselves weak and not like a strong tree; Christ becomes our strength and our salvation.  Where we feel pushed by the storms of life; Christ keeps us emboldened to withstand those storms.

 

Sermon for Sunday, March 22

 

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