Fig Tree Part 2 (Pastor Tan Seow How)

Last week I felt like I want to spend time in the presence of God. This week I feel inspired to pray more and pray with faith. Hope you enjoy the notes this week!


Fig Tree Part 2 (Pastor Tan Seow How)

This week let's talk about prayer.
There is a famous verse... 

Mark 11:22-24
22 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. 23 For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be 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. 24 Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.

But before we unpack this, we need to understand the context of the passage.
(Not understanding the context can cause truth to become error)

What is the context? 

Mark 11:20
There is another fig tree mentioned here that dried up and withered away

Why did the fig tree wither away?
Mark 11:12-14
Jesus saw a fig tree with leaves and went to it expecting to see fruit on it, but there wasn’t any. In response, Jesus said "Let no one eat fruit from you ever again"

Jesus wasn't cursing the fig tree out of frustration.
Everything Jesus does, He does out of reason.
He wanted to teach the disciples and us something.

Fig Trees...
Normal trees have leaves, then flowers, then fruit. That is the sequence.
The fig tree is very unique. It doesn’t follow the sequence. It bears fruit before it has leaves or flowers. “Fig tree” in Chinese literally means “no flower fruit"
When Jesus saw leaves, it meant that there definitely should be fruit.

Jesus found that the fig tree was full of leaves, but there was no fruit.
A tree with no fruit is of no value.

Fig tree symbolizes prayer.
Fig tree without fruit symbolizes prayer without power, mechanical / religious prayer, empty prayer or no prayer.

Fig tree speaks of worship.
Fig tree without fruit symbolizes worship without spirit, singing without sincerity, music without worship.

Fig tree represents Bible reading
Fig tree without fruit is Bible reading but just intellectually but with no revelation, hunger or searching for truth.

A fig tree without fruit is a church without Christ. It is religion without God.
It is what the Bible calls “a form of godliness without power”

The chief danger that confronts 
the coming century will be…

Religion without the Holy Spirit,
Christianity without Christ,
forgiveness without repentance,
salvation without regeneration,
politics without God,
heaven without hell.

- William Booth (1829-1912)

If you read on, you will realise that Jesus brought His disciples on a learning journey. 
First He showed them the fig tree to talk about personal prayer. 
Afterwards, He brought them to the temple to talk about prayer in the church.

Mark 11:15-17
Jesus brought His disciples into the temple and overturned the tables of the money changers. Jesus then said, "it is not written, My house shall be called a house of prayer"

A church is not an organisation but an organism. 
The church is alive with the Power and the Spirit of God.
This is what makes us different!

The church was designed to run on the prayers of the saints. 
We can have strategy and visions and programs and creativity, there is nothing wrong with that BUT the prayers of the saints fuel the church.

Different cars run on different power sources.
You cannot take a car that is designed to run on petrol and put in diesel.
You need to run it by the original intent of the manufacturer.

Exodus 33:15
Moses was about enter the promised land but he said "if Your presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from there."

Without the presence of God, what's the use of the rest of the things?
What's the use of nice lights when there is no Light of Christ?
What's the point of state-of-the-art sound equipment if we cannot hear the voice of God?

Matthew 21:12-14
(Same account but different perspectives of the same scenario)
vs. 14 "then the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and he healed them"
When the church turned back to prayer then the power of God came and the sick were healed. Before the sick can be healed, we need to pray as a church.

Last week, Pastor Lia shared... 
You become a carrier of God's presence
We become carriers of God's revival

Individually, will you pray?
As a church, will you pray?

Jesus showed the disciples that they ought to be fig tree with fruit. 
Then He showed them that the temple, the church, must be a house of prayer. 
With this background and context, we come to the famous verse.

Matthew 21:21-22
21 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done. 22 And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”

Things to note: 

- It is a prayer of faith. It is not religious, ritualistic, empty prayer.
You are not begging God.
Prayer is not changing the mind of God. It is changing your mind to align with God. 
Prayer is having faith in the goodness and greatness of God. 
The goodness of God is that He will. The greatness of God is that He can. 

- Jesus says speak to the mountain. 
Mountains are obstacles and opposition, problems. 
Speak to the mountain, not about the mountain. 
Speak to the problem, not about the problem.
Don't tell God how big the problem is. Tell the problem how big God is. 

- SAY to the mountain. 
Prayer must be said. There is power in confession. 
A lot of people pray in their minds or their hearts, but Jesus says when we pray, we need to SAY our prayers.

- We need to ASK. (Vs 22)
God knows our needs but we still need to ask. 
Asking is a sign of humility and seriousness. 

- "What we ask in prayer…" We need to PRAY.
There is a time to be God-conscious on the train or before we sleep. But there is a time when we need to come under the fig tree to pray. 

- IF is the operative word
If you say to this mountain. If you ask. If you have faith.
We have to choose to say, ask and have faith. 
Most Christians tend to thing that the love of God is conditional and the promises of God are unconditional. That is wrong. The love of God is unconditional, but the promises of God are conditional.

- If we do all these things… THEN...
If you want your prayers to be answered, ask in faith, speak TO the mountain, Ask. Pray. 

Fig Tree Part 1 (Pastor Cecilia Chan)

Last weekend was one of those special moments for me! Pastor Lia (Pastor Cecilia Chan) shared this short message on the presence of God. We spent a lot of time worshiping together as a church. Pastor Lia also challenged all of us to start going under the fig tree. So, this week I made a commitment to set aside time every day - even when it is very busy. I really see the difference - I think I am more positive and more faith-filled. It helps that my whole CG has been encouraging each other with our revelations, especially on days that I felt really tired. This is why I love church. We aren't just hearers but we are doers. And we help and encourage each other. 

** Amended Post **
I am so excited that Pastor How (Pastor Tan Seow How) is going to preach Part 2 this weekend!! The messages in Heart of God Church always inspire me to grow in my walk with God and to pray, worship and read my Bible more!


Fig Tree Part 1 (Pastor Cecilia Chan)
The mark of distinction over our church has always been youth but it has also been the presence of God.

John 1:43-49 (NLT)
Nathanael was originally very cynical about Jesus. But when he met Jesus, Jesus told him who he was.  Jesus told Nathanael that he was a man of integrity. 
It is one thing to know Jesus, but it is also together another thing when Jesus knows you.  
Jesus not only knew Nathanael, He saw him - under the fig tree. 
Th fig tree was traditionally used as a place to pray. 
The fig tree represents the  private, personal spiritual life of a Christian. It is a place of worship and prayer. 
Nathanael was found under the fig tree. Nathanael was a man of worship and prayer. 
That is why Jesus knew him. 
Do you have a fig tree?
Do you sit often under that fig tree?
If you can make space for a fig tree, that's where Jesus will see you. 
Salvation is free, we gladly receive it. 
While salvation is free, there is always a price to God's presence. The price is time.

It's not a matter of where is your fig tree but when is your fig tree. 
When Jesus wanted to choose His disciples, His leaders, He looked under the fig tree. 
Exodus 33:15
If your presence doesn't go with us, do not bring us up from here.
Personally, you become a carrier of God's presence.
Together, we become carriers of God's revival.

Progressive Commitment Part 2 (Charleston Lim / Martin Wong)

This series really made me think about my life and pointed me to listen to God.
This is Part 2 of the series, if you are looking for Part 1, you can find it here.


When 10 years had passed and the promise had not yet come to pass, Abraham and Sarah decided to help God.
Genesis 16:1-6

Sometimes a good idea may not be a God idea.
Abraham's bad decision resulted in thousands of years of war between 2 groups of people.
Up to day, generations later, there is still war and conflict in these countries. 

Imagine how that must have felt?
Some of us feel the same way, our mistakes seem to have long-lasting effects.

How did Abraham deal with his mistakes?
Genesis 21:9-14 "... sent her away"

Abraham dealt with his mistakes by admitting his mistakes and let it go.
Leaving Ishmael —> Letting go of the son he should have never have had —> Leaving his mistakes and failures

Ask yourself:
What do you do with the mistakes in your life?
We have to let our mistakes go. 
You may have much guilt and many regrets, but whatever mistakes you made, you need to let go of your past and look forward to the future. 
God is a God of redemption.

Some of us take time to let go of our mistakes… 

… For example, if you are together with someone whom you know is not the right person for you. Your family and friends have been warning you about his character. But because you are invested, that you have been together for 5 years, that you find it hard to let the relationship go. You think that maybe if you just get married it will be okay. That’s not the right decision. 

… Abraham struggled with this too. Many people think that when Abraham let go of Ishmael, he was a baby; but the Bible says that Ishmael was already 15 when Abraham let him go. 

No matter what mistakes we've made, there is always redemption in God. 

At this point in time, Abraham had let go of his home, his father, his nephew, the son he should have never had.
What more could God ask for? God asked for Isaac, his miracle son. 

Genesis 2:1-3
God asked Abraham to offer Isaac on the mountain as a burnt offering
At this point, after many years Abraham finally got his promised son, but God asked him to give it up.

Leaving Isaac —> Letting go of the son God gave him —> Leaving his love

If we are willing to let go of the precious things in our life, God will speak to us.

Genesis 22:10-12

God did not kill Isaac. God is not a heavenly kill-joy. 
Some of us have the mentality that God wants to take away everything good from us. That is not true. 
God wants to bless us but He first wants to test us. When He knows that our hearts are pure and that He is first in our lives, then He will begin to bless us abundantly.

Genesis 22:15-18
... Because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son, blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants… 

Whatever you hold on to will eventually dwindle away.But Whatever you yield and let go, God will begin to multiply.

Will you let go and let God?
Some of us hold on to our most precious things so tightly that we refuse to let God into that area of our life. 
But we need to know that the thing that we give to God is what will multiply. 
God is in the business of giving not taking. 

Ask yourself… what is your Isaac? What is most difficult for you to let go? 
Is it your career? Your ministry? Your reputation? Your children? Your boyfriend / girlfriend?

There is one interesting similarity between the two stories… 

When God asked Abraham to leave Ishmael...
Genesis 21:14 “so Abraham rose early in the morning"

When God asked Abraham to leave Isaac...
Genesis 22:3 “so Abraham rose early in the morning"

Abraham had immediate obedience and followed the voice of God by rising early in the morning. When God spoke, Abraham did not delay or hold back whether it was regarding his Ishmael or his Isaac

Bishop Bronner spok about “Scission” which means “to cut"
* Excision - Cut out
* Incision - Cut in
* Circumcision - Cut around
* Decision - Cut off

When God speaks, will we make a decision? Will we have immediate obedience?
Abraham did not become a Hero of Faith overnight, but he did take steps of progressive commitment, which eventually brought him there. 

Today, what is God challenging you on? What is the next step in your Progressive Commitment?

Progressive Commitment Part 1 (Garrett Lee / Lynette Goh)

Last weekend was another one of those weekends that just made me reflect a lot about my life! You will see why when you read the sermon notes, but before I get there I just had some thoughts. 

Garrett and Lynette shared the sermon this week (as you can see from the title of the post). They actually preached on the same sermon (same points, different examples, etc of course). And it just made me think - one of the things I love in Heart of God Church is the teamwork! I remember for school projects people always fight over "my part of the presentation" - everyone just wanted to claim credit for what they wrote (or worse, sometimes for what they didn't write). Examples like this (it's one of many) made me change (for the better) since I came to Heart of God Church. People here work together and don't care who gets the credit. I used to look out for myself only, but the way people are in this church really made me evaluate how I was like and change. It's not a perfect church (what church is?); but it's a church that always challenges me to become better. And isn't that what's important?

Enough about me! Here's the sermon!

*** Additional Edit ***
Part 2 is out! You can find it here!


Progressive Commitment Part 1 (Garrett Lee / Lynette Goh)

The depth of relationship is defined by the degree of commitment.
Our relationship with God is also defined by the degree of our commitment. 
That makes commitment a critical part of our Christianity. 
Christianity is more than just an emotion.

Commitment is progressive.
If you meet a girl you like, your commitment to her progresses over time. Sometimes it takes years! You don't marry the girl you like the next day. 

Proverbs 4:18
But the path of the just is like the shining sun,
That shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.

"Path of the just" 
As Christians we are on a path. It is not stationary. 
- A path is a sign of progress.

A healthy Christian life is progressive.
We always need to ask ourselves "Am I progressing in my walk with God?"

Evaluate yourself:
"At the rate I am progressing with God, where will I be in the next 3 years?"
"Am I more addicted to the Word of God?"
"Are the stories that I share with other people from 5 years ago? Do i have a fresh example of how God has moved in my life?"
"What is my next step?"

Abraham went through a process

5 Steps of Commitment that Abraham Took 

Genesis 11:31

Abraham had to leave Ur.
Ur was one of the most developed and advanced cities of its time.
Abraham lived in Ur for 50 years
It was a place of comfort.
It was his hom.

Leaving Ur --》Letting go of his home --》Leaving his comfort zone
All progress takes place outside of the comfort zone.
This principle applies to all areas of our life - relationships, career
Progress in our relationship with God also takes place outside our comfort zone.

Genesis 12:1-4

Abraham had to leave Haran.
Abraham stayed at Haran for 25 years.
He didn't go to Canaan immediately.

Why was Abraham able to leave Ur but not able to leave Haran? 
Acts 7:2-4 - When his father was dead

Leaving Haran --》 Letting go of his father --》Leaving his past
Letting go of his father does not mean we have to leave our physical parents, but it represents letting go of old experiences, things we are accustomed to, old mindsets.

The way God works is very different from the way the world works. We cannot bring our worldly mindsets and the way we do things in the world 100% into the church.

Luke 5:36-38 - No one puts new wine into old wineskins

Genesis 12:1

Abraham had to leave Lot
Lot = veil, covering (Hebrew)
Lot's influence was holding him back

Leaving Lot --Letting go of his nephew --Leaving people who are holding him back
Lot is not just representative of non Christians. In fact, Lot was righteous. He was a Christian. Lot was righteous but not holy.

Holiness is not about our position in Christ, but it is a pursuit. 
Holiness is about obedience - moving from salvation to sanctification to service.

You can ask yourself - "After spending time with this person do I feel closer to God or further away from God?" We need relationships that bring us closer to Christ.

Genesis 13:8-9 - "Please separate from me."
Abraham had to make a decision.

Genesis 13:14 - "The Lord spoke to Abraham after Lot had separated from him..."
God spoke after Lot separated from him
Sometimes Lots cloud and block us from seeing God's inheritance and promises for us...

What is my next step?