Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Constantly Seek Improvement

“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.”
-Ecclesiastes 9:10, New International Version

Satan tries to persuade us to be content with just getting by. The Lord rebukes those who are satisfied with their condition in life, who are content with the way things are, and who don’t seek change and improvement. We are always in need of improvement. If you say “I . . . have need of nothing” (Revelations 3:17, King James Version) and “do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked,” (Revelations 3:17, New International Version) the Lord will see you as being lukewarm (apathetic) and will cast you out as He said in the book of Revelations, “ . . . because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” (Revelations 3:16, English Standard Version) The Lord expects us to continually seek improvement.

The Parable of the Fig Tree
The Savior teaches this principle further in the miracle and parable of the fig tree found in Chapter 11 of Mark. Jesus, walking with His disciples, came to a fig tree that had no figs on it. When Jesus saw that there were no figs upon the fig tree, He cursed the fig tree, and the next day it was withered and dead. This miracle is different from all the other recorded miracles of Jesus that were performed for relief, blessing, and beneficent purposes. This appears to be an act of judgment and destructive execution. A key to understanding this miracle and parable is found in verse 13, which reads, “It was not the season for figs.” (Mark 11:13, New King James Version) The fig tree didn’t have figs on it because figs were not in season. None of the trees had figs on them—why did Jesus destroy this tree? On his tape entitled A Higher Standard of Excellence, Mark Gorman states that at 2 a.m. God told him the meaning of these passages. When the inspiration came, he sat straight up in bed and God spoke to him saying, “If all you are doing is what comes naturally to you, I am not impressed. If you are only producing when everyone else is producing, so what. If you are just keeping up with the crowd, big deal.” To impress the Lord, we must strive for excellence and do more than just what comes naturally. We must not just produce fruit when it is in season—we must produce fruit everyday. We must rise above mediocrity. We must rise above just getting by. We must excel.

“I say to you, Search the Scriptures! If ever you tire of them in seeking a rule of faith and a standard of morals, search them as records of history. The Bible contains the only authentic introduction to the history of the world. It is a book which neither the most ignorant and weakest, nor the most learned and intelligent mind can read without improvement.”
-John Quincy Adams, sixth President of the United States

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