December 28, 2011 Devotion Sharing (Luke 12, 13)

Submitted by Matthew K. of Gracepoint Berkeley Church

BIBLE TEXT & REFLECTION

For today and tomorrow we will consider Luke 12:13-13:9. This section of Luke brings rich lessons on topics like urgency, anxiety, alertness, watchfulness, complacency… all topics that have to do with time. What lessons are here for you as you prepare to let one year pass and another year come?

The world seems to vacillate between the attitude of “Take life easy, eat, drink and be merry” and worries about not having enough. On one hand, people seem carefree about life, going to one holiday party after another, going on vacations, giving each other extravagant gifts, consuming entertainment, and basically living it up. On the other hand, people are gripped with fear about not having enough. I know of people who make more than the vast majority of Americans, but they are still gripped with fear of not having enough, not enough for their kids’ college or for their own retirement. It seems like the older you and the more you make in annual salary, the more you end up vacillating between these two attitudes.

People cannot seem to break away from this vicious cycle of seeking immediate satisfaction and being anxious about the future. It cannot be done without knowing that God is in ultimate control over our lives. As long I think that my life is within my own hands, I will continue to vacillate between seeking pleasure and worries about the future.

When Jesus tells his disciples to sell their possessions and give them to the poor in verse v. 33, it is the most practical advice for us to be free from our own worries and desires for self-pleasure. By voluntarily giving up our physical possessions, we can break the vicious cycle of being attached to material things for happiness and security. By giving things away, we can experience being little less attached to the world and the worries that accompany them. It is an exercise of affirming our freedom from the world and what is truly real in life.

As I let yet another year pass by, I need to evaluate my life in terms of my attachment to the worldly things and anxiety over them. Am I less attached to the world and the worries that come along with it? Am I in the habit of experiencing freedom by giving things away? What am I worrying about? Is my mind filled with things of eternity (being used by God for salvation of souls) or things of the world (striving and worrying if I have enough saved up)?

V. 20 applies to me in a different way now that I am a Christian. I have security in God’s salvation, but I am still a fool if I do not warn those who are still fixated with the world and gripped with fear of not having enough. I am a fool if I don’t spend all that I have in order to be used by God to point as many people as possible to heaven. I am a fool if I were to waste my life away by squandering the blessings for myself and not using them to love and serve others so that they may have eternal relationship with God.

Prayer:

Father, thank you for saving me from the ever-consistent vacillation between seeking pleasure and worrying about the future. Thank you for reminding me what is real and who is ultimately in control. Lord, please help to experience freedom by giving things away. Please help me to invest all I have in the world by using them to for salvation of people, and by doing so storing up treasures in heaven.

Submitted by George H. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Today I’m reminded that reality is so much more than what I can experience with my physical senses. I used to view the world from the standpoint of fear and insecurity, that I needed to store up things and trust no one—all I could do was save up and ensure a secure future for my family and myself.

But this passage reminds me what true reality is. I cannot live my life thinking that there is so much time in the future. I cannot live my life to eat drink and be merry like the rich fool because that is not real. What is real is that death is coming, and I will not know when or how. The parable does not tell what the rich fool’s response was to God, but this truth should have completely changed his view of reality, and all of his actions. It should have completely turned upside down his value of what is important and what is not important. I’m reminded of so many things—firstly, my own battle with cancer that is still going on, and I remember how this passage really spoke to me during the time that I was first diagnosed. The reality of death brings into sharp focus what is important and what is not, and what is permanent and what is not. Living a life pursuing after temporal material wealth is foolish because those things do not last, and those things do not gain for oneself the true treasure in heaven—a relationship with the living Emmanuel God.

I’m also reminded about many of the elderly people in the convalescent homes that we minister to in the Elderly Care Ministry (ECM) of our church. Now at the end of their lives, many of them are going through this exact same experience and hungering for something more as they see their material possessions being sold or given away, and family members forgetting them or rarely visiting. To them the truth of death and the fleeting nature of worldly pursuits is so clear, and I’m so grateful for the response of so many who have turned to God and to receive Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior.

But this parable also reminds me of how reality is so veiled in our world, and of how modern life really does all it can to persuade and convince me that I need to live like the rich fool and store things up in order to eat and drink and be merry. I get this from all around. That much more, I need to be rooted in the Word of God, so that I am not deceived by the lies of Satan and of this world, and so that I can always be reminded that I need to live sacrificially, to not horde possessions, to view myself as a steward of things that I have been given undeservedly. To this extent and more, daily prioritizing of God’s Word, daily connection with God in prayer, and fellowship with the body of Christ is essential.

Submitted by Chris L. of Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Verse 15 says, “Be on your guard against all kinds of greed.” One danger of greed is that it makes us lose sight of basic, important truths in life. In this parable, the rich man was so overjoyed with the abundance of good crop because with all that food, he thought he was set for life. In the process, he forgot some very basic truths that he may not be around long enough to enjoy the wealth and that the abundance of food (representing wealth) does not address every problem and need in life. We can get greedy when we overestimate the things that we are going after can do for us. We think that some thing, some situation, or some gadget will drastically change our lives, but only to realize again and again that is not the case. When we get excited about stuff, dullness sets in, causing us to be inattentive to important things in life, such as our sins that we need to battle, our relationships with people around us what’s going on in the lives of the brothers and sisters whom we are working together for the kingdom of God, and what God is trying to say to us. Greed can encompass more than just things as we live without much lack for basic necessities of life. We can get greedy about time, emotional and physical comfort, and other non-tangible resources we have. As I prepare for a new year, the most important thing for me is to be fully attentive and alert to sense how God wants to lead our church and my life. How can I guard myself against greed? Sometimes greed is easy to detect, but sometimes it comes in a subtle form, such as anxiety I feel in my heart when something is demanded of me. That’s when I need to guard myself against greed, by acknowledging that God has given me all things to serve people, and repenting for my clutching on to things as though they were mine.

Another lesson for me is on worrying. What are the things that cause me to be worried and anxious? I’ve been blessed with a good stable job. I don’t have to worry about the basic necessities of life. I have learned earlier in my life that when I trust God with my financial situation, He will meet my needs. At this point in my life, I have different concerns. I do worry about my influence on my children as their father, whether I am adequately teaching them important lessons in life, about trusting in God, about cultivating healthy relationships with them. I do worry about my relationships with people in my life. How are they impacted by their relationship with me, and vice versa? Really, when I think about my concerns and anxieties, they come down to this – am I loving people in my life the best I can? I see that this is addressed in Jesus’ command to seek his kingdom. In seeking his kingdom, I learn to properly love people in the best possible way. In seeking his kingdom, I learn to be others-centered, to deal with my issues that cause negative repercussions on others. But in obeying this command, I must not compartmentalize my life. I must not separate out “ministry” from the rest of my life. Every person in my life is a person to minister to, to serve and to love.

Prayer:

Father, thank you for giving me another year to join You in Your work of bringing people into saving relationship with you and building up the church. Help me to battle greed and other worldly thoughts and desires so that I can be fully alert to discern how you are leading me.

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