December 29, 2011 Devotion Sharing (Luke 12, 13)

Submitted by Lauren K. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

A sense of intense urgency and opportunity hovers over most of our text for today. It ends with a life spared, a time of grace granted, and judgment suspended. Again, reflect on these passages as you prepare for another year granted to you.

Luke 12:35-13:9

This passage reminds me of the tremendous privilege, opportunity and responsibility that God’s given to us to be servants that He would consider watchful, faithful, and wise. Such a servant is one who while tending to his daily busyness, he is aware and waiting for the master’s return. He is aware of his privileged position as a servant and manager of his master’s household. He does not abuse this privilege and power he has, and he doesn’t use his master’s resources for selfish gain. He is concerned over his master’s household and faithfully carries out his master’s business with anticipation of the master’s return. The fact that his master seems to take a long time in coming does not cause him to forget his role and responsibility. He is not shortsighted, thinking that he can abuse his privilege while the master is gone. Instead, he looks to the certainty of his master’s return, and he remains watchful and faithful.

As I experience the closing of another year and the beginning of a brand new year, I’m reminded that God has led me through another year with much grace and mercy. This passage urges me with much wisdom to steward well all the blessings God has given to me, times when I’ve experienced God’s grace and mercy, times when I’ve received good teaching, and times when I experienced the love and sacrifice of others. Being a Christian all these years, I realize and appreciate in a deeper way how much I have been blessed, invested in relationally, and entrusted with all that I’ve received. With such a tremendous entrustment, there is also a responsibility to respond properly. Jesus gives a very stern warning against those who fail to respond properly to such an entrustment. The servant that is not aware of the master’s return and unfaithful will be cut to pieces, assigned a place with the unbeliever, and “beaten with many blows.” These are severe words of warning to show us how inappropriate it is to abuse, to be unfaithful, and to be unaware of the things of God while receiving God’s blessings and responsibilities.

As I look back on 2011 there are many regrets. The sentiment “for 3 years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any” can be said of many aspects of my life. Yet, what I’ve experienced in these areas of my life has been God’s patient grace year after year. God continues to be patient with me, digging around and fertilizing the soil in hopes that these areas can bear fruit next year. Sometimes I can get discouraged thinking about all the ways I haven’t changed or grown. Yet, here Jesus is far more merciful than I deserve and hopeful that He is able to dig around, to fertilize and to cause me to bear fruit in my life that would bring glory to God. I’m so thankful that God continues to pour out his mercy and grace on undeserving sinner like me, that He continues to hope and to work in my life. I want to hold onto this hope that God gives me as I repent and struggle against my sins. I want to trust God that He is able to use my life to bring glory to him.

Living day to day with the burdens and concerns of each day, I sometimes find myself easily consumed with the small details of mundane life. I can get stressed over some logistics or worried that I won’t be able to get everything I need to do done. Raising a family and work can seem like tasks that I need to get done, and I fall into the pitfall of losing sight of the ultimate goal, that of anticipating the master’s return. I can get wrapped up in the stresses and worries of mundane life. But this passage reminds me that I must not lose sight of the fact that my life is finite, Jesus may return, and that I don’t know when that time will be. Given this fact, there is urgency to not miss any opportunity God gives me to live for the things that are eternal, to deepen my relationship with God and to invest in people. As I look back on 2011, I have received another “year-full” of grace, love and trust. I pray that in the coming new year, God would grant me the grace to be that much more faithful.

Jesus’ coming, “this present time”, is a time of God’s grace, a time when God reveals himself to the world in the person of Jesus. While people can interpret the times, the weather, and many other things, the people of Jesus’ day act as though they cannot understand Jesus’ significance and the things of God. I’m reminded that while I am receiving God’s grace, I am given time to understand and respond to God and opportunities to experience God personally.  Thus I need to intentionally make room in my life for this. It’s easy to just go along each day being carried by the many things I need to do and respond to. But God has given me ample opportunity to experience him personally, to make connections to Him. As I approach a new year, I want to recommit to making my personal relationship with God a priority by setting aside times of solitude to meditate on God’s word and reflect on how God is speaking to me.

Submitted by Ulia K. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

From Luke 12:35-47 – What characterizes the ready servants?  They can immediately open the door for their master; they are watching for his return; they are ready, even late into the night; they are faithful, especially faithful to the daily things they are entrusted with like giving the servants food at the proper time; and, they are wise in knowing that this is a job that has been entrusted to them by the master and so they need to steward their responsibilities well.  They know that they have been entrusted with much, that they have been given much, and so much is asked and demanded of them.

What characterizes the bad servants?  They assume the master will take a long time in coming, and so they decide to do whatever they want–treat the other servants however they want, indulge in their fleshly pleasures–probably because they think that the master won’t know since he’s not there, and they think they have time to cleanup their act before the master returns, even though they do not actually know when the master is returning.

What can I learn to prepare myself for another year granted to me? Often with a new year I try to make resolutions to change what I didn’t like of myself from the past year, but to God the greater concern is am I waiting for his return?  Am I stewarding well the responsibilities God has entrusted to me, knowing that he will hold me accountable?   God does not expect me to do anything particularly extraordinary, but to be faithful with the daily responsibilities he has entrusted to me, which could be like the “daily grind,” the “week in and week out” of doing daily devotions, praying, engaging in labor of love by treating my brothers and sisters lovingly and being mindful of their needs, carrying out responsibilities related to Praxis ministry, JoyScouts (children’s Friday night ministry), Welcome Team ministry on Sundays, being responsible at work, etc.  Often these are the things in which I can feel like they aren’t so important, things I can take for granted, that I can change or take care of things “later”–but it is through these things that God can find me faithful and ready for his return.

Luke 12:54-59:

Why does Jesus call people hypocrites?  It is because they can predict the weather and adjust their plans and behavior accordingly, but they do not do that with life itself.  My pastor’s wife often says, “Death is certain, life is short, and eternity is long.”  Jesus says in this passage that it is most important that we are reconciled to our “adversary” who is God, who is our adversary because of the guilt of our sins that we have committed against him.  So I need to make sure I am right with God daily in repenting of my sins and in obeying him.  I also need to know that this is the reality of those who have not yet surrendered their lives to Christ, and I need to help them to be reconciled to God.

Luke 13:1-9:

According to Jesus, the manner of their death or how they died actually didn’t matter.  They were not “more guilty” than those who were still living.  The important question from Jesus is–have you repented of your sins?  The parable of this fruitless fig tree is a warning.  Our lives are meant to bear fruit, fruit born through repentance, and so I have to ask myself that question of whether I’ve repented and if there is fruit bearing in my life.

Even though I am a young 30-year-old with many more years to live, I  must remember that I am living on borrowed time.  Thankfully, these lessons are things I learn again and again especially through our Elderly Care Ministry.  We know that a nursing home resident who has been attending our services one Sunday can be admitted to the hospital and pass away before our next visit.  Being with our residents gives me clarity of purpose in sharing the gospel with them, because as much as we age and our bodies suffer, the most important thing for them and for me is whether we’ve been reconciled to God.

Prayer:

Dear God, thank you for your mercy, for giving me another year to live, for entrusting me with my life and the lives of your people.  Please give me the clarity to live with mission through the daily grind of life, knowing that you have entrusted me with much in my life, knowing that you hold me accountable for my life.  Please grant me the heart to love people with the end in mind, knowing that the most important thing is whether we’ve been reconciled to you.

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