January 24, 2012 – Devotion Sharing (Luke 6)

Submitted by Alison N. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church
Words and actions; speech and behavior; confession and obedience
There is something beautiful about a life where your words match your actions. When I think about people I aspire to be like, heroes of faith or those who have accomplished much and changed the world – it is because of their commitment to live out what they believed and held to be true. In some cases, it has not always led to results, but there is power in someone’s words matching their actions. For myself, I know that I am often guilty of wanting to think of myself as a certain way – responsible, team player, adaptable, and yet when I look at my actions, this is not always true. My behavior betrays what I wish to be true of myself. I’m thankful to be surrounded by sisters and brothers who are willing to tell me when my actions don’t match up, so that I can see there is a discrepancy there and do something about it. It wasn’t always this way. I remember growing up I really didn’t like being corrected and I had a high view of myself, until through different situations I learned very clearly that I could not trust that I would live out what I believed or said about myself. I realized that I needed to examine myself more often, which takes practice, and also to solicit the help of others around me. I’m thankful that through confessing, I can be forgiven and that God shows me how to obey, both through examples of people around me as I see my older sisters and brothers in the faith, but also through what God says in the Bible.

Thinking about those who are in charge of planning a building–like Sierra Lodge for example–they had to lay the foundation when the weather and the soil conditions were at their best. It takes a lot of planning and foresight before one can begin building and it all starts with making sure the foundation can be laid in the right conditions. There are factors such as weather, even the exact placement of the building so that it does not run into rocks or is not too close to tree roots or water. There are many steps to ensuring the foundation is laid correctly, including digging a deep whole to prepare to lay the foundation. The man who builds his house and digs deep laying the foundation very carefully has more confidence that his building will withstand a torrent or calamity. This building that Jesus is referring to is like our life. Each person is building his/her foundation in some way or another. I thought about some of the inadequate foundations that people can build. People work on achieving a notable position in their career, earning a large income to accumulate wealth, and spending most of their time seeking comfort. However, there is nothing truly secure in building any of these foundations. Unexpected situations like job loss or health matters can come up and cause all the building that a person has been done to crumble. For me, I remember growing up I was always concerned about the future – would I get into the right college, what kind of career could I build for myself, who would I marry and what would the future hold. I was concerned about these things more than who God was, what was the purpose of my life, and how could I relate and trust in God. But after college, I began to start thinking about these questions because I realized that all of my planning and building could not ensure the kind of future that I wanted. I realized how inadequate and insufficient it would be.

As I get older, there is so much around me that tries to lure me in, but I must remain focused on what is important to invest my time and life into – the Word of God and putting his word into practice. It will take time and energy, building the right foundation is not an easy task. But, the consequence to not doing this is too great. It means destruction and renders all of my effort and energy meaningless. I realize I have many opportunities to “build,” yet I fail to take advantage of them. I hear a message and do not reflect on it. A situation comes up which reveals my heart or attitude towards someone, and I don’t take time to think about my underlying motives. I need to do more work towards taking advantage of allowing God’s Word’s with what I am experiencing impact my life. The building process for my life then is a deliberate process that is made up of small steps – spending time in God’s Word each day and seeking to apply it to my life (like DT), praying, reflecting on my life, being part of a church that is a community of brothers and sisters who share lives together and taking time to grow in my concerns for people around me – sharing God’s message of forgiveness and grace with others, noticing others needs and loving people God has placed in my life. Through practice, it becomes more of my life. I can see this as I look back at my college days where I was only concerned about myself. But now, as I have been a Christian for 10 years, I can see how my sphere of concern has grown, my confidence and understanding of God’s Words as true and how God desires for me to thrive through following him. Although I know that the storms will come to everyone, this is the best test of my foundation. This parable is both a warning, but can also encourage me that I don’t have to be swept by the storms, but with God’s help my foundation can withstand the ultimate storm of death. I see this confidence in a friend’s mom who held on to God and hope of heaven as she battled cancer. I see this confidence in Joni Erickson Tada who was left paraplegic in a diving accident and unable to move any body part below her neck. She used this experience to create an organization to care for those who are suffering from some type of debilitating disability. My dad volunteers at this camp every year and says he can see how the participants of the camp really thrive though they face this difficult disability every day. And as I minister to others, I see how trusting in what God says and doing the hard work to put it into practice is how we grow. I commit to doing this in my life.

Submitted by Peter K. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church
Luke 6:46-49
•For whom does Jesus tell this parable?
Those who call Jesus as “Lord.” He is addressing self-confessing followers of Jesus.

•Reflect on the disparity between calling Jesus “Lord, Lord,” and not doing what he says.
When someone calls Jesus as Lord, this implies that he acknowledges Jesus as his master and owner of his life. Lordship of Christ means surrender of ownership of his life to Jesus; he no longer has claim over his life. “Not doing what he says” completely contradicts calling Jesus as “Lord.” By not doing, he claims his rights to do he wants to do. Jesus is no longer the “Lord” of his life.

•What are some ways in which Christians today take comfort in their spiritual jargon and rhetoric, or define their spirituality on things other than actual obedience to Jesus’ words?
There are many self-professing Christians today who just have the spiritual rhetoric but do live out the Christian life. There are many attend church on Sundays, even serve in some ways at their church, but ultimately compartmentalize their spiritual life and their faith has no impact upon the rest of their lives, such as how they choose to spend their time or resources. Apparently they may appear religious and do and say all the right things at church, but in their personal life they are not practicing the word of God. There are many elders, deacons and lay people in modern day churches who live a compromised life outside of church consistent with worldly values. Their values and priorities are no different from non-Christians.

•To what extent is there divergence between my words and my life when it comes to my identity as someone who calls Jesus “Lord”?
As I examine my life, there is divergence in my words and my life. In terms of understanding and confessing, I am very clear that Jesus is my Lord who owns all my time, energy, and resources. He has a full right to claim my life and demand all of these. However, in practice my self-centeredness prevent me from obeying the word of God. I still have a desire for a comfortable life. Whenever this sinful desire appears in my heart, joy of serving people and building God’s church disappears and grumbling sets in gradually in my mind. This hinders me from giving my all to the Lord. I also have a desire for pleasing my body that makes me selfish and not sacrificial. Here’s a small example. My commitment against my physical laziness is to clean the house for 15 min every night. After a long day of work, there is not much motivation to clean the house when I come home at night. There is a struggle in my mind. Either I deny my tired body and make a small sacrifice to clean the house or I give in to my tired body. I find myself giving in to my body many times. This mundane example shows how divergent I am between my words and my life. When I call Jesus “Lord,” for sure I should clean my house every single night because God’s command is to love my wife and kids with a sacrificial attitude. However, in practice I am so quick to please my tired body for my own comfort. This is very selfish and contradicts my commitment to Jesus as my Lord.

•What is the fundamental difference between the wise and the foolish builder?
The fundamental difference between the wise and the foolish builder is the foundation on which a house is built. The wise dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When the flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. I remember how much rocks and cement were poured in to make a solid foundation for the Sierra Lodge. The strong foundation is the key to withstand snowstorms and other challenges of nature. Jesus in this passage illustrates people’s spiritual foundation as building a house. He says that the wise are those who hear the word of God and put them into practice. He emphasizes the key difference between the wise and the foolish is to put into the practice. It is not only reading the Bible and listening to messages, but putting them into practice in our day to day lives. This way we can lay down deep spiritual foundation which can help us withstand storms and challenges in our lives. I am always personally challenged by Pastor Timothy’s testimonies. He listens to the messages and applies them to his life very concretely and specifically. Stories about moving up to Davis to start our first church plant and quitting his job at Intel to find a job on campus to become more available for students challenges me how concrete it should be applying messages to my life. Pastor Timothy’s faithful serving at Davis church for many years and now his serving at our recent church plant at Minnesota really teach me that putting the word of God into practice is the key to laying down a solid spiritual foundation and deepening our faith.

•How can I avoid being like the foolish builder?
The key characteristic of a foolish builder is that he listens to the word of God but does not put into practice. I can identify myself with the foolish builder because I listen to a lot of messages but don’t apply them to my life. The ways that I can avoid being the foolish builder is by reflecting over messages and making personal applications. Often after I listen the messages from Sunday worship services or prayer meetings, I don’t spend adequate time to review and reflect on them. If I allow a few days to pass by, I end up not even remembering the content. In terms of carrying out personal commitment, I should just do it and not allow myself to go through emotional dramas. A lot of times my resilient and selfish emotions are the big hindrances to obeying God’s word and carrying out commitments that I have made.

Heavenly father thank you so much for teaching me the importance of laying down a deep and solid foundation of spiritual life. Through today’s passage, I see that there is a big divergence between my words and my life. I repent of my selfish desire to please my body and my ego to comfort myself. I realize how selfish and wicked I am through today’s passage. I ask for your forgiveness. Thank you for teaching me the importance of laying down a solid and strong foundation by putting the word of God into practice. Please help me obey your word and carry out my commitments immediately without going through my emotional struggles. Amen!

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