February 21 – Devotion Sharing (Luke 12)

Submitted by Joyce L. from Gracepoint Austin Church

Luke 12:22-34

Worry, fear

This passage tells us to not worry.  One reason is because worrying is pointless. Verses 25-26 says “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?  Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?”  It is so true that worrying does not accomplish anything.  Worrying takes up a lot of my emotional energy, my thoughts, my time, but at the end of the day, worrying hasn’t done anything.  It doesn’t make the problems go away, it doesn’t provide for me, or give me assurance about the situation.

One thing I find myself worrying about is my dad ever since my mom passed away. These worries and concerns sometimes fill up my thoughts and heart, and when it does, it paralyzes me from being able to do anything else.  I just get filled up with lot of emotions, fear of the future, and fear of the unknown.  My mind can play scenarios of what ifs, and I think about the most negative thing that can happen.  However, what does this accomplish?  Nothing.  It ends up making me just more worried, the problem remaining, and reality still being the same.  There are a lot of problems in this world, and a lot of things that cause us to worry.  Our lives are so fragile, and there is no end to worrying about the safety and health of our loved ones.  And when unforeseen circumstances happen in our lives or in those close to us, such as disease, sickness, disease, worry and fear grip us because of the unknown future, of what might happen.

What then is the alternative to worrying?  This passage says that we don’t have to worry because there is God, there is a heavenly Father who knows all of our needs.  He is a God who does not leave me alone in this world, to fend for myself, to take care of my needs and concerns.  He is “pleased to give [me] the kingdom.”  He is not a stingy God, but He is a generous God who wants to provide for me.  He is a Father who knows what I need, who considers me valuable.  And because there is this kind of God, instead of worrying, I can turn to Him.  I can bring my requests before this God, knowing that He is going to hear and answer my prayers.  Philippians 4:6-7 – Do not be anxious about anything but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  I have experienced this time and time again, from situations like my mom battling with cancer, my husband and I both being laid off at the same time for couple months and being financially tight.  There were many days where I was filled with such worry and fear regarding my mom’s condition and situation, days in which I started getting fearful about not having enough to make it through during days of unemployment, but as I learned to bring those worries and fears before God in prayer, I was able to experience peace as I affirmed God as my Father, Provider, a God who cares for me (1 Peter 5:7).  And as I experienced that peace, my own heart and mind was freed up from worries, so that I was available to seek first his kingdom, to have the room in my life to continue to love and invest in people, to engage in God’s kingdom work.

This passage is a reminder for me that as I face circumstances and situations that cause me to worry, such, as with my dad alone without mom, people whom God has entrusted to me to take care of, work situation, finances, etc., instead of just lingering in my own feelings of worry and fear, I need to remember the truth that I am not alone, but that there is a Heavenly Father who loves me, who cares for me, who wants to provide me with all that I need, who considers me much more valuable than the birds of the air.  Therefore, I just need to take that time to bring my anxieties and worries before God in prayer, and the truth that God will take care of me and that He will provide can free me up in terms of time, emotional energy, resources, possessions, and I can make these fully available for God to use for His kingdom work.

Submitted by John L. from Gracepoint Austin Church

Luke 12:22-23

  • What is Jesus saying about the nature of humanity here?

At the beginning of this chapter Jesus communicated to the crowd and disciples a key truth about humanity – that life is precarious, that we are weak and frail, and that we cannot even guarantee for ourselves one more day of life.  However, the solution to this painful reality is not to find better ways of clutching onto our lives with an even tighter grip to protect ourselves from all harm.  Instead of thinking that we are ultimately alone in this world and need to fend for our every need, we were actually created by God who knows us and to whom we need to be rich towards (v. 21).  On one level that means we no longer need to be filled with worry regarding even the most basic needs we may have, whether that be food and clothing, or any of the other “necessities” of life (health and safety of our families, worries about our career and future, etc.).  But if we are in the unfamiliar position of not worrying about such needs, then what might adequately replace that?  This is where Jesus expresses another truth about humanity, which is that we are created by a God who loves us and knows our needs, and thus we can trust Him with our entire life.  Jesus doesn’t deny that we need food and shelter and clothing, and even acknowledges how those needs can consume us to the point of worry.  But He elevates our way of thinking so that we can trust Him to provide for all of our needs so that we now have the room and capacity to love and relate with Him, and even to serve Him and love others around us.

When I was younger I was someone Jesus would have wanted to address with these words as I was filled with many anxieties and worries about life so much so that I didn’t have the capacity to stop and think about life and God.  I was driven to work hard and succeed as I knew that I was the only one who would ultimately have to provide for my needs.  But eventually the reality of death and the uncertainty of life helped my heart to be open to finally start seeking Him. With time I eventually found Jesus’ words to be so true that though there may be these worries, I can trust Him my Heavenly Father with my entire life:  my future, my family and children, and all the other needs that may have otherwise consumed me and make my heart shrink.  But another thing that God did that was pleasantly surprising was to help me grow as a person so that I would have the roominess of heart to be concerned about the things God is concerned about, other people:  to embrace their needs as my own, to pray for them, and even to be used by God to help provide for their needs out of my plenty.  In fact, one of the ways that God has tangibly provided for my needs so that my worries have greatly decreased was through the church where through the love, wisdom and generosity of the members my needs were more than adequately met.

Luke 12:24-28 

  • According to this passage, what truths about God and about life make worrying foolish?

The truth about God in this passage is that if He is willing and able to take care of all of these other creatures, some of whom do not even sow or reap for what they need each day, then how much more I can be assured that God will take care of me as He says I am much more valuable than birds.  That reveals His character that He is a God who knows my needs and how to best meet them.  It’s simply my lack of trust that causes me to fret and worry and to take matters into my own hands.  But that is foolish because the truth is that He has provided me everything I needed in life, from birth until now.  It’s my narrow and wrong thinking that says it’s because I was able to somehow arrange everything in my life so that I have what I need, but that is definitely wrong.  God has been the provider of all my needs and that is what’s true. Also, the other reality from verse 25 says that no matter how much I worry that I still cannot add a single hour to my life.  As true as that is, at times I have a stubborn refusal to accept that as I try to somehow plan everything out in my life.  But it’s when I see the consequences of how I still lack the peace and rest I was striving after when I finally become clear in my thinking to see that only God can give me what I truly need.  As Jesus says in verse 31, I simply need to “seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.”

Luke 12:29-32 

  • On what basis are we to not worry, but focus on seeking his kingdom?

The basis that I have to not live a life of worry is based upon God’s character.  Jesus says that the Father knows what I need (v. 29) and that He has been pleased to give me the kingdom (v. 32).  If He is truly the creator and thus know what I truly need and knows what is beneficial for me and what isn’t, then most certainly I can trust that I will be provided for.  That is definitely reassuring for me because though I tried to secure the best life for myself in the past, that only resulted in failure.  And if I am a failure, then where else can I even turn to?  Thankfully I have Peter’s words to echo in John 6:68, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”  The answer and solution is that God is trustworthy to bring all of my hopes and fears and worries to because as the loving God, He knows how to meet my needs.  Through the years as I’ve learned to let go of some real worries regarding my life and my future, relational issues and even the health of my children, and turned my attention towards prioritizing seeking God’s kingdom, to follow His wisdom and guidance regarding life, and serving Him, I have seen all my needs met and more so many times over.  I’ve been able to recognize the many things I have as blessings from God, rather than the result of my own effort.  I can testify that my life has been filled with much more than I could have ever worked towards myself. Especially as we are currently going through the “I.M.Mature” messages series on immaturity and maturity, oh how my life would have been filled with such immaturity were it not for God showing me that life is far greater than just setting my heart on what I will eat or drink.  It’s like He opened a whole new reality of life that I was blind to, and I am better off eternally for it.

Luke 12:33-34 

  • What concrete ways of shifting my heart heavenward are suggested by this text?

The concrete ways that I can shift my heart heavenward is to begin seeing people from God’s perspective.  Jesus expresses how I can be so certain of His care for me that I can become generous with the possessions, riches and treasures that God has provided me.  Without that kind of trust in God’s provision though it would be very difficult to meet other people’s needs because I would constantly be worrying about how much I lack.  I simply would not have the capacity to think beyond myself as I not only try to make ends meet, but even to assure that I have some surplus so that I can have the room to be concerned about others.  But the wrong way of thinking that justifies my attitude of hoarding things is the belief that I will reach a point where I have plenty and where I will be more than willing to give things away.  Realistically speaking, that kind of time would never come as my sense of worry causes me to always feel like I need just a little bit more before I can give anything away.  But when I trust in God being my provider, then I see all that I possess as His, and I am just a mere caretaker of those things while I am on earth.  So even when I have just a little bit, because it belongs to God, I would be free to give that away, whether that be my energy and youth, family and career, time and money, my salvation, church life, wisdom, experiences with Him, etc.  I need to steward handle all that God has given to me well, to see those things as opportunities God gives to be a blessing to other people in need.

PERSONAL PRAYER                                                           

Please write out a prayer of commitment or confession either based on today’s text or upon reflection over recent events in your life.

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for this important reminder of your concrete love for me that you know all of my needs and will provide for it according to Your timing.  It’s something I need to be constantly reminded of as my own internal worries and this world deceives me to dwell on how much I lack and how much I am the only one who can provide security in my life.  Please help me to channel my energies away from securing something for myself in this life, but to be a good steward of all you have given me and to seek your kingdom.  As I have already had an opportunity to experience my life being richly blessed by you, especially through having the time to invest in relationships within the church, I pray that I can continue to invest in people as that’s only thing that will last eternally.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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