March 27 – Devotion Sharing (Luke 21)

Submitted by Claire K. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Two very small copper coins; wealthy, poor 

It is very comforting to know that Jesus does not see things as man sees things. From man’s perspective, what the rich people put in the temple treasury is more than what the poor widow put in. The rich gave gifts that were monetarily of much greater value than the widow.  Therefore, it would seem obvious that the rich gave more than the widow. But Jesus says a curious thing. He says, “I tell you the truth,” and goes one to say that the poor widow put in more than all the others. Though she put in the least monetarily, Jesus says that the truth is she put in more. God views things so differently to man. God isn’t so interested in the amount of money that we give to him. God is the creator of the world. He doesn’t need our money in order to accomplish what he wants to do; he can so easily just do whatever he wants to do.  But rather God looks at how much we give out of what we have. For the rich, they gave a fraction of their wealth, but the widow in her poverty gave all she had to live on. In God’s eyes, she gave more than the rest, because she gave everything she had.

From Jesus assessment of the rich’s and the widow’s offerings, we can see that God is a God who looks at each person’s according to what they have in their situation. God doesn’t expect a person to give what they do not have, but from what he or she does have. This is comforting to know in once sense because God looks at me as an individual and doesn’t compare me to what others gives.  However, as a person who has been given much by God, I don’t have an excuse as to why I can be giving much to God.

I have been given God’s precious gospel, the indwelling Holy Spirit, God’s family which includes my leaders and friends to help and encourage me in my walk with God. I have been given much training and experiences in ministry, and I have all the comforts in life that is more compared to most people in the world. I have been given much, and as I person who has been given much, I need to give much.

Appearances; reality, Things that pass away vs. things that last. 

The disciples made comment about the temple being adorned with beautiful stones and gifts. In a parallel text in Mark 13, the disciples comment about the temple, “what massive stones, what magnificent buildings.”  The temple must have been felt so big, massive and beautiful to the disciples that it probably felt like a permanent fixture to them, that it’s one thing they can be sure will always be there. So when Jesus tells them that the temple will be brought down so that not one stone would be standing on top of another, that was shocking to them. What they thought was great and permanent was not so according to Jesus.

What are the things that I depend on to be permanent fixtures in my life?  The big buildings in downtown SF, the bridges, or even the house that I live in or our church’s administrative building that I frequent very regularly seem permanent fixtures in my life that will be there for a long time. The ground that I walk on seems so solid and stable that I don’t even think about it. But it is when there is an earthquake and I realize that the ground is not so stable as I thought it was, or when I go to a funeral, that I see again how unpredictable life really is.  The reality is that nothing in this world is stable, not the buildings, economy, not even the ground, and definitely not anyone’s life. Jesus talks about the end times how there will be wars, revolutions, earthquakes, famines, pestilences, signs in the sun, moon, stars, roaring and tossing of the sea, heavenly bodies will be shaken. And for Christians, there will be persecution and betrayal by those closest to them. That is the reality that if it’s not here yet, will definitely come.

If this is reality, then how should I live my life? Some verses that apply are

19 By standing firm you will gain life.

33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

36 Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”

It seems like if the reality is that nothing on this earth is permanent and everything will pass away, then I better find out what will not pass away and invest everything I have into that. Jesus said in verse 33 that heaven and earth will pass away but his words will never pass away. As he describes the end time, it is clear that the heavens and the earth is not as solid and permanent as it feels like it is right now, but that it’ll pass away. What is more solid that the heaven and earth is Jesus’ word. What jesus says is more reliable than what feels like “reality” on this earth. If that is the case, then I need to pay close attentionn to what Jesus says and make knowing his word and standing firm in it most important priority in my life.

Submitted by Annie S. at Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Luke 21:1-4

  • How does this story free me from taking pride in or feeling insecure about my “gifts” compared to others? 

The whole notion of comparing my “giving” to others is a moot exercise. I have entirely too little information about how much others give, what they give, what their situation is out of which they are giving, or even what their motivations are. There is no way I can know any of these things although they are apparent to God. Therefore I should not take pride when I think I gave a lot or grow insecure when I feel like I didn’t give much in comparison to others. God takes a lot more into account than the actual amount I give. So instead of focusing on others, I really need to focus my attention on giving to God generously, cheerfully and in secret.

  • What is the crucial element in giving from God’s perspective?

It’s not the actual amount that matters to God but the circumstances out of which one gives whether it’s out of plenty or out of poverty. When I give a lot or all I have when I don’t have much, God sees that as an act of love for Him and a trust in Him to provide for me as my heavenly Father who cares for me.

  • How is my giving to God in terms of money, time, and energy?

Although I give regularly, sometimes when it is inconvenient, and on occasion, to a point where it is sets me back, I have never given like this poor widow who gave to God “all she had to live on.” In fact, the idea of doing something like this widow scares me and even makes me feel defensive. As a widow in that time and culture, she had no husband she could rely on for financial stability. Yet she gave all she had in a beautiful act of trust in God. Seeing others give to the temple treasury, as someone who loved God, she must’ve really wanted to give something as well. In contrast, I find myself just giving out of my plenty and feeling self-satisfied about it. I really need to repent of the way that I just go about giving what I think is good enough. This attitude tells God that I don’t love Him but that I am just trying to feel good about myself.

Luke 21:5-6

  • The disciples found the imposing and rich structure of the temple impressive.  How do I evaluate the many works of human hands around me today (i.e. buildings, cities, corporations, institutions, etc.)?  What impresses me about them?  How does this also relate to how I view people?

I evaluate the many works of human hands based on how efficient, profitable, clean, large, modern, creative, and imposing they are. I am impressed when I feel dwarfed by them, when they’ve been around for a long time and are still standing, when they are respected and even revered by others, and when they are just plain shiny and big.  This also relates to how I view people in that I am intimidated or impressed when they just look impressive, have impressive credentials, when they are famous or respected by others, or when simply have an imposing aura about them.

  • Think about Jesus’ words: “the time will come when …” (v. 6). 6 “As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down.” Applying this to my life, my pursuits, and other things in life that seem impressive, in what ways do these words give a larger perspective on things?

If I just step back and think about history, I can clearly see that life is precarious and fragile. Kingdoms, nations, and movements that seemed invincible crumbled and fell in time. The most imposing structures and cities got flattened by war or by natural disaster. All people, no matter how strong or renown, die and all their riches go to someone else.

When I think about my own life, I see that when I pursued a career in nursing, invested much money, energy, health, and time into it and finally attained the degree and experience I wanted, my health failed me and something I thought I could be proud of didn’t even last a year. Life is fragile and there will certainly come a time all sorts of impressive achievements will mean nothing in the end.

Luke 21:7-19

  • What is Jesus’ advice to his followers based on v. 9, v. 14, and v. 19?

9 When you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.”

14 But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves.

19 By standing firm you will gain life.

Jesus’ advises those who follow him to not be frightened by wars and revolutions and to determine to not worry about how they will defend themselves in times of trial. He is warning them beforehand of all the disaster that is to come not to make them afraid but to prepare themselves to stand firm until the very end. He is teaching them to expect suffering and hardship so that they are not caught unaware but instead prepared to face it and endure all the way through.

Luke 21:20-26 

  • Write the words that describe the end times.

Surrounded by armies, desolation, flee, get out, time of punishment, dreadful, great distress, wrath, fall by the sword, taken as prisoners, trampled on, anguish, perplexity, faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming.

Luke 21:27

  • Write the words associated with Jesus’ coming.

With power, great glory.

Luke 21:33-38

  • What are the similarities between dissipation, drunkenness, and the anxieties of life?

All of these entail a full-blown pursuit of indulging in our sinful pleasures and greed. All three of these are so consuming of life that it stupefies our conscience and better judgment. It is so consuming and intoxicating that even if there was clear impending disaster in front of us, we would be blinded by our obsessive pursuits. Ultimately it distracts us from what we actually need to do in order to prepare for God’s sure judgment.

  • What effect do these have on the word of God?

It makes us dull to the word of God.  When we are so consumed in our head-long pursuit of satisfying our fleshly desires or of grasping for any sense of security apart from God, His word has no bearing on our lives. It not only seems irrelevant, but an impediment to what we want.  We are too fully consumed with ourselves and our desires that we shut out God’s warnings.

  • What are the things that weigh down my heart? 

Some of the things that weigh down my heart are as follows:  anxiety about my poor health and how I will be able to handle the demands of life, greed for all the good things in life, worries about particular people in my life, especially their spiritual condition, my own sense of inadequacy.

  • How can I apply v. 33 in my battle against these things that weigh down my heart?

33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

A lot of my worries reveal an underlying distrust of God and His words. It reveals that I view myself as orphaned from God, out on my own to fend for myself. It also reveals my sinfulness and pride. But I can apply v.33 in my battle against these things that weigh down my heart and distract me from being ready for Jesus’ coming by simply clinging to God’s words – His promises, truths, warnings, encouragements. All the things that cause me anxiety or the things that weigh me down do not have the final word and will not last. What will last is the redemption that God promises me in His word, and the people that I can bring with me into this eternal home if I do not allow the anxieties of life and distractions to keep me from the task that has been entrusted to me. All the worldly things that I worry about are just a mist. Knowing that all of it will pass away helps me to refocus my energies on the things that will never pass away.

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