God’s Judgment, Devotions for Luke 13:1-9, 31-35
March 6-12, 2017
Monday, March 6, 2017–God’s Judgment
“There were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices” (Luke 13:1).
Carlos chose not to live in fear. He was an undocumented immigrant who lived is a southern city with his wife and three children. Carlos knew that I.C.E. could invade his home and snatch him away without a moment’s notice. Rather than be anxious about what might happen, Carlos decided he would enjoy his work and spend every moment he could with his family. Susan was in a similar situation as Carlos. Her company was merging with another and her department was being downsized. Susan knew that at any moment she could be called into her boss’ office and let go. She too decided not to worry about tomorrow, but to live each day to its fullest.
Governments, corporations and even friends can do horrendous things, which could alter our lives forever. We can live in a state a paranoia; always on our guard and suspecting everyone and everything. If we want to, we can decide to set aside our fear and live our lives with courage, love, forgiveness and hope. God’s Spirit within us calls to us and says, “Do not be afraid.
Your most frequent command in the Bible, Lord, is, “Do not be afraid. Trusting in your loving presence, empower us to face all of life with courage. Amen.
Tuesday, March 7, 2017–God’s Judgment
“Do you think … they were worse sinners than all other Galileans” (Luke 13:2)?
We always want an explanation. A tower fell on some unsuspecting Galileans. “Why did that happen?” we ask. The standard answer at the time of Jesus was, “They must have sinned big time!” The fact of the matter is, though, there is no direct line of cause and effect. We could live like an angel but that is no guarantee that we will escape tragedies or disasters.
Life is fragile. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. Loved ones can be taken from us in the blink of an eye and our lives can be changed without a moment’s notice. We can choose to be so protective of life, that we don’t allow ourselves to live. Another path, however, is to cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Be thankful for each moment of life and for all the people in our lives. Thankfulness and praise add to the quality of our lives and better equip us to face tragedies when they occur.
Thank you, Lord, for the gift of life and for all the people who touch us with their love. Amen.
Wednesday, March 8, 2017–God’s Judgment
“Unless you repent, you will all perish as they did” (Luke 13:3).
A church group volunteered to serve a meal at a local homeless shelter. As the homeless men and women enjoyed a hot meal, the shelter supervisor ask the group, “What do you see?” There was a moment of silence before an older man raised his hand. “I see filthy, smelly, hopeless people.” “That’s interesting,” the supervisor replied. “When I look at the group, I see a veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and is now forgotten by his country. I see a widow who lost everything because of the medical bills from caring for her dying husband. In the corner, is a young man who is bi-polar. He’s homeless because he can’t afford his medication and he can’t hold down a job without it.” Our perspectives determine what we see and how we live.
The word that is usually translated, “Repent,” literally means, “to change one’s mind”. Many of us have had it drilled into us by well-meaning Sunday school teachers and pastors that repent means to confess and turn away from our sin. The word also could mean to get a fresh perspective on life.
Jesus invites his followers to see all of life as a gift from God. With this new perspective, we can let go of the notion that life is capricious and ill fated. Choosing to view life from this new perspective is life transforming.
Open our eyes, Lord, so that we can see what you see. Amen.
Thursday, March 9, 2017–God’s Judgment
“For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree” (Luke 13:7)
Whether we have green thumbs, brown thumbs or just dirty hands, it takes a lot of T.L.C. to grow plants and trees. Proper care requires that we know each individual plant. Do they like sun or shade? Do they need a lot of water or a mere occasional sprinkle? Each plant responds differently to our care, also. Some plants thrive while other plants struggle.
It is amazing to observe how the Holy Spirit moves in our lives. The Spirit uses the unique events and people of our lives to draw us into deeper relationships with God. Those events and people are also used to shape us into God’s image and make us fruitful. Some of us respond to the Spirit’s movement earlier than others. The Spirit doesn’t give up on us, though. The care continues throughout our lives because there is always the possibility for more growth and fruitfulness.
Thank you, Lord, for your loving care that enables us to be all that you have created us to be. Amen.
Friday, March 10, 2017–God’s Judgment
“Let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it” (Luke 13:8).
Akhan was a whiz in his English and history classes. It was in math that he struggled. He just couldn’t grasp the theorems and postulates that were necessary to arrive at the correct answers. His teacher patiently tried to explain the concepts to Akhan. She even worked with him after school. When Akhan still struggled, his teacher arranged for a tutor to work with him. Slowly Akhan began to understand, his work improved and his grades were brought up out of the cellar. Akhan never became as comfortable with math as he was with English and history Yes, because of the patience and persistence of his teacher, math ceased to be an impenetrable mystery.
Like Akhan’s teacher, the gardener in this story was patient and persistent, also. He didn’t give up and worked with the fig tree one more year. Akhan’s teacher and the gardener’s actions mirror the movement of the Spirit in our lives. Some of us are able to grasp the elements of faith much faster than others. A few of us really struggle, because lives of faith are so very different from the norms and expectations of the societies in which we live. God’s Spirit doesn’t give up on us. Patiently the Spirit helps us to grow and experience more of the abundant, free life and the peace that passes all understanding, which are ours through the cross of Christ.
“Day by day, oh, dear Lord, three things [we] pray/ To see thee more clearly/ Love thee more dearly/ Follow thee more nearly, day by day” Amen. (Lyrics, “Godspell”)
Saturday, March 11, 2017–God’s Judgment
“I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow” (Luke 13:32).
As Jesus drew closer to Jerusalem the tension increased. King Herod was becoming more fearful of the following Jesus was attracting. He didn’t want things to get out of hand and have a rebellion on his hands. The Jewish authorities were getting increasingly upset over Jesus’ teachings and his actions. They, too, feared that Jesus might start a rebellion and bring down the wrath of Rome upon them. Jesus was in a dangerous position. Jesus, however, did not allow his vulnerable position to prevent him from continuing his ministry.
Throughout the centuries, Christians have followed Jesus’ example. Facing harsh persecution and even death, followers of Jesus have continued to proclaim the gospel of Jesus and share God’s love and grace by their words and actions. In good times and bad, in plenty and in want, the ministry of Jesus has continued. Powerful opposition cannot squelch love and only serves to motivate a more sacrificial love.
As followers of Jesus, we are able to keep on Jesus’ ministry because we know that God is present with us and that we are in God’s hands. Such knowledge does not grant us immunity, but rather the courage and strength to love.
You are our mighty fortress, Lord, and a bulwark that never fails. Empower us so that we can courageously meet the needs of our neighbors and confront the ever present forces of evil. Amen.
Sunday, March 12, 2017–God’s Judgment
“How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings” (Luke 13:34).
Three year-old Timothy was on a rampage. He didn’t want to pick up his toys, nor did he want to go to bed. Timothy didn’t even want a book read to him. Timothy wasn’t really sure what he wanted to do, but he was certain that he didn’t want to do what his mother wanted him to do. In an attempt to defuse the situation, Timothy’s mother grabbed him up and held him. Timothy fought the embrace. Wiggling out of his mother’s arms, he fled to another room. A little while later, exhausted from his tirade, Timothy came to his mother and snuggled up to her. She wrapped him in her arms in an embrace of love.
We often find ourselves struggling against God. Difficult and painful situations might have angered us. The conviction of the Holy Spirit concerning our words or actions that detract from our witness could have caused us to resist. We might have rebelled against a step of faith and a journey on an unknown path on which the Spirit was leading us. The Lord seeks to embrace us and calm us with God’s love, but we struggle and resist. Like modern day Jonah’s, we run from God. God doesn’t turn away from us, though. Instead, God waits patiently and welcomes our return by gathering us and sheltering us under her wings.
Lord, thank you for your patience when we struggle in our relationship with you. May your steadfast love calm our fears and motivate us to faithful obedience. Amen.