Day #57: The Last Chance

And he told this parable: "A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vinedresser, 'Lo, these three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down; why should it use up the ground?'

And he answered him, 'Let it alone, sir, this year also, till I dig about it and put on manure And if it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.'"

Luke 13:6-9, RSV


This is a sobering parable, once we realize what it is all about. Yet, it can also be a very encouraging parable for those who heed its message.


It's certainly not a difficult parable to understand. It involves the example of a fig tree that should have been producing fruit for three years, but had not. So the man who owns the tree wants it to be cut down since it is just taking up valuable resources, but the man who looks after the trees asks for one more year. If it bears fruit, great! But if not, it will be cut down.


The message cannot be lost on us. We have been placed here by God and He expects us to bear fruit for Him. There comes a point in everyone's life where they should be bearing that fruit, but for some reason or another, they do not. That being the case, there will come a final chance. Only God knows when His willingness to let us go without bearing fruit will come, but the day will certainly come. If we begin to bear fruit, great! But if not...


Are you bearing fruit? If not, when do you think your last chance will come? Could this be your final year?


This is why we are reading! To make sure that we do not miss our last chance. Understand that God does not want you to miss it, thus the chance, but we must at some point begin to bear fruit or be cut down.


Today's reading is Luke 13. It will help us to recognize the responsibility and the privilege of serving our Lord.



Day #56: Why is Everyone so Afraid?

"I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear him!

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Luke 12:4-7, RSV



We live in an era when everyone seems scared to death. They are scared of the economy failing, and of the stock market falling. They are scared of out of control politicians. They are scared of running out of food and heat and ammunition. They are scared of dying. They are especially afraid of dying.


Now, I think we all can understand a reasonable fear at the uncertainty of death. My wife and I have lost all of our parents in the last three years. Death is difficult and weighs heavily on those who have lost loved ones... but I still do not believe that anyone should be controlled or overwhelmed by their fear of death. I especially do not believe that we need to allow others to control or overwhelm us with a fear of death. Yet, as I write this, I see that exact thing happening, as people are so focused on their fear of death that many now seem to be too afraid to live. But, how could that happen?


It seems that people in positions of power have assured them that they are going to die if they don't do as they say, and even if they do do as they say, they still might die because there is a terrible disease out there. And you know what? There is a terrible disease out there and some people have died from it. Some of the people who died were afraid of dying, and some of the people who died were not afraid of dying - the disease just doesn't seem to care. Now we are told that if we will just get a series of shots that may or may not protect us from the disease, and if we will wear at least one face covering (though two might be better) and if we will just stay away from family, friends and strangers, that we may or may not get this disease. Also, it would help if you would be afraid, to be very afraid, for that seems to be the best solution...


but this is not what we were created for! We were created to live for as long as we are alive, not to live as if we were already in a box six feet under ground.


I think this, at least in part, was what Jesus was trying to get across to the people of His day. He wanted them to know that they didn't need to fear those who could only kill the body, but they were instead to fear Him who could cast you into Hell after you were already dead. In other words, Jesus was telling the people of His day (and the people of our time as well) to fear God. Then they wouldn't have to fear anybody or anything else. 


Then they could live! 


And we can too!


I think this in part is why we need to read the Bible; So we can learn that if we fear God, we won't have to fear anything else. It's a pretty good deal, when you think about it.


Today's reading is from Luke chapter 12. It has all sorts of good information about fearing God, so that we might learn to live the life we were called to live.

Day #55: The Real Blessing of Hearing the Word

As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.”

He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”

Luke 11:27-28, NIV


You can almost see the woman in this passage. She has heard the great teachings of Jesus. She has likely seen and heard many of the wonderful deeds He has done. And, like so many of our own sweet mothers, recognized how blessed the mother of Jesus must have been to have had a son like Him. So she was moved just to "call out" about how blessed Jesus' mother must have been. It would be like one of us complimenting a parent today by saying how proud the child must be making their mother or father. I think it was the most natural thing in the world, and it was a beautiful moment that God saw worthy of recording in His Word for all time.


But it was Jesus' response to this comment that should really grab out attention. He said that the ones who are truly blessed are those who hear God's Word and then obey it. In the book of James we see a similar theme when, through inspiration, he said,

"Do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." (James 1:22-23, NIV).


It's a basic, but important lesson and one that is at heart of why we are reading. Reading the Bible and knowing what it says is vital. But more vital, still, is doing what it says. I believe that this is the point that Jesus was making when He revealed that it was obeying the word that would lead to the true blessing.


Today's reading is Luke 11. We will truly be blessed if we will read it with the attention that the Word of God deserves, and then do what it says.

Day #54: Choosing the Good Part

Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.”

But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

Luke 10:38-42, NASB


I love this story. I think that it shows one of the most human situations of Jesus' ministry. It involves two sisters who have invited Jesus to their home for a meal. One is busy trying to get everything just right for the meal, the other is seated at the feet of Jesus, listening to Him teach. We are told that the one who is doing all the work was distracted due to all of the preparations that went into the meal, while the other, according to Jesus Himself, chose what was better.


Now if that were you or I doing the work, we would have been on Martha's side! Why wasn't Mary helping? Why was she commended for doing nothing but sitting around and listening to Jesus speak? Hopefully, the reason that Jesus gave is sufficient: Mary chose the better part. But why?


Understanding this point will greatly assist us in understanding one of the key teachings of the Bible. So, what is that point?


The spiritual is more important than the physical.


Please don't misunderstand - we do have physical chores that must be done, otherwise everyone will go hungry. Still, we do tend to get worried and upset over the small things, while often missing out on the most important. In this case, the most important was taking the time to listen to Jesus. After that everything else will still get done, but when you have the opportunity to actually hear what Jesus has to say, you should take it. In many ways this event is a lesson in putting first things first.


Today's reading is from Luke chapter 10. It's a wonderful chapter, and we will all greatly benefit from its message, if we will only take the time to listen.

Day #53: He Who Dies with the Most Toys... Is Still Dead!

For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?

Luke 9:25, ESV


Was there ever a better coined phrase than, "The Rat Race"? It is amazing how many people fight and claw their way to the top, only to leave this world having fallen short of their purpose. One of the reasons we see so many people unsatisfied, though they may have wealth and power, is that this pursuit of wealth and power is not what we were put here for. We were put here to serve God! Those that figure this out will receive the greatest reward ever: The opportunity to serve God for all eternity!


Yet most men will never do that. Jesus pointed out in Matthew 7 that many would follow the wide road that leads to destruction, but only a few would take the narrow path that leads to life. Why is that? I believe it's because most people buy into the lie that success is based on what you can get, and if getting a little is good, then getting more is better. Because of this, most people spend their lives in pursuit of the things that do not accrue to eternal life. So at the end of this "rat race" they are left with what all rats are left with... a bunch of moldy cheese that does not satisfy.


Are you working for things eternal, or for the things of this world. Jesus made His point clear when He asked what good it would be for a man should he indeed gain the whole world, but in the end forfeit his very soul. What are you working towards? The reason that we are reading the Bible is to find out what the Creator wants us to do with this life, in order that we might have the privilege of serving Him for all eternity.


This is what we are here for!


Today's reading is from Luke chapter 9. It's a dandy!