Saturday, 31 December 2016
He replied, “Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it.” Luke 13.8
The landowner saw that the fig tree continued to be fruitless and he wanted to remove it. But the gardener saw the potential for the tree to produce fruit if it was well tended and cared for.
And so it can be with people. We may meet or know people who have been apparently barren for years, leading unfruitful, unproductive and maybe aimless lives. It would be so easy to give up on such people, to determine that they won’t change, and maybe don’t even want to change.
But there is another perspective. I see Jesus in the role that the gardener takes in the parable. And I hear Him say, in respect of those people who appear as the barren fig tree: “Wait, and look! Each person is my Father’s creation. And each is made in our image. There is fruit in every individual. Some may be good fruit and some not-so-good. Be patient, and look for the potential good fruit. As the gardener tended the fig tree, so my disciples – those who are serious about following me – can patiently love and encourage those who live in seeming hopelessness. Encouragement is a wonderful aid to good fruit. Combine it with Godly wisdom and you have the makings of a great gardener, one who will facilitate the production of good fruit in others.”
I hear what You say. Forgive me for those times when I write off people as too difficult for me to help. Let me see people through Your eyes. Help me to recognise their potential, and guide me in the ways in which I can be most helpful to them. May we see much good fruit through the ministry of genuine Christian friendship. Thank You. Amen.
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Thursday, 29 December 2016
“No, I tell you, but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did.” Luke 13.3
Jesus’ message here, His warning that “all” will perish, is universal. No one is exempt from God’s judgment, and we are all sinners. There is a strange comfort in this, to know that sin is not selective but seeks to infect us all.
Just as readily, thank God, the remedy is available to everybody. And this remedy is the way of repentance. It seems easy, almost too easy. What God asks of me is to come before Him, and say “Sorry”. But it requires sincerity of heart for me to do this honestly and humbly. And there is more! I need to allow the Spirit of God to search the very depths of my being and to bring to the light all that requires yielding up to God in confession and repentance.
I need to be willing to open myself up freely to God’s scrutiny. I need the courage to receive what He might show me and to say, “Yes, this needs to be dealt with, and I am willing for it to be so.” This, perhaps, is the harder part. I find no great difficulty in saying sorry. But I’m likely to struggle with and maybe against, some of the taint and grime that God might uncover.
Yet I am serious about my walk with Him, and so I must give myself to this examination and to offer myself to Him to deal with whatever may need to be dealt with.
I see You are there to help me every step of the way. Thank You.
I offer myself to Your scrutiny. This is not brash, but a humble effort on my part to come clean.
Search me by Your Spirit. Uncover that which needs to change, and lead me in that change by the force of Your love and the power of Christ’s sacrifice. I yield, and seek Your release. I ask these things in Jesus’ loving name. Amen.