The challenge of serving well

Posted Mar 26, 2020

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Reminder: Resurrection’s goal is to read all of Luke during Lent. So many of the daily reading portions are somewhat longer than usual.

Daily Scripture

Luke 12:35-13:9

35 “Be dressed for service and keep your lamps lit. 36 Be like people waiting for their master to come home from a wedding celebration, who can immediately open the door for him when he arrives and knocks on the door. 37 Happy are those servants whom the master finds waiting up when he arrives. I assure you that, when he arrives, he will dress himself to serve, seat them at the table as honored guests, and wait on them. 38 Happy are those whom he finds alert, even if he comes at midnight or just before dawn. 39 But know this, if the homeowner had known what time the thief was coming, he wouldn’t have allowed his home to be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, because the Human One [or Son of Man] is coming at a time when you don’t expect him.”

41 Peter said, “Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for everyone?”

42 The Lord replied, “Who are the faithful and wise managers whom the master will put in charge of his household servants, to give them their food at the proper time? 43 Happy are the servants whom the master finds fulfilling their responsibilities when he comes. 44 I assure you that the master will put them in charge of all his possessions.

45 “But suppose that these servants should say to themselves, My master is taking his time about coming. And suppose they began to beat the servants, both men and women, and to eat, drink, and get drunk. 46 The master of those servants would come on a day when they weren’t expecting him, at a time they couldn’t predict. The master will cut them into pieces and assign them a place with the unfaithful. 47 That servant who knew his master’s will but didn’t prepare for it or act on it will be beaten severely. 48 The one who didn’t know the master’s will but who did things deserving punishment will be beaten only a little. Much will be demanded from everyone who has been given much, and from the one who has been entrusted with much, even more will be asked.

49 “I came to cast fire upon the earth. How I wish that it was already ablaze! 50 I have a baptism I must experience. How I am distressed until it’s completed! 51 Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, I have come instead to bring division. 52 From now on, a household of five will be divided—three against two and two against three. 53 Father will square off against son and son against father; mother against daughter and daughter against mother; and mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

54 Jesus also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud forming in the west, you immediately say, ‘It’s going to rain.’ And indeed it does. 55 And when a south wind blows, you say, ‘A heat wave is coming.’ And it does. 56 Hypocrites! You know how to interpret conditions on earth and in the sky. How is it that you don’t know how to interpret the present time? 57 And why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right? 58 As you are going to court with your accuser, make your best effort to reach a settlement along the way. Otherwise, your accuser may bring you before the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison. 59 I tell you, you won’t get out of there until you have paid the very last cent” [Or leptos (1/128 of a day’s wages)].

13:1 Some who were present on that occasion told Jesus about the Galileans whom Pilate had killed while they were offering sacrifices. 2 He replied, “Do you think the suffering of these Galileans proves that they were more sinful than all the other Galileans? 3 No, I tell you, but unless you change your hearts and lives, you will die just as they did. 4 What about those eighteen people who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them? Do you think that they were more guilty of wrongdoing than everyone else who lives in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you, but unless you change your hearts and lives, you will die just as they did.”

6 Jesus told this parable: “A man owned a fig tree planted in his vineyard. He came looking for fruit on it and found none. 7 He said to his gardener, ‘Look, I’ve come looking for fruit on this fig tree for the past three years, and I’ve never found any. Cut it down! Why should it continue depleting the soil’s nutrients?’ 8 The gardener responded, ‘Lord, give it one more year, and I will dig around it and give it fertilizer. 9 Maybe it will produce fruit next year; if not, then you can cut it down.’”

Reflection Questions

At the start of this passage, Jesus compared his followers to servants. Good ones are always ready to respond to their master’s commands and wishes. Bad ones lose their jobs (or, in Roman times, even worse). Jesus was not endorsing those cruel practices but using them to point out that choosing to serve God is a matter of eternal life or death. The section ended with a haunting parable—Jesus didn’t give it an ending.

  • Jesus' words about bringing division rather than peace (12:51-53) may strike us as odd. Isn’t Jesus “the prince of peace”? Yes—but his kingdom’s principles (including peace) were so unlike the world’s that he knew at times division would follow. Have family members, friends or co-workers ever misunderstood or criticized choices you’ve made based on your loyalty to God?
  • Jesus told what we could call “The Unfinished Parable” (13:6-9). The gardener pleaded for one more year to help the tree bear good fruit—but Jesus never said whether the tree did or didn’t bear fruit. 13:5 showed what kind of “fruit-bearing” was really on his mind. What about you—how will you finish Jesus' unfinished parable?

Prayer

Lord Jesus, you dig up the soil around me, water and fertilize, and watch eagerly for your fruit to appear in me. Keep me open to you so that I may indeed bear fruit to your glory. Amen.

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Matt Ozment

Matt Ozment

Matt is the Special Events Production Manager in the Tech Arts ministry at Church of the Resurrection. He joined the staff in December 2014 and helps in supporting each event and conference at Resurrection Leawood. In his free time he spends time with his 3 kids, supports his wife’s cake business, and will be starting seminary at Asbury Theological Seminary Online in Fall 2019.

If you’re anything like me, you’re likely looking for hope now more than ever. Some days are much easier than others. Some days I’m really in tune with the Spirit and other days I just don’t have the words to pray. But it’s in those days that I also remind myself that the Holy Spirit intercedes for me when I don’t have the words to say (Romans 8:26). The Holy Spirit is always with me and you no matter how we’re feeling.

I firmly believe that through all of this unknown, the one constant is God. God is with us now, and God will be there when we get to the end of this season. And yes, it’s hard to believe that 100% of the time but it’s true. During this time I believe there are three things that are essential: 

1) Keeping our faith at a top priority, to lean into Christ as hard as we can, being open and honest about how we’re feeling.
2) Being completely open about our faith with others and the hope in Jesus that we have. There’s no better time than now to offer that hope.
3) Being in connection with others. Being open and honest with our families who we are at home with, and also making phone calls/Skype/FaceTime/Facebook Video Chat/etc. with our friends, coworkers, and neighbors.

Here are some things I’m doing as I seek to practice these. Maybe you'd like to try one or more of them:

One challenge I put on Facebook was for those who are blessed with job stability right now. Take what you would have normally spent on restaurants and use that amount to bless others who are now without work.

When I wash my hands: instead of singing Happy Birthday twice I actually recite Psalm 23. And I have to tell you that this consistently brings me much peace and a sense of connection with God every time I do this.

I’ve made journaling a priority to help me mentally process every day. And a consistent part of that journaling is that every day I ask two questions:
• Where did I see God today?
• What am I grateful for?
If you still have the gratitude journals from last year, take those out, look through them and continue to add to them.

I look at this as a chance to slow down for once; to take a “forced Sabbath” as it were (a phrase I’m borrowing from Pastor Adam). This is a chance to really dive deep into reading Scripture and spending more time in prayer.

These are a few ideas of what I’ve done during this time to help me cope and continue pursuing Christ. If you have other practices that you’ve taken on I’d love to connect with you and hear about what you’re doing to keep moving forward. If you need prayer or a listening ear I’d love to pray with you and just listen. You can e-mail me (matt.ozment@cor.org) or find me on Facebook. 

Take care out there. I love you and God loves you. We will get through this season together.

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