READ: Luke 13:1-21
THINK: Like never before, people today seek involvement in charitable causes and humanitarian efforts to make our world a better place. Ironically, people are bombarded like never before with images of immorality, violence and destruction--much of it for the sake of information and entertainment. Because of their concern and involvement in decent causes, many young people are lulled into believing that their heart is in the right place. All the while, they are becoming more desensitized to the true value of life and the desperate needs around them. But Jesus' followers must recognize real needs, responding with real hope and help--physically and spiritually.
RESPOND: What will happen to people who don't repent (i.e., admit their sin, turn from their own ways and entrust themselves to Jesus as Savior and Leader of their lives, cf. vv. 3, 5)? How does the fig tree story apply to people who claim to believe in Jesus but lack sincerity and spiritual fruitfulness? (See 13:6-9 note.) What does this reveal about God's patience? What does this passage reveal about Jesus' attitude toward hurting people? (See 13:16 note.) In what ways can Christians become insensitive to the world's miseries? What types of things desensitize people to others' real needs? How can you remain sensitive to people in need? What do the parables of the mustard seed and yeast indicate about the growth and influence of God's kingdom? (See 13:19 note.) Depending on interpretation, what cautions might these stories provide regarding the influence of deception and evil among Christ's followers? (See 13:21 note.) How can Christians and churches guard against deceptive and destructive influences?
PRAY: Confess and repent of any known sin in your life. Ask Jesus to give you sensitivity and compassion for hurting people and to show you what you can do to help. Pray for discernment to recognize and resist spiritual deception.
ACT: Ask God to lead you to people today who are hurting or have significant needs and to guide and provide you with a way to offer practical help. Be sure to pray, either on your own or even with the individuals in need. If any habit in your life is desensitizing you to the desperate needs all around, eliminate that distraction starting today.
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