Human behavior flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge. ~Plato
A letter was written and posted in early December. Presents were purchased and shipped to the grandparents’ house so Santa wouldn’t be trapped in a confessional on the long drive there. Everywhere were the smells and sights of Christmas. Everything was set. Everyone was happy.
And then came Christmas Eve.
The bullet-pointed wish list was tossed aside for some new thing. The previously longed for toy was replaced by a new desire. What was just right before was now just wrong.
Have you been there?
As a parent, it is frustrating.
As Lord of All, it is expected.
Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2 He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought.3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’
4 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”
6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” Luke 18: 1-8 NIV
Jesus tells us to keep on praying and never give up. Let God know this isn’t a Christmas Eve wish but truly desired.
Have you been praying for years? Are you consistent in your request? Have you fasted and wept? Are you wearing the judge out with your asking?
Over the years I have discovered that my husband doesn’t really mean that he is interested in something unless he talks about it at least four times. In his agonizing over something, he shows me his heart, his true desire.
That’s what God is listening for
– your heart.
As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” . . . He called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
. . . When he came near, Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?”
“Lord, I want to see,” he replied.
Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God. Luke 18: 35-43 NIV
I started out with nothing and still have most of it left. ~Anonymous
I like clever dialogue. Hiding messages in witticisms is the best way to know who’s really listening.
Chris Pratt, star of Jurassic World, recently received the Generation Award from MTV. His speech included nine pieces of advice for life to the younger generation. He tells his young listeners to believe in God, to pray, to be kind, that they have a soul. He mixes in a few humorous ideas to keep their attention.
In the middle of the speech, he gives advice on how to give medicine to a dog: hide it wrapped in hamburger. That’s exactly what Chris Pratt did.
In Luke 16, Jesus tells some stories to the Pharisees. One of them is about a rich man who dies and goes to Hell.
The rich man looks into Heaven and sees a beggar he once knew standing beside Father Abraham. The rich man then becomes a beggar himself and asks if Lazarus, the former beggar, can go to the rich man’s brothers and warn them to change their ways.
Abraham answers that even if someone raises from the dead, his brothers will not believe.
And not too long later, Jesus raises from the dead and many of his brothers- mainly the Pharisees – don’t believe it. But some do.
Jesus was clever in telling the truth. He was able to tell stories that gave hope to those who needed it and confused those who would have been offended.
Think about those in your life who don’t believe. How can you hide the medicine they need in some hamburger?
I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation; behold, I have not restrained my lips, as you know, O Lord. I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation. Psalm 40:9-10 ESV
Everyone grows, but not everyone matures. ~Kemi Sogunle
Soon after we moved to North Carolina, I bought fruit trees. We were the owners of a small section of an old farm, and I was anxious to remind it of its purpose.
I planted several apple and pear trees, a peach, a plum, and a fig tree. The fig tree died.
My husband didn’t like weed eating around all of these trees. In a moment of Jesus- imitation, I think the preacher cursed the fig tree.
In Luke 13, the people are trying to establish their safety in God’s kingdom based on their ancestry. Jesus offers them little hope. He tells the story of a fig tree.
Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’
“‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’” LK 13:6-9
The fig tree teaches us that we get a second chance, but nothing which only takes will survive, and there will be a limit to the second chances.
Is your trunk any stronger for the passing years? Do you open your Bible on Sundays but leave it resting on your bedside table every other day?
Maybe Spirit has been blowing spring zephyrs through your branches, but you’ve refused to bend in the breeze. Have you ignored the prodding to talk to the homeless man, invite your neighbor to dinner, or visit the nursing home?
Are your figs tough and pithy, unfit to eat? Has bitterness replaced your joy, hatred your love?
Take heart. There is hope. The gardener in Jesus’s story believes the fig tree can flourish with a little tender attention.
And Jesus believes it’s not too late for you.
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. 1 John 3:1-3 NIV