Be Alert

Mark 13

Mark 13 37

In Mark 13 we see Jesus telling his disciples that things are going to get bad. Before Jesus comes back there will be trouble politically, physically, and even spiritually. This isn’t what anyone wants to hear, but it is the truth.

Politically- verses 6-9

  1. Leaders will arise in his name saying “I am He” misleading many.
  2. We will hear of wars and rumors of wars. (Isn’t this already the case? My sister is in the navy and they are always preparing for a possible war. Right now the concern is Iran.)
  3. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. (We see this, too.)
  4. You will be delivered to the courts. (You may find yourself in trouble for standing up for God’s commands. These persecutions do happen already. Check out the Colorado baker. He was “delivered to the courts” for not wanting to bake a cake for a same-sex marriage couple and recently again persecuted because he didn’t want to bake a cake celebrating someone’s transition from male to female.)

 

Physically- verses 8-9 and 12 and 14-18

  1. There will be earthquakes and famines.
  2. There will be floggings and betrayal that could lead to death.
  3. Some will have to leave their homes to run and hide.

 

Spiritually- verses 22 and 33-37

  1. There will be false Christs and prophets trying to lead people astray.
  2. Some will be found asleep.

 

Jesus says in verse 23, “I have told you everything in advance.” We shouldn’t be surprised when we see things getting rough politically or physically. God will help us with this. If we find ourselves speaking in the courts, He will send the holy spirit to help us (verse 11). If we find ourselves physically dealing with tribulation, we can find assurance in the fact that God “shortened the days” of disaster (verse 20). Jesus puts extra emphasis on the spiritual trials though. Here it is our responsibility to “take heed” and “keep on the alert”. We can’t get lazy about our devotion to our Father. If we are alert and on guard, we shouldn’t be led astray. This is why Jesus warned his disciples and it’s a warning for us, too. We don’t know when Jesus is coming back. We do know that he is and that we will want him to find us alert and ready!

-Melissa New

The Summer Is Near

summer is near

Matthew 24

We are in the middle of the winter right now. I live in Minnesota and we are supposed to see the coldest air temperatures since the year that I was born. We have a predicted high of -13F and a low of -29F. I think I’m just going to throw away all of my shorts and short-sleeved shirts. I’m going to get rid of my swimsuits and sunglasses, too. It will probably be winter for the rest of my life, after all.

Can you imagine how ridiculous it would be for me to do that? Of course, summer is coming, and I’m ready for it. The second coming of Jesus is the same.

Prophecy

“Do you see all these buildings? I tell you the truth, they will be completely demolished. Not one stone will be left on top of another.” Jesus tells this to his disciples when they point out the buildings to him. They were probably trying to say how beautiful the architecture is with its gates, porticos and cupolas. Jesus had just said in Chapter 23 that Jerusalem is abandoned and desolate, so his disciples were trying to prove him wrong. Imagine that. Jesus had just gone through the tests and traps of the pharisees. He proceeded to tear them apart and use their behavior as a lesson for everyone else. And then His disciples decided to question Him too. He had to set them straight. He said “I tell you the truth.” He knew that Jerusalem was beautiful but he also knew that it would be destroyed. About 40 years later, the Romans laid siege to Jerusalem and that city was razed in the process. Josephus, a first-century Jewish scholar, said that over 1 million Jews were killed in that siege. Jerusalem truly did become abandoned and desolate. After this, Jesus’ disciples make another error; they assume that the temple will be destroyed at the end of the world and the return of Jesus. Jesus didn’t go back to the discussion of Jerusalem, but rather discussed the signs of the end of the age, as his disciples asked rather than as they intended.

Signs

There will be many false messiahs. There will be wars, famines and earthquakes. This is the beginning. We can see all of these things already. Just google “man claims to be Jesus.” You’ll find countless examples. There have been many wars, famines and earthquakes even in my short lifetime, but Jesus said that this is just the beginning of birth pains.

Christians will be persecuted, arrested, killed and hated all over the world. Sin will be rampant. We are starting to see this too. In some places more than others, Christians are being persecuted. According to Open Door USA, the worst countries to live in for Christians are North Korea, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan and Pakistan. In North Korea, if it is discovered that you are a Christian, you can be deported to a labor camp or even killed on the spot. In China, if churches become too large, the government will raid the church and arrest member and leaders alike. In December 2018, a house church was raided by the Chinese police and pastor Wang Yi was arrested. He is a well-known pastor of the Early Rain Convent Church. Thank God that the United States is still largely free of Christian persecution.

But certainly, we are not in the worst of it yet. Jesus says that the anguish seen at the end will be greater than any the world has ever seen. We can think of many times when the world was in anguish greater than now. In the previous century there were multiple wars covering the surface of the Earth, causing widespread anguish.

The final sign will signify Jesus return. People all over the world will be able to see it and then Jesus will gather his people.

Exhortation

This final sign will be so obvious that you don’t need to believe in any of the false prophets coming before Jesus. It will be seen in the east and the west. But you must not be caught off Guard. Jesus uses multiple examples here to try to get that point across. No one expected the sky to open up and to flood the world. Neither will most expect the coming of Jesus. Live righteous lives. Love your neighbor. Repent. Await his return.

-Nathaniel Johnson

You Also Must Be Ready

Matthew 24

matt 24 44

 

You must be ready. Today, I am going to be real with you just as Jesus was real with his disciples when he spoke about the destruction of the temple and the signs of the end times in Matthew 24. There will come a day, whether you are ready or not, when Jesus Christ will return to establish his Father’s Kingdom. As I read about the return of Jesus, I am filled with excitement. How wonderful of a day that will be! While we await the coming of our Savior, it is important to keep watch as it is said in verses 36 & 42 that Father is the only one who knows exactly when this day will be.

 

It’s easy to think that we are indestructible. I picture a full life ahead of me with dreams and aspirations that I hope to one day fulfill. However, I know that this life is unpredictable and that each day is a blessing in itself. I picture her in my mind quite often. I picture her at our track practices, I picture her with livestock at the fairgrounds, I picture her when I walk into the church that she attended with my grandparents. And the thing is, I wasn’t even a close friend to Sara yet she has left such an impact on the world around me, forever changing my perspective on life. In the fall of 2017, Sara, a beloved member of my community, tragically lost her life after being struck by a speeding driver who was under the influence. This 15-year-old was kind, compassionate, gentle-spirited, and a friend to many. What I admire most about Sara is the way that she made her days count. Though her life was short, it was one worthy of living. I bring up Sara not to share a tragedy but to share the testament that her life was, one that proclaimed God’s glory. Sara accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior and lived each day holding firm to her faith, loving the LORD above all else. When I think of Jesus’s words “you also must be ready,” I think of the fact that we never really know when the final days will be. Sara spent her days preparing for the return of our Lord. I find this trait to be honorable as I too aspire to live my life in this way.

 

Jesus laid out the signs of the end times in this chapter. He said that there will be:

  • many who come falsely claiming to be the Messiah
  • wars & rumors of wars
  • nations will rise against nations
  • famines
  • earthquakes
  • persecution & death, you will be hated by all the nations because of Jesus Christ
  • many will turn away from the faith & will both betray and hate each other
  • false prophets will appear, deceiving many
  • an increase in wickedness, the love of most will grow cold
  • a dreadful time for pregnant and nursing women
  • great distress
  • a darkened sun, the moon will not give light, the stars will fall from the sky, the heavenly bodies will be shaken

 

But once this all takes place…

“Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other”

(Matthew 30-31).

 

Are you ready? Let’s seek to be like the faithful and wise servants in verses 45-47?

 

Jesus states in John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

 

Take heart, friends. Jesus is coming!

 

-Kayla Tullis