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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Watch for the signs

In Luke 21:5-19, some were talking about the glorious temple and how beautiful it was. Ever on mission Jesus used the opportunity to bring up the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem. Jesus had already mentioned the destruction of Jerusalem a few times during his journey. Now, he brings about more detail describing two events. The first is the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in A.D 70 by Titus (see earlier blog). The second is the impending destruction in the far future.

The people asked a fair question. How and when will this happen? For the latter event, earthquakes, wars, false prophets, false christs, famine, family strife, betrayal and great tribulation will all pave the way for the final destruction. Jesus gives several promises to the faithful. When they are brought before the prosecutor they will be given words to say. Those who have faith in Christ at those times will persevere onto a glorious new life.

Jesus gave more illustrations in versus 20-33 of how the signs tell of imminent events. He tells of the fall of Jerusalem which occurs exactly as He had warned. He tells of the easing of oppression with His return in glory. To illustrate signs and warnings, Jesus tells of the fig tree, the changes in seasons and other events that clue us of what will happen next. The prophesies have been given, the Bible bears testimony, all we have to do is observe and watch it take place.

However, that is not the whole story. Jesus telling us to watch and observe the unfolding events is the first part of instruction. Later, at the end of Luke 21, from verses 34 to 38 He tells his faithful to observe and act. In the King James versions of the event, Jesus says: “And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.”

This is our call to be a people set aside for his good works as Peter describes in 1 Peter. We need to be prepared to give the reason for our hope and Paul directs. What we do in our short time on earth affects the rest of our lives forever. Our time here is temporary, and the death we experience when we leave is just a part of our eternal lives. If we remain watchful, we will be prepared to see our loving savior return with our rewards. If we remain proactive, we can make sure our friends, neighbors and far away strangers get to share in those rewards. We can do our part by telling others how a relationship with Jesus changed our lives, by giving to missions, going on mission trips, teaching in Sunday school, and just plain old setting a good example.

Of course, as the saying goes, “…once saved, always saved…” we could take our salvation for granted and let the world grind on. We could mind our own business and live in spiritual freedom while our friends fall victims to “taking heed to themselves..” totally oblivious to what happens in their eternity.

Isn’t it wonderful to know we are part of His glorious future? Jesus gave us a mission to love our neighbors as ourselves. He is in love with His creation and doesn’t want to lose any of His children. Let’s do everything within our power to point everyone to Him, the master of our salvation. If someone is going to spend eternity outside of Heaven, let them do so in spite of our loving spirits and our exhausted bodies.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

She gave all

Luke 21: 1-4

The Pharisees did everything they could to be the center of attention. Working toward Jesus’ demise they insisted on asking questions to get him to say something to get him in trouble with either the occupying force or the people. Jesus provided timely direction to his flock. “Beware of the religious leaders that desire the best dress, highest office and best seats. They are all show and care nothing for their flock.”

To drive his point home, those with Jesus observed the collection of money in temple. The rich people gave of their excess while a poor widow gave of all she had. Jesus could look inter her heart as well as the hearts of the rich and know their motivations. He knew goodness when he saw it and blessed her for it. Those who gave for show must have been more frustrated because they gave so much more money.

Christians give through money, service, visiting the sick and spreading the good news. Jesus is looking into our hearts and evaluating our motivations. In the book of Psalm, David invited God to search his heart and know his motivations. Similarly ask yourself the following question: Are we attending worship services to be part of a social group or are we there to praise God? Do we serve for recognition or because the position is one of great networking opportunity? Do we give money to satisfy guilt or are we giving what God requires out of obedience and worship?