The First 15

Thursday April 16, 2020

by First Methodist Mansfield



Mark 13:23-37

23 So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.

24 “But in those days, following that distress,
“‘the sun will be darkened,
    and the moon will not give its light;

25 the stars will fall from the sky,
    and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’

26 “At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.

28 “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 29 Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door. 30 Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

32 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. 34 It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.

35 “Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. 36 If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. 37 What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’”


Growing up in Indiana, it’s hard not to love the game of basketball. I’ve always loved to watch and play the game. It’s surreal not having March Madness this year. The opening weekend of the tournament was a tradition at my house every year. All of my friends would come stay overnight on Friday and we’d stay up late and watch all of the games. Point guard was always the position I played, in part, because I was typically the shortest person on the court. Shocking, I know. I didn’t finish growing into my towering 5ft. 8in. figure until my freshman year of college. Among the key responsibilities of a point guard is to protect and distribute the basketball amongst the team, creating opportunities for scoring without turning the ball over. In other words, protecting or guarding the basketball is more primary in this position.

Basketball provides a context where we can think about guarding in a positive sense. In our day to day lives, guarded is often used as a negative adjective to describe someone. Closed off, anti-social, to themselves. These are often similar ways of describing guarded people. I believe we misuse the term. It’s good to be guarded. You won’t win any basketball games if you don’t guard the ball. Likewise, you won’t win at life if you don’t guard the valuable gifts God has bestowed upon you.

Jesus reminds us throughout chapter 13 to guard the faith and be ready at all times for the coming of the Lord. There will be many false witnesses and teachers who come and try to twist the truth and lead many astray. There are other gospels that threaten to undermine the Gospel of Christ in the hearts of believers. The prioritization of identity, liberty, and prosperity in our culture continues to confuse and lead the church into temptation. When we understand our identity primarily through our experience as male or female (gender), as white, black, Hispanic, etc. (race), as lower, middle, upper class (socio-economic), or as anything other than children of the Most High God first, we’re in danger of losing that which is most precious. When we subscribe to pure libertarianism where freedom reigns and we can say and do what we want when we want and so can everybody else, then we’re in danger of serving another master. When we think we deserve what we earn including the status we’ve achieved for ourselves, then self-sufficiency is knocking at our door and we’re close to letting him in. “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love” (1 Corinthians 16:13-14).

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23). It’s good to be guarded. We must keep watch that we don’t give certain people, ideas, thoughts, and feelings too much domain or our lives can quickly become disoriented and moved by the wind. Christ is our anchor. We can stand firm on his promises. What do you need to guard against? Is there a person, idea, or feeling that has held you back from receiving the fullness of faith Jesus wants to give you? What can you improve to keep your guard up?

Prayer for Today

[Use the Lord’s Prayer as a framework and add personal praises, questions, confessions, etc.] Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. There is no other name above yours. Your name is holy. At the sound of your name, all creation sings for joy of the mighty works of your hands. You are worthy of all honor and praise. We rejoice that you have made known to us who you are through sending your Son. Lord, we pray that your kingdom comes and your will is done on earth as it is in heaven. We long for justice to roll down the mountains and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. We are your people who declare your favor upon this day you have given us. Move us by your Spirit. Conform us to your character. Give us our daily bread today. Lord, we depend on you for all that we need. You are everything we need, yet we often chase after idols. We run after the wind and take for granted your great gifts. Forgive us, oh God. Have mercy on us. Free us for joyful obedience as we forgive our brothers and sisters who have sinned against us. Lead us away from evil and the schemes of the enemy. Deliver us into your presence Lord. We long to be in your presence where goodness and mercy are our covering. For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen

The First 15

Sign up to receive an email notification whenever a new devotional is posted to The First 15.