Wednesday April 15, 2020
To All Nations
9 “You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. 10 And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. 11 Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.
12 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 13 Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.
14 “When you see ‘the abomination that causes desolation’ standing where it does not belong—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 15 Let no one on the housetop go down or enter the house to take anything out. 16 Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. 17 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 18 Pray that this will not take place in winter, 19 because those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now—and never to be equaled again.
20 “If the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would survive. But for the sake of the elect, whom he has chosen, he has shortened them. 21 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. 22 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.
Perhaps the most insidious temptation we face is distraction. How much of our time is gradually gone, unnoticed because we got lost scrolling through our news feed or were caught up watching a show or we didn’t feel like doing what we needed to be doing? After all, we have more time. We’ll get around to it later. The spiritual disciplines require intentional effort and focus. From here at the end of Mark through the history of the church, we’ve always wanted to know when the end will come. Or, rather, when will the new beginning come? When will Christ come on the clouds and judge the living and the dead? When will he come and usher in the new heaven and the new earth? If we knew when that day would come, then we could make sure we were ready in time! When is the deadline? If I know that, then I can procrastinate my life away and put everything together right before the appointed time.
Jesus is preparing his disciples for the harsh reality they will face. He is warning them of all that must take place before he comes again. What Jesus repeats for us, because he knows we need this constant reminder, is that the day and the hour of his Second Coming isn’t ours to know. In the meantime, we shouldn’t be distracted by speculation. Every attempt to predict the last days has failed. The purpose of the church is to preach the gospel to all nations. For most of us who haven’t been called to world missions, that means we are to proclaim the gospel with our lives where we are. Every day is a new opportunity to surrender to God and do the good work he has given us. To love one another as Christ loves us.
Many of us, like Moses, don’t think highly of ourselves offering words to one another. We would rather preach the gospel by doing which is important too. However, preaching the gospel through words is not the sole responsibility of preachers. Nobody is off the hook. Even if you don’t have the particular gift of speaking, God will still use your words for his glory. The Lord wants your humble and willing heart and he’ll do the rest by the Holy Spirit. It is not you who speak. You don’t need to have a plan. When the moments present themselves, through your obedience, the Holy Spirit will give you the words to say and they will be precisely what God wanted the other person to hear.
Stand firm when you don’t think you have the right words. Stand firm when you don’t feel qualified. Stand firm when you’re embarrassed about how you’ll sound. Stand firm especially when you face resistance. Stand firm even when you’re ignored. Don’t give up. Stand firm and God will give you courage. He will make you brave. He will lead you through it all. He is the salvation of your soul.
Now, more than ever, you’re probably aware of people in your life who have been drowning in fear, panic, worry, etc., due to the effects of the coronavirus. Whether it’s a loved one who has it or someone struggling through three weeks of social distancing, there are people we know who need to be reminded of the goodness of God. Who do you need to talk to? Who is someone that needs your undivided attention right now? Trust that God will give you the words.
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
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