A daily devotion for January 24th
1As he was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, "Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!"
2"Do you see all these great buildings?" replied Jesus. "Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down."
3As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately, 4"Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?"
5Jesus said to them: "Watch out that no one deceives you. 6Many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am he,' and will deceive many. 7When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 8Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.
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. 10And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. 11Whenever 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. 13All men will hate you because of me, but he 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. 15Let no one on the roof of his house go down or enter the house to take anything out. 16Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. 17How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 18Pray that this will not take place in winter, 19because those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now—and never to be equaled again. 20If 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. 21At that time if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or, 'Look, there he is!' do not believe it. 22For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect—if that were possible. 23So 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;
25the stars will fall from the sky,
and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.'
26"At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27And 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. 29Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door. 30I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 31Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
32"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. 34It's like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his 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. 36If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. 37What I say to you, I say to everyone: 'Watch!' "
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. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone:Watch!(Mark 13:35-37).
Jesus gathers up all the intervening time between His first and second comings and divides it into four watches—one long night of the world's sin—and He says,
You don't know (and, I think He implies, I don't know
) whether the coming is to be early in that time or in the middle of it, or three-quarters of the way through, or clear at the end. No one knows. I don't know; you don't know. But it is like a man going on a journey (here He likens it to His own going away) who gives his servants work to do, and he expects them to do it. And he sets a doorkeeper to watch.
What is he to watch for? Is he to watch for the master's return? That is the way this is usually interpreted. But that is not it, for he is to start watching as soon as the master leaves. He knows the master will not be back right away. What then is he to watch for? He is to watch so that no one can deceive him and gain entrance into the house and wreck and ruin and rob all the master has. So Jesus' word is,
Be alert; don't go to sleep; watch! There are temptations and pressures that will assault you to make you think that it is all a lie, to make you give up and stop living like a Christian, stop walking in faith, stop believing the truth of God. Watch out for that. And in the meantime, do your work. Don't let anything turn you aside. Don't let anything derail you from being what God wants you to be in this day and age. This is the way you watch. We are not to be looking up into the sky all the time, waiting for His coming. That will happen when He is ready. We are to watch that we are not deceived.
I have been disturbed at how many Christians seem to have fallen away. I look back across many years of ministry, and I see men whom I would have sworn were solid, tremendously committed, faithful, Bible-teaching Christians but who are now denying their faith and have turned aside. And on every side, seemingly, this increases—people falling off into immorality and iniquity, turning away from their faith, saying, in effect, they no longer believe the Lord or the Bible. It is this our Lord is warning against.
Therefore, He says that we are to keep awake. Do not believe all the secular voices that tell us the world will go on forever as it is now. Don't believe the other voices that tell us there is no God, so we can live as we please, or that if God exists, He will never judge us. Don't believe the voices that whisper to us constantly and try to turn us away from our faith. With one sharp, arresting, ringing word of command, Jesus ends his message:
Lord, strengthen me and help me to stay alert, that I may endure to the end, that I may be faithful unto death, that I too may join in that great day with those who are given the crown of life.
Life Application: Do we need to wake up and smell the dangers of complacency and carelessness in our daily walk with God? Why must we be watchful, alert, and above all prayerful?
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Daily Devotion © 2006 by Ray Stedman Ministries. For permission to use this content, please review www.RayStedman.org/permissions. Subject to permission policy, all rights reserved.