Sunday, November 20, 2011

for Tuesday (November 22) Gospel: take heed

Scripture: Luke 21:5-11 5 And as some spoke of the temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, he said, 6 "As for these things which you see, the days will come when there shall not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down." 7 And they asked him, "Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign when this is about to take place?" 8 And he said, "Take heed that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name, saying, `I am he!' and, `The time is at hand!' Do not go after them. 9 And when you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified; for this must first take place, but the end will not be at once." 10 Then he said to them, "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; 11 there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences; and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven.

How would you respond if someone prophesied that your church or place of worship would be destroyed? In 1972 a violent earthquake ripped through the center of Managua and destroyed the great cathedral church. 

This was only the beginning of the troubles for the tiny nation and Christian community of Nicaragua which suffered great turmoil and loss in the civil war that ensued for more than a decade. 

Out of the ashes of destruction and the ravages of communism has emerged a humbler and more purified church. Jesus foretold many signs of God's action and judgment.

 To the great consternation of the Jews, Jesus prophesied the destruction of their temple at Jerusalem. The Jewish people took great pride in their temple, a marvel of the ancient world. The foretelling of this destruction was a dire judgment in itself. 

They sought Jesus for a sign that would indicate when this would occur. Jesus admonished them to not seek signs but rather to seek God's kingdom. There will be plenty of signs – such as wars, famines, diseases, tidal waves and earthquakes – pointing to God's ultimate judgment. Jesus' prophecy is a two-edged sword, because it points not only to God's judgment, but also to his saving action and mercy. 

Jesus foretells the destruction of Jerusalem and the dire consequences for all who would reject him and his saving message. While the destruction of Jerusalem's temple was determined (it was razed by the Romans in 70 A.D.), there remained for its inhabitants a narrow open door leading to deliverance. Jesus says: "I am the door; whoever enters by me will be saved" (John 10:9).

 Jesus willingly set his face toward Jerusalem, knowing that he would meet betrayal, rejection, and death on a cross. His death on the cross, however, brought about freedom, peace, and victory over sin and death – not only for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, but for all – both Jew and Gentile alike – who would accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

 Do you know the peace and security of a life submitted to the lordship of Jesus Christ? An American judge, named Robert H. Bork, wrote a book a few decades ago entitled, Slouching Towards Gomorrah. His message sounded an alarm about the moral crisis and decay of culture which he saw in Western society. 

We often don't recognize the moral crisis and spiritual conflict of our age, until something "shakes us up" to the reality of our present condition. The reward for doing what is right and just and the penalty for sin and wrong-doing are not always experienced in this life; but they are sure to come in the day of judgment. 

The Lord Jesus tells us that there will be persecution, suffering, and difficulties in this age until he comes again at the end of the world. God intends our anticipation of his final judgment to be a powerful deterrent to wrongdoing.

God extends grace and mercy to all who will heed his call and his warning. 

Do you take advantage of this season of grace and mercy to seek God's kingdom and to pursue his will?

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