The reading for this week is, read Psalm 85 each day and:
Monday Mark 13:1-13, 24-37
Tuesday Luke 21:25-36
Wednesday Revelation 1:1-8
Thursday Ezekiel 34:1-10
Friday Luke 12;35-48
Saturday Acts 1:1-11
Sunday Zephaniah 3:14-20, Philippians 4:1-9, and Luke 3:7-18
Also, at this halfway, highpoint remember we are trying to do 3 things together:
- Focus on one family or person to help this Christmas
- Surrender, or sacrifice one thing each week to remind you of the King
- Read the scripture, pray the prayer, and read the devotional each day.
Steven Covey, in his famous book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, lists the 2nd of the 7 habits like this, “Begin with the end in view.” I don’t know why the early church fathers, who designated the scripture of the day, long ago, chose Mark 13 for today. Maybe they read Steven Covey. Here we are, less than 3 weeks from Christmas, and we are talking about End Times. Give me a break! If the Lord is going to come back in 2021, I wish He had done it before I put out all of my Christmas lights. And I SURE hope He comes before I have to put them all away. But, I want Doris to see the present I’ve already bought, so… Well, Lord, You have a narrow window between December 29 and 30. (The 28th is Caleb’s birthday and the 31st I have Bowl Games I want to watch.)
How about we just make some observations and tell a quick story?
I grew up in an age where the end of the world and the Second Coming of Jesus was a hot topic in the church. Israel had been a nation about 40 years, a sure sign that the fig tree was budding. There were End Times Conferences. Tim Lahaye was cashing in on his Left Behind series. TV evangelists were hawking sermon series on tape about the Rapture and the Return of Jesus. The Speer Family was singing The King Is Coming and it would have been the #1 song on Christian radio if we had Christian radio. About every other year, somebody came out with a best seller in Christian book stores giving us the exact time of Christ’s return. In early 1988, Edgar Whisenant sold 4.5 million copies of his book, 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Happen in 1988. (It didn’t) Eschatology, the study of end times, was a big deal.
It seems that is not the case anymore. We hardly ever hear a sermon about the Rapture. There are very few books being touted today and even fewer predictions of exactly when it will be. And we sure don’t feel like reading about the destruction of the Temple when we want to be reading about shepherds and wise men. That’s probably a good thing. We spent too much time and confused too many people by being too obsessed with the end of it all. Jesus said, “No one knows the day or the hour when these things will happen.” I only have so much emotional and intellectual energy. I need to use that to get closer to God and learn how to reach my neighbors with the Gospel. However, Jesus talked to His disciples about this stuff for a reason. He says repeatedly in this and other Gospel passages about the end times, “Be ready,” “Watch,” “Stay prepared.” Here are some observations.
Observation # 1: It has been so long since that first Christmas and all of the things that followed for the next 33 years, that we really don’t take seriously His promise to come again. Bad choice.
Observation # 2: We are far more concerned about our neighbors getting COVID than we are about them being lost when the end comes. Bad choice.
Observation # 3: Whether with a trumpet blast and a lightning bolt from the east, or a quiet last breath in my bed at home, Jesus IS coming back for me. I want to be prepared. Good choice.
Observation # 4: Since we can’t know the time of His coming, the point of this story must be to live every day as if it could be our last, and help other people to do the same. Good choice.
Here’s a quick story. I was singing during the summer with a youth choir in South Carolina. We traveled around to small churches, passed out invitations during the day, then put on a concert that night. The last song of our concert each night was the aforementioned, The King is Coming. I was Ben Speer. (You have to listen to the song.) (Here’s a fun link, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MAeezAgivBQ)
We were in a little church in Beaufort, SC, the place was packed and there was barely room for our massive Peavey speakers. While we were singing, a lady in the back got “blessed,” another thing we don’t do much anymore. She let out a whoop, waved her hanky, and came running to the front in a dead sprint. Her foot caught the cord of one of the speakers. She started toppling. The speaker started toppling. I said, in my best Ben Speer imitation “The King is coming,” and the lady and the speaker hit the floor with a scream and a crash. All I can tell you is 23 teens, (including me) two gossipy old widows, and a drunk that had come in for a place to sit, all got saved that night.
Come to think of it, maybe we need to dust that old song off again. See you tomorrow. (One way or the other.) Mike
Here’s the prayer for this week: “Oh Lord God, whose chosen dwelling is the heart of the lowly, I thank You that You did show yourself to us, first as a holy, tiny Baby Jesus. I ask You to make me humble so that I might know what You have hidden from the wise and revealed to babies, and that I might live each day expecting you. Amen” From The Book of Worship