Scripture reading for February 4th: Matthew 24:1-28, Psalm 24, Proverbs 7:1-5
As Jesus was nearing the end of His time on earth, He took time to answer the disciple’s questions concerning events that would take place in the future. One characteristic of our great God is that He knows the end from the beginning. He has perfect knowledge of future events and has even written them down, proving that He alone is God. That is the nature of prophesy and Jesus spoke prophetically to His close followers.
They had two questions following His statement that the temple in Jerusalem would be torn down, with not one stone left upon another. They wanted to know when this would happen and what would be the signs leading up to this event and the end of the age. “Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, bu the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. These are the beginnings of birth pains.” (Matthew 24:4-8)
Jesus answered these questions with a straight-forward warning against deception. Deception would be a sign of the coming end of the age. There would be religious deception coming from people who came in His name, but were really not His. These people would be working to deceive many people. This would require watchfulness and discernment. The disciples must know what was real and be able to spot these deceivers. They would need to exercise caution and stay close to the Lord Himself.
There would also be turmoil in the world among the nations and peoples. Wars and rumors of wars would abound and earthquakes and famines would bring destruction and pain to many people. These would be just the beginning of this time of the end. It would be like labor pains in a woman ready to give birth. The time would be near and those who had spiritual eyes could see and know what it would be like. Do you see signs of the end of the age? Are you ready for Jesus’ return?
Scripture reading for December 26th: Revelation 8-9
Revelation chapter 8 begins with the Lamb opening the seventh seal. ( I heard a questionable story where a person said that we can know for sure that no women will be saved because there was silence in heaven for half an hour!) This seal reveals seven angels who had seven trumpets. Another angel stood at the golden altar in front of the throne and was given incense to offer. We are told this incense was the prayers of the saints. Our cries, worship, adoration and thanksgiving have a special place close to the seat of all power in the universe!
The response to these prayers is instructive! The angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the golden altar and then hurled it to the earth. This act produced thunder, lightning and an earthquake. Prayers have the power to move God to shake the earth! We must never take the privilege of prayer lightly!
Then the angels with the trumpets began to sound them one by one. With each trumpet blast, there was a corresponding reaction on earth that brought judgment and destruction. As John watched the first four angels, an eagle that was flying in midair spoke in a loud voice. “Woe! Woe! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the trumpet blasts about to be sounded by the last three angels.” (Revelation 8:13)
The fifth trumpet sounded and John saw a star that had fallen from the sky. This star was an angel who was given the key to the Abyss. When he opened it smoke rose and darkened the sky. Out of this smoke, creatures like locusts were instructed to sting only those without the seal of God. Their sting brought horrible suffering but not death!
The sixth trumpet released four angels of death who were bound by the river Euphrates and brought death to a third of mankind through an army of two hundred million mounted troops. These troops killed the third of mankind with plagues of fire, smoke and sulfur. Even this display of mighty power did not cause the unsaved to repent of their idolatry, murder or sexual immorality!
As God’s wrath is poured out, saints are praying! Their prayers cause action from heaven upon the earth. What amazing power is released by praying saints! However, wrath does not produce repentance in the last days!
Scripture reading for April 22nd: Luke 21:1-28
“Then He said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven. . . .You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. All men will hate you because of Me. But not a hair of your head will perish. By standing firm you will gain life.” (Luke 21:10-11, 16-19)
As Jesus approached the time of His crucifixion and departure, He spoke plainly to His disciples of events surrounding His second coming. He knew how these followers would be shaken and tested by the turmoil and trouble coming upon the earth in the last days and sought to give them (and us) fair warning. God does nothing by judgment unless he warns His people through the prophets. (Amos 3:7)
Today, we are experiencing many of these signs that Jesus said would happen. He promised that the end would not come right away. (Luke 21:9) He emphasized that His followers had nothing to fear, even if they were killed for their testimony of faith in Christ. Standing firm requires faith. We must decide to trust Jesus and believe His promises. In a time where many are mocking those who believe, we must not give in to fear or be swayed by the philosophy of the current culture. There are not many ways to God, there is only one way: Jesus Christ! We must stay firm in that belief! Seeking the approval of men by refusing to publically take a stand is not standing firm either. Standing firm means we will proclaim our faith and Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. We will live for Him alone and die if necessary for that stand.
Jesus ended this discourse with a warning to His followers: “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:34-36) Please stand firm, watch, and pray! The time is short!
Scripture reading for October 13th: Matthew 24-25
“As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen and what will be the sign of your coming and the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3) Jesus’ disciples were responding to a statement that Jesus made as they had left the temple. He had stated that every stone would be thrown down in the beautiful temple. The disciples knew that Jesus was coming back again and the present age would end. This question is important for us today, because we are still waiting for Jesus to return. Let’s look again at Jesus’ insight!
The first sign of the end, according to Jesus, was the rise of false teachers and prophets. (Matthew 24:4-5) Deception of people by satanic religious lies would be wide-spread right before the end. These false prophets would claim to be sent by God and to speak for God. Some of them would even claim to be “Christ” and many people would fall for their lie!
There would also be an increase in wars and political unrest among the nations. This would be coupled with natural disasters such as earthquakes and famines around the world. These factors would cause much fear and distress among the inhabitants of the earth just before Jesus would come. These things were likened to “birth pains” that preceded the coming of a baby. When they began to happen, look out! (Matthew 24:6-8)
The next sign was persecution of believers. Followers of Jesus Christ would be hated by all nations and put to death for their faith. Because of the persecution, many would fall away and others’ love for Christ would grow cold. There would be those among the faithful who would betray others and false teaching would cause divisions in the body of Christ. This would call for perseverance and patience on the part of true followers of Christ.
The final sign Jesus gave concerned the mission of His followers. “And this Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14) As believers in the last day, the mission of reaching the nations must not be dropped! Jesus is patiently waiting for His followers to preach His Gospel to all nations. Are you doing your part?