Signs

Mark 13 is a chapter of warnings, teachings, and great insight. Typically, I don’t like to think about the end of times or try to figure out what the tribulation means, let alone try to explain it to somebody else. So, I don’t. What I do is try to recognize the signs around me. Know what’s really going on, who people are, who I am.

I’m very careful about who I follow, what I follow, or just joining in with the crowd. When I first came to know Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior one of the very first things I understood was that I need to be alert and know what God’s word says. Know who I am. This is an ever-growing process for me. My morning time with God is assessing how am I doing in my relationship with God, am I following Him, or doing what I want to do, or not doing what I know God wants me to do.

Mark 13 warns us to watch out! Warns us of false Messiah‘s and false prophets. What does a false Messiah or false prophet look like, talk like? Anyone who suggests God‘s word is outdated, not relevant or not true is projecting themselves as a false prophet. They are leading people astray, getting them to think that they can do whatever they want and not listen to God‘s word. When people follow these false prophets, they are in danger of not being ready when Jesus comes again.

Professing Christians today old and young are living out of wedlock, engaging in premarital sex, abusing alcohol, smoking marijuana, involved in same-sex relationships and the list goes on and on. People lead astray others saying that these actions and lifestyles are “OK” If you don’t do anything to hurt someone else, or, if no one knows. This is not what God teaches in his word which we know is as relevant today as it ever has been. It’s our plumbob to measure everything in life with. If it goes against what God says, it is driving us away from God. Church attendance alone does not make us a Christian.

Maybe you struggle with 1 or more of these or other sins yourself, does that mean your out? Watch out who you listen to, some may suggest you are out of heaven because you ____________. Sometimes I can’t believe what I’ve done to the point of getting on my knees and confessing to God, praying Psalm 51, the Psalm David wrote after being confronted by the prophet Nathan about his sin with Bathsheba then having her husband killed. David pours out his heart in repentance to God and is forgiven. YES!!! I am forgiven if I’m repentant, recognize that God’s word is sovereign, relevant today and should be followed.

I need to read the signs correctly.

In the mid 70s there was a popular song called signs, the chorus goes:

Sign, sign
Everywhere a sign
Blockin’ out the scenery
Breakin’ my mind
Do this, don’t do that
Can’t you read the sign?

There are signs everywhere telling us we are wrong if we follow God’s word and are faithful to Him.

Blockin God’s truth,

Breakin minds from following God.

Telling us what to believe, what we can’t believe, what we can do and what we can’t do.

Do you see the signs?

Influence

Matt 26 

Who influences you? Does their influence come from God? Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus, anointed Jesus‘s body with an ointment worth a year‘s wages for an average worker. She obviously did not care what others thought, she just cared about worshiping God. That’s a strong influence to follow. John 12:4 tells us it was Judas who openly criticized Mary and influenced other disciples who also criticized her, suggesting the oil should have been sold and the money given to the poor. That sounds honorable, but as we know, Judas was a thief. He held the money purse of the donations given for Jesus‘s ministry. The proceeds of the oil would have given him more money to steal. He was able to deceive and influence the disciples in what seemed like a positive way but wasn’t.

One negative or positive attitude can influence many. Sometimes a negative attitude sounds positive or even noble. Which attitude do I influence others with? Who am I being influenced by? Knowing God‘s word/truth helps me to identify the true influence of others, does it honor God or their own selfish agenda?

Jesus predicts his betrayal and death to his disciples who don’t want to hear His truth. Jesus let them know that they will all abandon him, Peter immediately professes he will never leave Jesus even if he must die with Jesus. In Luke 22:31-32 Jesus says to Peter that he has prayed for Peter, that his faith would not fail, he knew Peter would stumble and fall but Peter’s faith would not fail. When we stumble and fall, we must stay strong in our faith, get back up and encourage others around us to stay strong in their faith in all circumstances.

V41 Jesus says, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak”. Jesus is praying for us as we read in Hebrews 7:25, He is aware of our humanness and knows we need His intercession.

Peter professed that he would never leave Jesus despite what the others may do, there was a tint of arrogance but also true sincerity. After hearing Peter‘s profession, the other disciples also said they would do the same. Peters’ faith influenced the other disciples in a way that would not honor what Jesus’s mission was, even though it seemed noble. Peter failed to stay awake in the garden and pray with Jesus. When Peter drew his sword to defend Jesus, he was showing great courage proving the sincerity in the words he spoke when he professed, he would even die with Jesus. Jesus admonished him for his actions and Peter ran away like the others. What were his feelings at this point?

Peter kept stumbling yet he continued getting up and staying strong in his faith. He was the only disciple who had the courage to follow the guards and Jesus. After denying that he knew Jesus 3 times, even cursing in his 3rd denial, Peter remembered Jesus‘s words and he went outside and wept bitterly. We see Peter in his humanness fail, fail, fail and yet we continue to see his true sincerity. His sincere faith continues to strengthen him  to get up and encourage others to stay strong in their faith as his influence helped build Christ’s church.

Unfortunately, fear dictates what I do or do not do in my life. Fear often keeps me from doing the things that I should. I pray every morning that God gives me sincere courage to do the things I am supposed to do today. I stumble often, I do not always get back up as quickly as I should. My faith is strong, but is it as strong as Peter’s?

Sometimes I feel like a baseball, I am knocked around, thrown in the dirt, the weight of others falls on me and occasionally I am hit out of play. But I continue to get back in the game because the game is not over yet. I am grateful God has placed Peters in my life who influence and encourage me, helping me find God’s strength. I am also thankful there are younger men who turn to me to find God’s strength. As badly as I need Peters in my life, it is my responsibility to be a Peter to others. Encouraging, strengthening, and sometimes admonishing other men to seek, know and follow God’s truth.

LIGHT or darkness

Matthew 12 starts out by Jesus confronting the Pharisees about the way they changed the meaning of God‘s word, spreading satan’s darkness. Couldn’t they see the darkness they were spreading?

The Pharisees accused the disciples of meeting their selfish desires of hunger and breaking the Sabbath. They go on to persecute Jesus for healing a man’s paralyzed hand on the Sabbath. The Pharisees lived in darkness, but Jesus clarified God’s word, pushed their darkness back and spread His truth, His light.

I cannot begin to imagine the exhaustion Jesus felt at times. He would often retreat to be by himself with God, however, how many times when Jesus tried to retreat to a quiet place, He was followed by the crowds not giving him a moments rest or quiet time with God.

When I first came to know Christ, my pastor encouraged me to spend time alone with God every day, even 15 minutes. At that time, I had 3 small children and there was always activity in my house. It seemed impossible for me to spend quiet time with God because the world crowded my time with good and negative things.

I realized that if I wanted to spend quiet time with God, I would have to get up early before anyone else. At first it was easy to get up before everyone and do a 15-minute devotion. But 15 minutes turned into 30, 45, 60, 90 minutes.

I’m thankful I started that discipline then and continue it today, I need to start my day with quiet time alone with God, however, the world tries to follow me. My mind is often bombarded with thoughts of problems, worries and desires I have. I often have to pray for God’s help to block those thoughts so I can worship Him which prepares me to live each day in His truth. It is my responsibility to push back the darkness and allow more of His light, His truth, His forgiveness and His love into this world.

satan’s darkness is not always as easy to identify as we might think, satan is a master deceiver and hides his evil incredibly well. Can you recognize the darkness in your life?

  • In the world
  • In government
  • In your workplace
  • In your schools
  • In your churches
  • In your home?

3 times in chapter 12 Jesus confronted the Pharisees of twisting God’s word to something dark and confining. God’s truth is light and liberating, yet darkness has filtered into our churches. Loving everyone and allowing them to worship at our church is very important to help everyone find God‘s light, we are all sinners.

However, darkness has plunged its way into our churches creating division. Matt 12:25 Jesus says, “every kingdom divided against itself is headed for destruction”. People are changing the meaning of God’s word and the darkness is now overwhelming God’s house of worship where we come together to push back the darkness.

My quiet time every morning studying God’s word is vital:

  • Read God’s word and be able to discern what is or is not God’s truth in the world.
  • Pray, ask for God’s help to go into the darkness and love, not condemn or criticize