Still Giving – and Standing Firm

Luke 21

Luke 21_28

Yesterday our devotion centered on the Christmas story – as presented in Luke chapter 20.  Today takes us into Luke 21 which begins with a few verses concerning giving gifts. How fitting.  But here it is a slightly different type of gift which Jesus is referring to.   “As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” (Luke 21:1-4).   Giving to God’s work is indeed a great place to give your gifts – whether you are blessed with a lot to give or very little to give.  God sees the heart and is delighted in the heart that joyfully gives all to Him.

The rest of this chapter is devoted to the future – including some rather troubling events: earthquakes, wars, famine, and hatred, prison and persecution as a result of believing and  testifying about Jesus.  But hope is given.  Jesus says he is telling us these things so that we will know what must take place before the end will come.  A hard day of dirty work is always made easier by knowing it will not continue forever.  At the end there will be a time to enjoy the rewards of working hard.   So too, those who are faithful through the end times can look forward to reaping the reward when the Son of Man comes again.

Jesus says do not be afraid; rather, “Stand firm, and you will win life.” (Luke 21:19).  Even while our neighbors are fainting from terror at the surrounding events, Jesus tells us to stand tall.  He says, “At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:27,28). 

Keep Giving – and Stand Firm!

Marcia Railton

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Be on the Alert!

Mark 13 & 14 (Thursday)

Mark 13 33

The thirteenth chapter of Mark finds Jesus teaching his disciples on the Mount of Olives outside of Jerusalem.  Jesus is teaching his disciples about the tribulations that are to come and his second coming.  He ends with this admonition in 13:35-37…

“Therefore, be on the alert – for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, whether in the evening, at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning – in case he should come suddenly and find you asleep.  What I say to you I say to all, ‘Be on the alert!’”

Jesus begins and ends his command with “be on the alert.”  In fact, Jesus says “be on the alert” in verses 33, 34, 35, and 37.  For Mark’s audience, this is like shining the spotlight on the words while fading everything else to black.  Like we covered earlier this week, the gospel was meant to be heard and hearing the same phrase back to back like this is a sign that it should be held onto.

Now, let’s jump just ahead a bit to Mark 14:32.  We’ve been through the Last Supper and Jesus has taken his disciples to Gethsemane.  He picks his three favorites (Peter, James, & John) and takes them a bit further than the rest.  He says to them, “My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death; remain here and keep watch.”

You ready for this?  Jesus is using the exact same word as he did back in chapter 13.  It’s even in the same tense!  The word is gregoreo by the way (like gregarious).  It’s a command directed directly at his listener.  Jesus was asking his disciples to do something much more than just stay awake.  He was pointing them back to what they had heard the night before: to be alert because the end is approaching.

In fact, when Jesus returns to find his disciples sleeping the first and second time, he repeats this same command to them, gregoreo!  Stay alert!  But upon his third visit he says it is enough, the time is now here.  In Mark 13, Jesus commands his disciples to be alert so that they may be prepared for the (ultimate) end, but in Mark 14, when the (immediate) end comes, they are asleep at their post and ultimately all leave him and flee (14:50).

This is not just a word by Jesus for his disciples but a word for us today as well.  Like the chorus in a Greek play, Mark’s words in 13:37, “What I say to you I say to all…” is a clear calling out to us here today.  Be on the alert for the end is coming and we must be prepared.  We must be prepared to face our own crucifixion – to die each day as a living sacrifice – as our own immediate ends in service, love, and sacrifice for others.  It is the cup we are called to bear as followers of the one who showed us the way.

OK – tomorrow is the big finale!  Mark’s last words to the earliest followers of Christ.  It’s a shocking, amazing, inspiring vision of Jesus’ ministry.

-Graysen Pack