Read Mark 13:1-8
There was an age, a generation, from Adam to the flood.
There was an age from Noah to the advent of the Messiah.
We live in an age with bookends as well. They are the Lamb of God who took away the sin of the world and the coming of the King. Jesus marks both ends of this age. We share this age with people named Peter, the apostle formerly known as Saul—yes we know him as Paul.
We share this age with Martin Luther, John Calvin, Samuel McAdow, Finis Ewing, Samuel King, Mother Theresa, Corrie ten Boom, James Hendrix, Gene Reeves, Junior Delp, Robert Rush, Briley Reeves, and Emma Ray Stegall.
We are the generation of what many have come to call the church age. Jesus didn’t name it that, but it’s a good name for it. It works.
Jesus sometimes referred to this generation as “wicked.” We do not have to wear this title because we follow Jesus and we belong to the Kingdom of God, even in the here and now; but this generation is rightly fitted with the label “wicked.”
We have surrendered our lives to Jesus. He has made us right with God; but the world, this present generation, cannot make the same claim. It seems to be moving in the opposite direction. There will come a time where God will declare this age to be complete.
Some dread this day. Some are storing up food, fuel, and ammunition for the time that comes at the end.
Some are just singing, People get ready, Jesus is coming. Soon we’ll be going home.
Intellectual Christians discuss pre-tribulation rapture, mid-trib rescue, and post tribulation endurance to the end. Jesus is coming and speculation of how much tribulation will we have to go through is rampant.
I tell you that you will go through some tribulation. How can I say that?
Because you go through some tribulation now. You have the pressure of the world upon you now. We know tribulation. We call it by its included terms: pressure, stress, anxiety, worry, job loss, hunger, homelessness, hopelessness, and others.
We know the pressures of the world.
Most of us have not experienced true hunger, homelessness, or hopelessness, but we still feel pressure from the world.
Jesus tells us not to worry; yet it happens even among long time Christians.
The disciples are with Jesus near the temple and one of them says, “Wow! Now that’s something to look at!”
I have seen the IMax movie Jerusalem and can tell that I would have said, “Wow! Now that’s something to look at!”
The movie folks took what remains were left and did a virtual reconstruction and even on the big screen, I thought: “Wow! Now that’s something to look at!”
The disciples were surely hoping that Jesus would be impressed. “Look at the house that our fathers built for our Father in heaven.”
But Jesus came to remodel the temples that we live in not to admire those that were made of stone.
He told his followers that this building that they admired so much would just be rubble one day.
This surely silenced everyone for a while; at least until they were sitting in the Mount of Olives, still near the temple.
Four disciples asked Jesus when will this happen and how will be know it is coming?
Be careful what you ask Jesus. He might just give you more than you are ready to hear. He said that:
· Many will come in his name. They are imposters.
· There will be wars and rumors of war.
· Nation will fight nation and kingdom will fight kingdom.
· Testimonies before government leaders.
· Disruption of families because of Jesus. Families will divide and turn upon each other.
· People will hate you because of Jesus.
· Holy places will be defiled.
· God’s people will not only be persecuted but some will be pursued.
· Some may have to go and hide.
· False Messiahs will start popping up. People will be invited to follow them. It might even be tempting to do so.
· Deception will be at an all time high.
But this isn’t the end. This is the beginning of the end of the age. These are the beginning of birth pains. Things are just getting warmed up.
And if that were not enough, in the days following this earthbound distress; there will be massive and very noticeable cosmic disturbance.
One might look at the heavens and say, “Wow! Now that’s something to look at!”
Be careful what you ask Jesus. You might just get more than you bargained for when he gives the answer, and some people dwell on all of these things that will come.
But what else did Jesus say?
Don’t be troubled by the troubles of the world.
Watch out that no one deceives you.
Watch out! Be alert! Don’t be deceived.
Jesus said that impostors will come and many will be deceived, but you must not be deceived.
He said, times are going to get really tough and people will want to hear what the imposters are saying but you must stick to the truth.
Do not be deceived.
Jesus said that before the end comes, the gospel will be preached to all nations.
He said that when you are handed over to worldly authorities do not worry about what you will say. The Spirit will give you the words.
Take note, Jesus did not say that you would be delivered from what the carnal world will do to you, but you will not fail in your testimony.
What difference does this make? Have you ever asked the question, “Would I deny Christ if my life was at stake?”
We don’t need to worry about things that have not happened.
Jesus tells us that God’s Spirit will be with us if we are around for that sort of trial.
We are around for that sort of trial. We are seeing this happen not only in other countries but within the borders of our own nation.
Jesus warned his disciples that trials and tribulation show no deference to physical condition or season of the year.
If you are pregnant or become pregnant, tribulation doesn’t care.
For all of the information and instruction that Jesus gave, none of it was about avoiding the things that are coming.
Jesus says be on your guard so that you are not deceived.
Do not be deceived!
The message given to us is that in whatever shape the world is in, and from the looks of things the fig branches are coming out of winter and getting tender and ready to bud, but in whatever condition the world is in, we are not to be deceived.
We are to trust in the Lord over our own understanding. Better yet, just accept what the Lord says as our own understanding.
How can we ever do that?
I have three recommendations. Abbreviation - PRP
First, pray. Yeah okay, I do that. Not just bless this food and now I lay me down to sleep, pray continuously. Have a conversation with you heavenly Father that continues throughout your waking hours. Make lots of time for listening. He may even keep talking while you are asleep.
Next, read you Bible. Not just the verse of the day. Read chunks of your Bible just as you would eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and probably a couple snacks to sustain your physical self.
Memorize some of it. Have some verses that you can rest in. You know them by heart and can say them all day long even while doing something else.
And while we are on the subject of Bible reading, get a hard copy of the Bible. Having it on your phone is great. I love using Google as my super fast concordance, but I will not be without a hard copy Bible that was published in my native language in my formative years.
I keep the 1984 version of the New International Version handy at all times. I love having 5 versions displayed in parallel on my computer screen, but we should know how vulnerable electronic media is to manipulation.
Keep at least one hard copy Bible around and read it often, even if you are a Bible Gateway junkie like me.
Pray. Read your Bible. What now?
Practice. Put God’s word into practice.
I do not know the day and the hour when Jesus is coming to claim us, but I know this. He will catch me doing what doing his will.
He will catch me loving my neighbor. Sometimes that will look like me giving out a box of food. Sometimes it will look like me holding back my carnal self so I don’t choke someone as I say, “No, we are not going to buy your cigarettes this month. Use that money to pay your water bill.”
Sometimes it is just going to be listening to the things that all the kids who come on Wednesday night have to tell me.
Sometimes it will be to preach those parts of the Bible that most preachers skip over because they make folks uncomfortable.
Sometimes it will be me challenging you to get to know your neighbor and be downright salty—God seasoning—when you do it.
The question is, what will you be doing? It won’t be about what is going on elsewhere in the world. It will be about what will you be doing?
Visualize these scenes between Jesus and a believer as we approach his second coming.
So you heard that I was coming soon, so you bought 24 cases of green beans and a pallet of MREs.
So you heard that I was coming soon, and you built a bunker complex under your home.
You heard that I was coming soon, so you rushed to convert your VHS library to digital format.
You heard that I was coming soon so you got your taxes in early so you could spend that refund check before I got here.
You heard I was coming soon so you post dated the check for your tithe.
Do not be deceived!
Our time in this age is about being God’s love at every opportunity, not outsmarting the things and pressures of the world.
We are not to be deceived thinking there is an easy way out of whatever tribulation we have. There is only trusting in the Lord every step of the way until the day that he comes for us.
He is coming for us. We don’t know the day or the hour, but the season has been right for some time now.
He is coming soon.
At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.
What are we to do in the mean time?
Stay the course.
Be God’s love.
Share the good news.
Be the salt of the earth.
Be the light of the world.
Call those that we know to come home.
Pray. Read and study God’s word. Put it into practice.
Do not be deceived. God has a time to come claim all of his own but until then we need to face each day with a heart and mind ready to do the will of the Lord one more time.
One more time.
The world will challenge us and try to deceive us, but we will be faithful one more time.
We will stay the course one more time.
Why do we study the end times?
So that we are not deceived! It is not to try and change the course of what will come, but so that we can change lives.
We can be a part of a rescue from those lost to the ways of this world.
We come to a very familiar place when it comes to living in a world of deception.
Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your path straight.
We are alert, vigilant, and watchful not so we can avoid those things that must come, but so that we remain faithful as we minister to a faithless world.
We will not be deceived. We will not give in to the world’s pressures.
We will continue to be God’s love in action until the day Jesus comes to claim us.
When God comes he is going to find us doing exactly what we are supposed to be doing, being his love to the very end.
We will not be deceived.