We never know the hour

Daily Readings: Judges 13-14, Mark 13, Psalm 72

Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you. Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many. When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.

“You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. And the gospel must first be preached to all nations.

“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.

“Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’”

Mark 13:5-10, 32-37

I am always amused when I see Christians spending a great deal of energy trying to determine when Jesus will return by reading the Bible and attempting to look at current events for a concrete sign of his return. It is easy to become fascinated with the concept of the end times. Many Christians enjoy latching onto the portions of passages speaking of wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes, famines, etc. It is easy to say, “Gosh, doesn’t this feel a lot like the end times?”

Jesus made unmistakably clear that we will never know the exact time or date of his return, but he did tell us to always be ready.

I started thinking today how much different our world would look if we took seriously the end of Mark 13 individually and as a collective church.

He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task… 

How diligent are we at seeking after our own individual task in God’s greater story? How are we doing at chasing after this calling in our lives and allowing God to use us to reach every nation?

God wants to use us. He wants to use us wherever we work, in our neighborhoods, with our friends, in our families, and wherever else he chooses to call us. He wants to give us a task.

If God returned tomorrow, would he see us actively engaged in the task he has given us? Jesus paints us a picture of the master leaving for an undetermined amount of time and leaving the servants in charge. In a modern version of this analogy, imagine being the master of the house and tasking a single servant with the job of dishes. Then upon returning you see the sink overflowing with dirty dishes, the kitchen a disaster, and not a clean dish to be found in the house. Meanwhile the servant is binging the most recent show on Netflix, playing hours upon hours of video games, zoning out for entire evenings on social media, watching television, and completely ignoring the task he was given.

I can’t imagine being all that thrilled with this servant.

We all have the same task as Christians, reaching those who have never heard the good news of Jesus and caring for his sheep. We see this truth over and over again throughout the gospels. They unique gifts we have each been given and the circumstances that God has put in our path vary, but those are the tasks we have been put on earth to accomplish.

How are we doing at praying daily, “What do you have for me today Lord? Please give me eyes to see you will in my life today. Give me the wisdom to discern your will in the chaos of life today. Help me to see the lost and hurting today that I am meant to impact, even in a small way. Give me the strength and courage to live for you today.”

I don’t want Jesus to return one day while I am still on earth and have him arch an eyebrow while looking at me and say, “Really? This is how you decided to use your limited time here on earth?”

There is the classic question people love to ask: If this was your last day on earth, what would you do with it?

Most of the time when people ask this question my mind goes to all of the things I would still like to see, fun things I would still like to do, people I would want to spend time with, etc. I would be lying if I said that my mind immediately zooms to, “Man, I have some work to do for the Kingdom!”

Don’t get me wrong; there is a place for rest. We all need to recharge our batteries from time to time as well. Carving out intentional time to rest and recharge is critical. However, we have become a culture of rest. We have become a culture of endless entertainment where we place being constantly entertained above being on mission for Jesus.

Whether or not Jesus returns during our lifetime, it is undeniably true that we never know when our own time will come to an end here on earth. At that moment, the master returns for his individual servant. What will he say when he returns for you and I?

I want my last days, weeks, months, and years to bear fruit. I want Jesus to be able to look at me and smile saying, “Well done good and faithful servant.”

Thought to ponder

“Would I be ready if Jesus returned today?”

Desiring a Psalm 71 perspective

Daily Readings: Judges 11-12, Mark 12, Psalm 71

As for me, I will always have hope;
I will praise you more and more.

My mouth will tell of your righteous deeds,
of your saving acts all day long—
though I know not how to relate them all.
I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, Sovereign Lord;
I will proclaim your righteous deeds, yours alone.
Since my youth, God, you have taught me,
and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds.
Even when I am old and gray,
do not forsake me, my God,
till I declare your power to the next generation,
your mighty acts to all who are to come.

Your righteousness, God, reaches to the heavens,
you who have done great things.
Who is like you, God?
Though you have made me see troubles,
many and bitter,
you will restore my life again;
from the depths of the earth
you will again bring me up.
You will increase my honor
and comfort me once more.

Psalm 71:14-21

My wife and I were sitting on the back porch recently talking about some of the questions I would love to ask God one day in Heaven. There are so many things I would love answers to. There are so many circumstance in life, in the world, and throughout the Bible where I would love to be able to sit across from God and ask, “Why did it have to unfold that way? What was the bigger picture reasoning there? Was that event from you for a purpose or was it simply something you allowed as the result of us living in a broken and fallen world?”

I think we have all probably been there. Two days later I came to Psalm 71.

God has a great way of speaking to us in the moment through his word when we choose to listen. It never ceases to amaze me.

My mouth will tell of your righteous deeds,
of your saving acts all day long—
though I know not how to relate them all.

I want this to be the unceasing posture of my heart. I want to be a person who praises God and tells of his righteous deeds regardless of whether or not I feel equipped with all the answers. I want to be singing his praises even if I cannot understand how to relate them all.

It is so natural as a Christian in our modern world to feel uneasy sharing what God has done in our lives because we feel the need to be able to articulately answer any question that might be thrown our way. The desire to be an expert has crippled so many potential evangelists. We want to be experts first and THEN we will share our faith with others around us. Contemplating what we might say when the tough questions come can be absolutely paralyzing.

Psalm 71 goes on to say:

Though you have made me see troubles,
many and bitter,
you will restore my life again;
from the depths of the earth
you will again bring me up.
You will increase my honor
and comfort me once more.

This is one of the ever-present struggles that most Christians have relating to God’s ways. Why do bad things happen to good people? Why was this challenge put in my life or allowed in my life or in the lives of people I care about?

It can be so difficult in these tough times to remember that we have a Father in Heaven that will always restore. What we are going through, while extremely difficult at times, is temporary. God’s restoration will be eternal. His comfort will never end.

I want to live like Psalm 71.

I want to always have hope. I want to always praise him more and more. I want to tell of his marvelous deeds and declare his power to the next generation. I want the emotional strength and spiritual maturity to do all of this through all circumstances, not just the good. I know this level of perspective and spiritual maturity can only come from a deep, intimate, daily relationship with God. It is something we must desire so strongly that we are willing to pursue it the same way we pursue the other tangible desires of our heart.

It is worth the pursuit.

Thought to ponder

What has occasionally held me back from sharing the miraculous deeds of God, praising him more and more, and sharing him with the next generation?

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