Luke 21

Vs. 5, “Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said.”  Before we address Jesus’ response to the awe the disciples had at the temple, we are reminded of the humble attitude the poor widow had as she offered two small copper coins (vs. 1-4).  This is a wonderful reminder that nothing is insignificant when it comes to giving to the Lord.  It seemed impossible to the disciples that such a beautiful structure like the temple could be destroyed (vs. 5-28).  These comments by the disciples give Jesus the chance to speak of signs that are to come regarding trials and tribulations.  The Gospels of Matthew and Mark also give another vantage point of this discussion.  Jesus words of warning and destruction to come are both relevant to the audience at that time (fall of Jerusalem 70 AD) and applies to the events tied to the book of Revelation.  To illustrate this, Jesus shares a parable about the fig tree and other trees (vs.  29-31).  We know summer is coming as the budding of the trees begins.  Likewise, the Lord has given us warnings and signs to see He is coming soon.

Regarding application…Watchful Prayer.  Vs. 36, “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.” Question: What should our response be?  Whether Jesus comes back in our lifetime or not, it is the responsibility of every believer in all ages to watch and pray.  Jesus reminds us that the troubles of this world can weigh us down (vs. 34).  Question: Is there anything weighing you down?  Jesus of all people could relate to such weight, for He would soon take the weight of all of our sins!  Take time today to lay whatever it is that is causing you anxiety or worry and bring it to Jesus.  Know that the Lord is faithful and true.

II Thessalonians 1

Vs. 3, “We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing.”  Despite the hardship, Paul wanted to begin his letter with a positive note!  There was much to be thankful for in that the Christians were still persevering.  In the case with the Thessalonians, their struggles were an evidence of God’s blessings because they were still growing in love for each other.  This is a reminder for us all that following God does not make us immune to hardship by any means.  If you recall from the first letter, Paul had to address some misunderstandings regarding the “day of the Lord” and an appropriate response to this knowledge.  We are not entirely sure what this form of suffering was (vs. 5-10), but it was certainly bringing them down.  Yet, Paul was reminding them that God is in control and that in His timing, His just ways would come to fruition.  And lastly, Paul prays for them (vs. 11-12) and reminds us all of the importance of it!

Regarding application…God is Just.  Vs. 6, “God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you.”  Question: Why does it seem nice guys always lose?  In this case, the Christians in Thessalonica were wondering why it seemed the wicked were prospering over the righteous.  False doctrines about End times and false responses of how they should live were bringing discouragement to the faithful.  But God is the one who brings vengeance.  It is not our place.  When and how God chooses to bring judgment is entirely up to Him.  We must trust in this.  Thinking of my childhood, I recall several circumstances where I felt like I was more punished than my sister when we had altercations.  I was more concerned about an appropriate punishment for her rather than trusting my mom’s judgment.  Sometimes we think that the punishment doesn’t fit the crime.  Question: Are there circumstances in your life where you are discouraged when you see the unrighteous seemingly prospering?  Take heart brothers and sisters and put your faith in Him.  Focus on the right things like loving more and being a light to our community (vs. 3).

Amos 9

Vs. 1, “I saw the Lord standing by the altar, and he said: “Strike the tops of the pillars so that the thresholds shake. Bring them down on the heads of all the people; those who are left I will kill with the sword. Not one will get away, none will escape.”  For the original audience receiving this message, this still was a very hard thing to believe.  Life was going well for them, so they thought.  Amos elaborates on how no one will be able to escape (vs. 2-4).  The LORD God is powerful above all things (vs. 5-6).  Though Israel had been set apart, there were many that would not turn back to the LORD.  In this we see an illustration of God sifting his people like rock and sand (vs. 8).  But hope would not be completely lost (vs. 11-15)!  Question: When would this time of restoration occur?  None of us are completely sure, though it full of eschatological emphasis (End Times).  Israel will still play an important part in this drama of life!

Regarding application…Restoring Old to New.  Vs. 11, “In that day I will restore David’s fallen tent. I will repair its broken places, restore its ruins, and build it as it used to be.”  This reminds me of God taking our old sinful selves and creating in us a new person from the teachings of Romans (Which we will start reading tomorrow!)  What was once old and decaying now becomes new and valuable.  These days, its pretty popular to take old things and restore them.  I recall about a two years ago, I was watching some Discovery show or something like it, where this guy brought an old Coca-Cola coin machine.  This was vintage, back when it was like 5 Cents a bottle.  He brought it to this guy who restores old antique items.  It was most definitely an eye sore.  It was rusted through and through and missing many parts.  But through this pile of junk, the guy bought it in hopes to restore it.  They began to show the restoration process, and before you knew it there stood a sparkling and working vintage Coca-Cola machine!  I found myself saying “No way~~~” out loud to myself.  It was amazing the transformation process.  Of course, this is nothing compared to the restoration process that God undertakes for us when we become a new creation (II Corinthians 5:17)!

 

Luke 21

Vs. 8,He replied: “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them.”  The days are numbering down and Jesus is spending time in His Father’s house.  In the beginning of this chapter, we see the woman with two copper coins bring an offering to the temple (vs. 1-4).  God looks at the heart of the giver and is honored by such things.  Then Jesus gives us some amazing insight about the End Times.  The Mayan prophecies though false, do help remind us that there are biblical signs that point towards the end of the earth (at least how we know it).  In Jesus’ prophecy we see both the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans some forty years later and also the End Times that are yet to come.  So, it certainly can be confusing for us the reader.  Be careful of false teachers claiming to the real Savior of the world.  Jesus’ exhortation to be ready to defend ourselves speaks of standing up for our faith in an age where Christianity is mocked (vs. 14).

Regarding application…Keep Your Head Up.  Vs. 28, “When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”  Just yesterday, I exhorted one of my students with this very phrase.  The anxieties of this life (vs. 34) certainly can keep us downcast.  It’s a reminder that it’s normal not to feel comfortable in this world.  If you walk with the Lord…Jesus tell us our family may disown you and people will hate you (vs. 16-17).  Yet, do not dismay because there is the most amazing future ahead of us!  That is why we read the living Word of God!  It reminds us to hear His voice and keep our heads up!  I’ll end with something that happened today to me.  I went to work out at the local gym (funny how packed it was with all those New Years resolutions).  So I got home and realized I couldn’t recall where I left my wallet.  I looked everywhere for it and even drove back to the gym to search for it.  My head was pretty low and I was frustrated because I had just put about $90 in cash in my wallet a couple of days ago.  I got home, went to my bedroom and sat down with my head low.  And lo and behold…my wallet had fallen underneath one of the furniture items in my bedroom.  A big sigh of relief and a smile came on my face!  Then, I turned to God’s word and He reminded me to not let life’s anxieties keep me down, Praise God!