It Couldn’t Happen Here, Could It?

As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!”

2 “Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” Mark 13:1-2

Jesus acknowledged the buildings but cautioned His disciples about what was to come later. The disciple was obviouly impressed by the entire structure, but Jesus knew that temples or synagogues or churches are manmade and are therefore prone to destruction. I’m sure His response shocked the disciple, especially given the size and magnitude of the structure. How could something so grandiose be toppled?

How can a nation so great and powerful and mighty fall?

Name a civilization: Greeks, Romans, Persian, Medes, Chinese, Japanese, even Great Britain. All of them have fallen and are a mere shadow of their greatness if they even exist today. Many of the great civilizations fell from within through corruption, rampant lasciviousness, and exorbitant government overspending and overtaxation, to name a few egregious acts leading to their downfall. It certainly could happen here, and some suggest we’re on the downside of this moral curve.

It’s easy to look around and think nothing could take down the behemoth of a nation because of all the good we do around the world, all the missionaries we fund, etc etc. But as you look elsewhere, you see the moral and ethical underpinnings being jarred loose.

What happens next is anyone’s guess. God, of course, isn’t surprised by any of this. He didn’t lose any sleep over any Executive Order Joe Biden passed in the last 5 months or any tweets that former President Trump would tweet out in the wee hours of the morning before Biden.

We can wring our hands as much as we want, but we’d be better suited to pray for the leadership of this country.

Pray that bold men and women of God will continue proclaiming the Gospel while we still have light.

Pray also that the evil deeds of darkness will be exposed and dealt with.

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Multiplication of Money

43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” Mark 12:41-44

Even though the poor woman in this passage gave a little bit of money, she put it all out there. Did she have means to replenish it? No one knows but she thought it was important enough to dump it all in the treasury.

What makes this story great is that it cuts across socioeconomic barriers in its application. The same principle applies to the super wealthy and the poverty-stricken among us. Everyone is free to give as he so chooses, whether a dollar or their entire life savings.

Billionaire construction man R.G. Latourneau commented that “It’s not how much of my money I give to God, but how much of His money I keep for myself.” It is said that he gave 96% of his money away. Latourneau, famous for his earth-moving equipment, said this regarding money, “I shovel [money] out, and God shovels it back…but God has a bigger shovel!”

While none of us reading this have billions as Latourneau had, it doesn’t exempt us from giving as God directs. He may direct you to empty your bank account or He may ask you to give less. On the whole, we probably should give more to further the Gospel around the world if God so leads.

“You can’t outgive God” and “Give ’til it hurts” while both probably true, it’s not what we should base our giving on. Being directed by the Holy Spirit each time we open our wallets is the best way to give, and then praying that God would multiply those funds as only He can do.

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Down a Ruinous Path

38 As he taught, Jesus said, “Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, 39 and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. 40 They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.” Mark 12:38-40

Jesus’ warning against the teachers of the law was strong. He didn’t mince words. He didn’t coddle them even though many were probably in the crowds listening to Him and seething at His remarks.

“Pfft! This uneducated carpenter from Nazareth. What does He know about the Law and the Prophets?”

Well, turns out He knows quite a bit for He wrote the Book. His accusations centered around their lack of mercy and arrogance.

Of course we have such people today that lead throngs of people down a ruinous path. They rake in millions but pay their workers a pittance. They use smooth talk on television to convince widows and followers to send in thousands of dollars annually. Then they squander the money on their own pleasures. Their preach a Gospel Lite by preaching love and acceptance to attract more followers who will eventually give more money. You won’t hear repent, hell, or eternal damnation come from their lips. They tickle people’s ears. They have a well-oiled machine of an organization to process all the money they take in.

As Jesus said, “these men [and women] will be punished most severely.”

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One Day Soon

35 While Jesus was teaching in the temple courts, he asked, “Why do the teachers of the law say that the Messiah is the son of David? 36 David himself, speaking by the Holy Spirit, declared:

“‘The Lord said to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand
until I put your enemies
under your feet.”‘

37 David himself calls him ‘Lord.’ How then can he be his son?”

The large crowd listened to him with delight. Mark 12:35-37

How many in his audiences understood who Jesus was referring to in this passage? We don’t know but His disciples were certainly putting the pieces together. I still say it had to be an overwhelming thought and experience for them because they were a significant part of history.

We too are a part of the history the Christian Church. We can have a relationship with the Creator God and can commune with Him at will, if we so choose.

Never lose sight of that detail as we journey through this life. While we have never been face to face with our Redeemer, we will one day.

And sooner than we think.

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Not Far From the Kingdom

28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

32 “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

34 When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions. Mark 12:28-34

This seemed to be one of the leaders who didn’t try to trap or trick Jesus. Hew knew Scriptures, and Jesus even complimented him on being so close to the kingdom.

Jesus had compassion on those true seekers. Fortunately, He could spot the false truth-seekers a mile off.

Unfortunately, we’re not as discerning as Jesus was despite our best attempts. We don’t have the luxury of answering accusations disguised as truth-seeking questions. We have no idea how close that person is to the kingdom of God, and it’s probably better that way.

The truth is, we don’t know how close anyone is to the kingdom of God, just as we do not know how close people are to Christ in their walks, so we pray accordingly.

We don’t assume much but we pray for wisdom. We pray for discernment. We pray for seeds to be planted and take root. We pray that God would use your words and actions to bring glory to God.

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