an unexpected hour


No one knows when that day and hour will come—neither the angels in heaven nor the Son; the Father alone knows. The coming of the Son of Man will be like what happened in the time of Noah. ... Watch out, then, because you do not know what day your Lord will come. [Matthew 24:36,37,42 GNT]


At the end of the last century there were many predictions of rapture and judgment day.
Many responded then with this passage saying that no one knows the day.
Even so, I think that the greater message is how we may meet God when we least expect it.

In referencing the times of Noah our Lord speaks to the condition of humanity.
In Genesis we read that humans had grieved him to his heart.
The message to me is that God is affected by our actions.

Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord and was saved from the floodwaters.
He was prepared because he paid attention to the voice of the Spirit.
The Ark he built speaks volumes to me about being prepared when I meet God.

I think that Jesus' message in this passage is all about staying awake spiritually.
His central message is that any day could be our last - we may die sooner than we think.
In light of this we must purpose to live in ways that are pleasing to God.

I confess that I am weak Lord. Help me to be ready and to honor you in everything I do.


... this devotion is part of the Red Letters series. Click here to read more.

eternal words


Remember that all these things will happen before the people now living have all died. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. [Matthew 24-35 GNT]


"These things" that Jesus speaks of include troubling signs in the sky.
He speaks of a day that he will appear with angels to receive his own.
The Lord tells his listeners that it would happen in their own lifetime.

When I consider the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD I think of:
  • the terror that people experienced as their homes were destroyed;
  • the harsh brutality of the Roman forces as they attacked the city;
  • how God was as work in the suffering and hardships.
That last phrase is such an important one for us to remember.
So often it seems that evil has gained control of all that surrounds us.
In such times is it is good to remember that God is working in the chaos.

I have found words to carry such power in my life.
There are impotent words that will fall to the ground and be no more.
Yet there seems to be words that carry the timeless weight of heaven.

The words that Jesus spoke are timeless, powerful and of great importance.
His words speak of things that transcend time and space.
These have the power to change our lives and impact our world.

I think that these are the words that only God can speak.
In saying that words will never pass away, Jesus tells us of his deity.
The words that he speaks are eternal because he himself is eternal.

Teach me Lord to treasure your words in my heart.


... this devotion is part of the Red Letters series. Click here to read more.

like swift lightning


If anyone tries to flag you down, calling out, ‘Here’s the Messiah!’ or points, ‘There he is!’ don’t fall for it. Fake Messiahs and lying preachers are going to pop up everywhere. ... The Arrival of the Son of Man isn’t something you go to see. He comes like swift lightning to you! [Matthew 24:23-27 MSG]


I have run across a few messianic figures in my life.
Charismatic people who win you over with their dogmatic certainty.
These lead followers to depend on them rather than on God.

In this passage Jesus indicates that he will come in a way quite unlike his first coming.
He tells his disciples, and us, to not pay attention to fleshly messianic figures.
When he comes to us again it will be spiritually - we will see him with inner eyes.

Over the years my views on the second coming of Christ have gradually changed.
I once thought that it was one cataclysmic future event - and it may be?
But these days I think more of a future day when I will meet Jesus.

The last sentence of this passage really engages my imagination.
It speaks to me of a day when I will shed my body and be with the Lord.
That time will come with power greater than lightning and will surpass everything I know.

Can you imagine that day when the Son of God comes again?
Can you visualize that day when he comes to transform this corpse of humanity?
The thought of that day brings hope to every part of me.

I long for the day of your coming Lord. My hope is in that day. Hallelujah!


... this devotion is part of the Red Letters series. Click here to read more.

for our sake


But be ready to run for it when you see the monster of desecration set up in the Temple sanctuary. ... This is going to be trouble on a scale beyond what the world has ever seen, or will see again. If these days of trouble were left to run their course, nobody would make it. But on account of God’s chosen people, the trouble will be cut short. [Matthew 24:21-22 MSG]


I have to admit that these words seem so preposterous to me.
Think I would blow them off if Jesus had not spoken them.
The question for me is whether he is speaking in hyperbole.

The context may be the end of the age but might reference the siege of Jerusalem in 70 AD.
Jesus' description of a cataclysmic tribulation is a sobering and very serious message.
Hard to read these words and just blow them off.

Thankfully the Lord offers a beacon of hope in midst of all this darkness.
He tells of how God will cut those days short for the sake of the faithful.
I find much encouragement in that sentiment.

Reminds me that God is sovereign and reigns even in the darkest of times.
It shouts loudly of how God considers his children in world events.
For our sake the world is a different place and suffering is cut short.

I am thankful that you are sovereign Lord. Help me to trust you.


... this devotion is part of the Red Letters series. Click here to read more.

the end will come


All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. [Matthew 24:8-14 ESV]


In these few words Jesus tells us what the last days of Jerusalem will look like.
Previously he spoke of birth pains - now he speaks of the delivery stage.
He indicates that these times, and ages to follow, will be categorized by:
  • Persecution and Hatred: Followers of Christ will be singled out from others. Reminiscent of attitudes in totalitarian countries where the gospel is not tolerated.
  • False Prophets: Also reminiscent of countries where the gospel is banned. People will arise with a message that perverts the image of God and his message.
  • Lawlessness will increase and Love will grow cold: As God is removed from the culture the influence of the Holy Spirit will be diminished. Consequentially immoral acts will arise while acts of love and charity ebb right up until the last day.
  • Perseverance: Those who endure persecution and do not capitulate to false prophets will see the salvation of God on that last day.
Jesus ends by speaking of a day when the whole earth will hear the gospel of the kingdom.
On that day the end will come. Blessed be the name of the Lord!
Maranatha. Come Lord Jesus.

Lord, you are sovereign over all events - now and in the last days. Help me to trust in you.


... this devotion is part of the Red Letters series. Click here to read more.

birth pains


Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down. ... “Tell us, when will these things be ...” And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ ... And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. [Matthew 24:2-8 ESV]


Eschatology is the study of the events associated with end times and the coming age.
As far back as the first century many have believed that they were living in the last days.
Forty years ago, when I was in bible college, my favorite book of the bible was Revelation.

I so remember those wonderful debates around the rapture and the last days.
As the new millennium dawned my fixation with eschatology ebbed.
Even so, the predictions of modern days 'prophets' have revived the interest in the topic.

Interesting how Jesus begins his end times dissertation with a warning about deception.
It is so easy to get distracted by eschatology and predictions of future events.
Especially when we consider that Jesus was speaking of the destruction of Jerusalem's temple.

There is good reason to think that the things he spoke of have already happened.
Even so, he points to observable events saying that they are but the beginning of birth pains.
It reminds me of what Paul writes in the eighth chapter of his letter to the Romans:
For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
Hope, not fear, is the message of the days when new life is birthed in hard times.
When we hear of wars, famines and earthquakes our hearts go out to those who suffer.
Yet in the midst of these trying times we do well to embrace the hope of redemption.

I await your redemption today Lord. Help me to look up when things around me look bleak.


... this devotion is part of the Red Letters series. Click here to read more.

temporal captivations


As Jesus was leaving the Temple grounds, his disciples came along and wanted to take him on a tour of the various Temple buildings. But he told them, “All these buildings will be knocked down, with not one stone left on top of another!” [Matthew 24:1-2 ESV]

In my life I have had a lot of creature comforts - nice houses, cars, clothes and other stuff.
Interesting that all of those houses and cars have given way to newer models.
Speaks to me of how temporal physical things are in our lives.

And churches? Oh my, I have been a part of six church building campaigns.
One of those buildings eventually had to be sold at a two million dollar loss.
What is it about stuff that so captivates us and garners our attention?

We all know that "the stuff" is temporary. Such is the message in today's reading.
The disciples were fixated on the beauty and majesty of temple buildings.
They could not even imagine their destruction in their lifetimes.

Jesus jars them with a message that we all need to hear.
The stuff is not important - all things will eventually be replaced because they are temporal.
Yet there are things that are eternal and will survive our passing.

These are the things that should captivate us.

Open my eyes Lord to see the eternal things. Help me to give my attention to such things.


... this devotion is part of the Red Letters series. Click here to read more.