The Heavens Will Be Shaken

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Reading the Word

Matthew 24:29–31 (ESV)

29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Parallel Texts: Mark 13:24-27; Luke 21:25-28

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus described what it will be like when he returns. The heavens will be shaken and when the Son of Man appears in power and glory, the nations will mourn. Why will they mourn? The world will realize that the gospel that has been proclaimed and denied is true and that the opportunity for salvation has passed. Jesus will send out his angels to gather those who are his.

We must realize that time is running out. As Christians, we have to understand the urgency in preaching the message of salvation and the coming kingdom. Our families’, friends’, and neighbors’ eternities depend on hearing the gospel from us. If you do not know the Lord, today is the day to reconcile with God while there is still opportunity. He sent his Son to pay the price for our sin. We must repent and turn to Christ for forgiveness and life. God has shown us his love and grace in Christ. Turn to him today.

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The Gospel Will Be Proclaimed

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Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish supplemental material on Sundays, but I do include a suggested Scripture reading. Please be sure to subscribe to this page so you can follow along every day. We are currently reading through the life of Jesus Christ.

Reading the Word

Matthew 24:9–14 (ESV)

9 “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. 10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 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.

Parallel Texts: Mark 13:9-13; Luke 21:12-19

When You Do Not See Results

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Reading the Word

John 10:40–42 (ESV)

40 He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing at first, and there he remained. 41 And many came to him. And they said, “John did no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true.” 42 And many believed in him there.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Have you ever felt like your service to the Lord was accomplishing nothing? Perhaps you have shared the gospel with many people, but have not known any who have actually come to trust in Jesus.

When Jesus escaped the people who wanted to seize him (see yesterday’s post), he went across the Jordan to where John the Baptist had ministered. John’s ministry took place before Jesus’ and he served as a forerunner to tell people of the coming Messiah. However, many did not believe John. Then he was arrested and later killed. When Jesus arrived, the people saw that everything that John had told them was true. As a result, many believed in Jesus. John never saw the fruit of his labor, but his faithfulness had a profound impact on the lives of many.

We too must remember that God has called us to be faithful to proclaim the Good News. We may not see the results, but we may be laying a foundation for someone else to continue building. Let us not lose heart, but instead let us pray for those who need the Lord and continue to trust in the One who gives new life.

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A Divisive Message

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Reading the Word

Luke 12:49–53 (ESV)

49 “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! 50 I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! 51 Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. 52 For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. 53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

Many have the mistaken idea that Jesus and his message were so kind and gentle that there was no way to have any other response than to love him. However, that is simply not true! Jesus rubbed many people the wrong way. That is exactly why they crucified him on a cross!

In our passage for today, Jesus told his disciples that his message would be divisive. It would even divide families. Jesus came proclaiming that all people are sinners and must repent of their sins. All people must believe and trust in Jesus for salvation. There is no other way. So, you are either with Jesus or you are against him. There is no middle ground.

As Jesus’ disciples in the world today, we are called to proclaim the same gospel message that he preached. We must call people to repent and turn to Christ for salvation and warn them that there is no other way to be reconciled to God. Just as in Jesus’ day, many are offended by such a message and wish to silence it. The gospel, while offering forgiveness and life for all who believe, is also a message that causes division. If you desire to live for Christ and proclaim the message of salvation, it will not be long before you face opposition. Do not be surprised and do not be discouraged. The same thing happened to Jesus.

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The Harvest Is Plentiful

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Reading the Word

Luke 10:1–12 (ESV)

1 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. 2 And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. 3 Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. 4 Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. 5 Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ 6 And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. 7 And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house. 8 Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. 9 Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ 12 I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus sent out seventy-two of his disciples to preach concerning the kingdom of God. He gave his disciples instructions about how they were supposed to minister. They took a message of peace for all who would receive it, but for those who would not, it would be “more bearable on that day for Sodom” than for those who rejected the disciples’ message.

One of the things that Jesus told his disciples was that the harvest was plentiful, but the laborers were few. The message of the kingdom needed to go to the world, but Jesus was only sending our thirty-six teams of two! How was the message going to reach all who needed to hear it? Jesus urged his disciples to pray for more workers.

We live in a world where there are still many people ready and in need of the gospel message, but there simply are not enough Christians going to them with the Good News of Jesus Christ. We often neglect our responsibility to reach our neighbors and we may also fail to respond to God’s call on us to go to another land as missionaries. There are many reasons why we have many in need of hearing about Jesus, but so few going into the world with the gospel. Whatever the reason, we need to ask if we are doing our part and then we need to commit ourselves to prayer. Pray that God would send more workers into the fields because the harvest is still plentiful.

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Responding to Rejection

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Reading the Word

Luke 9:51–56 (ESV)

51 When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. 52 And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him. 53 But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. 54 And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” 55 But he turned and rebuked them. 56 And they went on to another village.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus knew that his days on earth were few. He was soon to go to the cross. With this in mind, he set out towards Jerusalem. As Jesus traveled, he had to pass through a Samaritan village. This was a problem because Jews and Samaritans did not care much for each other and their animosity ran back hundreds of years. As Jesus traveled through, because he was set to go to Jerusalem, the Samaritan people did not welcome him.

The lack of a welcome angered James and John. They asked Jesus if they should call down fire from heaven to consume the people. They must have been furious! Yet Jesus rebuked them for this way of thinking. It was not time for judgment. It was time for the gospel to be preached. God will exercise judgment in his timing.

When we are ridiculed or mocked or rejected as Christians, it can be easy to feel the same way as James and John. We may feel like we want to get even or inflict punishment on others for how they treat us or the word of God. However, we must remember that it is our calling to proclaim the gospel to the world. God will take care of judging mankind. Let us show love to all people while we spread the Good News of Jesus Christ and then let us leave the rest to God.

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A Future Harvest

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Reading the Word

Mark 4:26–29 (ESV)

26 And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. 27 He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. 28 The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. 29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

Only Mark’s Gospel records this short parable. The story is of a farmer who scatters seed, but is powerless to make the seed grow. The man goes about his days working the ground and cultivating while the seed sprouts and produces a crop that the farmer can harvest, but it was the earth that gave the growth “by itself”, not the man. The farmer does not know fully how these things work together.

Jesus tells us that, in the same way we are powerless over the growth of the kingdom. We do our part in spreading the news of the kingdom, but it is God who gives the growth. He alone can change hearts and bring people into the kingdom. Let us continue to work in proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ, knowing that God is at work in the world and that there is a harvest day coming.

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Good News for the Poor

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Reading the Word

Luke 4:16–30 (ESV)

16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. 17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” 22 And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” 23 And he said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘ “Physician, heal yourself.” What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.’ ” 24 And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. 25 But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, 26 and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. 27 And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” 28 When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. 29 And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. 30 But passing through their midst, he went away.

Understanding and Applying the Word

As Jesus returned to Nazereth, where he had been brought up, he had already begun his public ministry in Capernaum. When he arrived in Nazareth, he already had a reputation as a healer due to the works he had performed in Capernaum. This is likely why he was invited to speak at the synagogue in Nazareth.

Jesus read from Isaiah 61 then sat down to teach. Was this reading scheduled to be read on this day? Did Jesus select this passage on his own? We do not know, but it is an incredible passage concerning the ministry of the Messiah. So, when Jesus told the people that the passage had been fulfilled in their midst, he was making a claim to be the Messiah. They wondered how this could be possible since they knew he was the carpenter’s son.

Jesus predicted that the people would call on him to perform in Nazareth the healings he had done in Capernaum. After all, should not the hometown folks benefit if anyone is going to benefit? In response, Jesus reflected on incidents in the Old Testament where God’s favor had fallen on select people, even non-Jews, while many others had not received such grace. In saying this, Jesus was telling the Jewish people that his ministry was not solely, or even primarily for the Jewish people, but for both Jew and Gentile. As a result, the people wanted to seize him and thrown him off of a cliff, but he escaped from them.

How do we respond when others are shown grace? How would you feel if the neighbor you do not get along with, or the co-worker who is always causing problems, or your worst enemy showed up at church? How would you feel if they turned to Christ in saving faith? Would you rejoice? Or, would you wonder how God could show favor to “those people”? Let us remember that Jesus came to save the lost, whoever they may be, and let us give thanks for the grace we have received as well as the grace God shows to others.

**Read through the Life of Christ in 2019 by following along with Shaped by the Word. Just subscribe to this page and be sure to read along every day!

Among Those Who Hate Peace

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Reading the Word

Psalm 120:1-7 (ESV)

1 In my distress I called to the Lord,
and he answered me.
2 Deliver me, O Lord,
from lying lips,
from a deceitful tongue.

3 What shall be given to you,
and what more shall be done to you,
you deceitful tongue?
4 A warrior’s sharp arrows,
with glowing coals of the broom tree!

5 Woe to me, that I sojourn in Meshech,
that I dwell among the tents of Kedar!
6 Too long have I had my dwelling
among those who hate peace.
7 I am for peace,
but when I speak, they are for war!

Understanding and Applying the Word

In this psalm, we read the words of one who understands the reality of life in this world as a child of God. To live in this world is to live among people who do not share the same view of the world and these two different views can be strongly opposed to one another. As a result, there can be a potential for conflict.

The psalmist writes, “I am for peace, but when I speak, they are for conflict.” If you are ever discouraged by the way others respond to your faith and the message of the gospel, be encouraged. Our Lord faced resistance as well and met it with love and peace. We are called to do the same as we live in this world and proclaim the message of peace to those who will receive it.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. Please be sure to subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day.