There Are Two Types of People

Matthew 2534 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Matthew 25:31–46 (ESV)

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ 41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

After teaching his disciples that they must always be prepared for his return, Jesus describes what will take place at the end. He uses the illustration of a shepherd who separates his sheep from his goats. In the same way, Jesus will separate all people into two groups: those who belong to him and those who do not. Those who belong to Jesus will enter into the kingdom for eternity. Those who do not will be left out of the kingdom and face eternal condemnation.

We live in a world that has a hard time accepting responsibility. We want to believe that no one has the right to judge our thoughts or actions as right or wrong. We believe those things are only for us to decide. However, the Bible says that we are all sinners. We have all disobeyed the word of God in thought and deed and we all stand condemned as a result. The holy Creator has every right to judge us and he will.

When we realize that we are sinners and stand condemned, there is hope. God has done something truly amazing and unexpected. The One who is Creator and Judge has extended grace to all who will receive it. He has sent his Son, Jesus Christ, as a substitute for sinners. Christ suffered and died in our place, taking the punishment we deserve, so we can have life. Those who turn from their sins and trust in the work of Christ for salvation will be saved. Those who place their faith in Jesus become his sheep and belong to him forever. There are only two types of people in the world: those who belong to Jesus and those who do not.

**If you enjoy reading Shaped by the Word, please consider sharing this post on social media. Doing so helps us reach a larger audience. Thanks for reading!

Follow Shaped by the Word on WordPress or Facebook.

Advertisements

Ready to Wait

standing man looking his watch

Photo by Jeffrey Paa Kwesi Opare on Pexels.com

 

Reading the Word

Matthew 25:1–13 (ESV)

1 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7 Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. 11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus spoke a second parable to his disciples concerning his return. In the first, which we read yesterday (cf. Matthew 24:45-51), Jesus emphasized that he could return sooner than expected so they must be prepared and not assume there is a long wait ahead. In today’s passage, Jesus teaches the opposite message. Jesus uses the story of a wedding to teach that his followers must be prepared if he delays longer than expected.

In the Parable of the Ten Virgins, there are ten young women, who we would label bridesmaids today, that are a part of the wedding party. They were to greet the bridegroom when he came and accompany him to the wedding feast and celebrate with him. Five of the virgins were prepared to wait late into the night. They brought extra oil for their lamps. Five of the virgins were unprepared for such a long wait. They only brought what was in their lamps and no extra. When the bridegroom came, the five who were prepared lit their lamps and accompanied him while the five who were unprepared went to seek oil to purchase. As a result, they were late to the party and unable to enter.

As we await our Lord’s return, we must be prepared to remain and serve even if Jesus does not return in our lifetimes, or in many lifetimes. We must be ready for him to come soon, but we must also be prepared for the long haul. We do this through faithful service every day and by teaching the next generation how to do the same. Are you prepared to serve Christ even if his return is far in the future?

**If you enjoy reading Shaped by the Word, please consider sharing this post on social media. Doing so helps us reach a larger audience. Thanks for reading!

Follow Shaped by the Word on WordPress or Facebook.

Sooner than Expected

time lapse photo of railway

Photo by Tom Dahm on Pexels.com

Reading the Word

Matthew 24:45–51 (ESV)

45 “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? 46 Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 47 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. 48 But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ 49 and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, 50 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know 51 and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Matthew 24-25 make up what is commonly referred to as the Olivet Discourse. In these chapters, Jesus gives us his most lengthy teaching on the end times. In the verses we have looked at so far, Jesus has emphasized that the timing of the end is to remain unknown to us, but we must be ready at all times by living holy lives and preaching the gospel to the world.

In today’s reading, Jesus changes his teaching method. He begins using parables to teach his disciples. Today’s parable is about a servant who is left in charge of his master’s household while the master goes away. While the master is away, the servant is unfaithful in his duties and even beats the other servants because he thinks that the master is going to be gone a long time. However, the master returned sooner than expected and saw what the wicked servant was doing. The servant was cut “in pieces and put with the hypocrites.”

This parable reinforces what Jesus has been teaching all along. We do not know the timing of our Lord’s return and we must be ready for him to come at any moment. He may come sooner than we expect. Will he find us being faithful to our task or will he find us unfaithful like the wicked servant? The one who truly belongs to Christ will remain faithful to his Master, while the unfaithful will be judged. We must not wait until later to serve the Lord. Later may never come.

**If you enjoy reading Shaped by the Word, please consider sharing this post on social media. Doing so helps us reach a larger audience. Thanks for reading!

Follow Shaped by the Word on WordPress or Facebook.

An Hour You Do Not Expect

accurate alarm alarm clock analogue

Photo by Aphiwat chuangchoem on Pexels.com

 

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 Christ as recorded in the four Gospels.

Reading the Word

Matthew 24:37–44 (ESV)

37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. 42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

Parallel Text: Luke 17:26-36

What Are You Living For?

grayscale photo of man looking at his watch

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

 

Reading the Word

Luke 21:34–36 (ESV)

34 “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. 35 For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

In yesterday’s reading, we looked at Mark 13:33-37 where Jesus told his disciples to “stay awake.” In today’s reading from Luke, the message is the same. Jesus’ followers are to stay awake. In Mark, the emphasis was on fulfilling the tasks that the Lord has given, which include holy living and preaching the gospel. The emphasis in Luke is different. Now Jesus teaches that disciples must not become weighed down with the cares of the life. We must seek first the kingdom of God before everything else.

Reading these words of Jesus, one might come to the conclusion that Christians should only concern themselves with prayer, Bible reading, and evangelism. While these are all good things, and even essential things, we must admit that it is impossible to spend every minute of every day doing only these tasks. We also have to eat, sleep, clean, work, take care of our children, and mow our lawns. The list goes on and on. In fact, the list of other things that we must do probably takes up the majority of our time. So what is it that Jesus wants from us? What are the cares of this life that we are to avoid?

Jesus’ instruction in this passage is very similar to yesterday’s. It is about setting proper priorities. Christians should have priorities that are different from the world. Our highest goals and desires should not be materialistic or based on a short-sighted view of life that ends at the grave. We must realize that there are greater things to live our lives for. There is an eternal world for those who believe. It should be our priority to live in light of this truth and spread the news of the kingdom of God to all who will receive it. We must not become so bogged down in the everyday tasks and pursuits of this world that we forget the world to come and fail to tell others. One day, Jesus will return and he will want to know what we have done with all of our time.

**If you enjoy reading Shaped by the Word, please consider sharing this post on social media. Doing so helps us reach a larger audience. Thanks for reading!

Follow Shaped by the Word on WordPress or Facebook.

Stay Awake

adult bench business man garden

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

Reading the Word

Mark 13:33–37 (ESV)

33 Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. 34 It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. 35 Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— 36 lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. 37 And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

In the previous passages, Jesus told his disciples that he would return. He did not tell them when this would take place, but assured them that his word was certain. He will return, gather his people, and judge evil. Knowing this, in today’s passage, we read Jesus tell his followers to “[B]e on guard” and “keep awake.”

Jesus uses the illustration of a master who leaves his servants to do the work while he is away. One servant is commanded to be doorkeeper. As such, the doorkeeper must stay awake to accomplish his job. The master could return at any time of the day or night. What if he were to return and find the doorkeeper sleeping?

It is easy to see why the doorkeeper must stay awake and we understand what that means. However, we must know what it means for us today. How do we stay awake and on guard? The servants in Jesus’ illustration had been given certain duties. When their master returned, he expected to find them carrying out his instructions. Jesus also left his servants with instructions on what to do until his return. We must be busy with living holy lives and proclaiming the gospel to the world. To neglect these things is to not be on our guard. To neglect these things is to forget that our Lord could return at any moment and find us asleep and failing to do what he has commanded.

Jesus’ teaching on the end times was not to present us with a timeline, but to encourage us to live with the right priorities. When we truly understand that we could be standing in the presence of our Lord at any moment, it should change how we live. If you knew that Jesus was coming tonight, what would you do?

**If you enjoy reading Shaped by the Word, please consider sharing this post on social media. Doing so helps us reach a larger audience. Thanks for reading!

Follow Shaped by the Word on WordPress or Facebook.

A Lesson from a Tree

photo of waterfalls during fall season

Photo by James Wheeler on Pexels.com

 

Reading the Word

Matthew 24:32–36 (ESV)

32 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 34 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. 36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.

Parallel Texts: Mark 13:28-32; Luke 21:29-33

Understanding and Applying the Word

I live in the Michigan, where we love the change of the seasons. In our area of the country, we experience all four seasons in full force, from the hot and humid days of summer to the frigid cold of winter. With each change in season, there are telltale signs that a change is in process. My personal favorite takes place in the fall when the air becomes cooler and the leaves on our beautiful hardwood trees display an array of colors before dropping. It is easy to know that summer is over and winter is coming soon.

Jesus used the example of a fig tree to teach his followers about preparing for his return. When a fig tree puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. Just like reading the signs of the changing seasons, we can read the signs of the times to know that Jesus is coming soon. Jesus said, “When you see all of these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates.” The things Jesus referred to are the ones listed in the previous verses (vv. 4-25).

We must be careful in how we read these words of Jesus. It was not his intention tell us to watch for signs and create charts and calendars to figure out the timing of his return. He explicitly stated that no one knows the time, but the Father. Jesus’ purpose was to reassure his disciples that they could trust that he would return. “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away,” he said. We can count on Jesus’ promise to return. His word stands forever. Let us be ready and let us serve him in confidence while we wait!

**If you enjoy reading Shaped by the Word, please consider sharing this post on social media. Doing so helps us reach a larger audience. Thanks for reading!

The Heavens Will Be Shaken

time lapse photo of stars on night

Photo by Jakub Novacek on Pexels.com

 

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.

**If you enjoy reading Shaped by the Word, please consider sharing this post on social media. Doing so helps us reach a larger audience. Thanks for reading!

Follow Shaped by the Word on WordPress or Facebook.

It Will Not Be a Secret

close up of a sign against white background

Photo by Tayeb MEZAHDIA on Pexels.com

 

Reading the Word

Matthew 24:23–28 (ESV)

23 Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you beforehand. 26 So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27 For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 28 Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.

Parallel Texts: Mark 13:21-23; Luke 17:23-24

Understanding and Applying the Word

In the days and years leading up to Jesus’ return to this earth, there will be many who will make claims that he has already come when he has not. There will also be those who claim to be him. Jesus warned his followers so that they will be on their guard and not fooled by such false claims. He assured his disciples that when he returns it will be a highly visible event that everyone will see. It will be on par with lightning flashing from the east all the way to the west. It will be known. It will not be a secret event.

Throughout history, there have been false claims by those who say they are Jesus and there have been false teachers who have made the claim that Jesus has already returned, but people missed it. Jesus’ words in today’s reading assure us that he has not returned. We have not missed it. Jesus will come again in the future for his people and it will be a grand event that everyone will know about.

As Jesus’ followers living in today’s word, our responsibility is to continue to proclaim the Good News of salvation through Jesus’ death and resurrection. We must continue to proclaim that Jesus has promised to return for his people and to judge evil. We do not know when that day will be, but we know it is future and it could occur at any moment. We must be ready.

**If you enjoy reading Shaped by the Word, please consider sharing this post on social media. Doing so helps us reach a larger audience. Thanks for reading!

Follow Shaped by the Word on WordPress or Facebook.

There Will Be Great Tribulation

grey white clouds

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

Reading the Word

Matthew 24:15–22 (ESV)

15 “So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, 18 and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. 19 And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! 20 Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. 22 And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.

Parallel Texts: Mark 13:14-20; Luke 21:20-24

Understanding and Applying the Word

In this passage, Jesus speaks of the future time preceding his return (cf. vv. 29-31). He refers to the Book of Daniel and mentions an “abomination of desolation”. In 167 B.C., Antiochus IV Epiphanes desecrated the Jewish temple by setting up an altar to Zeus and sacrificing pigs on the altar. Daniel 8 speaks of that event, but Jesus speaks of another, future event. He describes it as a time of “great tribulation such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now.” It will be a time foreshadowed by Antiochus, but it will be much worse. During that time, believers will suffer greatly.

As bad as it will be, Jesus assures his followers that evil will not win the day. Christ will return and end the suffering of his people. He will defeat the tyrant, who is known as the Antichrist, and he will establish his own kingdom.

As those who belong to Christ, believers may sometimes become concerned with the way the world seems to be heading. We may wonder if the end is near and if persecution will increase for Christians. We know that our brothers and sisters around the globe often find themselves in great difficulty because of their faith. What should we do?

Christ’s words here should encourage us. Evil may continue for a time. It may even become extremely great. But God has a plan. The days will be cut short. Christ will return and defeat his enemies and the enemies of his people. We must find strength and confidence in these promises as we pray for our fellow believers in the line of fire and as we pray for our Lord’s coming.

**If you enjoy reading Shaped by the Word, please consider sharing this post on social media. Doing so helps us reach a larger audience. Thanks for reading!