Devotions for Mark 13:1-8, 24-37
March 7-13, 2016
Monday, March 7, 2016
“’Look, Teacher, what large stones’” (Mark 13:1)
Once a year the community would sponsor an open house. It was a fund-raiser for some worthy causes. For four nights people would purchase tickets that would allow them to tour ten of the “biggest and best” houses in the area. Thousands of people walked through those homes gawking at the expansive rooms, beautiful furniture, impressive artwork and various amenities. The people were impressed by outward appearances. They weren’t aware of the financial challenges of owning such a home, or the joys and sorrows of the family who lived there.
The disciples were impressed by the temple. To be sure, it was a magnificent structure, which took forty-six years to construct. The white marble structure glistened in the sun and could be seen for miles. The disciples didn’t notice the corruption that was within the temple walls. In his conversation with the disciples Jesus helped them see things from a different perspective.
Like the disciples we are impressed with outward appearances. And, like the disciples Jesus enables us to see the world from a different perspective. Seeing the world as Jesus sees it lets us see where the true value lies.
Open our eyes Lord. Enable us to see what you see and empower us to act accordingly. Amen.
Tuesday, March 8, 2016
“’Not one stone will be left upon another’” (Mark 13:2)
Walking through the Acropolis in Athens a person can only imagine what the building was like twenty-five hundred years ago. All that’s left now are ruins—shadows of what it once was. In Rome the experience is similar. A person walks through the Forum or the Colosseum and tries to imagine the splendid structures they once were. Now, they are only ruins. The only remnant of the temple is the West Wall. Life is transient.
This truth is certainly brought to our attention during the season of Lent. We begin the season being reminded that our lives are like the once magnificent structures of the Acropolis, the Forum and the Colosseum. The pastor puts ashes in the sign of the cross on our forehead and says, “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.” This recollection motivates us to devote our lives to that which is lasting—God’s relationship with us and our lives of service in response to God’s love and grace.
Eternal Lord, Remind us of what is important in life and enable us to devote our lives to it. Amen.
Wednesday, March 9, 2016
“’Tell us when this will be’” (Mark 13:4).
We want to know what the future holds. Jaymes thought he knew what his future held. It held success. All he had to do, he was told, was to envision it and then make it happen. Other people consult psychics, read tarot cards or tea leaves. Some seek the future in the stars.
The disciples wanted to know what the future held for them. Jesus told them that no one knew the future except God. God knew the future and it was within God’s control. Knowing this the disciples could focus on living each day resting in God’s love, grace, presence and power. As they lived each day in this manner the future would take care of itself.
Our futures may appear uncertain, but we do know one thing. God will be with us in the future as God is with us now. With this in mind, we step into the future by living each day in faith, courage and hope.
Precious Lord, we thank you that though we may not know the future, we do know who holds the future. Amen.
Thursday, March 10, 2016
“’Beware that no one leads you astray’” (Mark 13:5).
Sheila wandered around the halls of the large university hospital. She was lost. She wanted to find room 1249 in the Lillihan Building, but she had no idea how to get there. It seemed that with each new corridor that she took she got more lost and farther from her goal. Finally in desperation Sheila stopped a middle-aged woman in scrubs with a stethoscope dangling around her neck and asked if she knew the way. “Oh, sure honey,” the woman smiled and said. Pointing down to several colored lines at the side of the floor. “Just follow the yellow stripe. It will lead you straight to the Lillihan Building.” Sheila did as she was instructed. With the yellow line as her guide she soon entered the Lillihan Building and went directly to her room. It helped to have something to follow.
Down through the many centuries since Jesus’ life, death and resurrection there have been many voices that have attempted to lead the followers of Jesus astray. Some have come from within the church itself. During much of its history the church taught that people had to work hard to earn their salvation. So called “leaders” in the church have instructed their followers to be judgmental toward others, that God loves one group of people more than God loves others or that God wants God’s people selfishly to seek affluence. Various prophets have conjured up the doctrine of the rapture and have attempted to predict Jesus’ return.
Thankfully in the midst of confusing messages disciples of Jesus have a “yellow line” to follow—the central message of scripture. God loves us and wants to have a relationship with us. God also blesses us abundantly and desires that we love our neighbors by sharing our blessings with them. Following the yellow line will lead us to our goal.
Loving Lord, Deafen us to the voices that would lead us astray. Keep us on the path you wish us to walk. Amen.
Friday, March 11, 2016
“’When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed’” (Mark 13:7)
We are a world at war. After ten long years the war in Afghanistan continues. The civil war in Syria is wreaking havoc on the people and the land. ISIS is on the rise and terrorism threatens us as we go about our daily lives. North Korea threatens to launch nuclear missiles at South Korea and the United States. Civil strife in North Africa have forced tens of thousands of people into refugee camps. There are certainly wars and rumors of wars today. Truthfully there has never been a time in the world’s history that there haven’t been wars and rumors of wars.
In the midst of great uncertainty Jesus instructs his followers to not be alarmed, fearful or upset. The military strength of our nations will not give us such peace even though we look to it to do so. Only God’s promise that there is nothing in all of creation—including wars—that will be able to separate us from God’s love gives us peace and hope. With that peace in our hearts we go about our calling to proclaim the good news of Jesus and to share God’s love and grace.
Powerful God, these are frightening times. Embrace us with your love, calm our fears and empower us to serve. Amen.
Saturday, March 12, 2016
“But about that hour no one knows” (Mark 13:32).
The Christians of the early church thought that Jesus would return in their life time. Martin Luther thought that things were so bad in sixteenth century Europe that Jesus had to return soon. The Russellites believed that Jesus would return in the late 1800’s. They sold everything they had, climbed a mountain and waited. Hal Lindsey predicted that Jesus would come by 1988. Many said that the new century and Y2K would cause Jesus to come back. A few years ago billboards announced that Jesus was coming on May 21st. So far no one has gotten it right.
No one knows. What we do know is that Jesus has promised to return. We know that at some time the kingdom of God, in which we imperfectly live now, will be made complete. Like a child looking forward to Christmas or a birthday, we can live with excitement and anticipation as we reflect God’s glory in our words and actions.
Oh King of kings, may your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.
Sunday, March 13, 2016
“’Keep awake’” (Mark 13:37).
It had been a long day and Binh was ready to go home. He needed to wait for guy on the next shift to arrive and relieve him of his security guard responsibilities. Binh’s replacement, however, was running late. As Binh sat behind the security desk he began to get sleepy. Binh’s eyes got heavy and occasionally his head would nod and then jerk up. He couldn’t fall asleep, though, because that was against company policy. He could get fired if he fell asleep. In a quandary about what to do Binh finally decided that in order to keep awake he had to get out from behind the security desk. He decided to make one more round through the building. Action would keep him awake.
It’s been a long wait—over two millennia—and Jesus still hasn’t returned. It’s easy for us to be distracted, lulled into inactivity or to fall asleep as we continue the wait. Jesus’ command to, “Stay awake,” though rings in our heart. We can’t stay awake if we don’t do anything. The only solution to our dilemma is to act. The Lord has given us talents and abilities that we can use. The Holy Spirit will open opportunities for us to exercise those talents and abilities. The fellowship of others will offer the comradery and encouragement that we need to be watchful. The needs of others will keep us busy and awake. Jesus will return and we don’t want to be just sitting when he does.
O Holy Spirit, give us opportunities to use our talents and abilities as we wait for you. Amen.