November 6 — Mark 13 — Signs of His Coming. Four of Jesus’ disciples asked the same question that most of us have about the End Times: When? The day or hour had not even been revealed to Jesus by the Father but He did know the signs that would have to come first. There would be wars (13:7), apparently more than we have been seeing; earthquakes and famines (v. 8), also apparently more than normal; and being arrested and tried (v. 9), suggesting that being Christians will be illegal. The next one is of major significance because it is somewhat measurable: “And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations” (v. 10). According to the Joshua Project, there are 17,410 people groups on our planet and 42.5% of them are considered to be “unreached” (Global Statistics | Joshua Project). Many mission outreach agencies are concentrating on those people groups now but there is a huge job still ahead. The next sign is that we will be “hated by all” (v. 13) and then the Great Tribulation will come (v. 19), followed by (v. 24) the Second Coming of Christ (v. 26) to “gather his elect” (v. 27). What should we do in the meantime, besides supporting those who are reaching out to people who have never heard of Jesus? The chapter ends with the answer, using the commands to “keep awake” (v. 33) and “stay awake” (vv. 35, 37). Be aware, be ready, and be involved!
November 7 — Matthew 24 — More Signs. Matthew’s parallel account of what we read yesterday in Mark 13, provides a few more events that will precede Christ’s return. Both what is bad and what is good will get worse: “lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold” (24:12). We can already see that happening but it will deteriorate even more. That will be a sign of change but there will also be the “sign of Noah,” when people will continue to be “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage” (v. 38) until sudden disaster strikes. In the meantime, we “must be ready” (v. 44) and keep on serving our Master so that when He does arrive, He will find us continuing in faithful obedience and service (v. 46). Our love does not have to “grow cold,” although it will be true of “many” in our churches. We can be part of the “ready” ones. Ask God today to build you up so that you may be “on fire” for Him regardless of what is happening in your surrounding culture and church.
November 8 — Matthew 25 — In the Meantime. Two well-known parables in this chapter focus on what is happening “at home” while the key person in the story is away. For the 10 virgins, it is the bridegroom that is gone; for the parable about the talents, it is the property owner that is away. What happens to the others in these absences is the key to the stories. The teaching point for the virgins is readiness; five wise ones were prepared with extra lamp oil and were rewarded for being equipped. The emphasis here is not on activity since even the wise virgins “became drowsy and slept” (v. 5), but the main idea in the parable of the talents is activity. The two faithful servants were actively involved in trading with their master’s money and doubled what was entrusted to them, while the slothful servant (v. 26) hid his share of the money in the ground. Two were active and one was lazy and dormant, each receiving an appropriate reward. We are living in that “meantime” period while waiting for our returning Savior. We are prepared if we have surrendered our lives to Christ, but the question is, are we active in being faithful to do what enhances the interests of our Master?
November 9 — Matt. 26; Mark 14 — Outraged or Outlandish? How would you like for people to remember you? All of us would think of something good—some characteristic, attitude, ability, or achievement. Jesus promised that the woman who anointed His head with very expensive oil would be remembered throughout history and around the world for her extravagantly generous act (Matt. 26:13). We remember her today, as Jesus said, because God had it recorded in Scripture. It struck me as I read this, that in every place that story is told in the Gospels, the indignation of the disciples is also expressed (v. 8). We remember them for their outrage over what they considered to be wasteful. Wouldn’t you rather be remembered for your outlandish devotion and generosity than for your criticism of it? Let’s be so committed to Christ today and so generous toward others, that our observing critics will really have something to complain about!
November 10 — Luke 22; John 13 — Feet-washing Leadership. Peter resisted when Jesus was going to wash his feet: “You shall never wash my feet” (John 13:8). Jesus was the Master and Peter was the servant—it didn’t fit in his world-based thinking. But God’s ways are not man’s ways (Isa. 55:8-9). Jesus was demonstrating a foreign principle of servant leadership. Then, He taught them the underlying principle: “If I, then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet” (John 13:14). God’s ways often seem so backward from our normal way of thinking. Our willingness to lead in humility will be equally shocking to the majority of people around us. They will wonder and take note and they may conclude like people did when they saw the boldness and wisdom of the preaching of Peter and John after Jesus’ resurrection: “… they recognized that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). Let’s stand out as different today because of our humble and serving attitudes!
November 11 — John 14-17 — Commands and Love. Multiple times in chapters 14-15, combinations of “love” and “command” are presented. We are commanded by Jesus to love: “This is my commandment, that you love one another…” (15:12). But that verse continues by showing us that Jesus is our example of how to love: “…as I have loved you.” He was also our example of how to love the Father, which was shown by His obedience: “I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father” (14:31). In six different verses in these two chapters, we are told that obedience is the proof of love, e.g., “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (14:15). Finally, we are told that love is a result of obedience: “These things I command you, so that you will love one another” (15:17). It is a perpetuating circle: We love because we obey and we obey to show that we love.
November 12 — Matt. 27; Mark 15 — Who is He? Jesus was called by several titles in these two chapters. Did Pilate only know about Jesus from the charges brought by the Jewish religious leaders? Pilate said that Jesus was one “who is called Christ” (Matt. 27:17, 22). Was that just a name to him or did he know it was a title that referred to the expected Jewish Messiah? His wife’s disturbing dream should have alerted him that Jesus was not only righteous (v. 19) but someone very special. Pilate also knew that Jesus was referred to as “the King of the Jews” (v. 37) because that was the charge he placed over Jesus’ head on the cross. Jesus was mocked with this title by the soldiers in the palace (Mark 15:18) and by the Jewish leaders at the cross (vv. 31-32). But the climax of that title came when Jesus died after the extended darkness and the earthquake. The centurion said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” (v. 39). Indeed, that is His identity!