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If you’re going to get worked up over something…

Father, grant us an eternal perspective today. Help us see what we hang on to that is really just temporary, and what we ignore that we should treasure. This life is something we live quickly through, and there’s only so much that really maters in the middle of the noise. Give us wisdom to latch onto those things, and to leave what is worthless or fleeting behind. Give us ears to hear & eyes to see what maters most of all. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Luke 21:5-9
And while some were speaking of the temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, he said, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” And they asked him, “Teacher, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when these things are about to take place?” And he said, “See that you are not led astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is at hand!’ Do not go after them. And when you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified, for these things must first take place, but the end will not be at once.”

The disciples just heard about the widow’s offering moments before. Jesus talked to them about how her gift from the heart mattered more than someone else’s impressive looking gifts and offerings. He let them know it wasn’t about the pomp and ceremony, the first glance. Was this a ‘Nice story, bro.’ moment for the disciples? It sure sounds like it.

“Jesus, we get the widow, that’s sweet & she definitely has faith, but this place? This is still impressive. You can’t deny how awesome this building is.”

And we see a quick course correction by Jesus, again. He picks up right where He left off. This Temple was being freshly rebuilt. There was still work being done on it.The shine hadn’t worn off the steps or gutters even. In the face of a massive, moving human effort, Jesus was letting them know that it wasn’t going to stand for long. In fact the hinges on the gates wouldn’t even get a chance to start squeaking real good before the Romans came along and decimated the place. This impressive stuff was temporary, too.

It’s not the big offerings, the big stones that matter. We’re reminded by Solomon that life is temporary. He wrote Ecclesiastes as a treatise on the fleeting nature of pleasure, purpose & significance of human life apart from God. “Building projects?” he asks, “Meaningless.” Chasing after human passions, again he says, “Meaningless.” There is no eternal meaning in just doing things for the sake of doing them. There is no reward that actually comes from our little projects or attempts to draw attention to ourselves. It all turns to dust. Sounds uplifting, doesn’t it? But at the end of the book, Solomon brings it all back around and says that the end game for you & I is to honor & obey God with everything we have. That is where meaning comes from.

So the disciples ask a question of timing. They want to know when all this is going to happen. And that’s no surprise. Anyone would want to know that little tidbit. If you knew you were going to have a wreck on the way to work Monday, wouldn’t you change your route? If you knew a meteor was going to hit your hometown next Thursday, wouldn’t you warn people? Of course you would!

How do we prepare for the inevitable? How do we make sure that we are safe & square & that the people we care about have ample time to get clear, too? That is a perfectly sane & logical question to ask. What are the signs? How can we know?

Jesus doesn’t give them a day, hour or minute though. He warns them about something that is more pressing. More distractions & lies are coming. The Pharisees & Sadducees already had a hold on people and distracted them from God’s real desires for their lives. But now, after He goes, there will be more & times will be harder. But we aren’t to be distracted by that anymore than we are distracted by these big, impressive, temporary buildings & impressive offerings by impressive people.

Even the worst sorts of things are not to consume you. We have been given something better to consume our time, talent & treasure. There is a Kingdom on the move, a movement away from these temporary things & an eternal perspective to gain which propels us so far beyond this tangible, most, rust & thief prone things we see every day. If we will look to Jesus, and walk in the rhythms of His grace every day, then we will see what really matters. If we serve humbly & spend our life’s efforts on those things that really matter, we will see why timing is of the essence & why our concern needs to be for those who will find themselves unprepared when that day of wrath & judgment comes. We don’t build sandcastles in the face of waves. We work for the One who parts the sea itself & dries up the water so we can move beyond into promise & deeper things.

Eyes up. Heart aligned. Move in what matters today & leave the rest behind.

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Mark 10:24-31 // It’s not easy like that

“23 Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 But the disciples were astonished at His words. Again Jesus said to them, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”

26 So they were even more astonished, saying to one another, “Then who can be saved?”

27 Looking at them, Jesus said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God, because all things are possible with God.”

28 Peter began to tell Him, “Look, we have left everything and followed You.”

29 “I assure you,” Jesus said, “there is no one who has left house, brothers or sisters, mother or father, children, or fields because of Me and the gospel, 30 who will not receive 100 times more, now at this time — houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions — and eternal life in the age to come. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.””

Mark 10:24-31

This is one of those passages of Scripture that is so familiar, in regards to the upside down kingdom, but still requires us to change how we think, how we live, and how we see the world around us. We all know the general assumption that rich people have an easier life, that they spend their days in ease without worries. But that is no more a reality than a camel going through the eye of a needle. 

In regards to what Jesus said, about riches being a distraction, the evidence for that is all too obvious in our world today. Especially here in Western culture where our idea of rich and poor is totally different than the global understanding of rich and poor. Our distractions or mostly caused by our affluence. We have so much to do, so many things at our disposal, so much unnecessary fluff that fills our time, yet because of our affluence, those things seem like a priority. And because of that misguided priority system, we find ourselves occupied and relying on those things and lifestyles that we have surround ourselves with.

It’s easy to read a passage about rich people, and think about it applying to people who are more wealthy than we are, but we cannot avoid the personal application here. Most people living in Western culture have so much, yet take most of it for granted. We are so affluent, and have so much at our disposal, that we lost all perspective on just how wealthy we are. And this constant surrounding by wealth, and possessions, has created an environment of “safety” that keeps us from relying on God as we should.

So the warning that Jesus issues to his disciples, about rich people and needles and camels, is a warning that we should all listen to today. Don’t get caught up in things and possessions and wealth. Instead, Focus your eyes and your heart and your desires on the things of God. There are very few tangible things that are worth our time, and our attention. We must be good stewards, helping and serving others and ignoring most of our own desires. We simply do not need most of what we have. And the world cannot afford for us to be so dedicated to self rather than follow the commission to GoLove and to carry the gospel message. The more we give, the more we serve, the more we die to self, the more obvious Christ becomes in us and through us to world needs Him so desperately.

Stand firm & stay focused // Matthew 24

“Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.
And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
Matthew 24:12-14 NIV

But remain faithful to the gospel message, and keep yourself from being polluted by the world. See to it that you are not taken captive by destructive teachings and enticing heresies, the tickling of ears and the desecration of your hearts. But instead, focus on our Master, Jesus, who when confronted with the lies, pride and deceptions of His age, spoke with the authority of the Word of God and uttered corrections, rebuked the offenders and shared the love and grace of God with all who would draw near to Him.

As He was, is and will be the Word, His authority is complete. He exists at the right hand of God and will one day stand in the place of judgment over all mankind. Here in Matthew 24, Jesus warns and encourages us to be mindful of our own hearts and the world around us. He also reminds us what our daily concern and task is to be, the sharing of the Gospel message with anyone and everyone God gives us the privilege to encounter for His sake.

The world is not going to get better. People are not inherently good. The world, left to its own devices, is perverse, prideful and self-destructive. Because of these attitudes, the love they would have had has grown cold. And even for us, we must be careful not to let our own love be taken from us through the influences we find around us every day.

And so we stand firm. We anchor our hopes in Christ. We seek His face daily, and we give all of our efforts over to Him along with our hearts. And the wonderful thing is, if we do this, there is no chance of our love growing cold or our feet losing their ground.

In Christ, our foundation is secure, and our purpose is clear. If we want to see the world made new, the perversities undone and injustices made right, then we need to stand faithfully with Christ, carry our crosses and share the good news that He has given to us through His own cross and the empty tomb.

As we approach Resurrection Sunday, we are reminded over and over again that our world needs to be repaired, renewed and redeemed, and it is only through the faithfulness of God’s people that this a Word of Life can be communicated with those who need it so desperately. To simply live each day, pretending that this day is all their is is to deceive ourselves and to lose sight of these wonderful calling Jesus has made upon our hearts.

GoLove by being a solid, faithful example and communicator of the gospel of peace. See what God has in store for His children by living the life He desires you to live. Take no comfort in the world or its pursuits, but instead stand firm and stay focused. Keep the main thing the main thing and let mercy, love and truth lead you.

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