(Translated version, original article written in Chinese by Pastor Mickey Hsiao)
By singing praises and hymns, awake your soul, open your heart to the Lord, and prepare yourself to welcome the presence of God and receive the Word of God that will be given to you.
Petition with thanksgiving to God for a wonderful day and pray sincerely for a focused Scripture reading time! (Do not rush into reading the Bible without starting with prayers!) (e.g., you may start with a simple prayer like this: “Dear Lord, what will you be speaking to me today?)
Get the following items ready in advance: your devotional notebook, paper, pen, and/or electronic devotional articles so that you can easily write down the Bible verses, questions, and thoughts you have noticed! You are encouraged to open your Bible and vocally read out the scriptures (Try to practice this reading method daily or once a week)!
Scripture Reading: Mark Ch. 13 (ESV)
Take a moment to quietly reflect on today’s Scriptures. Through such exercises, let God’s Word be gradually written into our hearts and be inscribed to our mind.
Read the devotional articles prepared by CBCLWA (*Read the Bible first before reading any devotional materials.)
(vv. 1-23) This passage is traditionally called the Olivet Discourse and is about the day of the Lord’s return. The background is that after Jesus and his disciples came out of the temple, a disciple remarked, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” To which Jesus replied, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” We still remember that in Mark 8, 9, and 10, Jesus had foretold three times that he would suffer many things and be killed. The first time, Peter stood up to stop him (Mark 8:32). The second time, the disciples later argued with one another about who was the greatest (Mark 9:34). After the third time, James and John directly requested to sit on the left and right of Jesus’ glory (Mark 10:37)! This time, when Jesus said that this great building would be demolished in the future, they became rather worried, asking, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?“
What were the disciples more concerned about? Is it that the body of Jesus was going to suffer? Or that a majestic temple would be demolished? Looking at ourselves, what do we usually care more about? We need to regularly adjust our focus from worldly, temporal, and material concerns and turn our attention towards the spiritual and eternal matters that Jesus talks about. This is not only a lesson for the disciples of that time, but is a lesson even more so for all the disciples in the world today who live in a time after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension to heaven and are now awaiting his return!
Addressing the disciples’ questions, Jesus spoke about certain things that would occur in the future. When a prophecy is mentioned in the Bible, sometimes different stages of realization of that prophecy occur at different points in time. That is to say, the things mentioned in the prophecy may be fulfilled at different times – in a near future and a more distant future. We know that the temple was later destroyed by the Roman army in 70 A.D. We can use history to look forward in faith towards what God will accomplish in the future, that is, the Lord will definitely return!
(vv. 24-37) From these verses, we can sort out some principles on how to face the day when the Lord returns:
- Know that this day will definitely come! Jesus’ return represents the end of all things, the last day, and the final conclusion. It also represents the time when all people will be judged before the Lord according to their works. (Romans 2:3-6; Revelation 22:12-13)
- Be vigilant because false information is everywhere! There are false gods, false christs, false gospels, false prophets, false teachers, false miracles… We must use God’s truth to discern false information and to not be deceived. (Ephesians 4:13-14)
- Remain steadfast because persecution and temptations are inevitable! However, do not be afraid. The Lord said, “But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” We must boldly bear witness to our Lord and preach the gospel, for the Lord also said, “The gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations.“
With regards to the Lord’s return, many people like to try to calculate or come up with the date. In this past year, with a pandemic affecting the whole world, this type of false information can be found all around us. We must not be a part of this or arbitrarily pass along false information. If you ever receive this kind of information, just delete it and do not forward it. If you know the person who passed it to you, ask him not to do this again! The Lord clearly said: “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.“
Give thanks to God for His enabling us to read the Scriptures and for our response for living out the Word of God today! (e.g., You may start with a simple prayer like this: “Dear Lord, what/where are you going to lead me to today?”)