Devotional Thoughts for Today
Lk. 21:27-31 (NIV): “‘At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.  When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.’  He told them this parable: ‘Look at the fig tree and all the trees.  When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near.  Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.  Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.  Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.’”
Some say that Jesus was wrong since he didn’t return in the first century even though “all these things” happened during “this generation.” This misunderstanding stems from what constitutes “the end of age,” which, according to end times Bible prophesy, likely began with the restoration of Israel in 1948. However, Peter, quoting Joel, proclaimed that the “last days” were inaugurated when the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost: “In the last days, God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit on all people’” (Acts 2:17).
So, we’ve been living in the end of age since the first century. And Jesus certainly didn’t expect to return around then. Do you honestly believe that Jesus who said in the same discourse (Matt. 24), “This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come,” expected that to happen within the lifetime of his listeners? He even added, “These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away” (Lk. 21:9).
A largely forgotten doctrine called the “imminent return of Christ” postulates that Jesus can return at any time. But once end-times prophecy became popular, it was believed that Jesus wouldn’t return until certain events took place beforehand. However, the fig tree sprouting its leaves (vv.29-30), an annual event, doesn’t refer to specific events that will happen during a specific period; rather, it points to wars and natural disasters that are always happening in every generation. And “these things” are to remind the people of every generation that Christ’s return is imminent; so be ready for it. One of these days, the last of these wars and disasters will precede Christ’s coming, but we aren’t to accentuate that; instead, we “ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of [the Lord]” (2 Pet. 3:12).
A few years after Buster Douglass knocked out Mike Tyson, his weight ballooned to 400 pounds. It isn’t uncommon for professional athletes to experience substantial weight gain during the off-season or after retiring. But for us, there is no off-season or retiring because “by standing firm you will gain life” (Lk. 21:19).
God, help me to hear the internal clock in my heart that tells me what time this should be in my life. While I may need to take care of many earthly things at the moment, remind me that “now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2), which tells me that I need to always share the good news. Help me, Lord. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 63
Lunch Break Study
Read 1 Chron. 12:32 (ESV): “Of Issachar, men who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do, 200 chiefs, and all their kinsmen under their command.”
1 Sam 11:1-4 (NIV): “In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.  One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful,  and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, ‘She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.’  Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (Now she was purifying herself from her monthly uncleanness.) Then she went back home.”
Hag. 1:4 (ESV): “‘Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins?’  Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Consider your ways.  You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes.’”
Question to Consider
- What do you think 1 Chronicles 12:32 (“understanding of the times”) means?
- Do you think David and the Israelites who received the letter from Haggai had the understanding of their times? What went wrong for them?
- Looking at the “fig tree” in your life, what time is it for you? (You may consult the list in Eccles. 3:18.)
- Understanding of the times is always connected to something that ought to be done at that moment. While the Chronicler doesn’t provide more details, it appears that this involved some type of military campaign in which timing was everything. Folks, “seize the moment” (carpe diem)!
- In the spring, kings would go off to wars; David didn’t. Instead, he was where he wasn’t supposed to be and this led to his great demise. Likewise, for the people to whom Haggai wrote, it was their time to rebuild the Lord’s temple, but they were too busy enlarging their own homes. This sort of thing doesn’t go unnoticed by God who is displeased when He is not our top priority.
- While my wife and I foresee returning to the mission field in the future, for now, we see ourselves being faithful to the AMI ministry, as well as praying for opportunities to serve the Hispanics in America. God has already opened one door this year, in Fresno, California. ¡Gloria a Dios!
A mom asked her young son why he threw the clock out the window. His answer: “Since you always say, ‘Time flies,’ I wanted to see it for myself.” As we get older, we can see that time flies very quickly. How did you spend your time today? It’s not too late to make this day count: spend this moment talking to the infinite and personal God of this universe who loves you very much.