March 25

Deuteronomy 6:10-12 (NIV) 10When the LORD your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you–a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, 11houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant–then when you eat and are satisfied, 12be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

There is a cycle in the history of man that emphasizes the importance of these verses. When societies and cultures do well and have time for leisure, they tend to become decadent. The old expression, "An idle mind is the Devil's workshop" is only true because the heart of man is evil. Then as the culture becomes more and more vile, it is easily overthrown. God allows an enemy to put an end to the wickedness to turn the people back and stop the destructiveness of evil that is running unchecked.

In the verses today, God is warning His people that when they receive the blessings He has promised, they need to be careful not to forget the Giver of the blessings. Do not forget the One who delivered you from bondage. If we do, we end up back in bondage. He delivered us that we might love and serve Him, which is only right. He did not deliver us just so we could please ourselves. That is another form of bondage.

Where are you today? If you are in the midst of the blessing of God, enjoying the goodness of His blessings, be careful. Be a slave to nothing and no one but God. He is your Deliverer and the Giver of all good things. He enjoys giving you good things.

Consider: Thank Him for His goodness by keeping first things first.

March 25

Matthew 24:12-14 (NIV) 12Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14And 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, Mark 13, and Luke 21 contain Jesus' teaching on the last days. The disciples asked for information about two separate events. They asked when the buildings of Jerusalem would be torn down. They also lumped in a request for information about the end of the age. They thought these two events would coincide. The destruction of Jerusalem took place in 70A.D., but the end of the age has not yet come. Jesus' answer has an amazing overlap that speaks to both times just as many prophecies speak to both the first and second coming of Christ.

One of the clearest warnings is to be weary of false prophets and false messiahs. He taught that they would be able to deceive people, even displaying miraculous signs. He spoke of wars that would continue throughout this age, as well as famines and earthquakes. Then He gives a few specifics in which we can know the last generation has arrived. There will be a great increase in wickedness. Other passages call this the apostasy or falling away. Many will allow their (agape) love to grow cold. Only Christians truly exhibit 'agape' love. The kingdom will be preached in the whole world. The abomination that causes desolation that Daniel wrote about will be set up in the Temple. I suppose that means the Temple in Jerusalem must be rebuilt first. These are the signs that the Lord gave us. He taught that this would be the beginning of a time of tribulation like the world has never seen.

In the years since Jesus' ascension, there have been many times that the church has thought Christ's return was at hand, but the signs had not all been fulfilled. We need not worry about the end of the world until these signs come to pass, but we should always live in such a way that we are ready to go from this life into eternity. Jesus' prediction about the destruction of Jerusalem came to pass. This age of the Gospel being preached to mankind will come to an end. The time of the Gentiles is about up.

Consider: Our life here is about our preparation for entering into that next age. Are you getting ready?