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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Tuesday, April 16, 2019              

Today’s Scripture Reading | Matthew 24:3–14

When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

Jesus answered them, “Beware that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah!’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not alarmed; for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places: all this is but the beginning of the birthpangs. “Then they will hand you over to be tortured and will put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of my name. Then many will fall away, and they will betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because of the increase of lawlessness, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the world, as a testimony to all the nations; and then the end will come. (NRSV)

Deceivers, wars, uprisings, famines, earthquakes, hate, wickedness, persecution, death—it sounds like the evening news. Fear, worry, and anxiety can control so much of our lives. All these warnings and then the command, “See to it that you are not alarmed.” Easier said than done. The words “do not fear” or “be alarmed” are used at least seventy times in the Bible. God knows me: I’m his child, and God knows that I become afraid.

We need not fear, because God promises that God is with us. Our faith action is putting our trust in God. I am particularly comforted by a Bible passage that I read often: 2 Chronicles 20:15–17—“Do not fear for the battle is not yours but God’s.” This battle is not for you to fight. Take your position, stand still, and see the victory of the Lord on your behalf. Do not fear or be dismayed; the Lord will be with you.

In verse 14 of Matthew 24 we read, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations.” With all the worry, trouble, and fear, the gospel will prevail. Fear not.

Dear Lord, instead of allowing fear and worry to dominate our lives and make us feel helpless, let us give our lives to you. Help us stand still and firm in our faith knowing that you are with us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Written by Linda Gibboney, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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