Home > Reading > Daily Reading – December 11, 2021

24:1 Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. But he answered them, ”You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” And Jesus answered them, ”See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ 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 these are but the beginning of the birth pains. ”Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. 10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

– Matthew 24:1-14


There would be good reason for some to look around at the world as it is today, and conclude, “Well, this is surely the coming of the end times!” There is conflict and division, internal national strife, as well as tension between nations and peoples. At the same time, we live in a post-Christian North American culture which seems hell-bent on doing away with biblical Christianity, the truth and authority of Holy Scripture and our Judeo-Christian foundations. Jesus says at that time “many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.” And … “because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.”

Does that not seem a haunting reflection of our current reality in North America? There have been TV commercials, YouTube videos and podcasts by evangelistic preachers recently, pointing to these as signs of the end times. And guess what? Jesus Himself says this is so. Shocking as it might seem to Lutherans, Jesus appears to agree with TV preachers. This is not the end time, but these are signs that we are moving toward that time when He will come again in power and glory. Jesus describes them as the “beginning of the birth pains.”

And what does it mean that these are the “beginning of the birth pains?” As with childbirth, the birth pangs (or discomfort, as the nurses describe it) may worsen, but finally, there will be something better — a new birth, a new beginning, new life. The end times are not to be feared but welcomed, as we will then see the New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven. In the meantime, we are to spread the Gospel of the Kingdom to the whole world — then the end will come.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help us hold firm to the Word we have learned and not be led astray. Amen.

Advent Action: Learn about Lars Olsen Skrefsrud, Norwegian missionary to India, 1910, commemorated today — and then, say to at least one person, “God loves you!”

 

Devotion written by the Rev. Dr. David Wendel

Watch a video recording of the devotional daily: facebook.com/thenalc

This daily prayer and Bible reading guide, Devoted to Prayer (based on Acts 2:42), was conceived and prepared by the Rev. Andrew S. Ames Fuller, director of communications for the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). After a challenging year in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been provided with a unique opportunity to revitalize the ancient practice of daily prayer and Scripture reading in our homes. While the Reading the Word of God three-year lectionary provided a much-needed and refreshing calendar for our congregations to engage in Scripture reading, this calendar includes a missing component of daily devotion: prayer. This guide is to provide the average layperson and pastor with the simple tools for sorting through the busyness of their lives and reclaiming an act of daily discipleship with their Lord. The daily readings follow the Lutheran Book of Worship two-year daily lectionary, which reflect the church calendar closely. The commemorations are adapted from Philip H. Pfatteicher’s New Book of Festivals and Commemorations, a proposed common calendar of the saints that builds from the Lutheran Book of Worship, but includes saints from many of those churches in ecumenical conversation with the NALC. The introductory portion is adapted from Christ Church (Plano)’s Pray Daily. Our hope is that this calendar and guide will provide new life for congregations learning and re-learning to pray in the midst of a difficult and changing world.

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