Monday, September 29, 2014

In a time of trouble

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Daniel 12:1-13

TO CHEW ON:"...And there shall be a time of trouble,
Such as never was since there was a nation..." Daniel 12:1

"Times of trouble" run through the Bible. They relate often to the Israelite nation and come as the consequence of abandoning Yahweh for idols. Such trouble in the form of the nation being displaced and distressed was Moses' warning way back in Deuteronomy as a consequence of turning from the worship of God to idols (Deuteronomy 4:30-31).

Jesus referred often to trouble-filled days.
  • He told about the trouble that comes to all of us in the course of life and how the foundation we choose will determine whether our life-house will withstand the storms of circumstances or be battered apart by them (Matthew 7:24-28).
  • In His story about the sower and the seed, tribulation and trouble destroyed the faith of the believer who was only shallowly rooted in the God's word (Matthew 13:20-21).
  • He also talked about end-time tribulation, referring specifically to Daniel's prophecy (Matthew 24:15). He described this trouble as a time of emergency, terror, flight, and life-snuffing ferocity (Matthew 24:15-22).
  • Jesus described these end-time troubles as "birth pains" - Matthew 24:8 NLT. We know how a mother's contractions accelerate as the birth of the baby nears, until the little one is finally delivered. That's how Jesus describes the  troubles on earth as they crescendo until "the end" - Matthew 24:14.

It's easy to feel we're in the middle of those birth pains. As I write, Earth is staggering under numerous political, humanitarian, and health crises. There is war in the Middle East as ISIS terrorists overrun Syria and Iraq, while thousands flee. Rocket fights between Hamas and Israel keep erupting. In African whole classrooms of girls are still being held captive by terrorist groups.  Tensions between Russia and Ukraine mount daily. Thousands in West Africa are dying from the ebola virus. There is unrest in Hong Kong as China restricts their democracy.

Let's take to heart Jesus' words of advice for such trouble-filled times:
  • Don't be deceived - Matthew 24:4
  • "Be ready..." Matthew 24:44.
  • "Endure to the end" - Matthew 24:13.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, I don't like to contemplate trouble. But when I view it through the lens of Your word, I see that it shouldn't surprise or confuse me. Help me to live alert and prepared through trouble-filled times. Amen.

MORE: Today is the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels

Michael is the archangel who Daniel describes in our reading as "The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people." Find out more about the archangel Michael here.

The liturgy for the Feast of st. Michael and All Angels begins with this collect:

"Everlasting God, you have ordained and constituted in a wonderful order the ministries of angels and mortals: Mercifully grant that, as your holy angels always serve and worship you in heaven, so by your appointment they may help and defend us here on earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen."
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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