Monday 25 April 2016

Bible Book:

“When they bring you to trial and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say; but say whatever is given you at that time, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” (vv. 11-13)

Mark 13:5-13 Monday 25 April 2016

Psalm: Psalm 148



Rugby union coaches often argue that a strong defence is the keyto winning titles. If you're a passionate rugby fan, then seeingyour team defend with such determination that the opposition makesa mistake is almost as satisfying as a flowing attack.

That sort of obdurate endurance, a team sticking to the rightway no matter how difficult it feels, is part of the advice Jesusgives to his followers.

It's not the most encouraging tutorial they've ever had. Jesuswarns of "wars and rumours of wars" (v .7) - signalling the ongoingstruggle between good and evil - and then offers advice, beginningwith "when they bring you to trial". Not 'if' but 'when'. It's acertainty, Jesus says, that his followers will be in greatdanger.

The word translated "endure" means to hold your ground, to keepyour position in spite of pressure.

Christians in the West don't face that sort of attack, but it'smuch more common in other parts of the world. Followers of Jesusare still being imprisoned and killed because they hold to theirfaith.

What Jesus says is that however people see you - victim,prisoner, accused, outsider - God knows your heart and will enableyou to endure, and to hold firm. The promise is that enduring tothe end brings salvation: not an escape from the consequences ofother people's evil but an assurance that God will triumph in theend. It means everything will ultimately be alright - not in asimplistic way but in the belief that's God's commitment to humanbeings will result in the defeat of injustice.

The key to holding firm is that the Holy Spirit, the power ofGod living within Christians, will give the right words to say inany circumstance: even for those facing a trial for their life.Some of those who accepted Jesus as the Son of God and Messiahfaced trials that ended in death sentences: many of them shockingin their brutality.

The hallmark of their defence was a total commitment to thekingship of Christ, even in the worst of circumstances. Thatdefence held firm because they clung to the promise Jesus made thatGod would not abandon them.

To Ponder

  • Think of a time when you've had to hold firm. Looking back, canyou see God at work in that? If so, in what way?
  • How can Western people really empathise with people who areimprisoned or killed for their faith?
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