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Hope for All Nations

SYNOPSIS  -  The Gospel of the Kingdom of God announced by Jesus is a message of hope and gladness for men and women of all nations .  After his resurrection, Jesus declared - “ All authority in heaven and on earth is given to me; go therefore and make disciples of all nations .” Installed as the  Lord over all things , he commanded his disciples to proclaim his sovereignty and the good news of the salvation that is now available through him for all men and women from every nation, whether Jew or Gentile, Greek or barbarian, rich or poor, male or female - ( Psalm 2:6-10, Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 1:7-9 ).

Christ-Like Response to Persecution

SYNOPSIS  -  When Christians react in kind to hostility, whether from government, society or individuals, Satan triumphs  –  Matthew 5:12 .  According to many news reports, the persecution of Christians is on the rise in many countries. This raises some basic questions; for example -  How should Christians react to persecution , especially when implemented by governing authorities? Ought they to respond with indignation, civil disobedience, and public protests? Do they not have the “right” to do so, at least in western-style democracies? Or should disciples of Jesus follow his example and that of the Apostles and early church? - [ Photo by Yannick Pulver on Unsplash ].

Heavenly Perfection

SYNOPSIS  -  Mercy and love are the defining characteristics of the disciple of Jesus and reflect the nature of God  –  Matthew 5:43-48 .  Christians can be confused and even overwhelmed by the exhortation of Jesus given in the middle of his  Sermon on the Mount  - “ Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect .” Our tendency to assume that “ perfect ” refers to a standard of righteousness impossible for any human to attain - How can any man or woman ever hope to emulate the perfect righteousness of God? - [ Photo by Jeremy Thomas on Unsplash ].

Sobering Words of Jesus

SYNOPSIS  -  One ignores the words of Jesus at great peril - As he himself warned at the conclusion of his “Sermon on the Mount”  –  Matthew 7:21-28 .  Often, the so-called ‘ Sermon on the Mount ’ is seen as unrealistic, an idealistic dream that does not work in real life. In part, this view stems from a failure to understand the purpose of this discourse - It is not a program for reforming civil society or economic justice. In its concluding section, Jesus stressed just how pivotal his teachings were for his disciples, and he invested them with ultimate authority. - [ Photo by  Carl Cerstrand  on Unsplash ].

Budding Fig Tree

SYNOPSIS  -  The parable of the budding fig tree pointed to the destruction of the Temple predicted by Jesus  –  Mark 13:28-29 .  Next, Jesus gave his parable of a “ budding fig tree .” The illustration was the first part of the answer to the disciples’ original question – “ When will these things come to pass? ” The image of a fig tree sprouting foliage provided the clue for the “ when ” of the predicted events – Its sprouting foliage would signal the arrival of “ summer ,” the time of the fulfillment of “ all these things .”

Coming on the Clouds

SYNOPSIS  –  The whole earth will witness the “Son of Man” arriving on the clouds to gather his “elect” to himself  – Mark 13:21-27 .  The narrative now takes us beyond the “ abomination of desolation ,” the destruction of Jerusalem, and the horrific “ tribulation ” to the return of the “ Son of Man ” to gather this “ elect .” How much time will pass between the “ tribulation ” and the arrival of Jesus is not stated. However, during the interim, the church must beware of “ false prophets ” who will disseminate false information about his coming, employing impressive “ signs and wonders ” to validate their claims.