Elsewhere in Mark 13:6-7, Jesus told His disciples, “Watch out that no one deceives you. Many will come in My name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many.” Now if you’re like me the idea of being deceived by someone attempting to take the place of Jesus…claiming to be His counterpart yet actually being His antithesis is hard to imagine. But yet Jesus tells us in Matthew 24:24, “For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect – if that were possible.” And according to I John 2:18 they exist and are among us right now, for it reads, “Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many Antichrists have come…” So how can we heed this warning from Jesus not to be deceived? The first thing is to know the truth…the Word of God, so when we hear lies or warped, twisted truths we will recognize them immediately. The other is to listen carefully… “If there is denial that Jesus is the Christ from such a man, he is the Antichrist – for he denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; for whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.” (I John 2:22-23)
When Jesus came to earth He made the greatest sacrifice of self-abnegation and self-denial possible. He humbled Himself and renounced His Divinity. In other words, Jesus went out of Himself in order to enter into fellowship with us. So why are we so against doing the work to enter into relationship with Him? We’d like Jesus to just save, change, and sanctify us without lifting a finger in the process. Or we’d rather bargain with Him first – (“You do this for me first God, and maybe then I’ll start working on myself.”) The bottom line is that we also must go out of ourselves in order to enter into a right relationship with God…and waiting around until He does all the work in our lives (that we need to be doing) will never happen.
To paraphrase Acts 26:18…We are to turn from spiritual darkness to the light of Jesus Christ… from the limited power of Satan to the infinite power of God, so that we may receive forgiveness of our sins and a place among fellow Believers who are sanctified by faith in Jesus. The Lord has snatched us from danger and set us free…the chains have been broken off and we are no longer a slave to sin and the jurisdiction of darkness…for the Kingdom of God is now residing within our hearts. (Luke 17:21)
I know your day is busy with lots of last-minute things to do before Christmas. But I have a present for you…so will you take a moment from your hectic schedule? Now I know this present isn’t very pretty, in fact it’s very battered looking with red stains on the outside. And to the world it would seem very old fashion and out of date. But this present could literally change your life for the better…with joy, peace, and wholeness. This gift is actually from God, and He, Himself, is offering it to you.. For this wonderful gift is His Son, Jesus Christ…and the whole reason why we celebrate Christmas tomorrow. So please receive this gift of hope, called the Good News…for Jesus came and died for your sins that you may have eternal life.
Maybe you’ve never heard the term – Shekinah Glory – but here in Hebrews it attempts to explain how Jesus was the perfect expression of the divine essence of His Father. God’s luminous presence was manifested in Jesus, and this splendor and light could not be dampened or hidden from sight…for God’s Shekinah Glory cannot be contained.
This story of Elisha is a foreshadowing of Jesus feeding the 5,000 – ( the only story, other than the Resurrection, that is found in all 4 Gospels). So it must have made quite an impact on the Disciples to witness a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish being multiplied into a huge meal for thousands. Comparing both stories, we see doubt and skepticism on the part of the faithful…people who had observed many miracles, but couldn’t fathom this one. We also see confidence and full trust in God that He would bless over and above. In both cases, there wasn’t just enough, there was plenty to go around…there wasn’t the bare minimum, there was excess to spare. For God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask, (Ephesians 3:20) and He desires to lavish His blessings on us…to the point of overflowing.
In both Exodus 23:24 and Leviticus 20:23 the Lord was emphatic…Don’t bow down to foreign gods, and you must not follow their customs and practices…and this included their response and rituals towards signs in the sky. The world has always reacted to natural disasters such as earthquakes, tornadoes, and hurricanes with alarm…for there is nothing humanly possible we can do to control them. But as Believers, we know these types of signs are finger-marks of God…indicating His spiritual purpose…signs of the End of the Age. We only have to read the words of Jesus in Matthew 24:6-8 for clarification, ” You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.”