Thursday Morning Devotion (Look for Something Different)

5But Jesus began to tell them, “Be sure that nobody deceives you. 6Many will go out in my name saying, “I am he!” and they will deceive many. 7But whenever you hear of wars and rumors of wards, don’t be disturbed. It has to be this way, but it is not yet the end. 8For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, their will be famines. This {lit. these things} is just the beginning of troubles.”

9But you watch out! They will take you to court, you will be beaten in synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for my sake as a witness to them. 10The gospel must first be preached to all nations. — Mark 13:5-10

When scientists search for extraterrestrial life, the listen to many thousands of signals. They’re not interested in the normal, random stuff that they hear all the time. They’re looking for something different. The astronomy professor probably said something like this: “You’re not interested in the things that are the same. You’re looking for a pattern that is unique.”

When airport security officials watch people check in for a flight, send their luggage through security, and board planes, they’re not interested in all the normal stuff. They’re interested in the person who acts different—and different in particular ways. The trainer probably said something like, “You’re not interested in all the ordinary people who behave in ordinary ways. You’re interested in the one who behaves differently. Here are some of the ways a dangerous person might behave.”

As Christians, we often haven’t learned those simple lessons in looking for signs, and reading the times. But Jesus was giving just such instructions to his disciple. “Look,” he’s telling them, “the devil is going to keep on being the devil and he’s going to do destructive things. You’re in the way, so he’s going to see that nasty things happen to you. But what you’re interested in is this: Witness. Spreading the gospel to all the world.”

As much of the nation watched in fascination when OJ was being pursued by the police, or when Lindsey Lohan was arrested, or when Paris Hilton wound up in jail, so we as Christians are often fascinated by watching the devil’s work.

But the right way to find out what God is doing is to watch for what God is doing! You can watch the devil all day and he’ll still be doing the same things he always has. Wars continue. Persecution continues. It’s easy to make each new event a sign, but that’s just the beginning.

This is going to be a short devotional, but I want to add one thing. Besides looking for God’s sign, you can be part of God’s sign. The biggest sign of the end is that the gospel is preached throughout the world, and you notice the call that is part of that sign.

Now most of us will be looking for smaller signs in our own lives, looking for God’s guidance for us personally. But the same principle will apply. If you keep your eyes on what the devil is doing to you, you will be continually discouraged, because it’s going to seem that the devil is doing the same things all the time. The key is to get your eyes off of the evil one’s works and get your eyes on God.

Let’s focus on what God is doing in our lives, our workplaces, our churches, and our world.

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