Today: Psalms 105:12-22; 2 Corinthians 6:3-18; 2 Corinthians 7:1; Isaiah 3 & 4; Isaiah 5:1-7
The Bible is very circular. It tells the same stories over and over again, from different authors of different time periods.
The story of creation is described twice in Genesis. We get the history of Israel’s kings twice told in the books of Kings and Chronicles. In the books of the major and minor prophets we learn of prophets who lived during the times of those same Israelite kings. Jesus’ life is told four times in the gospels. The story of the Israelites is often retold, by Paul and Stephen for example, in the New Testament. The Psalmists sometimes retold parts of Israel’s story as well. Today’s reading in Psalm 105 describes Joseph’s life.
With each retelling, we learn more of the entire picture of God’s workings. This circular nature, retelling of stories throughout, is one of the many ways that the Bible is a unified whole, a complete story with a singular theme. And that theme is JESUS.
2 Corinthians 6
“…as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger.” 2 Corinthians 6:4-5
Paul knew what it meant to suffer for Christ. He was imprisoned, and beaten many times for his faith. No one played at Christianity in those days. Claiming Christ meant hardships, persecutions, maybe even martyrdom.
This has been true and is true for Christians in many places throughout history. It is suddenly true for Christians in Afghanistan today. For Afghanis, this has changed practically overnight. A month ago they enjoyed many of the freedoms we do in the USA. But they are suddenly finding themselves being hunted and killed for their faith.
Christians in the USA have always had it easy. We have enjoyed living in one of the most religiously free countries in the history of the world. But that is changing fast. We are foolish to take our freedom of religion for granted. We may very well see much harsher persecutions for our faith even in America soon.
NOW is the time to figure out where we stand, to examine our hearts to determine what is worth it to us. Are we really committed to Christ? Would we stand for Him if it meant losing everything? If it meant losing our lives?
“People will oppress each other–man against man, neighbor against neighbor. The young will rise up against the old, the nobody against the honored. A man will seize one of his brothers in his father’s house, and say, ‘You have a cloak, you be our leader; take charge of this heap of ruins!’ But in that day he will cry out, ‘I have no remedy.'” Isaiah 3:5-7
Tell me this isn’t a description of the world RIGHT NOW.
God says He “will cleanse the bloodstains from Jerusalem by a spirit of judgment and a spirit of fire.” (v.4:4) Those spirits have already been released and this judgment has begun.
I believe, from what today’s true prophets are being told, that things are going to get much worse, MUCH worse, before they get better. We need to get ready and be prepared. We need to cleanse our hearts and souls, and renew our relationships with God through Jesus Christ. Jesus is our only sure way to survive the coming storms. He will walk through them with us, give us strength and guidance. He will be our “refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain.” (v.4:6)