Deuteronomy 28-29; Mark 13
The readings for today may feel like jumping into the scene of a horror movie. We see the consequences of not following God and His commands, and the blessings of following Him and His commands. We also see what it means to be His follower as this world continues on and gets closer to His coming back. Hold on to Him and the hope of His promise to you.
At first, reading the section in Deuteronomy may make you wonder how a loving God can do such things to a group of people. The sad thing, however, is when we disobey Him, we fall into our own consequences. God knows what will happen if you follow other gods, or put something ahead of Him, or get into a relationship we should stay away from, or act on selfishness. He warns us of what will happen, yet we do it anyways. We disobey and then we blame God for the horrible things that happen to us. At this point, we need to stop, take inventory of our lives and how it matches up with what God wants us to do - which is put Him first.
I think it is a common occurrence to push our boundaries. We are a lot like toddlers. We want something, so we start to inch closer to it, until it becomes something "we just do", or something "everyone is doing anyways". We forget Who we belong to, and fall into the arms of the world, rather than a God Who created us and has unfailing love for us. As parents, you warn your kids what will happen if they stay out too late, touch the stove, fail to complete chores, etc. Yet kids who disobey get angry at their parents because they think it's unfair. The truth of the matter is as parents, you want your kid to grow up responsible, safe, independent, respectful, and most importantly putting God ahead of everything else. We do the same thing to God Who wants the same for us. Yet when we disobey, we fall into the consequences of being reckless, dangerous, dependent, disrespectful, and the worst of all, apart from God.
If you have experienced misery before, or if you are right now, consider a few things. How is God using it to grow you? Is there an area of your life you need to give over to Him? Are you serving Him wholeheartedly with your life? Remember that God doesn't cause these bad things, but He'll allow them to refine you and to make you stronger in Him. He'll allow them because He has given us freewill, and because of that freewill, we will probably cause our own pain at times, or someone else's freewill cause you pain at times. We read in chapter 29 that that we shouldn't ever think we're safe, just because we know the warnings, but follow our own stubborn hearts anyways. We are still pursuing something other than God, and for that God will have no pardon. However, we don't always know why bad things happen, we also read in chapter 29, "the Lord has secrets known to no one. We are not accountable for them, but we and our children are accountable forever for all that He has revealed to us..." Stay alert, stay informed, and stay close to your God so you don't fall into the chaos of disobedience.
As the second coming of Christ draws nearer, we will experience hardships throughout the world. We are warned as followers numerous times throughout this chapter to "watch out" and to "be on your guard". To truly be alert, you need to know what Christ looks like, sounds like, feels like, etc. Without ever opening your Bible and knowing Him, and recognizing His role in your life, how will you ever know His voice? There will be deception, persecution, and misery. Be assured that God is in control, if you are His people. His people will be rescued and will be taken home. Don't lose heart in the midst of these miseries, for we read in John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Do you trust that? More importantly, are you willing to live that out?
There is no doubt that in this world, we will experience some miseries. Much of it comes from direct disobedience from God, as we pursue our own freewill and desires more than Him and His desires for us, despite the warnings He lays out for us in His Word. Other instances are because of other people exercising their freewill and their actions ripple through your life too. Some, we'll never know the answer to until we can ask Him. Just stay alert, stay informed in His Word, and stay close to God so you can continue to grow through those hardships and be changed by His unfailing love.