Jeremiah 10-13, Psalm 16
In 2015 we read and witnessed on our television the kidnapping and beheading of 21 Coptic Christians on a beach in Libya at the hands of ISIS. Soon after this horrific event a brother of 2 of those beheaded was interviewed on SAT7, the Arabic Christian radio station. When asked what the reaction was over their beheading, much to the surprise of the announcer, he said there was celebration in the streets of his hometown. Apparently, the microphone was live before the beheading and each man was given the offer to spare his life if he were to denounce Jesus. Each and every one held firm and lifted up their Lord and Savior before losing their earthly life. When asked what his mother said if she were to meet the killer of her sons, she responded that she would invite him in her house for lunch and share the gospel message with him, for that is his only hope out of the evil world he finds himself.
In Jeremiah 11:18-20, we learn that Jeremiah is being persecuted for his unpopular prophecies. In fact, we read in 11:21 that these threats were even among his former friends, family and relatives in his hometown, “Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the men of Anathoth who seek your life, saying, ‘Do not prophesy in the name of the Lord, lest you die by our hand’.” Jeremiah in chapter 12 respectfully asks God, why he is allowing these trials and persecutions to befall him. God replies in Jer. 12:5, “If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, Then how can you contend with the horses? And if in the land of peace, In which you trusted, they wearied you, Then how will you do in the floodplain of the Jordan?” Jeremiah was being trained for his life. In order to bring him to maturity, God was placing him through various trials so that he would be prepared for whatever was required of him. Jesus warns us that we will experience trials also, in John 16:33, He says,”These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” In James 1:2-4, James explains that it is only by going through the various trials and testing of our faith that we can learn patience and become mature for the work that God will send our way.
During the course of our lives, most of us have undergone personal tragedies: the death of loved ones, broken relationships, prodigal children, loss of jobs and finances, etc., and though we can ask God why, if we learn to lean on God during these times we will grow in our relationship with Him. With all of this we have not really experienced persecution for our faith on a national level like our brothers and sisters have overseas. When we go to our Discipleship Home groups or our church services and someone is not there, we don’t question whether that person was killed or arrested on the way. We, Christians, must prepare ourselves for what lies ahead. Despite what our earthly future holds, we know that if we hold firm to God’s promises, blessings are our future. In John 14:1-3, Jesus says, “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: