13“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14if my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:13, 14)
When I read these verses above (which is part of the Old Testament reading for today), the words “send a plague among my people” jumped out at me. It’s the story plot of my fictional book, The Savannah Syndrome, which I self-published back in 2012. Back then, I saw the way America, and the world, was heading, and I could easily see God sending a plague to help humble His children. Of course, that mentality is an Old Testament way of thinking. Jesus ended all the need for plagues, natural disasters, and God having to spread His hand over His people to bring death and disaster as a wake up call. So, while COVID may seem like an understandable punishment for the way America was behaving leading into 2020, I think that plague simply followed the cyclic pattern of disease in the history of humanity (the world has had major outbreaks in or near the years of 1520, 1620, 1720, 1820, 1920, and now 2020). While some may argue that these outbreaks did not start exactly on a 100 year time table, it’s close enough to point out. Why does any of this matter? Well, to me, as we read in 2 Chronicles, which is believed to have been written in the 6th Century BC, we can see way back then, humanity was warned that when horrible calamities befall mankind, we are to humble ourselves, pray, seek God, and turn from our wicked ways.
One year ago, we saw how quickly America panicked. Stores were wiped out, people were scared to leave their homes. But for the faithful, those of us who walk by faith each and everyday, it was business as usual. When you find peace with your maker, death is no longer something you fear, but the moment when you reach the finish line. But to make sure you find the prize you are looking for on the other side of eternity means you have some work to do here on Earth. And the first part of that work is to read the Bible!
I spent the weekend getting caught up on my Bible reading and finishing the goal for April: the Old Testament through 2 Chronicles and the Book of John. This is the first time I have read the Bible this way, reading large chunks of the Old Testament while simultaneously slowing down and taking my time through the New Testament. It has been a truly rewarding experience. I see references in the New Testament at the same time I am reading them in the Old Testament.
I write all this not to brag, or boast that I’m better than anyone because I am rereading the Bible for the third time within the last decade. I am telling you this because I want you to experience the same peace that passes understanding, the same blessed assurance, the same healthy confidence you get when you read The Holy Bible, see the truth of these living words from the Living God and Jesus Christ, the Savior of Humanity. The truth that we are children of a loving Father who sent His one and only Son to become the final sacrifice for atonement. Who the Son has sent free, is free indeed. To be set free by Jesus, all we need to do is tell the world how much Jesus loves them and how Jesus wants to be their best friend.
That was the lesson we taught our group of 3, 4, and 5 year olds this Sunday at our local Church. We helped them make letters to take to someone that needed to know Jesus loved them and wanted to be their best friend. Why do we grow up to be adults and stop having the simple faith of a four-year-old? I have surrendered my life back to that simplicity, that child-like faith, giving it all back to God. Since I have done that, my life has become incredibly better, richer, and more meaningful.
If you have fallen behind on the Old Testament reading, take some time to just sit and read. It will only take a few hours a week to get caught up. We read ALOT in April, but May begins a much slower reading plan. Keep powering through, we are almost a third of the way through the year. Whatever you do, do not quit. And if you have time today, or this week, watch this amazing new song from Elevation Worship’s upcoming album with Maverick City Music.
And I meant to share this all week, but missed it in my only post. Pastor Steven Furtick’s message from the weekend of April 17 and 18 was simply amazing. It is one of my favorite messages from this prophet of our time. You can hear it by clicking the link below.
Reading pan: John 20:1-18
Deeper reading plan: 2 Chronicles 7-12