CrossReads Weekly Devotional: Understanding the Times 1/6/2020

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by Precarious Yates 

And the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test him they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. He answered them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. ~ Matthew 16:1-3 ESV

How are we to rightly interpret the times we live in?

For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. ~ Matthew 24:24 ESV

There are so many ideas crowding us lately. It’s so hard to find quiet, to find space to hear God for ourselves. There are conflicting views everywhere. Voices clamor, “If you don’t agree with me, you don’t love me!”

It’s hard to hear in a room full of noise. In a world full of bellicosity and infinite distraction, the ability to hear is a rare and oft overlooked treasure. 

Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? ~ Isaiah 53:1 KJV

Then there is the question of how we believe what we hear. Of all the myriad voices, which speaks truth? So many today ask, like Pilate did, “What is truth?” (John 18:38) Yet, unlike Pilate, they don’t have Truth robed in flesh standing in front of them. 

How can people recognize Him after 2000 years of opinions? And would the report of Him sound believable to modern ears?

There were few who recognized Him at His first coming. One in particular was a woman who spent time at His feet. She listened (Luke 10:39), she wrestled with her faith with Him (John 11:32), and then she did something so remarkable it seemed to take Him by surprise. He even called it beautiful and wanted her act to be talked about every time the disciples shared the gospel (see Matthew 26:10,13). Mary of Bethany’s act of anointing Jesus with her hair made at least one disciple squeamishly uncomfortable. What was it about this one gesture that made Jesus point to it as the act to preach along with His gospel?

Mary got it. She understood that Jesus would have to die. He had said this would happen and she believed it. So she anointed His body for burial. 

Just as He died and rose again, according to His word, He would also come again. 

Mary of Bethany probably had no idea what sort of death Jesus would die. Even though she had seen her brother raised from the dead, she probably had no idea if Jesus’ resurrection would be in the same manner as Lazarus. But Jesus said He would die and then rise again. 

In the same way, will we continue to believe that He will come again? We might not know the day, the hour, or the specific way His return will look, but will we believe Him and hope in His coming?

Jesus Himself told us to keep an eye out of certain things. False prophets and false christs are one sign to be aware of. Netflix has a show out about recognizing a false christ (Messiah, Netflix), but I think God wants us to keep our eyes open for even subtler clues. How do we do that?

There are positive signs of His second coming as well. “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” ~ Matthew 24:14  We could very well see the gospel preached to the ends of the earth within our lifetime. 

How will we recognize what is true from what is false? We can discern true from false if we tune into His voice. Matthew 25 talks about filling our lamps with oil. We spend time in His presence. John 10 tells us that His sheep hear His voice. We spend time in His word. 

How do we discern our times? We make time for stillness. We make time for Him. When things get too busy, that’s when you know you need more time in His presence. 

Jeremiah was told by other prophets of his time that he deeply misunderstood what business God was up to at that time. How do we make a stand for truth like Jeremiah did? We make time for Him. We continue to trust who God is despite what others may say. We continually match what we believe against God’s word. And we commit to love one another as He has loved us. 

Happy New Year and God bless you!

About the Author:

Precarious YatesPrecarious Yates has lived in 8 different states of the Union and 3 different countries, but currently lives in Texas with her husband, her daughter and their big dogs. When she’s not writing, she enjoys music, teaching, playing on jungle gyms, praying and reading. She holds a Masters in the art of making tea and coffee and a PhD in Slinky® disentangling.

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