"Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls."
1 Peter 1:8-9 (KJV)
1 Peter 1:8-9 (KJV)
A COVID-19 Confessional
Lord Heavenly Father,
I come to you in this solemn time of our country. Unprecedented is an overused word these days, not just because a moment of correction is nothing new for the eternal God of Heaven, but because our society has turned to the terminology, ways, and methods of this world to solve issues that only have supernatural solutions.
There are no words to describe what is going on not only in this world right now, but also inside the hearts of mankind.
What I do know is that there is only one solution and if we so choose to just accept you as Lord and Savior of our lives, you can meet every need that we have within your Word.
So, as many across this nation are abiding by the laws of their lands and the courtesy of their fellow countrymen by staying away from one another, we are learning some very valuable spiritual and life lessons.
While I normally like to crack a joke here and there (such as someone must have prayed for patience again), I will keep the purpose of this prayer and writing for what it was intended for: repentance.
2 Chronicles 7:14 (KJV)
“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
That word “seek” that we see in this verse also refers to as the AMP version of the Bible mentions to, “crave, require as a necessity.”
When we “seek” you Lord God, the amazing thing is, unlike when we seek anything else in this life, we actually find you. The issue for us at that moment is that the heat becomes hot as your glory and presence burns, revealing the cracks and crevices of our character. Your presence reveals what is in our wicked hearts and to remain in your presence, sin has to go.
The Word already tells us, we can’t serve two masters (Matt. 6:24).
Many reject this feeling of conviction as something terribly bad; something avoidable in our life that false doctrines have told us over the years could be considered “negativity” just because it causes us pain. What is hard for us to understand is that there is some good in suffering.
If it were not so, would you have endured the suffering required to trade your life for ours? You endured suffering although you were “in the beginning with God” (John 1). You could have stayed right where you were, but instead you made a way. “A way” that does require some effort on our part. That small effort; however happens to be a lot bigger than just mumbling a few words and crying some crocodile tears. That effort requires that we “humble ourselves, pray, seek the face of God, and turn from our wicked ways.”
Did you catch that last part? “Turn from our wicked ways”?
I have heard many of the last couple of months profess this very statement with their own mouths although they are not believers themselves, they as even sinners recognize the times that we find ourselves in.
“Turning point” happens to be a common phrase in our society today, yet many of us still cling to our patched up lives like a poor widow does a 30 year old hot water heater. It’s only a matter of time before we burst all together or God calls us home. Either way, we do not know when that moment will come. Either way, why do we hold on? What are we really living for?
Perhaps we hold on to what we know because giving up control of our lives to God is something that is foreign to us. How would we know if we have never tried it before?
I challenge all of us with a simple question in that instance. How do we know anything? Nearly everything that we hear that sounds reasonable, we test. Maybe it’s a new restaurant, store, social event, etc. Whatever it may be, you heard the testimonial of someone you trust and you tried it. For many, that new thing because something important in your life. Chinese food didn’t really require a lot of commitment from me and it’s certainly something I would consider to be an awesome part of my life today, however starting a family and doing things the “traditional” or biblical way was.
That commitment to do things according to God’s plan required a larger commitment from me, but in the end became my main purpose for this season in my life, which is to glorify God through my commitment to Him and my family.
Instead of being angry and missing what life was like before this whole COVID-19 mess brought to our lives, maybe we should look back and try to understand exactly what was great about it.
It appears to me that not all of the impact from this sickness has been bad. While it’s impossible to wrap our heads around the loss of loved ones, death in high numbers, and the suffering that this situation has caused the world, we should “lean not on your own understanding” (Prov. 3:5-6).
Christ looks down and He feels what we are feeling, and He has compassion for us. However, we must not confuse compassion with justice. God is always just (Isa. 30:18) and therefore must always carry it out.
This nation was once a living “testimony” of God’s righteousness and justice. We gave the most resources for His Kingdom work to be accomplished, whether by time, finances, or materials. We abided more as a whole by his Word, especially in the most foundational sense of raising families, forming our nation’s laws around interpretation of God’s Word, and even seeking God through great crusades and revivals. We took time for family dinners and spending quality time together. Worship and reverence to God wasn’t simply a burden (some were dragged I know), but something that was a part of many people’s lives.
While God doesn’t wish or desire for us to be stricken with sickness (we were created in a much more perfect situation in Gen. 1), He does have to obey His own Law which follows the path of righteousness and justice. If He did not, He wouldn’t be God, just another man.
You may ask as many have, “why does God allow bad things to happen?”
We don’t always have the answers to everything, but what I can tell you is that the Bible gives us a clear understanding of how evil operates in this world. Once it was introduced through the disobedience of Adam and Eve, man has continued the chain of sin and death (James 1:15). Man is steadily evil (Matt. 15:19). It is out nature and has been since the fall; however we are presented an opportunity to be “born-again,” by being saved from a life of sin and death by the redeeming power of the death and resurrection of Christ. If we just have faith, believe, and profess in the power of Christ to have lived a righteous life, worthy of our substitution and therefore forgiveness, we can receive salvation because of His redemption today.
This born-again experience leaves us as a new creature and back into fellowship with Christ from the separation caused by our sin.
If there is one thing I can sum up as a positive by-product of this virus lockdown, it is being reset and fellowship!
For my Christian brothers and sisters who have lost their opportunity to physically fellowship with one another, this may be hard to understand, but in more ways than one it has restored fellowship in other places. It has also brought some good lessons to the forefront of our conscious these past few weeks.
So, while these hard learned lessons are pressing me at this moment, let us pray for God’s forgiveness, mercy, and grace to “turn away from our wicked ways” of our pre-lockdown life. While you may feel that few things we did or participated in were not necessarily “bad” per say, they weren’t in line with God’s perfect will and what He wants for us.
Part of allowing God to be not only “a lord,” but the Lord of our whole life is to relinquish control and surrender to Him.
So, once again:
I pray now to thank you for all you have done for me. Even before I knew of you, you made a way for me. Even before my parents knew each other, you made a way. For a man who didn’t deserve any mercy, you made a way. You are truly the perfect Waymaker!
Forgive me Lord of these things you have had to correct in our lives as of lately:
Before the sickness, we took family for granted and now man-made laws have placed us back at the dinner tables together.
I took your creation and the beautiful landscapes around me for granted by staying in and now I yearn to see, feel, and experience God’s hand at work.
We took fellowship of brethren and gathering in the house of the Lord for granted and now we are forced to stay away.
We were reluctant as a body to leave the four walls of the church and now the gospel goes out in the airways and on the global web at a rate never seen before.
We did not value our freedom and many sought further restriction of our country, now it is being forced down upon us and we are reacting with cries for continued freedom.
Lacking good stewardship, we trashed God’s creation and wasted in the name of commerce. Now the world is being cleansed of our filth.
On the same note as stewardship, we idolized money and our methods to obtain it; therefore as a society, we have lost much of it.
We ran around running the rat race of life, never slowing down to appreciate the goodness you provide, now we have been placed in this moment of involuntary reflection.
We idolize the wisdom and education of man, now our institutions of “education” struggle to even exist.
We devalued the cost of a human life, now we spend every resource necessary to keep those who suffer alive.
I could go on forever Lord giving thanks and I should as “his mercy endureth for ever,” so should my praises. However, I want to take this moment once again to thank you and praise you for all that you have done for me and my family in this moment.
I pray blessings and safekeeping for every family in this country. May they seek your face in this time of need and receive your “everlasting life” and peace. Amen!
“Beauty for Ashes”: A Resurrection Not Forgotten
By now, we have all figured out that things just aren’t normal in much of the world right now. People are sick, many more are hunkered down in their homes, business vacant, and the world economic system seems to be in total shock at this moment. As we go from a Good Friday that we would normally be out celebrating with our families as a group, to eating take out around the kitchen tables with our immediate household only, we can’t lose hope. Right now, hope is the greatest reason for us to be joyful in this moment. However, we must ask ourselves, “shouldn’t we have prioritized this reason to be joyful before now?” Why did it take a moment of solitude and loneliness for us to reflect on how good God is just based on the fact that He has offered us eternal life through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ?
The truth of the matter is, there is nothing God can’t turn around. Although our economies seem to be in ruins, people around the world are dying, and many millions are unemployed, there is hope for us if we trust and believe in Christ. Picture a forest fire. Unfortunately, much of the world is going or has been through that fire already. While the world may seem as if it lay in ashes and burned to the ground with all hope lost, there is that remnant bit of trees off in the distance that no one can see. It is amazing what happens to a forest when left alone after a burn. After a couple of weeks, small tree saplings begin to burst forth from the ground. They come from the remnant trees that remain off in the distance carried by wind, bird, or buried in shelter from the consuming flames. As a matter of fact, the ashes that remain in the dirt contain elements vital to plant growth and nourishment that help propel that young tree in its early stages. My friends, if we can just believe and have the faith of a mustard seed today, that God can turn these horrible situations around, nothing is impossible for Him (Luke 1:37). Out there where we can’t see someone somewhere is praying for you. Although you can’t see or hear it, there is a body who believes that God not only wants to see you prosper, He has also promised that if we “shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chron. 7:14).
God not only longs to heal our land, but He also longs to heal our hearts. See, the promise begins with humility and seeking the face of God. If we will repent of our wrongdoings and turn away from those things to God, His heart and promise requires Him to restore us.
John 3:16 (KJV)
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
This repentance and returning our focus back upon the Lord not only works for those who are lost, but restores the believer as well! Many of us may have proclaimed to have been saved for years, but did we live continually with our hearts and minds upon Him? That is His desire for us today. Romans 10:9 tells us that the Greatest Commandment given by Jesus himself was to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Notice he didn’t say to just believe, but to love Him “with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind.” I must say that like many, I am guilty of violating this simple commandment at times by not giving Him my undivided attention. So, as we attend our convenient drive-in and online services this Resurrection Sunday, let us not forget that none of this awesome life we have been given and a hope for an eternal life afterwards would have been possible without the great sacrifice that Christ has provided for us.
As we remember, let us not leave it there, but understand that God is not finished with us yet. If He wished to destroy this world or end it as we know it, He would do it faster than we could imagine. We do not know the day or hour (Matt. 25:13), but we know that until that moment, we have a job to do. The fact that we are still here tells us that He has a work for us to do and He will complete it (Phil. 1:6). Although we lay in a nearly barren economy at the moment compared to the fruitful months that preceded this sickness, we serve a God who not only can restore, but can raise from the dead! Like the forest that can be healed and return in abundance fuller and more beautiful than before, God can do the same for us! If the hope of a tomorrow with our Lord and Savior weren’t enough, I leave you with a Word of our Lord to Israel during a time of testing. As you spend time with your loved ones this Resurrection Sunday, take time and remember the Lord and all He has placed in your heart to do. There is a work that must be continued until the whole world hears (Matt. 24:14) that HE IS RISEN!
Isaiah 61 (KJV)
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;
2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;
3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.
4 And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations.
5 And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers.
6 But ye shall be named the Priests of the Lord: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves.
7 For your shame ye shall have double; and for confusion they shall rejoice in their portion: therefore in their land they shall possess the double: everlasting joy shall be unto them.
8 For I the Lord love judgment, I hate robbery for burnt offering; and I will direct their work in truth, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.
9 And their seed shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people: all that see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which the Lord hath blessed.
10 I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.
11 For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.