a Blessing in the Coronavirus?

It’s now been almost two weeks since President Trump declared a national emergency over the Coronavirus.  In many ways these last two weeks have felt both longer and shorter.  Long days, but a short amount of time to learn what we are up against.

Like a good college student in an all night cram session for Pandemics 101 and 102, we have memorized our vocabulary words:  Social distancing, flattening the curve, and shelter in place.  We’ve learned the correct way to wash our hands, understand the difference between self-isolation and self-quarantine, and the effectiveness of an N95 mask compared to other medical masks.

We’ve learned a lot in a short amount of time.  But is there something more in this crisis that we need to learn?

See the article below by Ann Graham Lotz….

Is There a Blessing in the Coronavirus?

by Ann Graham Lotz
March 23, 2020

The Lord said… “I am going to come to you in a dense cloud,
so that the people will hear Me speaking…”
~ Exodus 19:9

It’s springtime in the Western North Carolina mountains where I was raised.  There are days of beautiful sunshine, blue skies, and cool breezes.  On such days, the views of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains are spectacular.  But there are also days when storms roll in, black clouds descend, views are obliterated, and the thunder shakes the earth as it ricochets from peak to peak.  When the storm passes, all of nature seems refreshed and renewed.

I’m reminded of those fierce storms now, because the threatening black cloud of the coronavirus has enveloped our nation.  Its powerful impact is ricocheting from “peak to peak”– place to place–from our families to our homes, to our schools, to our businesses, to our sports, to our economy, to our churches, to our healthcare facilities…to our entire way of life.  It seems to be obliterating our view of freedom…of peace…of happiness.  The swiftness of this storm’s advance is stunning and almost breath-taking (pun intended).

As I have prayed, a dramatic scene from the Old Testament has unfolded before my mind’s eye which I would like to describe for you.  It took place when the recently freed Israelite slaves were camped at the base of Mount Sinai.  God spoke to Moses, the man He had used to liberate the people from bondage in Egypt.  The Lord said to Moses:  I shall come to you in a thick cloud, in order that the people may hear when I speak… The Bible then goes on to describe the thunder and lightning flashes and a thick cloud…(Exodus 19:9, 16, 18)

The people were terrified!  But Moses encouraged them, Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin.  The people looked, and there was the glory of the Lord appearing in the cloud. (Exodus 16:10).  The amazing climax was that Moses then approached and entered the cloud where God was. (Exodus 20:21).  And it was there, in the cloud, that God spoke to Moses.

In the past four years, I, too, have entered into a black, terrifying cloud.

My husband’s sudden, unexpected death;

my father’s death three years later;

my diagnosis of cancer

and the subsequent surgery and follow-up treatments have been personal storms as fiercely threatening as the storm that has now broken upon all of us.  But there was a silver lining to the black cloud in my life because it was in the cloud where I encountered God in a fresh way.

I have “seen” His glory…His character…in the dark cloud.  I have experienced God’s faithfulness to meet my needs, His grace to pour out His blessings through family and friends, His strength to enable me to endure triumphantly, and His goodness to bring me through one day at a time.  Throughout the four stormy years, I never once lost my joy, or my inner peace, or the steadfast hope that God was in control and would work out all things for my good. (Romans 8:28)

During this time, God spoke to me through His Word: Anne, even though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you will fear no evil; for I am with you. (Psalm 23:4) …So, do not fear, for I am with you, do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

In addition to the above promise, could it be that God is using the coronavirus to get our attention so that we will listen to His message?  This is what the Lord says: When I shut up the heavens so there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land, or send a plague among My people, if My people, who are called by My name, will 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. Now My eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered… (2 Chronicles 7:13-15)

It’s time to pray!  It’s time to turn away from our sin, self-centeredness and secularism, and turn to God in faith and trust.  Now.   Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and He relents from sending calamity… (Joel 2:13)

If we heed God’s message, He can calm the storm and bring us through to a time of spiritual revival and national renewal.

Pray with me…

Lord God, as we sincerely place our faith in You, have mercy on us! Please! Hear our prayer. Forgive our sin. Heal our land.

As we repent of our sin and return to You, return to us! There is no one like You to help the powerless against this mighty disease. Help us, O Lord our God, for we rely on You and in Your name we come against this vast, invisible enemy. (2 Chronicles 14:11) Bring us through so that our faith in You is revived, and we experience a national spiritual renewal.

We pray in the name of the One who is the living proof that You truly care about us…Jesus.

Amen

Could the silver lining in the black cloud of the coronavirus be this?  That it causes America to look up and listen to what God has to say, and therefore becomes the trigger for a national spiritual revival?   May it be so!

It may be Friday the 13th, but Sunday’s a-comin’!

On Friday, March 13, 2020, President Trump declared a national emergency as a result of the coronavirus.

According to the CDC, the United States has 1,629 confirmed cases of the virus in 47 states.  California, Washington State, and New York currently have the highest number of cases.

Globally, according to the World Health Organization, there are 142,539 cases, with 5,393 people who have died from the virus at this time.

As the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic, fear gripped the hearts of many.  We frantically began cleaning, scrubbing, sanitizing, and social distancing.  Medical Masks and hand sanitizer quickly sold out.  Flights were cancelled, schools were closed, grocery stores rushed by panicked buyers, and hospital waiting rooms were full.

It was Friday the 13th, a day of national emergency, but Sunday was a-comin’!

TODAY, Sunday, March 15, 2020, has been declared by President Trump as a National Day of Prayer “for all Americans affected by the Coronavirus Pandemic and for our National Response Efforts.”

Click here to read the full Proclamation.

Due to the virus, we are not able to gather in our church buildings today.  But the church isn’t a building.  It’s a people.  And as Matthew Henry once said, “When God intends great mercy for His people, He first of all sets them praying.”

Let’s not underestimate what God can do in this crisis.

As S.M. Lockridge once preached it:

It’s Friday
Jesus is praying
Peter’s a sleeping
Judas is betraying
But Sunday’s comin’

It’s Friday
Pilate’s struggling
The council is conspiring
The crowd is vilifying
They don’t even know
That Sunday’s comin’

It’s Friday
The disciples are running
Like sheep without a shepherd
Mary’s crying
Peter is denying
But they don’t know
That Sunday’s a comin’

It’s Friday
The Romans beat my Jesus
They robe him in scarlet
They crown him with thorns
But they don’t know
That Sunday’s comin’

It’s Friday
See Jesus walking to Calvary
His blood dripping
His body stumbling
And his spirit’s burdened
But you see, it’s only Friday
Sunday’s comin’

It’s Friday
The world’s winning
People are sinning
And evil’s grinning

It’s Friday
The soldiers nail my Savior’s hands
To the cross
They nail my Savior’s feet
To the cross
And then they raise him up
Next to criminals

It’s Friday
But let me tell you something
Sunday’s comin’

It’s Friday
The disciples are questioning
What has happened to their King
And the Pharisees are celebrating
That their scheming
Has been achieved
But they don’t know
It’s only Friday
Sunday’s comin’

It’s Friday
He’s hanging on the cross
Feeling forsaken by his Father
Left alone and dying
Can nobody save him?
Ooooh
It’s Friday
But Sunday’s comin’

It’s Friday
The earth trembles
The sky grows dark
My King yields his spirit

It’s Friday
Hope is lost
Death has won
Sin has conquered
and Satan’s just a laughin’

It’s Friday
Jesus is buried
A soldier stands guard
And a rock is rolled into place

But it’s Friday
It is only Friday
Sunday is a comin’!

 

My friends, TODAY is Sunday.  Let’s hit our knees.

 

“Do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed,
for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

~ Isaiah 41:10

“It is my constant anxiety and prayer
that I and this nation should be on the Lord’s side.”
~ Abraham Lincoln

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Is the Coronavirus a Sign of the End?

Words of wisdom from Anne Graham Lotz…

Is the Coronavirus a Sign of the End?
by Anne Graham Lotz

March 13, 2020

“There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven…When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

~ Luke 21:11, 28

COVID-19, otherwise known as the coronavirus, has created national fear in a way I have not witnessed in my lifetime.  As of this writing, ball games are being canceled; theaters are shutting down; schools are closing; travel is restricted, and the stock market is on a crazy, wild rollercoaster ride.  It’s almost as though our nation is being attacked by an invisible enemy seeking to destroy us.

While my age and recent chemotherapy put me at risk, I am more concerned about the fear the coronavirus has provoked than I am of the virus itself.  We seem to be caught up in a national panic.

As I reflect on all the above, I remember the words of Jesus. He warned us that at the end of time there would be pestilences.  In the last few years, we have endured SARS, the swine flu, ebola, avian flu, MERS, West Nile virus, and now the coronavirus.  Could COVID-19 be one more sign that our redemption is drawing near?  Is the End in sight?  Is Jesus coming…soon?  If so, is fear the proper response?

When Isaiah’s life was shaken, he responded by looking up.  As a result, he had a fresh vision of the Lord. (Isaiah 6:1)  This is the time to look up…from our knees!  Let’s ask God to give us a fresh vision of Himself.  Because, God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear…(Psalm 46:1-2) since He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”  Surely He will save you from…the deadly pestilence…You will not fear the terror of night…nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.  A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you…(Psalm 91:1,2,5-7)

This is a time to pray for ourselves, our families, our nation, and all those worldwide whose lives are being devastated by the death and disruption this disease is causing.  You and I need to make sure we are right with God so that we are ready to meet Him whenever the time comes.  And then join me in helping someone else get right with God. Let’s pull out all the stops as we tell others that it’s possible to have peace in the midst of the storm and confident hope for tomorrow, claiming Jesus’ promise, Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28:20)

I dare ya to pray this in 2020!

Charles Spurgeon once said…

“I like to open the Bible and pray, ‘Lord God, let the words leap off the page into my soul; make them vivid, powerful, and fresh to my heart.'”

May we pray as Spurgeon did in 2020 and make reading the Bible, which is the holy word of God, a priority in the coming year.

BibleGateway has made this easy.  Click here and scroll down to explore their many Bible Reading Plans.  Have your verses for the day delivered straight to your email box!

 

 

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What in the world was He thinking?!

Have you ever wondered what Jesus was thinking or feeling prior to and throughout the incarnation?  

We frequently talk about the facts surrounding His birth…

“The Word (Jesus) became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:14)

“When the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law” (Galatians 4:4).

“…God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory” (1 Timothy 3:16).

These are all wonderful, and true, facts.  But I’m talking about, what was Jesus’ frame of mind or attitude before, during, and after the incarnation?  What in the world was Jesus, who is fully God, thinking when He decided to wrap Himself in flesh and come to earth to save us?

This question is not a pointless one since we’re told Philippians 2:5 to “Have this same attitude in yourselves which was in Christ Jesus…”  If we are to have “this same attitude”, then what was/is His attitude?

Fortunately, we’re given the answer in Philippians 2:5-11.  This Christmas Day is the perfect time to reflect on the attitude and self-sacrificing love of Jesus….His humility and obedience to the Father no matter the cost….and the glory He laid aside to come to earth in order to rescue us….

Philippians 2:5-11
5 Have this same attitude in yourselves which was in Christ Jesus [look to Him as your example in selfless humility], 
6 who, although He existed in the form and unchanging essence of God [as One with Him, possessing the fullness of all the divine attributes—the entire nature of deity], did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped or asserted [as if He did not already possess it, or was afraid of losing it]; 
7 but emptied Himself [without renouncing or diminishing His deity, but only temporarily giving up the outward expression of divine equality and His rightful dignity] by assuming the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men [He became completely human but was without sin, being fully God and fully man]. 
8 After He was found in [terms of His] outward appearance as a man [for a divinely-appointed time], He humbled Himself [still further] by becoming obedient [to the Father] to the point of death, even death on a cross. 
9 For this reason also [because He obeyed and so completely humbled Himself], God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 
10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow [in submission], of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 
11 and that every tongue will confess and openly acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord (sovereign God), to the glory of God the Father.

Leave it there…

When the tapestry of your circumstances looks like a tangled mess, the old hymn by Charles Tindley is a great reminder to “Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.”

Trust in the skill of the Master Weaver.  One day He will reveal His exquisite embroidery on the other side.

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The Weaver
~Author Unknown

Behind my life the Weaver stands,

And works His wondrous will.

I leave it in His all wise hands,

And trust His perfect skill,

Should mystery enshroud His plan

And my short sight be dim,

I will not try the whole to scan,

But leave each thread with Him.

Not till the loom is silent and the shuttles cease to fly,

Shall God unfold the pattern,

And explain the reason why.

The dark threads were as needful

(In the Master’s skillful hand)

As the threads of gold and silver

In the pattern which He planned.”

 

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Wonder? Or Wandering?

Recently I was working on a Bible study lesson for our small group, but kept getting nowhere.  Like the Israelites wandering around in the desert, I covered the same dry ground over and over again.  The soil of God’s Word felt hard and unyielding.  Each time I sat down to study, I found my mind drifting off onto some other subject, and eventually I would just get up and go on to do something else.

Where was the excitement that I had experienced in reading God’s Word as in times before?  Where was the understanding, the revelation, the illumination, and wonder?  I cried out to God, “Why am I stuck in this dry and weary land where there is no water?!”

And then, like the dawning of the day, the thought occurred to me:  I hadn’t prayed.

 

“Study without prayer is ‘atheism’,

and prayer without study is presumption.”

~ R. W. Dale

 

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