Any, and practically every, adversity is an opportunity in which to be fearful. It’s really the unknown of any given set of circumstances that gives rise to fear and undue concern. Trust, on the other hand, is the discipline that dispels fear and anxiety. Not just blind or ignorant trust, but genuine dependence on that which has been proven to be tried and true. Of course, arguably, the greatest example to be trustworthy is Jesus Christ. Granted, it’s a matter of faith to be sure. But then again, the Bible says that faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). So it can be quite a challenge to understand how fear and anxiety from the unknown can be dispelled by One who can’t be visibly seen or audibly heard. Hence, the answer is sourced in the spiritual.
For the believer, he or she knows that the physical and the spiritual are inextricably linked together. That being the case, one must understand that reason should never dominate faith. Instead, the two, faith and reason, should compliment each other just as intellect should compliment common sense, wisdom should compliment prudent risk, and as leverage should compliment force, etc. Therefore, especially in matters of adversity and the unknown, God’s Word is the grid-work through which the circumstances should be filtered.
The Bible may not give us specific or direct instructions on a given matter such as details surrounding COVID-19, and how to deal with the political, legal, medical and economic ramifications to us as individuals, as a corporate body or a nation. However, the Bible does give us clear, and in some cases imperative, directions on how we are to conduct ourselves everyday as Christians. Oversimplified, love is the order of everyday living irrespective of adversity or advantage. Micah 6:8 tells us to do justly, love mercy and to walk humbly before our God.
With respect to the present adversity of COVID-19, we’ve been hearing a lot of terms like “directives,” “orders,” “stay at home,” safer at home,” “social distancing,” etc., each of us has to make application of the recommendations, suggestions, and directives of the respective authorities as he or she sees fit. Staying home for one may be more necessary than for another, “essential” being the operative word as of late. So the point of this note is to encourage everyone not to live in fear, but in the Spirit of love by the power of Christ having the mind of Christ in you. As I have been saying for the last couple of weeks, and will continue to do so, staying at home is obviously the wiser decision for everyone especially for those 65 years of age and older, as well as, restricting all non essential activity outside the home. And if you do choose to go somewhere you deem essential, practice the 6 foot space of social distancing. Finally, keep in mind the requests of your loved ones who might not understand and agree with the choice(s) you make to go places when they think and urge you to stay home. If at all possible, it might well be wiser to honor their request. But at the end of the day, that is between you and them.
“God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” II Timothy 1:7, (NIV translates “sound mind” as self-control).
This time of the year, the first couple of chapters in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke are addressed like no other time of the year. This is the time of the year that we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.
In Luke 1:26-38, the story of Christ’s conception and birth is recorded. The message of the angel Gabriel is amazing to say the least. Mary’s faith is just as amazing. Only a faith given by God could prepare someone for the events that were to take place in Mary’s life as well as that of Joseph’s. The key for any believer’s success is to understand the submissive statement of surrender “Behold, the maidservant of the Lord.”
Mary’s confession of trust and belief is in the face of what seems impossible, but with God, nothing is impossible. Did Mary know all the details? No, she didn’t. She knew enough about the event to ponder. She knew enough about God to meditate on His Word and wait on His will. Later in the chapter, Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, confirms Mary’s trust by saying, “Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.”
For every believer it is the same as it was for Mary. The key is found in her willingness to submit her plans and surrender her will to God. The believer who desires to please God and be used by Him, must surrender his or her will for His purposes even if the events seem impossible. Along with Mary, we must be willing to say, “Behold, the maidservant of the Lord.”
Ponder this season what Christmas means to you. Search your heart and mind as to how the word “Christmas” affects you.
Christmas for me, first and foremost, is a time of celebration for the birth of The Lord, Jesus Christ. Irrespective of the efforts of nay sayers and those who would nitpick the “actual” birth date of Christ to undermine our joy, spirit of peace and happiness, Christmas encourages expressions of love, kindness and giving like no other time of the year.
Christmas for me also means family and friendship. Whether your loved ones and friends are with you or not, this season like none other draws us closer to one another, again, in the spirit of love, kindness and giving.
Christmas for me is also one of the most awesome times of the year to be planting and watering seeds of the gospel. People seem to be more open to peace on earth and good will toward men like no other season. You might not see the fruit of you labor now, but just know that in Kingdom economy, God’s Word will not return void.
The will of God, one of the simplest concepts to understand yet one of the most complex to explain. Falling under the heading of The Sovereignty of God, the doctrine has probably brought more debate in the last five centuries than any other, especially when applied to salvation. Take the doctrine of the hypostatic union – Christ is fully God and fully man – it illustrates the sovereignty of God perfectly, yet remains a miracle defying explanation. In fact, apart from faith, it is impossible to comprehend how Christ can be fully God and fully man with neither adding to nor taking away from the essential attributes of the other.
What was one of the by-products of the pilgrims landing at Plymouth Rock? Thanksgiving. and yet the will of man was to land at one place, but the will of God either by assignment, appointment, arrangement or allowance, was for them to land where they did. Though hardships were to follow their arrival (an understatement for sure), Thanksgiving was the result; nevertheless Thy will be done.
Some say it was a mistake for the Pilgrims to land where they did. I say it was a miracle. Someone might say, “How can it be a miracle with such pain, suffering and death associated with their ultimate landing site?” I say the same way the hypostatic union of Christ brought salvation through the greatest level of pain, suffering and death for the Son of God. Perhaps the most significant reason for giving thanks. And what were the prayerful words of the Son to the Father before the cross? “Nevertheless, Thy will be done.”
It’s been a couple of days since the tragic shooting in Las Vegas. Enough time for much speculation, pontification and “should’ve, could’ve, would’ve’s” from political pontiffs, bantoring broadcasters and liberal lobbyists as well as foolish “Fundamentalists.” Everyone has the answer after the fact, but what about before?! The suggestions range anywhere from taking guns away from every “honest” citizen to arming every “honest” citizen. In the wake of fear and trepidation of a horrific event, people tend to panic into error. Mob mentality takes over and decisions by otherwise reasonable persons are, well, unreasonable. So whats the answer? The answer is to remain fervent in prayer and urgent in soul winning, especially for the Christian.
A few years ago in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania, a man massacred several Amish female students in a one room school. Despite attempts from the media to stir ire from the Amish community against the outrage, one of the grandfathers of one of the students who was brutally murdered was asked what he thought. He said that there is evil in the world and he (the murderer) made a bad decision. That response has never left me. I’ve ruminated on that insight for years. His response was based on faith and Love – God’s love. The Amish community reached out to the wife and family of the murderer and loved, comforted and received them.
I heard that there were lines to give blood for the Las Vegas shooting victims five hours long. Folks, that’s how we are to combat tyranny, terrorism and tragedy – Love. I read the back of the book. I know how it all ends, and there are still more upsets to come. How then shall we live? Micah 6:8.
I’ve been pondering hurricane Irma for a few days now. Just like many, I’ve been watching and praying she would go away as she has stubbornly developed into a category 5 (presently) storm. Obviously my prayer is that Irma would dissipate, disintegrate, and dissolve. As the various news outlets forecast their version of “spaghetti model” routes, I focus on the one that takes Irma northeast back out to the Atlantic. But that ever present “cone of uncertainty” distracts my view.
It is the word “uncertainty” that sends chills up and down one’s spine whether it pertains to a category 5 hurricane or stage 4 cancer. The “unknown” as I refer to it, is what one is afraid of losing or not gaining. I’ve been fascinated by the reaction in Florida to Irma as preparations for her arrival are well underway (including our own). I’ve seen many storms and several hurricanes in and throughout Florida. Why is Irma, while still some 3-4 days out from potential landfall in florida, different? My opinion, one word, Harvey.
Harvey is still fresh on everyone’s hearts and minds as “Houston” begins to assess the damages of that devastating hurricane. Those images, I dare say, are what folks here in florida see when the name Irma is mentioned. As well it should be. Reasonable warnings are from wisdom and wise people consider them. Panic is not the answer of course, and whereas fear stimulates panic preparation satisfies fear. Are you ready?
For me, the warnings of the most devastating and catastrophic event ever has been and is often ignored by many. It’s not a hurricane. It’s not an earthquake. It’s not a flood, although these and other meteorological and geological occurrences will be present. The event of which I speak is the coming of the Lord.
Belief is the key. For those who are taking Irma seriously, many are doing so because they have become believers of the storm’s “potential” dangers in light of what Harvey’s “real” devastation was/is. Regarding the Lord’s coming, it is a matter of belief as well. The big difference is the last measurable historical event(s) to remind us of the Lord’s coming was 2000 years ago when Jesus Christ was crucified, buried, raised and ascended to heaven. The reality of its true impact has been cushioned by time. Consider yourself warned. The question is, “Are you ready?”