We are in week THREE of a very relevant study about our current situation in America, and the world...
And WHAT OUR RESPONSE AS CHRISTIANS SHOULD BE!
I have personally seen and heard comments and opinions from friends, at work, and especially on Social Media...Concerning what our attitudes and actions should be in response to the MANY CURRENT EVENTS which surround us in this crazy year in which we are living! And what I have noticed...
What is MOST frustrating and disheartening...Is the vast majority of the comments and opinions about our role as Christians in all of this... ARE EXACTLY THAT... PERSONAL OPINIONS!!! Opinions based upon very fragmented knowledge of Scriptures and God's Character... Opinions based upon INDIVIDUAL WANTS, BELIEFS AND THOUGHTS... I have seen just about every angle of view and argument being justified by God and His Word... Much of the time... Selfishly and inappropriately!
So... Let's drop personal biases, opinions and desires…Drop tradition, social influence, race, expectations and fears...And take a true, unbiased look at what God says about many of the current issues facing us today! Because…If we are not seeing things in God's Light...If we are not living out God's Will…Not representing the True Character and Mind of God in this broken, fallen world...
What HOPE is there?
Last week... We looked at Step #1 in the revamping of our thought process towards God's True Plan...
What the Church was created to be for one another! What we NEED to be... MUST be to one another...
As we get deeper into chaos and persecution against our beliefs! Now, let's systematically address some of the current issues we find ourselves in today... And apply God's Word DIRECTLY AND UNEDITED!
We have so many issues to cover... But with the massive resurgence of the Virus... Mixed with the frustration and impatience we are beginning to feel after all this time...Our first subject needs to be in this area! There are some who have stated this entire Virus is a fake or great exaggeration, in order to gain control or promote fear...I do agree that the media can and will dramatize things for personal or political gain...But the number of sick and dying in many nations, all over the globe...And the many instances which can be attested to by personal friends and acquaintances...Who have worked in the heart of troubled areas themselves Or have contracted the virus themselves with almost deadly results...
Tells us first of all... This IS a real and serious threat... So we can realistically dismiss thoughts of a fake pandemic!
With that said... How should we react? Again there are Christians who give their opinions ranging from...
"You are being silly and lacking faith if you change anything in your life..."To "Don't go anywhere, don't do anything, don't come near me... Life is over as we know it!" To “Where is God in all this?” Here is God's Word, as it may be applied to this situation...
Isaiah 45:6-7 (ESV)
6 that people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the LORD, and there is no other. 7 I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD, who does all these things.
Lamentations 3:37-38 (ESV)
37 Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it? 38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come?
Ephesians 1:11 (ESV)
11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,
Isaiah 46:9-10 (ESV)
9 ...I am God, and there is none like me, 10 declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’
Psalm 115:2-3 (ESV)
2 Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?” 3 Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.
Whatever is occurring, or WILL occur in this situation...IS GOD STILL IN CONTROL? IS HE IN FACT, FULFILLING HIS WILL? Whether it is from natural evil as result of sin… Whether it be to Judge us... Test us... Strengthen us...Waken us… Or most probably… All the above! With all of the other turmoil combined…I think it is our faithlessness & rebellion devouring us! (Job got no answer!) This has not slipped passed our God! If that is the case... What should OUR attitude be towards these events?
Philippians 4:6-8 (ESV)
6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Paul, while in prison tells us... Rather than be anxious... Talk to God about your needs and fears...
And then truly GIVE IT TO HIM IN FAITH... If your heart and mind are TRULY focused on Him and His Strength... He will give you peace even when it doesn't make sense! The key to it all... Is in what your mind anchors to in the storm! And NOTICE Paul says to place your mind on the good, truthful, helpful things of your life... Rather than to simply DWELL on the bad! We ALL need to stay informed and up to date on events around us! But we DO NOT need to become obsessed and completely preoccupied with these events... Watching and reading everything we can about the terrible events around us constantly...
Thinking only on what could happen and how we can protect ourselves constantly...
To be aware and ready is one thing... To allow anything to become the primary focus and objective over God...Becomes SIN... And brings anxiety!
Matthew 6:33-34 (ESV)
33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Here, Jesus Himself says basically the same thing...He is saying even in your turmoil and struggles...
Let your heart & mind be occupied with pursuing & knowing HIM better! And to let your primary focus be on living humbly for others over self... Serving THEM even in your struggles... In His Name! And then He says... Leave the rest to ME! He's the Original "God-Father!" You work for Me... And I'll take care of you!
Philippians 4:11-13 (ESV)
11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Psalm 91:2-6 (NLT)
2 This I declare about the LORD: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. 3 For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. 4 He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. 5 Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. 6 Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
Did you get that? Do I even need to comment on this verse?! NOW LISTEN... There is Scripture for the opposite attitude as well... That many should take to heart! There does come a time when we can get brazen and proud to the detriment of God's Glory and others! Even when Jesus Christ walked the earth in God's Will and Power...He did not purposefully, arrogantly put Himself into unnecessary danger to show His great faith…Or to show off God's Protective Hand over Him!
Matthew 4:5-7 (ESV)
5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple 6 and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” 7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
In other words... God will protect you and keep you when you are doing what He Commanded... Doing His Will...He is NOT a God to be taken for granted... Manipulated... Or used for your show of faith by your choice! So, following the lead of Jesus Himself in sound Scriptural Principle... Are we to purposefully, willfully choose to put ourselves in harms way... Just to prove our great faith?! NO! So, Scripturally we are to do all that WE can to protect ourselves and others... Not showing flippant carelessness or irreverence for what God is doing...And then let God do HIS part... AFTER we do!
BUT… Many today DO need to get the complete picture here though…Did Jesus face danger, and risk Himself in Faith when God DID call Him to do His Work?! YES! We are not to take selfish risks…But WE ARE CALLED TO SERVE HIM WITHOUT FEAR! Some completely healthy people…With no loved one’s at risk at home...Use this situation to stay away from church…Or from helping or ministering to anyone!
Even though they work, shop, and play! THAT IS LIVING FOR FEAR OVER GOD! OR FOR SOME, WORSE…IT IS USING THIS SITUATION AS AN EXCUSE TO DO YOUR OWN THING OVER SERVING GOD!
I’ve already heard many say they were doing just fine watching on Facebook, and didn’t see a need to come! If this situation gives you an unwarranted excuse to just stay home NOW… Because its “just as good…” DON’T YOU DARE FOOL YOURSELF INTO THINKING YOU WILL BE FAITHFUL TO GOD OR YOUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN THE RISING TIDE AHEAD!
And lastly... When deciding if you should be careful in your actions...Or in the extra trouble of wearing a troublesome mask...Even when you are not worried... Even if you think it is useless and bothersome...
Again... Forget what YOU think…And turn to solid, irrefutable Scripture...
Philippians 2:3-4 (HCSB)
3 Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. 4 Everyone should look out not ⌊only⌋ for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
Many of the precautions we are asked to take... Are not for us, but others... Be mindful of them... Put your discomfort and pride below their well-being! Even if it is only for mental and emotional peace to someone else...Love them above your own trouble... With a joyful heart! Willingly wanting to please and set at peace another person! You tell me... Which one shows the heart and love of God:
"I really don't care what you think... It's dumb for you to be worried anyway... I'm not doing it!" Or, "I can understand why you are worried, let me set your mind at ease when you are with me!"? THAT is a show of God's Love and Humility!
And for those debating whether the local, state or federal government has the right…To infringe on your freedom and tell you to follow certain guidelines...For those saying we are bowing to men, rather than having freedom in God by doing what WE feel is best... (And I've heard this) I say again... Stop with your own opinion... Stop with what's "En Vogue!" And follow GOD'S WORD without question... Not your own!
Trusting His Wisdom... Not your own! Listen very closely to God's distinct Commands on this topic...
Without twisting them... Without slanting them towards your special circumstances...Or trying to make them pertain to a different situation...Or trying to make it all about your American Freedoms!
Romans 13:1-5 (ESV)
1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.
Titus 3:1-2 (ESV)
1 Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.
1 Peter 2:13-18 (ESV)
13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
And in case you argue this only applies when they make sense or are advantageous to you... Or when your political party makes the call...This last verse is for you!
18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust.
If God repeats something this many times, in this many Books...He might just mean what He says!
So, based NOW upon nothing but God's Word... Not my opinion, or anyone else's...Let's summarize what we have been clearly told to do in light of this Pandemic...
Rather than focusing just on the terrible events around you. Live each day searching for His Will... And the opportunities to minister to others in your confidence during these times!
1 Peter 3:15 (ESV)
15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,
2 Timothy 1:7 (ESV)
7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
Be the group of people who stand out from the world in this pandemic!! Instead of focusing on the fear and dread...Focus more than ever on the One in control...On the work we have cut out around us...
On repenting and remolding from the attitude which may have brought this pandemic in the first place!
On the precious people who need help... And need God's Truth...On being obedient and gentle... In a time of rebellion, wrath and pride...On being all about others, rather than about your comfort, safety and rights!
And let's take our turn, in this... Our time...Let's make our mark for God as He calls on us to step out...
Let's be so different... So caring... So confident... So powerful… In these times... That the world sees Jesus!
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