From the minister's desk
Brothers and sisters in Christ, I am asking you to look at this pandemic in terms of “the things written aforetime,” to see how God’s people Israel faired. When they were hit with a plague or punishment, what did they do? What did God tell them they were being plagued for and how to get relief? We must not assume that everyone is right in God’s sight or let our emotions override our spiritual understanding of God. Just as in Israel’s disobedience God showed no favoritism, neither does He today. Remember, biblically speaking it is us and the world just as it was Israel and all other nations then.
Read Solomon’s prayer in 2Chronicles 6:1-42 and listen to God’s response in chapter 7. (ETRV)
11 So Solomon finished building the LORD's Temple and the king's palace. Solomon did everything that he had planned to do in building a house for the LORD and for himself. (He did not run from his responsibilities) 12 Then the LORD appeared to Solomon at night and said to him, "Solomon, I have heard your prayer, and I have chosen this place for myself to be a house for sacrifice. (He hears the prayer of the righteous)13 When I close the sky so that there is no rain, or command the locusts to destroy the land, or send sicknesses to my people (diseases you have no control over) 14 and if my people who are called by my name become humble and pray, and look for me, and turn away from their evil ways, then I will hear them from heaven. I will forgive their sin and heal their land. 15 Now, my eyes are open, and my ears will pay attention to the prayers prayed in this place. (We are in this world but no longer of it. Our prayers can help the whole world.) 16 I have chosen this Temple, and I have made it a holy place. So, I will be honored there forever. I will watch over it and think of it always. (We are God’s Temple today.) 17 You must serve me with a pure and honest heart, just as your father David did. You must obey my laws and do everything that I commanded you. If you obey all I have commanded, and if you obey my laws and rules, 18 then I will make you a strong king and your kingdom will be great. That is the agreement I made with David your father when I told him that Israel would always be ruled by one of his descendants. (We must obey all of God’s commandments with pure hearts and He will strengthen us) 19 "But if you don't obey my laws and commands that I gave you, and if you worship other gods and serve them, 20 then I will take the Israelites out from my land that I gave them. And I will leave this Temple that I have made holy for my name. I will make this Temple something that all the nations will speak evil about. 21 Everyone who sees it will be amazed. They will ask, 'Why did the LORD do this terrible thing to this land and to this temple?' 22 People will say, 'This happened because they left the LORD, the God of their ancestors. He brought them out of Egypt, but they decided to follow other gods. They began to worship and to serve those gods. That is why he caused all these bad things to happen to them." When Christians disobey God, the world sees it and speaks evil against both us and God. They will say that’s why bad things happened to them, even though it affects them too. The blame game ensues.
Who could have imagined, who could have thought it credible, that God should place his majesty among men dwelling upon earth? “Behold, the highest heavens, the middle heavens and the lowest heavens cannot bear the glory of thy majesty, for thou art the God who sustains all the heavens, the earth, the deep and all that is in them.” So precious are we that this God now also dwells in us! “Don’t you know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man defiles the temple of God, him will God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.” 1Cor.3:16-17 Do you believe God? Take time and reset your thinking.
Now is a good time for us to reset, examine ourselves according to scriptures and make it right with God. Do what He has commanded of us that “the world may see Christ in us and glorify our Father which is in heaven.”
Brothers and Sisters in Christ, be not dismayed, nor be afraid of this ‘Coronavirus.’ Do be smart, be vigilant, be sober and above all be faithful to God. Trust Him in all he has given us to be governed by, at all times not just in times of trouble- His word.
We have been praying, teaching, learning and doing as our Lord has directed us and prayerfully solidified our faith and our relationships with God as David did so we can truly say, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” He does not want us to be fearful of what a man or diseases can do to us, but reverence and trust Him who will lead us home when the time comes. Just as a shepherd leads the sheep in and out of the pasture, to feed and to drink so does our Lord leads us. It has to be real for you and not just a scripture memorized or read. Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd, who gives his life for his sheep... I know my sheep, and am known of mine.” Jo.10:11 That’s us! Peter calls Jesus “the chief Shepherd.” We are in good hands, even amid this ‘Coronavirus pandemic.’ Trust your Shepherd.
If you believe God, you believe that He is alive and in control. Don’t allow things that He allows to happen in the world cause you to doubt Him, he truly wants the best for us. “He has not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.” Psa.103:10-11 Now is a good time to “examine yourself, whether you are in the faith” or in a right relationship with God according to His word. For if you are, do not fret, your Father has you in the palm of his hands.
Only God knows how long this will last or even the outcome. Remember, He gave his Son for our souls, not our physical bodies. Give serious attention to your soul, feed it God’s food, exercise and strengthen it in performing the works ordained by God and anchor your soul in the hope of Jesus Christ. Show the Lord and the world that you trust Him and let “the very God of peace sanctify you wholly, and I pray God your whole spirit, soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. For He is faithful who called you and will also do it.” 1Thes.5:23-24
When we keep and do the commandments of Christ, we can have long life, peace and mercy and “when we lay down, we will not be afraid, we can lie down, and our sleep will be sweet.” Prov.3:1-24 Brothers and Sisters, that’s comforting! LGG
“Whereas you not what shall be on tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” James 4:14 Our lives on earth is very brief. How are you living life? You should be living to die while dying to live. Those who are conscious of life and death often think about how brief life is. People are dying all day every day in either a saved or a condemned condition. I know this does not interest or excite some folk because to them it is too morbid. ‘Who wants to think about death when they still have their whole life ahead of them?’ is often the response I get. But what is their whole life? How long is that? What happens after that?
Consider the brevity of life versus brevity of death! For the Christian both are a blessing if really understood and managed properly. A brief life lived for God is much better than a long life lived for self. “Because it is written be ye holy; for I am holy. And if you call on the Father who without respect of persons judges according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:…” 1Pt.1:16-17 We should be careful and concerned about our status and relationship with God. “Because sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.” Eccl.8:11
If you die at an early age, a brief life here right with God, then your death will be brief as well.
But if you die after any length of time not being right with God, your death is not brief. You will enter the beginning of eternal damnation at the physical death and be facing a resurrection of eternal death. “Don’t be surprised at this: for the hour is coming which all that is in the grave shall hear his voice and shall come forth; they that have done good unto the resurrection of life and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation.” Mt.5:28-29 Who cannot understand that? Many just do not want to accept that.
Knowing that life is brief on earth and we are looking to have eternal life with God in Heaven, where should our focus be? The Christian knows that at death, “the body returns to the dust from which it came, and the spirit shall return to God who gave it.” Eccl.12:7 But what about the non-Christian? “There is no peace, says the Lord unto the wicked.” Isa.48:22 This is clearly shown in Jesus teaching about Lazarus and the rich man in Lk.16…
The brevity of life and death for the Christian is a blessing. The longevity of life and death for the nonbeliever is a curse. That’s why those seeking eternal life must learn to ‘live to die’ while ‘dying to live.’ It’s a godly plan and principle and easily understood by godly people. At death the righteous enters a timeless rest, but the wicked will enter into a tormented realm until judgment. What’s your choice? Are you ‘living to die’ while ‘dying to live’ or are you living to live with little thought or plans for dying? Which one is certain? Understand the brevity of life and live wisely.
First, let’s understand and believe that Jesus has set us free from the bondage of sin. Isa.61:1-3 Once set free one must learn how to stay free as well as how to not enter into sin again. “Stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free and not be entangled again with the yoke of bondage and sin.” Gal.5:1 Sin always carries the power to make slaves. When sin is let in the door, it has the capacity to take over. Eph.5:26-27… For a time, it is something we do and if left unchecked it becomes something that does us and will then undo us.
Beware of the enslaving and destructive power of sin, especially pride and greed. Peter tells us in 2Pt.2:10-18… of the destructiveness of some sins. To teach and understand this point, one may find it useful to differentiate between outward expressions of sin and the inner character traits that drive them. This passage lists slander (2:10-12), the absence of self-control (2:13-14), a love of money (2:15-16), and sexual immorality (2:14, 18) as outward expressions of sinful behavior. Each of these can be enslaving in its own way, but the root causes of these behaviors are pride and greed. Failing to address these root causes will render futile any efforts with these outward expressions of sin.
Continue to make every effort to display and participate in the divine nature and so demonstrate the genuine nature of your faith and avoid the fate of so easily falling back into sin. Read, understand and apply 1Peter1:3-11 in your life so that you can make sure your salvation.
Recognize character traits and qualities of sin and avoid them. One identifies sin on the basis that what God said in His word. But recognizing character traits of pride and greed as well as the outward expressions of pride and greed can also help in identifying other sins. Helping people who are confused by what sin is starts with having them look into the word of God for answers.
As we study “How to Survive Pharaoh’s Prison,” let’s consider ourselves and how we might be our own prison. Be aware that you have been freed from the bondage or prison of sin and make every effort not to return, but if you do, be assured that the word of the Lord can bail you out and keep you out if you stay in it!
Another practical lesson that everyone regardless of age or status in life can benefit from if understood. Though many of us may not enter an actual brick and mortar prison with bars, razor wire and armed guards, everyone will experience a prison situation or mentality. Prison is defined as a state of confinement or captivity; a place of confinement, detention, isolation, custody. Whether one is in an actual prison or think they are, both can be devastating and corrosive to one’s mental, physical and spiritual well-being.
The idea and understanding of being in a physical prison are easier seen and understood than the mental and spiritual. One is physically locked up, confined, detained, isolated from main society and in the custody of a system. There are bars, guards and fencing to keep one contained. They are in prison because they are guilty or there was a miscarriage of justice.
A mental prison is where one confines or isolates themselves in a certain situation or circumstance. An individual may see their relationships, jobs, finances or way of life as a prison. This represents a prisoner without bars. Most of the times, we create our own prisons or imprison ourselves. Just like we lock ourselves in we can let ourselves out! Examples: We decide who we want to talk to, associate with, help or let help us. Then when they don’t respond the way we want or think they should we become angry, discouraged, disappointed and even go into seclusion/isolation. Someone does something to us we don’t like or is not right. We get angry, try to get back at them instead of forgiving them and when we can’t, it discourages us, we become bitter and carries a grudge the rest of our lives. We do this to ourselves even when we know the truth that frees us! We become ‘a prisoner without bars.’ Solomon writes, “don’t say I will do so to him as he has done to me: I will render to the man according to his work.” Prov.24:29 One can free themselves from their own self-imprisonment once recognized and a desire to be free manifests itself.
A spiritual imprisonment is allowing the flesh to influence the spirit. “Walk in the Spirit and you shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. The flesh wars against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary one to the other; so that you cannot do the things that you would.” Gal.5:16-17 Our spirit needs spiritual food and guidance to contend with the flesh and its desires. If the flesh is allowed to be the stronger, the spirit will suffer. Knowing that “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” as Jesus said, our spirit man wants to do as the Spirit of God wants, but if the weak flesh has more influence over our decisions and desires that our spirit does, the spirit will lose. One can free themselves from spiritual self-imprisonment by listening to and obeying God. If one cannot get out or escape, being aware and striving to survive can help. Survive- continue to exist in spite of danger/hardship; pull through, hold on/out.’ The Lord can make a way for one to maintain in situations beyond one’s control.