One of the great desires of my life is to finish well. At the end of my race, I want to be able to say with Paul, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).
3 Aspects of Moving forward When Your World Is Stuck
When the Lord laid a phrase from Philippians 3:13, “Reaching Forth,” on my heart for our church theme in 2020, I had no idea that less than three months into the year, our plans would be derailed by a global pandemic.
As long as we sojourn on this earth, we will encounter struggles. However, God is not taken by surprise with our challenges, problems and trials. He knew about the Corona Virus, for example, well before it hit, as well as the human responses to it. Governments shut down many businesses, a multitude of employees lost their jobs, citizens were kept indoors; and yet God remains sovereign—His promises, power, and provision still stand.
One of my favorite Scripture passages in the gospels is found in Luke 18:1–8. The first verse states the Lord’s purpose, “And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint.” The purpose of this parable was to encourage God’s people in the matter of praying; it was also to give them an incentive not to quit praying.
The battles intensified for Elijah. He had witnessed the power of God in defeating nature, death, Ahab, and Baal, but the next battle would not be so easy. This time it was Elijah vs. Jezebel. Jezebel was as committed to Baal as Elijah was to Jehovah. Her hometown was the worldwide headquarters for Baal worship.
As a young pastor on the outskirts of Philadelphia, God gave me the good fortune of having a godly seasoned pastor as my trusted associate. His name was Al Johnson, and he believed in the power of prayer.
Even a small child knows that a red light means to stop. But what does the word “stop” mean? It seems to be such a simple word, but the word “stop” actually has two inferences that are quite different from each other.
Let me go on record: I am not a fan of quarantine! I have Zoomed, FaceTimed, and Skyped until I have grown to detest the very words. It is just not the same hugging a television, a computer screen, or an IPhone as it is being close to a person you care very much about.
Our World in Data estimates that 284 million people worldwide have an anxiety disorder. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that 19.1% of Americans had an anxiety disorder in the past year. A recent article in a Christian news periodical raised concerns over the spiked increase of anxiety disorder since our country has been in shelter in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Paul carefully and compassionately addresses believers who were soon shaken in mind and troubled. Let us see God’s help for a troubled mind.
These are unusual days for everyone and unique days to serve in a church. Over the last few weeks I have spent a great deal of time talking and praying with pastors who are doing their best, under God, to lead their churches through this crisis time. While these faithful pastors are working to help God’s people, we should also be thinking about how God’s people can help God’s pastors. Remember, we are all in this together!
For us here in Vancouver, the day began with beautiful sunshine which always lifts our spirits. But with nowhere to go for many people; i.e. no work, no school, no shopping outside of government permitted essentials, even the sunshine has limited effect.
In one sense, any trial that comes into our lives is unplanned and disruptive to our expectations. But some trials last longer than others and are disruptive to everything in our lives. The COVID-19 crisis has, in many ways, been this kind of trial.
A city broken down and without walls is open to attack. It is vulnerable to the enemy. It is easily destroyed. Scripture tells us that if we do not accept responsibility for keeping our own spirit right, we become equally open to attack.
The Reality of the Resurrection Should Motivate Us to Serve Christ
The songwriter echoed the words of those who were eyewitnesses of the resurrected Saviour, “I serve a risen Saviour, He’s in the world today, I know that He is living whatever men may say… He lives! He lives! Salvation to impart. You ask me how I know He lives; He lives within my heart.”