Right now opinions are abounding from everyone. “Open up the country!”…”No, we should say at home yet.”…”Churches should be able to open up.”…”No, it’s too early to gather together in groups.” But what happens when you have all these contrasting opinions are silly arguments over semantics rather than what God’s Word actually says. In this Scripture, Paul is writing to the young Pastor Timothy, warning him to avoid quarrels of “words” that stem from either party’s inadequate training in and/or deficient knowledge of Biblical disciplines. So before we can express any kind of opinion, we must first know what God’s Word says about it…in order to handle correctly the word of truth. (II Timothy 2:15). But to know God’s Word, we must first get into God’s Word and allow it to enlighten us.
God’s activity in creating and ruling the world is seen throughout the Psalms. “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world and all who live in it. (Psalm 24:1-2) “The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad.” (Psalm 97:1) “The Lord reigns, He is robed in majesty.” (Psalm 93:1) The bottom line is…throughout this pandemic, you may think God has been absent, indifferent, or turning a blind eye to all the death and suffering…but He hasn’t. God’s sovereign authority is still operating on our behalf and for our good. For “the Lord works out everything for His own ends.” (Proverbs 16:4) But how and why is He doing this? As the Lord told Moses in Exodus 9:16, “for the purpose that I may show you My power and that My name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So one thing we can be certain of today… is that God is still in control and ruling with grace and mercy.
Jesus had traveled to Bethany after hearing of His friend, Lazarus, death. As He stood before the grave entrance, He prayed out-loud…not to profit Himself, but all the mourners looking on. For Jesus knew His Father, and His Father knew Him, so His spoken words benefited the crowd only. But why? So that they might know that God hears and answers prayer. You may think God’s work in your life is for you only…but you’d be so wrong! Anytime we’re faced with hardship, loss, sickness, or tragedy…people are watching us. Both unbelievers and Believers are observing how we’ll react. Do we gripe, are quick to complain, and become easily offended…or do we clothe ourselves with the same grace and mercy our Heavenly Father has shown us? That’s because they’re watching closely to see where we place our hope and trust…in ourselves and the world, or in Jesus Christ. So think about this today… by your actions and reactions you can bring someone closer to Christ or push them away.
Ok, can we all admit to ourselves that the past months of dealing with COVID 19 and the pandemic have been downright hard! It’s been difficult being isolated from family and friends. It’s been scary listening to the dire warnings and daily statistics of positive cases and deaths. Brother, it’s even been apprehensive just going to the grocery store! That’s why when I read the above verse this morning it brought me back to a basic foundational truth…our God is the Father of all comfort, Who comforts us in all our troubles… (II Corinthians 1:3) So even when I’m not at my best, He’s there to comfort me with the Holy Spirit…and like Isaiah 40:29-31 tells me, “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
Come back to God…for He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. (Ezekiel 33:11) Turn back from the empty life you’ve been living and allow Him to show you the ultimate plan and purpose you were created for. And the Lord Himself promises that if you seek Him, you will find Him, if you look for Him with all your heart. (Deuteronomy 4:29) But the greatest promise is contained in the two words that begin this verse – Even now. It means regardless of how far you’ve wandered…or despite what you’ve done in the past…right now, at this moment, the Lord is lovingly waiting for you to come back home.
This freedom Paul is speaking about means liberty from the rituals and ceremonies of the Mosaic Law…but not from its standard of morality and justice. He also warned of using this freedom to cause someone else to stumble. (I Corinthians 8:9) To illustrate this further, Paul wrote that though he was free, he made himself a slave to everyone, in order to win as many as possible to Christ. (I Corinthians 9:19) As the COVID 19 pandemic continues in the United States, words like freedom, rights, and liberty have become hot-button topics. But no matter where we stand on these issues…God’s Word remains. Or as Peter wrote in I Peter 2: 16-17, “Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.”
For months now we have been bombarded with information about the Corona Virus. Everyone from experts in the field, to people who know nothing about it, are giving their opinions. But no one knows for sure what this virus is going to do or not do…for the name “Novel” Corona Virus tells it all. It is a new, unfamiliar, and unknown viral type that has the world scrambling to figure it out. But until they do, we’ll be inundated with information…good, bad, and indifferent. So how can we then make sense of all this information? How can we discern what’s true and what’s false? We have only to look at this verse…for man can give us knowledge/information, but only God can give us wisdom. That’s because all wisdom has its source in God and He is the Giver of all wisdom. (Proverbs 2:6) And when we lack wisdom, all we have to do is ask and He will give it generously. (James 1:5) In the months ahead, I feel wisdom is going to become paramount in our decision making.