King Hezekiah’s message to his people was simple…your source of strength comes from God and not from mortal man…and you need to rely on Him, for He is always with you. In II Kings 6:16-17, Elisha echoed these same words of encouragement when his servant could only see enemy horses and chariots surrounding the city…”Don’t be afraid. Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed that the Lord might open his servant’s eyes, and suddenly the servant saw that the hills were full of horses and chariots of fire. Today, if you’re afraid or discouraged, I pray that God would open your eyes to His promises…that He would show you His perspective, plan and purpose in your situation…and that you would experience revelation knowledge of where your strength truly lies.
Paul and Silas had only a few times to teach in Thessalonica before they were forced to leave. And after they left, the early Church there came under great persecution, thus Paul feared he had not had enough time to firmly ground them in the Gospel…so he sent Timothy to complete the work he had started. In this letter, Timothy has returned with the good news of the Believer’s faith and love and Paul is praising God for it. Earlier in this letter Paul wrote, “We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” (I Thessalonians 1:3) What Paul was talking about here is the agape love we have for each other is an expression of our faith, and hopefully both our love and faith are growing and increasing together each day.
A proverb that goes right along with the theme of this one is Proverbs 18:7, “A fool’s mouth is his undoing, and his lips are a snare to his soul.” Anytime we speak before thinking, we open ourselves up to the consequences of our hastily spoken words…and all the potential havoc and calamity that comes with having little regard in the power of a offhand remark. Especially now, we need to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…(James 1:19) For there’s real wisdom in holding your tongue…and besides, even a fool is thought wise as long as he keeps his mouth shut! (Proverbs 17:28)
In the Bible many Valleys were known for only death and destruction…the Valley of the Dry Bones, the Valley of the Shadow of Death, the Valley of Despair. But in this particular Valley it was quite the opposite for the men of Judah. That’s because the vast army that had sought to annihilate them, had instead been annihilated by God. So the Valley of Death and Destruction suddenly became the Valley of Praise. Over the course of the last months many of us have been in the Valley…a Valley filled with fear, anxiety, sadness, isolation, and discouragement. But we need to realize that God is the God of both the mountain-top and the valley…the highs and the lows…the good and the bad. That’s because He’s with us always, so our praise shouldn’t stop either, no matter where we find ourselves. For while we all long for those mountain-top experiences…we also have learned that many a hard-fought lesson comes while in the Valley.
God allowed Moses to see the Promised Land, but forbid him from crossing over the Jordan River and claiming it. It stemmed from the incident where God had instructed Moses to speak to the rock for water to flow, but out of frustration and anger, Moses had struck the rock instead…allowing the people’s whining and complaining to get the better of him. (Numbers 20:1-13) Likewise, God gave David the vision of what the Temple should look like and charged him with procuring all the building supplies, but forbid him from actually starting it…for he was a man of war with blood on his hands. Instead, God gave the task to David’s son, Solomon. Both Moses and David could of become very offended with God’s decision not to let them finish the mission He had given each of them. And they could of become very insulted when God told them to encourage someone else who would complete it. But that’s when we have to step back and take a look at the BIG picture…that’s when we have to ask God for His perspective and His ultimate plan and purpose.
From the very start of this pandemic, I was encouraging friends across the country who were stuck at home to start a “Quarantine Ministry” using their gifts, talents, and passions. I’ve heard so many incredible stories of how the Lord has used them, despite being stuck at home, I thought I’d share a few stories. A Elementary School Teacher used her skills to help Moms at home come up with creative ways to help their kids learn. A friend who’s a very talented seamstress learned of a need for masks and has sewn over 200. But the miraculous part of this story is that the supplies she started out with have never run out! Another friend started a daily video online of encouraging Scriptures to comfort and inspire those she couldn’t be with physically. God uses us to console the downcast…and in return, we ourselves are refreshed, renewed, restored, and revitalized. (Proverbs 11:25)
King Darius had issued an edict, prohibiting any prayer other then to him. But Daniel continued to pray to his God in obedience to Him rather than man. That’s because in the beginning, God instituted civil government for the good of all people,(Romans 13:1-5) and throughout the Scriptures He instructs His people to be in submission to the powers of government. (Titus 3:1 & I Peter 2:13-14) However, God has never granted any government the right to compel their people to do things which are contrary to His Laws. (Acts 5:29) But the real wisdom here lies in knowing what’s God’s laws, and what’s merely man’s selfish desires.
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.