In the new normal – God is the same Part 2
So, I have probably mentioned it before, on another post, that I am back to journaling. Last night, or rather early, wee hours of the morning, I laid in bed, writing. My husband had fallen asleep. Earlier in the day, a friend had posted on Facebook that their church was still meeting in small groups throughout the city. Their church continues to gather whether in a house, a park or wherever. No virus is going to prevent them from gathering. It was bold. But someone else posted that the virus was God’s judgment. His response was maybe. Then maybe not. Regardless Hebrews 10:25 forsake not the assembling of yourselves and they went on to debate further. And not that I disagree with congregating during this pandemic. So far it’s not been mandated to shelter in place in San Antonio (yet), but we are to limit our gatherings to no more than groups of ten. This got me to thinking. And really I was a bit, hmm… not confused, but I was intrigued. Yes, Christians are given authority to “trample over snakes and scorpians, and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.” (Luke 10:19)
Anyway, I posted a comment, hoping for some feedback. I mentioned that we are getting a lot of updates on the COVID. I hear a lot of self-accolades, I did this and that, we did this.. everyone is patting themselves on the back, singing praises to the actions of man, but I don’t hear any thanks to God, no glory given to God. I guess it’s like inferred, but not spoken.
In this day of religious tolerance, Christians are cautious not to offend other faiths. For the most part, I would say, especially Christians in positions of leadership. After all this is a global crisis. It’s also an election year. Right? We have to honor political correction. So, I mentioned that “I subscribe to different pastors across the country and they aren’t being very verbal either. Scripture here and there about the promises of God and His faithfulness. Memes with scripture, but no mention of the gospel. Any thoughts?” So, I left at it that and waited.
As I wrote I asked God to help me understand his response. This is what he posted. It was the same thing he told the other guy. I’ve known this individual for 30 plus years.
Matthew 24, speaks of wars rumors of wars, famine, disease, persecution death, etc. etc. But in spite of everything that’s going on globally the gospel is to go out till the end of time. Our focus is not to be on any of those matters although they will affect us one way or another. Our focus should be that when people die did they hear the gospel. Did they believe and receive Jesus as savior. Are they saved? Will they spend eternity with Jesus? There’s a lot of panic out there. Keeping it in perspective, in 1918 the Spanish Flu world wide killed about 100,000,000 people. So far 13,000 deaths world wide. About 350 in USA. So should we worry yeah. But it’s not what other flu epidemics have been so far. Don’t panic. Be not anxious.
I consider Mathew 24, the gold standard for explaining the chaos in our world. It does. It is a reference to the end times. Read Revelations – a lot has to happen before we see the return of Christ. But I didn’t feel like his comment got to the heart of what I was referring to.
My husband said…”Well, you only asked for his feedback.” True. I said. So, why was his comment not satisfactory. My husband says that people don’t see God working. Most people are saying, or thinking, “How am I going to get through this? What am I going to do? He believes, that because the man is a pastor, I was expecting something more insightful. I had to admit. I did expect more.
So, as I wrote, I was asking God questions. I’m not afraid. My spirit tells me that God is in control. And like the song says-if its God will-nothing can change it. https://youtu.be/yIFHnPJjKFw
And if it’s God will, no amount of social-distancing, or sheltering in place is going to stop His will. It’s not going to be good for everyone. God has compassion on whomever He pleases. So, how are we, as believers to respond? And this is where I believe that God started to speak..
“We have gotten soft. We have grown complacent to the things of God. I am asking God to help me understand, to help me discern. I am not afraid. I know that You are in control. But how much longer will this go on? Many people are frighten, angry, and downright mean. Scripture does say not to forsake the assembly of the saints. Does the answer lie in not forsaking the assembly? Does it? Is that how we are to show Your glory?
You said, give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and unto God what is God’s. You have put leaders in their place. Man is asking for us to stay home. You ask for us to trust in You (God). It is better to obey God, than man, there is not doubt. But You said, You trust in God, trust also in Me.
It’s difficult to trust in God – in a crowded room, and just as difficult to trust God in a jail cell. But Paul and Silas, in their confinement they had an opportunity to escape and they didn’t (Acts 16-26-28). Paul preached the gospel and encouraged many during his confinement. Peter was led out of the prison by angels according to Your will – for Your purpose. So in the sanctuary, or the confines of the home, where ever you stand God is there. Because your bodies are the temple of God.
Church buildings are man’s creation and God does not abide in houses made by human hands (Acts 7:8) Rich Mullins sang.
A lot of us have fallen asleep. Rich Mullins once said…
“I think I would rather live on the verge of falling and let my security be in the all-sufficiency of the grace of God than to live in some pietistic illusion of moral excellence. Not that I don’t want to be morally excellent but my faith isn’t in the idea that I’m more moral than anybody else. My faith is in the idea that God and His love are greater than whatever sins any of us commit.” — Rich Mullins
Some of us believe that those sanctuaries, small or enormous, is the only place God convenes. We are so deceived. God said be still and know that I am God. “He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10).
No one knows the hour that God is to return (Matthew 24:36). And God has always given man a chance to repent. Remember Jonah. He was directed by God to go to the city of Ninevah?
“Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” (NIV) Jonah 1:2)
And what did Jonah do? He ran. And you know the rest of the story.
Remember when Abraham went to plead for Sodom and Gomorrah? Remember that back and forth conversation between God and Abraham?
The Lord said, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”
Then Abraham spoke up again:
“Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five people?” “If I find forty-five there,” he said, “I will not destroy it.”
Once again he spoke to him, “What if only forty are found there?” He said, “For the sake of forty, I will not do it.”
Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak. What if only thirty can be found there?” He answered, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.”
Abraham said, “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, what if only twenty can be found there?” He said, “For the sake of twenty, I will not destroy it.”
Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?” He answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.” (Genesis 18)
Abraham was pleading his heart out and God finally agreed to 10 people. Ten people… could not be found to save two cities.
God calls many people, but few listen. There’s any number of reasons why people cannot hear the voice of God when He speaks.
Remember Samuel. God called him, but he thought it was Eli that was calling. Three time God called on Samuel by name. After the third time, Eli recognized it was God calling, and told him how to respond.
The voice of God is drowned out by all the voices in our head telling us to do this and that – if we want the blessings of God, patting self on the back for all the good works done in the name of God.
God wants us to be still.
1 Samuel 12:16
“Now then, stand still and see this great thing the LORD is about to do before your eyes!”
“But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the LORD rescue you today…”
So, this is time that people that don’t know God need to hear the pure gospel of Jesus Christ, not platitudes. If anyone is a member of a church, clearly they know the gospel, or should.
So, this is the opportunity for everyone to spread the gospel. Is that not one of the the main reasons for the church, to disciple others for such a time as this (I Peter 3:15)? If members continue to need counseling and such, then something is wrong with their discipleship curriculum. Sure, not everyone will want to hear. That is not going to change, but like in biblical times, God is always willing to save everyone. Social media has made it possible for everyone to spread the message of salvation in Christ.
So, tomorrow… more on that.
Y’all be blessed. Pray for us all. Pray for the peace of God that surpasses all understanding. Pray for wisdom and understanding during these trying times.