Help Is Always Needed

I am not a fan of the “Footprints in the Sand” poem because I believe it misses the very foundation of the Christian life – that we always need Jesus to carry us. There is never a moment when we are sufficient and adequate on our own, but rather we are always in need of God’s mercy, grace, and help.

During our vacation last week, we did a lot of swimming and hiking. Vacationing actively outdoors is my favorite way to vacation, as physical activity is something I enjoy and something that recharges me, especially because my job as a pastor requires very little physical activity. Thus, a physical vacation is a real vacation.

One of our hikes in the Smoky Mountains is the type of hike I would typically love. It was up and down mountainous terrain, and our destination was a waterfall. Perfect, right? I thought so, until we did the hike with 27 people, 17 of whom were my five kids and 12 of their cousins. There were no bathrooms, no drinking spots, and we decided to hike hard with no breaks. And, it took us all afternoon. Again, this would not normally be an issue, but when I failed to be prepared with drinking water (huge mistake) and realized that much hiking for our 5-year-old son, Micah, was quite ambitious, my enjoyment of the hike quickly diminished.

LESSONS LEARNED

Well, I definitely learned my lessons. When you hike with small children, take some breaks and make it fun. When you hike on a hot summer day, bring water – plenty of water; drinking fountains do not exist in national parks.

While we might not look back on that hike with fond memories, I am reminded of an important lesson that applies to all of us spiritually. You and I are never strong enough to do anything on our own.

Micah really was a trooper on that hike and even finished the last 60+ minutes of the hike walking. Before that, though, he rode on my shoulders a lot. He rode on Marsha’s back a lot. He did not have the strength or long legs to keep up with us, and so the “Footprints in the Sand” poem applied well to his situation. Sometimes he could do it; sometimes he needed help. When he needed help, we carried him. And, he finished strong.

The Christian life is so much more than a hike in a national park, though. Every single one of us is so much weaker because of our sin than a 5-year-old is because of his lack of physical maturity. We need Jesus, and we need Him constantly.

Like Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me” (John 15:5).

HUMBLY RESCUED

On Sunday morning, Lord willing, I will be continuing our sermon series through the Old Testament book of MicahWalk Humbly. Going through chapter 5, I hope to help my hearers “Realize the Rescue from God’s Judgment.” Our sin, without exception, makes us deserving of God’s eternal judgment, just like the nation Israel was continuously deserving of God’s judgment in the prophet Micah’s time (and before and after). Yet, if we humbly turn to the Lord – the only One who can rescue us from our deserved judgment – then we receive life in His name.

Jesus came to this earth to rescue us from sin and death – the eternal death we all deserve. Yet, He not only rescues all who call upon His name from the eternal death to come; He transforms our lives now. He carries us now. We need Him today, and we need Him every day.

If ever there is a moment we think we can walk on our own, we will fail. Instead, let us humble ourselves and trust the Lord to carry us. Only He can rescue us, and only He can enable us to live for Him now. Help is always needed, and so we need Him to carry us, and we need one another to grow as He intends. Turn to Jesus. Serve His church. Walk humbly (or rather, be carried humbly).

Photo by Miriam Fischer on Pexels.com
Jesus does not only carry us some of the time but rather all of the time. Are you trusting Him to do so?

Sinful yet Hopeful

Do you notice anything off about the picture above? Yes, that trailer is supposed to be hooked to that tractor. That trailer was hooked to that tractor, until one of my children (who will not be revealed in this post) was messing around on the tractor and disengaged the hydraulics. Apparently some other things were done, too, causing said-child to retreat in fear of the wrong that was committed.

Perhaps no one would find out, though. After all, when someone comes to move the trailer back into place for our Sunday morning outdoor worship celebration, he will hook the trailer back up, and no one else will be the wiser. So, nothing was said to Marsha or me about the trailer parked unhooked behind the tractor.

A little later, however, while all five of our children were playing outside, they noticed the tractor rolling down the hill. At least one of them wondered, “Who’s driving the tractor?” Oh, no one was driving that tractor. It was now helplessly rolling down the hill.

Praise the Lord that none of our children were near it when this happened, and no one was hurt or killed! Praise the Lord that no other vehicles were in the parking lot, and no damage was done! Praise the Lord that the tractor came to a perfect stop at the end of the gravel lot, and nothing bad happened! God’s mercy and grace are all over this story.

SIN HAS CONSEQUENCES

Well, God’s mercy and grace are all over this story, that is, until I walked outside the next morning for my (usually) very-enjoyable morning walk. Mercy and grace were not words that would describe my initial attitude toward my children when I saw what had happened.

When I first noticed what you can see in the above picture, I thought, “Why in the world did someone decide to use the tractor and then leave it down there? And, who was it?” That thinking was only for a moment, though, because I quickly realized it must have been something my children did. That was all that made sense.

How did this happen, though. When did this happen? How did my wife and I not know? How are all of our children still alive? Are we the worst parents ever? Do we have the worst children ever?

When everyone was awake, my wife and I questioned our children and quickly learned the truth, including the fact that all five of them knew who was guilty and knew what had happened. None said a word, however. No one told us, somehow thinking we would not find out and/or that it would not be a big deal if we did.

A John Deere tractor that our kids were playing around rolled 200 feet down a hill!

Needless to say, Marsha and I had a long, serious conversation with our children. Furthermore, they proceeded to lose a lot of privileges, and we hope they have learned their lesson.

You see, sin has consequences. In this case, disobedience and disrespect could have led to someone being killed, and death is the ultimate curse and consequence of sin.

THERE IS HOPE

On Sunday morning, Lord willing, I will be preaching on how we can “Find Hope in God’s Judgment” (Micah 4). Yes, sin has consequences. Yes, God judges sin. Yes, we all deserve the devastating eternal death that is the curse of sin. Yet, there is hope.

We are all sinful, but we can still be hopeful, hopeful if we know and follow Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. The only hope that conquers sin and death is the hope of the gospel. Do you have this hope? Do you rejoice in this hope? Do you find satisfaction and contentment in this hope? Are you daily living for the God of this hope?

Like our children, we all deserve much greater consequences to our sins than we have received. The fact that we are still breathing, despite our countless failures and rebellions, is living proof. We deserve death but by trusting in Jesus’ death in our place and by believing in His resurrection from the dead, we can have life and have it abundantly.

Look out for the consequences of sin. Look out for God’s certain judgment. Look out by looking up (to Him). Look out by looking back (to the cross). Look out by looking forward (to eternal life). Only then will you have the hope that never dies.

P.S. – “Children, obey your parents as you would the Lord, because this is right. Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with a promise, so that it may go well with you and that you may have a long life in the land” (Ephesians 6:1-3).

If you have yet to believe the gospel and surrender your life to Jesus Christ, please do not delay.

Having and Being a Micah

In the days of God’s prophet Micah (more than 2,700 years ago), the people of Israel were living in great sin against God, facilitating rampant rebellion and injustice among the people. Micah boldly declared in the midst of the wickedness, “But as for me, I am filled with power by the Spirit of the Lord, with justice and courage, to proclaim to Jacob his rebellion and to Israel his sin” (Micah 3:8).

On Sunday morning, Lord willing, I will be preaching through Micah 3 and challenging those at our outdoor worship celebration to “Respond Rightly to God’s Judgment.” God’s judgment is real and certain, so are you prepared? Are you following the trends of the culture and compromising biblical truth, or are you following Micah’s example with a counter-cultural commitment to biblical truth?

WHO’S YOUR MICAH?

While it was a very overwhelming and difficult task, Micah boldly confronted the sins of Israel. Who is your Micah? Do you have someone (or better yet, someones) in your life holding you accountable and confronting you when you fail to follow God faithfully? Do you have people who will speak up when you are blind to your own sin?

We all need accountability because we all fall short of God’s perfect standard, and we are all prone to the pride of self-justification for our shortcomings. Who is your Micah? Who is asking you the tough questions? Who is challenging you to turn from sinful tendencies and follow God according to His Word?

If you do not have people like Micah in your life, please do not delay. Make sure you are actively involved in a Bible-teaching church, and develop friendships with people you can trust to speak Truth into your life. You will not regret doing such an important, life-changing, life-giving thing.

WHERE’S YOUR MICAH?

Likewise, where is your Micah? In other words, where is the Micah inside of you? Are you walking with Jesus yourself and calling sin what it is – rebellion against a holy God? Are you involved in the lives of other Christ-followers, so that you can lovingly speak Truth into their lives?

Just like you need people to be Micahs in your life, others need you to be a Micah in their lives. We need one another.

If you have come to know and follow Jesus Christ, then you have received His Holy Spirit (see John 14:6, 26; 16:8; Acts 2-28; etc.). And, like Micah, you should gladly declare with purpose, “But as for me, I am filled with power by the Spirit of the Lord, with justice and courage, to proclaim…

The Spirit of God will not allow you to be content to live in sin (see 1 John), and the Spirit of God will not allow you to be content with others living in sin (see 2 Corinthians 5:17-6:2).

No, you will not come down on others in prideful condescension but rather with a loving urgency to respond to the Lord in faith and repentance. We all need Micahs in our lives, and we all – by the work of the Holy Spirit – are called to be Micahs in the lives of one another.

Are you compelled to stand up for God’s Word and declare His Truth? If not, would you turn to Him and ask Him to take over your life?

THE ONLY PERFECT MICAH

Only the Son of God, Jesus Christ our Lord, perfectly fulfilled the Law and the Prophets. Only He was and is the perfect Micah – the One who could always speak Truth into people’s lives because He is the Truth. And, only He can change your life in such a way that you too will desire to have people like Micah regularly speaking into your life, as well as being a Micah in the lives of others.

If you want to both have a Micah and be a Micah, make sure you have Christ. Make sure you faithfully serve Him and serve His church. Let us walk alongside one another to bring God the glory and to be a blessing to others.

Learn and trust the Good News of the gospel. Check out The Story.

Eternal Heart Health

Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life” (Proverbs 4:23). In other words, what we do is a reflection of our hearts. Sincere kindness is a reflection of goodness. Hatred toward others is a reflection of evil. Love for God and others is a reflection of goodness. Idolatry, lust, and stealing are a reflection of evil. Sacrificial service is a reflection of goodness. Racism is a reflection of evil.

Sure, people with good hearts changed by God still commit acts of evil because we are all sinners. Likewise, people with evil hearts still do good things because God is gracious and merciful and sends rain on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45).

Ultimately, though, the health of our hearts will determine our eternal status before God. How is your eternal heart health?

THE IMPACT OF THE HEART

On Sunday morning, Lord willing, I will be preaching from Micah 2 on our need to “Accept God’s Judgment,” as I continue our Walk Humbly sermon series. Right away in the beginning of that chapter, we see the impact our hearts have on our lives. “Woe to those who dream up wickedness and prepare evil plans on their beds! At morning light they accomplish it because the power is in their hands” (Micah 2:1). Their hearts were full of wickedness, and they used their power to accomplish evil.

Some things never change. It happened then, and it continues to happen today. Why? Because the heart is evil apart from the grace of God.

Why, after all that has happened, is racism still a problem in our country? Because the heart is evil apart from the grace of God.

Why, after all of the advancements in this country and with all that we know to be true, does police brutality still exist when most cops are good cops who serve and protect like they should? Because the heart is evil apart from the grace of God.

Why, with all that is abundantly clear in the Word of God, do so many ministry leaders have massive moral failures? Because the heart is evil apart from the grace of God.

The problems in our country right now, the problems in every country throughout human history, the problems in all of our hearts… I believe the problems stem from the same thing: pride. Pride, it seems, is the root of every other sin that exists.

Think about it – pride is not limited to the outwardly arrogant. Pride is simply thinking of yourself more highly than you should. Pride is putting yourself and your wants and your needs and your comfort at the top of your priorities. Pride is pushing God off the throne of your heart and putting something or someone else there. Selfishness comes from pride. Lust comes from pride. Hatred comes from pride. Racism comes from pride. Can you think of a sin that does not find its root in pride? I cannot.

This is why the spiritual health of our hearts is so vital. Our hearts (and whether or not they are consumed with pride) affect everything.

THE NEED OF THE HEART

Pride cannot be fixed or defeated, at least not by us. We need help. The need of every single one of our hearts is the gospel of Jesus Christ. While policies and procedures might help to a certain extent, only the gospel changes lives because only God changes hearts eternally.

Now, I am certainly not implying that we should not have laws, policies, procedures, etc. After all, even the government is “God’s servant to you for good” (read Romans 13:1-7). Rules and regulations will not fix the heart, though. They can help administer justice when done properly, but as we have seen lately (and, as has always been the case), evil hearts will still lead to evil actions. Injustice will still happen. Lives will still be ruined. Sadly, that will not change on this side of eternity because pride will not be gone until Jesus Christ returns.

Still, we should stand up for justice and love our neighbors as ourselves. We should pray for God’s mercy and help, that we might see our country and our world changed for the better. We should speak Truth and plead with people to turn to the Lord. All the while, we do not lose hope in the midst of the evil around us because we know that God will indeed one day restore all things. If you know and follow Jesus, you have the promise of eternal life and perfect restoration. Praise the Lord!

Let us ask God to protect us from the evil of pride, and let us hold one another accountable. Do you have people who will speak into your life when pride begins to consume you? Do you seek God daily through His Word and walk with Him in prayer? How’s your heart, and how can you get better?

If you do not yet know the hope and peace that are only found in and through a relationship with Jesus Christ, will you turn to Him today? Learn more by checking out The Story.

Judgment for Injustice

On Wednesday afternoon, I wept. Rarely do I cry when by myself – much less often than I probably should, particularly over my own sin. Yeah, I get emotional and shed tears sometimes when I preach and get passionate about God’s grace and forgiveness. When alone, though, I rarely get that way because, for whatever reason, the tears seem to come more when I am talking (or trying to talk) about something emotional.

On Wednesday, however, reality overwhelmed me. I have no idea what it feels like to be discriminated against. More importantly, I have no idea what it feels like to be choked to death. It sounds horrifying, though. It looks horrifying, as so many people learned like I did after the recent video of George Floyd’s murder. I saw the video Wednesday.

In February, Ahmaud Arbery was murdered, and the men known to be responsible were not charged with anything for weeks, until the video of the shooting was released. How is that possible?

How is it possible that George Floyd was allowed to be murdered by one police officer while other officers stood by?

THE BLAME

Please realize – I cannot imagine how difficult it is to be a law enforcement officer. I know several law enforcement officers and know them to be great people and great officers. I am grateful for what they do to serve and protect our community. They have a job that is beyond difficult. What certainly should not be difficult, though, is getting your knee off a person’s neck when the person is hand-cuffed and no longer struggling, and you have back-up. Surely, of all the difficulties that come with being a police officer, that should not be one of them.

What brought me to tears (and continues to bring me to tears even as I write this), however, is not the blame I place on law enforcement. What about me? How much of what is wrong with this country and the continued racial divide is my fault? My sinful pride is just as disgusting and just as damning as that of a racist or a criminal or a murderer.

What is wrong with this country? What is wrong with this world? I am. Pride like my pride is what divides. Sin like my sin is what destroys.

I really want to point my finger at those who are at fault in our country and in our world. I want to yell and scream and cry out, “Injustice!” First, I must point that finger at myself.

Sure, I have had black friends for as long as I can remember. My wife and I have an Ethiopian daughter and a Chinese son, and while I have never seen myself as a racist, my prideful sin that has harbored bitterness and resentment against others is no less appalling.

I, too, am guilty, and until I come to grips with that and realize the horror of my own sin before God and before others and repent, then I can never help those around me make our community better.

THE SOLUTION

Change needs to happen. Things need to get better. Injustice needs to be addressed.

Our country has to be better than it was decades ago when it comes to racial equality, right? I do not know. Some things are obviously better, but then again, it does not seem to be any better than when I was a kid during the Rodney King beating in Los Angeles.

I wish I had the brilliant solution that would fix the racial divide and allow for conversations and actions that would facilitate good change. Although I am really not that smart, I hope I can at least play a role in that process, even if just among my own community.

Here is what I do know about the solution, though… The gospel of Jesus Christ is the only thing that will solve our problems. The gospel is the only thing that will cleanse me of the guilt within and allow me to stop pointing the finger at myself and others. You see, the gospel allows me to point my finger at the cross because Jesus Christ took the judgment that I deserve. He died in my place for my sins. Then, He rose from the dead to win the victory over sin and death, so that everyone who turns to Him to forgiveness and eternal life will be made new. The gospel is a solution like no other because the gospel is the only solution that is eternal.

Whether you think you struggle with racism or not, would you look at yourself before looking at others? Whether you have contributed to injustice or not, would you recognize that you, too, are guilty? Whether you have experienced injustice or not, would you realize that no sin anyone commits against you is as bad as your sin (and my sin) that put Jesus on the cross?

Yes, black lives matter, and that is okay to say because it is true. Yes, blue lives matter, and that is okay to say because it is true. Yes, all lives matter, and that is okay to say because it is true. Remember, too, however, that we are all sinners, and the solution to our sin and brokenness is only found in and through Jesus Christ. Only He can change me, change you, and change our community for good.

On Sunday morning, Lord willing, I will be starting a new sermon series through the Old Testament book of Micah – Walk Humbly. How ironic (or not) that the first message, from Micah 1, will be on our need to “Recognize God’s Judgment.” Will we recognize the judgment we deserve? Will we recognize the judgment our nation deserves? Will I recognize the judgment I deserve? Will we recognize that the only solution to that judgment is Jesus?

Let’s trust God to change the world by changing us first. Check out The Story.

No Silly Barking

When my kids drive their remote-controlled car, our dog, Lottie, goes crazy. She chases and barks at the harmless toy as long as it moves. Never does she tired from such activity, even if it goes on for several minutes. These are just 24 seconds of evidence…

If we fail to have a gospel-centered perspective in our response to evil against us, we will be just like Lottie. We will bark and bark, and while the barking might make sense to those of us barking, it is ultimately ridiculous. Only the right perspective will allow us to see that, though.

GOSPEL PERSPECTIVE REQUIRED

When we only think about ourselves and our situation and our frustration, we will not respond to evil in a God-honoring way. On Sunday morning, Lord willing, I will be preaching on “Living Good” (Romans 12:17-21). In that message, I hope to communicate two gospel-centered responses to evil, challenging you to respond to evil based on God’s response to you.

The gospel does that for us, changing our perspective so that we do not respond to evil like barking dogs. Sure, there are times when barking is necessary, but how often do we bark when simply surrendering our cares to the Lord is required?

If possible, on your part, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18). If you surrender your life to Jesus Christ and ask Him to give you a new heart, He not only saves you for eternity; He changes you now. He begins a work in your heart that affects everything about you, including your response to evil. Living at peace with others because of the peace God has given you becomes a desire, a fruit of the Holy Spirit (see Galatians 5:22-23).

BARKING OR PEACE?

How about you? Do you find yourself constantly barking, whether outwardly or inwardly, or are you experiencing a growing sense of peace – peace with God and peace with others? If you are struggling and really just want to bark, would you consider crying out to God for help instead? Only He can give you the peace that passes all understanding, and that peace will only come when you embrace the gospel and follow after Him.

Some day, if not sooner than later, we will see our barking for what it is – fruitless futility. Yes, we should pursue justice but not apart from the perspective that justice ultimately and perfectly belongs to the Lord. In that truth, we must have peace. Praise be to God!

Heartbroken but Hopeful

When considering what 12-year-old Wyatt Salmons and his family went through this past year, with Wyatt having lost his physical life last Friday, how can we understand such tragedies? How do I make sense of one of my son’s friends and classmates suffering and dying from a rare form of cancer?

To some extent, we simply cannot wrap our minds around things like this. We cannot fully comprehend or sufficiently explain tragedies. Rather, we are heartbroken and reminded of the brokenness of this world. Still, I believe we can experience hope in the midst of heartbreak. Specifically, I believe there are two ways that provide hope above all else.

1. HOPE FROM THE GOSPEL

Firstly and most importantly, we find hope in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I cannot fathom how people get through any sort of tragedy and suffering apart from the hope of the gospel. Before I came to know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, I experienced far less tragic suffering in my life (as a child and young adult) than I have since then, and yet in the midst of those losses, I was far more discouraged.

I remember moments when I felt complete hopelessness and despair, and those moments were nothing compared to losing my young dad to cancer, for example. When my dad passed away in 2014, my heart was broken, and yet I never felt hopeless. I never felt despair. While I was grief-stricken and missed my dad (and still do), I had (and still do) a sense of hope and peace that I never understood before placing my saving faith in Jesus.

Please realize, this hopefulness is not because I figured things out and mastered some method of finding purpose and meaning. Rather, God changed my heart and life. My purpose and meaning are in Him, and because of the promise of what is to come, loss in this life cannot rob me of that hope. This is the reality for those who know and follow Jesus, as long as we keep our eyes on Him.

2. HOPE FROM ONE ANOTHER

One of the greatest blessings of coming to know and follow Jesus is being a part of His family. We say all the time with Richland, “Our church is our family.” God knows, of course, that we not only need Him; we need one another. For that reason, most of the commands in the New Testament are corporate commands – commands for the body of believers and not just for individual believers.

On Sunday morning, Lord willing, I will be preaching on “Living Unity” (Romans 12:15-16). Church family unity that is centered on the gospel is a unity that endures. And, part of that unity is our need to love and care for one another in the midst of suffering. We are not strong enough to endure tragedy on our own. We need God, and we need His church. The temptation for many when tragedy strikes is to withdraw, but withdrawal is the very thing we do not need. Instead, we need to comfort and/or be comforted. “Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). This is a corporate command for us because God knows best what we need.

If you have a personal relationship with Jesus, are you prioritizing your relationship with Him and your relationship with your local church? Are you prioritizing unity, not just for your sake but also for the sake of God’s glory and the good of others?

If you have not yet surrendered your life to Jesus, I plead with you to turn to Him for the hope, peace, and salvation only He can give.

If you want to experience the hope and peace that endure forever, please check out The Story.

The Gospel Gives Perspective

One thing I never really understood when I played sports (like basketball) in high school, was when people would say something like, “Yeah, I quit because there was too much running.” In fact, not only did I not really understand such a statement, frankly, it annoyed me. What do you expect when you play sports?

Please understand – I am not saying that I necessarily enjoy running. For the most part, I do not. A proper perspective, though, helps me realize that running is necessary to be prepared. Running now will help me be better later. Running a lot in practice will make it more likely that we can win the game. Exercising during the week will help ensure that I can still beat my kids in basketball on the weekend (like in the above picture). đŸ˜‰

More importantly, the gospel provides a proper perspective. In fact, if we trust and embrace the gospel, then we have the ultimate purpose for living and a continuous reason for enduring. The gospel changes things. Apart from the gospel, our religious efforts are dead and meaningless. Without the gospel, our supposed sacrifices are a stench to God.

Because of the gospel, though, we have perspective and purpose. God gave the ultimate sacrifice in and through His One and Only Son so that we can have not only eternal life, but also so that we can be a living sacrifice.

You see, when we are changed by God through the good news of the gospel, our very lives are changed. No longer are we content to go through the motions of religious exercise or do things our way. Instead, because of the Holy Spirit transforming our hearts, we desire to live our lives every day in a way that will honor and glorify God. This is not because we are better than anyone else but rather because we are made new.

Have you been made new? Do you have a perspective which, even in the midst of difficulty, allows you to experience hope, joy, and peace? If not, ask God for help. Ask Him to change your heart and change your life, as only He can. Furthermore, make sure you have people who are walking alongside you in this journey. We need God, and we need one another.

On Sunday morning, Lord willing, our church will be hosting a drive-in worship service in our east parking lot. If you live in the area and do not have a church family, I hope you will join us. I plan to begin a new sermon series from Romans 12-13 on remembering the cross (and how the gospel changes our daily lives). Looking first at Romans 12:1-2, I want to challenge you – challenge us – to be a “Living Sacrifice.” We were made new for this.

If you long for the proper perspective and hope that only God can give, would you consider surrendering your life to Him? You can learn more by clicking the picture above.

Pandemic-Crushing Power

In the midst of COVID-19, when life as we knew it just a few weeks ago has come to a halt (or at least changed drastically), some things have not changed. The birds are still chirping. The sun is still shining. The grass is still growing. The wind is still blowing. Our dog is still happy and hyper.

Really, life has continued like aways, except for humanity. Life is different for us.

This ought to remind us, though, of our weakness and God’s strength. We are utterly helpless in the grand scheme of things. We need God.

There is a power far greater than pandemics. His name is Jesus. On Sunday morning, Lord willing, I will be preaching (online) about “The Power of Jesus” (Matthew 27:62 – 28:20). The power of Jesus is matchless. He has power over the lies people tell; He has power over death; He has power over our lives. Have you surrendered to His power? Do you rely on His power?

If you have turned away from your sins and placed your faith in Jesus, then you have the hope (in the gospel) and the power (through His Holy Spirit) that are far greater than the hopelessness and infection rate of COVID-19. Do not lose sight of that reality.

If you have not yet surrendered your life to Jesus, though, will you do so today? He does not promise to save you from pandemics physically, but He does promise to save you from sin and death – the curse that is far worse than COVID-19 – eternally, if you will simply call on His name. Click the picture below to learn more.

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no under name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12). Jesus alone saves.

COVID-19. What if…?

Like so many others, I am praying for God’s grace and mercy in the midst of this Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. While the current projections are anything but favorable, I am asking God to do the impossible and bring an end to COVID-19.

What if, in the meantime, though, we ask God to do an amazing work in our hearts? What if we ask Him to do an amazing work in His church? What if we ask Him to use COVID-19 for His glory and for our good? What if we can one day look back on this pandemic and say, “Wow! God changed so many lives for His kingdom during that difficult time.“?

In the same way September 11, 2001, seemed to drastically increase patriotism in our great nation, what if COVID-19 drastically increases faith in our great God?

Would you join me in praying for three specific results in the coming weeks?

1. PRAY FOR A GROWING HUNGER FOR GOD’S WORD.

If we follow our government’s directives – and I believe we should to the best of our abilities – then we are going to have a lot more time at home until COVID-19 is “under control.” A lot more time isolated from those outside of our household. A lot more time alone, perhaps.

Hey, what a great time to binge-watch television shows and movies! What a plethora of time to waste on social media and the internet!

What if, instead, we prayed for a growing hunger for God’s Word? What if we used the increased time at home to spend more time reading our Bibles, praying from our Bibles, and memorizing Scripture? What if we developed a consistent habit of daily interaction with God through His Word? What if we established a regular routine of family devotions?

How happy are those whose way is blameless, who live according to the Lord’s instruction! Happy are those who keep His decrees and seek Him with all their heart” (Psalm 119:1-2).

If we pray for a growing hunger for God’s Word and sincerely prioritize our Bibles right now, our lives could be changed forever. Our families could be changed forever. Our churches could be changed forever. Our communities could be changed forever. Our world could be changed forever. What could and would God do in and through us if we truly grew in our hunger for His Word? Let’s find out!

2. PRAY FOR A GROWING COMMITMENT TO GOD’S CHURCH.

Most churches – including the church I have the privilege of serving – are wisely choosing to live out the great commandments (love of God and love of neighbor) by honoring our government’s leadership in the midst of this pandemic. Thus, we are canceling services, for now, to help limit the further spread of COVID-19.

People who are marginally committed to their churches might use this “break” as an opportunity to sleep in on Sundays. They might fall out of the habit of regular worship service attendance and church involvement. They might see this as an excuse to “drop out.” I pray that is not the case, but the possibility is real.

For those who sincerely love Jesus, though, a growing love for His church is evident. Thus, what if God were to use this time of separation from your church family to grow your commitment to your church family? What if, out of this pandemic, you realize what a privilege church involvement truly is, and your longing to be back with your church family is overflowing?

God’s multi-faceted wisdom may now be made known through the church to the rulers and authorities in the heavens. This is according to His eternal purpose accomplished in the Messiah, Jesus our Lord” (Ephesians 3:10-11).

If we pray for a growing hunger for God’s Word, and God answers our prayers, then I believe a growing commitment to God’s church will naturally follow. Let’s find out!

3. PRAY FOR A GROWING PASSION FOR GOD’S MISSION.

Likewise, as God grows our hunger for His Word and our commitment to His church, I believe He will increase our passion for His mission. Perhaps we cannot do quite as much as before or quite as much as we would like because of social distancing right now. Then again, perhaps we can do more, or at least different acts of mission and service.

Is this an increased opportunity to serve the elderly who have needs but are unable to leave their homes? Is this an increased opportunity to serve lost family and friends who are fearful and overwhelmed by financial instability and future uncertainty? Is this a vivid reminder to pray for the lost and pray for opportunities to reach out to them, even if only via the phone and/or internet?

Jesus said, “This is what is written: The Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead the third day, and repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations” (Luke 24:46-47).

What if we pray for a growing passion for God’s mission – the gospel to the world? What if God answers that prayer, and as a result, He uses this pandemic to bring about a great spiritual awakening for His glory and for our good? Let’s find out!

If you are struggling to find hope and peace in the midst of this pandemic, would you seek the Lord for His hope and peace? If you have not yet experienced this through a personal relationship with Him, check out The Story.