Monthly Archives: April, 2020
Over the past few weeks, I have been saddened by pastors and churches ignoring the government recommendations to not gather in large groups and to practice social distancing. Pastors are holding worship services. Pastors are being arrested. All of this is because of the defiance to the government.
There is separation of church and state. There is freedom of religion. There is also free will. God has given us free will. We get to decide if we will listen to the government, if we will obey God’s Word, or even if we want to go a totally different path. We get to decide.
Too often, people cherry pick scripture rather than read all of God’s Word. We select what we like or what fits our agenda. This is a big reason why I always wanted the congregation to have their Bibles open when I preached. It is important for you to know all of God’s Word, not just pieces. It’s very dangerous to blindly follow someone who wants to feed you a piece of God’s Word, but not adhere to scripture found elsewhere. God’s Word is the entire Bible, not portions that favor you.
Whether you love and fear God, or you disbelieve, read Romans 13:1-7. This is what God says about authority. As a follower of Jesus, we are to follow the government unless it is something that defies something that goes against the law of God. This means that when the government says STAY HOME, that you stay home. You are not defying God to stay home and worship in your home. Please understand that nowhere in the Bible does it tell you that you must go to a building to worship. The church is people. We can worship right from our homes. Plus, we have the added blessing today of technology. We can actually join together online, without anyone having to leave their homes, through Facetime, Zoom, YouTube, etc. It’s all there. God has provided.
Additionally, claiming that God will keep you safe from the virus so you can defy the government is also wrong. Yes, God says that no one can pluck someone from His hand (see John 10:28). This actually speaks of the soul of a believer being safe; souls don’t get the Coronavirus. However, Jesus also tells us not to test God (see Matthew 4:7). Remember when the devil tried to tempt Jesus to throw Himself down so the angels would catch Him? We should not live life trying to get ourselves into trouble to see if He will rescue us. He has given us wisdom and discernment. He has given us resources. Faith isn’t declaring that He will keep you safe from Coronavirus and entering a large group of people to show everyone God is keeping you safe from the illness. Faith is trusting that even while this great pandemic is taking its toll on the whole world, you are trusting in God’s plan, you are trusting in God’s Word, and you know that He will use everything for His good purpose.
Not staying home, choosing to go out when you are not essential… This is not love. This is pride. This is ignorance. This is wrong. If you are going to the grocery store more than once a week, there is a problem. Plan a little. Be creative with the items you have in your cupboard. God made us in His image and He is the most creative. So you have creativeness in you. Let it flow. If you feel like you are climbing the walls at home, ask yourself why you cannot stand to be home… let God and you work that out. As you find yourself adapting to a life very different from what you once knew, draw near to God and He will draw near to you (see James 4:8). Repent. Pray. Love. Be a blessing.
“Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished.For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you. The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God’s servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong.So you must submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience. Pay your taxes, too, for these same reasons. For government workers need to be paid. They are serving God in what they do. Give to everyone what you owe them: Pay your taxes and government fees to those who collect them, and give respect and honor to those who are in authority. – Romans 13:1-7 [NLT]
Things do not always go your way. As a parent, I remember when my kids would be upset because they couldn’t have a snack before dinner. As you get older, you begin to develop a nasty habit—complaining. We complain about things not going our way. We complain about the traffic. We complain because the food isn’t up to par. We complain because the service is poor or because the wait is long. We complain because the neighbor cannot put his trash bins away.
Words are powerful. The Bible says that words have the power to kill or give life (see Proverbs 18:21). The question to ask yourself daily is what are your words doing? Are your words building up or tearing down? Are your words speaking life or damaging others? Are your words honoring God? Are your words pointing to Jesus?
The Psalmist speaks of “melodies of praise” that “will make Him known.” A picture is painted here. Your words… your praise… it will make Him known. But what if these melodies of praise are instead complaining rants? What if you are using your words to point out another’s shortcomings or to complain about bad customers? What if you are using your social media to put down another, to share the evils of the world, to broadcast the bad? Surely if the melodies of praise are what makes Him known to others, the negative, the complaints… these things are not depicting victory. Check your words today. What words are on your lips? What are you making known?
“But I will proclaim the victory of the God of Jacob. My melodies of praise will make him known.” – Psalm 75:9 [TPT]
Recently everything as we knew it changed. We were told to distance ourselves from each other at least 6 feet. We were told to wash our hands while singing a song. We were told to try to stay at home unless we needed supplies. When people did not listen to the suggestion to stay home, we eventually were ordered to stay at home.
I’m an introvert. Though I am rather talkative, I prefer to be alone. I love being at home. As I looked around, I couldn’t understand why so many people had issues with listening to the government recommendations to simply stay home for a few weeks. I started to ask the question – what is wrong with staying home? I took the question a step further – what is wrong with being alone?
Now yes, we are created for community. From the very beginning, God made us to be interwoven and in need of each other for relationship. Yet the desire to always be with someone or even to always be busy is a problem. Is it that you cannot stand to be alone with yourself? Or maybe the real issue is being alone with God?
The Bible speaks often about the need to rest. Our bodies were designed to need rest—it’s a very important part of our quality of life. As well, we were also designed to be in communion with God. Jesus often went alone to pray to the Father. We also read about our need to be connected to the vine. Imagine how often we can pray when we are inside away from the hustle and bustle of the world. Imagine the time we could have to connect with God’s Word too!
For many people, being at home means more time with loved ones, more time with pets, more time to learn new things, more time to read a good book, more time to finish an item off the good old to-do list, etc. Why do we look at the awesome blessing we have before us, to slow down, to reconnect, to accomplish, to laugh, to rest—why do we look at this and still find the need to escape from the walls of our homes? How can we always say we wish we had more time, and when we receive this gift of time, we start climbing the walls like it’s a punishment?
When this virus first made its way to America, I declared it would be tragic in numbers. I foresaw that we would be at the top of the list of infected people. We are taught that we can do anything, achieve anything, be anything; individualism is spoken to us from birth. We spend so much time trying to be the best me, myself, and I, trying to fill our lives with things, trying to make a name for ourselves, and we miss the plot. We make life all about ourselves.
I have been amused at many memes in the past few weeks that joke about our current life situation. It’s good to laugh and we all certainly need a good laugh right about now. Yet as I sit here alone in my house that I so love to stay inside without an order from the government, and I hear my dog snoring and the faint sound of laughter coming from my daughter’s room upstairs, I cannot help but ask the questions again – what is wrong with staying home? What is wrong with being alone? What is wrong with resting, connecting with God, and connecting with family? Why do we struggle to enjoy the simplest and most precious of gifts in life?
“Let this hope burst forth within you, releasing a continual joy. Don’t give up in a time of trouble, but commune with God at all times” – Romans 12:12 [TPT]
Everyone has something that they deem as precious. Parents see their children as precious. Some people are amazed by different pieces of art and would deem the pieces to be precious. We have precious items behind glass, locked up in a safe, or even placed in museums. Each person has a different opinion as to what is precious.
When something is precious it means it is valuable, important, worthy of special care. People often make sacrifices to protect and care for what is precious. In today’s verse, the Psalmist declares that he will “worship and praise.” What will he worship and praise? The name of the Lord. Why? Because it is precious.
There is power in the name of Jesus. In the Bible, we read that we will have what we ask in His name (see John 14:13). We read in healing done in the name of Jesus (see Acts 3:16). For the Psalmist, he recognized that the name of the Lord is precious. He placed God as higher, above, and worthy. In placing God in this position in his life, he was deeming His precious. Not everyone today will bow down at the name of Jesus. We each can decide if we believe He is precious, if we believe He is Lord. Yet one day, everyone will recognize that Jesus is precious. The One who poured out His precious blood that redeems, the One who lived a holy life, a sinless life, worthy to reconcile—He will return, and all will see, and everyone will bow at the name of Jesus. How precious is the name of Jesus!
“Lord, I will offer myself freely, and everything I am I give to you. I will worship and praise your name, O Lord, for it is precious to me. – Psalm 54:6 [TPT]