Deut 14 to 16 We set aside different dates to remember various events, and soon we will remember the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord. God set aside dates so the Israelites would recall events in their past and how the God of their provision was a God of promise. It is a privilege to know that one is chosen and elected to serve the most Holy God of the universe; thus, each date is to be a celebration of what God has accomplished.
As we celebrate, may we also remember the poor among us who have little to bring to the altar of sacrifice. We who have much are then to give out of our abundance to supply what the poor lack. We must not “must not harden our heart or be insensitive to his impoverished condition. Instead, open your hand and generously lend him whatever he needs.” [Deut 15:7]
Today many are poor due to extenuating circumstances due to the COVID. Today, some are in our communities, some in our churches, and some are homeless as they have lost all. Our hearts must be open to giving and giving wherever God reveals. We must remember that God is the God of provision, and He has blessed us beyond measure so that we might be able to reach out and touch the lives of those who in need.
Exodus 7 to 9 Pride goeth before a fall, and Pharaoh will learn how true that is. God sent the brothers Aaron and Moses to speak to Pharaoh: “Let My people go.” In return, Pharaoh responded, “Do a miracle,” and so they did. Unimpressed, Pharaoh has his magicians work their magic to turn rods into serpents, but surprise, surprise; the rod of Aaron ate up the magician’s serpents. Pharaoh’s response? He hardened his heart just as God said he would. It was not until the third miracle that even the magicians realized that God’s finger was in it, but Pharaoh hardened his heart. God provides the evidence, but man must make the decision.
We are living the pandemic life, and the world is searching for answers, and like Pharaoh, the hearts of the world remain hardened. As Paul noted in Romans 1:20; they see the invisible attributes of God in the sunsets and sunrises, the path of the sun and moon, and still, they say: “Who is the LORD that I should obey His voice? …I do not know the LORD.”[Ex 5:2] It is because of these prideful statements that we must carry the gospel message to them, EVEN IF they respond like Pharaoh. We must do this because “God is not willing any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” [2Pet 3:9] Moses and Aaron were God’s servants. Are we?
Acts 17 Are you feeling less faithful because of the pandemic? Does it seem like you are in a holy huddle on Facebook, Twitter, and now Parler? Or are you using today’s technology to reach the unsaved with the gospel message? What is keeping all of us from our reaching our unsaved neighbors, unsaved family members, or others?
For Paul, the magistrates and the Judaizers kept repeating the words “go away, go away, go away” no matter where they were preaching. Paul could have given up, but instead, he pressed on from Philippi to Thessalonica, Berea, and then Athens. In each place, Paul presented what the author of Hebrews was saying: Jesus is better than the prophets, the unknown idols, the angels, or the Law. The Thessalonians disagreed, but the Bereans decided to check out Paul’s words. Dr. Luke records that they were more noble than the Thessalonians, for they heard and then searched the scriptures daily to see if what Paul was saying was true. Even today, they are held up as an example for us to follow. The gospel message doesn’t change and God is looking for the faithful that will step beyond the boundaries to reach the lost.
Do you hear the “Go Away” refrain over and over? Remember: the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved; it is the power of God. [1Cor 1: 18] Ask God to show you how to share the gospel creatively. Try using technology:
Luke 24 It is good to rehearse Luke 24 and the Resurrection story to remind us that Jesus has power over life and death and especially in this COVID scene when so many have perished. In the first century, the deceased’s names were marked only by a stone. On the morning of the first day, the women returning to anoint the body of Jesus were astounded to find the tomb disturbed and the seal broken. What would you think? Instead of a deceased body, two angelic figures asked them why they had come to the graveyard. Why are you sad? He is not here; he has risen just as he said.
Jesus was not, as Paul reminded the Athenians, a deity like gold or silver, an image made by human skill or imagination [Acts 17], but He, the very God of the very God, has risen from the dead.
The women and the two Emmaus walkers were asked; have you forgotten His words? Like them, we are slow of heart to believe. We have forgotten because we have not studied the OT scriptures which speak of Him, but when we open His Word, the Holy Spirit speaks, and our hearts burn within us.
The women and the two Emmaus walkers excitedly returned to tell the good news—HE HAS RISEN JUST AS HE SAID! How does this truth affect your heart?
Ezekiel 12-14 Marcel Marceau was arguably the most famous mime artist of the century. Using white face and dramatic eyes, he referred to mime as the “art of silence.” Hundreds of years before he stepped on the stage, God had Ezekiel pantomime the end of Zedekiah’s reign and the end of Jerusalem. Instead of watching and learning, the hardhearted exiles just wanted to know what he was doing. Jeremiah’s words should have been ringing in their ears, but they didn’t want to hear that God would allow the destruction of His Temple! So God opened Ezekiel’s mouth to declare: I am an object lesson for you about your king and Jerusalem. They charged him with lying because they only wanted to have their ears tickled. So they left and went to hear the false prophets telling them that all would be over in two years. Today the world is living through a pandemic but men only want to hear false teachers who say all will be well.
Years later, God used both words and mime to tell about His plan for our salvation. He sent His Son with parables, miracles, and sermonettes because He doesn’t tickle our ears with false prophecy. His message is that we are all sinners; none is righteous, no, not one! There is a judgment coming. Choose Jesus for He is the Way, The Truth, and the Life. Come be saved today. Are you heeding His message?
Isaiah 25/26 Today some people are asking for prayer. Sometimes it is just a simple request. Each one who is reaching out is a heart that is hurting. We wonder what to say to encourage; we want to comfort, but our words seem trite. But, if we listen carefully, we may hear the still small voice as Elijah heard. It is the Holy Spirit graciously reminding us our Father “wilt keep [us] in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on [Him].” [Is 26:3] What a profound and comforting truth for in a time of uncertainty. There may be threats of the COVID in the news, but God is sovereign and in control. What a comfort to know God is a “protector for the needy in their distress.” Isaiah reminds us that we are to exalt the one who has worked wonders with perfect faithfulness. He alone is our shelter from the storms of life.
Frances Havergal captured this in “Like a River Glorious” last stanza:
Every joy or trial falleth from above; traced upon our dial by the Sun of love; we may trust Him fully, all for us to do; they who trust Him wholly find Him wholly true. Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blest, finding as He promised perfect peace and rest.
When at a loss for words, try a hymn or a passage of scripture. Listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit.
These are the gracious words to comfort those who are hurting.
Job is in isolation just as we are in quarantine. We can relate to his isolation because of coronavirus isolation. Are you frustrated? Do you want to see an end to this pandemic? Imagine yourself as Job sitting in dust and ashes. What is your view of God? But Job rises to the occasion and tells his “so-called friends,” I know God, do you?
Job 21 to 24 The Truth of the Matter
Are you confounded by the responses of those who are asked; do you believe the Bible? Some answers come back like the Ethiopian’s question; how can I unless someone guides me? [Acts 8] Or, the Bible is too hard for me to understand; Or, I am too busy to read the Bible and on and on and on go the answers to our question. Yet, Job centuries before even a word was written, he could say: “I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my allotted portion; he is unchangeable; whatever he desired, he does.” [Jpb 23]
Did you catch that? Job had no Bible, no missionary came to tell him about God, yet he treasured the words of God. How did he know? Romans 1:20 answers that question: “For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made. So people are without excuse.”
God has been silent with Job not because he didn’t want to interact with him but to prove to our arch-enemy the truth of what he knew about Job: There is no one like him. He is blameless and upright and fears Me. [Job 1] God knew that Satan was frustrated because Job did not curse him, yet He remained silent because just as Job knew God’s character, God knew Job’s character: if tested, he would come forth as gold. [Job 23]
What does God say about you?
God knows who you are and how you will respond. Trust Him.
1 Chron 20 What do you do when you hear bad news? What did the author of this passage want to teach us? First, even kings and leaders who are in authority face fear. We can relate to this story because today, the virus has opened Pandora’s Box of fearful tendencies. Will I have a job? Where will I get the funds to pay for simple things like water, gas, and yes, groceries? The author also wants us to learn that fear either drives men to God or away from God—which means once again—men have choices.
In this story, the king hears disturbing news about enemies
on his borders. He can gather his army, or he can seek advice and help from
God. The tension in this story is the same many are facing today. We read that
God steps in and anoints someone to come alongside to speak words of comfort
and wisdom to the king. You may be fearful because of the news about the
virus. Many are asking, should I shelter
in place, but if the economy reopens, should I step out or stay isolated? These
are real-life questions with many unknown answers. And like Jehoshaphat, you
may not know what to do.
It is then that a voice of wisdom steps out of the crowd to tell us that ‘the battle is God’s, not ours.’ God is asking us: will we trust Him even if we can’t see the future?
Proverbs 23 This past month all over the world, parents are learning how to homeschool because of the lockdown due to the Coronavirus. Some find it a joy and others, well enough said. A suggestion: read a chapter from the book of Proverbs following the calendar. If you are reading a chapter of Proverbs each day, you will find many promises. Here is one found right smack in the middle of Proverbs 23! It is just for you parents who are now working with your little ones:
“The father of a righteous person will rejoice greatly; whoever fathers a wise child will have joy in him. May your father and your mother have joy; may she who bore you rejoice.“
Did you notice the repetition of the words “rejoice and joy?” Parents take heart. God sees your work, and He will reward you.
Parents, if you are feeling overwhelmed with this task,
go back and read Samson’s father’s prayer. He felt just like you. Jdg 13:8 Manoah
prayed to the Lord, “Please, Lord, allow the man sent from God to visit us
again, so he can teach us how we should raise the child who will be born.”
Claim that prayer and go to God for your stamina, wisdom, and discernment.
1 Chron 24-26 Today we received yet another note from one of the international staff that they had been tested and it was positive. Will this person weather the corona storm? But, add to that the many that are already near their finish line. One friend’s father is 104 and another is 101. Will they continue on or will they move to their eternal destiny. Only time will tell. Both are in excellent health. On the other hand, King David knew his time was drawing near and so he set about to plan for the future and the next king. Do we do the same? Do we plan ahead so our children and extended family are prepared? Do we have all or bank accounts set up with our children or someone else as a beneficiary? Have we made out our will so that our testimony is clear to those who are not saved?
Read carefully David’s planning structure. “David, Zadok (a descendant of Eleazar), and Ahimelech
(a descendant of Ithamar) divided them into groups to carry out their assigned
responsibilities,” David also prepared some for music and words
to encourage and edify. Paul captured this idea as he wrote to the Ephesians: “speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and
spiritual songs, singing and making music in your hearts to the Lord,” [Eph 5:19] Along
with that, David outlined the duties of those who would care for the new