For Sunday May 10
We are used to a 4-season calendar: winter, spring, summer, and fall.
However, there is also seasons of the church year where we remember different events in the life of Christ. We are now in the church season of Easter – this is the 5th Sunday of 7 Sundays of the Easter season. The 7th Sunday is Ascension Sunday and the 8th Sunday after Easter is Pentecost – the start of the season of Pentecost – which is the last season of the church year.
Season of Hope
During the season of Easter, we are reminded to live in hope. We cry out to God from the depths of pain, sorrow, grief, loss, and anguish – and he hears us. He forgives. He is merciful. So we wait in hope for his full redemption.
1 Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;
2 Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.
3 If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand?
4 But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you.
5 I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word, I put my hope.
6 I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.
7 Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption.
8 He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.
Song: He brought me out of the deep miry clay, he set my feet on the solid rock to stay …
Romans 8: 18-30 Present Suffering and Future Glory
18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[i] have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
Romans 8:31-39 More Than Conquerors
31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[k] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The biblical view of faith that gives conquering hope is not a leap in the dark. It is well-grounded in revelation. It is called faith not because it has no foundation. Jesus did not call believers blind, he called unbelievers blind. Saving faith in based on God’s word and trusting in it because the light of the glory of God has shined into our hearts. There is a kind of spiritual light that shines through the gospel. This light is not magical or mythical but real knowledge; insight; revelation.
2 Corinthians 4:6-18
6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.”[b] Since we have that same spirit of[c] faith, we also believe and therefore speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. 15 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
The way we come to know God is not a blind leap in the dark. We come to faith by the same we know that honey is sweet. We taste it. Jesus invites us to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps 34:8). Science and technology may argue convincingly that a jar contains honey but we do not know it is honey until we taste it. And similarly, theologians and bible scholars may have compelling evidence about God, but we do not know that God’s word is true until we try it and find it is not make-believe.
Susanne Maynes wrote on March 22, 2016: When we look at a list of prayer needs regarding people in our congregation and their loved ones…we may feel a little overwhelmed by the requests.
Cancer. Shoulder injuries. Autoimmune disease. Back and neck issues. Neurological disorders. Diabetes. Depression. Death of loved one. That’s not even all the categories.
It is ironic to hear the grandiose claims of secular humanism and the new spirituality — claims that we are getting better and better every day and, in every way. Are we really?
The very strongest human being on the planet still needs to sleep away a third of his life just to feel good enough to carry out the other two thirds. Truth is, we are profoundly weak. We are needy. We lack many of the answers that we seek.
So much need. So much brokenness and frailty. So much death at work in our bodies and souls.
This is where we need hope. Not “hope” as in, “I hope it will work out somehow,” but hope from trusting in an all-powerful, loving God.
Jesus took all our infirmity on himself when he suffered the thirty-nine lashes. Then he shouldered a cruel cross and dragged it down the road to the spot where he would be executed.
Why? Because we do not have the strength to face our own sin, let alone pay for it.
And although God has given us the understanding for certain medical advances, we are still desperate for many physical cures as well. We are weak — yet in the long run, that’s a good thing.
Human weakness can be a helpful sign post which points me to Someone stronger than I.
Celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ reminds us of this critical truth — that life is not about me getting my act together or coming up with a better self-improvement plan. It’s about dependence on the One who has conquered the grave, along with every smaller kind of death that infects this tainted planet. Things that bring death: Harsh words. Selling children into slavery. Abusing alcohol. Nursing bitterness. Suffering from sickness and disease.
In a thousand ways, death toys with us. We face death all day long (Rom 8:36) Oh, how we need resurrection.
The good news is that Jesus has made hope possible! Jesus alone offers freedom from fear and death — on every level. One church has been showing clips of people holding signs testifying to what God has done in their lives: Forgiveness. Freedom from addiction. Paying off massive debt. Accepted and loved, no longer rejected. Freedom from the slavery of selfishness. Depression turned to joy. Cancer goes away. A paraplegic walks. Hearing is restored. God is at work in our world which gives us hope in the midst of all the needs. So, when we look at a prayer list, we need not be overwhelmed. We’ve already seen what God can do. We’ve tasted of his resurrection power. And we know there is so much more to come in eternity. During Easter season we celebrate hope in the One who killed death once and for all.
To live in hope, Put God’s word into action.
However, many believers do not feel hopeful. Many are fearful of getting the virus, of pain, of death. We can be like the disciples who had ears but did not hear. The scriptures say: Do not merely listen to the Word but do what it says. Taste and see that the Lord is good. Obey and see that the Lords way actually works.
So, concerning fear, hear the words of scripture: Do not let your heart be troubled. Do not be afraid. I have overcome the world.
Phil 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything but in everything with prayer and thanksgiving present your request to God.
Matthew 6:25 25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a]?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
So when you find that you are worrying or fearful … taste and see that the Lords way works. Try it.
- Confess fear
- Repent … I am sorry for not trusting you Lord, help me to trust
- Call on others to pray (James 5); accountability – a friend who will listen well and then after careful thought will give scripturally grounded wisdom – not their opinion
- Take captive every thought and bring it to submission to the mind of Christ
- Daily devotions, bible reading plan, taking notes, reflecting in a journal, Bible studies
- Do a bible study on what God says about fear and trust
- Count your many blessings, raise a hallelujah in the presence of fear
- Find a place to serve another – do what your hand finds to do; your talents, hobbies, resources
In such a manner, when you find yourself coveting, jealous, put the Bible into action.
- Discover what the Bible says about coveting; about possessions, about wealth
- Confess the greed
- Take captive every thought; put on the mind of Christ
Leviticus 13 speaks of treating an infectious skin disease. They were not instructed to pray for healing but obey for healing. They were to submit to an examination (confess that there is a problem), they were then to go into a 7-day period of quarantine (a practice way ahead of the medical knowledge common in that day) then to bathe, and then to offer a sacrifice. To obtain the healing and get back to normal they were to obey.
So, if you are overwhelmed with negative thinking where you have little hope, “Taste and see” – put God’s word into action. Overwhelmed with poor self-image and low self-esteem – fill your mind with what God says about you.
Overwhelmed with guilt of sin and ashamed to let others know the truth about you? Fill your mind with what God says about forgiveness and mercy and let this mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus. Take captive all the voices of accusation by repenting and then repeating to the accuser the truth of what God has declared: “I am forgiven!”
For believers, it might be good for us not to return to normal of cover-ups and wallowing in defeat but turn to obedience. Doing the word. Practicing the word – putting it into action in our lives. Not just going to church but taking every thought and action captive to Gods will.
We want to go back to normal …. But normal for the believer is to trust and obey in God in all seasons of life. The message of scripture is not just to go back to the old way of Egypt but to go forward in trust – even though it is hard and unfamiliar. There is no growth without pain or suffering or hardship. The normal for the believer is trust and obey come what may. Put God’s word into action and live in hope.
To live in hope, we are to understand the time
We want to go back to the normal of pre-COVID19 pandemic; to comfort and freedom. But some say life will never be the same – just like after 911 that changed so much of life. We may ask, “What is God doing in the midst of this pandemic?” and “Why has he allowed all this suffering?”
Luke 12:56-57 Interpreting the Times
54 He said to the crowd: “When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, ‘It’s going to rain,’ and it does. 55 And when the south wind blows, you say, ‘It’s going to be hot,’ and it is. 56 Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time?
Eph 5:13-15 Children of Light Wake up from slumber
But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that is illuminated becomes a light itself. So it is said: “Wake up, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,…
Understand that God is sovereign. He is the ruler of this world. And the bad things and evil things that he allows does not negate his sovereignty. Some say, if God is all powerful and good, he would not allow evil. So, either he is not good or is not all powerful. But those who commit to such false thinking do not have God’s word in mind. They think that they can understand Gods ways. How foolish and blind to equate human suffering with divine unrighteousness or to conclude that God ceases to be loving and good when he governs the world with “bitter providence” (Ruth 1:20-21). John Piper writes in Coronavirus and Christ, “The same sovereignty that could stop the virus, yet doesn’t, is the same sovereign who sustains the soul… the coronavirus was sent by God [or allowed]. This is bitter. Yet God ordained it. God governs it, God will end it. The very sovereignty that rules in [allowing] sickness, sustains in loss… Even if Satan, on his short leash, has a hand in our suffering and death, he is not ultimate.”
So with the outbreak of COVID19 and all its devastation is in God’s holy, righteous, good, and wise hands, then what is he doing? What are his purposes?
The scripture tells us that God is doing a billion things that we do not know. But he is not silent about what he is doing – he tells us in his word. Knowing his word and standing on it gives us hope.
He is bringing death to the forefront of American dialogue. As a culture we have pushed death to the fringe …. With the comforts of life and health care system we live longer and healthier lives. Our pre-COVID news was filled with political division, conflict between nations, crime, and sports. Now we hear the daily reports of death. Even though heart disease and cancer claim more lives, COVID19 has brought death to the front page. The scriptures say each will die and stand before God. Wake up O sleeping America – death is coming for you. Prepare to meet your God.
It is a wake-up call to prepare for his second coming. We yearn to return to normalcy but God is always doing a new thing. We read in Romans 8:21-22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time; the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. In Matthew 24:7-8, Jesus tells us of the birth pains before his coming: war, famine, plagues, earthquakes. Do not yearn for a return to the old but anticipate the new redemption that is coming. Be ready for Christ will return in an hour you do int expect (Mt 24:44) and we will be raised and given new bodies (Phil 3:21).
Therefore Repent. All through the twists and turns of human history, amid all the upheavals and uncertainties that have faced humankind, God has been calling to us to not get settled down upon this earth as if this is our destination. The discomforts and the disruptions remind us that our salvation and hope is not in the comforts of this world. God has to make us uncomfortable and blast us out of normalcy in order to get our attention in order to hear his call to repent. All of the natural disasters – floods, famine, locusts, tsunamis, disease – are God’s call to repent. We are not God. We are not in control of our eternal destiny. In Luke 13:1-5 Jesus responds to the news of his day – the tragedies of a construction tower that collapsed causing death and the brutal deployment of troops that killed worshippers. Jesus’ response was to call people to repentance, “unless you repent, you also will perish.”
It is time to serve and to preach the good news. All of the accounts of the resurrection appearances tell us that Jesus called the disciples to go and tell others. In Mathew 28, he gave to the disciples, what has been termed the Great Commission, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Disciples were and still are commissioned to go, share, and live the good news. We are not to spend the days cowering in fearful isolation but to reach out in many ways touching the lives and hearts with the gospel. There are many ways of sharing the living hope. Taking precautions does not mean an end to ministry or a cessation to the command to go and share – be creative with what is in your hand and with your talents and resources.
When we live in the word of God and are governed by the teachings … we will not be given in to fear, doubt, discouragement or fall into sin. We will live in expectant hope because we have faith in Jesus. We are not blind but see the light of God shining through the events if the present age. Do not be discouraged or down-hearted but put your trust in God.
Worship him and live out his commands.
What A Beautiful Name – Hillsong Worship