Over the last several days, fear over the Corona Virus has spiked as the number of cases in America and around the world has multiplied. Our schools and restaurants are shut down, travel is limited and people are being urged to stay inside.
Churches are canceling services and many smaller congregations are struggling to survive. Fear is griping our nation. Many are feeling helpless and hemmed in.
How is the church supposed to respond?
By trusting in God’s promises, His character and His ways toward us!
A crisis is defined by events that you’ve feared in your worst nightmares.
It includes events that you have never imagined could happen—circumstances that blindside you and leave you reeling and struggling to regain some kind of foothold.
I heard a lady say this week in Italy through an interpreter that she felt helpless and hopeless.
Helplessness is scary. We resist it. We deny it.
When we are deep within it, it seems as if we are unable to endure it.
However there is great power in helplessness if it turns you to God.
David spoke about helplessness in Psalm 4:1: “When I was hemmed in, thou has freed me often.”
This hemming-in process that David spoke about is God’s way of lovingly teaching us that He is completely adequate for every situation we are facing, such as the Corona Virus.
A crisis can bring us face to face with our weakness which can ultimately lead us to the unlimited power of God.
God is bigger than the Corona Virus!
There is a principle that should be written into the fabric of the believer’s daily life. I like to call it the God Principle.
Jesus said, “With God all things are possible”. (Matthew 19:26)
The God principal is based on the promises of God all 7000 of them, His righteous character which is eternally Holy and just and His ways to us which are always good.
The God principal says that God can take any sin, any mistake, any evil, any virus and make it “work for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
It doesn’t say all things are good it says all things can work for good for those who love the Lord.
The question is not where is the government in this trying time.
The question is can people see Christ in us during this trying time?
Can the world see in God’s people a strong faithful compassionate loving response to their needs?
Listen up! There is no situation that is beyond God’s power to change and bring into a blessing under His sovereign love.
It was Joseph when he revealed himself to his brothers who obviously thought they were in control gave glory to God’s sovereignty by exclaiming, “What you meant for evil, God meant for good.” (Genesis 50:20)
We need to be wise and take precautions to combat the spread of the Corona Virus but at the same time we need to pray the prayer of protection found in one of Gods most awesome promises. Psalm 91:1-3 daily.
“Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the LORD: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease.”
I encourage all believers to speak the promises of God’s protection from Psalm 91:1-3 over yourself and your entire household and church.
How is the church supposed to respond?
In faith not fear!
Faith and fear cannot co-exisit! They are as opposite as the east is from the west! Therefore, we must learn to walk by faith, not fear.
We see this lesson in Joshua 1 :9, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
The promise of God’s presence where ever we go and whatever we go through is the most important truth we can ever grasp hold of.
Peter found that out very quickly in Matthew 14, when Jesus told Peter to take a step of faith and walk with Him on unsafe waters.
When Peter got out of the boat, he saw the wind, and he was afraid. As soon he started taking his eyes off of Jesus is when he began to sink. But Jesus reached out His hand to Peter and caught him. Together they climbed into the boat, and the wind died down.
Listen up as we begin this message!
Keep your eyes on Jesus.
He is walking with you through these unsure times, and He is reaching his hand out to you. You only need to walk with faith and leave your fear behind.
Do you currently have corona virus? Probably not. Do you know anyone with corona virus? Me neither.
God’s people are to follow the command of Jesus and choose not to engage in fear.
Instead, we choose to worship, serve those who are sick, and give gratitude back to God.
Today, I just want to focus on strengthening your faith.
In 2 Corinthians 1:7, Paul is talking about how he handled unexpected problems, and he says this, “And our hope for you is firm because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, you’ll also share in God’s comfort.”
Here’s the point of that verse. What we know about God and His promises, His character and His ways toward us is what gets us through whatever kind of crisis we’re in.
So, all I want to do in this message is to remind you of some of the things you already know.
But you need to remember them, because they will give you the confidence that you need, and the courage you need, and the calmness you need in the day ahead.
So, I want to give you some things that I want you to remember, and would you write these down?
1. Number one fact, “Remember, not everything I hear is true.” That’ll calm you down a little bit
“Remember, not everything I hear is true.” Proverbs 14:15, says this, “The gullible believe anything they’re told, but the prudent sift and weigh every word.”
Not everybody who speaks on the internet, on social media, or on TV, or on the radio knows what they’re talking about. Not everybody who’s talking about this crisis is worth listening to.
Many people in this crisis and particularly in the days as they go ahead, will have their own agenda for this crisis.
There will be some people … in fact, probably many people who try to use this crisis for their own political advantage on any side, or either side, or whatever side.
You’ll know that they’re using it for political advantage when they use conspiracy theories, when they spend a lot of time blaming.
Blaming is worthless, it doesn’t help, it doesn’t solve anything.
When they use fault finding. They will have these theories and they’ll be trying to score political points, just ignore them.
There’ll be other people who try to use the crisis for financial advantage, and they will price gouge.
I heard on TV, a bottle of Clorox selling for $100. That’s price gouging.
And there will be people who will try to take advantage of people, particularly the elderly, with fake remedies. Do not fall for any solution online. Ignore them all. Because if there’s a solution, if there’s a virus cure, or a virus disinfectant, or something that people know about, the government will make sure everybody knows about it.
The Bible says in Proverbs 13:16, “The prudent man always acts out of knowledge.”
Not out of fear, not out of feelings, but out of knowledge.
In a crisis, you need to know the facts.
Proverbs 14:8,, “The wise man looks ahead, the foolish person attempts to fool himself and won’t face the facts.”
What the Bible is saying is that people who trust God, people who are followers and disciples of Jesus don’t make decisions based on fear.
2. Remember this will pass.
The coronaa virus did not come to stay, it came to pass, it’s not going to last.
We’re going to go through this together as a Country and as a family of believers. We are not alone.
We’re going to go through this, and it’s not going to last.
Do the common sense things, but realize it’s not going to last.
Every virus is a virus bell curve, and they’re trying to knock that bell down through isolation, and quarantining, and things like that.
The Bible says it like this and 1 Peter 4:12, “Dear friends, don’t be surprised or shocked when you go through painful trials and fiery tests in life.”
The Bible says in the world, you will have tribulation. So, don’t be surprised, don’t be shocked. And by the way, why is there illness on this planet?
In heaven, it’s a perfect place with no sorrow, no sickness, no sadness, no stress. But all of those things are found on earth. Why? Because this is not heaven and we shouldn’t expect heaven on earth.
One day we’ll get there, but we’re not there now. 2 Corinthians 4:17 and 18 says this, “For our temporary …and momentary troubles will not last, but they are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
So, we focus not on what is seen …” The problems around us, “… but on what is unseen.
That is the hope of bringing God glory through our response of faith in a crisis!!!
For what is seen is temporary …” It’s not going to last, “… but what is unseen is eternal.
Heaven and earth will pass away but the word of the Lord will last forever.
3. Remember to focus on what is unchanging.
Remember in the days ahead during this crisis, focus your life not on what’s changing, but on what is unchanging.
We know there are going to be a lot of changes in the days ahead. Remember all the changes that happened after Katrina. Remember all the changes that happen after 911.
There will be changes that happen in the world and in every country, in your country, wherever you are.
The key to stability is to focus on unchangeable truth when everything around you is up in the air.
You say, “Well, what are the unchangeable truths that I should focus on?”
1. “God sees everything I’m going through.”?
2.”God cares about everything I’m going through.”
3. “God …. has the power to change what I’m going through.
4. He has the power to answer prayers.” That’s unchangeable.
5. “God always acts out of His goodness to me.”
6.”God’s plan is always better than my plan.
7.”God will never stop loving me.”
8. “I cannot lose my salvation once I have put my trust in Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 1:3-4 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
2 Timothy 1:12, says, For I know who I have believed, and I’m persuaded that He is able to keep that which I’ve committed under Him against that day.”
These are things you need to focus on, the things that never change.
“God’s love for me. God’s grace for me. God’s goodness for me.”
4. “Remember that no matter what you go through, you are not alone. God will go through it with you.
Isaiah 43:2, “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you pass through the rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned up. It will not consume you.”
Remember the God principal!
The God Principal based on the promises of God all 7000 of them, His righteous character which is eternally Holy and just and His ways to us which are always good.
The God principal will give you confidence and stability.
• It will replace panic with prayer.
• It will replace your worry with worship.
• It will replace your anxiety with adoration.
5. Remember, this is not the end of the story.
2 Corinthians 4:8 and 9, and verse 14, tells us this, “We often suffer, but we’re never completely crushed. And even when we don’t know what to do, we never give up. In times of trouble, God is with us. And when we’re knocked down, we get up again, because we know just as He raised Jesus, He will also raise us back to life and will bring us into His presence together.”
I win in the end no matter what happens, I can’t lose.
I remember when the TV show, 24, came out. Do you remember that show? And every single episode ended in a cliffhanger where you thought, “Is jack Bauer going to die finally?” And the tension just was enormous. But I when I found out that there was six seasons left the tension went away because I knew it wasn’t the end of the story.
To live with hope in the middle of a crisis like the corona virus, you have to change your focus, you have to shift your perspective, you have to live in light of eternity.
That is the thing. Remember, it’s not the end of the story.
One day, all of our pain, and all of our sickness, and all of our sorrow, and all of our sadness, and all of our stress, and all of our grief is going to end.
Revelation 21:4 says it like this, here’s what you need to look forward to, “Then God will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death, and no more mourning, and no more crying, and no more pain, for the old order of things will pass away.”
This is not the end of the story.
We don’t know what the future holds, but we do know who holds the future.
6. “Remember that God wants to use me to help others.
• God doesn’t want to just take you through this crisis.
• God doesn’t want to just protect you through this crisis.
• God wants to use you through this crisis.
• God wants you to make Him look great through this crisis!
This is the difference between how believers and the world handle a crisis. Believers, see a crisis as an open door for ministry.Eve ry need in our world is an open door for us to make God look great!!
Every pain, every hurt, every crisis, every habit and hang up is an open door to find a need and fill it. To find that hurt and heal it.
In AD 165 the Black Plague, the Bubonic Plague, ran through the Roman Empire and nobody knew the cause of it.
They certainly didn’t know about viruses, they didn’t know about bacteria, they didn’t know about infections.
They didn’t have any of the scientific tools we have today, and hundreds of thousands of people were dying in the cities.
It was called the Black Plague. All of the people began to flee the cities thinking that maybe the cities were causing the plague.
What did the Christians do?
They actually moved into the cities to take care of the sick, and that’s how the Roman Empire was converted. They looked at them and they said, “See how they love one another.” In that environment the Church, God’s people, invented the hospital.
The hospital wasn’t invented by government, it was invented by the church.
Jesus gave us a preaching, and teaching, and healing faith.
He cares about the mind, the body and the soul.
Christians risked their lives for the sake of the gospel. God does not call us to be foolish, but to respond in love and to care for people who are the most vulnerable.
I’ve been a pastor for 30 years I’ve been through a lot of different crises.
Swine flu, 911, Gas rationing, 18% interest rates, earth quakes, tornadoes, loss of loved ones.
Heart attack, broken leg just to name a few.
This one does not threaten me, it does not scare me, it doesn’t make me nervous.
We will come through this just like we’ve come through everything else. God is still on His throne.
Let me give you an Antidote for worry
Trust God’s provision Matthew 6:33
“Seek first the kingdom and all these things will be added to you.”
Psalm 37:25 “I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging for bread”
Worry and trust can’t live in the same heart.
Who owns everything? GOD!
The earth, Psalm 24:1 says, belongs to God.
First Chronicles 29:11 says, “Everything in the heavens and earth is yours, O Lord.”
Not only does God own everything, He controls everything. Therefore if God owns everything and God controls everything, then God provides everything for HIS children.
We can’t say, “Man, I can’t give that to God because what’s going to happen to me in the future,” Man I can’t go there or I can’t do that.
Listen!!! If the Spirit of God prompts your heart, respond to the Spirit of God with the confidence that God owns everything, and God promises to provide everything needed by His own Children!
If God gave you life, God will sustain that life, won’t He?
That is our anchor ! GOD will provide.
So, you have to decide whether you are going to trust your worries or are you going to trust God’s ability to provide for your future.
What pleases God? Where does God find His pleasure? Where does He find His delight?
Luke 12:32. “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the Kingdom.”
He didn’t say He’d give you something out of the Kingdom.
He doesn’t say He’d give you resources from the Kingdom.
He says He’ll give you…what?. The Kingdom!…
Your Father God has chosen gladly, , to delight in, to take pleasure in. To give you everything you need…every resource in His Kingdom.
Ephesians 1:3 Says “God has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.”
So if every resource that Christ has available from His Kingdom to give to us has already been given to us.
Is there any reason why we should be fearful, worried or stressed out. NO!!!!
Then why are so many God’s people stressed out.
They are not living under the influence of the Holy Spirit!
Galatians 5:16 “Walk by the spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”
Worry is the desire of the flesh to be independent of GOD.
Worry is satan’s subtle way of getting us to doubt God’s promises His Character and His ways toward us which is always to provide for His children.
I hear satan telling Eve EAT! You don’t need GOD!! He is holding back something. He is not enough.
You will not DIE!!!!
Phil 4:6-7, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Now Is the Time
The gospel is always drowned out more easily in peacetime. But not in a pandemic. Listen up! God has prepared us for days like these.
Ephesians 2:10 says, “God has prepared good works for us”
We can make God look great through simple acts of Christian courage in a world paralyzed and consumed by fear.
My prayer is that God will use His church to move toward, not away from, neighbors in need during this day of opportunity.
One way this is witnessed may include churches opening their arms if hospitals become full. If we embrace the right risks, at the right times, we can fill our cities with the name of Jesus.