No Longer Normal

In the month since I posted my blogs about prayer, our world and our lives have been turned on their heads. Many of us are having to self-quarantine due to Covid-19 (or the Coronavirus). This means except for shopping for essentials or walking by ourselves around the block, we are not going out. Most restaurants are closed, schools and colleges are closed, and even shopping malls and stores are closed.

Social distancing is a concept that many could not have articulated a month ago. Now, even grade school age children understand what this means. Many parents are now forced to be home, along with their children, because many work places are also shut-down. Many may no longer have a job and multiple businesses will close forever. The government is currently considering a massive stimulus package that will reimburse families and businesses for lost time and wages.

Everything that was normal is no longer normal.

On Monday of this week, I listened to the BBC News and heard the daily broadcast given by the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. A month ago, if the British people would have been told that police and government workers have the power to break up any gatherings of more than two people, they would have probably laughed and ridiculed you at the thought of such Draconian laws being put into place.

For those who have read or remember history, excessive or harsh laws were implemented in Europe and eventually the Jews were blamed for the problems of western Europe. Citizens were told that the laws were only temporary and in place for the “well-being” of all people. But I digress for that subject is for another day and another post.

However, the concern that I have is that the British government explicitly detailed what was to close. In the Prime Minister’s announcement, he specifically stated that all church gatherings are now banned!

Everything that was normal is no longer normal.

Local, state, and federal governments, here in America, have declared that we can no longer meet in groups larger than 10. Some are taking it even further and freedoms are being restricted beyond anything we could have imagined possible.

For almost half a century, I have read. I cannot begin to tell you how many books I have read in my lifetime, but I know they number in the thousands. From the Bible to classics to romance to modern day warfare to lawyer or military intrigue, turning pages in a book is a comfort to the soul. Yet, in all of my reading, what I see today seems like dystopian fiction come to life.

However, we in the western world now find ourselves at a crossroad. We are no longer allowed to meet for church in groups of more than 10, and some states in the USA have implemented emergency measures that allow for criminal prosecution for those breaking these new emergency laws.

This last Sunday was the first Sunday that the church where we serve closed down. We got up early and drove toward the building where our local assembly gathers. But, the services would not take place and so we turned around in a park. The day seemed to grow even more gray and dreary and I wondered aloud how much worse things could become. I realized afresh that —

Everything that was normal is no longer normal.

Yet, all that we see happening should not shock true believers. The apostle Paul wrote to a young man right before his own execution. In his short letter, he predicted that tough times would come. In fact, parts of this little epistle read as though Paul pulled his news directly from the front page headlines of 21st century newspapers.

2 Timothy 3:1-4 – “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.”

We who are true believers should remember that difficult or perilous times will come. The Bible is clear that all who will live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. I am not trying to predict that this is the final days before the time of great tribulation, but it is a possibility. What if through this time, a world leader should arise and promise to give the world a “happy ending?” What if that person were to bring prosperity, but at the cost of losing a few “freedoms”?

The truth is that the world deserves any and all judgment that may come at the hand of a holy and righteous God. We have rejected His ways and His commands for centuries and millennia. Even now in the 21st century, mankind thinks that he has been able to either destroy God or that he has re-created God is his own image.

The world mocks the remnant who have never bowed the knee to Baal. The world mocks those who proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord, and that He will return one day just as He promised.

There are even so-called evangelical churches that no longer believe that Jesus will literally return to this sin-cursed world. It is a world that Romans reminds us cries out for redemption, along with all those who have been redeemed and bought by the precious blood of Christ.

2 Peter 3:1-4 – “This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, ‘Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.’”

Like the prophets and preachers of yesteryear, it is important that true Christians proclaim the message of the gospel. Like Paul did to Felix, Festus, and Agrippa, we must preach about righteousness, self-control, and the coming judgment.

Be not deceived, for God will not be mocked. Whatsoever a man sows, the same he will reap. We do not know when the day of judgment will arrive, but when it does, the current pandemic known as Covid-19 will not even be a distant memory to those who live through those terrible days.

Christians, we are called to be like a Bride who is making herself ready for her Bridegroom to appear. Jesus Christ is very much alive and He is coming again. It may be sooner than any of us think. And I know with 100% assurance that He is definitely coming back sooner than the world wishes to believe.

NO LONGER NORMAL should be the battle cry of every true child of God. Through every trial, every tragedy, every pandemic, every death that occurs in this world, and especially at times like we are currently experiencing in March 2020, we should be shouting to everybody who will listen that –

Life is no longer normal!

Whether through Covid-19, an earthquake, cancer, the flu, an accident, or some other tragedy, death is coming. True believers should rejoice that our punishment was born by Christ on the cross of Calvary and there is no fear of any condemnation. For those who are not, we again plead to you to bow the knee to King Jesus before it is too late!

Pastors, if you are not preparing the hearts of your people for the return of our glorious King, then repent and humble yourself before His Majesty. He is coming and we need to live and preach like we actually believe it again!

It is no longer time for us to try and remind God of how big we think our problems are in this world. The time has come for us to tell the world how big our God is and always has been!

Only one life
It will soon be past,
And only what’s done
For Christ will last!

Do You Love Me, Father?

Do You love me, Father?
So much has happened…
It seems like trials come.
I fail so many times in life,
Regardless of what You’ve done

Do You love me, Father?
I see the wicked take control.
I know the time will come soon
When everything I say about You
Will probably be my doom

Do You love me, Father?
Those who have hurt me sore
Seem to get away with their sin.
They pretend to be one thing
Will they really win?

Do You love me, Father?
Why can’t I seem to do
The things I know I should?
Why do I hurt You, Lord
And do not the things I would?

Yes, You love me, Father.
I know the things I’m going through
Are to make me more like You.
I must suffer as a believer
Knowing You suffered for me, too.

Yes, You love me, Father.
Through these things I learn…
Faith, love, kindness, patience,
goodness, meekness, peace, and joy.
Yes, it makes so much more sense.

Yes, You love me, Father.
I thank You so much that You do.
I thank You for helping me grow
In so many different ways
You are making me to know…

YOU!

Violet Inez
September 26, 2017

Contentment

Contentment…this can be a difficult subject both in learning and in life. This is something the Lord wants each of His children to learn, it is also something we should be willing to take great pains to learn. What is even harder but should be concerning to each of us who are the children of God is contentment in the midst of trials. You see, contentment in the Lord seems to be simple enough.

The Lord uses each situation for us to learn dependence on Him and a desire to fulfill His will. Yet, in the midst of that, as the backdrop of life, the trials we face are there for us to learn to be contented in the midst of that specific trial knowing Who is in control and the plans He has or us is not only for His honor and glory but also for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

The Lord clearly told His disciples that the servant is not above the Master and if the world hated the Master and treated Him horribly then it would treat His servants just as bad, if not worse. As we grow in the grace of the Lord we find that life does not get easier but harder. Each trial or tribulation we face is that much harder than the last but, for each one, we are given the grace and strength to get through.

contentment-newlife

When we fight the Lord, instead of gracefully letting Him have His way, we find that the way is so much more difficult than it should be. Fighting only brings anger and frustration our way instead of the peace that passes all understanding. It becomes easy to fume and fret about what we have to face in life. Instead of having a quiet spirit that comes from the Lord, we then have a complaining and fretful spirit. This brings us to a point of having to be disciplined by the Lord.

As the trial or tribulation comes into our lives we begin fretting and fuming that we don’t want it to happen. We were content for things to be as they were and yet it takes those trials to make us more like the Lord Jesus Christ, to grow in faith.

Many times we are like the child that grows impatient and demands their own way when things are not done exactly the way they want them. They sulk and throw temper tantrums because they think that all should be exactly as they would have it, not as the parents know is best for them. They want the candy, the fruit, the dessert, the sweets, the play time, the whatever the case may be instead of spending their time studying, or wanting to eat the proper and healthy foods the parents know they should have so they will grow up strong and wise.

The Lord knows exactly what we need in our lives to make us wise and strong believers. To fret against His wise bestowments (wise even in the midst of our trials) tells Him that we love this world more than Him. How can we desire the world above Him? Is wealth, comfort, life, health, friends, entertainment, sports, family, or anything else more important than Him? To put anything before Him is to worship the created thing more than the Creator, who gave His only begotten Son for our worthless souls.

As each trial comes into our lives let us be willing to thank the Lord for what He taught us already in the past trials and be willing to trust that “God is good all the time and all the time God is good.”

No Disappointment

Disappointment is defined as “the feeling of sadness or displeasure caused by the non-fulfillment of one’s hopes or expectations.”

There are many things in life that can and do cause disappointment. Disappointments are like storms that can threaten to overwhelm your heart and soul. It could be the loss of a promotion when you feel that you were qualified for the position that was given to another person. Maybe the disappointment brings sadness when holiday times do not measure up to your hopes or expectations.

What about when your children do not follow your commands? We say that they have disappointed us. Simply put, our minds and hearts are sad or displeased because our children failed to live up to our hopes or expectations.

As we grow older in life, we find that our hopes or expectations of a good long life free of health issues produces disappointments. We realize that life is not easy and that our hopes continue to be dashed with each advancing year and trip to the doctor. One day they take tests and reveal a life-threatening illness, or maybe they are just not able to determine what is causing the severe pain. Either way, we have feelings of sadness because this is not what we could have imagined when we were young and in excellent health.

calmstorm

Life is full of times that cause sadness and displeasure. Life is full of sadness because we are fallen creatures. Sin has caused our minds and hearts to run from what is perfect or ideal in each situation. Our chosen paths do not reflect the image in which we were created and thus we end up with more sadness and displeasure.

Our hopes and expectations do not come to fruition and then we try to make sense of the aftermath. What do we do with that disappointment? Do we allow it to overwhelm us or do we strive to rise above the clouds of despair and set new goals?

The Scriptures are full of times when disappointment was the order of the day throughout different periods of history. Adam and Eve must have been disappointed when they learned the news of Cain killing his own brother. Despite having prepared for 120 years, Noah must have felt a keen disappointment that there were only seven other people in the boat with him while the remainder of the world perished.

Surely, Joseph was disappointed when he was sold into slavery by his brothers and realized that he would probably never see them again. Yet, there was a ray of hope, grace, and redemption at the end of the account. Joseph and his brothers were ultimately reconciled and Joseph revealed the answer to life’s most poignant disappointments.

Are you ready for this? In this answer, you too can understand what many cannot or will not grasp. The answer to all the disappointments is a full recognition of who is in charge of every aspect of your life. Without taking full knowledge of this answer, you and I will long struggle with what happens to us from day to day. We will continue to be filled with sadness and displeasure when our hopes and expectations flee from us like dew before the morning sun. As James 4:14 puts it so eloquently, “Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.”

Joseph had to go through a great deal of disappointments in order for him to finally learn the truth. Life was not about him. It was not about his brothers. In fact, life was not even about the hardships that he had endured. Was his life full of various disappointments? Yes, of course, but those disappointments are not ultimately what made Joseph such a wise person.

His point of wisdom is found in Genesis 50:20.

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”

The Hebrew word for evil is also translated in other verses as wickedness, mischief, hurt, trouble, affliction, adversity, harm, or sad. In other words, it is not just the evil out of the heart of man that God means for good to us. There is a reason why you are going through the disappointments of life.

To take the cue from Joseph, maybe we should memorize this verse in Genesis 50. When the disappointments of life come, then we should be learning to say:

“As for you, you meant hurt or trouble or affliction or adversity or disappointment to or against me, BUT God meant it for good.”

joseph

Understanding this will enable us to put aside feelings of sadness and displeasure when it seems like our lives are falling apart. Instead of allowing disappointment to overwhelm us like shadows in the valleys of life, we can appreciate verses like James 4:15 where the apostle continues by sharing with true believers, “Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”

Or, we can even appreciate opening up the wonderful passage in Romans 8 where we learn that all the things that God is working together in our lives is for the express purpose of making us more like His Son, Jesus Christ. This is the total sovereignty of God in action. Our biggest problem as true believers is that we fail to note this every day. Disappointments come and go, yet one thing remains sure –

There’s no disappointment in Jesus!

*****

There was a hymn written before World War 2 that is rarely heard anymore, but I leave the words for you to consider. May they be an encouragement to your heart and mind.

There’s No Disappointment in Jesus

1) There’s no disappointment in Jesus,
He’s more than my tongue can tell;
His love is so sure
And so steadfast,
His friendship divine will not fail.

Chorus
There’s no disappointment in Jesus,
He’s all that He promised to be;
His love and His care
Comfort me everywhere;
He is no disappointment to me.

2) There’s no disappointment in Jesus,
Tho’ sorrows may press me sore.
He comforts with tender compassion,
His love cheers my heart evermore.

3) There’s no disappointment in Jesus,
He satisfies me alway;
So strong and so willing to help me,
In Him I find comfort each day,

John C. Hallett © 1940 Renewal 1968 Word Music, LLC