The Coronavirus Gift; An Easter Awakening

We have been given a gift, perhaps in an unusual way, but nonetheless a gift.  A gift of time.  But what are we doing with it.  We have been freed from our routines, freed from traffic and daily grinds.  But what have we done with our freedom.  I heard on the news this morning that despite the added time on our hands, most of us are working out less, most of us are falling into poor eating habits and most of us are adding more screen time into our lives.  If the coronavirus doesn’t get us,  our own sloth and gluttony certainly might.

Most churches have closed.  What have we done to stay connected to God?  Have we opened the Bible?  Have we taken time to pray?  What are we doing to stay close to God when it is not offered to us on a silver platter? What are we doing to praise Him?  To thank Him for all of the abundance that we still have even if we are currently suffering?

Today I opened up the Bible to the book of Samuel and I read these words:

If you fear and serve the LORD, if you listen to the voice of the LORD and do not rebel against the LORD’s command, if both you and the king, who rules over you, follow the LORD your God—well and good.  But if you do not listen to the voice of the LORD and if you rebel against the LORD’s command, the hand of the LORD will be against you and your king.

1 Samuel 12: 14-15

Each of us fails at times, sometimes more than others, to listen to the voice of the Lord.  The Lord woke me up the other morning urging me, actually shouting to me, to SPEAK and yet I let work, TV and my cell phone distract me.  I look at our country currently, with many churches closed, with governors threatening to quarantine anyone who dares to gather in worship of the Lord, and with abortion clinics being deemed “essential businesses” and I question whether we are listening.

Samuel goes on to say:

“Do not fear,” Samuel answered them. “You have indeed committed all this evil! Yet do not turn from the LORD, but serve him with your whole heart.  Do not turn aside to gods who are nothing, who cannot act and deliver. They are nothing.  For the sake of his own great name the LORD will not abandon his people, since the LORD has decided to make you his people.  As for me, far be it from me to sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you and to teach you the good and right way.  But you must fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart, for you have seen the great things the LORD has done among you.

1 Samuel 12: 20-24

I am reminded of a similar verse later, when God tells Solomon:

The LORD appeared to Solomon during the night and said to him: I have heard your prayer, and I have chosen this place for my house of sacrifice.  If I close heaven so that there is no rain, if I command the locust to devour the land, if I send pestilence among my people, if then my people, upon whom my name has been pronounced, humble themselves and pray, and seek my face and turn from their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven and pardon their sins and heal their land.

2 Chronicles 7: 12-14

Indeed, I was napping after reading Samuel and again I felt God stir me with these words: “if then my people, upon whom my name has been pronounced, humble themselves and pray, and seek my face and turn from their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven and pardon their sins and heal their land.”

If we look to the governors, and Congress, the CDC and the president, we continue to look in the wrong place.  If we focus on the news and social media, we are focusing in the wrong place.  If you have listened to them at all, you know… they do not know anything about this virus or how to control it.  They have changed their opinions about what to do multiple times.  Why do we keep looking to them to save us?

God has told us what we need to do:

“serve the Lord”

“listen to the voice of the Lord”

“Do not fear . . . . You have indeed committed all this evil! Yet do not turn from the LORD, but serve him with your whole heart.  Do not turn aside to gods who are nothing, who cannot act and deliver. They are nothing. ”

“serve him faithfully with all your heart”

“humble [your]selves and pray, and seek [God’s] face and turn from [your] evil ways”

And God will hear us from heaven and pardon our sins and heal our land.

On this Easter weekend, may we all arise from the dead in our hearts, may we all break free from the tombs that encase us, may we all witness God’s love, and may we humble ourselves and pray.  We are not the solution.  Neither Republicans nor Democrats, neither science nor the media, neither anger nor fear is the answer.  God is, and always was, the only answer.  How quickly we forget when things go well and how quickly we blame when things go bad.  May we praise God this Easter and every day with our voices raised wherever we are.  We don’t need the church building, we just need to open our hearts, listen to God’s word , and humble ourselves and pray.

Dear God,

You sent your only son into this world because we could not undo the harm that we caused.  Redeem us once again.  We who have let this world envelope us with material goods.  We have allowed “leaders” to cut you out of our lives.  And we have chosen gods, including facebook, and cell phones,  above you.  Awaken us this Easter.  We need you.  We need you in our lives everyday.  Allow us to be reborn.  Send forth your Spirit upon us and renew the face of the earth.

We know that we can not cure what is wrong in the world.  We need you, Lord.  Lord, we pray that you heal our land.  And more importantly that you heal our hearts.

Help me to listen more, to serve you more, to not turn to gods who are nothing.  You alone are my strength.  You alone are my salvation.  Heal us Lord, from the inside out.

Praise God!

It is Sunday.  A day to praise and worship God.  The Bible agreed this morning, as it opened here:

On that same day, David appointed Asaph and his brothers to sing for the first time these praises of the LORD:

Give thanks to the LORD, invoke his name; make known among the peoples his deeds.  Sing praise, play music; proclaim all his wondrous deeds.  Glory in his holy name; rejoice, O hearts that seek the LORD!

Rely on the mighty LORD; constantly seek his face.

Recall the wondrous deeds he has done, his signs, and his words of judgment, You sons of Israel, his servants, offspring of Jacob, the chosen ones!  The LORD is our God; who rules the whole earth.  He remembers forever his covenant the pact imposed for a thousand generations— Which was made with Abraham, confirmed by oath to Isaac, And ratified as binding for Jacob, an everlasting covenant for Israel: “To you will I give the land of Canaan, your own allotted heritage.”  When they were few in number, a handful, and strangers there, Wandering from nation to nation, from one kingdom to another, He let no one oppress them; for their sake he rebuked kings: “Do not touch my anointed, to my prophets do no harm.”

Sing to the LORD, all the earth, announce his salvation, day after day.  Tell his glory among the nations; among all peoples, his wondrous deeds.  For great is the LORD and highly to be praised; to be feared above all gods.  For the gods of the nations all do nothing, but the LORD made the heavens.  Splendor and majesty go before him;  power and rejoicing are in his holy place.

Give to the LORD, you families of nations, give to the LORD glory and might; Give to the LORD the glory due his name! Bring gifts, and come before him; bow down to the LORD, splendid in holiness.  Tremble before him, all the earth; the world will surely stand fast, never to be moved. Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice; let them say among the nations: The LORD is king.  Let the sea and what fills it resound; let the plains be joyful and all that is in them!  Then let all the trees of the forest exult before the LORD, who comes, who comes to rule the earth.

Give thanks to the LORD, who is good, whose love endures forever; And say, “Save us, O God, our savior, gather us and deliver us from among the nations, That we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in praising you.  Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting!

Let all the people say, Amen! Hallelujah.

1 Chronicles 16:7-36

Amen!

Twice David tells us: Give thanks to God!  Being grateful seems like a lost attribute in today’s world (perhaps it was in ancient times as well).

Call on His name. Constantly seek His face.  Rely on God.  (How often do we forget to ask?  To call out to God when we need Him — and even when we think we don’t need Him?  How often do we doubt and fail to trust that His way is the right way — to be confident that we can rely on Him?)

Sing to the Lord.  Spread the joy of God. God has done mighty deeds.  Announce His salvation day after day.  Tell all the earth of his glory.   There can be no doubt that what the world needs now, is God!  Who is going to tell the world this?  It takes us all of us to do that.  Sing of God’s goodness.  Let all the earth rejoice!  Give all glory to God!

His love endures forever!

Thank you God for another beautiful day! Thank you for every breath and heartbeat that you provide even when we do not take full advantage of them, even when we do not use them to glorify your name.  You are my King!  You are my Savior!

Save us O God!

The blame game

Why is everything always someone else’s fault?  Why do we feel the need to blame someone else for any misfortune, or accident that occurs.  Why do we lash out at others, and even wage wars, over every slight or perceived slight or whenever things do not go our way.  I guess it is because we believe that everything should go our way.  That we are entitled to everything to be in accordance with our plans.  Perhaps, sometimes we forget about God’s plans.

I think this is what the Bible is telling me today:

On his arrival in Jerusalem, Rehoboam assembled the house of Judah and Benjamin—one hundred and eighty thousand elite warriors—to wage war against Israel and restore the kingdom to Rehoboam.  However, the word of the LORD came to Shemaiah, a man of God: Say to Rehoboam, son of Solomon, king of Judah, and to all the Israelites in Judah and Benjamin: “Thus says the LORD: You must not go out to war against your kinsmen. Return home, each of you, for it is I who have brought this about.” They obeyed the word of the LORD and turned back from going against Jeroboam.

2 Chronicles 11:1-4

Perhaps not everything that seems bad, is bad.  Perhaps rather than looking to blame and seek retribution, I can look for the bright side.  Because I have a feeling that in God’s world there is definitely a good side (I just  have to stop focusing on my plans).

Dear God,

Help me to be patient.  Help me to be open to changes to my plans and look to see your plan.