WHAT NEXT 5-17-20

WHAT NEXT?

May 17, 2020

          There is no denying that our lives have changed dramatically in the last couple of months.  While this pandemic is not the worst thing to befall the oldest and wisest among us, who have survived through wars, economic collapse, disease, and more in the past; the fact that it is worldwide should make each of us ask if God is trying to tell us something, and if so, what?

          I wrote a poem about change back in December, when we were looking ahead to a new decade beginning.  It began like this: 

Sometimes change comes about by choice. Sometimes it’s not welcome at all.

And sometimes God will intervene, if we hesitate to heed His call.

          And more recently I wrote a poem for the National Day of Prayer that ended like this:

Lord we pray you lift this plague, forgive and heal our land;

On this the National Day of Prayer, with your almighty hand.

          I posted this last poem on a facebook page specifically for pastors along with 2 Chronicles 7:14 which reads “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”  While many liked it, there were a few people that vehemently opposed the suggestion that God was in any way connected with the current pandemic, either as a call to repentance or a judgment on wickedness; and others that believed praying for our country, or having a National Day of Prayer, was too ‘nationalistic’. Both of these latter views caught me somewhat off-guard, and it took me a while to even comprehend how fellow pastors could not want to pray that America returns to God, to following His Word, and to truly being ‘one nation under God’. 

          And so I prayed, and prayed some more.  And when I read 2 Peter 3, it was almost as if I could feel God tapping me on the shoulder.  While I urge you to read the entire chapter, I will quote a few verses here.  Let’s start with verse 3 which states, “Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.”  After I read that verse I thought about the days of Noah… While Noah was following God’s instructions to build an ark, he was mocked and derided.  No one believed God would do such a thing as send a flood.  And then I thought about how Jesus said in Matthew 24:37, “When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day.”  Now let’s continue in 2 Peter 3, with verses 4 through 7, “They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation”’  But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.”   Christ’s return and all that goes with it – the rapture, the 7 year tribulation, the Antichrist, the mark of the beast, and the many horrendous events that will come about during the days of wrath, culminating with Christ’s return - have become another subject of great controversy.  More and more Christians believe it is all just allegory – both the flood and Christ’s return.  Still others battle one another over when the rapture will occur – beginning, middle, or end of the tribulation period - who will be the Antichrist, etc… all the while giving the wrong message to those we should be telling how Jesus came to earth, died, and rose again so they could find hope in a world that is hurtling towards destruction.  I wonder while we are praying that they would come to our Lord in repentance and receive salvation through faith, if perhaps it is actually some of us that should be doing so.

          The apostle Peter urges us, saying, “…what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.” (verse 11b-12).  And in verses 17 & 18 he concludes, “Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” 

          So if this pandemic, and all of its after effects on our world - a world which might never be the same again - are indeed a wake-up call from God, then we should be all the more ‘on our guard’ as Peter suggests, by living as Christ would have us to, by heeding His voice and obeying His call in our lives, and by sharing the Gospel with those starved for love, hope, joy and peace.  Amen.

VIDEO:  "Eye of the Storm"  (Ryan Stevenson)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BTonhOA5lDs