Refocus on what is most important!
While this pandemic has brought additional stress and work hours upon many medical professionals and workers in essential industries like ours, for many others much of life's daily activity — commuting to work, attending events, running errands — has come to an abrupt stop. This however, may be a gift that we never would have given ourselves.
Many of us have been living like Jesus' friend Martha, who was overwhelmed by all the work to be done. We have become so handcuffed to our daily to-do lists that we have lost sight of what is most important. Now, however, in the midst of a global slowdown, we may finally be able to hear Jesus' words to Martha as something intended for us: "you are worried and distracted by many things. There is need of only one thing" (Lk 10:41). Jesus made clear the "one necessary thing" in (Lk 10:27) “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”
It is worth considering for ourselves what is most important in life and whether our daily lives actually reflect those priorities. We might ask ourselves, "Have I chosen a life in which sending one more email takes priority over spending time with my family? Have I chosen a bigger paycheck at the expense of my physical and mental wellness?"
Life will be changed after this crisis. That much is for sure! Whether or not it turns out to be a change for the better or worse is somewhat dependent on our ability to reevaluate our priorities, make decisions, and form habits in line with what matters most.
Spend some priceless time at the Lord's feet during this ordained Sabbath and refocus on His on what is most important!
Nothing can separate us from God's love!
Perhaps the most difficult aspect of our current situation is the isolation many of us are enduring. The crowds that normally surround us in the office, in the airport, on a plane and in our favorite coffee shops have now dispersed.
We are unable to visit with friends, family or even those who are ill. Yet there may be an opportunity even in this. If it is true that absence makes the heart grow fonder, then perhaps this time of separation will bring about in us a greater appreciation for the people in our lives. We need not wait passively for this separation to take its effect.
We are blessed to live in an age of unprecedented connectivity that provides us the technical ability to see and connect with people thousands of miles away. With fewer people and duties to make demands upon us, we have the freedom and the time to connect more deeply with the people who mean the most to us.
At the same time, we have the opportunity today to reach out (by phone, Skype, or even handwritten letter) to those who are most in need and to be the face of God for those who are enduring the greatest suffering.
In the words of Saint Augustine, "you see the Trinity if you see love." That is our greatest human desire — to be loved. The pandemic has disrupted many aspects of our lives, but it has not and cannot prevent us from communicating love to one another.
It may actually be providing us the opportunity and the motivation to let love abound all the more. What is certain above all else
in this time of uncertainty, is that "nothing can separate us from God's love" (Rom 8:39).
Love in Christ Always,
Scientific studies have concluded that smiling can be good for your health. Research shows that smiling slows down the heart and reduces stress. But smiling isn’t just good for you, a genuine smile blesses those on the receiving end as well.
Without saying a single word, it can tell others that you like them and that you are pleased with them. A smile can hug someone with love without giving them even the slightest touch in these days of social distancing.
Life does not always give us a reason to smile. But when we see a heartfelt smile on a child’s face or through aged wrinkles, our hearts are encouraged.
Smiles are also a hint of the image of God in us. In the ancient blessing recorded in the book of Numbers we get an indication that our God “smiles”: “The Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace” (Num. 6:25-26).
Those words are a Hebrew idiom for the favor of God on a person’s life, asking God to smile on His children. So today, remember that you are loved by God, and that He is pleased to be gracious to you and to shine His face upon you!
So, keep smiling!
Jesus makes all things new! The significance of this Easter weekend reminds us, that no matter what we’ve been through in the past, what we might be facing today, or what uncertainties tomorrow may hold, Christ alone is our Hope. He conquered death, He rose from the grave, He is all Powerful. He breathes new life, so that we can live…free. We have so much to celebrate today, for He has Risen! He has Risen Indeed! Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! (1 Cor.15:57)
Most gracious God, Thank you that you make all things new. Thank you for the Victory and Power in your Name. Thank you that you hold the keys over death, and that by your might, Christ was raised from the grave, paving the way for us to live free. Thank you that you had plan, thank you that you made a way. We praise you for your great strength, we praise you for your lavish love. We praise you for you are Conqueror, Victor, Redeemer, and Friend. We praise you that you alone are our Deliverer, you are Worthy, you are our everlasting Father, our great and awesome God!
May the God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, the great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight; and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you, and remain with you always. Amen.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, we pray you to set your passion, Cross, and death between your judgment and our souls, now and in the hour of our death. Give mercy and grace to the living; peace and rest to the dead; to your holy Church unity and concord; and to us sinners everlasting life and glory; for with the Father and the Holy Spirit you live and reign, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
An EASTER FIRST!
This Easter, something truly amazing will take place. For the first time in the history of the world, the Resurrection message of hope and eternal life can reach more people than ever before. Think about it.
Our churches will not physically meet together to celebrate Easter, but they will be very active! The Good News of Jesus will be broadcast on TV and radio, streamed, Facebooked, Zoomed, video linked, and electronically spread to more people in more nations and more communities than ever before in history!
I am so proud of all my fellow clergy and pastors in these challenging days. We are all working hard to get the Good News of Jesus Christ “out there.” Even in these days (actually, because of these days), the message will get out further and wider than ever before. It will be communicated in living rooms, family rooms, bedrooms, and kitchens to whoever has a laptop, tablet, cellphone, or desktop computer.
This means that we have a chance this Easter to literally reach the world with the transforming Gospel of Jesus Christ as never before! Please join me in prayer that God will use this time like never before to reach millions with His message.
People we could never reach at any other time will hear a message of hope in Christ. They will hear that suffering will not have the final say in our lives. They will hear that death has been vanquished, totally defeated. Jesus is alive! There is an end to suffering, and in the end, joy breaks through.
Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! (1 Cor.15:57)
Walking in the light of encouragement.
Just days after his father died, 30-year-old C.S. Lewis received a letter from a woman who had cared for his mother during her long illness and death more than two decades earlier. The woman offered her sympathy for his loss and wondered if he remembered her. “My dear Nurse Davison,” Lewis replied... “Remember you? I should think I do.”
Lewis recalled how much her presence in their home had meant to him as well as to his brother and father during those dark days. He thanked her for her encouraging words and said, “It is really comforting to be taken back to those old days. The time during which you were with my mother seemed very long to a child and you became part of home.” Thank God, for the caregivers that are sent to us during life’s darkest days!
Friends, when we struggle through the circumstances of this life’s darkest days, an encouraging word can lift our spirits and our eyes to the Lord. The Old Testament prophet Isaiah wrote, “The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary” (50:4). When we look to the Lord and his Holy Word, we find encouragement and hope which cast light into the darkness before us.
May God’s radiant light shine upon you all!
I don't know the future might hold, but I know who holds it
I barely slept all night as the worries in my heart and in mind grew bigger and bigger in the darkness. When the sunshine finally peeked through the window on September 12th 2001, I began to pray! I poured out my heart and dumped all of my fears and concerns at God’s feet. As I prayed, I began to notice a pattern. No matter what concerns, consequences or fears I threw before the Lord, they all seemed to share one underlying theme. The fear of lack of provision!
The day before I watched the world dramatically change from my chaotic job on the flight control floor of a major airline as we scrambled to get our flights safely on the ground. Suddenly the future was not as secure as it once seemed. It was then, I felt God convicting my heart with the need to stop fearing the unknown and start trusting Him with the unknown. I then heard a gentle whisper in my spirit saying, “I alone am your Provider.”
With my eyes closed and tears about to run down my face, I nodded my head, Yes, Lord. You are. Please, forgive me for doubting Your provision. I seek Your peace and ask You to take away these fears gripping my heart. At that moment I had no idea what the future held, but I was reminded that God alone holds the future and a strange peace washed over me.
When I opened my eyes and felt the Lord nudging me to spend some time alone in His Word, so I picked up the bible and it opened at Exodus 16.4 where I read these words… “Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Look, I’m going to rain down food from heaven for you. Each day the people can go out and pick up as much food as they need for that day. I will test them in this to see whether or not they will follow my instructions.’” Exodus 16:4 (NLT)
That old testament passage specifically addressed the fears for provision I had just prayed about. God had heard the cries of my heart, as he always had and He wasted no time reassuring me that He was still listening, reigning and ruling.
Like me, the people of Israel had looked everywhere but “UP” for their needs to be met. They’d been slaves to the Egyptians, and after God set them free, they had to fully trust Him for all of their needs. The slaves were physically free but they were still mentally enslaved to their habits of looking for their provisions from people, places and things.
Friends, times of uncertainty make us think about where we find our provisions, and rarely is it UP. We instantly look at our jobs or our spouses. We look to our checkbooks and savings accounts. Some tend to look to their goals, dreams or relationships. But when our lives are dramatically and rapidly changing, God calls us to look UP to Him.
I don't know the future might hold, but I know who holds it…Trust in the Lord, He will never leave us or forsake us, He is still reigning and ruling!
Let us pray
Dear Lord, I have been feeling enslaved to my thoughts of worry and doubt and I seek Your forgiveness. Help me remember You alone are the One who will provide for all of my needs, physical, spiritual and emotional. Help me recognize the loving ways You are raining down manna each day and to trust in You alone with the future. Amen.
A colleague shared this with me today. It was written by a young woman in NYC.
We’ve all been exposed.
Not necessarily to the virus
(maybe...who even knows)?
But we’ve all been exposed BY the virus.
Corona is exposing US!
Exposing our weak sides.
Exposing our dark sides.
Exposing what normally lays far beneath the surface of our souls,
hidden by the invisible masks we wear.
Now exposed by the paper masks we can’t hide far enough behind.
Corona is exposing our addiction to comfort.
Our obsession with control.
Our compulsion to hoard.
Our protection of self.
Corona is peeling back our layers.
Tearing down our walls.
Revealing our illusions.
Leveling our best-laid plans.
Corona is exposing the gods we worship:
Our sense of security.
Our favorite lies
Our secret lusts
Our misplaced trust.
Corona is calling everything into question:
What is the church without a building?
What is my worth without an income?
How do we plan without certainty?
How do we love despite risk?
Corona is exposing me.
My mindless numbing
My endless scrolling
My careless words
My fragile nerves.
We’ve all been exposed.
Our junk laid bare.
Our fears made known.
The band-aid torn.
The masquerade done.
So what now? What’s left?
What Corona reveals, God can heal.
Come Lord Jesus.
Have mercy on us!
Dear brothers and sisters,
No matter how frustrating, confusing, or scary this crisis gets, it will pass! Fear doesn't have the final say, 1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” Our hope is built on the perfect love of Jesus Christ, that we have been called to share. And that's exactly what we need to be doing in times of uncertainty! Romans 8:28 tell us that, “ALL THINGS” God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. So, as we navigate through this passing season of uncertainty and those that have yet to come, remember to Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
God is still reigning and ruling!