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MIGHT COVID-19 BE GOD’S TRAINING GROUND FOR THOSE INHERITING THE KINGDOM OF GOD?

  • In times of crisis, people reach for meaning. Meaning is strength. Our survival may depend on our seeking and finding it (Viktor E. Frankl)
  • Be careful of letting a season of pain and hurt make you think that these are all your journey with God is made of! (Eric Mason)
  • God does not give us everything we want, but He does fulfill His promises, leading us along the best and straightest paths to Himself (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)
  • We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations (Chuck Swindoll)
  • We don’t live for God’s love. We live out of God’s love . . . there is so much of our DNA that is performance-oriented, and we’re living for God’s approval instead of living from God’s approval (Chip Ingram)

 

Text: Luke 4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Jesus mission on earth was to free people from a way of thinking that kept them prisoners; people who did not know what freedom was. Setting the prisoners free meant gaining ability to actively resist the way of thinking that perpetuates fear, uncertainty and helplessness. Crisis reveals what one believes and who one is. If one’s vision of God is blurred then it is possible to miss the opportunity to see God. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matthew 5:8). How does one know freedom when corona virus is ravaging and unrelenting; you wake up to the news that several doctors, police officers, officers in Government registry, courts, etc are infected? It is possible to lose the sense of awe and wonder that the presence of God gives? As the crisis persists, the real struggle is coming to terms with the surfacing of deeply held, unconscious beliefs about God.  Jesus’ mission on earth was to point out the need to examine assumptions in light of God’s plan and design.  Crisis reveals what people believe and who they are.

WHAT JESUS TAUGHT

There is a God in heaven– From the very beginning, it is clear that we, humans, live in a natural world that co exists with the spiritual world. While the natural world is made up of what we can see – the blue sky, the grass, the people, and all that they have made, the spiritual consists of unseen forces, God, and angels, satan (who is best known as the personification of evil together with his demonic spirits).  When Daniel in captivity in Babylon had a death sentence passed on him for being among the intellectuals who could not interpret the king’s dream, he appealed to God. After spending time alone with God, Daniel declared, “but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries” (Daniel 2:28a). Jesus Christ, who came from God the Father (and who was destined to return to the Father), taught the disciples to pray by recognizing that God is our Father in heaven. “Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God” (John 13:3).   That knowledge is important because Jesus Christ said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. 1 You believe in God; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:1-3).  The knowledge that whatever happens in this life is but temporary is encouraging because the destination of those who have faith in Jesus Christ is where he is, heaven.

God has the Big Picture – The Big Picture is a model of a design about times, places and people on earth.” From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands “(Acts 17:26). Abram’s conversation with God reveals this Big Picture.

Genesis 15:13 God tells Abram – who was concerned about his childlessness what Jesus Christ taught the disciples to pray – that God’s will is done on earth as designed in heaven.  “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). That means the dreams and rejection of Joseph by his brothers was part of God’s plan.  “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20). That means the famine that ravaged Egypt and extended to Jacob’s family was all in the plan of God. In the same way, Covid-19 is within God’s Big Picture. Like Joseph we need awareness of being a part of God’s plan.

God has a role for each one of us in His Big Picture – Jesus Christ taught that “whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). That means there is eternal life and it must be chosen. Joseph chose to be a person of excellence who served people as if he were serving God. In spite of the abrupt change that cut him off from all that was familiar and ushered him into a totally different environment, Joseph’s attitude is noteworthy.  “So Potiphar left everything he had in Joseph’s care; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate” ; “The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the LORD was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did” (Genesis 39:6;23). Joseph valued people and would serve them irrespective of their status. His good rapport with other prisoners is what brought the network necessary to connect with Pharaoh.

Another example of God having a role in each person is the birth and upbringing of Moses. The 400 years that God told Abraham about was over and God was totally in charge. “The LORD said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering” (Exodus 3: 7).   Even today, God sees what is happening and He is concerned.

Martin Luther King, Jr observed that one of the great liabilities of history is that all too many people fail to remain awake through great periods of social change. He said, “Every society has its protectors of status quo and its fraternities of the indifferent who are notorious for sleeping through revolutions. Today, our very survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face the challenge of change”. It is important to keep in mind that when changes have made life unpredictable, our perception of reality matters.  Sickness, death, lack of income make life real wild and it is the knowledge of God’s presence that encourages the life travellers. Jesus Christ coming to earth was to show his followers how to step into the role for which they were created. Bob Hamp says, “We were created to take dominion over the planet. Over the kingdom of darkness. Over sickness. Over hopelessness. Over fear and insecurity”. God is using each one of us to play our role in the Big Picture of His redemption. The day is coming when the sounds of trumpet will be heard and the message “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.” (Revelation 11:15).  Jesus not only taught but demonstrated what his disciples were meant to do and be. Jesus’ disciples were not passive learners, but were actively involved in what he was doing. When the word of God is regularly read and prayers are based on it, then life’s continuous changes are viewed as God’s opportunity even when one may not fully understand. The changes are part of the plan and we are making God’s will actualized on earth as it is in heaven. People who are learning about something they are already doing have an entirely different learning process than those who are learning about something they may do someday. Have you been released from the prison of an earthly mindset? Are you having an awareness of being in God’s will today?

We are apt to imagine that if Jesus Christ constrains us, and we obey him, he will lead us to great success. We must never put our dreams of success as God’s purpose for us; his purpose may be exactly the opposite. We have an idea that God is leading us to a particular end, a desired goal; he is not. The question of getting to a particular end is a mere incident. What we call the process, God calls the end. His purpose is that I depend on him and on his power now. If I can stay in the middle of the turmoil calm and unperplexed, that is the end of the purpose of God. . . . God’s end is to enable me to see that he can walk on the chaos of my life just now. If we have a further end in view, we do not pay sufficient attention to the immediate present; but if we realize that obedience is the end, then each moment as it comes is precious.” (Oswald Chambers)

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