“They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons; they poured out innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan, and the land was polluted with blood.”
Here is one of the most encouraging silver linings found in the midst of the COVID-19 doom and gloom.
With the virus stressing and stretching our medical workers and facilities across the nation, several states have shut down their abortion clinics as “non-essential” businesses. Seems kind of obvious to me that charging women money to murder their innocent, unborn babies in cold blood would fall under the “non-essential” category but hey, who am I to judge, right?
Texas, Ohio, and my home state of Mississippi have temporarily shut down the abortion industry in their respective states and have asked that these clinics contribute much-needed medical supplies to help treat infected COVID-19 patients. You can read more about this here.
Sure, most states are standing their ground and fighting for the right to keep their baby-murdering factories open in spite of the COVID-19 crisis. I mean it makes perfect sense to treat and care for a baby with the flu outside the womb, it’s just the ones still inside the womb that don’t deserve the best possible healthcare. But again, who am I to judge, right?
This story is very interesting to me because if we do the math, the decision by these three states to shut down abortion clinics is saving a significant number of human lives. Consider the latest statistics …
Texas accounts for approximately 55,000 abortions each year.
Ohio accounts for about 20,000 abortions each year.
Mississippi accounts for almost 4,000 abortions every year.
Add em up and you get almost 80,000 abortions being performed each year in these three states.
Divide 80,000 by 365 days in a year and that equal 220 abortions every single day.
So every day that these states continue to keep their abortion clinics closed, there are 220 potential human lives being saved!
Wow! Say that again! As many as 220 babies saved every day!
So in two months time, that means potentially 13,000 babies could be saved from being murdered in the name of “choice.”
Now consider that as I write this article the COVID-19 outbreak has been here in the U.S. for about two months and there have been somewhere around 1,000 deaths so far.
Now some may deride me for even making such comparisons, saying that both COVID-19 and abortion are bad and that it is not productive to make such extreme comparisons in such trying times.
I don’t care.
Some of you may even believe that abortion is viable healthcare and should be allowed no matter the circumstances.
If so, may God have mercy on you.
But again, who am I to judge, right?
Nobody. I’m nobody.
But God … He is Somebody, and He has the right to judge because He is the Judge of all the earth. And He will do right. He will judge us eventually for how we have allowed this demonic practice to continue for so long.
Just listen to how God really feels about abortion.
“They sacrificed their sonsand their daughters to the demons;they poured out innocent blood,the blood of their sons and daughters,whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan,and the land was polluted with blood.”
“Thus they became unclean by their acts, and played the whore in their deeds.
Then the anger of the LORD was kindled against his people, and he abhorred his heritage.”
America … we have been sacrificing our sons and daughters upon the altars of demons for too long. Our land has become polluted with innocent blood, and we will give an account for the blood we have spilled or for standing idly by under our watch.
Maybe if we were as convicted and concerned about the senseless, tragic murder of innocent blood in our nation as we are about a moderate virus, we could begin saving countless lives every day.
“Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.”
1 Corinthians 15:51-52
With the COVID-19 crisis in full swing, I have seen several memes circulating in social media circles referring to the rapture. Most of these memes are comparing the surprising nature of this virus outbreak with the supposed surprising element of the rapture.
In other words, if Coronavirus took you by surprise, imagine what the rapture will do.
The popular Christian view is that the rapture will be a secret, surprise event when Jesus suddenly removes the church from the earth, leaving the entire world behind to face the great tribulation. Furthermore, this view proposes that the rapture could happen at any minute and that the removal of the church from the earth will be the prophetic sign that triggers the seven-year tribulation period. That is why the popular view has been labeled the “pre-tribulation” rapture of the church.
But as surprising as that would be, what many well-meaning Christians don’t realize is that the Bible does not teach a “pre-tribulation” rapture. You will not find one verse in all of Scripture that teaches a secret removal of the church before the tribulation.
Although I have written more extensively on this topic in the past, I wanted to use the COVID-19 crisis as reason to revisit this topic because I do believe the timing of the rapture matters. Feel free to go back and read these previous posts I have written for a more in depth study
For starters, I do believe in the rapture of the church because the Bible clearly teaches it. Although the English word rapture — derived from the Latin word rapturo — is not found in the original Greek text of the New Testament, the concept is clearly portrayed in Scripture.
Biblically, the word rapture comes from the Greek word, harpazo, which simply means to “catch up” or to “snatch away.” The primary text for the rapture is 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, which we will look at in a moment, but there are other passages that convey the same idea.
For example, after Philip was sent down the road toward Gaza to share the gospel with an Ethiopian eunuch, he was raptured out of sight. The Spirit of the Lord supernaturally snatched Philip away and relocated him.
“When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch no longer saw him, but went on his way rejoicing.”
Acts 8:39 – NASB
Another example is when the Apostle Paul was “caught up” to the third heaven and given a vision of paradise. The same greek word — harpazo — is used to describe Paul’s supernatural experience.
“I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. And I know that this man was caught up into paradise —whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows — and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. “
2 Corinthians 12:2-4 – ESV
These two examples help us better understand what the term rapture really means. We see that the rapture involves the Spirit of God supernaturally snatching away or catching up individuals from the earth into another dimension and then bringing them back to earth.
Now that we have defined the word rapture, let us look more closely at how and when this future event will take place.
Rapture, Resurrection, Return
As I mentioned earlier, the primary passage of Scripture that describes the future rapture of the church is 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, although the Apostle Paul also implicates the rapture in 1 Corinthians 15:50-52. There are many other passages that speak of the “gathering” of God’s people at the return of Jesus, such as 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 and Matthew 24:29-31. I believe these passages also describe the rapture event, but we will save them for another day.
Let’s focus on 1 Thessalonians 4 for now. I encourage everyone to take the time and carefully read how the Scriptures describe the rapture.
“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18Therefore encourage one another with these words.”
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
So what can we learn by this one famous passage?
This passage clearly involves the visible, triumphant, return of Jesus Christ from heaven to earth in the clouds in power and great glory
I have said before and I will say it again. There are only two comings of Jesus Christ. He appeared the first time on earth to suffer and die and be raised to life. He will appear a second time to judge the living and the dead and establish His kingdom on earth.
No one will ever convince me that this passage is describing some secret event where Jesus comes “halfway” to remove the church and then takes everyone back to heaven and then comes again later to the earth. Read it again. That is not what the Bible says.
This is one of the most vivid descriptions of the return of Jesus Christ to earth in power and great glory. It certainly is not a secret event. Every eye will see Him return. It certainly could never be missed any more than a lightening storm flashing across the night sky.
Consider just a few of the elements in this passage.
This is the “coming of the Lord”
The Lord will “descend from heaven” in the clouds
There will be shout, a cry of a command from heaven at the voice of the archangel
There will be the sounding of the trumpet of God
This is the bodily resurrection when all believers of all time receive their glorified bodies to inherit the kingdom
This is the rapture of the church — those who are alive on the earth to witness the return of Jesus.
There is so much more I could say, but I at least will mention that when we compare this passage to other second coming passages like Matthew 24:29-31 and Revelation 6:12-17, it is clear that the rapture takes place when Jesus returns as King to the earth.
This passage clearly involves the bodily resurrection of the righteous saints
Jesus tells us multiple times that the resurrection occurs “on the last day,” and Paul also confirms this in 1 Corinthians 15.
“For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
“But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.”
1 Corinthians 15:23-24
This passage teaches that there will be a generation of believers who live to see the return of Jesus
The generation that lives to see the return of Jesus this side of heaven will be raptured, which simply means that they will received their resurrected bodies in the twinkling of an eye.
Jesus reminded us about this unique generation.
“So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.”
What have we learned?
The rapture is not a secret event but rather it coincides with the visible, glorious, triumphant return of Jesus to the earth
The rapture coincides with the resurrection of the righteous at the end of the age on the last day
Jesus returns at the end of the great tribulation (Matthew 24:29-31) and therefore the timing of the rapture is after the tribulation … NOT BEFORE!
Maybe the biggest surprise will be when the church realizes that we all must go through the great tribulation and face Antichrist and endure in faith to the end — whether that be our death or the Lord’s return.
But at the same time, the Bible says that fear is a good thing — specifically the fear of the LORD.
The fear of the LORD is the very beginning of knowledge and wisdom in God’s sight. So there is at least one type of fear that is good and godly.
So which is it? Is fear good or bad? Is fear a liar or the beginning of wisdom? How are we supposed to fear God and at the same time not be afraid?
Fear is the Opposite of Faith
From beginning to end the core message of the Scriptures is that the righteous shall live by faith. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the certainty of things not seen. Without faith it is impossible to please God. We are save by grace through faith, and we walk daily by faith in a personal relationship with God.
Our faith is ultimately trusting in who God is — His nature and character — and believing that what God has said is true — His promises and commandments.
Fear and worry and anxiety are the opposite of faith because they are at the heart of unbelief. Unbelief is the greatest sin because it is the root of all other sins.
Fear says that God can’t be trusted and that His word is a lie.
That is why fear is the opposite of faith and why it is sinful to dwell in fear. Faith is the foundation of our relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Another word for faith is trust, as we read in the well-known proverb.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”
The Fear of the LORD is Good
If we continue reading in Proverbs 3, however, the very next verse commends the fear of the LORD.
“Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.”
The Scriptures abound with warnings against the attitudes of pride and arrogance and deliberate disobedience. The Word reminds us often that God is holy and forever righteous and that He must be revered, respected, and honored as Creator and Judge of all the earth. For it is a “dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” [Hebrews 10:31].
“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
So what is different about the sin of fear and the fear of the LORD?
One word … perspective.
Sinful fear forces us to take our eyes off of Jesus and quench the peaceful presence of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. Sinful fear gives way to the ever changing circumstances of life, leaving us on shaky ground. Sinful fear doubts the nature of God and portrays Him as a promise breaker and lousy father.
Godly fear, however, produces a healthy and holy attitude in our hearts and keeps us forever humble before the Almighty. Godly fear keeps our focus on God Himself and reminds us daily that we must all give an account to Him on that Day.
Godly fear places us on solid ground, as we build our lives upon the Rock of God’s word and revere Him enough to be doers of the word and not hearers only.
Godly fear produces a deep respect in our hearts for God, knowing that He is justified in casting us into hell, but at the same time produces an even deeper love in our hearts for our Heavenly Father, knowing that He has graciously provided the way for our salvation through His Son Jesus Christ.
So as we navigate this fearful time together, remember … have faith in God and don’t be afraid.
But never forget that you cannot even begin to understand anything about this life until you first fear of the LORD.
“The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.“
“He shall speak words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and shall think to change the times and the law; and they shall be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time.”
Like so many others, I have been trying to view the COVID-19 crisis through several different lenses and process the changes with each passing day. There is so much to take into consideration. We have never experienced a global shut down on this scale in human history.
We must look at this from every angle — medically, economically, governmentally, constitutionally, spiritually, and prophetically.
First, we must look at this outbreak through the healthcare lens — or should I say health-scare. The truth is, we really don’t know just how serious SARS-CoV-2 is, as we are getting new information daily about symptoms, treatments, and long-term affects.
Sure, this Coronavirus is especially cruel on the elderly and the immunocompromised, but after at least six weeks of observation here in the U.S., the numbers just still don’t add up in relationship to the extreme measures being taken. I understand the concepts of mitigating a virus. I’m not against practicing safe health measures, but I am still not convinced that this COVID-19 outbreak warrants the mass hysteria and social panic that has taken our world and our nation by storm. Only time will tell.
Economically, COVID-19 certainly has caused serious distress on the markets and revealed how financially fragile the U.S. truly is. Some analysts are predicting a downward turn leading into a recession, or another depression. Others believe the U.S. economy could recover and rebound with historical gains after the outbreak is over. Only time will tell.
From a governmental and constitutional perspective, our civil liberties are being threatened in unprecedented fashion. Never before in our nation’s history have American civil rights been put in jeopardy like this. The COVID-19 scare has emboldened politicians at every level to enforce civil mandates and executive orders that cut into the very heart of our constitutional rights.
Basic First Amendment rights like religious liberty and the right to peaceably assemble are being challenged head on. One constitutional attorney, Robert Barnes, says that the threat of losing our civil liberties through COVID-19 far outweighs the health threat posed to American citizens. I must say that I do not disagree.
“Our founders were intimately familiar with pandemics, viruses and plagues, yet they did not allow any to suspend our Constitutional liberties. Not one word in the Constitution about plagues or pandemics to exempt the government from any of our Bill of Rights. Why do our current courts allow it? Because the public is asleep at the wheel. Think the pandemic threatens to kills us all? A review of the data shows the pandemic is more panic than plague.”
The only thing about government officials overstepping their authority and limiting our freedoms is that once politicians gain more control and power from the people, they almost never give it back. Only time will tell.
While I am doing my best to keep an eye on all of these sensitive scenarios, I am committed above all to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus — the Author and Finisher of my faith. The Bible says that “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” [Rev 19:10], and like so many of God’s children, I am intently searching the Scriptures in order to understand the bigger angle at play in all of this — the prophetic angle!
Putting on Prophetic Lenses
As I shared in a previous post, I do believe that the Coronavirus crisis is at the very least a preliminary sign that qualifies as the beginning of birth pains. There are so many variables that make this particular “pandemic” unique, such as the …
Beyond the unprecedented reaction to this COVID-19 outbreak, I also have been seeing some troubling proposals from the likes of Bill Gates and others, who are using this crisis to push agendas that frankly should make us shudder. Not only is Bill Gates proposing a universal vaccine to administer worldwide but also a national tracking system that will use GPS technology to track and quarantine infected citizens during any future outbreaks.
Gates has proposed to use invisible ink to tattoo the vaccination status on the skin of the recipient. You can’t make this stuff up. Furthermore, Gates is a founding parter with the ID2020 Alliance, which is committed to giving every human being on the planet a “digital identification.”
Now I need to stop right here and make sure you understand that I am not saying Bill Gates is planning to initiate the mark of the beast, but what I am saying is that the COVID-19 outbreak and response certainly presents a potential example of how the end-times system and mark of the beast could be implemented. I wrote recently in a previous blog about the possible applications of this end-times mark and the economic system that will follow. One can see how a mandated universal vaccination and tracking system certainly could become a very real application.
This COVID-19 pandemic has provided an eye-opening scenario of how all it takes is one major “trigger” event to flip the world on its head and initiate a new world order to control the masses.
These are some of the things that we do know about the Antichrist and his coming kingdom in the last days.
The Antichrist will be given authority to rule for 42 months, or 3.5 years.
The Antichrist will concentrate his rule over a Middle Easter coalition of nations but his reach eventually will extend around the world [Daniel 7, Revelation 13, 17].
The Antichrist will seek to change the times and the laws [Daniel 7:25], which most likely means that he will wield political power and influence over most, if not all, of the world governments.
The Antichrist will introduce some type of mark, or number identification system, to enable global monitoring and economic control [Revelation 13:16-18].
The Antichrist will concentrate his interests in the Middle East and Israel, and more specifically Jerusalem and the Temple Mount.
The Antichrist will launch an all out assault against Jews and Christians worldwide [Daniel 7:25, Revelation 13:5-10].
The end of the Antichrist and his kingdom will come when King Jesus returns from heaven to earth to crush the forces of evil and deliver the saints once and for all [Daniel 7:13-14, 26-27].
There is a prophetic angle to this entire situation, and we as God’s children had better wake up and take notice. The time is nearer than ever before.
While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
Tomorrow morning will be a first for me.
For the first time in my life — and certainly since becoming a pastor — the corporate body of Christ will be neglecting to meet together on the Lord’s Day. For a man who places the highest priority on corporate worship and fellowship with church family, this will be one of the most difficult days of my life.
I intend to be raw and unfiltered here, as I am using this post an outlet to process my thoughts and emotions.
First, I need to provide some context. I try to avoid looking at life strictly through modern, Western, “American” lenses because the church in this nation in no way reflects the church in other parts of the world. Following Jesus costs us little in America. We can go to church and be a “Christian” in America without really sacrificing any conveniences or giving up any comforts. I’m not trying to give a guilt trip. I’m just telling the truth.
Unfortunately, a consumer culture and a spirit of entertainment drives much — if not most — of evangelical America today. This, of course, is in stark contrast to the persecuted church around the world, where believers count the cost before following Jesus and are willing to give their own lives if necessary to meet together just to pray and study God’s word.
“Resist the devil, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brothers and sisters throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”
1 Peter 5:9-10
Just consider this map from Voice of the Martyrs that helps put the persecuted church into perspective.
I guess what I am saying is that our brothers and sisters all over the world have been taking risks in the face of danger and walking in radical obedience for generations because they have embraced one very important principle of faith. No matter the cost … Jesus is worth it.
“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake.”
Now I get it. We still have religious liberty in America. I’m fully aware of that. I understand that at least for now, we still are able to peaceably assemble and freely worship — despite the fact we have used our freedom as a license to sin and grow spiritually apathetic.
So could the coronavirus shake up actually get our attention and help us learn to appreciate the blessing of corporate worship even more? Will we miss the personal presence and intimate fellowship of gospel community so much that our desire to meet grows even stronger?
Or will this season of social isolation, impersonal online streaming, and digital sharing actually become the new normal and feed into our sinful appetites of selfishness, laziness, and unwillingness to make commitments.
Only time will tell.
Second, I need to speak to this mantra going around that the church is not a building and that the body of Christ is not limited to our regular Sunday morning worship services. On the one hand, I completely agree with these sentiments, primarily because they are Biblical.
Of course the church — ekklesia — is not a building. The church is the blood bought, Spirit filled, born again people of God. Believers become the temple of God as individuals — so that wherever we go, God goes. The Holy Spirit indwells each believer.
I understand that this temporary quarantine will give families a chance to worship at home together. I hope they will. It gives believers a chance to be reminded of the personal presence of God, no matter where we are. That is certainly important.
I realize that the early church met house to house (still somewhat corporate) and also met corporately in the temple courts. It was both/and, not either/or [see Acts 2:46-47].
But I also see churches misapplying this idea of “the church is not a building” simply to justify shutting down the corporate gatherings and downplay the power of the corporate assembly of God’s people. Sure we can worship God anywhere and sure our families should be coming together to worship at home anyway and sure Jesus goes with us wherever we go.
But none of these truths are meant to be realized and practiced at the exclusion of corporate worship and Christian community. There is tremendous power in numbers. As a matter of fact, when Paul reminded the believers in Corinth, “you are God’s temple,” he used the plural pronoun for you. That means he was directly speaking to them about the corporate church and the gathering of God’s people!
“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.”
1 Corinthians 3:16-17
There is power in the corporate church singing the gospel out loud as one voice together each Sunday!
There is power in the body of Christ gathering to hug and pray and praise and study the Word of God.
There is power in the body gathering to serve the community as the hands and feet of Jesus.
There is power in local churches submitting to the public preaching of the gospel under the leadership of their pastors, teachers and elders.
Not to mention, what about the marginalized, the single mothers, the widows, and others who depend week in and week out on their church family because they don’t have anyone else? What about them? What kind of message are we sending to them?
What about the recovering addict that needs the weekly accountability and encouragement from his church family? What about the new Christian who is struggling with falling back into the world and who needs to know her church is always there when temptation comes calling?
I understand that most of these scenarios and situations can be addressed without a meeting place or a regular weekly gathering, but then again, there is great risk that they won’t.
And honestly, as a pastor, I must admit that most church members already struggle to faithfully and sacrificially give to the Lord and support the ministry of the local church. What kind of effect will this season of isolation have on giving?
So as I preach God’s word to an empty house tomorrow morning, I will be wrestling with all of these thoughts and emotions.
I pray that this season is short, but if not, I pray that God will use it to create an even deeper desire in His people to never again forsake the assembly of meeting together. Sometimes we never know what we’ve got until it’s gone.
We are God’s temple — collectively and corporately. The body of Christ is meant to operate together — both in the Spirit but also in the flesh. We are both body and spirit. Jesus came to this world in the flesh to walk among us, touch and hug, heal and help, laugh and cry. God did not remain far away, separated from us, but the entire gospel message is that our God entered into our world and came near to us. That is why I am so torn right now, as I stare this spirit of fear and isolation in the face.
Just think about this one last thought before I go.
What if you were in these very same circumstances and you were told today that you had to be separated and isolated from your immediate family for the next two weeks? What if the government told you that you couldn’t see your spouse or children for the next 15 days? What if you were told you could only have limited interaction with your family through “distance communication” for the next 30 days?
What would stop you from getting back to your husband, wife, or children? What would keep you from doing everything in your power just to be together with them during this difficult time?
For many of God’s children, church family is the only real family they have.
Maybe we should stop and consider such things next time before forsaking the assembling together.
God is teaching me more with each passing day. As fast as the world keeps changing around us, God keeps reminding me how He is always the same. God is the one constant through all of this. He is the Rock.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever!
So today I will share with you what God has shown to me. If there has been one mantra that I keep preaching to myself it is this … One day at a time.
Without knowing what tomorrow will bring, God had to remind us that He is the only One we can really trust. Every day brings new challenges, new decisions, new information, new normals, and God remains right here — present, available, and full of mercy and grace.
The stress of this crisis has caused us all to evaluate what matters most. All of a sudden, the “stuff” we thought was important in our lives is not that important after all. We have been forced to think about the basics — the bare essentials. Food, water, medicine, and shelter are top priority.
So what are we to do?
Give us our Daily Bread
We must remember who God really is — our Heavenly Father — and we are to trust Him to give us this day … our daily bread.
As we walk with God by faith we are asking Him to provide what we need for this day. Just enough for today, LORD. Tomorrow will have enough trouble of its own.
Of course, this truth should be applied physically, spiritually, financially, emotionally, and mentally. Whatever it is that we need, God is there to remind us … “I AM!”
It is so comforting to know that we have a God who cares for us and has promised never to leave or forsake us. We have a God who is with us always, and He is the One leading us, protecting us, and if necessary … carrying us through these difficult days.
This current crisis has given a whole new meaning to the words of Jesus.
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”
So this is our chance to put those words into practice and trust God to provide … our daily bread. Yes, we need food to live, but man does not live by bread alone. We live by every word that has proceeded out of the mouth of God!
Therefore, we need God’s word today more than we need food, and if you have a Bible in your possession or Scripture written on your heart, you will never run out of the bread of life.
Prayer is our Spiritual Breath
The coronavirus is known to attack the respiratory system especially hard. One of the most common symptoms is difficulty breathing. We all know how vital oxygen is to our lungs. We might be able to live a few weeks without food, but we can’t live a few minutes without air.
The Bible reminds us that God has given us spiritual breath that is just as vital to our soul as oxygen is to our lungs.
As long as we have breath … let us pray.
As long as you are alive … don’t stop praying.
“Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.“
We will die without prayer. We will first weaken, then collapse, and then we will lose hope. And without hope … we can’t live another second.
The Scriptures command us to pray without ceasing. Prayer is our lifeline to the God we love. Prayer is God’s gift to us to get us through times like these. He bids us to come and seek His face, and we do so knowing that He has made Himself available to His children through the mighty name of Jesus Christ!
“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
As we take this crisis day by day — one day at a time — we do so knowing that God has provided everything we need, and so much more.
He gives us our daily bread and nourishes us with His holy word.
He reminds us with every breath that He is near, even dwelling within us through His Spirit.
Talk to Him today. Call upon Him in faith. Rest secure in His presence and rejoice in His perfect love.
And when tomorrow becomes today … let us do it all over again!
“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
To all my brothers and sisters in Christ …
It’s time we had a talk.
We need to make sure that we maintain our proper perspective through all of this uncertainty. If there is anyone who should have certainty in an uncertain world, it is the child of God. Anything less is a misrepresentation of the Christian faith and of the Lord Jesus Himself.
So … let me ask a very important question, but before you answer, I only ask that you stop and really think about it first.
Ok. Here goes. Here is my question.
All things considered, what is the worst that can happen?
In all seriousness — for all the followers of Christ in the world — what is the worst thing that can happen to you?
As I watch the way the world is reacting in the midst of this crisis, I expect fear and panic and self-preservation to be the natural response. But as I watch how the church in the U.S. is reacting to this invisible enemy, I can’t help but wonder how so many have lost their perspective.
So I would like to help us all regain a proper perspective — an eternal perspective.
The Proper Perspective
Ok, so what is the worst that can happen? Let us count the ways!
Is dying the worst thing that can happen for a child of God?
Can we go ahead and face the possibility that any of us could die from anything at anytime? Ok. Glad that’s over.
Now, in the most unlikely of circumstances, if one of us just happens to catch this cursed virus and dies, that would not even be close to the worse thing that could happen for a believer in Jesus.
In fact, the Bible says that for those who have received eternal life in Christ, “TO DIE IS GAIN!“[Philippians 1:21] For the Christian, death is only the doorway that we step through that brings us into the presence of God. That means that when we die, we GAIN GOD! Last time I checked, dwelling with God for all eternity was the BEST thing that could ever happen to any of us.
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
Ok. Maybe death isn’t that bad for the Christian, but what about suffering? What if one of us catches this virus and suffers chronic pain? What if one of our loved ones gets sick and we have to watch them suffer? What if we run out of food and starve? Is that the worst thing that can happen? Once again, NO. IT’S NOT!
The Bible tells us to “rejoice in our sufferings” [Romans 5:3] and to “give thanks in every circumstance” [1 Thessalonians 5:18], for this is God’s will for us in Christ Jesus. God uses the sufferings of this present life to draw us closer to Him and teach us greater dependence upon Him. God provides sufficient grace and produces character and hope in us through suffering — to the point that when we are at our weakest, God’s power is working at its strongest [2 Corinthians 12:9-10]. God never allows a season of suffering to go to waste in the life of one of His children.
Ultimately, when we share in the sufferings of Christ, we are able to identify with Jesus on an entirely new level of intimacy and experience His presence like ever before. We become more like Jesus through suffering than we ever would have otherwise. Suffering is hard, even unbearable at times, but God works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called to His purposes. Especially suffering.
The economic impact of this global crisis has yet to be determined, but many estimators say that we could be headed for another recession or Great Depression. Is losing your job and retirement and house and all financial security the worst thing that can happen to a believer? NOT EVEN CLOSE!
As a matter of fact, the Bible speaks about the dangers of self-sufficiency, spiritual complacency, and false security that so often accompany our financial stability. And I don’t care who you are, if you are an American citizen, you are “rich” in comparison to the rest of the world. We have lived in excess and affluence so long in this nation that it has become one of the biggest stumbling blocks to our faith. As Paul says, “for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content” [1 Timothy 6:7-8].
“As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.”
1 Timothy 6 17-19
Sometimes our false securities must be stripped away before we will ever come to realize that God is enough and that He is our greatest treasure.
Those are the big three “worst-case” scenarios that many are fretting over right now. Of course there could be more, but before I go, I would like to share with you just some of the ways I would answer the question above.
The Tragedy of a Missed Opportunity
“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”
I agree that the worst thing that could happen to anyone is to die … without Christ.
Nothing else in this world matters. How many people around us are dying in their sins, separated from God? How many of our loved ones are in jeopardy of facing God in judgment with no Advocate? That should terrify us.
Every day that goes by where we fail to share the gospel is a day wasted and an opportunity missed. Souls are at stake. Eternity is hanging in the balance.
I think one of the worst things that could happen is for believers to misrepresent Jesus Christ and disgrace the One who died in our place.
I think one of the worst things that could happen is for God’s children to disappoint their Heavenly Father by allowing the cares and worries of this world to overwhelm them.
I think one of the worst things that could happen is that we doubt God, even for one second.
I think one of the worst things that could happen is for a lost and dying world to witness the people of God behaving just like everyone else — or even worse!
I think one of the worst things that could happen is for God’s people to allow fear and worry to dictate how they respond in the face of danger, instead of standing firm in the faith and remaining strong and courageous at this time.
I think one of the worst things that could happen is for the body of Christ to become further marginalized and isolated during the time when we need to come together the most.
I think one of the worst things that could happen is that God’s people fail to take advantage of one of the greatest opportunities in our lifetime to share the love of Christ and shine the light of Christ in a dark and hopeless world.
There are plenty worse things than suffering and dying.
Brothers and sisters in Christ … it’s time we start living like it.
“And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.”
What a difference a day makes. Just stop and consider how fast our world got turned upside down! In a matter of days, our lives were changed forever. We will get through this present “crisis,” but our world will never be the same.
As I write this, thoughts keep racing through my mind and emotions keep flooding my heart. I am not afraid. The LORD is reminding me to remain strong and courageous. He alone can be trusted. I am not worried or anxious. Jesus is keeping me in perfect peace, as long as I keep my eyes fixed upon Him. I am not discouraged. I am overwhelmed with such hope-filled expectation!
Why? Because the Spirit testifies within my spirit that I am a child of God, and He is stirring my soul to prepare me for the coming of the glory of the LORD!
Coronavirus madness has certainly gripped the world and dominated the headlines. Regardless of the narrative that the media keeps pushing, God is telling me something else. I understand many are concerned and at the least are bothered by the uncertainty and interruption of life. The more people I talk to, however, — neighbors, friends etc… — the more I am hearing the voice of reason and a settled confidence that God is in control and that He will see us through.
And that God is up to something BIG! It’s time we join Him!
I have said from the beginning and I will say it again … this IS NOT ABOUT THE CORONAVIRUS! We need to wake up, take a step back and see the whole picture! There is something much bigger at play right now, but the more we listen to the noise of the world, the less we will be able to hear what God is trying to show us and teach us. The more we give in to the pandering and fear mongering of the media, the less we will see what God is really doing!
I can only tell you what I am hearing from God’s word and what I am seeing in the midst of this madness.
I do not believe this is the end — not yet. I do not believe that this is the great tribulation. God’s word lays out the prophetic fulfillments that must take place before Jesus will return [see 2 Thessalonians 2:1-8].
I do believe, however, that these are the beginning of birth pains. Jesus teaches us that there will be preliminary signs that must take place to get the ball rolling per se, but he said that we must not be alarmed! The end is not yet.
2020 has been the year of the locust so far, and the locust plagues in Africa and the Middle East are only expected to get worse, potentially causing severe famines. Seismic activity is cranking up all around the globe. Salt Lake City was hit this morning with a 6.0 magnitude earthquake — the biggest since 1992. I expect many more substantial earthquakes to strike in the near future.
Geopolitical and economic instability is pushing our world to the brink. While we are being distracted by the coronavirus, world markets are plummeting, travel and trade has slowed to a crawl, and unrest in the Middle East is intensifying. With all the stress that presently is being placed on the nations, war is almost certainly to follow. Greece, and the European Union, is doing everything it can to avoid a conflict with Turkey over a refugee crisis created by the war in Syria, and that’s just one example out of many.
It’s like the words of Jesus keep jumping off the page, as if they were written for this very day. What more do we need to see before it finally sinks in that this is really happening?
“There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven.”
Jesus reminds us that the generation that lives to see all of these signs unfold will be the same generation that is alive when He returns in power and glory! I believe that the chaos that we are experiencing right now is the beginning of birth pains, which means that the intensity and frequency of these prophetic signs will only increase and get worse before it gets better.
Now is a call for the saints to endure in faith!
I will leave you with the words of our King.
“So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”
“For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
1 Corinthians 2:16
We are living through history. Everyone is trying to figure out just how to navigate through this global “crisis,” especially considering we’ve never done this before.
Information is coming and going at a rapid pace. It’s impossible to keep up with all of the reports, posts, broadcasts, and articles. Our minds are being stretched and stressed to the max with an overload of information and an unprecedented level of anxiety for many.
And to think … we ain’t seen nothing yet.
We need the mind of Christ now more than ever, but what exactly is the mind of Christ and how do I get it? Well … it kind of comes with the total package of becoming a child of God.
Our mind represents the mental and intellectual faculties that allow us to exercise sound reason, think rationally, and remain sane in the midst of a hostile world. The Bible clearly draws a clear distinction between those who still operate in their “natural” capacities and those who have been spiritually reborn and have received the supernatural mind of Christ.
“Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.”
1 Corinthians 2:12-14
This is so critical to understand right now. Without the mind of Christ, no one can “accept the things of the Spirit of God!” Without the mind of Christ, the Word of God is foolishness. Without the mind of Christ, a person remains blinded to truth and will not be oriented to the ways or will of God. Without the mind of Christ, a person is given over to fear and devoid of the presence and peace of God.
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
2 Timothy 1:7 – NKJV
I leave today’s post with two simple truths to remember.
SALVATION — We receive the mind of Christ when we receive CHRIST! Paul reminds us of the profound and radical transformation that takes place at the very moment of our salvation, as we enter into a relationship and spiritual union with Jesus Himself. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” [2 Corinthians 5:17] When we get Jesus, we get ALL of HIM, including His mind! What a profound concept. Jesus unites His thoughts with our thoughts. His ways with our ways!
SANCTIFICATION — We are responsible to daily give ourselves over to God and put ourselves in a spiritual posture and position so that Jesus can renew our minds and sanctify our hearts to understand and believe the truth of His word [John 17:17]. In other words, we are prone to experience short-term memory loss and therefore we must feed on God’s word as our daily bread and renew our minds to His glorious truth!
So if you are reading this and you have never trusted in Jesus and received Him as Lord and Savior — TODAY IS THE DAY! You can enter into relationship with Jesus right now by calling on Him to forgive you, save you, and give you everlasting life!
For my brothers and sisters in Christ out there … get alone with God today. Be still and listen to Him. Feast on His precious word and let the Word of God wash over you and renew your mind today so that you can understand what is happening in these last days!
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Isaiah 55:8-9 ESV
For personal edification, mutual encouragement, and testimonial record, I have decided to journal each day during the Coronavirus Crisis.
As of today, March 16, life as we know it in the U.S. has been indefinitely interrupted. Entire states have shut down. Schools have closed. President Trump has declared a national state of emergency.
As I try to navigate this situation along with the rest of the world, the LORD keeps gently impressing upon me the same simple thoughts. First — Listen to Me. My word is truth. Second — you have the mind of Christ. Third — you have been sealed by the Holy Spirit.
As the LORD revealed to Isaiah, “my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” As God’s people, we must remember that only God knows the truth and only God ultimately can be trusted. Let God be true and every man a liar.
There is so much confusion and chaos and fear and hysteria being circulated and propagated right now that it is difficult to see through the lies and cut through the noise. There is only one way to rise above all the confusion — we must turn to God’s word like never before.
God is always working, watching, waiting, and fully in control. None of this has taken Him by surprise. He perfectly knows precisely what is happening. We had better look to Him and listen to Him before anyone and anything else.
Before reading the news, read the Bible. Before checking your social media pages, check in with God. Before sharing unreliable information, share the gospel. Before contributing to the fear, rest in the presence of the Prince of Peace.
Only when we can see this entire situation with God’s eyes, from His perspective, will we be able to know what is true and how to act in these last days.