2020-03-16 For What It’s Worth.

“And who knows whether you have not come
to the kingdom for such as time as this?”
Esther 4:14

Most likely you get several daily emails from churches and pastors addressing the latest disaster. Not only that, but you see all sorts of advice on social media. Do we need another one here? I’ll let you judge.

My topic today is prayer. Before I begin, I must tell you that I am hypocritical. I say one thing but practice another. By that, I mean my prayer life is not what it could be. Yes, I pray daily, but my mind wanders so. Other times, my heart truly isn’t in it. I tend to rush prayer, forget to pray when people ask, and don’t allow myself to truly connect with God. Other times, I think if I might only pray “right”, I might be very effective in my prayer. (Do you see all the “I’s” in that statement?) Other times, I forego prayer altogether because I would rather sin – for those of you familiar with 1 Cor. 10:13.

Having said that, I do have some thoughts on prayer in this season. First, let’s start with the basics. If you aren’t familiar with John 15, I recommend you become so.

John 15:7-8 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.

This isn’t our golden ticket to buy fancy cars, folks. It is contingent on an intimate interaction with Jesus, like Jesus has with his Father, our Father. Read John 17 for more on that. In a sense, it’s an intimacy like being able to order a meal for your spouse in a restaurant the two of you have never been to. When we know the mind of God, he is pleased to grant our request.

Of course, that is the problem. We don’t necessarily know the mind of God. Or do we? Let me just throw a couple of verses your way on this.

1 Corinthians 2:16b But we have the mind of Christ.

John 14:26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, who the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

How does the Holy Spirit teach us? Through the Word of God. My friends, there is no other place we can be as confident in God communicating to us – directly – than his own words. Yes, we may hear from God during our prayer, but I have witnessed far too many times when this type of revelation was flat-out wrong. God is truth. We can’t trust our “feelings” as truth. I’m not saying that God doesn’t guide us during prayer; he does. I’m saying that God has so much to say to us in his bible that this should be the first place we go to understand the mind of God. And, anything that we feel he is revealing to us should be held up to scripture as the final authority. If your revelation conflicts with scripture, your revelation was wrong.

With regard to the Corona virus, what can we learn from scripture? Is God aware of it? Did he authorize it? The quick answer is that nothing happens without God’s awareness or authorization.

Isaiah 45:7 I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things.

Why would he allow a virus to basically shut down the world? Long story short, he uses it as a call repent from their sin and turn their wicked hearts to God. That’s the whole narrative of the bible.

2 Chronicles 7:14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

Repentance is God’s primary purpose in calamity. Judgment comes after God is done being patient. Have we gone past the call to repentance and are now facing judgment? Personally, I don’t think so, at this time, anyway. We do see this happen in Jeremiah at least three times in which God specifically instructs Jeremiah NOT to pray for this people because God will not answer or hear their prayers for mercy (Jeremiah 7:16-20, for example). On the other hand, we see God’s expectation even in end times for people to repent as he pours out his wrath (Revelation 9:20-21, for example).

Folks, I don’t see how our nation and the world can expect to avoid God’s attention. Even the USA, the last “Christian” nation has turned her back on God. On top of that, we are killing our babies in numbers that we can’t even comprehend. Abortion has become part of our lifestyle. We celebrate it and viciously attack those who question or object to its practice. We are legalizing it now to the point that a human life may now be exterminated outside of the womb.

If the corona virus is indeed God’s call to repentance, at a minimum, or judgement, at the extent, then who are you or I to question him? I see no reason, scripturally, to think that this plague is anything BUT a call to repentance or judgment. In fact, it is to God’s glory to offer mercy through repentance or justice through judgment. Shouldn’t we, therefore, praise him in this?

Praise him, yes, but we must be careful about this so as not gloat. First, we must remember that it is only through God’s mercy that believers are spared the wrath of eternal damnation. Apart from his grace, you and I are part of the world. We were just as much the problem as the abortion provider. There is no reason for us to be smug about any of this. See Deuteronomy 9:4-8 and Ephesians 2:8-9. Instead, we should mourn. See Matthew 23:37.

Having said that, we should pray for repentance of ourselves (yes, even us Christians who are saved) and the unsaved world. God instructs us to do that (1 Timothy2:1-6). We should also pray that God will send workers into his harvest (Matthew 9:38). Will God save everyone? No, but he will save some. Most will refuse to listen to him. We know this because it is what the bible teaches. Even so, God pursues until the very last one is saved.

Might we intervene in God’s judgment, as Moses did? There is a case to be made for that. But it seems to me that God did not forego judgment; he delayed it. Not one Hebrew adult entered the promised land. On the other hand, David deferred to God’s mercy (2 Samuel 24:14). That’s where I tend to lean. Jesus deferred to God’s will instead of his own. Do I want to pray that my will be done in this matter? Hardly. I would rather God make all these decisions.

However, there is one thing that I CAN do. I know that, as a believer, I will not experience God’s wrath (Romans 5:9), namely eternal judgment. And there is the very likelihood that believers will suffer with the rest of the world as God calls it to repentance. Even so, there is a biblical case to be made that God will spare me from this, if I ask him. I’m out of time today, but Psalm 91 is a powerful prayer for protection. Take some time to understand and claim the promises it contains, particularly verse 10.

In any case, if it be God’s will to strip me of my possessions, loved ones, my health, and even my life, who am I to question him? My salvation is secure. I shall spend all of eternity in the arms of my savior. If I am to suffer in this world, so be it. I will not complain. Instead, I shall worship my God.

Oh, one more thing. Do you know what you could do that would be more important than anything? Tell people about Jesus. Tell them the Father sent him for the forgiveness of sin, and apart from him, there is no hope for salvation. Remind them that God is pursuing them through the good things he does as well as the calamity he sends. Beg of them to repent and turn to God.

Father, comfort your children. We pray that our nation and this world turn from its wicked ways and worship you. Send us out into your harvest. Amen.

Copyright © 2020 Scott Powers

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