Some Pastoral Thoughts in this “Season of Concern”
Here we are in the middle of something that is much bigger than us. Here we are in an event that we never expected to be part of. Yet at the same time, we do not even know, if this corona-virus will even affect us locally or individually. Where do we look? What do we concern ourselves with, as we both face and live through this uncertain and unknown situation? Of course, we need to be wise and prudent in applying the guidelines from health officials and yet, we also need to guard ourselves from being consumed with the danger to our health and well-being by becoming overwhelmed with anxiousness or worry.
First of all, we need to release our anxieties to our Savior and Shepherd. We do this by praying as the Apostle Paul advised, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 8:12). We must trust in Christ and cast our concerns and anxieties on Him as we trust in Him knowing that He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). Be prayerful and instead of spending time worrying, give the time to memorizing Scripture, so that those promises can be a fortress for your mind to find a place to find refuge and strength.
Secondly, in these times when things are so serious, we need to be thoughtful, safe and careful while at the same time resisting any impulses to panic. When we panic, we become foolish in our decisions. Instead, we need to carefully consider things, not being quick to believe everything we feel or sense but to trust in God’s Word, follow wise advice from reputable sources and seek out sensible friends. Then we need to consider what steps are appropriate in each situation and in each day and plan to do those things (Proverbs 14:16). In considering our responses and being purposeful in our actions, we will be wise, we will find prudence, knowledge and discretion (Proverbs 8:12).
Finally, we need to fix our gaze on Jesus and encourage those around us to do the same. He is the one unchanging thing upon which we can find strength. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8) and thus our gaze should remain upon Him. We have His secure and eternal promise, to put our trust in. “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me” (John 14:1). At the same time, we need to encourage each other with the encouragement that comes from trusting in our Lord. “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up …” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
Individually and together, we must steady our gaze upon our Lord. Our faith must always and continually be fixed on Christ. We must gaze upon Him and trust in the care, guidance and power, He brings to us every day as we walk with Him in faith. With our gaze fixed on Christ, our faith remains fixed on Him, no matter what the struggle, danger or fear we may encounter in the moment, in the day or in the season we might find ourselves in. In bleakness, we look for God’s provision and sufficiency. In fear and danger, we look for God’s strength and rescue. In what seems overwhelming, we look for God’s mighty hand. In the impossible, we look for the possibilities of God’s presence. In the waiting, we look for God’s wisdom. In the unknowing, we look for God’s knowledge. In the hard moments, we look for God’s grace. In the shattering, we look for God’s mending. In the busy, we look for God’s calming. In the noisy, we look for God’s quieting. Our gaze needs to fixed on Christ alone and all that comes from God because we know His love is steadfastly fixed upon us and His love endures forever. When our focus is on Christ, then He becomes your strength. His grace is always sufficient because His love is so extravagantly wrapped around us in all of our days (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Here is the incredible truth, Jesus Christ, is the Author of our faith, sustains us as we persevere through all things and will meet us to be our eternal King when we finish the race of life. We can know and trust that He will carry us through every moment, every day and every season. All we have to do is trust in Him!
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2, NKJV).
(Take time to memorize this Life Verse and let it be strength to you and a place of refuge for your soul.)
A little prayer for the day … “Oh Lord, steady my gaze in the bleakness, steady my gaze in danger and fear, steady my gaze in disappointment, steady my gaze in heartache and doubt, steady my gaze upon You, and You alone. Oh Lord, steady my gaze upon You, in everything I face. Steady my gaze upon You, that I may see only Your love, care, guidance, and provision. Thank you for being with me, in all that I face today, tomorrow or in the future. Lift up my heart, whenever it is troubled. In Your Name, Jesus. Amen.”
Antelope Hills Christian Church
Canby, MN 56220
“It says,” … “that you must 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 you must love your neighbor just as much as you love yourself.” (Luke 10:27, TLB)
There is an aspect of seeing that we can miss at times, even if we have eyes to see everything around us. We can in our casualness become unseeing and dismissive of people around us. It happens when we are consumed with our own busy lives, schedules and the thoughts. We see others but then again, we don’t see them somehow. We were headed somewhere or had something to do and we couldn’t be bothered. Sometimes we even see them and we avoid them for whatever reason. In the latter sense we border on sin because we are choosing who we care about and who we are interested in. As Christians we allow this unseeing to happen to us and it really shouldn’t if we are being sensitive to the Holy Spirit. If we have the love of Christ in us as, we should allow the love of God to flow through us without determining who is worthy to be loved. God loves the world and everyone in it and He loves us each one of us without partiality (Romans 2:11). Each one of us, are to be imitators and givers of that great love.
Jesus gives us a powerful parable and completely relevant faith lesson in the story of The Good Samaritan. In this parable, He teaches us about real love in action. He leaves us with this powerful directive, “Yes, now go and do the same” (Luke 10:37, TLB). He also gives witness to the selective treatment of others and its affects. What we fail at times to remember in the story we call The Good Samaritan; is our treatment of others does reflect our relationship with God. Christ’s list of characters includes the very religious, the very busy and an unexpected righteous and benevolent benefactor. He also deals with the power of prejudice as He gives us an antihero as the one who truly is kind and loving. The Good Samaritan is the true neighbor who loves with the love of God because he sees need and loves by providing without hesitation or conditions. It is a parable; that is both cautionary and directive as it reminds us to see others in need and to be attentive in our awareness and treatment of any persons we find around us. This includes loving any non-Christians and our treatment of Christian brothers and sisters as well. Our love should be sincere and must not be in “in word and in tongue but in deed and truth” (1 John 4:18). We must see as Savior sees.
May we all love others and see others in manner that is representative of how God sees us. Maybe the challenge is to slow down enough in what we are thinking about; to see everyone we pass by each day. We need to care about people more than ourselves and our schedule. If we have the love of God in us, we should cast aside any inconvenience as we respond in loving action to others. His love in us must be without partiality to those we hardly know, to those different then ourselves and to those no one expects us to love. If we are to love our neighbor as ourselves, we must love others in the way that God has loved us.
The love of The Good Samaritan exhibited God’s love as love, without measure or limits. The Good Samaritan exhibited in His actions that he loved God with all of his heart, soul and strength. He allowed his eyes to see as God sees. Helen Keller addressing the physical act of not being able to see, said this, “The lack of sight forbids our hands to engage in many of the noblest human acts, but love is open to us and love teaches us the highest of arts – the art of living.” Lord, help us to truly see others as you see them and love them as you love us.
“Do this and you shall live” (TLB, Luke 10:28).
Suggested Reading … Luke 10
Re-edited from a previous writing …
Who is He?
Listen! I am standing and knocking at your door. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in and we will eat together. (Revelation 3:20, CEV)
Who is He who is standing at the door of your heart? Is it He, the Jesus that wants to be your Savior? Will you ask Him to be your Lord and Savior? Will you call on Him to save you? Will you obey Him so you can put on His righteousness? Will you let Him in?
Who is He who is waiting at the door of your heart? Is it He, the Christ who wants to give you the riches of grace that will that will satisfy your soul? He does not give the riches of the earth that will fade away but the eternal, indescribable riches of heaven which through the wealth of His grace will save your life and sustain you until you come into His presence for eternity? Will you let Him in?
Who is He who is longing to provide at the door of your heart? Is it He, the Good Shepherd who laid down His life for you and in that sacrificing death forgave every sin you will ever commit, that your eyes might see the truth, rest in His endless provision and be set free now and forever more? Will you let Him in?
Who is He who is listening at the door of your heart? Is it He, Jesus Christ the Lord, the healer of every damage, every heartache and every disease? Will you let Him carry all your diseases, all your brokenness and lift all your burdens? He tells us to come to Him with all that is heavy and overwhelming and He will stay with us in imitate fellowship . Will you let Him in?
Who is He who is beckoning to come in at the door of your heart? It is He, the King of Kings who rose from the dead to destroy the fences, the walls, the towers, the castles, the armies of the enemy who has you convinced that you are hopeless and defeated? Jesus the Eternal and Everlasting King of King who gives life for eternity! Will you let Him in?
Ever humbled in gratitude and thanksgiving for knowing the Good Shepherd!
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul; He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. (Psalm 23, KJ21)
The Lord is the Shepherd of my life, He is always good! He satisfies every want before me, fulfilling all yearnings, even those I do not realize I have.
He guides my heart to the peaceful meadows of His presence; He leads me to the quieting comfort the nourishing stream of His steadfast love. Over and over he restores my very soul. He leads me on the pathways that change me into someone who reflects the glory of His righteousness by His faithfulness.
Even though I struggle and stumble when circumstances and pressures darken some of the seasons of my life with aching pain and deep despair, I will not cower and lose faith … because You, O Lord, as my Shepherd are ever with me. O Lord, you direct me ever closer to the truth by the rod of your perfect wisdom and stand ready with your mighty hand upon your staff to ever protect me.
There is no end to the extravagant banquet of your goodness that You, O Lord put before me as a feast so abundant that my very enemies fall back in great astonishment. You anoint my head with the overflowing oil of your favor and your blessings saturate my daily living.
Your goodness fills every moment of my living and your merciful grace freely flows in and through every day and every season until I come into the eternal home I will share with you forever. Thank you, O Lord, for being the Good Shepherd of my life. Thank you!
Paraphrase – S. R. Maas, 2016