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 …