Inspired by the Spirit

This was written by Becky, a member of our congregation who is one of our adult Sunday School teachers.  She used it to open our class, and said she felt the Holy Spirit inspired her to write it.

Paul wrote to the Philippians,

“things which happened to me have turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that my chains are in Christ.”

Prison became holy ground, a sacred place set apart for God’s purposes.  In his confinement he made room for God.  So consider our confinement in isolation during this epidemic an opportunity to deepen our relationship with God and to encourage others.  Paul also said,

“For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

His heart was so filled with the presence of Jesus through the Holy Spirit.  He had peace with God no matter the circumstances and wanted to serve and bless others.  God’s presence with us in confinement makes this one of the most significant times in our lives and a key to fellowship with Him.  He is still in control, declaring,

“Be still and know that I am God.”  Psalm 46:10

Our strength must be in God.  Times of crisis demand that we turn to each other, not on each other.  As Christians, we are called to be faithful to God and to one another.

All of us want things–expressing them differently.  We want heroes; we want assurance someone knows what is going on in this mad world;  we want someone to lean on.  Paul says Christ is the one to worship and serve–King of Kings–Lord of Lords–the Mighty One–to occupy first place in our hearts and home.  It’s so easy to allow things and even people to be central in our lives.  When we replace Christ with these, we have sinned.  We’re to live in this world as a representative of Christ –serve Him by giving Him our best and sharing His love with others.

For more about the pandemic see these posts:

Small Things

All Times Are Uncertain

Clarity — First Step

 

 

The Snare is Broken part 1

I am posting a sermon that my husband was unable to preach “live” due to the coronavirus crisis.  It speaks to the topic of the month, encouraging us to remain confident in God’s victory over all evils.  If you wish to hear it, you can go to our church website to access the audio version.

Psalm 124

If it had not been the Lord who was on our side–let Israel say–

if it had not been the Lord who was on our side when people rose up against us,

then they would have swallowed us up alive.  When their anger was kindled against us;

then the flood would have swept us away, the torrent would have gone over us;

then over us would have gone the raging waters.

Blessed be the Lord who has not given us as prey to their teeth!

We have escaped like a bird from the snare of the fowlers;  the snare is broken, and we have escaped!

Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

Psalm 124 represents one of the types or categories of Psalms we find in the Bible.  It is called a community praise psalm.  In other words, it is spoken on behalf of the whole people of Israel, not just on the behalf of an individual.  According to the superscription (remember that’s the statement that sits above the psalm itself in Scripture)–it was written by David and came to be used as a song of ascents.  That means that it was sung by people who were climbing the hill to the Temple, and by the Levites who sang during the worship services there.  We can see that in the first verse, “If it had not been the Lord who was on our side — let Israel now say–If it had not been that the Lord was on our side …”  This is what we call antiphonal, in other words, one singer would first say the opening and then, when it says, “let Israel now say,”  the choir would repeat it.

All Photos

There is a sense in which it is hard to imagine our 21st century society lifting up a community praise psalm such as this, because we are becoming a society in which there is less and less sense of community.  I’ve mentioned in the past a book called Bowling Alone, which was written about 25 years ago and dealt with the growing sense of non-community that keeps us from being truly connected to one another.  The book was written by a Harvard professor named Robert Putnam.  He recently commented on this idea of personal isolation, saying that America has ceased to be an “us society” and has become an “I society.”  We are becoming so isolated from each other that we now only want to associate with people who agree with us in everything imaginable.  An “I” society is on the verge of collapse because it isn’t really a society at all.  It’s just a bunch of “me’s”.

To be continued …..