March 29, 2020

Pastor Cliff Bergman

Tomorrow will be the 3rd Sunday we have been restricted from gathering together as God’s people to collectively worship God, hear from Him through His word, and minster to one another. Fortunately we have not been restricted from individually worshipping God and studying His word. We are also blessed to be able to participate remotely in Church ministries across Canada and the USA. Many of you have shared the Church ministries you connected with the past Sundays – among them are New Life Church in Stonewall, Southland in Steinbach, Anchor Point and Church of the Rock in Winnipeg, Center Street in Calgary, Calvary Chapel in California, Stonebriar in TX, and Moody in Chicago. I am sure there are many others as well. It is so important for us to make Sundays special and experience God’s fresh and renewing touch upon us through engaging in the ministries available on TV or on- line. Plan ahead, deciding today what you will do tomorrow to grow in your faith and relationship with the Lord.

Beverley and I pray daily God will care for each of you and guide you through this period of uncertainty. Many of you have personally faced job disruptions, or a member of your family has. Some are working at home and dealing with the challenges of that. Some continue to go to work and in some cases deal directly with the public and the uncertainty whether someone is infected. Others have been laid off and are anxious about the implications of that. Fortunately our government is trying to be proactive and is making some provisions for businesses and individuals affected.

Let me share with you several observations

1. Keep Our Focus on the Lord

This goes without saying, but maybe saying it, helps us continually remind ourselves to do the obvious.

Hebrews 12:1–2 (ESV) 12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

It is so easy to get our eyes off Jesus as we face new concerns – things we did in the past without any thought at all. Earlier this week we went to the post office and bank. Never before had I ever thought I should consider who touched the door handles before me and could have left the coronavirus on the handle, or touched the key pad or touch screen at the bank; but that is the new reality. We should do all we reasonably can to protect ourselves and our loved ones, but as we do so, let it be with our eyes clearly focused on Jesus.

I believe one of the reasons God has allowed this virus to invade much of the world is to get our attention and for all of us to assess the state of our relationship with Him. Even though we have been believers for many years, it is good to regularly consider how we are doing as a follower of Jesus Christ. It is easy to become so consumed with the activities around us that we allow the Lord to be pushed to the peripheral. And for those who have never embraced Jesus as their Savior and placed their trust in Jesus Christ for their salvation, this virus is an occasion to think about spiritual things and be confronted with the reality there is no hope in this life nor the next except through Jesus,

John 14:6 (ESV) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

2. Trust the Lord For Your Care

In times like these we can become unduly anxious about the future. A portion of Scripture that is pertinent is found both in Matthew’s Gospel (6.25 – 34) as well as Luke’s (12.22 – 31). Jesus began by telling people,

Luke 12:22 (ESV) And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on.”

He then went on to point out that the birds of the air don’t bother to sow or reap yet God cares for them. Neither do the lilies of the field toil nor spin, yet God uses them to adore the grass of the fields. He also addressed the matter of life itself, that by fretting over it we will not add so much as a single hour to it. The point is that we ought not fret over the basics like our lives nor what we will eat. Jesus doesn’t dismiss the importance of them, but we need to trust Him; we need to walk by faith. That doesn’t’ mean we should presume upon His grace by taking unnecessary risks. Rather we need to adhere to the guidance of those given oversight of people’s health and entrusted with treating them. But having taken appropriate precautions, we simply need to trust the Lord, knowing that we are worth far more in His sight than either the birds of the air or the lilies of the field. Hence we need to keep our eyes on Jesus and seek His Kingdom.

3. Live Out Our Beliefs

It has been said that character is revealed far more in crisis than in calm. So it also is with our faith in times of crisis. COVID-19 is an opportunity to live out our faith and trust in the Lord as we deal with disruption in our lives, as our agendas are set aside.

Jesus told us to let our light shine before a watching world!

Matthew 5:14–16 (ESV) 14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

We let our light shine as we set aside our plans and agendas with grace, as we readjust our jobs and recreational time, as we isolate ourselves even though we aren’t infected, as we take risks for the benefit of others, and so on. May we reveal we are people of grace and that it is evident that our trust is in God – the creator of the universe, knowing that whatever He allows into our lives, yet we will trust Him!