In The Midst of COVID-19 (1)

Pastor Cliff Bergman – Pinawa Alliance Church

March 21, 2020

Most people, when asked whether they have ever seen anything like the coronavirus, respond by saying, “Never in my lifetime!” I can echo that same answer. There was the polio epidemic when an “estimated 11,000 people in Canada were left paralyzed by polio between 1949 and 1954. The disease peaked in 1953 with nearly 9,000 cases and 500 deaths — the most serious national epidemic since the 1918 influenza pandemic.” At the time school children were checked and as a result, for many years I had to have an annual chest X-ray because a spot had been detected on one of my lungs.

COVID-19 is much different and has every indication it will become much worse not only elsewhere, but right here where we live. The likelihood is high that someone we know will become infected and the potential is real that it could be you or me, hence the need to take the necessary precautions. Do follow the guidelines. We were in Costco earlier today and discovered they are taking the guidelines very seriously.

One of the side effects is being cut off from personal face-to-face contact with our friends and loved ones. We will gain a new appreciation for how important face-to-face contact is, and how much we value it, over the course of the weeks ahead. A key interpersonal event is collectively meeting together as God’s people to worship Him, hear from Him through His Word, and ministering to and enjoying fellowship with one another. In the meantime, while we will forsake meeting together with one another, we won’t forsake meeting together. Let me encourage you to set aside time tomorrow to engage in worship, prayer and a message from God’s word. I am discovering options available to most of us.

As I noted last week Beverley and I discovered, Find The Way with Michael Sherbino on JOY channel, he is the pastor of Northend Church in St. Catharines, an MB congregation. Later in the day we listened to Dr. Charles Stanley and also watched Billy Graham’s 1982 Sacramental Crusade. Today I learned that video Church services are going to be available tomorrow with Dr. Charles Swindoll, Stonebriar Community Church, Frisco, TX and Dr. David Jeremiah, Shadow Mountain Community Church, San Diego, CA. They will be available to live stream, on Facebook, or on YouTube; I have discovered I can do that direct to my TV. I am sure there are numerous other Biblically sound and Christ exalting ministries available, some of which you are aware of.  Don’t let Sunday become just another day of the week, but determine to make it what God intended it to be – a day set aside for His people to rest and focus on Him. That is so important as we create a new norm for this period which could go on for many weeks.

This week I did something I never imagined I would do, I joined Facebook. I learned many of you are on Facebook and part of the Pinawa Alliance Church Facebook Group. Lorraine Nelson gave me a crash course on Facebook and patiently introduced me to its functions. I am so grateful to her for her help as Facebook is one of the avenues we can use to remain connected with one another and live out being the Church in these unusual times. It is a platform I will use over the coming weeks to stay in touch with you. If you aren’t part of Facebook, I encourage you to call Lorraine and she will take you through the steps. I believe it will be one of the tools God can use to help us care for one another and get to the other side victoriously.

Undoubtedly the realm of darkness wants to defeat us and for us to be overcome by the threat of COVID-19 and all its implications. Let me remind you that our God is sovereign, He knows what is happening, and His grace is just as sufficient today as it was 3 months ago.

John chapter 14 details for us the counselor, comforter, advocate, whom Jesus would send following His resurrection and ascension to heaven. Read through that wonderful chapter telling us that God Himself, in the Person of the Holy Spirit, lives within every believer. 

John 14:16–17 (ESV) 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

Imagine that God Himself lives within us, something that distinguishes us from the world and is central to us victoriously navigating through these obstacles. Don’t miss the significance of this truth. Just a few verses later we are told Jesus and His Father also live within us.

John 14:23 (ESV) Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.

It is understandable that we have concerns and we may be anxious at times, particularly those who due to jobs, or looking after necessities, continue to have contact with others. As you press forward, let Jesus’ parting words in John 14 resonate in your heart and mind, 

John 14:27–28 (ESV) 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.