Sunday, May 3, 2020

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Live by Believing

As some states lift some of their restrictions regarding the shelter in place or quarantining orders, many are venturing out to enjoy the warmer, sunny days. But, even though we were cooped up in our homes for our safety, we felt powerless and unable to enjoy our lives. Many turned to binge watching television shows or movies. Some ate and drank more. Others chose to exercise and do things to entertain themselves and their children. No matter what we did, many did these things with fear in the back of their minds.

The news does not bring us any comfort. We listen to story after story of those who suffer and others who are heroes who serve those who have fallen victim to this invisible enemy. For every story of goodwill, we hear many more of selfishness and violence. We try desperately to put these things and the fear out of our minds, but they seem to quickly sneak back into our conscious thoughts. If we happen to venture out to enjoy a warm, sunny day, it doesn’t take much for our minds to drift to the thoughts of fear and dread. In some cases, all it takes is seeing someone wearing a facemask and then we think about all of the stories we have heard. 

Last week, I talked about not being afraid. We should be living by believing. I am not talking about believing that there will be a cure or a vaccine. In time, I am sure that medical science will come up with something and this new malady will be tamed by a shot or a pill of some sort. What I am speaking of is living by an unwavering belief in God the Father and trusting in Him completely.

There are so many things that cause us to be afraid and shake our faith. If it isn’t a virus, it is something else. A hurricane, volcano, earthquake or tornado will cause us to waver in our faith. We begin to question God and wonder if He is even listening to our prayers. It doesn’t take much to cause us to drift away from God or to question His will.

My mind often turns to Psalm forty-two. That one psalm seems to crystallize the feelings we have as we endure this pandemic. 

The psalmist writes, “Day and night I have only tears for food, while my enemies continually taunt me, saying, ‘Where is this God of yours?’ My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be: I walked among the crowds of worshipers, leading a great procession to the house of God, singing for joy and giving thanks amid the sound of a great celebration! Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!

We should never lose hope in God even when we face disease, disaster or dispute. Our faith should always remain in Him. As children, we found comfort in the arms of our parents. When there was a storm, we ran to our parents’ bedroom and hopped into their beds. We hid under the covers and heard their calming voices as they assured us that there was nothing to fear. They would put their hands upon us and we would soon find safety and comfort.

It seems that we have forgotten that lesson. When fear, uncertainty and doubt come into our lives, we shouldn’t be afraid, because our Heavenly Father is there to protect us and watch over us.

The author ends this psalm by giving us a little advice. He writes, “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!

God is truly our Father and He will never leave or forsake us. It is His mighty right hand that covers us when we hear the roar of a storm. It is His voice that provides us with assurance that we need when things are at their darkest.

Listen to the words of the Lord as written in the Book of Isaiah. These are God’s own words.

In chapter forty-one of his book, Isaiah writes, “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” 

We need to live our lives by believing in God and His promise to us. He told us that we are not to be afraid or discouraged. He tells us clearly that He is our God and that He will strengthen and help us when we are tempest-tossed. These are His words and His promise to us.

So, I tell you this, my Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus, “Don’t let these things fill you with fear, uncertainty and doubt. Father God will be your peace and your strength.”

One of the names of God is “Jehovah Shalom” which means “Lord of Peace”. He truly will bring you peace in the face of disease, disaster or dispute.

In the Book of Judges, we see a man who is called upon to be one of the judges. He came from a very small and weak clan of the tribe of Manasseh. In fact, he even calls himself the “least of his family”. That man was Gideon. 

After his encounter with an angel of the Lord, Gideon builds an altar to the Lord and named it “Yahweh-Shalom (which means ‘the Lord is peace’)”.

If we just believe in God and remember His words and His promise to us, we can easily overcome whatever we encounter. When we are armed with the knowledge that all things are possible when God is with us, we can conquer the fear, uncertainty and doubt that fills our hearts, minds and souls. These things are part of this fallen world. As Christians, we have been transformed and we are beyond their grasp.

In his second letter to his brothers and sisters in Corinth, Paul, in chapter five, writes, “So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. For we live by believing and not by seeing. Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord.” 

 We are no longer under control of this sinful world. We belong to the Father and, therefore, not subject to its rule over our lives. We have nothing to fear as long we remain confident in Him and continue to live by believing. When we do this, we can most assuredly stand firm in His grace.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

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