Pure hearts Clean Hands and COVID-19

We are faced with something in our nation which is unprecedented.  The COVID-19 virus or as it is better known, the Corona virus.  How do we as Christians respond?  We must take all the precautions we can and let us not be naïve in terms of how Corona will affect our lives, the economy and our nation.

In praying into all this in the early hours of this morning, I was led to the account of Naaman.  Now, “Naaman was general of the army under the king of Aram. He was important to his master, who held him in the highest esteem because it was by him that GOD had given victory to Aram: a truly great man, but afflicted with a grievous skin disease.” (2Ki 5:1 MSG)

Naaman hears there is a prophet in this foreign land who could cure his skin disease. He heads off to go and see Elisha. And as the account goes, Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha's house.  (10)  Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, "Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed."  (11)  But Naaman went away angry and said, "I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy.  (12)  Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than any of the waters of Israel? Couldn't I wash in them and be cleansed?" So he turned and went off in a rage. (2Ki 5:9-12 NIV)

The trouble is, Naaman doesn't like what Elisha suggests for his healing. His logic goes: Why couldn’t this prophet just come out, wave his hand over my disease and set me free from this affliction?  The rivers of my home in Damascus, Syria, would have been just fine to wash in. In fact, they'd be cleaner and better. Why should I come all this way just to wash in the Jordan?

I think you and I do this sometimes. We withhold our belief because we don’t agree with “the terms”. Because this is our heart response, we miss the chance to experience all that our Father has in store for us.  We can make a lot of excuses, and fear creeps in at a time like this.  We can’t see what sense it makes to come back to God.

We respond out of fear. Fear is out there and fear affects how we think and how we react. Fear distorts what we are, and what we are supposed to be. In the Bible we read the phrase ‘perfect love drives out fear’ (1 John 4:18) but the opposite is also true: ‘perfect fear drives out love’. In the face of the Corona virus, I am not suggesting that we are naïve and carry on with business as normal.  We must take all the precautions we can.  However, let us not fear! And let us not respond as Naaman’s! 

It is a time to do things differently than we have been doing. It’s time for Christians to bear witness of the hope we have in Jesus. It is a time to be creative in how we engage with one another and society.  It’s time for us be motivated by love and not fear.  Now is not the time to be stopping acts of kindness, feeding the poor or to stop praying for one another.  While the situation may seem impossible, remember “…Nothing is impossible with God." (Luke 1:37) 

David says we should be in unity, “How good and pleasant it is when brothers (and sisters) live together in unity!” We should allow the crisis to draw us together not drive us apart. Could this be a time for us as Christians to unite, rise and give account for the hope we have.  The Corona virus shows no discrimination and no respect to race, wealth, culture, it could affect anyone. Could it be an opportunity in the face of humanities frailty and mortality to share Jesus with those who otherwise would be oblivious to the Gospel?

Naaman travelled all the way to see the prophet Elisha to receive his healing. But he was not happy with what Elisha said He should do.  We have all travelled through life and gotten to where we are through trials and tribulations, through blessings and curses, through good times and bad. We have been sustained by our Father. Now we are faced with the Corona crisis. As the church was persecuted in the account in the book of Acts and spread. If we don’t respond as Naaman’s I believe we could put Jesus on display, respond in love and see many lives transformed through the power of the Gospel.

In closing, let us not be Naaman’s, let us remember that ‘perfect love drives out fear’

May we lead with love!

Andrew

 

How will you prepare for Easter?

How will you prepare for Easter?  I would like to encourage you to give something up in preparation for Easter.  An engagement, like much of the Body of Christ does at this time of the year. Let us join in with them, it is a time called Lent.  Lent is a time of repentance, fasting, and preparation for the coming of Easter. It is a time of self-examination and reflection.  In the early church, Lent was also a time to prepare new converts for baptism. 493d1bc4fa940f36440225d74d83a436

Today, Christians focus on their relationship with God, often choosing to give up something or volunteering and giving of themselves for others.  “The forty days represents the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, enduring the temptation of Satan.” (source: umc.org) In a nutshell, we set aside time for reflection on Jesus Christ—to consider his suffering and his sacrifice, his life, death, burial, and resurrection.

A quick look at scripture encourages us to fast and pray:

Ezra 8:21 There, by the Ahava Canal, I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask him for a safe journey for us and our children, with all our possessions.

All our concerns about ourselves, our families, and our assets, it is our wisdom and duty, by prayer to commit to God, and to leave the care of them with him.

As Ezra did, I am proclaiming a fast at Willow Hill, for Lent that we may:

  1. Humble ourselves before our God
  2. Ask him for a safe journey for us and our children
  3. With all our possessions.
  4. Prepare our hearts for Easter

Let’s give this portion of the year to the Lord, trusting Him to redeem, multiply and bless us, our families, and our church.

A Lenten fast doesn’t have to consist of just fasting and abstinence from the things we love, but it can be adding things during this season of lent that will make our lives more meaningful.

What to give up for Lent:

If you want to know what to give up for Lent… start here with these 10 ideas of what to give up for Lent.  I have also added in some ideas of what you can ADD or DO for Lent, to better yourself and help others.

  1. Don’t buy anything that you don’t NEED.
  2. Throw Away 40 things for 40 days
  3. Give a meal to a poor person everyday
  4. Pray for someone everyday (In the shops, at work, the gym or school)
  5. Work out daily to take care of the body God gave you.
  6. Give up a meal a day, breakfast, lunch or dinner
  7. Give up cold drink for Lent.
  8. Say 3 Nice Things to Your Spouse & Kids Daily
  9. Don't eat out and no take-aways for 40 days
  10. Replace 30 minutes of TV time with 30 extra minutes of devotion/prayer time.

Th point is to do something or give up something daily to focus on your relationship with our Father. As for me, for the weeks of Lent leading up to Easter, I will be fasting all Social Media. Will you give up somethings and fast with me in order to humble yourself before God, prepare your heart for Easter and ask him for a safe journey for ourselves and our children, as well as our possessions, that our lives may be redeemed, multiplied and blessed?

Love

Andrew

 

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