Draw Near to God.

It seems that all of a sudden, the world has entered a time of great fear. However, this did not happen suddenly. The intensity of world events has been increasing gradually over a long period of time and now, with the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have reached a tipping point.
Matthew 24 and Luke chapter 21 record Jesus’ description of things that would take place at the end of the age, including wars and tumults, earthquakes, famines, and pestilence. But Jesus said, “…See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet” (Matthew 24:6b ESV), and no one knows the day or the hour when the end will come, except for our Father in heaven. Nevertheless, as students of scripture we should not be surprised to witness these things taking place now. The question really isn’t “What is happening?” as much as it is, how will we respond to what is happening – with confidence in the power and goodness of Almighty God, or in fear?
Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (ESV). We can boldly approach the throne of God because we have a great high priest who intercedes for us continually. Jesus died and rose again for the purpose of opening the way for us to come directly to God in prayer and supplication for all our needs.
James the brother of Jesus wrote, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (James 4:8 ESV). One of the things we are being told during this health crisis is that we should wash our hands well and often. This is sound advice, and we should definitely follow it. But let me ask us all this, as many times a day as we wash our hands, are we being double-minded? Are we cleansing our hands in the spirit of fear or while we wash, do we give thanks that God is on the throne and in control?
Today has been declared a Day of Prayer, and in light of that let’s listen to how Paul encouraged Timothy, his son in the Spirit, who pastored the church at Ephesus, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people,  for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:1-5 ESV).
Can you imagine why God would allow something like a pandemic to force people all over the world to stop what they’re doing, self-quarantine, and wait? I am not saying that God forced this virus on the world, but I am saying that he will most certainly use it for good if we will cooperate with him and align ourselves with his purpose. Paul, who understood what it means to suffer, wrote “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28 ESV). Beloved Friends, we are the called according to his purpose, and as Paul wrote to Timothy, God’s purpose is for all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Therefore, the question is, if we are not going to cleanse our hands and pray now, then when would you suggest we start? I don’t think we need a clearer indication that it’s time to set everything aside and make prayers, supplications, intercessions and thanksgivings for all people than the opportunity we have before us.
Our church participates in a jail ministry, and when we visit the men and women at our small county jail, one of the things that we stress to them is that God has allowed them to be in jail to intervene on where they were headed, call a full stop, and orient them in a better direction. Could this be true for all of us right now? Is it time to put all our differences aside, come together as one people who live together on God’s good earth, and pray for each other? Is it time to ask God for help, healing, and guidance for the whole world?
Listen, you’ve heard this scripture before, but please, open your hearts and minds to hear it in a very literal way now because God has given us this promise: 1 Chronicles 7:14 says, “if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (ESV).  
We are the people who are called by his name, and it’s time for us as the whole Body of Christ to humble ourselves and pray that God will heal our land. The Covid-19 virus has touched every continent on this planet in some way. In response to this crisis, as the Body of Christ on earth, let us come together and cover the land with prayer.
King David wrote in Psalm 24:1-2, “The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein,  for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers” (ESV).

The earth belongs to Almighty God, the One who created it. Not only does the earth belong to God, but it is written that all those who live upon the earth belong to him also. Because we belong to God, we should not be afraid. And because we belong to God, it is our duty and our privilege to come boldly to his throne of grace and make intercession for all people.

Beloved Friends, let’s claim this opportunity to come together as one Body, humble ourselves, cleanse our hands, and pray. Because I assure you, God is listening.

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (James 5:16 ESV).

Posted in Uncategorized.