This is part two of a two part post featuring words of encouragement during times of uncertainty; for 2020, this message is meant to support you during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The year 2020 will be one for the record books, and one that many will be glad to see in the rearview mirror. A year that started with such excitement and hope, quickly turned to a year of struggle, anxiety, sadness and fear. In times such as these, many find themselves asking “where is God in all of this”?
By enlisting the help of our local faith community, DavieLiFE felt strongly that we could share messages of hope and remind us all, that even during times of uncertainty, God is here. As we move through the holiday season, there is no doubt this year will be different for moste veryone. However, opportunities abound for us to grow closer in our faith, or perhaps discover faith that can provide comfort. Many of our local churches have stepped up their efforts to meet people in their circumstances by building online worship services, while
others have truly been the hands and feet of Jesus by meeting the needs of community members who need help. Regardless of where you are, there is a place for you to find hope, healing and encouragement here in Davie County.
Throughout this issue, we hope you will enjoy the words that several of our local churches have contributed, and feel confident that although we may not understand or know the timing, God will use this situation for our good and His glory. In addition to reading their Words of Hope messages, take a moment to learn more about these churches from the information included in their outreach advertisements and see how a church in your own backyard wants to welcome you with open arms.
In times like these, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, scared, and maybe even hopeless. The constant noise, never-ending news cycle and radical change that we’re experiencing in this global pandemic is overwhelming, frustrating and disorienting. In moments like these, reminders of who God is can bring us lasting peace, unending joy, and unwavering hope. In the book of Colossians, the apostle Paul gives the church a reminder of who God is, what he’s doing, and how we are to respond to those truths. Paul writes: “For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” Paul is reminding the church of some really important truths that we still need reminding of today. The first is that God is in control of all things. Paul is reminding us that there is absolutely nothing that escapes God’s control and therefore, nothing catches God “off-guard”. He’s the God who made all things and holds all things together! In moments where we recognize our total lack of control, we can rest in the fact that our God is absolutely IN control. Now to some, that’s reassuring. However, if God is in control but doesn’t care for us, how could we find rest in him? Well, the second thing we see Paul remind us is that God DOES care for those he created. Paul reminds us of the good news that God actually cares so deeply for us that he would lay down His own life to reconcile us to himself. That’s great news! But even still, we see brokenness all around us. We know that things are not as they should be and so Paul encourages us lastly on the mission of God. He reminds us that God is working out His perfect plan to make all things right, reconciling all things to Himself so that one day we can rest fully and finally in the completion of his sovereign plan.
I know this pandemic has been a trying time for us all. Many have experienced worry, fear, and isolation due to the virus and other events happening around the world. We are all ready for it to be over. But I would encourage you not to wish away this season. I believe that God wants to teach us something. What if you knew that God was using this, for you to learn something that would forever change your life? How would that change your perspective? Well, He is. And while He is, there are some things that will help you get through this pandemic, stronger on the other side. First, you must learn to give grace to yourself and to others. We’re all trying to figure this out together, so we’re gonna make mistakes. Offer people grace. Remember, this is the first time that you have ever experienced this, too. Because of that, you can afford to give yourself some grace, as well. Maybe you felt like you were short with your family or made the wrong choice at your job. You are not perfect, so give yourself grace; God already has. Next, learn to slow down. This pandemic is not over, and could continue for a while. Trying to race to the finish line of it will not help you get there faster. In fact, you will probably just burn out on the journey. The temptation is to rush back into everything that we were doing before the pandemic (kids sports, business meetings, weekend gatherings, birthday parties, etc), but I believe God has given us time to slow down and focus on priorities. Take some time to do a self-inventory. What are you spending time doing that is causing you to feel overwhelmed right now? Is this time benefiting you, or just causing you to be busy? If you can begin to slow down, you will move at a much healthier pace throughout the rest of this pandemic. So, whether you have felt fear, hopelessness, or uncertainty during this time, know that God is with you and He is for you. If we will give grace when we need to, slow down our pace, and lean into Jesus, I believe that we can begin to see what He wants us to learn in all of this.
The Love and Promises He Gives I’m sure we can remember a time of our lives when, although everything was not perfect, our family and the spirit that was present seemed to add something special. That moment was not unlike any other, but there was a spirit that made you say “Yes.” “Yes” to what you saw, “Yes” to what you were feeling and “Yes” to the love that was shared. These memories become more prevalent because of love. Scripture tells us in John 15:11-13 that “11These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. 12This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you. 13Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” It is that love that will guide us as we walk, not as the world walks, but as He directs our footsteps. When times are intolerable, it is that love that will give us hope, and I believe the situations that we find ourselves in today
are only temporary. In the word of God, we find all His promises to us. He promises to be with us, to protect and strengthen us; as our provider, our peace and to love us always. He will answer us if we call out to Him. As we remember this year, and all that we have endured
independently and corporately, we should embrace the scripture, Isaiah 40:8 that reads, “8The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand forever.” Just as the grass and the flowers are only for a season, so are these light afflictions, but God’s word is forever. Be encouraged in His enteral love, find comfort in His promises, and rejoice in the word of God. It is that love that bought our liberty and the peace in promises. These and all things, we should remember as we move forward as a community and county.
In a time where fear and uncertainty seem to be at the forefront of our thoughts, we often lay aside the hope we have in Christ. There is perhaps no other greater time than this, to lay aside our worries and doubts and seek after the heart of Christ. A time to look with excitement at the things that Christ can do with a willing heart. As a believer it is important to remember that God sees the whole picture. He sees the days yet to come. And whether those days to come are better or worse, HE is in control. He will walk with us and shield us and give hope when hope seems lost. When Joseph was sold by his brothers, he faced a tremendous amount of uncertainty. He was betrayed by his closest family, rejected and sent away. He found himself in isolation from a family whom he dearly loved. His entire life was uprooted. He found himself with a career and position he had never done and on top of all of that, he found himself in prison for crimes he didn’t commit. Talk about going from one unfair situation to the next! His bad days had turned to worse days. His hope could have been destroyed. And yet, scripture tells us that the Lord was with him in everything he did and he prospered. So sure in his faith that as he stood in the middle of his bad circumstances, people around him took notice. In the next moment, Joseph is standing at the feet of the pharaoh with a plan to save a nation. God used Joseph’s unyielding faith and willing heart to completely change the course of his life. It didn’t eliminate his pain. He still had mounds of forgiveness and heartache to overcome. But it did give his life a purpose. It set him up to have an important part in the kingdom of God. What about us? Are we willing to stay faithful in the middle of our bad days? Are we willing to draw closer to the Lord and spend our time learning more about His word even when our world seems to be falling apart? Is our trust in the goodness of the Lord so solid that when the storm rages, we find our shelter in the MOST HIGH. If peace and comfort are absent from your heart today, we encourage you at Camp Manna to seek the LORD. There is no other that can provide such hope and comfort! Trust in the LORD today!
COME TO BETHLEHEM, THRIVE IN THE WILDERNESS. The Covid-19 Pandemic has invaded our lives and drastically changed our world overnight. In uncertain times, God reminds us not be afraid because He is with us always. God sent Jesus, the King of Kings and the Lamb of God, to save us from our sins so that the things of the world could not hold us hostage and separate us from eternal life. We should respect the pandemic in which we dwell and use safe and healthy practices as we dwell in the wilderness. We cling to faith that God is in this wilderness with us and we shall be delivered in God’s time and place. During these days of Advent and Christmas, we wait upon the Lord with faith that God is ever faithful. “…Do not be afraid; for see – I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord” (Luke 2:10 & 11) In Luke’s gospel when the angel of the Lord appeared to Mary and Joseph, he assured them, “Do not be afraid.” The unexpected news that they were having a baby sent by God in a culture of judgment and punishment must have placed them in a wilderness of despair and disillusionment. Mary and Joseph’s Jewish culture and belief system established their faith that God would someday provide a Messiah for God’s people who would deliver them from the forces of oppression and corrupt religious and social injustices. God’s angel told Mary that her son would take the throne of his ancestor King David. Jews believed that God’s Messiah would be a warrior of political justice and religious righteousness. Jesus was sent to lead us out of the wilderness of fear. During our Covid-19 wilderness experience, we are worshipping live outdoors, via phone-in listening, and through Zoom on our web page at Bethlehem-umc.org. We invite you to join us throughout Advent for a sermon series entitled, “Come to Bethlehem- Experience Christ. Beginning Sunday, Nov. 29 at 10:00 a.m., the topics include Seeing God’s Face, Worship Works Wonders, God Guides the Wise, and Come and Behold Him. On Christmas Eve come and celebrate a live nativity as we worship at 4:30 outdoors. Do not be afraid for God is bringing us Good News of great joy for all the people. Come to Bethlehem and experience Christ.
You can read more words of encouragement during times of uncertainty from local Davie County churches
in the December 2020 issue of DavieLiFE Magazine.