Personal Note: I wrote the following devotional early this morning; when I started, there were no new emails in my inbox; right when I finished writing, an email appeared that had the following content; does this sound like confirmation that what God led me to write is what he wanted us to read?
“The variables have changed at a rapid pace. On Monday, Illinois and Ohio closed dining establishments. This announcement was followed by the President asking Americans to refrain from meeting in groups of more than 10. What will change next week? How long will this be the new normal? We are all watching as the methods in which we lead are changing.”By the way, for those of you familiar with a word God impressed upon me last May, and confirmed in multiple ways, you might be interested in what the subject line was introducing the email:
“The Variables Will Change: Are You Ready?”So–here is the content of what I wrote this morning for our daily devotional; remember, the email quoted above was received after I finished writing:
These are turbulent times; there is no denying this. I have been thinking this morning how much has changed just in the few months since we entered 2020. I have also been wondering when things will return to “normal’—or if they every will (and if things were ever “normal”).
Have you ever been present during an earthquake? I have not, but those who have tell me that the experience of having what we all take for granted as stable begins to shift is frightening, disconcerting, troubling. Those in an earthquake naturally look for anything to hold onto that will provide some stability.
What is the ground that Christians stand on? The truth is, if we have planted our feet on anything other than the stable ground of God’s Word and God’s Son, we will find the shifting and shaking that is currently taking place to cause us to succumb to fear rather than be strengthened in faith.
Culture Changes: Though the coronavirus itself will someday pass, I believe it has forever affected our culture. Though we will someday return to some of our “normal” practices both in our culture and in our churches, right now pastors and churches, like our culture at large, are struggling to have wisdom like the men of Issachar; “men who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do.” (1 Chronicles 12:32)
Christians Change (Hopefully!): Though followers of Jesus should not be changing their convictions along with the culture they live in, we should also recognize that God does discipline us in order to weed out any sin, worldliness, or distrust in him. Hebrews chapter 12 talks about God’s loving discipline of his children; verse 10-11 say “He disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” The very purpose of discipline is to get us to change!
Christ Doesn’t Change (Thankfully!): The book of Hebrews both begins and ends with this truth: heaven and earth “will be changed, but you are the same” (1:12) and “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (13:8.) It is this eternal truth that gives us certainty in changing times.
Where are you looking for stability in these shifting times? Remember this one truth:
“He will be the stability of your times.” Isaiah 33:6
Pray that East Mountain Vineyard Church (and all Christ-honoring churches) would know how to navigate these turbulent times; that we would apply the words of Ecclesiastes 8:5–“a wise heart knows the proper time and procedure.” (NASB)
Pray that Christians as individuals, as well as individual churches, as well as the universal body of Christ, would examine ourselves and see if there is anything God’s Spirit is pointing out that we need to change. It is easy for us to say that God is calling the world to repentance with this virus, but we can’t ignore the fact that “it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God.” (1 Peter 4:17). What do I need to repent of; what do churches need to repent of?
Pray for yourself and our church—that we would look to Jesus during this time and always; that we would seek to find in him “the stability of our times.” If I am building my life on this sure foundation; if Jesus is truly the foundation of East Mountain Vineyard Church, no amount of shaking will be able to dislodge us:
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.” (Matthew 7:24-25