PULPIT TODAY SERMONS
Robert D. Pace
When crisis appears so do questions. It has always been this way. And in this Psalm, David, the great king of Israel, plunges his thinking into the response of the righteous during days of calamity. David’s proposition urges us to search past the rubble of fallen foundations and investigate our course of action.
That’s why I want to challenge you to think deeper about what God is saying concerning the coronavirus and its plague upon mankind. Have you pondered that? What deeper message is God asking people to consider with this world crisis?
(Transition) The first point I want you to ponder about the coronavirus is this:
I. Regardless of how this virus originated, God is directly involved with it and he is using it for a higher purpose.
Do you realize that God can take something evil and turn it into something for his good! Nobody ever ties the hands of God and prevents his plan from unfolding. He can turn any situation into an event that works for his glory and man’s good.
Here’s what the Bible says in Ephesians 1:11. “[God] works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.” In other words, this virus is submitting to a divine assignment that God has for our world. It is submitting to his lordship even now!
Thank goodness, God is involved! He’s not standing aloof from it all letting the world spin out of control. This planet would be in trouble if that were the case! May I add that I am certain a vaccination will be discovered and God will rein in this virus when, and only when, his greater purposes have been achieved!
If it were in our power to control things would we have allowed such an event to plague the world to achieve a higher purpose? Probably not! But that’s why it is important to understand what the Lord says in Isaiah 55:8—11.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. (9) “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (10) As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, (11) so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
So be assured of this: God’s greater purposes are being achieved. Perhaps in a few years we will perceive what some of those purposes were. But for now, it is important to trust the wisdom of God for permitting such an event.
(Transition) Let’s continue to ponder and uncover what else God is saying during this calamity:
II. God wants us to know that he cares about sinners, not just Christians during times of national and international crisis.
It is true that God has special love and grace for Christians—I’m glad he does—but when you trace God’s past pattern of dealing with crisis you will find he always embeds a redemptive plan for sinners. He wants them to find their way to salvation through Jesus Christ.
Perhaps it was a personal crisis that turned your heart toward saving faith in Christ. If so, I’m sure you would admit it was worth it to find salvation and claim the certainty of Heaven.
It’s interesting that the Bible discloses how God turns a crisis created by man into a blessing sent from God. Here is what Isaiah 26:9 says:
“. . . [Lord,] When your judgments come upon the earth, the people of the world learn righteousness. (10) But when grace is shown to the wicked, they do not learn righteousness; even in a land of uprightness they go on doing evil and do not regard the majesty of the Lord.”
The world’s wisest man, Solomon, shows how God is willing to act in a redemptive way during a crisis. His words are found in 2 Chronicles 6:28—31.
When famine or plague comes to the land, or blight or mildew, locusts or grasshoppers, or when enemies besiege them in any of their cities, whatever disaster or disease may come, (29) and when a prayer or plea is made by anyone among your people Israel—being aware of their afflictions and pains, and spreading out their hands toward this temple— (30) then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Forgive, and deal with everyone according to all they do, since you know their hearts (for you alone know the human heart), (31) so that they will fear you and walk in obedience to you all the time they live in the land you gave our ancestors.
God cares about sinners! And he will use whatever means necessary to gain their attention, save their souls, and spare them.
(Transition) But there is a third question that is important to ask during times of “shaking” and it is this:
III. How has this crisis affected your personal relationship with God?
During this momentary season of “social distancing,” have you drawn closer to God? Are you reading the Bible more? And what about your prayer life? As Americans, we typically use extra time off from work to fulfill our pleasure and to vacation. Which activities have filled the void for you—have you used this crisis as an opportunity to watch more television and recreate?
I believe God wants us to use this time of seclusion in ways that honor him! And did you know there is a verse of Scripture for this? It’s found in Isaiah 26:20 when the prophet says this: “Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until the fury has passed by.” [ESV] How appropriate! God calls his people to briefly hibernate until the fury of the plague completes its course.
Since God is calling us to enter our “chambers,” I have several suggestions that address what you can do during this time. And it can make a huge difference if you will implement them:
First, for the duration of this crisis, can you “unplug” and commit to ten minutes of solitude with God each day? Use this time to get to know God better. Ten minutes a day! That’s all I’m suggesting. Remember, God is calling us into his “Secret Place.” He’s ready to speak if you’re ready to listen. As you’ve read from the Psalms I’m sure you’ve noticed a word that appears offset to the right of a verse. It’s the word, Selah. It appears 74 times in the book of Psalms. And while it’s a musical term, it means “pause; meditate; think about it.” Could it be that God has pronounced a gigantic “Selah” upon the world at this time for people to “enter their chambers, and shut the doors behind them” and listen to his voice?
Second, can you commit to reading more of the Bible than in the past? Perhaps you’ll find a hidden treasure to enrich your life. Or, it could turn out to be a solution to a dilemma you’re facing.
Third, this is a great opportunity to pray for the welfare of our state, nation, and the world. And we can especially pray for the local church and ministry outreaches that are supporting the suffering. Perhaps this is the perfect time to compile a Prayer List of your loved ones. I want to challenge you to do this: why not reach out to others and dare to share a prayer! Let somebody know you care about them.
Consider implementing this course of action. You will discover that it does more than bless others, it will benefit you wondrously. Our life is always enriched when we practice principles of Scripture.
(Transition) The fourth question I have to ask is this:
IV. What underlying, spiritual message is God speaking to you, personally, and to the world-at-large about this plague?
Remember, God is involved with this event. He isn’t letting it unfurl and playout of its own accord. God has interwoven divine mystery into this crisis that can be discerned if we will seek the Lord.
So, I want you to tune your spiritual ears to what God might be saying to you. Be assured of this, you aren’t unaffected by this crisis. That means God wants your attention. He cares about you. And he wants to speak to you.
And finally, what is God saying to the world-at-large? Many of you know that I have been preaching Endtime prophecy for the past ten years. Thus, based on the prophecies from God’s Word—and especially the book of Revelation—this is what I discern God is saying to the world: I believe this virus is a harbinger. It is a “Prophetic Signal.” I’m convinced that COVID—19 is pointing to the future! And like a global signal, it’s foretelling the plagues and pestilences of the Tribulation. While I have stated that a cure for the coronavirus awaits us, that is not the case during the Apocalypse! In that day, pandemic plagues will girdle the globe without constraint or elimination.
This means we must make the most of this opportunity and share with others what lies ahead. Warn them of the coming “days of trouble.” Perhaps God will use you to turn an unbeliever toward saving faith in Jesus Christ.
Here’s the thought I want to leave with you: Let’s recognize that during crisis God gains man’s attention in ways that life without crisis could ever affect people. When life is smooth-sailing the unbelievers care only about what pleases them. Let’s ask God to accomplish his work today and stir the souls of sinners. Ask God for a mighty revival to come upon our land.
Remember God is saying something. Will you listen?