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Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Immigration from the Soviet Union - God's Faithfulness in Harrowing Times

Their parents were arrested as Christians in a communist country.
Christian literature was hidden under one of them as a baby (and discovered).
This is a really interesting account of how God brought Mark & Joe as children to the U.S. from Russia (Latvia) 30 years ago, and how it can relate to our own difficult situations.

Thinking Biblically with Mark and Joe Zhakevich
Mark and Joe Zhakevich, elders at our church and professors at The Master’s Seminary, reflect on God’s faithfulness, family, and immigrating to the United States.
Posted by Grace Community Church on Saturday, April 25, 2020

When I was young and went to Grace Community Church, letters were sent to encourage Christians in the Soviet Union.
I later met some others who came from Russia and were trying to minister to people still there.

Before glasnost and perestroika, I used to listen to the news in my youth and about how close war could be with the Soviet Union.
I also remember imagining as a young person about somehow being a missionary in Russia, but then young people often think they are braver than they really are or turn out to be as adults.

I found the story of these guys fascinating.
I'm sure it was frightening in reality for the adults, and yet, God was faithful!
That doesn't mean that God isn't faithful when people do get imprisoned or sick or in hardships.
The Lord is still the faithful Shepherd of His sheep.  He will be with us and help us.
I know I need to keep reminding myself of these things.

Friday, April 24, 2020

All Things for Good - During a Pandemic

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.  Romans 8:28 NASB

Christians know this is true, but we don't always think about it when we go through trials or inconveniences in life.
Some people kindly responded to a question I posed online recently.

What is one way you have seen God using this time (of COVID-19) for good?

"He’s provided more time for reading and learning." - Miyoshi

"I’ve seen some unexpected people tuning into live-streamed sermons that were unexpected. SDG"
- Justin B.

"I know of several people that have become better stewards of what God gives. Things like not wasting food, being more careful about spending, spending more time with family, being thankful for those in their life and praying for one another." - Richard S.

"More intentional communication with others. Time. Growth in sanctification!" - Jeanine S.

"1- I've seen more people publicly asking for prayers all over the world, which makes us remember the needs outside our circle.
2-The isolation has served to bring to mind the real depth and effects of private sins."
- Marco S.

I have seen it make all of us long for the fellowship with other believers, and it has given us opportunity to spend more time in Bible study, reading good books. 
I have seen it for myself personally make me remember to pray more for many to come to Christ. 
I have seen opportunities for the gospel, and know of many who have relatives and friends who are more open to listening to the truth. - Wendy C.

Here is my response to my own question with additional thoughts:

From the things I have heard and observed, the Gospel has been proclaimed online a lot more through preaching, social media, and other online videos during this time.
God has used this, and He may be using it more than we know.
People have realized their mortality and have had more time to reflect on their relationship to God.
There have been more services, hymn sings, devotionals, and other videos put out by Biblical churches.
I hope that people will see how useful Gospel video tracts can be in the future!

Thanks again to the others who shared their observations.  
It's always good to remind ourselves of things to be thankful for!

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Love More & Complain Less

It has really bothered me seeing people minimizing the danger of COVID-19 and ridiculing efforts to protect and save lives (and keep hospitals from being overwhelmed).

We still don't know everything about this virus.
Many people have gotten horribly sick (worse than the flu), many have been on ventilators, and many have died (and they aren't all in Heaven). 
Many more would have died if not for the early efforts that some people complain about. 
The family of the 5-year-old in Michigan are going to miss their daughter (in case people don't care about those who die who are older or have other health problems...which they should). 
If you know people who are elderly or have other health issues, do you quickly dismiss their health and their lives?
Most people (if not all) in my immediate family fit into the higher risk category.

A lot of people died in New York, but perhaps some aren't affected by that...if you don't live there. 
I've heard a guy in a live-stream talk about how he was shaking the whole bed being so horribly sick. 
Another lady (another Christian) prayed she would die, it was so awful, and those were cases where they stayed out of the hospital.
Another guy (and this is someone I was acquainted with in the past) was in a coma at a hospital on a ventilator for some time. 
I read about another guy whose organs nearly shut down. 
Then there are those who did not live...husbands, mothers, and others who will be missed by people.
Yes, those of us who belong to the Lord will go to be with the Lord, and God will be with us in our sickness. 

I'll admit that being horribly sick does frighten me.  
I already have a number physical problems.  
I don't like to feel crummy, but I already have feelings of unwellness often (and dizziness).

There are those who are blessed and have coronavirus mildly or are asymptomatic (though they may spread it to others), but a lot of people who get it do not consider it a picnic. 
Even churches have lost pastors. 
Those who have lost loved ones will not be impressed by bravado or mockery of those trying to make decisions to save lives. 

Christians should be willing to sacrifice for the health of others despite knowing that those in Christ who die will have joy and not suffer any more. 
We, of all people, should care about eternal souls, and we as Christians should be patient and good citizens.
If we complain all over social media about temporary rules, does that make us a better witness to the world?
This isn't about persecution for the most part.
Sure, some politicians will not always be consistent, but within their worldview many of them are doing their best.

Now, I realize some people are hurting financially, and that is why it is good to cautiously move toward opening things up when possible.
As Christians, we should pray for authorities to make wise decisions.
If you can help someone else in need, that is a great thing to do.

I realize I've vented a bit on here.  
I still care about those who disagree with me, and I know I need to be more patient with others.

I would like to copy what I saw on another blog for my next post (to be encouraging).
What is one way you have seen God using this time for good?
I would like to get responses to choose from.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Are You Ready for Death?

God is holy, and humans are by nature sinners. 
We deserve God's just wrath...spiritual & physical death and eternitiy in Hell.
That is what you are headed for when you die apart from Christ.
Is there any way for sinful man to be reconciled to a perfectly holy & righteous God? 
This is the Gospel:
God sent His Son, truly God and truly man, born of a virgin to live a sinless life perfectly obeying God's Law. 
He lived the life that you & I cannot. 
We fail every day multiple times a day in thought, word, and in our actions.
We cannot earn salvation. 
The Law only proved how sinful we are. 
But He wasn't. 
He willingly suffered a terrible death on a Roman cross. 
He shed His blood taking the punishment for the sins of His people. 
He absorbed the punishment of sins of everyone who would ever believe. 
He was buried in a borrowed tomb, and on the third day He arose from the dead! 
He is sitting at the right hand of the Father. 
The Spirit (God is Triune) was sent to indwell His children. 
You must come to God in repentant faith trusting in Christ's death for your sins. 
There is salvation in no one else. 
You are not a good person. 
You need Christ's perfect righteousness imputed to your account in order to be saved. 
Only He can save us from our sins.
Trust in Christ and in His righteousness, His death for your sins, and believe that God raised Him from the dead.  
He saves the guilty.  
Those who come to Him He will not cast out, and He will give eternal life.
If you die physically as a Christian, you will have eternal joy.
Please read the 66 books of Scripture.
You can visit my other site HERE.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Hope, New Bible Translation, Preacher Equipping, & a Cowper Song

Steadfast Hope

Steve Lawson has been doing daily devotionals (on weekdays) during this time of social distancing due to COVID-19. 
You can watch them LIVE at 6 AM Pacific / 8 AM Central / 9 AM Eastern / 2 PM BST, or you can watch the recorded videos later at the same place - HERE
They are also streaming it on Facebook (Steven J. Lawson or One Passion Ministries).

The Legacy Standard Bible

John MacArthur recently announced that there is work being done on a new Bible translation that should be even more accurate than the NASB.  You can hear what he said about it HERE.

Equipping Preachers

Another exciting thing I recently learned about is the MacArthur Center for Expository Preaching which is supposed to launch in October.
Go HERE for the YouTube channel.
Click HERE for the actual site where you can sign up for information.

Peace! Be Still!

Here is a song for your day: