Covid-19 and the Plagues of Egypt

Covid-19 and the Plagues of Egypt

During this Lenten season the much beloved movie, “The Ten Commandments”, staring Charlton Heston and Yul Brenner will be on television at least once.  I could not help but compare our current situation to the plagues that infected Egypt and our responses today.

Pharoah430 yrs. after Jacob and his family came to Egypt in good standing, a Pharaoh rose to power that did not know of Joseph or His God. God saw the oppression and cruelty the people faced and commissioned Moses to face off with Pharaoh. There was no way Pharaoh would let his slave labor force just walk away. So God sent a succession of plagues to annoy and exasperate all the Egyptians into letting the people go. The first two plagues affected everyone in the land. Can you imagine having frogs in your bed or to open your cereal cupboard and have frogs jump out?

The next seven plagues were sent to make a distinction between the Israelites and the Egyptian people. The last plague – the death of the first born – showed God’s ultimate Sovereignty over all life. Passover is a remembrance of His power, presence and the protection of His people.

The Egyptian gods were silent. They could not help, heal or protect from any of the plagues.  Pharaohs’ heart just became harder as he refused to believe and bow to the true God of Heaven and Earth. Out of grief, anger and frustration he finally ordered the Israelites to leave the country.moses part red sea But he later recanted and sent his army to chase the people to the edge of the Red Sea. (My favorite part in the movie)

 

 

The succession of plagues may have lasted up to a year. As soon as one plague got better God sent another. God’s people survived all of the plagues, took riches with them and walked through the Sea on dry land. But after all these incredible miracles we read that it didn’t take very long for them to start complaining.

I do not believe God sent Covid-19 as a punishment but does He have your attention? During this National crisis the gods of this world have been silenced. Our celebrity sports precautions hospitalare closed down, mega star musicians silenced, meeting places emptied and we are left with a lot of unknowns. Our God is not silent! His Word has a lot to say about trusting Him for today and the future. We are facing an unprecedented worldwide crisis. This virus and its global spread was a huge surprise to physicians and governments but is not a surprise to Him.

One of my favorite scripture passages tells us to be reasonable, focus our minds on the good and not negative media. We will experience true peace when we pray about our concerns and leave them with Him.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.    Phil 4:4-7 

 

Our friends and family are watching to see how we face this crisis.We can share that we are not alone and God is in control. Let us share the hope we have because of Easter- the ultimate love of God.

Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. 3For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.                                                                                                                                                     Isaiah 43:1-3 

No matter what restrictions may be put in place and the uncertainty of the future economy, our God is in control. Especially during Lent, let us thank God as we remember His faithfulness  recorded in The Bible for us. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.                                                                                                                                        Isaiah 26:3 

 

handstoGod

 

 

 

Just a Touch of His Robe

Just a Touch of His Robe

She was exhausted, out of resources, rejected, alone and in deep agony of body, mind and spirit. Three of the gospels re-tell the story of a woman who suffered for twelve long years and they don’t even give her a name.

25 A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding.26 She had suffered a great deal from many doctors, and over the years she had spent everything she had to pay them, but she had gotten no better. In fact, she had gotten worse.27 She had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his robe.28 For she thought to herself, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.”29 Immediately the bleeding stopped, and she could feel in her body that she had been healed of her terrible condition.30 Jesus realized at once that healing power had gone out from him, so he turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my robe?”31 His disciples said to him, “Look at this crowd pressing around you. How can you ask, ‘Who touched me?’”32 But he kept on looking around to see who had done it.33 Then the frightened woman, trembling at the realization of what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and told him what she had done.34 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.”         Mark 5:25-34 (NLT)

Twelve years of pain,weakness and suffering from expensive “cures” that failed over and over.  The Law, found in Leviticus 15, demanded that anyone with a discharge was to live separately and considered unclean. That meant if anyone touched her or sat on the same furniture as her, would also be ceremonially unclean. She could not go to the Temple or celebrate the feasts. She would be ridiculed and scorned because she would bear no children and was considered an outcast. What a miserable life.

womantouchrobe2She overheard about a Great Teacher named Jesus who was doing amazing miracles and that He was in town not too far away. “The villagers will not even let me near enough to hear him”, she thought. “Maybe if I can sneak in close enough to just touch His robe, I might be healed”.  Somehow she did manage to get close enough to do just that and immediately she knew she was completely healed.

Jesus called her out of the shadows. The woman shakily came forward and told her whole story in front of the crowd. Jesus looked at her and lovingly called her Daughter, sending her home with complete healing and peace. Shalom, the Hebrew word for peace means wholeness.  Jesus gave her wholeness of body, mind and spirit. There was a whole new life of community, happiness and possibilities ahead of her now.

Whatever your current circumstances, no matter where you have been or what has happened in life – reach out to Jesus.

 

guy-reaching

Reach Out to Jesus by Ralph Carmichael

Is your burden heavy as you bear it all alone?
Does the road you travel harbor dangers yet unknown?
Are you growing weary in the struggle of it all? 
Jesus will help you when on His name you call.
He is always there, hearing every prayer, faithful and true.
Walking by our side, in His love we hide all the day through.
When you get discouraged just remember what to do.
Reach out to Jesus, He’s reaching out to you.

When Crisis Strikes Your Town

When Crisis Strikes Your Town

Our town is in mourning. Four teens , all friends and athletes, were returning from a birthday party when a dark road, a big tree and excessive speed ended their ride and futures. A fifth teen lies in the hospital – his life hanging in the balance.

church memorialFriends of the victims called the local parish and organized a memorial service.  “It’s cathartic because you have to name it,” said Pastor James Mazzone. “You have to put it out there. You have to say, I’m grieving, I’m angry maybe, I’m confused. And when you do that when you share it with other people, it makes it easier.”

A local evangelical church also held a community service to pray for the families, the 5th young man who is in critical care and all the first responders. They offered their Pastoral and counseling staff to be at the high school to meet with grieving students.  A parent group has organized a go fund me page and gathered people to make ribbons to show support as a town for the families.

One of the definitions of community is, “a group of people living together in one place, especially one practicing common ownership”. We come together to mourn the loss of promising life, to remember and comfort one another. These boys were “our” kids.

Where do you go when tragedy strikes? What fills the hurting and questioning heart with peace and comfort? Tragic accidents happen – especially this time of year when young people feel invincible and carefree.

The Psalms echo what our hearts feel…

1 O God, listen to my cry! Hear my prayer!2 From the ends of the earth, I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed       Psalms 61:1-2 (NLT)

Day and night I have only tears for food, while my enemies continually taunt me, saying, hug-grief“Where is this God of yours?”   4 My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be….: 5 Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God!          Psalms 42:3-6 (NLT)

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.    Psalms 34:18

He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds. Psalms 147:3 (NLT)

I wonder about the young man in the hospital and his family. Their names are being protected from the press.  They are grieving too.  Since he was the driver, if he recovers from his physical wounds, his life will  be forever changed. Will people offer him forgiveness and support? His life matters too.

We cry out “WHY?”  Wasn’t God watching? Doesn’t He care?

jesus-wept2In the book of Luke we are told that Jesus wept. He wept because His friend Lazarus died. He wept because His friends were so distraught. They said – if you had been here sooner, Lazarus wouldn’t have died!  He cried even though He knew that Lazarus would be raised from the dead.

So, yes dear one. God is watching and His heart is crying out for us to come to Him. Oh how He longs to comfort and restore us. He understands our pain.

14 So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe.15 This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.           Heb 4:14-16 (NLT)

Jesus promised a gift to those who believe. So come to Him.   “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.       John 14:27 (NLT)

             Give Them All to Jesus   (Chorus)

Give them all, give them all, give them all to Jesus.

Shattered dreams, wounded hearts and broken toys.

Give them all, give them all, give them all to Jesus

And He will turn your sorrows into joy.

hands&candle

What to Do About Worry?

What to Do About Worry?

A recent article in Reader’s Digest was entitled “What,Me, Worry? You Bet I Do”. A tongue worriedwomanin cheek tale by Donal Ryan on how he worries about everything from if he remembered to close the refrigerator door to nuclear proliferation. He finally oddly found a little peace when the plane he was on had landing gear trouble. Why peace? Because he let go and realized he could do absolutely nothing about the situation! Why do we worry so much? Especially in America where our most basic needs are provided for without much trouble and yet we are filled with anxiety.

Worry is like a rocking chair. You may feel like you are doing something but it doesn’t get you anywhere.

I read another article in Readers’ Digest, quite awhile ago, that profoundly spoke to me and I wish I had saved it.  A young intern was working a second job at night in the college cafeteria. He would often complain to himself about his difficult situation. He noticed the elderly janitor would sit quietly and contentedly eating a liverwurst sandwich every evening. So he took the time to talk with the man and learned he was a Holocaust survivor. In essence, the elderly man replied to the grumbling intern,  that life is a matter of perspective. “If you lose your job, then you have a situation. If you break your back, then you have a problem.”

I believe that by retraining our minds to evaluate our situation we can decrease a lot of unnecessary worry. We can do that by using what I call “God’s measuring stick” which is found in a passage in the book of Phillippians.    measuring-stick

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.9 Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.         Phil 4:6-9 (NLT)

bubble-19329_960_720We can ask ourselves,   Is it (what we are anxious about) true? Is it a worthy cause? Is it the right thing to do,time or place? Is it pure, lining up with God’s word? Is it lovely, admirable or praiseworthy?  Will this matter tomorrow, next month or year? We often waste time worrying about things that really don’t matter.  How does the situation “measure up”? Things that do matter should be brought before God in prayer and left in trust and faith in His hands. When we do this we will experience His peace.

Jesus said,   That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing?26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?….30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? …….“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.         Matt 6:25-34 (NLT)

girlpray

 

Christmas Peace or Christmas Pace?

Christmas Peace or Christmas Pace?

We all know what the problem is. Every year the advertisements and shelves in the stores start filling up with Christmas items earlier and earlier each year. So much stress is added by competition and comparison. The self- imposed Martha Stewart mentality words-blackfriand ideas of having the perfect Pinterest holiday …are just that! What is perfect anyway? I found myself getting caught in the trap of “Cyber Monday”. Then there are all the added expectations of baking, cards, decorating, gifts, parties and programs. The pace quickens and the lists increase….  Soon we find that we are suffering stress from all the added activities instead of anticipating the joy of Advent!

I remember hearing that the three most important things to decorate at home for Christmas are 1. the front door  2. The tree and 3. something for your table .  Ask yourself, “If I were away from home for Christmas, what is the ONE thing I would miss the most?”   Let that be your “must have”.  Try to limit extra obligations and keep a healthy balance in sleeping and eating and it will help decrease stress.  We can control the pace!

advent-calendar-2900406__340We have a lot of friends and family that live far away from Washington to Florida and in-between and two years ago, we just did not get any Christmas cards out.  I felt bad but nobody died- although I did get reprimanded by a few elderly friends.  We try to enjoy the many free things that bring joy, such as our town’s Christmas parade and just driving around to view the Christmas lights in different neighborhoods.

Faith Hill sings a beautiful song in Jim Carey’s version of the Grinch , that says “Where are you Christmas , why can’t I find you? ”  I think when we get caught up in the chaos we lose the peace of Christmas.  Shalom means more than peace. It means a wholeness, a well-being in body, soul and spirit.  The prophet Isaiah wrote,

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.             Isaiah 9:6 (ESV)

We need to read and remember what Christmas is all about.  The first people to hear the good news was a group of scruffy shepherds.

birth-of-jesus-1150128__3408 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14  “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”             Luke 2:8-14 (ESV)

We are celebrating the birth of the promised Messiah.  We enjoy the traditions and celebration but it’s not about the decorations, presents or parties. Jesus is the reason for the season. He was born as a baby so we might approach Him.  He grew up as a man so He could fully understand us. He died to pay the price for our sin and restore our relationship with God. But He rose on the third day to give us victory over death and hope for a future today and later with Him for eternity.  We don’t have to keep up the pace. We can experience peace. Peace with God and peace within our hearts. Won’t you take a moment now and thank God for His wonderful gift?

I wish you all true peace this Christmas.

candles-xmaswords