Could this be the time? Is Jesus’ return imminent?
There are a lot of theories being tossed about inside and outside the church as to the reason for this worldwide pandemic. In truth, no one really knows what God is up to. Did He cause the pandemic? No! Will He use it for His purposes? Yes!
So where are we in the greater story that God is writing, or in fact already written?
Some see this as a period of rest or reset. The kind you need when you’ve been burnt to a crisp from the activities of life. A well-needed pause. That may be true for some but for most, there’s another component to our shelter at home. It’s called stress. Think about the loneliness inside the homes of our single friends and family. This is the time when dogs really do earn their friendship. What about the stress of living in close quarters with a dozen family members, home-schooling, and interacting with your spouse who you now live with 24/7. No rest in that.
Sadly, as China comes out of quarantine there are reports that divorce filings have skyrocketed. What’s that gonna look like here in the US and around the world once the shelter at home orders are fully lifted. The unexpected and unintended consequences of a world at war with a microscopic enemy.
I’ve heard it said that this is the day of reckoning. Like Sodom and Gomorrah. The day of judgment. Or maybe it’s what Hebrews 12 reminds us of, “for the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” (ESV) Is it that? Discipline for sin? Not sure.
How about a time of repentance brought on by grief and a sense of loss? Loss of freedoms, relationships, and loved ones.
“As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.” (2 Cor 7: 9-10)
Through this time, I’ve personally been challenged to look at all aspects of my life asking the question – Lord, what are you saying to me? Is there something you want to point out that needs to be addressed in my own life?
If I’m totally honest I’m waiting for the rescue. Since it seems slow in coming, I’ve created my own rescue. Binge-watching Netflix, ice cream, and eBay. So far, that hasn’t worked too well. I find myself looking forward to family vacation – if there ever is one.
What do all these things have in common? A self-centered desire to anesthetize myself from the situation. Not helpful, but understandable. Heck, we live in a country where there are stores just dedicated to selling cupcakes. Are you kidding me? It’s no third world here in the good ole’ U.S. of A. I’m embarrassed to admit that I miss my regular stops at Tropical Smoothie.
Could this really be the end of the age? When Jesus returns? When we finally get off this ball of dirt and into a better place? Another “R”. The restoration of all things. Wouldn’t that be amazing? Matthew tells us in chapter 24 verse 8, “all these are but the beginning of birth pangs”. Could that be what this is?
Famine and pestilence are predicted prior to Jesus return. Pestilence can easily be paralleled to the unseen enemy called COVID-19. I heard from a friend of Embracing Brokenness Ministries in Nairobi (through Facebook Messenger) just yesterday. A desperate appeal for prayer. Here’s what he said.
“Dear Brother Steve, I greet you in Jesus’ name, I request prayers for widows, orphans, and the poor families in my Church who don’t have anything to eat because of famine due to the locust’s, which ate everything in 21 counties in our country Kenya. We have a lot of challenges here – we’re quarantined, everything closed. Please remember us with prayers for God to open the way to get 4 sacks of maize to sustain them. I wish you a nice time. God bless you brother and sister in Christ and protect your territory. Praying for this pandemic of coronavirus to end soon – in Jesus’ name. Yours in Christ, Brother Daniel”
It breaks my heart. It breaks Gods heart.
For the first time, Asian giant hornets have been spotted in the United States, specifically in Washington state, scientists say. Beekeepers have reported piles of dead bees with their heads ripped off, an alarming sight in a country with a rapidly declining bee population.
At more than two inches long, they’re the world’s largest hornets with a sting that can kill humans if stung multiple times, according to experts at the Washington State University. Researches have nicknamed them “murder hornets.”
What do we do with that news?
The Bible tells us what final events look like before Christ comes for us. It tells us of a great ingathering. A REVIVAL of sorts. Could we be in that place? You say, unlikely. The churches are closed everywhere. Ahhhhh……. Are they really? We are the Church friends. Check this out.
There were over 163 million views of the JESUS film over Easter week!
Yes, you read that right! Before Easter plans were in place to show JESUS in 70 countries. That number grew to 111 countries! Last year, the film was shown on TV in a total of 57 countries. Quarantined at home, more people were watching TV and this presented the Jesus Film Project with a wonderful opportunity to share the story of JESUS with more people than ever before.
Another example of the unexpected awesome consequences of a global pandemic is this. Like everywhere else across America, the church Greg Laurie (Pastor and Evangelist) leads in Southern California, Harvest Christian Fellowship, had to go exclusively to online services four weeks ago. Scrambling to respond to the abrupt change in circumstance, they were pleasantly surprised when on the first Sunday of quarantine they realized their online attendance exceeded 250,000.
But then it just continued to grow. Last week, they had over a million people tune in for church. These are people literally from all around the world, from every age and background, who are missing church.
But here is the most surprising thing about this new, burgeoning online congregation. At the end of Laurie’s message, he extended an opportunity for people to pray and ask Jesus Christ to come into their lives. At last count, over 31,000 had responded. That’s in four weeks.
Now that’s an ingathering.
What about for you? Have you found a way to engage with God in a new and innovative way? Or perhaps just the old-fashioned way of praying with Him. Seeking His face in silence. Listening to what He has for you in these unprecedented times. Is it easy? Not for many. We’re distracted or unable to focus – even depressed or anxious over the future.
One thing is for sure, we’re in the last chapters of God’s story. His overarching story for humanity. But your story might be just starting. If you’re one of the 31,000 that gave their life to the Lord online through Harvest, then that’s true of you. For many of us we need a jump start to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ in these last days. Don’t be bashful, share your faith with anyone willing to hear. That doesn’t have to be evangelizing or preaching – it can just be you being you. The unique individual God created you to be.
Love Him, love others, and watch the ingathering that comes. Spread the Good News. Jesus is coming back. He’s coming soon. Let’s take as many folks with us we can as these final chapters of Gods story on Earth come to a close.