Treasure In Earthen Vessels

Discovering the Indwelling Holy Spirit

How Will the Church Emerge from COVID-19? ~ My Wish List May 16, 2020

“These are the times that try men’s souls,” wrote Thomas Paine. The year was 1776, the same year the thirteen American colonies broke from their mother country and declared independence as a free nation. They were brave men and women who fought for what they believed in, who they were, and the future they desired. Their trying times gave birth to the greatest nation on the face of the earth—the United States of America.

Our trying times should give birth to something greater as well. We should never be the same person when we come through trying times and out on the other side of pain and struggle. God allows such times because they test us to see what we’re made of. Are our hearts right before Him? Are our motives for a worthy cause? Do we want the thing bad enough to sacrifice something to obtain it?

I can’t help but wonder what changes COVID-19 will bring to us. For some reason God has allowed it, and it has and will affect so many things about our lives—what we do, where we go, how we act and react to a new normal. And then there is the Church—will the Church of Jesus Christ emerge better than we were before COVID-19? Could God be using these trying times to iron out our wrinkles so we will be ready for the Bridegroom when He comes? And what might the new normal for the Church look like?

 

 

I have a few things I would like to see change ~ my wish list, if you will.

Number 1: Christians would be one with each other, just as Jesus is one with the Father. If God has done anything in this season it is to marginalize the denominational lines that divide us. These divisions of separation need the searing hot iron in God’s mighty hand to smooth out those deeply embedded creases. Our pet doctrines need to melt away or at least be shelved. (I won’t be holding my breath on that one.) Our prejudices and jealousy must not exist in our new normal. All arrogance and pride should be gone as we emerge from this pandemic storm.

Number 2: Another change I would like to see is the leveling of the playing field among Christ’s followers. During this time, we see famous spiritual leaders, teachers, televangelists, singers, writers, speakers, etc. now standing shoulder to shoulder beside the weakest among us. We all recognize our desperate need for Him. We all feel the same stress. We all feel the same uncertainty. We all feel the same neediness. Our one heart’s cry that rises to the heavens in true harmony (something that doesn’t happen often) is this: “Oh God, we need YOU!”

If we’ve learned anything during this season of unrest, it is that the church building is not the church. Our denomination is not the church. Our platform and style of worship is not the church. Since those things are not the Church, then it seems apparent that we must now figure out what the Church of Jesus Christ is actually supposed to be.

Could it be that a conceit for our way of doing things and a disdain for other’s way of doing things will have no place of expression on the other side of the pandemic? Oh God, may this be true! Lest we stand together as one unified body of born-again believers, our religious freedoms will vanish before our eyes.

Could it be the efforts to grow our church, our brand of Christianity, our form of worship will cease and be replaced with all of God’s children serving Him and each other in one accord and waiting before Him? After all, wasn’t that the atmosphere that set the stage for the coming of the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts? Wasn’t that the very match that lit the fires of revival and church explosion? It was!

During this season of seeking the Church’s true place in God’s Kingdom, it should be the desire of our hearts that we emerge from COVID-19 as a changed people—less divided, less critical, less proud, and more like our Savior who gave up everything for us? Do we owe Him anything less?

As the Church seeks to find our new normal, may we keep in mind that before the Church can love the world, we must first learn to love each other.

Somehow, I believe that Jesus’ wish list for His Church may look a lot like mine.

Blessings to all as we face the new normal of Christianity. ~ Janie

 

The Savior and His Little Chicks ~ In Times Like These April 2, 2020

The term “trying times” is an understatement for the day in which we find ourselves—fighting COVID-19. For most of my life I have heard about a future time when things would be out of control and everything would be shaken. It would be unlike anything we have ever seen before, and it would be linked to the end of the world. Whether this time is any of that or not, it is at the very least, a coming storm that shakes us to the core.

Today, after nearly three weeks of sheltering in place—right here in the good ole USA, the land of the free and home of the brave—we are staying home from work, school, church, sports events, movies, vacations, trips to see grandparents, and shopping for anything except the bare essentials. It is a great trial-run for finding out what we can and can’t live without. We also know that unless things improve, there is no end in sight. Welcome to a world with the Coronavirus in full swing.

 

I will spare you the numbers of cases worldwide and in the US, the number of tests done for the virus, and sadly the number of deaths because all numbers are on the rise—every day, every hour.  Makeshift hospitals are being set up at record speeds as this period of time is being compared to a war. And a war it is. A war on humans, on our way of life, on our economy, and certainly on our faith. No one—get this—no one person on earth will escape the effects of this war. We see it and hear it on the news 24/7, and we are growing weary. Unemployment is rising with each new announcement of another company laying off thousands of employees from their jobs. That, my friend, is going to get real—really soon!

 

So, it is war. It is trying times. It is a trial. It could be the end-time shaking that the Bible tells us will come upon all the world. That’s enough to scare the daylights out of most anyone—unless you know who I know.

 

I love this old song sung by George Beverly Shea at so many Billy Graham crusades:

 

“In times like these you need a Savior, in times like these you need an anchor.

Be very sure, be very sure, your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock.

This Rock is Jesus. Yes, He’s the One. This Rock is Jesus, the only One.

Be very sure, be very sure, your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock.”1

 

Do you have Jesus as your anchor? Is your life clearly anchored in Him? in His Word? in His promises?

 

I want to share one scripture with you that is found in Matthew 23:37 ~ “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me.”

 

Those are the words of Jesus as He stood on a hill overlooking the city of Jerusalem. He is talking about God’s people—the Jews—who had rejected all the prophets of God down through the centuries. Their religious leaders had set up a form of worship, added to the Laws of God, created a set of rules and regulations developed solely by men, and made their traditions what they worshiped. God had sent prophet after prophet to tell them of the coming judgement if they did not turn from their sin and return to Him. Message after message they chose not to hear. And if the messenger became too loud, they killed him.

 

At last, God sent His only Son, Jesus. Guess what? They didn’t want to hear Him either. They plotted against Him and killed Him too. On that day, when Jesus stood looking over Jerusalem, He fully knew what they were going to do with Him. His fate was already recorded in the Old Testament. He would be killed by God’s own chosen people. His love for them was strong, and His compassion ran deep because the Father had tried over and over to change the outcome for this city.

 

Notice the last phrase of that scripture: “But you wouldn’t let me.” And because they didn’t let Him, Jerusalem was totally destroyed in 70 AD. Today, as we see our beloved United States of America reeling in the turbulent winds of a world pandemic, we wonder if she will be able to stand. Will she make it through? Will she survive these trying times?

 

I don’t have the answers and neither do you. But this is do know. Jesus is looking out over America today and offering to gather us—His little chicks—under His wings of protection until this storm passes—if we are willing to let Him.

 

The little word “if” holds gigantic significance here. Why? Because….

It tells us—His little chicks—who gets to determine the outcome.

It tells us—His little chicks—there is hope on the horizon and a rescue is possible.

It tells us—His little chicks—that we can turn this thing around.

It tells us—His little chicks—that He will fight for us when we choose to do it His way.

 

The question to all of us is this: Are we willing? Have we heard His voice calling out to us as a nation, “America! America!” Have we heard His message? His warnings? His pleadings for us to turn around?

 

Perhaps we need to consider a few things: Has America been faithful to God, like He has been faithful to us? Have we stood for life, truth, justice, mercy, and righteousness? Are we a light to the world? Or are we continuing to ignore His pleadings while our last chance is being offered to us in the middle of these trying times?

 

Only time will tell what America is willing to do. Repentance is the key word, and it must begin with God’s own people. I don’t know about you, but I’m running towards those wings of protection and plan to crawl beneath them, hunker down and stay there as long as necessary—until this storm passes or Jesus comes for His little chicks! How about you?

 

In the next few days and weeks, we will look at repentance, what it means to be under His wings and how to get there, and enduring through tough times. Blessings to all ~ Janie

 

1Ruth Caye Jones, In Times Like These, 1943