If you need me, I am a phone call, text or Facebook message away. Church member, community member, friend or stranger, I am here! HOWEVER, I will be working from home. I was reminded, by a wise and trusted friend last evening to practice what I preach...in a much gentler way! After repeatedly sharing in my sermon yesterday, “ALL WE CAN DO IS WHAT WE CAN DO; FAITH NOT FEAR WILL SEE US THROUGH,” my friend reminded me that I have a wife who struggles with asthma and a preemie granddaughter who has basically been sheltering in place these first (almost) 7 months of her life. I may be just fine if I get COVID-19, but they may not. I would run into a burning building, climb the highest mountain and swim the widest river to save them...i doubt I will ever have to, but I am being told that socially isolating myself as best I can could save their lives. There is no way to guarantee that any of us won’t get this virus, but I will do my part because, all I can do, is what I can do - Faith. NOT-Fear will see me through! Friends, do what YOU can!
Pray, practice social distancing, isolate if you are sick and check on your neighbors frequently. All of these are means of loving one another!
34“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
Good Afternoon Church Family!
Yesterday, I learned that some frightened young people have shared scriptures that led them and others to believe that we are in the final days of the earth and the rapture is about to take place.
In response to this, I shared my thoughts and what I believe in a letter to one young person in our flock who was very shaken by something a friend shared. The letter is based on one thing alone...the word of God found in the scriptures. I have decided to share the body of this letter with all of you as well in hopes that it will bring you comfort!
We read in 1 John 4:18: “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
Fear is the devil’s playground! When we allow fear to take over our thinking, we are doubting the power of God’s love and plan for us.
What is God’s plan?
Well, in Jeremiah 29:11, the prophet tells us what the Lord revealed to him:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
It’s true that we will be judged when Christ returns, but that will happen when we would never expect it.
We read in Matthew 24:36 these words from Jesus,: “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
These words from Jesus simply remind us that we are to live by His teachings until He returns. Neither the greatest of scholars, nor teenagers during the Corona Virus outbreak of 2019-20, nor even Jesus himself knows when He will return!
Our energy cannot be wasted in worry and fear! The apostle Paul tells us in Philippians 4:4-8 ,
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
We are to live in faith and let God have all our worries. We are supposed to think about all the good that is happening, focusing on what is right, true, noble, pure, lovely , admirable, excellent and praiseworthy!
We must do this as many before us have done in more recent history. Imagine, for a moment what those living during the bubonic plague outbreak when millions died must have been thinking, or those living in Europe during World War II with air raid sirens and the sounds of bombs exploding all around their homes or being in Japan when the first and second atomic bombs exploded. All of these times and many, many more were thought to be the start of the rapture. Even so, we are still here. Life goes on and it will go on for all eternity with Jesus for those who repent and live by His way!
If any scripture speaks to me at this time more than any other, it is this:
““When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
We can’t waste our time worrying and fretting over something we can do noting about. Instead, we are to love as Jesus loved. We are about to have an opportunity before us to care for those around us who are in need. We don’t invite the circumstances of life that come before us, we simply do what Jesus would have us do. How do we know what that is? Well, we pray and we feel in our very heart the things the Holy Spirit is calling us to do for “the least of these.”
That, dear friends, is what I believe. Jesus is coming and I can’t wait. He will draw me, you and all of us who believe, close to Him and save us. In the meantime, we are to trust in that promise and love our neighbor as ourselves! So, get busy being that awesome disciple of Christ who loves like Jesus, putting others first, and stop worrying. YOU know the Savior and YOU are going to be okay!!!
Brian Abbott is a pastor in the Missouri Conference of the United Methodist Church under appointment to Nelson Memorial and Dogwood United Methodist Churches.
Brian has a love of people that had been a lifelong calling which began with a 24-year career as both a social work and a juvenile officer before answering God’s call to ministry.
Brian and his wife, Anna, have four adult children & four grandchildren. They joyfully share their empty nest home with three happy pups who keep them on their toes!