Social Distancing Not Spiritual Distancing

Social distancing was practiced even in biblical times.  It even had to do with disease.  In the first century people were continuing to battle leprosy.  Leprosy is a generic term used to denote a variety of skin disorders from psoriasis to true leprosy.  Its symptoms ranged from white patches on the skin to running sores to the loss of digits on the finger and toes.  For the Hebrew this disease was dreaded because it meant a person who had leprosy was ceremonially unclean, or understood differently, unfit to worship God.  Anyone who had contact with a leper was then also considered unclean.  The result is that lepers were separated out and truly socially distanced, but worse than that, they were spiritually distanced.  Because of the disease they were separated from the healthy and whole so that those without the disease could continue to worship.

Jesus did not consider there to be a distinction between clean or unclean from a person’s physical condition.  A person’s outward condition did not make one unclean; rather it was what was in a man’s heart that made him unclean.  Only a wrong heart toward God could cause one to be spiritually distanced from God.  Jesus ministered to the lepers because their spiritual need was greater than their physical need, although the compassionate Savior could easily heal the sick, diseased, blind, and lame, His priority was healing the soul through salvation. In Mark 1:39-45, we Jesus dealing with a leper reaching out to touch the “unclean” in order to heal him physically while also healing him spiritually.

I think it is important to understand that our Savior Jesus Christ was compassionate and cared for men who were lost and cast aside, those who were socially and spiritually distanced.  We have instructed to practice social distancing and for the purpose of minimizing the spread of the corona virus.  The greater threat as we do so is to spiritually distance ourselves not only from one another but even our Lord.  Our congregational gathering and worship is a key way we encourage one another to seek God, praise God, to live out His Word each week.  When that does not happen, as it is not for the time being, spiritual distancing becomes a reality.  With the compassion and love that Jesus has given us we must be intentional in keeping in touch with one another for the sake of encouraging one another to love God and people and do what is good and right.  The SOS women’s class has chosen to continue their Bible Study through Zoom meetings (online format) which is fantastic.  So, my charge for EBC during this time is to socially distance for physical health, but don’t spiritually distance so you can remain spiritually healthy!


Footnote:  Yesterday and today there have been plumbers in the new building installing plumbing for the restrooms.  God’s got this!


It Is Enough?

In this crazy time and period of life in 2020, we all have questions about what is factual and true.  We are bombarded with so much information and sadly enough, not all the information people hear is reliable and true.  As a result, there tends to be chaos and heightened uncertainty about most everything we do or for that matter don’t do.  As a believer, we look to find what is truth and how to responsibly make application of what is right in our daily activity.  As we do, we are always looking for confidence in what is reliable to sustain our mental, emotional, physical and spiritual well-being.  That has become a daily challenge.
Paul was no stranger to trial as he lived out life seeking to serve the Lord Jesus Christ by sharing the Gospel.  He encountered physical suffering, emotional duress, mental challenges, and spiritual warfare consistently.  In 2 Corinthians 11-12 Paul is again attacked by dissenters who charged he was a false prophet.  He talked about his sufferings for Christ and then talked about boasting only in his weaknesses in order to glorify God and not himself.  Part of his discourse talked about some visions that he had and how he could boast of these, but he emphatically stated he would not.  He says that because of the experience a thorn in the flesh was given him to keep him from exalting himself.  He sought the Lord to have it removed from him, but in 12:9 the scripture says, “But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.'”  In Paul’s inability to handle the thorn in the flesh, the Lord stated that His grace was enough, that even in Paul’s weakness God’s power would prevail.  Paul’s response, (continuing in 12:9) “Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me.”
When we wake up each new day we must determine how we will live our lives that day.  We have a challenge right now that affects us in many ways, it may not be a specific thorn in the flesh for the reason that Paul received his, but nonetheless it is something we ask the Lord to remove, to take away so that we can be “normal”.  Yet God’s Word says my grace is enough, because by his grace His power is perfected in our weaknesses.  We can adhere to the actions required or requested to help diminish the spread of a virus, but we can trust fully in God’s amazing grace to see us through each day, because in our weakness His power is present and complete to accomplish His purposes in our lives, in our community, in our nation, and in the world.  So let’s boast in our weaknesses so that Christ’s power may abide in us!
So remember Your people
Remember Your children
Remember Your promise
Oh God
Your grace is enough
Your grace is enough
Your grace is enough for me
Your grace is enough
Heaven reaching down to us
Your grace is enough for me
God I see your grace is enough
I’m covered in your love
Your grace is enough for me
For me
Your Grace is Enough – Chris Tomlin


Strong and Courageous

Joshua heard the affirmation of God’s presence with him as he prepared to lead the Israelites into the promised land.  Yet God continued with his charge to the leader of his people, “Be strong and courageous for you will distribute the land I swore to their fathers to give them an inheritance.” (Joshua 1:6)  What a rally cry for the task ahead.  However, with the charge to be strong and courageous was also a very important requirement.  The charge to be strong and courageous was to be exercised in observing, or doing, carefully the complete instruction that Moses had commanded Joshua.  Joshua was not to turn away or become timid in obeying all that God had commanded to Joshua through His servant Moses.  In verse 8 there is clarification, “This book of instruction must not depart from your mouth; you are to meditate on it day and night so that you may carefully observe everything written in it.  For then you will prosper and succeed in whatever you do.”  The connection for being strong and courageous was to do so by remaining in God’s Word, not passively, but intentionally.  The result of intentionally remaining in God’s Word would provide the way for success and prosperity in whatever Joshua would do.  The important factor for Joshua was to remain in God’s Word, by keeping it in continuous conversation as well as thinking on it, meditating on it all the time.  The scripture also called for Joshua to carefully do what what God commanded, simply said, that he must pay attention to the detail in obeying the Word, he could not take it for granted.
What does it mean for a believer today to be strong and courageous in the midst of dealing with COVID-19?  It isn’t a challenge like following God into the promised land.  But I do think for every believer it is a time to be more diligent in standing firm in God’s Word in order find success (God’s watch-care, provision, health, peace, and joy) in being strong in faith and courageous in obedience.  People who do not have a relationship with God through Jesus tend to be extremely anxious and fearful and certainly feel out of control.  Believers who are compromised in their relationship with God tend to look more to the world and find anxiety and fear rather than confidence and trust in God. The believer who is in right relationship with God has confidence in God’s control over all things, is strong in His truth, and courageous by His Spirit to face the unknown because God’s Word is the anchor of trust, the rock of confidence, and the banner of hope in the midst of the storm.  We do not have to live in fear, or be filled with anxiety about what we do know or what we do not know.  We can be strong and courageous in living each day because God is in control.  Remain intentionally in God’s Word, continually keep it in your conversation and think upon it day and night.  That is how you are strong and courageous in times like these!
When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
Let us do His good will; He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.
Trust and obey for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
– John H. Sammis


Going Into A New Promised Land?

In the Old Testament book of Joshua we read about an incredible journey requiring incredible faith.  Imagine being Joshua, now called upon to fill the shoes of Moses in leading the people of  God to enter and claim the promised land.  Joshua surely had watched Moses as he grew in his relationship with Yahweh the God of Israel and he also observed the obstinate people Moses had to deal with on a daily basis.  Now it was his task.  In this instance God, His purposes and His plan for His people, had not changed, only the leader did.  
God was still very much at work and the plan for the people was to continue because the Holy God of Israel had planned it so.  His words of encouragement to Joshua had to be powerfully motivating in the face of the immense challenge of taking the promised land.  Listen to God’s words, “No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live.  I will be with you, just as I was with Moses. I will not leave you or abandon you.”  (Joshua 1:5)  Joshua knew the faithfulness of God throughout the journey in the wilderness but now God was affirming His presence and power to Joshua for the new promised land.
We have just entered a new time in our daily lives, no we will not be crossing over  the Jordan river anytime soon.  However, the threat of the corona virus pandemic has changed many things, hopefully only temporarily, but then again we do not know the future.  The truly good news in the advent of the challenges we face with all the changes thrown at us, especially as believers, is this very true fact; God will be with us, He will not leave or abandon us!  In Hebrews 13:5b, the author echoes Joshua 1:5, “I will never leave you or abandon you.”  We know that God has promised every believer eternal life and that life is in Jesus Christ His only Son.  We know that in this temporal life we will face trials and challenges, even like COVID-19.  The wonderful encouraging news is that God, even in a time like this, because of His promises and purposes will not leave or abandon His people.
We may have to adjust our daily routines and make adjustments in how we live each day, but our God doesn’t change and He will be with us!
Trust God today to take of those things that only He can do, and be filled with praise and thanksgiving because of His promises!