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Sermon of the Week 
Sunday, March 29 2020

It’s good to know, when you’re in a place you’ve never been, that there are folks who have been there before you and can give you insights. We call them support groups and they come together to offer mutual help and information to make the transition as profitable and useful as possible.

The bible is a great support group to anyone who is in untested territory. 

It’s amazing how everything can change in a day. As Dorothy said to Todo, in the “Wizard of Oz”… It certainly doesn’t look like Kansas anymore”… 911 changed the world as we know it, and here we are again, washing our hands and searching for toilet paper, learning new terminology, like “Social Distancing” and elbow bumps instead of hugs and handshakes. 

Many in the bible had their own quarantine periods, and they found that it redefined their lives in drastic ways, and when God brought them out, they were different people than when they went in. It was as though the worst thing that happened to them, became the best thing for them and for all who were connected to them .

Certainly we could apply Genesis 50:20 “As for you, what you intended against me for evil, God intended for good…”

So as I was reflecting on those who have come before us, as our support group, I begin with.. Elijah. Here’s a man who was quarantined in a cave, by the brook Cherith…where God told him to go and stay in a time of famine.

1 Kings 17:1 “Now Elijah, who was a Tishbite from Gilead, told King Ahab, “As surely as the LORD, the God of Israel, lives—the God I serve—there will be no dew or rain during the next few years until I give the word!” 

So you know the story, how he went to a cave by the brook and was there 31/2 years… We know that it was that period of time because we are told in James 5:17 “Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years.”

In Luke 4:25 it says "Certainly there were many needy widows in Israel in Elijah's time, when the heavens were closed for three and a half years, and a severe famine devastated the land”.

We know that after declaring that there would be a famine upon the land, Elijah was told to go to Zarephath where a widow would sustain him. The miracle of the multiplied meal and oil, was enough to provide for her and her son, and for Elijah and all the neighbors, for 21/2 years. 

Ahab probably didn’t give much thought to Elijah’s word about a famine until the early rains didn’t fall in what would be ourMarch, and the latter rains didn’t fall in what would be our October, the first year, and didn’t fall in the second year as well. By then, Ahab was searching for the prophet to end the famine, but God warned Elijah and told him He would hide him by the brook Cherith, in a cave that was there. 

The promise which we can receive as part of this quarantine story, is that God will sustain us, when we are in a situation that does not allow us to meet our own needs…                                                                                         Notice that God did a miracle for the widow, so she could supply Elijah with what he neededfor over 2 years. And when he was at the brook, God sent ravens to bring food, (that had to be a lot of ravens, bringing food every day, for another year)….

I believe God is declaring that He will bless others so they can bless you. He will bring your supply from places you don’t have a clue is even possible. He will sustain you, when you have no means to sustain yourself. 

Our God has never gone to His cabinet and found it empty. He fed

two and a half million Hebrews for 40 years, in the Sinai wilderness, and there was none sickly or feeble among them. 

And He has a miracle for you!!! Though we walk through the valley, He is with us, His rod and His staff are with us, He restores our soul! He is doing some of his most powerful workthere when things have taken a turn and put us in unfamiliar territory.                                                                    He’s at work in Elijah’s life in at least three ways: protection, provision, and preparation.

Because the prophet spent his quarantine time seeking God’s face, and hearing His voice, the brief time between when he left the brook, and the time he was chauffeured into heaven in a chariot of fire… was his most productive time ever. 

First, he prayed and the famine stopped, then he anointed two kings over God’s people, then he appointed Elisha as prophet in his stead, who did twice as many miracles as Elijah. These fourthings had lasting generational affects upon the people and the land.

Let me go to the next Quarantine I was made aware of…. David the shepherd king, was quarantined in a cave called Adullam. He was forced into the place of separation. The cave of Adullam became the gathering place for those who loved David but who were weary of Saul’s oppressive, ungodly rule. As long as David remained in the king’s house, there was no pressureon any one to separate themselves and take a stand. But, the moment that David was forced into exile, those around him could not remain neutral any longer. 

Therefore we read, “Every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men.” (that means about 1600 people, counting women and children). 

Look at this, when David took a stand, about 1600 people decided they could no longer live a compromised lifestyle. And they were willing to live in a cave of Adullam, than live in Saul’s palace. 

“Adula” means “to change direction” and Adullam means “a place of refuge” “a place to retreat before advancing”. 

We never know how many people we are influencing. We don’t understand how many are waiting for us to sell out to God and His call in our lives, so they can make the decision to take a stand as well. 

When I decided as a teenager, to cast my lot with the Lord, come what may, I could never have imagined that thousands of folks, over these 60 years would answer the call and become pastors, evangelists, teachers, apostles, deacons and workers in the ministry.

Someone is waiting for you to make the separation, to take a stand, at your Adullam. Your place of retreat before advancing….

In Joshua chapter 24 Joshua stood before all the people and said….

v14 “Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away all the things that your fathers allowed to keep them from serving the Lord. v15 Choose this day whom you will serve, whether to serve other gods as your fathers served in the land where you dwell, or the Lord God Jehovah. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

I wonder how many are waiting for your all out, sold out to God declaration….

Another Quarantine which I read about in the bible occurred while the Hebrews were in the land of Goshen, which was set apart for them by the Pharaoh at the request of Joseph, when he brought Jacob and the rest of his family to Egypt to escape the famine. We are told that Joseph and the pharaoh of Joseph’s day died, and another pharaoh came into power who enslaved the Hebrew nation. For 400 years they served in bondage. When God was ready, he sent Moses to liberate them, but it took a series of plagues to convince the pharaoh to let them go. The final plague was the death of the firstborn throughout Egypt. And so the quarantine was ordered by God in all of Goshen.     The blood of the Passover lamb was to be slain by each family and placed upon the doorposts of their homes and the lamb was to be eaten, until the plague had passed over. 

No one was to come in or go out. 

Throughout the quarantine, the firstborn of every family died, but the Hebrews remained untouched in their homes. Wow, this tells me that not only do we claim the blood….we must eat the lamb. 

During communion, we are instructed that the wafer represents the body of Christ and the cup of grape juice represents the blood he shed. 

St. Augustin. Referring to Holy Communion, said, “Behold what you are, and become what you receive.” 

I don’t know what that means to you but it says to me, Become the body of Christ in the earth…. Didn’t Paul say 1 Corinthians 12: 27 “Now you are the body of Christ, and each of you is a member of it. “28 And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, and those with gifts of healing, helping, administration, and various tongues”.… We are separated and at the same time embedded in humanity and reserved for His purposes…                                                                                                           So through the emblems of Christ’s body and blood, we are commissioned to speak, act and do as He did. I am separated and quarantined by the body and blood of Jesus, to follow in His footsteps, touching, listening, loving, caring, and releasing healing to the hurting, the broken, the lonely, the disenfranchised, the needy and searching.

Just a quick flash back….The name Goshen, in the Hebrew language means “to pour forth”….. This tells me that God sees not only the place of quarantine, but He has planned all that takes place when you move forth from that place, time, or experience. God saw the end from the beginning. He saw your future before you had a past. He knew what you would be before you even were. God has planned your “pouring forth”. 

Isaiah 58:8 “Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard”.

Isaiah 55:12 “For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing”.

Oh, let there be a breaking forth……

Certainly, as we speak of those who have experienced Quarantine… we would be negligent to fail in remembering Noah. Here’s a man who went into the ark for 40 days and 40 nights and when he came out, the whole earth was a different place. 

Someone wrote “When this is over, may we never again take for granted a handshake, a hug, full shelves at the store, conversations with friends and neighbors, a crowded theater, Friday night out, the taste of communion, the school rush each morning, a visit to the doctor or dentist, going to watch the team play, coffee with a friend, having a meal at the restaurant, and attending church. When this ends, may we find that we have become the people we really want to be, that we had hoped to be, that we are called to be and may we stay that way. May we appreciate that we have become better for each other, because of the worse that we have come through!

Hebrews 11: 1-2 “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation.”

Our faith will lead us to do things, say things, and believe things that many times seem foolish or silly. How can we believe many verses in scripture when we don’t understand them completely.                                 Doubting and not understanding are two completely different things. Noah didn’t understand why he needed to build this huge boat (the ark), but he had confidence that the one who told him, knew what he didn’t understand. In a time when rain had not been seen in his lifetime, God told him to prepare for the rain. Enough rain to float this huge boat he would build. 

What is God saying to you, that you don’t understand, but you’re willing to trust that He knows what you don’t. And you trust Him, that in His time He will bring understanding as you step out in confidence. 

Moses was the first to see a whole new world, as a result of His confidence in God.

Can you be confident that your entire family will be saved. Can you be confident that God can change everything… That he can turn it around. A new job, a partner for life that He planned for you, that what seemed like the end of something can still be a new beginning!

What an incredible compliment from God, that Noah received…                Genesis 6:8 But Noah found Grace (favor)in the eyes of the Lord.

v9 Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.

Let me close these thoughts on Quarantine with Matthew 4:1“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights..” Jesus was tempted in three areas, physical, spiritual, and concerning His purpose. We are essentially physical and spiritual, but we also exists for a purpose. 

With each area of temptation Jesus answered, “It is written”…

When you’ve fasted 40 days, everything looks like food… and Satan said turn these stones into bread, and Jesus said, “it is written, man shall not live by bread alone”… Jesus is telling us that there are many things we could do, but it would not be best for ourselves, for others or for what God has planned for our lives….This is the area of physical temptation… or the desires of the flesh….

I drink all the whiskey I want to, I cheat on my wife all I want to, I steal and cheat and lie, all I want to… I just don’t want to!!!                                       This is an area of temptation where we use spiritual things to gratify the flesh… Seeking the gift instead of the giver. We can start operating independent of the will of God, or just stop checking with Holy Spirit all together. You’ve made up your mind and you lower your head like an old bull, and charge ahead!                                                                                       I don’t want just a visit from Jesus… You know what I’m talking about (Whew, look at those chill bumps, oh, I got a visit from the lord!)                  I want to walk with Him, talk with Him, and hear Him say that I am His own. When I get up in the morning, “Good morning Jesus”…. When I go through my day, “Thank you for being here with me Jesus”…When I go to bed, “Thank you for being my light and my peace”….I need to love the lord more than the appetites and desires of the flesh…

Then Satan then took Jesus to the highest place of the temple and said, cast yourself down from here and the angels will catch you. Jesus said, “ It is written, Do not tempt the Lord your God”. This test is in the area of the emotions, or presuming…. Everything that is good, isn’t necessarily the best. 

Paul tells us, 1 Corinthians 10:23 “Everything is permissible,” but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible,” but not everything is edifying. v24 No one should seek only his own good, but the good of others”.…

There are churches that practice snake handling and when they survive a bite, they stir up the crowd, saying how God protected them. That’s like saying “I’m a fool, so God will protect me”…..

Many times people will use scripture to mean something separate from it’s intended purpose…. That can be like playing Russian roulette.. One guy was wanting scripture for what he should do, so he closed his eyes and opened his bible and stuck his finger on a verse. When he opened his eyes, he read “Judas went out and hanged himself “…

Next we see that Satan took Jesus up to a high mountain and said if you will bow down and worship me, I will give you the kingdoms of this world”. 

Jesus said, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.” Then the devil left Him, and angels came and ministered unto Him. This test is in the area of the “Ego”…

It’s about doing God’s work my way… (I did it my way)

A Christian man saw no harm in smoking marijuana. His pastor told him that scripture tells us not to come under the power of anything but Christ… He said “well God made it, so it must be OK”, The pastor took out his handkerchief and picked up some dog droppings and said, here have a shot at this, after all, God made it, so it must be OK!!!!

It’s about trying to find a short cut, instead of total obedience…. You can’t command someone else’s junk yard dog, and you can’t say “Get away from me Satan”, if you’re out of the will of God….

I know a guy who quit smoking, but kept a pack of cigarettes in his pocket. When I asked why, he said to show it doesn’t have any power over me any more…. (HUH!) It has power over you, cause you can’t throw them away!!!

It is written, is the key to overcome all temptation. It is written, will make the devil flee. It is written will keep us in the will of God every time!

The greatest degree of social distancing is about to take place. There will be a separation of all those who have received Christ, from all those who have not. Things are being fulfilled at a quickened pace. Jesus told us to be ready, at such a time as you think not, He’s coming to gather His people to Him, to spend eternity with Him. 

Those who don’t know Him will be left behind. Their loved ones, spouse, children, friends, will be taken, and they will be left. 

That is one social distancing, you won’t want to be part of…. 

Right now, the question is, are you ready, are you sure you’ll go when He comes. If not, pray and receive Him today. Make it right today.

1 John 2:28 “And now, I tell you, abide in Him, that when He shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed of Him before his coming"

Posted by: AT 09:51 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
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