The Lord Sits Enthroned Over The Corona Virus

Guest Contributor: Rona Kirby

Maybe the corona virus was something that you took lightly when you first heard about it, but as you’ve watched it move across the globe, your lightheartedness has been transformed into anxiety and worry.

And watching the news, looking at online sources, and engrossing yourself in social media doesn’t help. In fact, it only makes it worse. I’ve found myself, at times, beginning to become overwhelmed by fear and worry. This usually happens after I’ve read a news story, heard updated numbers of cases and deaths, or read a story or article that someone shared on Facebook. NONE of these things has done anything to calm my fears. It has only heightened them. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this. Can you relate?

Don’t let what you hear on the news drive you to despair. Instead, let it drive you to the One who has the answers and who is in control of it all. What does calm my fears and renew my trust? Saturating myself with God’s word.

I’m not saying that we should hide our heads in the sand and pretend none of this is going on. We should be aware of what is happening around us. I’m not saying we should be nonchalant and act like it’s not serious. It is very serious, and our actions should reflect that.
What I am saying is that there is a balance we must maintain.

There is a pendulum that we are all on that swings from extreme worry on one end to full trust in the Lord on the other end. And to be honest, even we Christians (the ones who know where and Who to turn to) can find ourselves way out on the end of worry and fear.
Let’s swing ourselves to the other end and go the resource God has given his children.

I’m not saying to stop watching the news, but what if we immersed ourselves in the word WAY more than the news? What a difference it would make! We’d probably be less worried, less self-serving (or less self-preserving), and we just might find ourselves becoming restful, calm, and at peace.

When worry begins to take over, turn to Him for comfort, encouragement, strength and rest.
When I begin to swing on the pendulum toward fear, I’ve found myself turning to God’s word, and most recently I have been turning to the Psalms. Reading and pondering verses from one psalm leads to other psalms, which then leads me to another one. It’s like a story of God’s rule and reign, his steadfast love and faithfulness, and his promised goodness is unfolding before my very eyes. And I find my response is to simply rest, wait, and be still.

Below I’ve included some of the verses that have brought me back to a place of trust and reliance. My prayer is that as you read through them, the words of Yahweh will lift you up and point your eyes to the One who is ruling and reigning and to the One who deserves all our praise.

Be encouraged! He is enthroned on high above it all!

The verses below have been the path of my journey through the Psalms just in the last few weeks, but there is so much more. Go on your own journey and see where God leads you.
I’ve also found that listening to praise music calms my soul, renews my trust in the Lord, and reminds me of what I know to be true. Below are a few songs that have offered comfort and have helped me offer praise to our Maker in recent days.

Yet Not I but Through Christ in Me
The Goodness of Jesus
Behold Our God
Sovereign over Us
Sinking Deep
It Is So

My Journey through the Psalms

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of
the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward (Psalm 19:7-11).
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Whoever is
wise, let him attend to these things; let them consider the steadfast love of the Lord (Psalm
107:1, 43).

The steadfast love of God endures all the day. But I am like a green olive tree in the house of
God. I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever. I will thank you forever, because you have done it. I will wait for your name, for it is good, in the presence of the godly. (Psalm 52:1, 8-9)

I will sing of the steadfast love of the Lord, forever; with my mouth I will make known
your faithfulness to all generations. (Psalm 89:1

For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. (Psalm 100:5)

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for
the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! (Psalm 27:13-14)

Your flock found a dwelling in it; in your goodness, O God, you provided for the needy. . . .
Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation. (Psalm 68:10, 19)

Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and
worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind! Love the Lord, all you his saints! The Lord preserves the faithful, but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride. Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD! (Psalm 31, 19, 23-24)

For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever. He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord. His heart is steady, he will not be afraid, until he looks in triumph on his adversaries. (Psalm 112: 6-8)

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright. (Psalm 20: 7-8)

Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him,
because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you. (Psalm 33:19-21)

He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and merciful. He
provides food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever. (Psalm 111:4-5)

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only look with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked. Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—the Most High, who is my refuge—no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone You will tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot. “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.” (Psalm 91)

Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he uttered. . . . He remembers his covenant forever, the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations. . . . For he remembered his holy promise, and Abraham, his servant. (Psalm 105:5, 8, 42)

Then I said, “I will appeal to this, to the years of the right hand of the Most High.” I will
remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. I will ponder all
your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds. Your way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God? You are the God who works wonders; you have made known your might among the peoples. You with your arm redeemed your people, the children of Jacob and Joseph. (Psalm 77:10-15)

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. . . .But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments. The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all. (Psalm 103:1-5, 17-19)

He covers the heavens with clouds; he prepares rain for the earth; he makes grass grow on the hills. He gives to the beasts their food, and to the young ravens that cry. His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the legs of a man, but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love. (Psalm 147:8-11)

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. . . . “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.  (Psalm 46:1-3, 10-11)

Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy. (Psalm 61:1-3)

I love you, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. (Psalm 18:1-2)

The Lord reigns; he is robed in majesty; the Lord is robed; he has put on strength as his belt. Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved. Your throne is established from of old; you are from everlasting. The floods have lifted up, O Lord, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their roaring. Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea, the Lord on high is mighty! Your decrees are very trustworthy; holiness befits your house, O Lord, forevermore. (Psalm 93)

The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad! (Psalm 97:1)

The Lord reigns; let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth
quake! (Psalm 99:1)

But the Lord sits enthroned forever; he has established his throne for justice. . . . And those
who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you. Sing praises to the Lord, who sits enthroned in Zion! Tell among the peoples his deeds! (Psalm 9:7, 10-11)

All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord and all the families of the nations shall worship before you. For kingship belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations. (Psalm 22:27-28)

God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne. (Psalm 47:8)

The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.
May the Lord give strength to his people! May the Lord bless his people with peace! (Psalm
29:10-11)

Thankful to Who?

Tis the season when the most oft asked question is, “What are you thankful for?” I think we’ve somehow missed the point of thanksgiving and gratitude when we reduce thanksgiving to simply a list of things we’re glad we have. You hear it as well. “I’m thankful for my family, my health, my country, my freedom, my dog, my provisions, etc.” Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong at all with being thankful for these things and more. But simply acknowledging the things that I’m glad I have is not thanksgiving.

You see, true gratitude is biblical. It’s so ironic that there are atheists, irreligious and practical pagans all over the country who will acknowledge or celebrate Thanksgiving this week in some way never realizing that the attitude of gratitude is 100% biblical. Makes me laugh under my breath slightly. So if gratitude is biblical, then we must look to the Bible for its definition and examples of its true expression. And here is what we discover about thankfulness when we open the scripture. True biblical thankfulness is never about merely listing your blessings. True gratitude ALWAYS expresses thanksgiving to the one who is responsible for our blessings. Thanksgiving is not about the what but the who. I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds (Psalm 57:9-10).

Do you recognize today that “every good and perfect gift comes down from the father of lights” (James 1:17)? It doesn’t matter who you are, there is nothing you have that God has not given to you. Your blessings are not the result of your goodness, charm, ability, capability or strength. It doesn’t matter what you believe or if you believe in anything at all. This one fact remains. A good, loving, sovereign, holy Creator holds you and your life in the palm of His hands, and every good thing and even the bad things which God uses for good are His blessings to you.

This Thanksgiving, rather than naming your blessings, give thanks to one responsible for your blessings.

 

Puerto Rico 2019

 

Recently, Rona and I traveled to Rincon, Puerto Rico to serve along side of some wonderful people in the Church Without Walls. We are very excited to see how God may allow us to partner with Followers of Christ all over the island to see disciples multiplied and the kingdom expanded.

Soma Distinctives

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B8Hhggo3V9SiNmFNTjFqMXNKVjg/view?usp=sharing

No church has had greater impact on New City Church through the years than Soma Church in Tacoma, WA. We are forever indebted to the leaders of Soma for modeling for us what true, faithful discipleship looks like in the local church. Up until now we have only sought to use Soma as an example and encouragement for how we disciple and live as the Body of Christ. However, as we constantly seek to live and serve more faithfully it seems that it would be wise of us to take steps to join more closely and identify with Soma Church in a more intimate way. Conversations have already been initiated to explore the possibilities of New Church Church becoming part of Soma Church in Anderson, SC. Please look over the distinctives found in the above link and put March 3 on your calendar. Tommy Rutledge from Soma Asheville will be with us to discuss more about Soma Church and its mission and vision.

My Paraphrase of the Lord’s Prayer

My holy, sovereign, transcendent Father, please honor your name in my life and through my life today as You cause Your kingdom rule and dominion to grow and expand until all the earth is filled with Your glory as the waters cover the sea. May my life be the vessel through which You continue Your work in creation to bring life on earth into ever increasing likeness to life as it is in heaven until finally in the day of Your return the two are reconciled and all things are made new.

Today would you provide for me the resources needed to represent You faithfully and help me to trust your definition of  “needed” and help me to be satisfied and overjoyed with what you chose to provide. Because I am forgiven and my debt against You has been cancelled may forgiveness flow through me to those who have and who may wrong me today.

And Father, the evil one will seek to ambush me today by using my own lusts and propensity to sin to fan the flames of my love for self-worship. Christ, intercede for me the way you did for Peter that I may not fall into temptation and after I have resisted in the power which You provide use me to encourage my brothers.

My King, enable my heavenly eyes to see beyond the counterfeit, deceptive treasures of the shadowland to behold Your unfolding glory in a world that aches for Your presence. Lift me higher than I am capable of desiring. Fill me fuller than I am capable of imagining. Come Lord in power and might. Vanquish the evil one along with all traces of his mutiny.

But until that day may the sweet aroma of Your life in me awaken the senses of dead men as You assemble Your glorious bodying and fit it for the new Eden.

Today, O Lord, may Your kingdom come and may Your will be done.

Mission Motivation 

I have long been concerned (well “concern” may be a little pious on my part) or at least aware that many times our motives for mission may be a little suspect. Whether in the local church setting or in the context of the church’s international effort, Christians must constantly allow the light of God’s Word to expose the motives of our deceitful hearts and then be willing to have our thoughts brought into new submission to the Spirit of Christ. You will have to evaluate your own motives and even discover your own examples of such self-righteous display. I simply want to point you to a statement made by the Apostle Paul which serves as an ever-present sieve through which my own self-seeking motives are filtered. Paul identified the very purpose for which he had received “grace and apostleship” was that he might be used to “bring about the obedience of faith among the Gentiles.” That’s a blog in and of itself but I am struck by the next subtle phrase, “for His name’s sake” (Romans 1:5). Every beating that was endured, every church planted, every night without food, every bold message that was proclaimed was motivated by Paul’s love for Christ and the apostle’s unwavering allegiance to the Redeemer. Without question, Paul loved the people he sought to reach with the Gospel (1Thess. 2; Rom. 9). However, in the face of such rejection and persecution I doubt that Paul always found sufficient motivation in his love for those who so fervently opposed him. How often would Paul have reminded himself that the objective of bringing the Gentiles to humble obedience and submission to the Gospel was “for His name’s sake?” In Peter’s post-resurrection restoration, Jesus asked him, “Peter, do you love me?” After affirming his love for Christ, Jesus identified how Peter’s love would be demonstrated in the world with this simple command: “Tend my sheep” (John 21:17). Peter’s motivation for tending the sheep was to be his love for Christ, not his love for sheep. Now this is not to suggest that love for people is not a prerequisite for serving and reaching them with the Gospel. Certainly, we should love those who are groping in darkness, but that love must spring forth from the overflow of our love for Christ and it can never be reversed. The church’s missional effort and energy is “For His name’s sake” and for no other reason than for His glory. John Stott understood the need for proper mission motivation when he said, “The highest of all missionary motives is neither obedience to the great commission (important as that is), nor love for sinners who are alienated and perishing, but rather zeal – burning and passionate zeal – for the glory of Jesus Christ.” Father, may my zeal for your glory drive me to be a living demonstration of Your grace for the world to see.

Worthy Walking

As I steamroll down the track toward the half century mark in my life I am discovering that even now I am constantly having my belief system (worldview) overhauled. So much of what I believe to be true about God, life, salvation and heaven are as much the result of cultural songs and casual cliches more so than faithful, diligent study of God’s Word. I am teaching through the Book of Ephesians to our church on each Lord’s Day, and I must confess that I am being challenged and transformed more through preparing to teach than I expect anyone to ever be from hearing me teach.

This morning as I looked at Ephesians 4:1 I was struck once again by how the Bible never presents our Christian faith and identity as being about a future, heavenly existence as I have been taught growing up in a church culture. The Christian message has been “the world is a bad place and God will destroy it. Also you are a sinner who will die and go to hell unless you invite Jesus into your heart in order that you might go to heaven when you die!” This is not the biblical message of what it means to belong to the family of God.

The message which is predominately being shared in many modern church settings has become a message about death rather than the good news about life! Yes, of course I understand that death must be dealt with, but it has been dealt with through Christ’s death on the cross. Now what? As unintentional as it may be, from the very first evangelistic encounter with a potential convert we communicate that salvation is all about what happens when a person dies. How many times have we used this gem of a phrase, “If you were to die today, do you know that you would go to heaven?” We should be asking, “What happens if you live another 50 years? Will you continue to live as an enemy of God who lives for your own glory or will you repent and believe Christ to bring your life under His eternal rule?”

Modern salvation theology focuses on death and the life that follows (even this teaching is less than biblically sound). Biblical theology focuses on the story of the Giver of life and how our daily lives can be transformed by His power as we are adopted into His family to participate with Him in his eternal work of causing creation to flourish for His own glory.

In Ephesians, Paul certainly affirms the believer’s hope of a glorious eternal inheritance but NEVER at the expense of discarding our present call to walk as though eternity had already begun. Paul in Ephesians presents salvation as a present vocation deeply embedded in a creational purpose. Ephesians is about here and now, not there and then!

We have divorced the Christian message from the present and we wonder why teenagers graduate high school and leave the church in droves? We scratch our heads over the decline of the traditional church, which many of us cut our teeth in and we fail to understand why so many people who once professed faith in Christ seemingly live now with no regard for Christ or His church. Our church culture is simply reaping the rotten fruit of decades of poor theology. When we make salvation all about life after death we should not be surprised when people live as though God is only important in the life after death.

As Paul exhorted the Ephesians so I “implore you to walk in a manner (TODAY) worthy of the calling through which you have been called” (Eph. 4:1). If that is to happen “the eyes of your heart must be enlightened” so that you understand the great mission to which you have been called to participate. Apart from such knowledge you will drift through life with a dead hope based on unbiblical presuppositions about eternity which will inevitably lead you to believe that this life is all about you and you will live accordingly. Instead, I remind you that “God has made us what we are. God has created us in King Jesus for good works that he prepared ahead of time as the road we must travel” (Eph. 2:10, The Kingdom New Testament).