Sermon Manuscript . . .
A Sovereign God and a Worry-Free Response
A biblical response to the coronavirus pandemic
Is there such a thing as an accident? Does anything happen outside of God’s control? Listen to these actual accident reports collected by an insurance company.
•I collided with a stationary truck coming the other way.
•A pedestrian hit me and went under my car.
•The guy was all over the road. I had to swerve a number of times before I hit him.
•I pulled away from the side of the road, glanced at my mother-in-law and headed over the embankment.
•The pedestrian had no idea which direction to go, so I ran over him.
Can there be an accidental virus, or an unplanned pandemic out of God’s control? “The coronavirus shut down my school . . . kept me from work . . . affected my church.” Then “the virus infected my home, my friends, my parents and it killed my grandma.” Is that an accident? What does God’s Word say? Today, you need to know what God says about our current situation with the outbreak of the coronavirus.
Again friends, this is nothing new–there have been plagues, diseases and viruses that have devasted the world in the past and voluntary shut downs and isolation called for in order to help curb the spread so that the effects of the virus do not become overwhelming. Some viruses cannot be stopped, any more than a people can stop an earthquake. But a virus can be wisely managed to some small degree. That management is the responsibility of the government, and as a church, we are seeking to cooperate.
The government is not forcing us not to meet, but as a church we are choosing to act as good citizens, while at the same time your leadership is working very hard to minister to you as best we can during this time. Hopefully you are doing your part as well. How?
By PARTICIPATING in our live stream worship services.
By PRAYING for each other and staying in touch with leadership and one another.
By LOVING others in the body in any way you can–reach out, make it known.
By continuing to GIVE faithfully and sacrificially, as you always have–don’t stop.
And by being FILLED with the Spirit, so you live by faith and not fear and be a witness.
But what does God say? Many truths were highlighted last week from Isaiah 40. And today, I want to emphasize three biblical truths which will carry you through this crisis–three exhortations in order to honor God in the midst of a pandemic. What are they?
#1 Grow SATURATED in God’s SOVEREIGNTY
In Deuteronomy 32:39 God proclaims, “See now that I, I am He, and there is no god besides Me; it is I who put to death and give life. I have wounded and it is I who heal, and there is no one who can deliver from My hand.” God says only He has the power of life and death. A virus may be the means, but the cause, the one in charge of life and death, is God!
Revelation 1:18 says Jesus Christ “holds the keys of death and Hades” right now.
Hebrews 9:27 says God “appoints the death of every man.” Death is not from a virus or a gun or a car crash–it is God-appointed.
1 Samuel 2:6 to 7 says, “The Lord kills and makes alive; He brings down to Sheol and raises up. The Lord makes poor and rich; He brings low, He also exalts.” God can and does reverse human circumstances. All death and life are in the hands of God. When someone dies, it is God’s will–not an accident, not a virus.
Psalms 47:8 says, “God reigns over the nations, God sits on His holy throne.” God is the ruler of the nations. God is running things and God has the right to do what He pleases. And again the psalmist says in . . .
Psalm 115:3, “But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.” You can have confidence–God is in control.
And Psalm 135:6, “Whatever the Lord pleases, He does, In heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps.” No place is hidden from God’s control and hiding will not stop God’s will. And finally in . . .
1 Timothy 6:15 to 16, Paul tells us, “God is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords.” God is in perfect control of all that is happening–every single detail. Being sovereign means He controls everything–His will is absolute and He does whatever He pleases. If our God is truly God, then His sovereignty must be absolute. His rule must involve total control of everything in His domain–every circumstance, every situation, every event, every person, and every disease.
You remember this question in John 9:2 and 3, when Jesus’ disciples asked Him, “ ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?’ 3Jesus answered, ‘It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.’ ” God is working out his will by a man being born blind.
Remember what God said to Moses in Exodus 4:11, “The Lord said to him, ‘Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?‘ ” Yeah, but what about when the plane plows into a building or a building falls on a bunch of people? Jesus answers that in Luke 13:4 and 5, “Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? 5I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
God is in control Daniel 2:20 to 21 says, “It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes Kings and establishes kings.” God claims responsibility for establishing and removing human rulers, however acceptable or unacceptable they are. Proverbs 21:1 tells us, “The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord, God turns it wherever He wishes.” God’s control means He either directly causes, or consciously permits, everything that happens in human history.
Paul said to the Romans in 11:36, “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.” And he taught in Ephesians 1:11 that God “works all things after the counsel of His will.” God is directing every aspect of your life–every detail, every situation, every relationship He is allowing or causing every single circumstance in your life. God does as He pleases, only as he pleases and always as He pleases. Saturate yourself in God’s sovereignty–that knowledge will carry you through this crisis. Since God is sovereign . . .
First There are no ACCIDENTS
It was no accident that a young girl was crippled while making a simple dive off a dock, because as a result, she became a spokesperson for the handicapped in the person of Joni Earikson-Tada. That was no accident. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Pick that apart . . .
•“God causes”–God is the one who is the cause of what is happening.
•”all things“–God’s sovereignty is all-inclusive. Every event, every circumstance, every situation, every person is intended or allowed by God.
•”to work“–God’s control is active and alive.
•”together“–tells us God is harmoniously controlling all the trillions of variables in life to accomplish His perfect plan.
•”for good“–God’s control is going to help you find God’s best in this life, even when we can’t see why it’s happening.
In a sense, Paul is warning us not to read too much into our circumstances. This pandemic is judgment, or it’s blessing, or it’s consequences, or it’s political . . . Some people go overboard reading into circumstances–“she has the same name of my favorite childhood toy, so she must be the one.” You know, her name is Legos.
No, we must trust in God’s revealed will–the Word of God as the primary indicator of what God’s will is for your life. God is definitely sovereign over this pandemic and there are no accidents, since God is sovereign.
Second Pain has a PURPOSE
Every suffering has a reason–God is working it out for good. I knew of a Christian dying of cancer. She was suffering, in great pain, but still mustered the strength to read her Bible every day. She couldn’t wait for her friends to come see her, because she wanted to tell them what God had shown her in the Word of God that morning. When they came, she had them read Psalm 119:67 to 68, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word. 68You are good and do good; teach me Your statutes.” Then verse 71, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes.” Then verse 75, “I know, O Lord, that Your judgments are righteous, and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.”
When she finished reading, she looked up, smiled and said, “You know, I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything in the world–I’m right where God wants me to be, and it’s good.” God works all things–virus things, together for good. Pain has a purpose, even when you can’t understand it. Since God is sovereign . . .
Third God has the right to RULE your life
We have a problem in America with the idea of a sovereign ruler. In fact, the slogan for the American Revolution was, “We have no sovereign here.” So we developed and formed a government that was ruled by the people–each of us, to some degree, being our own sovereign. Yet when we become a Christian in America, that independent “government by me” attitude must go! You don’t control your own life. You are not the captain of your own soul. As God’s children, we are obedient to our King and we do give up our own rule. We obey Him and submit to all his appointed authority.
In Luke 6:46 Jesus asks, “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” First John 2:4 says, “The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” God will have His way, whether you obey or not–the only difference is, you will miss out on the blessings, joy, fellowship, and benefit.
Jonah was disobedient, paid his own way on the ship and God’s will was accomplished. Jochebed was obedient and God paid her wages to nurse Moses and God’s will was accomplished. God’s will will be done–when you obey you are blessed, when you don’t you suffer consequences and experience loving discipline. But God’s will is accomplished. Grow saturated in God’s sovereignty.
QUESTION How can Christians prove to others that God is sovereign during this pandemic?
Friends, because we know God is all-wise, never makes a mistake and loves us–then we must . . .
#2 REPENT of all WORRY
Worry is like a virus which is coughed out, then caught in conversation with others. Then worry infects our minds because of internal, repetitive thinking. And there are many of you who must deal with this destroyer of your faith. Worry can be so dominant in a life–the habit of worry can prove that a professing Christian is not saved. In Matthew 13:22, “And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.”
But if you are a genuine Christian, worry can still be a great distraction. When a believer faces trials, or fear of a virus, they can forget what they know about God. They can lose their confident trust in God, become spiritually unstable. Even mature believers lapse into worry. Proverbs 12:25 reminds us, “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, but a good word makes it glad.” Worry makes life unbearable. Worry is never insignificant, because sadly worry is a choice–making worry a sin you can choose to avoid.
Think about it–Christians who worry are those who believe God can redeem them, break the shackles of Satan, transfer them from Hell to Heaven, transform them from the inside out, place them in God’s Kingdom and give them eternal life in Heaven. But they just don’t think God can get them through the next couple of days. That is pretty ridiculous, isn’t it? How can we believe God for the greater gift of salvation, then not believe Him for the lesser gift of everyday life? That reveals an embarrassing lack of faith and a faulty view of God. It gets worse . . .
First A Worrier INSULTS God
Worry says, “God is unable, untrustworthy and unconcerned.” When you worry, you’re saying, “God, I just don’t think I can trust You.” Worry slanders God’s character.
Second A Worrier DISBELIEVES Scripture
Do you see the problem with believing the authority, sufficiency and inerrancy of the Word of God, but at the same time, living in perpetual worry? You’re saying one thing, but living another. It is incongruous to declare how much you believe the Bible, then worry about whether God will fulfill what He says in the Bible.
Third A Worrier lives by CIRCUMSTANCES
The English term WORRY comes from an old German word meaning to strangle or choke. That’s exactly what worry does–it’s emotional strangulation. When you worry, you’re choosing to be mastered by your circumstances instead of being mastered by the truth of God. Would you agree, the trials of this life pale in comparison to the greatness of God’s salvation?
Fourth A Worrier DISTRUSTS God
When you worry you’re not trusting your Father, because you don’t know Him well enough. Let God’s track record through the Scripture assure you that worry is needless because of God’s bounty, senseless because of God’s promise useless because of its impotence to do anything, and faithless because it’s a characteristic of unbelievers. So stay fresh in the Word every day so God Himself is on your mind. Otherwise, the enemy is apt to move into the vacuum of your thoughts and tempt you to worry.
Fifth A Worrier FEARS the future
Worry is unproductive. It accomplishes nothing. It’s a thief of time–controls your mind so your thoughts become barren. It blurs your vision, wastes your energy, damages your body, and fuels laziness. Jesus said in Matthew 6:34, “Do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” He’s saying don’t worry about the future. Deal with future problems as they come–there’s no way to solve them in advance.
Corrie Ten Boom often said, “Worry does not empty tomorrow of sorrows; it empties today of strength.”
QUESTION What steps can Christians take to stop worrying during a pandemic?
Philippians 4:6 says, “Be anxious for nothing.” Do not worry about the virus. Two words in Greek–nothing, and the second word, be anxious. A continual, 24/7, every moment, present tense, you all obey command directed at the entire Church, and pointed at each Christian in it. All of you and each of you–do not worry about nothing. Do not fear anything. Do not be anxious about this virus. But what is the answer then?
#3 Build TRUST in your life by knowing the GOD of the Word
The answer to worry is God Himself–to be filled with His Spirit, immersed in His Word, in order to walk intimately with God through Christ alone. God has given you all that you need, right? Ephesians 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” And 2 Peter 1:3, “Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.”
You have all you need to put your trust in Christ–but it will not happen if you don’t pursue relying upon Him, living His purposes, obeying His Word, loving your brothers, sharing with the lost–truly filling out Matthew 6:33, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Are you seeking to protect yourself first, or seeking to pursue His will first? If seeking to love Christ as your first love, then . . .
First Trust God to PROVIDE
If you are one of those panicked people at the store, then you are not trusting God to provide. Matthew 6:25 and 26, “For this reason I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, as to what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, as to what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body than clothing? 26Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?”
Our Creator is the supreme provider and if you are rightly related to Him, He promises to provide everything you need. You say, “Wait a minute, it was my ideas that got me where I am today.” Really? Who gave you your mind? God could have made you a vegetable. “Now wait a minute–everything I have in life, I got because I worked hard.” If it weren’t for God, you wouldn’t be able to take your next breath.
If God took His hand of blessing off your life, you wouldn’t have the health need to live. You wouldn’t have the mind needed to think. God provides you with all the things you need. To start trusting, you must daily recall that the ultimate source is God. If it wasn’t for Him, you wouldn’t have a spouse, kids, church, friends or health. He made you, He sustains you and He will provide for you. He will not give you a stone when you ask for bread, nor will He give you a snake when you ask for a fish. He’s worthy of your trust.
Be responsible but remember–your efforts to stay safe, or fix the problem, are like trying to stop an earthquake. Scary times must cause you to remember what is truly valuable. And friends, it is not things, nor events. It is Christ, His Word, His people and your family. If you own something in your heart and fear you’ll lose it, then you’ll worry. But if God owns it and you merely manage it for Him, then you can live worry free, because the One who can provide all you need owns everything and is in control of all.
You already know you can’t take it with you. You never see a hearse pulling a U-Haul behind it–why? Because all your possessions are merely loaned to you. God owns everything. The Bible says in Psalm 24:1, “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.” With any possession, if you can’t give it away, you don’t own it–it owns you. You can only trust God when you own nothing, except to manage things for God. Then when you do, you can wreck your car you say, “It’s Your car, Lord!” Why? Because we love Christ first, trust Christ most, and know Him best. How can you build trust?
Second Cast all your BURDENS/WORRY on Christ
First Peter 5:7, “Casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” I used to love it when my boys were very young and they were suddenly frightened–their response was immediate. They amazingly climbed up my legs and torso in order to get into my arms and wrap their arms around my neck. That’s a type of picture Peter is painting–but more vivid is the verb casting–it means to throw away or to hand over. I used to choose to dump my worries on an empty field close to my house–I would dump all my worries there before I came home to my family.
That is the Greek word for casting–you actively, continually give those fears, anxieties and pressures away to Christ in prayer. You will not survive this virus to the glory of God, unless you start praying every single day. Whatever fear, worry, or anxiety you are carrying around right now, repent of it. The churches Peter was writing were being jailed, tortured and killed just for claiming to follow Christ. Those believers were tempted to be anxious 24/7–you too. But Peter says, cast your worry on Christ. Give it to Him in prayer.
Third Never forget Christ’s amazing CARE for you
First Peter 5:7, “Casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” If your spouse has a serious medical problem, you don’t even have to try to think about them–you do so continually. This is the kind of care God has for you in the midst of your struggles–and the concern God has for His Church. Since the phrase, “He cares for you” is plural, it means all of you–and continual 24/7 care.
Christian, how can you possibly doubt God’s care for you? If Christ would go to the cross, die for your sins, suffer the wrath of God that should have been poured out on you, then rose from the dead and did this while you were ungodly and uninterested–then of course He currently, continually cares for you, even in a pandemic.
Question Christian, how can you build greater trust in Christ during a pandemic?
Death is always present, but there are times when death seems like a real threat.
And the only way to SURVIVE, is to KNOW the ONE who conquered death.
The only way to have PEACE, is to SUBMIT to the one who DIED in your place.
The only way to be FORGIVEN, is to exchange all that you are for all that He is.
The only way to NOT BE AFRAID, is to be indwelt by the one who knows no fear.
The only way to not FEAR paying for your sins, is to have someone pay them for you.
The only way to not STRUGGLE, is to know the one who offers you eternal life with Him forever in heaven.
John 14:6, “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.’ ” Acts 4:12, “There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” What do you need to do to be saved and ultimately rescued from this virus, death, punishment and righteous judgment? ATF
ADMIT your awful sinfulness before a Holy God
TRUST in Christ and His work on the cross and resurrection from the dead
FOLLOW Christ as a slave follows His master