you’re not connected with a church body right now, let me encourage you to find
us on Facebook at Petersburg First Baptist Church. It’s not like, you know,
gathering in person to fellowship and worship with other live human beings, but
we hope to give you an online place to find encouragement and hope and life in
Christ Jesus as we seek to comply with the new “rules” of the day.
I knew for sure that I was not a carrier of COVID-19, I would stand on the
square and offer free handshakes and hugs to anyone in need. There’s a personal
connection through touch that just feels good and is important to our
the website healthline.com, scientists offer seven benefits of hugging. Similar
findings are published online in Time, Psychology Today, and WebMD, but here’s
what I found first in my quick research project.
Hugs reduce stress by showing your support. When we’re going through a
difficult or painful experience, a comforting hug reduces the stress.
Hugs may protect you against illness. In one study, participants with a greater
support system were less likely to get sick, and those who did had less severe
symptoms than those who didn’t.
Hugs may boost your heart health. Reductions in blood pressure and heart rate
have been discovered in a study related to holding hands and hugging with a
Hugs can make you happier. Maybe you’ve heard of the “cuddle hormone” Oxytocin,
a chemical in our bodies associated with happiness and less stress. Scientists
say its level rises when we hug or touch or sit close to someone.
Hugs help reduce your fears. In people with low self-esteem, scientists have
found that touch can reduce anxiety.
Hugs may help reduce your pain. In a study of people with fibromyalgia,
participants were given six therapeutic touch treatments, reporting an increase
in quality of life and reduced pain.
Hugs help you communicate with others. You probably don’t need a scientific
study to know that!
the more you can get, the greater the effects.
of the hallmarks of Jesus’ ministry was His healing touch.
touched the leper and cleansed him. He touched the hand of Peter’s
mother-in-law and the fever left her. He touched the eyes of the blind and gave
them sight. He even put His fingers in the ears of the deaf man with a speech
impediment, and “after spitting touched his tongue” (Mark 8:33), and the man’s
ears were opened and his tongue released. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend
trying this at home.
of course, Jesus took up the children in His arms and blessed them, laying His
hands on them (Mark 10:13-16).
don’t mis-hear me saying that we should ignore wisdom in the midst of a
pandemic virus, but let’s not forget the value of the human touch. And if
you’re in need of healing, Jesus offers the touch of His saving hand to you,
free of charge.
I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the
breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none”
judgment against His people Israel did not come flippantly nor hastily. In
fact, He sent prophet after prophet warning the people to turn away from their
sin. He gave repeated opportunities for the people to ditch their idolatry and
return to Him with all their heart. He pleaded with His beloved to recognize
His own faithfulness and goodness and mercy toward them so that they would
desire Him more than other lovers.
their stubborn, selfish, sinful wills prevailed. And if you’re looking for a
catalogue of their misdeeds, the prophet Ezekiel outlines such sins as bloodshed
and violence, idolatry, sexual immorality, bribery and extortion, oppression of
the poor and needy, failure to keep and teach the holiness of the Lord, and
the Lord eventually poured out His holy, just, and righteous wrath upon them.
God raised up king Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon to invade and destroy Jerusalem.
Many were killed by the sword and many were taken into exile.
the book of Ezekiel details, God was vindicating the holiness of His great name
among His own people and among the nations. The repeated theme is this word
from the Lord: “And you shall know that I am the Lord.”
I read and think about these things, the verse I led with in this article
strikes me. What if God had found just one man who would stand in the gap
before Him? Was there no one among the princes or the prophets? Was there no
movement of righteous men who would lead the people back to God? Were there no
faithful and courageous followers truly devoted to the Lord who would be found
on their knees pleading night and day for the land’s repentance and sincere
return to the ways of God?
we deserve any more time to repent than Israel? He is patient with us, yes, and
does not wish that any should perish, but that all should repent (2 Peter 3:9).
But the Day of His judgment will eventually come. Isn’t God giving us a window
of opportunity right now to recognize our need to turn away from sinful things
and turn back to the living God?
there anyone to be found today standing in the gap before the Lord so that our
land may not be destroyed?
that such prayers might prevail and we might long for the holiness of God! Oh,
that the church might humble ourselves before the Lord and seek His glory! Oh,
that we might come running to the merciful arms of our loving Father and find
forgiveness and grace abounding through Christ Jesus our Lord!
God looks down will He find us standing in the gap?
this has been anything but a typical Easter season! But I do hope that your joy
in the Lord is in no way diminished. I hope that your faith in Jesus is stronger
than ever. And I hope that your longing for heaven and the resurrection that
awaits believers in Christ grows in anticipation with each passing day.
this havoc on earth make you hunger for the heavenly courts of the Lord?
still wondering about all the stuff going on here, but I know that the
resurrection of Jesus wins the day. So rather than getting weighed down with
worry over what I cannot control, I find peace and hope in setting my mind “on
the things above, not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2).
when I fix my eyes on Jesus and seek His face and turn my heart to heaven,
these troubles below seem but light and momentary in comparison with the
eternal glory that far outshines them all.
the same time, however, we’re living in the present and I want to be
sufficiently heavenly minded so that I can be of some earthly good. And I know
that means doing such work as praying for one another, encouraging one another,
serving one another in love, and teaching and admonishing one another in all
wisdom. Fellow Christians, let us be found faithful to building up the body of
Christ and caring for the least of these.
means proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of heaven, that Jesus, the Son
of God, died the death we deserve on the cross for the forgiveness of sin, was
buried, and was raised to life on the third day. And everyone who repents from
sin and believes in Christ will not perish but have everlasting life. Friend,
if you’re not trusting in Jesus for salvation, now would be a good time to
now would be a great time to pray for our leaders. I don’t know if we’re taking
enough steps to curb the virus or have gone way overboard. I don’t know if this
is God’s way of disciplining or judging us, or if China’s setting us up to take
us over, if it’s an inside job, or it’s just an innocent virus that we’re doing
our best to combat.
I know we need to ask God to guide those who are making life-altering,
globe-impacting decisions. And I know it would be wise for God’s people to
“humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways,”
expecting the Lord “will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal
their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).
I know that because of the resurrection of Christ, death is defeated and
swallowed up in victory, so I’m seeking the things that are above, where Christ
is seated at the right hand of God, and where heaven’s looking sweeter every
you, I hate this. I hate the fact that people all over the world are getting
sick and dying from this novel virus.
hate that people are losing their jobs and don’t know how they’re going to make
it. I hate that others are working twice as hard under extremely difficult and
hate that we can’t gather as a church. I hate that family get-togethers are
out. I hate that schools are closed. I hate that grieving families can’t even
have a proper funeral. I hate that weddings can’t be celebrated as they should.
I hate that nursing homes and prisons and hospitals can’t have visitors when
they need encouragement the most.
hate that some politicians are using this crisis to point fingers, create
division, and seeking their own agendas. I hate the way the media fuels panic
and fear through sensationalizing seemingly every story.
for listening. Just had to get that off my chest.
the end of the day, though, what I really hate is the curse of sin that brings
all kinds of trouble and sorrow and death into this world.
you know what? I am awed to think that Jesus stepped into our mess to rescue us
from all this pain.
week in particular we’re reminded that the Holy One took on human flesh and dwelt
among us, felt our sufferings, and eventually laid down His life for ours in
the most horrific fashion.
humbled, but I’m hopeful because we also remember and rejoice in Jesus’ victory
over sin and death by His resurrection from the grave on the third day. We know
that these “light and momentary afflictions” will be far eclipsed by the
eternal weight of glory revealed when Jesus Christ comes again and establishes
His reign of eternal peace, righteousness, and joy. In that Kingdom there will
be no more pain, no more tears, no more death.
we do not lose heart. Rather, we “fix our eyes on Jesus, who for the joy set
before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right
hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2).
the faith, my brothers and sisters in Christ. There’s a better day coming, for He
is the resurrection and the life, and whoever believes in Him, though he die,
yet shall he live (John 11:25). Our King has triumphed, death has been swallowed
up in victory, and we shall be raised with Him in glory!
Friend, if you’ve not repented and put your
trust in Jesus, then I urge you to do so now before it’s too late! “Seek the
Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near; let the wicked
forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the
Lord, that He may have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will
abundantly pardon” (Isa. 55:6-7).
you ever had to wait for someone to show up? UPS guy, furnace repair guy, cable
guy, Schwann’s guy. You know they’re coming sometime on Monday between 10 and 6
(remember back in the day when we weren’t all staying at home anyway!), so you
just have to wait around the house all day until they show up.
you know that if you leave for just 5 minutes to go run an errand, that’s when
they’ll come and you’ll miss them and have to reschedule the whole thing for
another day. You almost hate to even go to the bathroom because as soon as you
sit down you’re sure to hear a knock at the door! Hopefully, at least, you can
wash some dishes or do that easy repair job you’ve been putting off so long.
is a hard job, but when the knock comes you want to be ready.
feels like we’re in a season of waiting through this pandemic. We don’t know
the impact this virus is going to have on our health, our finances, our
relationships, our emotional state, nor do we know how long it’s going to last.
Some are already feeling the pain and the strain of it all. Maybe you’re afraid
or anxious for what may come – and there is certainly a right level of concern
to take care of ourselves and others.
let me urge you not to waste your waiting in panic or fear. Instead, now is the
time to look to Christ Jesus as Savior. Now is the time to call upon His name
for help. Now is the time to get your spiritual house in order so that when He
shows up you’re ready.
Bible tells us that Jesus will come again, and it’s the faithful and wise
servant taking care of the Master’s work who will be ready for His arrival.
me ask you this: Are you ready for that day? Is your house in order? Are you
trusting in Christ for salvation? Are you obeying His will?
we don’t get a second chance at this. Whether the coronavirus takes you or you
get hit by a bus or swept away by a tornado or whether Christ Himself returns
today, are you ready to meet the Lord? Tomorrow may be too late.
not confess to Him now in a prayer of repentance and faith, “Lord Jesus, I know
that I have sinned against You, and I am truly sorry. I believe that You died
on the cross to forgive my sins, and so I confess my sin to You and ask You to
cleanse me from all my sin and guilt and shame. And I believe You rose from the
dead on the third day, and I trust in You now for new life, abundant and
eternal. Come and take control of this heart and make me live to honor You as
Savior and Lord. Amen!”
that’s your prayer, I’d love to talk with you more. Call me at the First
Baptist Church number, 217-632-2488.