Tuesday, April 28, 2020

30 Verses for the Time of Corona

In recent days, a dear friend said a final goodbye to her beautiful special needs daughter, a loss that has pierced the tenderest part of our hearts. Given only an hour to live at birth, sweet Presley lived to be seventeen and a half years, her life a testimony to God’s miraculous power.

Next week her mother, Andrea, will share words here at One Ringing Bell. And lest you think the sadness of this passing will overwhelm you in an already sad time during this Corona Pandemic, let me assure you, it won’t. Andrea effervesces the joy of the Lord. I’ve always said that her family lived at 911. And they have, because of so many crises through the course of Presley’s life. But Andrea’s faith is strong, and because of that, she has continually risen to share and encourage many with their story as she will encourage you here. So please don’t miss next week’s post.


Today, I offer scriptures that have ministered to me during this Corona event. I did not do a search for these verses, but they came to me through my daily Bible readings, The Upper Room Magazine, and other devotional sources. I think that is one of the most important reasons we should have a discipline of daily devotions, because God will use that time to put before us what we need. I’m sure you have a list of your own, and I’d love to hear about them. Stay safe. Blessings, friends.

30 Verses for the Time of Corona

1. You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Isaiah 26:3

2. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life. Psalm 138:7

3. The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deuteronomy 31:8

4. …we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5

5. You Lord, are a shield around me. Psalm 3:3



6. I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Genesis 9:13

7. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by Him we cry, “Abba, Father.” Romans 8:15

8. Though the Lord brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. Lamentations 3:32

9. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

10. As we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. Galatians 6:10

11. I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side. Psalm 3:8

12. Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled. Joshua 21:45

13. If we have been united with Christ in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. Romans 6:5

14. Trust in God at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. Psalm 62:8

15. But you are to hold fast to the Lord your God, as you have until now. Joshua 23:8


16. Answer me when I call to you, my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer. Psalm 4:1

17. Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

18. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28.

19. The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Psalm 9:8

20. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal 2 Corinthians 4:18



21. I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Psalm 16:8

22. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. Psalm 119:105.

23. …do not fear what they fear… Isaiah 8:12

24.  Jesus said to his disciples, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” John 14:18.

25. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Romans 8:18

26. Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted. Isaiah 12:4

27. I will sing the Lord’s praise for he has been good to me. Psalm 13:6

28. He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted. Job 5:9

29. In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind. Job 12:10

30. He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure. Isaiah 33:6


 Here



Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Where should we live and other questions

They keep coming all these questions. Like: 

How long is this going to last?

What will be the effect on the economy?

When can I hug or even see my children and grandchildren again?

Is this my new normal?

The list goes on. They can monopolize my thought life. You have your own set of questions, maybe similar to mine.

 I know from experience if I keep dwelling on the unanswerable, things are going to spiral down in my spiritual, emotional, and mental health.

What’s the alternative?

A few years ago, I took a photo on St. Simons Island and later did a painting from it. Storm clouds scattered across the sky over the island but to the west, in one of the darkest clouds, a sliver of rose colored light pierced through. It is that sliver of light amidst day after day after day of bad news and hounding questions on which we must choose to focus.
 
Psalm 16:9 reads, “Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices:  My flesh also shall rest in hope” (NKJV).


I am no Hebrew scholar, but in Strong’s Concordance, it seems in the original language, the word translated as rest has these connotations: dwell, settle down, abide, establish, fix, lodge, permanently stay, continue, inhabit.

The word translated as hope includes these meanings: place of refuge, safety, confidence, security.

When we put those two together, we must take up permanent residence in the refuge of hope.

Only in that place of safety can we live with the questions that come knocking every day. True hope is anchored in Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul wrote, “…we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (Hebrews 6:18, 19). From beyond the dark clouds in this dim land, the piercing light of Jesus breaks through.

I have long loved a verse in Zechariah, which reads, “Return to your fortress, O prisoners of hope . . .” (Zechariah 9:13).

Oh, that we could be so established in hope, that we would be captive to it.

So, friends, if you’re wondering how to live with all the questions, that’s it.

Don’t just set up temporary camp in hope. Lay a foundation, build the walls, erect the roof, put the mailbox out front, and send out the change of address cards.

Live in the house of hope.

No matter what.

 Here
 

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

32 Reasons to be Thankful on the 32nd Day of Quarantine



The mayor in our university town moved early to put a shelter in place ordinance into effect. I’m sure there are many reasons for that, but one of the biggest had to be to clear the bars downtown where people were continuing to congregate. Because of that, we have been under quarantine longer than most but also because of that our cases still remain relatively low compared to other towns our size. Hopefully, we can hold steady so that our medical community is not overtaxed.
 
I’ve been thinking of all the people who help me every day to stay put. Jerry and I both have underlying issues so we cannot venture out.

So, here is my gratitude list in no particular order. I’m thankful for:

1.       Our medical workers who are on the line day after day risking exposure. We‘ve heard it repeatedly that they are our heroes, but I’m saying it again. You are my hero. A thousand thank you’s. Praying this virus lifts soon, so you can all be with your families as in times past.

2.       Parents raised in the heart of the Great Depression who also lived through WWII. They taught me the value of “making do” as my mother used to say. If we don’t have one thing, we find a way to make do with something else.  I’m thankful mom began teaching me to sew when I was six so I know how to make these protective masks. And my dad passed on his knowledge of many things. I’ve thought of my parents often in these days and really miss them, but I know they have given me much to prepare me for this time.

3.       The Upper Room Magazine, in which the devotions seemed to have been written especially for these days but I know they were penned more than two years ago. So amazing how on point they are.

4.       People who bring my groceries out to the car from the stores and who try to make substitutions that I can live with even though sometimes there isn’t much to choose from. Hats off to all of you and the Instacart shoppers who are so overwhelmed but keep going. Thank you to the stockers, cashiers, and others who keep our food supply going.

5.       The folks who own a local drug store who have helped me mail so many masks to healthcare workers. I can’t go into the regular post office and I don’t know what I would do without them doing curbside from their little post office in the store.

6.       Beautiful spring weather, which is a balm to my soul. To those at the state botanical gardens pictured above who keep it open and we can avail ourselves of its healing beauty.
 
7.       The many church services that are offered online. We have opportunity to benefit from the wisdom of so many pastors in these days. Pastors, we are praying for you that God would give you the words that need to be spoken to comfort, heal, and encourage.

8.       Newscasters who have a cheerful countenance.

9.       My mailperson who never misses a day.

10.   My heart overflows with this onethat my family is safe and no one has contracted this virus. Many prayers for those who have beloved ones who are ill or who have passed.

11.   My church family that is continuing to stay in touch with each other during this time. Even though we miss each other so much, everyone is trying to do the right thing.

12.   Those with artistic, musical, comedic, literary, and other gifts who are sharing those blessings online. It’s huge. It reminds us of why God created such a beautiful world because our souls can’t live in black and white.

13.   All those delivery people who are bringing necessary items to my doorstep. You are amazing.

14.   People like my son who work for insurance companies who try hard to make sure claims are processed. Feeling for those folks suffering from these storms in the South but I know behind the scenes there are those doing everything they can to help.

15.   Dedicated people who work in animal shelters and rescue organizations. Hey, if you’ve ever considered adopting a pet, this would be a great time. Zoo keepers who are quarantined with the animals.

16.   Teachers who have had a steep learning curve themselves to continue teaching students online in elementary, middle and high schools. Thank you. I think when this coronacation is over, you are going to be given the respect you have long deserved. I homeschooled for eight years. I ought to know.

17.   Though we aren’t driving much, we still need gas, so thanks to the gas station workers.

18.   All of you who are in essential businesses, we want to make sure that we don’t take you for granted. You food-manufacturing workers, protective medical gear producers, pharmaceutical company employees, warehouse workers, pet food manufacturers, and someone has to be making the fabric for these masks I’m making. So many are keeping the wheels turning so that our needs are met.

19.   Farmers. You’re facing tough times with much of your market gone in the restaurant business, and so few to harvest the crops. We’re praying for creative solutions to avoid your harvests languishing in the fields. You are so important to us.

20.   Restaurant owners and employees who offer drive through and curbside. I know it’s tough to pivot to a new model in such a short time. We’re praying your businesses make it though this tough time. We sure miss dining in.

21.   Truckers and Railroad workers. What can we say? You’re rolling night and day across this country to bring us essential products. We want to give you all a great big hug.

22.   Utility workers who keep our lights on, our heat, and air working. Bless you especially with the power outages from these storms that are keeping you working long hours.

23.   Electricians and plumbers who are still going out to keep our homes comfortable.

24.   Sanitation workers who keep coming without fail and who are doing a tough job in a tough time. You are a huge blessing. And we pray for all those who work in water filtration plants. Your job is central to our lives.

25.   All of the drugstore pharmacists, and employees who provide critical medicines for us. I know you are often at risk. We are grateful for your sacrifice.

26.   Our military, especially the National Guard who is coming in to help do jobs that they probably were not trained for but are needed in this time. Thank you for your service. 

27.   All of those who are working in nonprofits to help feed those who lack resources. We’re praying you continue to have the resources to do what you need to do. You are so appreciated.

28.   Celebrities who set an example by folding their own clothes, appearing just like we are in the confines of their homes, and who are using their resources to help in this Pandemic. We’re taking note of who you are and when you’re working again, we sure want to support you.

29.   To all the 2020 seniors of which my grandson is one. In the middle of this incredible disappointment, thank you for holding strong and rising above this. You are an amazing bunch, and I believe God has mighty things for you. We love you so much.

30.   Our governmental leaders who are bearing a huge load right now and having to make decisions based on incomplete information because there’s so much we don’t know. We are praying God’s wisdom for you as well as strength for the days ahead.

31.   Researchers who are searching for cures, vaccines, and treatments. We pray that God would give you his mind as you do this work.

32.   For all those we don’t even know about who are carrying out jobs essential to our livelihood.
 
Thanking thirty-two is not enough. Not nearly enough. There's so many more. There are our police, sheriff's departments, fire fighters who every day put themselves at risk and now even more so.

When my children were little, we used to drive around singing, “He’s got the whole world in His hands, He’s got the whole wide world in his hands. . .” Then we would personalize it. We’d put in the names of friends and family. I have a little globe on my desk and in these days, I pick it up and sing, “He’s got the whole world in His hands . . .” and I personalize it with the people and places so affected by this virus.

Above everyone else, I want to thank God that none of this caught him by surprise. He is still on the throne, and He still has the whole world in His hands. As the Psalmist wrote, “My times are in your hands . . .” (Psalm 31:15). We are so grateful because God’s hands are big enough for all of this.  Let’s be hopeful and remember to thank someone who’s working on our behalf today.
 
 


Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Passover and being passed over

He wouldn’t let them go.

Not even after plagues of snakes and blood and frogs and gnats and flies and boils and hail and locusts and darkness afflicted his country.

Pharaoh still held an iron grip and wouldn’t release the Israelites from Egypt.

Then a plague unlike any of the others was unleasheda plague of death and only those whose doorframes bore the lamb’s sacrificial blood would be passed over.

The next day, despite the death of many in Egypt, the Israelites emerged alive from the bondage of Pharaoh bound for the Promised Land.
 
On this Passover Eve,  as we perch on the brink of what the Surgeon General has called the Pearl Harbor of our lifetimes because of COVID-19, it would be good to think about our Passover Lamb Jesus and to plead his blood over this situation in our country.

Speaking or writing about the blood of Jesus makes many uncomfortable, but if you search for that topic in the New Testament, you will find numerous references to the power of it. However, I’d like to point out a few verses from the Old Testament in Isaiah 53 that illustrate his blood sacrifice. “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed . . . He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter . . . “

These prophetic words were spoken around 700 years before Jesus’ birth. They tell of his excruciating death, which we’ll remember on Good Friday this Holy week. They speak of him being pierced, crushed, and wounded for us. They tell us he was a lamb led to slaughter. And because of that sacrifice, we may have new life.

In a much greater way than the lamb sacrificed on that first Passover, Jesus is our Passover Lamb. Let’s pray that we would as a nation fall to our knees in surrender, avail ourselves of His sacrifice, and ask that God would pass over us. Let's ask that these dire predictions would not actually occur, but something extraordinary would happen and we would see this virus plague begin to lift from us, that by the blood of Jesus, God would heal our land. It would take a miracle and it would take everyone doing the right thing in staying socially distant, but with God, nothing is impossible.

We’re going to celebrate Easter Sunday this week in quarantine, but as soon as we’re able, we’re going to have a Resurrection Sunday where we will hug, and laugh, and come together as perhaps we haven’t before in our lifetimes. And yes, there will be sorrow, too, because of the losses we’ve suffered, but despite that, we are going to lift Jesus high and thank him for his mercy and grace in these days. And we will especially thank him for shedding his blood for us that we might be saved.

Friends, if you haven’t surrendered your all to Jesus, there would be no better time than now on this Passover Eve. Because of His sacrifice, you may walk out of your own Egypt and find liberation from bondage.  

Have a blessed Holy Week. 

“For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from you forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” (I Peter 1:18-19).

The Key to Everything ebook is being offered absolutely free through April 9. If you haven't downloaded a copy yet, please find it Here.


 
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