How to Quarantine to the Glory of God

How to Quarantine to the Glory of God

By the age of five Fanny Crosby lost all of her sight. She later grew up to be one of the most prolific hymn writers of the 19th century. She is known for writing songs filled with deep hope such as Blessed Assurance, Pass Me Not, O Gentle Saviour and Jesus is Tenderly Calling You home.

Upon hearing of people sharing sympathy for her early loss of sight she famously replied,

“If I had it my way I would have been blind from birth, for when I get to heaven, the first face that shall ever gladden my sight will be that of my Saviour.”

Fanny Crosby

For many Christians a time in extended, indefinite quarantine carries some measure of anxiety, fear, and frustration, but like Fanny I feel that for many this is also an period in which we can share a sense of joy for what God is doing and will do with this unique time in many of our lives.

We too can use limitations on our lives for the glory of God.

1. Look carefully at how you walk

Paul the apostle instructs Christians in Ephesus to look carefully at how they walk. In a time where many of us will have more time than we anticipated months ago, this is an opportunity to ‘audit’ our time.

What would we be doing now if we weren’t given time off work? Would we be working heartily to the glory of God? Would we be on mission or ‘asleep on duty’?

This extended period of time indoors gives us a chance to answer and think through some of these questions. To assess and take stock of how we are living as exiles in a fallen world. To assess whether we live with the knowledge that Christ provides for our every need, or whether we live selfishly and in self-reliance.

To those of us who are prone to being ‘too busy to do ___’ what will our excuse be now? To those of us are prone to laziness what excuse will we have now?

We all should question too why it takes a crisis to come to our doorsteps before we have a deep passion for heaven. God is still God and what he says is true. We truly do live in a fallen world, do we have too much passion for this fallen world or do we, at all times, remember we are exiles and lives with our eyes fixed on the next world?

How true this is

Equally, we should use quarantines to look carefully at what our hearts gravitate toward. It is easy to see times like these as an extended holiday. It would take no effort to spend this time on our passions (James 4:3) be it looking to catch up on our Netflix series, scrolling through our social media feeds, and filling our Amazon baskets.

We should be careful to observe whether these are our tendencies and examine, in light of scripture and community, whether they are sinful or not.

Philippians 2:3

2. Walk as the wise in light of eternity and truth

Quarantines opens up amazing opportunities for extended periods of time in prayer, bible study, and reading good Christian books. For those with families, there will be more time with schools closing to do family devotions and fellowship as a family.

For those who are single this is a unique time to be able to serve others with unique needs be it the elderly, parents looking for babysitters, or colleagues. Churches will be in need of those who can help with logistics, church visits or admin. There is much we all can be doing.

Where church may move online, the temptation to spend an extra 30 minutes in bed will only grow stronger. We should make every effort to be alert and ready for the service, singing boldly, praying attentively and listening to the preaching of the word with every effort to respond in the same way we would if we weren’t at home. Check out this video from Greg Gilbert which shares the sentiment we SHOULD feel about online services.

For those who are instructed to work from home, this time can easily be a time to work without the fervour and vigour we would if we had eyes on us. But Christians do not work for the approval of men but rather unto God for it is from him we receive our reward (Colossians 3:23). We see work as a gift from him and as part of the human design. The wise in this time will keep this in mind. The wise will use this as an opportunity for Christian witness. Lord help us all to be wise in this time.

In our communities, there are ‘at risk’ neighbours (you may be one) who would be helped by Christian brothers and sisters be it delivering groceries and meals, spending time with them and or simply texting or calling them to let them know they are in your prayers. For Christian brothers and sisters where we may be far physically due to quarantines, but our blood bought union in Christ is unchanging. In such a time we can try make use of modern technology yet eagerly awaiting the time we can meet in person.

One of the elders of my church in East Asia said that his greatest fear was not people are in danger but rather than the congregation had been disbanded over the city (and world for that matter) and that now, more than ever brothers and sisters faced obstacles in attending church and fellowshipping with each other. Sheep on the far from the flock are easy pickings for the wolves. Church members who are MIA are the same.

Like sheep, Christians survive and thrive in community not in isolation.

This is a reminder for us to press into community rather than away from it. But not just to press in, in terms of awareness but in caring for each other spiritually. In a season like this prayerlessness, bible reading, and other disciplines may actually go down not up. We should endeavour to care (and be cared for) by other church members in such a way. Prioritising people’s spiritual health over careers, hobbies, financial targets, you name it, is paramount always but especially in times like this.

Keeping our mind’s active during this time will only be beneficial, home workouts, walks around the area (if you can), and setting times to do certain task keep the mind from sinking into idleness and boredom.

Home workouts are helpful for keeping the mind alive!

Idle hands may be a phrase taken from the world, but it carries biblical roots, “One who is slack in his work is brother to one who destroys” (Proverbs 18:9). None of us should be bored, in a such a period, as there is much we can be doing.

3. Meditating on truth in an age of confusion

While the world around us is slowing down and falling into deeper disarray, it is a timely reminder for us all of how futile our lives are. The days are evil indeed here and always have been. The COVID-19 virus is only another prompt for us to be reminded that our biggest enemy – namely sin and death – were defeated by Jesus and are being worked out by us daily fighting sin in our lives.

So, while as Christians, we currently live as exiles in a world filled with viruses, death, financial turmoil, closures and chaos we will dwell in the house of Lord forever and ever where there will be no tears and no trauma. This is the source of hope and the reason we can quarantine to the glory of God.

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Pilgrim’s progress was at one time the most published book of all time. A beautiful reminder of Collosians 3:2

It is also a reminder for those of us who grew up in the west of the realities of the believers living in places like the Middle East and East Asia. For many, while quarantines are a new challenge, meeting together in the face of danger, restrictions on church gatherings, and the day to day resistance put in place by governments is the norm. This is a time where we can feel this pain to and endeavour to keep such churches in prayer.

For many churches the virus doesn’t spell a return to comfort but more persecution and trouble.
The Anger Problem You Need To Fight.

The Anger Problem You Need To Fight.

This article will be short, snappy and informative. Its intention isn’t to be engaging, but rather to deliver a weighty amount of truth concisely and directly. My hope and prayers are that after reading it you will take time to think, study and pray about anger and take active steps to tackle it where it is apparent in your life of which I am sure it is.

Anger is done by all of you. It’s not a part of you that is sectioned off and hidden. Anger has the ability to completely dominate your thoughts, behaviour, desires and beliefs. To say ‘I was just a bit angry’ is a fallacy in that your whole body, mind and soul was affected even if for a moment and even if on a minor scale.

Anger can burn hot or it can burn cold and can be everything in between. While you may not scream and shout the cold and freezing effects of your anger may burn stronger than the raging and foaming mouth of a lunatic. Anger is intriguing as it affects every single one of us. Even those who deny its reality in their lives. The difference may be the scale with small minor irritations (a frown, on side and large-scale physiological responses (increased heart rate, clenched fists, violent outbursts etc) on the other hand it may be small scale but deep reactions (bitterness, long period thought cycles, re-running the justifying your rightness and highlighting the opposing parties stupidity/foolishness/selfishness/whatever I would never do _____ etc etc.

Anger is body, soul and minds responses to what it feels is wrong. Where one feels no anger, one feels nothing is wrong with the world. It’s for this reason that anger affects us all. We all feel some things are wrong with the world in one way or another. Some of these thoughts and feeling are justified. Others are not. This is why one can feel angry at a traffic jam even when it has nothing to do with them or they are not the cause of it. To be angry is to be human as to be angry is to have a conscience. Our inbuilt nature that processes what is right and what is wrong. However, like the fall, our anger (underpinned by our ‘judgement system’) has become distorted. As such we can get angry at things, we shouldn’t feel anger over (such as traffic jams). This is not to say that we are incapable of being ‘angry’ over the right things, but rather a point of caution that we must be aware of in order to be ‘righteously angry.’ To not be angry is to see nothing wrong with the world which in a fallen world is a crime in itself

God is angry. The best anger is the best love. God’s anger fell on Jesus even though it was meant to fall on you. God’s anger disarms the power of sin in that he shows mercy to us by sending us the power to defeat sin. God’s anger will deliver us from the pain of others sins. His anger will be poured out on those who chose not to repent. God’s anger serves as a reminder to run the good race and fight the good fight.

Christians have the power to process anger like (see notes below) God, resulting in mercy and forgiveness where injustice has occurred and repentance and deeper faith where we recognise our anger has been unrighteously served (Being angry that we haven’t received the level of respect we think we deserve(entitlement), being upset for not getting what we think we deserve (entitlement again) etc)

The Gospel helps us tackle anger. Like all things the Gospel gives us hope in the area of our lives. Our anger can be reformed not because we have the ability to change but because God has the ability to change you.

Christians can do this by A) seeking more grace from the Lord in our anger and B) Taking our anger apart and putting it back together again.

  1. What is my situation
  2. How do I react?
  3. What are my motives?
  4. What are the consequences?
  5. What is true?
  6. How do I turn to God for help?
  7. How could I respond constructively in this situation?
  8. What are the consequences of faith and obedience?

The little frustrations are often the hardest cases. Not because they are so hard to get over but because they are so commonplace. Someone being inefficient. Poor phone signal. A hard to discern accent over the phone. Late trains. All these commonplace reasons to be angry often lead to complaining. Major sins are only minor sins grown up. Complaining has the same DNA as rage. Everyday anger is a major problem as it leads us to treat others are subhuman/inefficient/ semi being and by that very attitude, we act like a superhuman. This is what God calls pride. Our everyday anger is often about convenience and ease. These two things often being idols in our lives.

Anger at self is commonplace. Anger at self leads to acting in the role of an implacable God of which you set the standards to meet (and fail) OR the aggrieved victim( I’ve failed MYSELF. I’ve brought shame upon MYSELF. The person I should be is… The person the world should see is…) Questions to dismantle this anger include…

  1. What ladder are you climbing? (Are you the judge who’s opinion matters most? Do other people serve are judges?)
  2. Whose ladder are you climbing?
  3. Who can pick you up when you fall?

Anger at God is understandable but unjustifiable as he is God all the time. That’s all I’ll say on this one but just know you are not alone in this one (Jonah is a textbook example)

For more help…

Passages to study

  • James
  • The life of Jesus in the Gospel’s
  • The book of Kings (Idolatry is exposed and broken down really well)

Books to Read (Personal Recommendations)

  • Good & Angry: Redeeming Anger, Irritation and Bitterness – David Powlison
  • How to Change – Paul Tripp

*I deliberated over the use of this word I prayerfully hope you take time to understand what I mean by this. Like God does not mean after regeneration you will process anger perfectly.)

How married can you be?

How married can you be?

 

He met her when he was 16. After first glance, he knew she was the one for him. She had bright eyes, she had smooth skin, she was soft spoken. He liked the way she treasured God above all else. She experienced similar feelings. He had a chiselled jaw, he was funny, and he had a heart that cherished God and his Word. All the things she had imagined in a life partner.

 

10 years later they are in Paris. In front of the Eiffel tower, he slows down. She looks behind. He goes down on one knee. A ring is produced. A kiss seals the deal.

 

20 years after they first met they’re both 36. Together they overcame the ‘one year hump.’ A miscarriage they battled through together. Parental support? Six feet deep. Breast cancer had come and gone. But through all their issues, they remembered their vows. He remembered the wife of his youth. Daily, she was reminded that he tried to love her as Christ loved the church. Insecurity and lies from the deceiver always loomed over the horizon for them. But God had kept them as he had promised to. ‘What therefore God has joined together let no man separate’ (Mark 10:9) was the caption to the wedding kiss picture that featured on the mantle piece, above the fireplace.

 

Tired he sits in his car. Work, troublesome teens, and an aching back have taken its toll on the now 45-year-old man. He knows what waits for him inside is not going to fill him with happiness. A wife on the bottle is not what he pictured all those years ago. Previously he has walked into wet soaked bed sheets, broken glass on the floor and pyramids of bottles at the door. The times where the neighbours would knock to say his wife has fallen drunk in the street had passed. Now he fears her committing suicide in a drunken haze. Recently she seemed to have forgotten the part where she promised to ‘love and cherish him.’ He prays and cries out to God to give him strength while he locks his car.

 

Are they more or less married?

 

Impossible question? Poorly defined? The truth is that marriage is an unbreakable position, from a Christian perspective, only sexual immorality can break it. Sin makes us question the relationship we have with God. Sin prevents us from seeing God clearly (Matthew 5:8). Sin is the issue. But it doesn’t change the facts of the relationship we have with him. He saves Christians by grace and grace alone (Ephesians 2:8-9). He keeps Christians until the final day (Philippians 1:6). Christians love him because he first loved them. (1 John 4:19). He saves Christians while they are enemies to him (Romans 5:10). Those he justifies he glorifies (Romans 8:30). When a Christian becomes born again the promised Holy Spirit enters him or her (Ephesians 1:13-14).

 

“You also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory”

 

When a Christian becomes born again, the heart that is ‘wicked above all things’ (Jeremiah 17:9), is removed, yanked out, and replaced with a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26). Much like the married couple saying their vows all those years ago, as Christians, God took us into an irreversible realm when he placed his spirit in us. For a Christians to lose their salvation God would have to take back the gift he gave us (Ephesians 2:8-9). He would have to remove the mark, take back the Holy Spirit, cancel his deposit, revoke the guarantee, overlook the inheritance and lessen his glory. The bible and scripture are clear. A Born again Christian cannot lose their salvation. The prodigal son is kept on return.

 

However, many often challenge this truth. ‘What about those who continue to bask and live in sin?’ ‘What happens to those Christians who stop following Jesus?’ ‘What happens to those who walk away from Jesus?’ These are often questions that believers have when it comes to this topic. But we must accept the realities in this situation. Not all that wear the badge of ‘Christian’ live up to the definition of Christian that scripture provides. A Christian isn’t one who attends Church. Or one who was baptised at birth. A Christian is one who fully accepts Jesus as the only Saviour for their sins and thus possesses the Holy Spirit. (John 3:16; Acts 16:31; Ephesians 2:8-9). So when confronted with the questions aforementioned maybe its wise to consider this question. ‘Were they really saved in the first place?’ John said in his 1st Epistle ‘They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.’

adult affection baby casual
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Our hope for the married couple will always be that they reconcile and remember their vows. That he holds fast to look after her in sickness and in health. And she works to love him as the bible commands. But the reality is that the vows they took all those years ago are not changed by their present circumstances. The same way that Christians do not ‘lose their salvation’ due to isolated acts of sin. Marriage in a Christian sense is sealed by vows. To perpetually break them would indicate maybe one didn’t mean them when he or she said them. God for God secures salvation. He is not a man or woman, he will not turn back the good work he has started in you as he is working for his glory not yours.

God Sees Every Secret Sacrifice

God Sees Every Secret Sacrifice

This was the first ever Christian article I wrote. It’s based on a couple thoughts God laid on my heart about giving and what place it should come from. Hope you enjoy it.

Serving When No One Else Noticespexels-photo-255488.jpeg

Thank you.

Two simple words that play a significant role in how we judge and value our relationships. We could boil it down even further to one word: appreciation.

My mother (much to my annoyance) would constantly remind me as a five-year-old to say it. Thank you. When I spent time with my niece, she seemed to be going through the same stage of “appreciation school.” If she forgot, I would give her a gentle reminder. “Giselle, have you forgotten something?”

However, as we get older and our acts of service and sacrifice grow, we’re less inclined to demand a thank you. We just expect people to say it. When they don’t, we feel a lack of appreciation, a lack of respect or gratitude.

Without a thank you, it’s easy for us to begin questioning aspects of even our strongest relationships, and run to the wildest conclusions to justify our feelings. But with a thank you — a true sign of appreciation — we feel valued and secure.

Selfishness Beneath Our Service

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Recently a friend and I were deciding where to go and eat, when I remembered a few weeks ago she had mentioned she was low on money. After deliberating the options, we decided to go to the supermarket, and when we got to the self-checkout, I put my things together with hers. She asked what I was doing, but I proceeded to pay for all our things.

When we got back to school, I recognized she had never said, “Thank you.”

I asked myself so many questions.

Had she not recognized I’d paid? Is she taking advantage of me? Is she angry with me for something else? Only when I got home did I recognize part of the problem was with me. Yes, she should’ve said, “Thank you,” but at the same time, my own motivations for paying in the first place weren’t totally sincere. If I had truly wanted to help her (and it had helped her), then why was I unsettled? Because there was something else I wanted: I wanted to be appreciated.

Whose Approval Are You Seeking?

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Of course, appreciation is a good thing. There’s a reason saying “thank you” is good manners. Jesus himself taught his disciples to appreciate the sacrificial giving of the poor widow (Mark 12:41–44). We should be eager to cultivate in ourselves a spirit of gratitude and appreciation, and it is not wrong to receive appreciation from others (Galatians 4:15).

But there is a big difference between enjoying appreciation and gratitude from others and needing or craving it. As we grow in good deeds, we must grow in our enjoyment of the Lord’s appreciation more than anyone else’s. “Thank you” may become less frequent. But this is right and good. Before we were saved, we worked to receive constant appreciation from man. Now we should learn to seek the satisfaction that comes from knowing God (John 5:44).

God calls us for much more than we can imagine, and his gift is the sweetest: salvation, a gift none of us can earn or deserve. Our lives should be spent responding to his love and mercy, not spent looking for a response from others. We must constantly rehearse with Paul, “Am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10).

Small Cogs in the Greatest Calling

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When I was first saved, I didn’t fully recognize the extent of God’s gift of salvation through Jesus’s death on the cross. Having gone to an Anglican school, around Easter we were all given palm crosses. I was also a big fan of MTV, and my childhood favourites Usher, Nelly, and 50 Cent all wore crosses on chains. The meaning of the cross and the gift of salvation were diluted by traditions and fashion statements. I didn’t fully comprehend how much love it took for God to send his only Son; I didn’t understand the magnitude of what it took to open heaven (John 3:16).

My “thank you” was not really genuine because I didn’t really appreciate the sacrifice that it took. I suppose none of us ever fully will. But as we grow in our knowledge of the Lord and of his greatness and of his love, so should our own sense of importance and significance diminish.

“Behold, God is great, and we know him not; the number of his years is unsearchable.” (Job 36:26)

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8–9)

As we seek to grow in God’s Spirit and seek a heart after his (Isaiah 55:6Ephesians 1:17), we recognize that we are small cogs in God’s world, working alongside other Christians to perform God’s will (Romans 12:1–2Ephesians 2:10).

Seek a Greater Pleasure

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Though it may be difficult, we should seek to do acts in silence and without fanfare. Jesus even went so far as to say that we should not let our left hand know what our right hand is doing (Matthew 6:3). Receiving appreciation is not bad for our souls, but it can be dangerous. We can forget that, even in our greatest works, still “we are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty” (Luke 17:10).

As Christians, we don’t need to tell people we are serving them. Just serve them. We don’t need to tell someone we donated to his or her fundraising page online. Just do it. It is a sign of our confused values if we think we are losing something when we lose man’s praise. In fact, it is just the opposite. Jesus tells us that man’s praise is short-lived and shallow (Matthew 6:2), but God himself will reward the things done in secret (Matthew 6:4).

We are trading the pleasure of vain, finite gratitude for a heavenly reward. When we train our hearts not to expect the “thank you,” it becomes all the sweeter. We can enjoy it without needing it. Our true reward is being stored up in heaven.

First published on Desiring God

http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/god-sees-every-secret-sacrifice