Jenny Lind (1820-1887), the world-renowned Swedish soprano, was invited by her king to sing in the royal palace at a festival. It was to be held on a Sunday, and her conscience would not allow her to do it on the Lord’s Day. The king visited her in person and pleaded with her to comply. She responded: “There is a higher King, your majesty. I owe my first allegiance to Him.”
We are all ‘shut-ins’ under the current lockdown. My friend Dr. Stanley Barnes has a brief article in Footprints of Faith, written over thirty years ago, that is encouraging in these difficult times.
“Noah is the first of God’s shut-ins mentioned in the Bible: “And the Lord shut him in” [Genesis 7:16]. The Lord shut Noah and his family into the ark, not only for their protection but that through them, humanity might have a new beginning.
“Joseph was shut in prison in Egypt after being falsely accused. ‘But the Lord was with Joseph’ to prosper him and to fulfill his sovereign purpose in his life.
“Moses became one of God’s ‘shut-ins’ in the desert of Midian where he learned the lessons of his inadequacy and the truth of God’s all-sufficiency.
“Daniel was another of God’s ‘shut-ins’. He was shut up in the den of lions, but God sent His angel to shut the lions’ mouths. Daniel had to learn the lesson of God’s fidelity.
“God’s shut-ins may be overlooked by man, but never by Him. He has a ministry for them, even in their difficult circumstances. Very often, it is a ministry of prayer and personal witness. Let us not be discouraged. He loves us still. May the Lord this day enable us to trust and believe Him, that we, like God’s servants from the past, may prove His presence like Joseph, His power like Moses, and His protection like Daniel.”
“I BELIEVE GOD”
One of the pandemic benefits is that a number of believers have returned to a study of the sovereignty of God. The question arises, why God should allow unpleasant things like Covid19 to happen to them? It is refreshing to be reminded that the sovereign God is still in charge of all things – the good things of life and the not so good.
The apostle Paul on his voyage to Rome for fourteen long days was tossed to and fro in an angry sea [Acts 27:27], culminating in a shipwreck on the island of Malta. When everyone else was in total despair, Paul was undeterred for “the angel of God” appeared and told him that, yes, they would be shipwrecked, but that no human life would be lost.
Paul transmitted the encouraging message to the ship’s complement with these words, “I believe God.”
Why would John the Baptist be beheaded? Why should Stephen be martyred? Why would Peter be crucified? Why should Paul be executed? All these were faithful servants of God. But on the other hand, the apostle John died a natural death. The answer lies in these words of Paul. Christ “worketh all things after the counsel of His own will” [Ephesians 1:11].
Christian, fear not, the Lord is in control. “All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose” [Romans 8:28]. May we be able to say like Paul, “I believe God.”
NEVER LOSE THE WONDER
Many years ago, evangelist Vance Havener met the great Gospel preacher, Gipsy Smith, and asked him the secret of his freshness and power in the preaching of the cross. Mr. Smith answered simply, “I have never lost the wonder.” Neither did the apostle Peter. His writings reflect “the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow” [1 Peter 1:11].
What of my salvation, assembly, my Saviour? Am I taking the Lord for granted? Could it be that I have lost the wonder? [William M Parks].
Finally, the infection numbers from Covid have begun to subside in Ontario. There is a long way to go, but it is a move in the right direction. Hopefully, it will not be long until the churches can open up, and we can resume some form of normality.
The Toronto church is technically able to be open, but with a maximum of ten people. However, it continues to broadcast each Sunday on sermonaudio at 11.00 am and 6.00 pm, with the pre-service prayer time at 5.50 pm on Zoom. The Wednesday prayer meeting is at 7.30 pm again on zoom.