Covid’s Speech Lesson

Covid descended upon me in December, and our home became very quiet. Due to potentially coughing every time I wanted to speak, words were few and my wife lived in “Silent Night.”

During those days, this thought came to mind: Most of us talk too much, and too often about things that don’t matter; many of us do not talk enough about what’s really important.

Then the following arrested my attention one morning while reading the latter chapters of Job in his response to God, Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth. (Job 40:4). Having told his friends to put their hand over their mouths (21:5), now Job knows he must do the same lest he speak out of turn with God.

Perhaps it would do each of us good to take a cue from Job.

David prayed something along the same lines, Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips! (Psalm 141:3)

Please, honestly ask yourself the following questions. Do some personal inventory as I have.

  1. Do I need to put my hand over my mouth?
  2. Do I need to share “that information” with everyone, and is it completely true?
  3. Do I gossip, participate in gossip or listen to gossip?
  4. Do I need to give my opinion on everything?
  5. Do I speak of other’s sins but seldom speak of my own?
  6. Do I talk about others more than I talk to God about others?
  7. Do I complain and whine and criticize rather than rejoice, encourage and praise?
  8. Do I talk more about myself and what’s on my mind than talking about my Savior, my Lord, my Friend, my King and what He has done?

Solomon put it this way, A truly wise person uses few words; a person with understanding is even-tempered. Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent; with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent (Proverbs 17:27-28).

Don’t let Covid have to teach you this important lesson of life. Lay your hand to your mouth (Job 40:4).

Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin (Proverbs 13:3).

Bob Saget, Covid & Bronx Fire

On the last day of 2021, Bob Saget reflected on the passing of 99 year-old Betty White by saying, “She always said the love of her life was her husband, Allen Ludden, who she lost in 1981. Well, if things work out by Betty’s design — in the afterlife, they are reunited. I don’t know what happens when we die, but if Betty says you get to be with the love of your life, then I happily defer to Betty on this.”

According to worldomenters.info, as of Monday, January 10, 2022, Covid has been the cause of death of 861, 021 people in the USA and 5,511,396 in the world.

Sunday morning, fire broke out in a Bronx, NY, apartment complex killing 17 people. Eight of them were children. “It was absolutely horrific,” Firefighters Association President Andrew Ansbro said. “I talked to many veteran firefighters who said it was the worst fire they had seen in their lives. They were doing CPR on people outside. It was absolutely horrific. Members operated with upmost heroism. Unfortunately, not all fires have a positive outcome. It’s horrible. This fire will be with these members forever.” (abc7ny.com)

This world is filled with suffering and sorrow. It is not supposed to be that way.

Then why so much agony, angst, fear, disappointment, and death?

As God created the universe, He saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day (Genesis 1:31). Upon creating man and woman in His own image (Genesis 1:26) and from the dust of the ground (Genesis 2:7), He placed them in the Garden of Eden, blessed them, and . . . said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:28).

What went wrong?

Sin. God gave man a freewill to choose and being tempted by Satan, he chose to go his own way and plunged the whole world into sin (Genesis 2:8-3:24). Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—for sin indeed was in the world (Romans 5:12-13a). You see, the world is totally broken because of sin.

Is there any hope for us? Is there anyone who can forever correct the sin problem? Will it always be this way? My friend, just as the world is completely broken by sin, Jesus is the complete answer for every sin, every wrong, every heartache, and every act of unrighteousness (Romans 5:14-21).

Covid constantly produces fear and reminds us of death. Man, even in his God-given mental capacity, has not figured out how to eradicate this pandemic. Yet, in the midst of it all, I hear these hope-filled words of truth at the tomb of death, Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live (John 11:25).

Sadly, mankind will continue to face fatalities due to such things as faulty space heaters and apartment doors that are designed to close in case of fire. Remember, the world is broken. Man cannot produce a perfect environment because we are imperfect creatures due to our sin. But there is hope! For where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 5:20b-21). The answer is the perfect Son of God (John 3:16-17; Ephesians 2:1-10).

Yes, there is immense pain and suffering in this world, and Jesus experienced it all (Isaiah 53; Hebrews 4:14-16). He bore the sin of the whole world, yours and mine (2 Corinthians 5:21), and He rose from the tomb to conquer sin and death (Matthew 28:1-10; Acts 2:24; Revelation 1:18). God wants you to have the security and assurance of eternity in His presence in Heaven (John 14:1-6).

My heart ached as I read Bob Saget’s statement about the afterlife. My friend, you can absolutely know where you are going. You do not need to hope that “things will work out by Betty’s design — in the afterlife.” You must not “happily defer to Betty on this.”

This sinful, broken world won’t always be this way. Please take time to read the scripture passages given above. There is eternal hope (confident expectation based on the promises of God in His Word); there is eternal assurance all found in the person of Jesus Christ. Please defer to Him!

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:1-4)

The Season That Stole Christmas

The lights went out on the top and the bottom this year!!

There I sat with my car backed into the parking lot at Target in observation mode. Still in quarantine, my wife made her trek into Target to purchase a gift.

What did I observe? A steady of stream of shoppers entering and exiting their cars and the stores with sad, frowning, hardened faces. Some were walking briskly, some on a mission, others at a snail’s pace. And, what season of the year is this?

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”—Go ahead; sing it! You are hearing it in your head anyway!

It’s the celebration of good news of great joy that will be for all the people (Luke 2:11)!

Isn’t Christmas all about joy, cheer, good news, giving, laughter, family traditions, get-togethers, etc.?

As I watched, my finite mind could not fathom all the stories in front of me in this “season of joy.” Perhaps sudden job loss, death of a dear loved one, disappointment in not finding the right gift, the general frustrations of life, cancer diagnosis, home life issues, heart-crushing memories, failing marriages, brokenness, fear, rejection, dread, chaos, thoughts of suicide, sorrow, discontentment, etc.

In the midst of these stories of life, many hoping that this season might bring a little good news, a little cheer, a little “Tender Tennessee Christmas” to take off the edge of the pain, my mind considered my own current “covidness” and was once again reminded that this season is only a mere shadow of the Realty. If my heart is fixed on all the ingredients of the season, I miss the preeminent, transcendent Person of this day, this season, this year, and this life. At that point, I have fallen into idolatry; worshiping the creature (and what the creature creates here) more than the Creator (Romans 1:18-25).

You see, the only Story that can completely deal with the root cause of all “the fears of all the years,” which began in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3), is the Reality of the living Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ Who stepped into your life to be your substitute on the cross (Isaiah 53:3-5; 1 Peter 3:18). Life is the Eternal Story, not a temporal season.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:3-9 ESV).

Today, tomorrow, on Christmas Day, and the days to follow, listen to and meditate on the Story of hope and redemption, the salvation of your souls, in exchange for the shadows of the season. No matter how good they may be for now, they are only shadows.

Don’t let the season steal what Jesus came to give and restore!

I came that they may have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10).

Additional links for your encouragement today:

Cancelember

Cancel and debt. Two words that loom heavily over this Christmas 2021.

Debt looks like that long line of overloaded, bulging Sam’s Club carts at the exit door that probably won’t be paid off before next Christmas.

Cancel looks like our holiday season due to Covid.

  • Vacation (Cancelled)
  • Pigeon Forge/Dollywood Lights/Time with friends (Cancelled)
  • Hike (Cancelled)
  • Christmas shopping (Cancelled)
  • Haircut (Cancelled)
  • Perform wedding, Dec. 17-18 (Cancelled)
  • Christmas caroling (Cancelled)
  • Game date to Blackbird Bakery (Cancelled)
  • Getty Christmas Concert, Greenville (Cancelled)
  • December corporate worship with brothers & sisters in Christ (Cancelled)
  • And there is more, but . . .

Cancel and debt are GREAT words at Christmas! Quite frankly, what we would consider to be two negative, disappointing words are instead words that are full of hope and joy!

Christmas is preeminently and transcendently about the Lord Jesus Christ. Due to the sinful condition of mankind (Genesis 3; Romans 3:23), Christ in His glorious humiliation entered into the chaos of our depraved, full of death condition (Philippians 2:6-8) and cancelled the debt of our sin against us that He might reveal God to us (Matthew 1:21-23).

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him (Christ), having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him (Colossians 2:13-15).

Christ came to experience all that experience, die for our sins, and then return to Heaven to represent us before the Father. He is willing to save and able to save (Warren Wiersbe). [Hebrews 4:14-16; 7:25]

Therefore because my life is secure in Christ today and for all eternity, the words “cancel” and “debt” remind me of Christmas, the Gospel!

On this day in “Cancelember” I can sing the following old song of praise and testimony!

He paid a debt He did not owe
I owed a debt I could not pay
I needed someone to wash my sins away
And now I sing a brand new song
Amazing Grace
Christ Jesus paid a debt that I could never pay

My debt He paid upon the cross
He cleansed my soul from all its dross
I tho’t that no one could all my sins erase
But now I sing a brand new song
Amazing Grace
Christ Jesus paid a debt that I could never pay

O such great pain my Lord endured
When He my sinful soul secured
I should have died there but Jesus took my place
So now I sing a brand new song
Amazing Grace
Christ Jesus paid a debt that I could never pay

He didn’t give to me a loan
He gave Himself now He’s my own
He’s gone to Heaven to make for me a place
And now I sing a brand new song
Amazing Grace
Christ Jesus paid a debt that I could never pay

COVID Counsel #4

One of the many blessings of vacationing at the beach is the rising and setting of the sun. There is something special about standing on the 20th floor balcony with a fresh cup of coffee in hand and your camera ready to take shots of God’s moment-by-moment creation!

Albeit the month of December does not draw a huge crowd to North Myrtle Beach, there were a few folks gathered Saturday morning on the beach waiting on the same spectacular event! One family in particular had staked their claim to front-row seats with their towels and blankets.

As a ribbon of the sun stretched across the horizon, anticipation began to build. Indeed, it was awesome (Psalm 19:1-2)!! The hues of orange, blue, purple and yellow were all mixed together to present a first-morning vacation sunset that would cause a veteran rooster to be overwhelmed!!

Eventually, the sun rose above the few clouds and was in full sight!

With that, the aforementioned family gathered up their belongings and headed back to their room. For them, it was on to the next thing in their day.

Later on I was reminded, this is how we should be with the promised soon return of Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)! Everyday I have a front-row seat for His appearing. When the Lord descends from heaven in the clouds with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God, I won’t miss it!! No matter where I am on this planet, I will hear it! Beyond His call to me for salvation, this will be the sweetest, most exciting voice I will have ever heard and the greatest event of my life up to this very moment!!

  • Am I sitting on the edge of my seat this morning looking and listening for His return?
  • Does the imminent return of Christ have immediate effects upon my life right now?
  • Does a sermon on the return of Christ stir me and fill my heart with anticipation and as soon as the gathering is done, I pick up my belongings and head on out for the next thing in my day?

Let’s ask the Lord to renew our anticipation of His return rather than being so consumed with COVID, our fears, anxieties, stresses and what we don’t have right now.

Let’s ask the Lord to nudge us when we get so caught up with this world that we forget about being caught up into the eternal world of His presence! (John 14:1-6)

And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:16b-17)

That’s good counsel for our weary souls!

(If you are interesting about a personal relationship with Christ and an eternal home in Heaven, please watch the following video.)

COVID COUNSEL #2

We are all effected by COVID-19 in one way or another.

This past week while preparing for Sunday’s message from 2 Timothy 2:11-19, a key word in the last verse stood out as a source of needed counsel for my own heart and mind. It is a word that is greatly needed for all of us in the midst of COVID. It is a word that Asaph used so poignantly as recorded in Psalm 7323. The word . . . nevertheless.

Paul reminds Timothy that in the midst of dealing with false teachers in the church at Ephesus as well as their error and leading some astray, Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”

Asaph, dealing with the doubts and struggles within his own heart, comes to preach the truth to himself and says, Thus my heart was grieved, and I was vexed in my mind. I was so foolish and ignorant; I was like a beast before You. Nevertheless I am continually with You; You hold me by my right hand. You will guide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory (Psalm 73:21-24).

In Sunday’s message from 2 Timothy 2, I shared a quote that I hope will encourage and help you in the midst of how you are being effected by COVID.

The Lord says to us, “Nevertheless.”
Do false teachers seem to abound? The Lord says, “Nevertheless.”
Are perilous times upon us? The Lord says, “Nevertheless.”
Do we fear for the future? The Lord says, “Nevertheless.”
Are we worried for our children’s safety? The Lord says, “Nevertheless.”
Do we wonder how the church will survive? The Lord says, “Nevertheless.”
Do we see some falling away from the faith? The Lord says, “Nevertheless.”
Are we tempted to despair? The Lord says, “Nevertheless.”
Could persecution come to us? The Lord says, “Nevertheless.”
Do evildoers rise to power? The Lord says, “Nevertheless.”

Ray Pritchard; The Life God Blesses

Today, would you let the Lord’s “nevertheless” counsel your heart?

Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His” (2 Timothy 2:19).

COVID COUNSEL

Many years ago, I heard a preacher say, “You wouldn’t say it out loud, but you probably think you are the most intelligent creature on the planet. Why? Because you listen to yourself more than anyone else.” By the way, do you ever have a conversation with yourself or with someone else in your mind?

This preacher went on to say something very needful. “Instead of listening to yourself, you need to preach to yourself! You must preach the Truth to yourself!”

David does this in Psalm 42:5, 11 and 43:5.

Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him
For the help of His countenance.

Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God;
For I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God.

For sure, COVID and 2020 has been filled with inconsistencies, false information, cancellations, deaths, life-altering illnesses, disappointments, fear, anxiety, abrupt changes, and unfulfilled plans and expectations.

Where do you run? Where do you hide? Where do you find rest for your weary soul? Where do you find strength to take the next step, to live the next day? The answer is found in the aforementioned scripture passages. Read and meditate on what David is saying. Put yourself in the passage. Preach the truth to yourself. Do not listen to yourself, your doubts, your confusion, your pain, your sorrow, your fears, etc.

The help of His countenance (42:5) will always be the help of my countenance (42:11; 43:5) as I hope in my God and praise my God while preaching the truth to myself. Counsel your heart.