These are the best of times and these are the worst of times. An old classic, The Tale of Two Cities, begins with this mantra. I put the words in present tense because it feels like we are IN these times right now. We are praying for friends who are losing loved ones to the virus pandemic. Friends are home, unable to work. Some friends are feeling the financial crunch from lost wages. Many are fearful and full of anxiety.
However, some friends are working from home with a new appreciation for family life. Parents are teaching their own kids and discovering a new appreciation for the creativity of professional teachers. Government leaders are stepping up with one thing on their minds, to help the people who put them in office as their representatives. We are also being better stewards of what God has provided for us to manage.
Volunteerism is up in great numbers. Many want to help! We are coming together to help each other get through this. Common enemies have a tendency to do that. We think the common enemy is this virus. Our real enemy is Satan, however. How we respond to the “worst of times” will reflect Who we believe and follow.
God has the attention of his people more than ever before. His church has left the building and has gone online to reach and teach people around the world who are hungry to hear His words with a new eagerness to give Him praise. We are created to worship HIM and it is happening! We are worshiping God more than the stuff we think we own.
Yes, it is the best and worst of times. It depend on our perspective. What is your perspective? What does perspective does God wants us to look for in all of this?
How will we respond to our present circumstances? What do we do daily that is pleasing to God, we might ask? I am drawn to Romans 12 this morning.
1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and
walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking.
Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
3 I’m speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.
4-6 In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.
6-8 If you preach, just preach God’s Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don’t take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don’t get bossy; if you’re put in charge, don’t manipulate; if you’re called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don’t let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face.
9-10 Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.
11-13 Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.
14-16 Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody.
17-19 Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.”
20-21 Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.
Friends, Yes, these are the BEST of times. God’s Best in us. Let us look at our present circumstances from God’s point of view. Look up to God first. Then look around to see what God is doing. Ask God for wisdom. He will give it. Then thank Him. Praise and worship the One and Only this morning.
In Jesus Name, and By His Power in us, Amen. I believe.