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Christ in the Coming Crisis

Mesikt Idechong

Recorded

  • March 14, 2020
    11:30 AM
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Our dear, loving, gracious heavenly Father, we thank You so much that we have come for no other purpose then to saturate our hearts and our thoughts with You in Your divine love. And, Father, as we do that, we humbly plea once more that You pour Your Spirit into us and onto us and around us today, that we may feast and drink upon Your wonderful words of life. Be with us, Lord. We anticipate a wonderful blessing all through the day. This is our prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

So, you probably knew that a sermon about the virus was going to be coming, and this is it. The Coronavirus or the COVID-19, as it is also referred to, it seems to incite different feelings in other people. You go to the big, big stores, and it’s caused panic, and people have overstocked in their supplies. And yet, you look on social media, and some people, instead of an overstock, they’re making this a laughingstock; they’re making jokes and memes and all these things about the virus. Some of them very funny, but some of them may be very unrealistic.

 

The reality is, where does the Christian then, and how does a Christian then respond to the crisis? Does a Christian overstock or does he make this a laughingstock? Where do we then draw the line when panic ensues left and right in our own islands? And, you know, it’s sometimes hard to see the panic in Guam only because we’ve been through so much. (Can you say “Amen” to that?)

 

I’ve always heard of Guam being the Typhoon Alley. I never knew what that meant until I finally lived here. And I used to visit Guam, and I would see these things called typhoon shutters or storm shutters, and I thought they were really for keeping people out. I thought they were some kind of security door. And the first typhoon I experienced here, it was like I thought, “Wow! It almost seems like the end of the world.” And yet, once it was done, everything was back to normal. And then a few months later, another typhoon, and after awhile you learn to kind of be normal with Chamorro typhoons.

 

And so, people here build a resilience that, “Oh, there’s a typhoon coming.” “Okay, we’ll just get everything set.” And so, we build up a resilience, and it seems like nothing can phase us. And it wasn’t too long ago when a certain North Korean person aimed his missiles at us and declared that if the U.S. wasn’t going to back off, they would bomb us, essentially. And I don’t know where you were that day, but I remember praying and going to sleep and waking up in the morning, and, no, we were not attacked by North Korea. And so, it seems as though we have been through so much that one other thing that may panic the whole world doesn’t seem to panic the people here as often.

 

But what does a Christian do in a crisis? When medicine is unavailable, while death tolls are rising, and where there seems to be a heavy saturation of panic in the news and in social media and everywhere we turn to. Well, this morning we’re going to study a story, when a crisis struck and what the disciples did in the crisis. And our sermon this morning is entitled “Christ in the Crisis.”

 

If you have your Bibles with you, I’m going to ask you to open up your Bibles to Mark, chapter 4, to a very familiar story that we may have grown up listening to or may have heard in passing. In Mark, chapter 4, verse 35 to 40. Matthew, Mark, chapter 4, chapter 4, verse 35 to 40, the second book of the New Testament Gospels, Mark, chapter 4:35-40. Let’s read the story together.

 

“And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, ‘Let us pass over unto the other side.’ And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships. And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, ‘Master, carest thou not that we perish?’ And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, ‘Peace, be still.’ And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, ‘Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?’”

 

There are three promises that we learn from this story that can help us, not simply survive a crisis, but to thrive in a crisis, that, while others may sing the woes and lament, the Christian can still sing, “Jesus loves me, this I know,” and that everything will be all right. So, we learn the principles of this story, three of them, the promise of His Word, the promise of His presence, and the promise of His power.

 

So, we go to the book once again, verse 35, we go to the first promise. It says, “And the same day, when the even was come,” or the evening came, “he said unto them, ‘Let us pass over unto the other side.’” So, what did Jesus say? Let’s go, where? Let’s go to the other side. So, He has basically determined the destination, and now He’s simply saying, “Let’s go.” You see, the fact that Jesus says we’re going to get there should have been promise enough that, even though the boat was rocking to and fro, it should have been promise enough for them to believe that, “Hey, Jesus said we’ll get there. We’ll get there.”

 

This is the promise of His Word, that when Jesus promises something, He means it, whether you feel it or not, whether you believe it or not, He means it. You know, when you get your iPhone or Samsung or Blu, or whatever kind of cellphone you may have, after a certain number of years of using them, you’ve noticed that your battery life begins to diminish lower and lower and lower until it doesn’t charge as well as it used to, and you have to go ahead and get a new one.

 

With the promises of God, no matter how many times you use them, the power never diminishes; it never wears out. And here is the promise in Romans 4:21, the Bible says, “And being persuaded that, what he promised, he was able also to perform.” It doesn’t matter what you feel. It doesn’t matter what you think. It only matters what He has promised. And as long as you believe in what He has said, regardless of how you feel and think, if you simply believe, and God will keep His Word.

 

Romans 8:28, the promise says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” This is one of my favorite passages because I love to expound on this text using a certain word. And you’ve probably heard of the word “providence.” What is providence? Providence is when God works to make everything work out for you and your good. Providence is when, let’s say you make a wrong turn out of your life, and you go and live a sinful life, providence is God rearranging circumstances and inspiring people to minister to you at different points in time in order to turn your mind back to God. That’s providential.

 

Someone may be here, and you didn’t want to be here, but you’re here. That’s providential. Why? Because it is always the right place, and it always the right time to hear the message of God. And the thing is, it doesn’t matter where your heart is, as long as you come and be prepared to have it filled. God accepts us where we are so that He may take us to where we need to go.

 

And so, providence is very unique because God has to arrange certain things to happen to your life in order to turn your eyes to Him. And somebody once said that providence is different from a miracle. It is easier for God to do a miracle then to work an act of providence. Now, God can work a miracle and turn water into wine; that’s easy because it’s not dependent on anybody’s choice. But providence is dependent upon your choice.

 

And this is why it’s so amazing that the gift of choice is so sacred, is so unique and so cherished that God gives it to us, but also with the freedom of choice comes also the risk that we may choose wrong. But, you see, choice, the sacredness of it, is so precious that the highest expression of love is to give somebody that freedom to choose.

 

And so, you may make wrong choices, and God has to work around and based on your choices to bring your mind back to Him. But look at the beautiful promise once more. Look at this, “And we know that” (how many things?) “all things,” all things, not 50 percent, not 75 percent. Wouldn’t it be great if 95 percent of the time everything in your life works out? You took an exam in college, and they said, “You have a 95-percent chance of getting an A-plus even if you didn’t study.” Would you take that risk? Oh, that’s a good deal. You say, “I’ll take it.” What if everything in life had a 95-percent benefit to you? It would still be good. But God is saying here that all things, not 95, but every single thing will work out.

 

But here’s the thing, it will work together. There is a work to be done. The working for everything for your good may not be what you want it to be. The promise is everything will work out for the good, but it will work out the way that God is working it out, not the way you work it out.

 

And then it says, it’s only going to be for good “to them.” Who is “them”? Who are these people that God works everything out good for? It’s those that love God. What an amazing prerequisite criterion. All you have to do is love God. And God then takes the responsibility upon Himself to make sure everything in your life works out.

 

When the bills are high, and the finances are low, God can work it out. When the marriage is strained, and the children are undisciplined, God is able to work it out. When the island and the world seem to be overrun with panic and fear because of a virus, God is able to work it out. All that He asks us to do is to love Him, and He will work it out. Remember, He will work it out according to His way for your good, not your way for your own good.

 

And it says those who love God become then the called, “the called according to His purpose.” The called, the ek-klesia, “the called out ones,” those who have been called out of darkness and into His marvelous light according to His purpose. What is the purpose of God? To reflect fully the character of Christ and to enlarge His Kingdom by sharing His grace with others. And this is the promise of His Word, that we can feast upon in the Bible.

 

The Bible then says in Mark 4:38, that when He was in the hinder part of the ship, He was asleep on a pillow. Jesus was tired from a whole day of ministry, living every single second and nanosecond of His life for other people. How often do you live for other people when you evaluate yourself? Would you say you spend about 50 percent of your time being a witness or giving yourself to serve somebody else? Or 80 percent or 90 percent?

 

You know, Mother Teresa, she was recognized by the pope, I believe it was Pope John, for her incredible work in humanitarian acts of mercy to the poor in Calcutta. And so she did this for many years, and the pope wanted to honor her. And so, he bought her, I believe it was, I believe it was a Cadillac, a very expensive car. And that precious lady was so blessed that she took the car…Do you think she rode it through the streets of Calcutta? Well, the story goes is she sold that car and gave that money to help the poor. Every ounce of her life was to minister to other people.

 

And Christ was ministering all day, but He fell asleep on the boat. He was so exhausted because He was serving, that He fell asleep. But here is the promise. Did He fall asleep on the shore? Yes or no? Yes or no? Did He fall asleep in the church? Yes or no? And neither should we (no, I’m kidding). Jesus fell asleep in the boat, right where the disciples were. And this is the promise of His presence.

 

Look at this, Psalm 32:8, “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go; I will guide thee with mine eye.” And Jesus promises in Matthew 28:20, “And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” This is the promise of His presence.

 

Listen, if I was in a storm, and I knew that the One who could calm the storm was sleeping in my boat, I don’t know about you, but I’d be pretty excited. I would say, “Lord, there’s a storm here. Could You please switch it off?” And He’ll get up, and He’ll say, “Yes, my son. I’ll do that for you.” You see, but God does not sleep. The Bible says He neither sleeps nor is weary nor is faint nor is hungry or thirsty. Every single ounce of who God is, is awake for the benefit and for the saving of humanity. Hebrews 7:25 says that, “He ever liveth to make intercession for [us].” This is the promise of His presence.

 

The next promise we found in Mark, chapter 4, verse 38, “And they awake him, and say unto him, “Master, carest thou not that we perish?’” This is what we call panic mode. These people were panicking because, although God was asleep on the boat, they were more focused on what could happen to them than the reality of who was with them.

 

People panic, not because of the reality of the problem, but because they forget the reality of the Problem-Solver. Jesus is in the boat. God will not send you anywhere without going with you. As a song goes, “His eye is on the Sparrow, and I know that He watches over me.” They forgot the promise that they were going to make it, that they had a destination to go to, but even when they forgot, Christ still heard their cry.

 

Even when we panic, God hears our prayers. All prayers coming from a heart that is crying out, God will hear. All prayers of distress, God will answer. Jacob says in Genesis 35, verse 3, saying, “I will make an altar there to God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and has been with me wherever I have gone.” And God invites us, in Jeremiah 33, verse 3, He says, “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” This is the promise of the petition.

 

And then Mark, chapter 4, verse 39, it says, “And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, ‘Peace, be still.’” Peace, be still. In the original Greek translation of that phrase, “Peace, be still,” the literal translation is, “Peace, be muzzled.” “Peace, be thou muzzled.” Now, when you hear the word “muzzle,” of course, you think of an animal with a muzzle on his face. Now, are you afraid of this dog without a muzzle? Maybe, if it’s dangerous. But once the muzzle is put on, would you still be afraid? No.

 

The One who can muzzle the storm is the One who can muzzle your trials today. The One who said, “Peace, be still,” says, “Peace to your heart,” and to whatever storm rages on, and look at what the promise says, “And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.” You don’t find anywhere in the Scriptures where Jesus is worried. You do find that Jesus prayed, and He trusted, and He believed in the promise of His power.

 

And sometimes this whole virus situation, we as Christians know that these are the signs of the times. And the greatest “virus” that has infected the world that we should be most afraid of is sin. This is the “virus” that we should wash our hearts and our hands from. The Bible actually says, “Wash your hands clean, O ye sinners.” Wouldn’t it be nice if everybody was as afraid of sin as they are of the Coronavirus? I wonder how many Christian bookstores would sell out of their Bibles because people are trying to overstock for the cure. I wonder how many people would be so careful at whether they watched what they did, what they thought, because of fear of infection.

 

And the enemy of souls has done something incredible, for he has made the worst virus that has ever infected humanity into something pleasing and to something pleasurable. And Christ has to come down with the cure and try to convince us to accept the cure. But the only way that we would be willing to accept, if He would sacrifice Himself to show you the full damage of what that virus can do. But because He took the full weight of it, He has become our medicine.

 

The supremacy of Christ even in the crisis, The Desire of Ages, page 336, “If the disciples had trusted in [Jesus], they would have been kept in peace. Their fear in the time of danger revealed their unbelief. In their efforts to save themselves, they forgot Jesus; and it was only when, in despair of self-dependence, they turned to Him that He could give them help.”

 

Many a times we fall, and we allow ourselves to be infected with “Sin COVID-19.” And we think we need to stay away, and I thought that’s a very interesting contrast. If you get COVID-19, stay at home. If you get “Sin COVID-19,” come to church. The House of God and the presence of God and the reading of God’s Word is the cure for the ailment of the heart.

 

And it doesn’t matter where you are or how you are, or how things are going in your home, how things are going in your life. It says that, “Don’t be dependent upon self. Turn to the One who can help.” And the Bible promises that He will give us help.

 

You know, many years ago, we had a typhoon warning in Palau, and I’ve never experienced…I’m sorry, it was a tsunami, rather; it was a tsunami warning. And so, the announcement went out that everybody has to go to higher ground, and I said, “Okay.” And I was at the church at the time during the weekday, spending some time with the youth. And these youth, who didn’t want to go home, they wanted to stay with us, and so we said, “Okay, let’s go ahead and go and make it to the high ground.”

 

One particular youth member, he was very faithful. He seemed to be very nice, seemed to be very good. But then during the crisis of a tsunami, all of a sudden, he just panicked. He seemed to lose faith. And I said, “It’s going to be okay. It’s going to be fine. We’re going to pray, and let’s pray, and it’s going to be alright.” And so we prayed, and we asked God to search our hearts, if there was any sin in us, that God would forgive it. And we wanted to be right before God, because if this was the end, we wanted to be ready. And no matter how many times we prayed, he kept panicking, and I didn’t know how to help him.

 

And I used to take a course in rescue diving as a scuba diver, and my friend was the instructor, and I asked him, “What do you do when you’re trying to save somebody, and they’re really just struggling.” He said, “Easy, when they’re struggling in the water, the first thing is you give them some kind of flotation device for them to hold onto. And the second thing, if you don’t have that, then let them tire themselves out and start drowning, and then you can actually save them.”

 

I said, “What do you mean?!” Because this is the problem, when that person is panicking, he is in panic, and if you try to help him, in his panic he might drown you just to try to keep himself above the water. And so, he said, “Give him a flotation device, and if not, if you feel it’s too much of a danger, there are certain methods to go around him and grab him and secure him, but if it’s the last resort, if it’s too much of a danger, let him tire himself out. And when he’s completely exhausted, then he can be helped.”

 

And sometimes you and I, God is just ready to help, and you’re still panicking, tiring yourself out in what you want to do, what you think is the plan. And God is waiting for you to just tire out so that He can save you. Not dependence upon self, but dependence upon the One who can rescue you.

 

And so, that evening there was no tsunami, and you know what’s amazing is that the shelter, the highest ground of the island where we would find shelter, was actually at the king’s house. And you can find shelter and safety in the house of the King.

 

So, what does a Christian do in the time of crisis? Very simple. We continue to pray, we continue to believe, we continue to have faith, we continue to be safe. Having faith doesn’t mean being reckless. It means having faith, moving forward, following all, whatever rules are required of us, but being safe. But much more than that, the greatest virus that’s ever come to the world is really sin, and by the grace of God may we be as vigilant to wash our hands of that sin, that we may be clean before God, that we might not infect other people as well. Let it be the mission of the heart to help and to save all those around us and to keep ourselves clean from the wickedness of the world.

 

We all know the story of the Titanic. We all know the story of the man and woman, Mr. and Mrs., I believe, Mr. and Mrs. Straus who were the owners of Macy’s, how they perished in that ship that fateful night. But there was also a man who is not as known who also perished that night, and before people really knew about D.L. Moody, there was an evangelist whose name was Mr. Chapman. His name was Harper Chapman. And Harper Chapman boarded the Titanic on his way back to the Moody Church to preach a three-month-long evangelistic series to the people of Chicago.

 

And as he was there on the Titanic, he was there with his sister and his little girl. His wife had died because of sickness. And so, as they were on the Titanic, making their way, all of a sudden, as we know, the ship struck an iceberg, and it began to sink. And this little-known story of Pastor Harper actually comes out from this event, and reports have come out, and they have said that this evangelist, he got up, he made sure that the life boats that were only accepting women and children, that his sister and his daughter were secure. So, he brought them to the life boats. He put them on the boat. He looked at his little girl and said, “It’s going to be okay. God will be with you. I have work to do.”

 

And so, they were on the life boat, and an amazing thing happened. He began to go around the boat, and he asked people, “Are you saved?!” “Are you saved?!” “Do you know who Jesus Christ is? Do you accept Him as your Lord?” And those who said they didn’t know Him, he would then pray with them, that they would accept Christ. As the ship was sinking and breaking in half, he could still be seen running back and forth to people, “Are you saved?!” “Do you know the Lord?!” And finally, as the ship finally broke in half and sunk into the water, a lot of people were in the water freezing, and there is an account, and it was written on a tract called “I am Mr. Harper’s Last Convert.”

 

And the tract is a testimony of a man who many years later stood up in church and testified that, “I was the last convert of Pastor Chapman.” And he says that he was in the water freezing, and he was holding onto a piece of the ship trying to stay afloat. And then the tide pushed Mr. Harper next to him, and this man who was freezing himself, he was trying his best to speak, and he said, “Young man, are you saved?! Do you know who Jesus is? Have you accepted Him as your Lord?”

 

“No, I haven’t.”

 

“Accept Him! Accept Him now!” And the tide took him away. And he could still be heard speaking to everybody in the water, “Have you accepted Christ as your Lord?” “Have you?” And then the tide brought him back to that young man. “Young man, have you accepted Him now? Have you made Him your Lord?”

 

He said, “No, not yet.”

 

“Make Him your Lord. Accept Him!” And the tide took him away.

 

Well, that young man, he said, in the darkness of the night, he finally accepted Christ into his heart. And that was the last time he saw Mr. Harper. And other reports also say that when the tide took him away, he saw another person, and he said, “Here! You need this more than I do,” and he took off his life jacket and gave it to that person. And he said, “Have you accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior?” And he sank into the abyss, and he perished. Until his dying breath, his question was, “Are you saved?” “Are you saved?”

 

Friends, the dying breath of Christ, His whole purpose of living, was to provide salvation for you and me. His whole reason for existing was to reveal His love to you, that you may love Him back. I wonder if there is a virus in your life that needs to be washed away today. I wonder what is it. And you recognize that, “Even though nobody knows, I know. And I know it’s a small thing, and I need to get rid of it. I’ve been failing over and over again because I have no power, but I’m here. I’m not staying home. I’m coming. Even while infected, I’m here.”

 

Friends, I want you to know that as you come, Christ will embrace you as you are. I wonder if today if there is any of us here who have been wrestling with certain things that you know may not be good. It may be lust, it may be pride, envy, selfishness, whatever it may be, and you want your heart and mind to be washed clean. And you want to be completely all in, in the arms of your Savior. And if there is someone here like that today, I’m going to invite you to stand with me as we have a very special word of prayer. You would like to stand and say, “Lord, there are things in my life that I would ask God to help with and to wash away and to make me clean.” And also to pray, to say, “Lord, help me to stay pure, not in my own strength, but by yours.” Amen.

 

Our loving, gracious Father, Lord, to the dying breath of Your Son, Your sacrifice proclaimed, “Are you saved? Are you saved?” And, Father, I know that there may be moments in life that there is the virus of sin that maybe doesn’t infect the whole life that everybody could see, but it does infect who we are. And we know that if we hold onto it, we could never let it go, and in the end, it will destroy us and consume us. And, Father, today, as You have said in Your Word, we want to wash our hands, not in the water of the world, but, Father, by the blood of the Lamb.

 

And, Father, where we are weak, give us strength. And, Father, though we fall, we rise up again. And today, dear Lord, we praise You and honor You that the love You displayed at the cross, the love that embraces all sinners, Lord, may that inspire us to live for You each day. We stand now, surrendering our hearts once more, giving it to you afresh. In thanksgiving and praise, we thank You for hearing us. In Jesus’ name. Let all of Your children say, “Amen.”

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