Comfort & Peace for God’s People
Condensed from sermons given during the nationwide quarantine for the COVID-19 virus.
A grandfather in Michigan has been walking four miles just to see his newborn granddaughter. He can only look at her through a glass door because of the fear of spreading the coronavirus.
Comfort My People: Pastor Lance Cook, CC La Habra CA
“Comfort, yes, comfort My people!” says your God.
God told Isaiah to comfort His people, because they were to go into captivity, far from a normal life, and their lives would be disrupted for a long time. He wants His people to be comforted in their plight. That’s a word for all of us right now.
In John 14:27, Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” The peace He gives is like an inner settling of the soul. He can bring peace to us today when we come to Him on His terms and allow Him to speak into our lives, when we have faith in Him for who He is. And as we come to Him in faith, He will give us strength.
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary… He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:28a, 29, 31
First, the passage tells us, He is the eternal, everlasting God, the Creator. There is no circumstance, no pandemic beyond the reach of His power. So if you find yourself weak, fainthearted, weary, or uncertain—God wants you to know that He will meet you right where you are today; He will give you just what you need to carry you through. Second, there is a promise for those who wait on the LORD—that is, who come to Him with expectancy, believing that He is who He promises to be in His Word: then He will renew our strength. We can fully depend on Him:
He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom. Isaiah 40:11a
See how God desires to embrace you. I have a new grandson, Ezra, and my daughter holds him, tends to all his needs, dotes over him. She gives him everything he needs to be comforted and sustained every day. God desires to do that with us, His children.
Let’s pray for our community, that God will open their hearts to Him. If you have never begun a personal relationship with God, ask Him to forgive your sins, tell Him you believe in Him, ask Him to be your Lord and Savior. Thank Him for being with you today and embrace the peace that Jesus gives. In your homes, pray and read His Word together—let God speak into your hearts. He is going to bring us through this, and we will see on the other side of this that He helped us and heard our prayers.
Nurses at a Miami, FL, hospital gather on the roof of the building to pray.
Fear Not: Pastor Doug McClean of CC of Delta, PA
Three times in Isaiah Chapter 41 the Lord says, “Fear not.” He wants us to know that He is here, that He is with us, and that He loves us.
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
It is completely natural to have the emotion of fear. Godly men in the Bible had fears. David, the giant-killer, wrote that the Lord … delivered me from all my fears (Psalm 34:4b). Paul wrote to the Corinthians, I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling (1 Corinthians 2:3). We can be honest with God about our fears, not pretending that we have it all together.
Fear, though, can be crippling. It can bring physical stress to your body, hurt your health, paralyze you. You can’t let fear control you. Instead, we as believers need to be controlled by the Holy Spirit. We can say No to fear; we can put it in the proper perspective by looking at the promises God makes in Isaiah 41:10:
1. He declares, “I am with you.” This is our Number One reason not to fear. The Creator who knows the end from the beginning, who conquered the grave—He Himself is with you. Jesus’ last words to His disciples were, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20b). Everything that you face, you face with Him; we are never alone.
2. “I am your God.” There’s a relationship here; He is declaring to you, “I am your God.” He has taken responsibility for you, for your life, for your well-being. Your whole life is in His hands. You are under His care and protection.
3. “I will strengthen you; yes, I will help you.” He makes promises to you. The Word says it is Christ who gives you strength (Philippians 4:13b). He says, “My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9b)—despite our weakness, He will complete us. He invites us to come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16b).
4. “I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” We are in His hands. He is holding onto you; He has a grip on you. In John 10:29b, Jesus said of His followers: “No one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.” As Paul wrote, For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).
In other words, as born-again children of God, we are always in His care, loved by Him, protected by Him. He is always present to help you. He wants you to know that, so that you may “fear not.”
Nurses at a Nashville, TN, hospital gather on the roof of the building to pray.
Do Not Worry: Pastor John Randall, CC San Juan Capistrano, CA
Our God is very aware of what is happening, and I believe He is using this [health crisis] to get our attention back on Him. We realize that we need God. If you’ve been distracted, if you’ve been sidelined, if you’re backslidden from God right now—I encourage you to get your eyes back on Jesus.
In Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus teaches us not to worry about our earthly lives but to be seeking the kingdom of God. In this passage, we see several reasons why believers have no need to worry:
1. Because it’s a command from Jesus. Three times in this passage, He tells us, “Do not worry.” In verse 25a, Jesus says, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life.” In other words, instead of allowing anxious thoughts to take us captive, the Bible tells us we must bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5b). We have to take our fears back to the promises in the Word of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth (Colossians 3:2).
2. Life is more than the temporal or material: “Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?” (Matthew 6:25b). We are just passing through this earth on our way to glory. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18b). We get so worried, so overwhelmed when we think life is about these temporary things.
3. You are loved by God. In Matthew 6:26, Jesus says, “Look at the birds of the air … your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” He is reasoning, from the lesser to the greater—if tiny birds do not worry, why should His children? If you only knew how much God loves you, then you wouldn’t be worried or anxious. If you are doubting His love today, look back to the cross: But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). Remember the nail-pierced hands and feet of Jesus and His promise of eternity. There is nothing you or I can do at this moment to make God love us any more or less than He already does.
4. It won’t change anything. In Matthew 6:27 Jesus asked, “Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?” In other words, you can worry, but it’s not going to add or change anything. Sometimes we worry about things that are never going to happen. But it will make us miserable. In fact, worry will stunt your growth spiritually. We need to choose to trust God.
5. Worry is the enemy of our faith. Jesus said, “Now if God so clothes the grass of the field … will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” (Matthew 6:30). Later, in Matthew 14:31b, Jesus would say to Peter, sinking below the waves after walking on them, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” If the enemy can get you to doubt God, you won’t step out in faith. Worry can never see what faith can, For we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). As John wrote, And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith (1 John 5:4b). If you’re doubting the Lord today, and your faith is being shaken—here’s what you can do. Look back at the faithfulness of God in your life. You have a history with God; remember how God has brought you through so far.
6. God knows what we need. We are not to fret about our daily needs, Jesus said, “For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things” (verse 32b). Isn’t it a comfort to know that God already knows all we need before we ask? Not only does He know our need, but He can meet it. And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19). He is Jehovah-Jireh, the God who provides.
7. Finally, Jesus promises: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). “Seek” is in the present imperative tense: Choosing daily to prioritize seeking God’s kingdom and His righteousness. Do you realize that as a Christian, you are part of an entirely different kingdom? How do we seek His kingdom? Through prayer, time in the Word, and fellowship. Though we cannot be together physically now, we can pray for each other.
Seeking the Lord first, above all things, is a great cure for worry and anxiety. We can run this race with endurance when we are looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2a). Let’s get our eyes back on Christ, pray for one another and our nation, and trust God rather than worry.
A soldier has his temperature checked as a precaution during the COVID-19 virus pandemic.
Cast Your Cares on Him: Pastor Malcolm Wild, CC Merritt Island, FL
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God … casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6a,7
Peter was writing to a group of people who had much anxiety in their hearts. Back then, Christians knew they could be persecuted and may lose their lives. How the enemy loves to threaten us with what he is going to do. Yet God tells us many times in His Word: Fear not.
Instead, we are told to humble ourselves and cast our cares on Him. This phrase “Cast all your cares on Him” essentially means to deposit with Him your anxieties. It’s like making a deposit at the bank—to hand over to Him all your worry, all your anxiety. Entrust Him with everything.
When we worry, we are essentially questioning whether God really cares for us: Does He know what is best for me? Perhaps I should do this or that because I know better than God. Instead of depositing our cares on Him, we take them back from Him—ultimately saying that we know better than the Lord. Humbling yourself means letting go of the reins and letting God be the driver of your life.
We are in a battle. The Christian life is a warfare, and when you become a Christian you are changing your uniform—switching from one army to the other. Satan couldn’t care less about you when you were on his side. But when you are on the side of the Lord, you face things you cannot fix yourself. You must rely on Him, realizing there is no hope other than Christ.
Even strong believers may sometimes fear. In Genesis 15:1b, God says, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.” Now, Abraham had done many mighty things with the Lord, yet in this moment, fear gripped his heart. It can happen to us all. Perhaps you’ve had great victories in the past, seen the Lord work in wonderful ways—yet the enemy has now put fear again into your heart. Fear not. God is your shield and reward—your protector and your provider. He will see you through this also.
A bus is disinfected to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
God’s Heart for the World: Rich Chaffin, CC Laguna Creek, CA
In this season of panic, I want to ask you, “Do you know what God is thinking right now?” While people are gripped with fear, one thing we can be sure of is that God wants to rescue people. We know that He loves people.
Paul, who once persecuted Christians, said, This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief (1 Timothy 1:15). Do you know what God wants to do in this crisis right now? He wants to save people. We can’t view anyone as beyond His reach. When Jesus looked at Matthew, He saw a disciple and a Gospel writer; others saw a turncoat, a traitor to Israel. When Jesus looked at Paul, He saw an apostle; others saw someone who had helped murder Christians.
Before I got saved, I went surfing with these guys from my high school, and I heard them talking about church. I realized that I would go with them if they asked me, but they never did. Later, after I got saved, I asked them why they never invited me. They said, “We knew what you were all about; we didn’t think you’d want to go.” I couldn’t believe it—what if I would have died? I would have gone to hell.
We need to remember that God wants to save the lost. Right now, they have no hope, no lifeline. Jesus tells us, “There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15:7b). We need to be like Jesus, not Jonah. Jonah did not want God to show mercy to the Ninevites, so he rebelled and ran away from God. Only after being swallowed by a great fish did he obey. Even so, we see that God took the worst prophet to the worst group of sinners and brought about one of the greatest revivals in history. The entire city of Nineveh repented and turned to God. We may look at a person or a nation and think that they don’t want to get saved. How do we know? We don’t know what God will do when people’s lives are shaken to the core.
Let’s pray that God would give us His heart for people, for this lost world. He is not far from any of us. Pray that we will be His people doing His will—with His grace, kindness, gentleness, and wisdom.
A medical professional administers a test for COVID-19.
God Is Our Refuge: Ken Graves, CC Bangor, ME
There is a lot of fear and panic in the world right now. As Christians, two things make us different from the world because we have the Lord.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed … There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; … the LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Psalm 46:1-7
First, God is our refuge; therefore, we do not need to fear. Others may have cause to fear, for this world is as close to heaven as they will get. But for those of us who are believers, this is as close to hell as we will ever be. In the midst of trouble and danger, let us be reminded that there is heaven. God Himself is present with us through every situation. We have His strength to draw from.
Second, we are on our way to heaven. We are saved, and our names are written in the Book of Life. Our goal is not to live forever on earth, or to be here any longer than we are supposed to be. We should temper our desire to live and serve God here with a desire to depart and be with the Lord. Paul said, For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21). But many modern American Christians no longer embrace the truth that dying is gain. We think to die is to lose. We are focused on improving our quality of life, having our best life now. But Paul was counting on having his best life in heaven. To die is gain: Do you truly believe that? To die is to get a massive promotion, to graduate, to get to heaven. Everything that promises heaven on earth is a lie from hell. Only heaven is heaven.
So, let us remember: God is on our side; He is our present help, our refuge with us now. And death is not the worst thing that can happen to us. For the believer, to die is gain. We need not fear.
A man receives a drive-through COVID-19 test.
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