What Now? What Next?
Bearing in mind that God created you for such a time as this; you have been equipped—and every experience from your birth to the present day—whether you know it or not, has prepared you to walk through these chaotic and uncertain times in our world and to emerge in victory. You were born with purpose and to enter this new era with faith, focus and with a firm footing—your best days are still ahead of you.
Passivity and having no sense of purpose will never provide the solution for a world in crisis. Reformers reform and recharge the atmosphere. Reformers take what is and reshape, reframe and restructure that which is broken, dysfunctional and in a state of disrepair and restore it to better than it was before. Being born for such a time as this, is realizing your purpose, your inherent spiritual and practical gifts, your abilities and skills and then putting them to excellent use for the Master’s service. It is making yourself available to stand up and be counted, not counting the cost, rather foregoing your comforts and cravings to reach out and make an imprint on this world for the God you serve; the King of all kings and the Lord of lords. We need to make a decision, just like Moses did, not just to see a burning bush, but to turn aside and ask why the bush is burning? For those who know their God, they recognize the destiny designed in their DNA to do great works and to influence their families, communities, companies, and some, even their nations.
So what now? The world is rocking and reeling from a virus called Covid-19–I believe it should be called c-o-v-e-r-t (secret, hiding, not wanting to be known), yet it is trying to crown mankind with fear, control and social distancing. Corona is the Latin word for crown. Humankind is created for connectedness, socializing, togetherness, enjoying friendship, meals around a table, meeting in each other’s homes, or coffee shops and restaurants. Everything we know to be normal has changed in a matter of weeks. It seems we went to bed, in our normal nightly routines and woke up in a world that belonged to another planet. However, it is our world, it is in our time and it is happening on our planet.
Many have asked if this is all the work of darkness in some secret conspiracy to control the world? Others have suggested it is the judgment of God on a world gone crazy. Some consider it the obvious and likely consequences to delinquent and rebellious behavior. And others think it may be the “universe’s way” of culling the masses. That is all good and well, until the masses could perhaps include a member of your own family. We need to look to God for His mercy and turn our hearts back to Him, regardless of what our opinions may be.
Over the past few months we have seen highly skilled and professional medical people unable to find a cure to this virus, governments scramble to keep people socially distanced, markets rise and fall like the Italian Alps as investors respond in fear and try to secure their precious finance. Meanwhile people are kept from their employment, salaries and streams of income are narrowed if not stopped altogether and millions live in fear of how they will be able to provide for the future. Yet, let us be encouraged. This may be the “Now” picture, but there is a “what next” picture.
The “what next” picture is the solution to a world in crisis: It takes faith over fear, relationship with God over mere religious practice and trust over trifling with issues that raise more anxiety than they are worth.
So what is next? Well certainly, putting first things first—We need to seek first the Kingdom of God
The perfect teaching of Jesus, who viewed life in a simple but powerfully wise way, said this: [Matthew 6:25-34 Voice Bible]
Here is the bottom line: do not worry about your life. Don’t worry about what you will eat or what you will drink. Don’t worry about how you clothe your body. Living is about more than merely eating, and the body is about more than dressing up. Look at the birds in the sky. They do not store food for winter. They don’t plant gardens. They do not sow or reap-and yet, they are always fed because your heavenly Father feeds them. And you are even more precious to Him than a beautiful bird. If He looks after them, of course He will look after you. Worrying does not do any good; who here can claim to add even an hour to his life by worrying? Nor should you worry about clothes. Consider the lilies of the field and how they grow. They do not work or weave or sew, and yet their garments are stunning. Even King Solomon, dressed in his most regal garb, was not as lovely as these lilies. And think about grassy fields-the grasses are here now, but they will be dead by winter. And yet God adorns them so radiantly. How much more will He clothe you, you of little faith, you who have no trust? So do not consume yourselves with questions: What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear? Outsiders make themselves frantic over such questions; they don’t realize that your heavenly Father knows exactly what you need. Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and then all these things will be given to you too. So do not worry about tomorrow. Let tomorrow worry about itself. Living faithfully is a large enough task for today.
His instructions aren’t impossible to keep. It is just that we have complicated the fundamentals of His teachings because we have insisted on living life our way. We have forgotten, or simply do not wish to comply with simple suggestions like, Give and it will be given to you. Love your Neighbour as you love yourself. Do to others as you would have them to you… Not complicated, but not easy. And this is often where we miss the greater blessings.
It is in seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness—what is righteousness, quite simply—right living. When we seek God, His ways and we live right, He promises—and He will never go back on His word—that all of the things we desire will be given to us. If this is true, and we live right according to His ways, then anxiety and fretfulness about the future, about food supplies, and financial security could fade away and instead our hearts be filled with joy, peace, love and all the fruit of the Spirit, just as He said.
Jesus spent three year’s teaching His disciples many different principles. They also many miracles and events that would capture the attention of any modern day man with all of our dazzling technologies. Yet, in spite of all they saw and experienced, they asked Jesus one thing: they said, Lord teach us to pray. Why? Because they would have known beyond doubt that the miracles they saw Jesus perform came out of a time of deep prayer and much solitude. What a wonderful invitation for us who are under lockdown and forced to have times of solitude.
This time we have of separation and isolation is a gift. It is a display of God’s kindest mercy on humankind. It is time to withdraw from the draining demands of everyday life in a pacy world that makes even the calmest person’s mind spin. This time of quiet and this Divine pause is time to reflect and reframe our thinking and examine our own hearts. For out of your heart flow all the issues of your life. The “what next” is up to you and to me.
When Jesus responded to the disciples’ request to be taught to pray, He gave them an eternal life lesson. This is what He said: ‘Our Father, dwelling in the heavenly realms, may the glory of your name be the center on which our lives turn. Manifest your kingdom realm, and cause your every purpose to be fulfilled on earth, just as it is fulfilled in heaven. We acknowledge you as our Provider of all we need each day. Forgive us the wrongs we have done as we ourselves release forgiveness to those who have wronged us. Rescue us every time we face tribulation and set us free from evil. For you are the King who rules with power and glory forever. Amen.’ Matthew chapter 6:9-13 from the Passion Translation Bible.
May the glory of your Name be the center on which our lives turn.
Let’s reflect on that for just moment: How many people can honestly say that that God is indeed the center of their lives, the center on which their lives turn? We force God out of schools, governments, out of our own daily agenda’s and structures, and still we wonder why the world is in such a mess!
Jesus taught us to pray that the Kingdom of God would manifest on earth as it is in Heaven, but the only way that it can manifest is through His people. For whatever God’s reasons are, He chose to fulfill His purposes and to work through you and me, as flawed as we are. And if we don’t make ourselves available to Him, this prayer will never be answered. It is because people insist on doing their own thing, their way, that we don’t see Heaven’s reality on earth; the attributes of kindness, generosity, love, peace, and joy, etc., but rather we experience wars, famine, plagues, hatred, domestic violence, child and women abuse. We can hardly ask why the world is so polluted with godlessness.
We ask Him to provide but very few give generously, sincerely and in faith. And it’s not only about giving money, but giving of our time, our talents and our treasures. Having mercy on the weak, the poor, the orphans and the widows. Usually we are so busy rushing through life, we close our car windows, pretend we don’t see their signs asking for help, and we harden our hearts to those in need, thinking that someone else can help them.
I witnessed an ugly but clear example of this some time back in my local area where I do my shopping. The most kind and gentle car guard who always has a smile as bright as the sunlight, and has a word of kindness to say every time he helps someone pack their shopping in their car happened to bear the arrogance of a fool who flicked him a small coin, but deliberately threw it away from him so that he would need to run after it. The clown of a man thought it was hilarious. The car guard nevertheless picked it up and still said thank you. How can that prideful man expect great blessing in his life. Even if he prays for it, he will not get it. He cannot wonder why he may have strife and turmoil that affects his life. What you sow you will reap. Nothing more. Nothing less. Jesus said it. That settles it.
Jesus taught us: Forgive us the wrongs we have done as we ourselves release forgiveness to those who have wronged us.
Mmmmm….this is the tough one, yet it is for a fact the pivotal point of our salvation. We want to feel justified. We want revenge. We secretly rejoice when our enemies or those we envy fall or fail…. Yet forgiveness is the only linchpin that secures our access to eternity. This time of Jesus’ death and resurrection that Christians remember the world over is based on a Cross—a Cross of forgiveness. Just as we have received the forgiveness of a Savior through the shedding of His Blood, the Blood of the Lamb—the very prophetic action that the Israelites did when they put the blood of the lamb on the doorposts so that the angel of death would Passover, we now have forgiveness through the shed Blood of the Son of God Himself. How can we but not forgive what others have done to us, no matter how wrong it may have been. For more on living in the power of forgiveness, do read about it in detail in my books, Standing Tall in a Falling World and What in the World are you waiting for?
Rescue us every time we face tribulation and set us free from evil.
At the time of writing, we are in the week of Easter or Passover, be reminded of how God rescued His people from tribulation. There were ten plagues that hit the most powerful empire in the world at that time. They were affluent, indulgent, hedonistic, godless, idol-worshipping and wealthier than any nation on earth. But God heard His people’s call for help. God will never lose a battle, He will never see His people defeated unless they turn from Him, and He will always be your mighty Defender. But we do have to make the choice to turn away from wrong living.
It is interesting to note in the book of Chronicles ch 2 v14, God gives very clear instruction to those who are called by His Name: If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
God is talking to His people—and not talking to unbelievers, foreigners or those who are ignorant of God, He is talking to His people who are required to turn from their wicked ways. That’s a trigger thought in this tyrant of a virus! What is it that we need to turn from and turn back to Him so that we will be forgiven and our land will be healed?
For God is the King who rules with power and glory forever. Amen.’
One thing for certain is we can know what is next. God gave us the Bible, that is the definitive Manufacturer’s Handbook, and if you follow the instructions, which by the way are designed for your good and to give you a great future, you can create the future with Him that you desire to live into.