Faith in Times of Pandemic

Habakkuk 3:16-19 ESV

[16] I hear, and my body trembles; my lips quiver at the sound; rottenness enters into my bones; my legs tremble beneath me. Yet I will quietly wait for the day of trouble to come upon people who invade us. [17] Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, [18] yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. [19] GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places. To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments.

INTRODUCTION

The theme here is: From Fear to Faith especially in times of great crisis. Habakkuk was complaining about God’s indifference to the wickedness of God’s covenant people (1:2-4) only to be shocked that God was not indifferent at all, but was in fact preparing the Chaldeans to punish his people (1:12) This led him to complain again. He questions God’s justice in using instruments of judgment more wicked than the people God intends to punish (1:13). God bluntly tells Habakkuk to trust him (2:4) and he reveals that after he has used the Chaldeans or Babylonians to punish his people, he will in turn punish them too (2:16). Although he trembles with fear over the coming judgment, Habakkuk rejoices in God, trusting that God will not only deal justly but will work out salvation in the end.

I. RECOGNIZE GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY (1:12)

God is not the author of sin (James 1:13) but he is its governor. Nothing can happen without his permission.

Isaiah 45:7 ESV

[7] I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the LORD, who does all these things.

Believe it or not, this is actually an encouraging truth and much to be preferred over the idea that calamities are random events that God neither foresees nor controls. If God is in control, even if we don’t understand why he allows such things to happen, we trust that his wisdom and love will never allow these things to happen in the first place unless some great good were to come out of all this.

Thus, even this pandemic was at least allowed by him for wise and holy reasons.

Habakkuk 3:5 ESV

[5] Before him went pestilence, and plague followed at his heels.

II. REVERE GOD’S HOLINESS

Habakkuk not only complained about what he thought was God’s indifference, he also questioned God’s justice or holiness. When bad things happen, our tendency is to ask Why, O Lord (1:3, 13)? We question God’s justice. God explained to Habakkuk the righteousness of his ways: he would punish his people, he would also punish the Babylonians. But at the outset, he simply told Habakkuk to trust him (2:4). Often the proper response to the incomprehensible tragedies of life is simply to be still and know that God is God.

Habakkuk 2:20 ESV

[20] But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.”

God knows what he is doing even if we don’t.

III. REJOICE IN GOD’S SALVATION

So even though Habakkuk didn’t understand how God could allow such a calamity to befall his people he simply put his trust in God. Thus, he was able to rejoice even in the midst of calamity (e.g., famine) because he knew God would produce salvation out of all this (Rom. 8:28).

Habakkuk 3:12-13 ESV

[12] You marched through the earth in fury; you threshed the nations in anger. [13] You went out for the salvation of your people, for the salvation of your anointed. You crushed the head of the house of the wicked, laying him bare from thigh to neck. Selah

I believe one reason why God allowed this pandemic is so that people all over the world will remember him and find salvation.

Habakkuk 2:14 ESV

[14] For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.

During this time of pandemic, so many online bible studies via Zoom have sprouted all over the world. So many prayers and Bible verses are posted on FB as never before.

CONCLUSION

It is interesting that Paul makes use of Hab. 2:4 in relation to God’s righteousness in justifying sinners. God is just in justifying sinners who have put their faith in Jesus because Jesus satisfied God’s justice when he died for their sins. The great calamity which was the death of the Savior became the cause of great joy because of the salvation which his death produced, a salvation received by faith and not by works. That is why in times of pandemic let us overcome fear with faith. God is in control, he knows what he is doing. He is sovereign and holy. And he will produce salvation in the end. In wrath, he is actually remembering mercy. Trust him and rejoice!

(Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash)

Humble Service (part 2)

(This is a continuation of the message given last February 26, 2020 to the congregation of Ikthus East – Bacolod City during the Midweek Service, based on Philippians 2:1-11.)

2. HE HUMBLED HIMSELF/WHAT HE BECAME: NOTHING.

It is significant that nothing, becoming human, and taking the form of a servant seem to function as interchangeable, synonymous terms in this passage. To be human – a creature of God – is to be a servant. That is our rightful position in the scheme of things!

We have a tendency to think highly of ourselves, but actually what are we compared to the vastness of the heavens and the greatness of God?

More

Humble Service (Part 1)

Philippians 2:1-11 ESV
[1] So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, [2] complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. [3] Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. [4] Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. [5] Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, [6] who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, [7] but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. [8] And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. [9] Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, [10] so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, [11] and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

More

The Misery of the Rich

My first sermon in 2020! Given during the Ikthus East-Bacolod City Midweek Service, January 1, 2020.

James 5:1-6 ESV

[1] Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. [2] Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. [3] Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. [4] Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. [5] You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. [6] You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you.

More

Suffering and the Sovereignty of God

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” (Genesis 50:20)

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

INTRODUCTION

This is the culmination of the series of messages given during the previous Sundays regarding the life of Joseph. The series is entitled Grace in Disguise. The message this morning is Suffering and the Sovereignty of God. Even so, this is still about grace in disguise. But this time, since we are now at the end of the story of Joseph, this is now about the unveiling of the disguise, and the revealing of the grace which was there all along from the very beginning of Joseph’s ordeal.

More

The Christian’s Struggle Against Sin

Romans 7:14-25 NIV [14] We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. [15] I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. [16] And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. [17] As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. [18] For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. [19] For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.

More

What does God seek?

light sunset people water
Photo by Negative Space on Pexels.com

“Another thing you do: You flood the Lord’s altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer looks with favor on your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands. You ask, “Why?” It is because the Lord is the witness between you and the wife of your youth. You have been unfaithful to her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant. Has not one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit. And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth.” (Malachi 2:13-14)

More

Dynamics of Change

2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV

[17] Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

2 Corinthians 3:18 ESV

[18] And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

INTRODUCTION

Change is moving from who you are now to who you have not yet become. It can refer to character, location, status, circumstances. It can be for better or for worse.

What change are we referring to? Spiritual change. Conformity to Christ’s image. Growth in Christ-likeness. Bearing the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

More

How are we justified before God?

Galatians 3:6-14ESV
[6] just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”? [7] Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. [8] And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” [9] So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. [10] For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” [11] Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” [12] But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” [13] Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us-for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”- [14] so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

More

The New Jerusalem

06 January 2019, Ikthus East Sermon, 8:00 Sunday Morning Worship Service

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I 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 the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

(Revelation 21:1-5, ESV)

More