Sam Caldwell, March 19, 2020
Hello again, dear brothers and sisters in Christ. May Christ be magnified in your bodies today. In the last video, I encouraged you to remember three deep truths about God –first, that Christ is risen; second, that all of God’s ways are perfect; and third, that God is indeed in control, even in the midst of this Coronavirus and all of the trouble and the anxiety that this world might be experiencing.
Now, I want to give you five things to remember about your own soul – five duties we have as Christians.
If you’re watching this video…and you’re not a dog or a cat…then you are a human, made in the image of God. Remember that. Remember that if you are a human, then your greatest duty in life is to love the Lord your God with all of your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself. Now, that’s impossible. And we’re all too selfish to do that. So if you’re not a Christian today, I call upon you to see your lack, see your own sin, see your own selfishness in this time. Go to Jesus Christ! Repent of your sin. And believe in Him. Realize that in yourself you will always fall short of God’s glorious standard and purpose in your life – which is to love Him and to love your neighbor as yourself.
This is a time to assess yourself and to realize that you need Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. You need One who shows such sacrificial love that He would go to a cross and die for the sins of His people. He would be buried and would rise again to justify His people. You need that.
And if you are indeed a Christian, and you are believing in Jesus Christ and repenting of your sin, I want to remind you today that you are a blood-bought ambassador for this Lord of love and life! This is your time, Christian, to shine. This is your time to make things salty in your life, and in the life of those around you.
I have five things for us to remember as Christians today.
1) First, remember to sing
I wonder how much in the last five days you’ve taken out your hymnal and sang. We heard a sermon recently at church on Isaiah 26:19, where it says, “Your dead shall live; together with my dead body, they shall arise.” And in light of that great picture of the corporate resurrection of God’s people, what does Isaiah say? He says: “Awake, and sing, you who dwell in dust; For your dew is like the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.”
It helped me so much to wake up and turn on Indelible Grace’s song, “Come, Ye Souls By Sin Afflicted.” The chant in the first verse goes like this: “Look to Jesus, look to Jesus, look to Jesus, mercy flows through Him alone.” Are you singing, Christian? Are you singing? Bob Jennings used to put it this way: “Sing the songs of Zion in the enemy’s camp.” That’s a great joy of this Christian life – that we are citizens of heaven and we know the songs of heaven, yet here we are, in the midst of calamity, and God commands us to sing. Will you take Him seriously? Will you do what He says?
Psalm 62:8 says, “Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah.” This is a wonderful time to pour out your heart before God – especially in song.
2) Second, remember to repent
I want to read to you how Jesus reacts when he is confronted with calamity in this world. This would be a wonderful passage to pull out and meditate upon: Luke 13:1-5. It says:
There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.
Did you catch that? Will you take out Luke 13:1-5 and study that? Study how Jesus reacts to calamity in this world. Notice some things here:
He doesn’t blame God. He doesn’t say, “Oh, how could these bad things happen to good people?”
But He also doesn’t encourage people to play the blame game. He doesn’t encourage us even to look for spiritual causes and effects.
He simply tells those who are still alive to do what? To repent. That means that Christ uses times of disaster in this world to tell us to examine ourselves – to turn from our idols, to cleanse ourselves from the filth that has accrued to our lives. I want to call upon you today, Christian, to do as Joel would say, “call a solemn assembly” in your own heart. Call a solemn assembly in your home, in your church, and repent of the multitude of sins that you have committed against God. That’s where Christ would have us focus our attention: on ourselves and our need to turn to Him and away from the idols of our hearts.
The old puritans like Thomas Watson might say something like this, “The Christian should use disaster in the city for healing in the self.” “The Christian should use shakiness in the world to suck out the poison from the soul.” Anthony Burgess used to speak that way often – “to suck out the poison from the soul.” That means, “Repent, Christian!” That should be our delightful duty in this time. To repent of our sin and turn more intimately, more closely, to Christ.
3) Third, Remember others
Third, I call upon you today to remember others who are shut in and suffering.
Remember others. That is our duty as those who must love our neighbors as ourselves. Hebrews 13:3 gives us, I think, a wonderful, wonderful principle for how to do this. It says this: “Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.”
Do you catch that principle? Remember those who are bound, or in prison, as though you are bound, or in prison, with them. That ought to inform our prayers and our remembrance of one another in this time. I’ll put it this way: use this time to mobilize your powers of empathy and sympathy. Use this time to ask yourself, “How much do I really care for others? How much am I able to put myself in their shoes?” This would be a wonderful time to get your prayer list together, to work on and practice loving intercession. Take that principle from Hebrews and always ask yourself, “Am I praying for them, am I pleading for them as if I am there with them, as if I am experiencing the very same sufferings?” That’s Christian love.
4) Fourth, remember God’s promises
John Knox said something that absolutely blows my mind and transforms the way I think about God’s promises. He says this: “God’s sure promises are chambers to the which God’s people are commanded to resort.” He’s picturing God’s promises like chambers, like rooms, that we are supposed to resort to. Knox continues, “Yes, within the which they are commanded to close themselves in the time of greatest adversity.” Wow! Knox is saying we ought to close ourselves, hide ourselves, where? In God’s promises.
I want you to remember today all of God’s promises. Search the Scriptures, find them and hide in them. Remember especially this: God promises in Romans 8 – that all things work for good for God’s people. Is that a chamber that you could resort to today? Is that a room that you could go play in today? That you could go hide in? It says in Romans 8, “All things work for good for God’s people.”
I’m reminded of a time about two months ago when I was in the car with our brother Chris. We were praying and he took out Romans 8. My initial thought was sort of like this: “Okay, I know where he’s going.” But my brother took this passage out and he was rejoicing in it like he was a little baby! His amount of joy, the freshness with which he approached God’s promises right there made me feel like I’d never read Romans 8 before! I wonder, Christian, would you open up that chapter? Would you look there and search for God’s promises and hide in them and rejoice in them? Consider, if you’re someone who “knows Romans 8”: do you know it now? Are you fleeing to it? It is no cheap balm for your soul. It is something for you to pray through, for you to plead through, for you to make sure that you’re sure of. I want to read to you Romans 8, verses 28–39. I want to encourage you to remember God’s promises. Paul writes,
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 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.”
Are you hiding in the chambers of God’s promises, dear Christian?
5) Fifth, and final thing: Remember to be still and pray
Remember to be still and pray. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
That’s another promise to lean into: He will be exalted. Would you use this time, Christian, to practice waiting upon the Lord?
It says in Psalm 33:20-22,“Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield. For our heart shall rejoice in Him, because we have trusted in His holy name. Let your mercy, O LORD, be upon us, just as we hope in You.”
It would be entirely godly and right for you, Christian, to tell your family and your friends that you need to take 30 minutes in silence with God. It would be entirely right for you to put down your phone, for you to turn off the news for a time and be still and know that He is God. Practice waiting on the Lord. Fall flat on your face and adore Him. Go in your mind through the attributes of God. Think about all that Christ is. Think about all that Christ has done for your soul. Think about all that Christ has done to your soul. Think about all that Christ has done to the glory of God the Father. Think about these things, and be still and know, and wait upon Him, and exercise patience in this time of great trouble.
I call upon you again, Christian, to remember these five things:
One: remember to sing.
Two: remember to repent.
Three: remember others as if you are with them.
Four: remember to lean into God’s promises and hide in them.
Five: remember to pray.