Growing through Corona
For many people they just want to get through this time, and we will get through it, but I think God doesn’t want us to just get through it, He wants us to grow through it.
Think about it, when our children say their first words it’s amazing, especially if it’s ‘daddy’.
When they take their first steps it’s amazing, it’s so exciting.
But if they keep talking like that and walking like that one year later, it really won’t be that amazing anymore, because we’re expecting them to grow and to make progress.
In the same way God is expecting us to growing us and make progress.
Ephesians 4:14-15 We were not meant to remain as children but to grow up in every way into Christ. Phil how do we become mature? We grow.
Colossians 4:12 That you may become mature Christians and that you may fulfil God’s will for you. Phil
God is committed us to growing us and maturing us.
God often uses the tough times in our lives to grow us and develop us.
It’s usually in the middle of the toughest times that God makes the greatest deposits in us.
But it’s also the tough times that reveal what’s in us.
Let me illustrate it like this – I’ve got a tube here with stuff in.
How do you know what’s in here? Well now it’s a problem isn’t it!
It’s got the shape of a toothpaste tube, but are you prepared to bet your salary that there’s toothpaste in here? Well Leonard I’m not a betting man. OK, good answer.
How about if I said to you there’s toothpaste in here, or even better if the label said there’s toothpaste in here.
Would you then bet your salary that there’s toothpaste in here?
Well as I said, I’m not a betting man….. O yes I forgot.
How would we know for sure what’s in here?
Because let’s be honest, you can put any label on this tube.
The real test is squeezing it and seeing what’s on the inside.
When you put a bit of pressure on, whatever is on the inside will come out.
This is what’s happening to a lot of people – they’re wearing all these labels – I’m this, I’m that.
They even post all these things on social media, trying to project a certain image, but in reality their life is possibly very different.
But they’re wearing all these labels – it’s a lot of make belief.
If you really want to know what’s on the inside of someone, just squeeze them, not literally!
Just apply a bit of pressure……pressure to their finances, pressure to their marriage, pressure to their health……and before you know it you’ll see what’s on the inside.
Difficult times have a way of revealing what’s really on the inside.
We’re all finding out what’s on the inside of us.
Some of the things are good, but other things are not so good and those are the things that need to change.
**One of the biggest mistakes we can make is to want to get through this pandemic and go back to the way things were, without any change.
God is committed to changing and growing us.
I don’t know about you but I want to come through this time better and stronger and more mature than before.
I want to have a greater faith
I want to have a greater gratitude
I want to have a greater love and appreciation for my loved ones
I want to have a fresh perspective on life
Let me share with you from…..
2 Chronicles 7:13-14 “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, ……now here’s the part we know so well…if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn …there’s the key word… from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” NIV
To turn means we were going in this direction, but then something happened, and now we’re going in the other direction.
I was going in this direction, but then Corona happened …… and there was some pressure, it exposed some stuff in me that needed to change.
I realised I needed to grow in that area…now I’m going in that direction.
I think we all have an opportunity in the middle of this pandemic, in the middle of all this pressure to turn from some things.
It may not be some really bad things, or it may just be turning towards better things.
If we want God to do that next part of that verse ….to hear from heaven and to heal our land, then we’ve got to turn in some areas.
God gives us a promise but He can only fulfil the promise if we fulfil the conditions of the promise. He gives us two conditions, to pray and to turn.
To turn means, it was this before the virus but now it’s this.
I was going in this direction before the virus, but now I’m going in this direction.
I really believe some good can come out of this pandemic.
If I had to ask you this morning, what is God doing in your life?
What is the thing that you need to turn from or that you have turned from?
If you know what it is, that’s good, because that’s going to become lasting change in your life.
If you don’t know what it is, then maybe I can help you this morning, maybe I can give you a couple of examples of what’s happening in other people’s lives.
I don’t want to pre-empt what He’s doing in your life, but I can tell you what’s happening in some other people’s lives, and maybe it will trigger what God is trying to do in your life.
As I’ve been talking to people, some people have said – we were assuming a lot of things;
We just assumed church will always be there – if we weren’t able to come this week, it’s ok we can skip church this week, we’ll go next week, the church will be there next week.
I think it’s true for all of us, we assumed so many things;
We assumed we’ll always be able to braai with some friends
We assumed we’ll have good health
We assumed we’ll be able to travel
We assumed we’ll have a good income
Many people have turned from assuming to appreciating a lot of things, even the little things.
If there’s one thing that God has done in my life – it’s gratitude.
I can honestly say I’ve been more grateful since this virus.
I find myself waking up in the morning saying;
Lord, thank you for my family, thank you for our health, thank you for our home, thank you for the church and the wonderful people.
God, I’m just so grateful!!
**Somebody said – Gratitude turns what I have into enough.
1Thessalonians 5:18 “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Psalms 107:1 “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” NIV
Maybe you’ve been complaining about what you’ve lost or what you don’t have any more.
I want to encourage you to turn from that and to come to God with a grateful heart for what you do have and for what He’s already blessed you with.
It would be a shame if we came through this pandemic unchanged.
There is no doubt that God is using this time to change us and to turn us, but it can only happen when we co-operate with Him.
Hebrews 12:25 Be careful that you do not refuse to listen to the One who is speaking.
Basically what it’s saying is, you and I have a choice; we can ignore what God is trying to do in our lives or we can co-operate and grow during this time.
God is speaking to each one of us through this Corona time, but it’s important for us to have our spiritual ears open to hear what God is saying and doing in our lives.
Another thing God has been doing in some people’s lives is turn them from self-sufficiency to a God-dependency.
Self-sufficiency is a form of pride.
That’s when we think we don’t really need God, I’ve got this, I’m good.
I can take care of myself, and I’ll let you know when I need you.
It’s the guy who’s late for a very important appointment and he can’t find parking. He prays Lord please give me a parking, I really need a parking. The next moment a parking opens up right in front of the building. He pulls into the parking and he prays, never mind Lord, I’ve just found one.
I know it’s terrible and funny at the same time!!
We never want to be like that, but yet it’s easy to have a bit of that attitude.
Your salary gets paid in and you don’t even thank Him
You get up in the morning healthy and strong and you don’t even thank Him
You sit down to a meal and you don’t even thank Him.
It’s easy to become self-sufficiency.
This is what Nebuchadnezzar did.
He was seen as the greatest and most powerful of all the Babylonian kings.
Under his rule, the Babylonian empire was one of the most powerful empires in the world, and Babylon grew into a formidable city.
He was one of the most well-known Old Testament villains.
He conquered Jerusalem twice, destroyed Solomon’s temple, and took many Jews captive.
Nebuchadnezzar built the hanging gardens of Babylon.
It was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
He built it for his wife because she was homesick. She came from the north west of Iran which was a lot lusher and greener.
With all that said, it’s understandable that he had a bit of a chip on his shoulder about who he was and what he’d accomplished.
Daniel 4:29 “As the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, he said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?” Even as the words were on his lips, a voice came from heaven, “This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you.
In a way this is what this pandemic has done to many of us, it has taken some things from us;
Maybe some income
Maybe a holiday that was planned
Maybe a car or a home that had to be returned to the bank
Maybe even a loved one.
Sometimes we’ve got to lose something before we change, before we’re ready to turn.
This is what happened to king Nebuchadnezzar
“You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox.”
Imagine, this great and powerful king, suddenly eating grass like an animal!
“Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone He wishes.”
The Bible says after those seven years he humbled himself.
My prayer is that we’re all doing that, every single one of us, where we’re saying, Lord I need you. I’m nothing without you.
Nebuchadnezzar prayed – “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.”
Daniel 4:37 NIV
That’s the attitude that God wants us to have….a humble attitude, that we’re nothing without God.
1Corinthians 4:7 What are you so puffed up about? What do you have that God hasn’t given you? And if all you have is from God, why act as though you are so great, and as though you have accomplished something on your own?
I think this pandemic is an opportunity for good to come out of this.
It’s an opportunity for us to turn from a prideful self-sufficiency attitude to a humble God-dependant attitude.
Another thing that God has done is given us greater perspective on life.
What do I mean by that?
This life is temporary, we’re passing through, we’re pilgrims.
This is not our home.
The bible says we’re like a vapour – we’re here today and gone tomorrow.
James 4:14 “For what is your life? It is even a vapour that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.”
How’s that for perspective!!
It’s so easy to get programmed by the world that this is important and that is important, and we’ve got to have this and we’ve got to have that.
Colossians 3:2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
I think this pandemic has been a RESET for many of us, where we realise, we’re in this world but not of this world, we’re passing through.
Here is another thing God has been saying – Slow down!
I’ve heard many of you say this – we were too busy, we were chasing our tails, we were missing the important things in life – sitting down for dinner with the family, attending church, small groups.
Many of you have turned from being too busy to making time for the important things in your life.
Can I ask you again, what is God doing in your life at the moment?
We all want to look back upon this time and be able to say, that was a turning point in my life.
I used to be so materialistic but something changed
I used to be so unappreciative but something changed
I used to be lukewarm but something changed
I used to be so busy, I never had time for God or quiet time, but something changed
I’ve made up my mind, I’m not going to go through this time without gaining some things.
How crazy would that be to come through this time empty handed!
God doesn’t want us to just go through this time, but to grow through it and develop into the people whom He wants us to become.
God is expecting us to grow and to make spiritual progress.
I’m asking you today to identify what God is doing in your life, and make sure you turn from one thing to a better thing.