Saturday, April 11, 2020

Easter vs Pandemic

Can you celebrate Easter in the midst of a global pandemic? Can you celebrate life and joy and worship an all-powerful, all-knowing, fully-good God when there is so much wrong in the world? How can someone even believe in such a God during the dark moments of life? 

It’s precisely these moments that often turn us toward God. Sadly, I remember reading a blog that read: “We returned to church after 9-11 only to remember why we left.” That saddens me on so many levels but mostly because it tells a story that God’s people did not represent Him well to the author of that blog. 

We are the salt of the world, and if we lose our saltiness then what happens to the world around us? Salt flavors and preserves, and those who bear His name are called to flavor this world with His truth and love. We are the light of world, but what happens to the world when we hide the light that burns within us? 

Easter is a celebration of Life and Joy in God’s Victory! Death has no sting for those who reside in Yahweh’s shadow. As Paul wrote: to live is Christ and to die is gain! In other words, we can represent Christ, be the salt and light for this world until we finally go home to be with Him. I long to hear Him say “Well done, good and faithful servant!”, knowing that all my efforts and all my failings don’t factor into either His love or His promises for me. I can love because He first loved me; I know that love is a giving of myself and not just a feeling that is sometimes there and sometimes absent. Love is a decision that can burn through the darkest night, flavor a despairing world, and bring a hope that is based not upon our finite strength but upon the infinite power of a God Who has never let us down, a God Who continues to work all things together for good for those who love Him because He first loved us. 

So how can we be silent on this joyous day? Death has no victory for those who have been blessed with God’s grace! So long as there is life there is hope, and with eternal life comes eternal joy! So on Good Friday, God’s Passover Lamb was sacrificed and the blood covered us so that death could never have victory over us. And on the 3rd Day, Christ rose from the dead to demonstrate His victory over death. It’s not just figurative or theoretical. He has given us a tangible promise to save us from our enemies: death, disease (pandemics), poverty, etc. 

So rejoice and celebrate this Easter in whatever way you can think to glorify God! 

Hallelujah, Christ has risen! 
The Lord is risen indeed, Hallelujah! 

copyright ©2020 Mitchell Malloy (http://mitchellmalloyblogspot.com/)

Friday, April 10, 2020

Good Friday 2020

I am thankful for our God: Who never abandons us, Who is always patient with us, Who is faithfully working in us to become the people He has called us to be. He reveals truth to His people and steadfastly brings it to fruition. We are impatient, expecting an immediate answer to our prayers, which He sometimes does but more often makes us wait. 

Why does God make us wait? I honestly don’t know. It could be because He knows that once we get a quick answer or a quick deliverance, we don’t appreciate it as much. Maybe it’s because He wants us to develop a habit, a lifestyle, of drawing close to Him. Maybe He likes to build the suspense to develop our character and help us to trust Him as He catches us… just in time… each and every time. 

Last weekend I suggested we pray. Last year I suggested we pray. 13 years ago I wrote an urgent message. 30 years ago, I said a prayer that changed everything for me. God has been patient and faithful, and He will do as He said He would. We can find shelter in Him in the midst of every storm. Draw close and hang on! 

The Lord says this to the family of Israel:
“Seek me so you can live!
Amos 5:4

copyright ©2020 Mitchell Malloy (http://mitchellmalloyblogspot.com/)

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Worldwide Call to Prayer - Good Friday 2020

I’m going to suggest something, and if it makes sense to you, reach out to other believers and suggest the same, maybe posting a link to this blog on social media. I suggest that on Good Friday 10-APR-2020 everyone pray for one hour starting at noon local time wherever you may happen to be in the world. Pray for COVID-19 to disappear forever and for people around the world to recover from this blight. We can blanket our world in prayer for 24 hours as the noon day sun washes over our planet. I don’t know how God will answer our prayers, but He has done miraculous things in the past when His people prayed for deliverance. 

Take for example the North American Rocky Mountain Locust. In 1875, the largest locust swarm in history was recorded over the United States Midwest — 198,000 square miles. Compare that to the 163,696 square miles that make up present day California, or for people more familiar with the U.S. Northeast, the locust swarm covered the combined area of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont. 1800 miles long and 110 miles wide, the swarm was a little larger than the country of Spain. Compare that to the current locust plague in Africa and the Middle East covering territories of about 37 miles. 

Now, consider this as well: North America and Antarctica are the only continents that do not have locusts. The once devastating Rocky Mountain Locust is now extinct. It disappeared as a result of prayer. Oh, you can find all sorts of theories as to how they went extinct. Some people will go to great lengths to explain that God and prayer aren’t responsible, but while God can work miraculously, He most often uses natural means to work out His will. God answers prayers. 

Consider this as well: God can bring a plague, He can dismiss a plague, and He can protect His people from a plague. I can only imagine how the Israelites felt as the plagues of Egypt passed them by. Did they feel confident of Yahweh’s protection or did they wonder with each successive plague if this time they would also be afflicted. As the first born were taken from the Egyptians, God’s people needed to mark their doorposts so the Angel of Death would pass them by. God was faithful on that first Passover celebration, and His people took shelter under His protection. 

It was at another Passover celebration that Jesus ate His famous last supper with His disciples, and after this dinner, He went to pray in the garden, asking the Father to remove the suffering He was about to endure. Ultimately Jesus surrendered His will to the Father’s, and we now celebrate Good Friday, not because Jesus was crucified but because His sacrifice bought our salvation. If the cost of sin is death, then Jesus paid the fine for all our transgressions on that Good Friday. 

Good Friday this year again occurs during the Jewish Passover Celebration. How will God answer our prayers? Will the Angel of Death pass us by, or will God strengthen us through prayer to endure the trials ahead? Will He cause COVID-19 to disappear and bless the world through the faithfulness of His people? 

Will anyone join with me in the call to pray? Will God’s people throughout the world pray for His love and power to be displayed? 

copyright ©2020 Mitchell Malloy (http://mitchellmalloyblogspot.com/)

What Now?

It’s easy to ask “What if…”, but that is meaningless and unhealthy. “What if…” is a scenario that never occurred. There’s a saying that hindsight is 20/20, but even then, no one has all the facts to accurately describe how life would be different. “What if…” is a way to criticize and fantasize about a reality that never materialized. I used to ask “What if…” and all it did was leave me wanting more than my current reality, regretting any actions that had contributed to it or resenting the absence of opportunity. “What if…” tears a person down and limits their vision to the possibilities that can emerge from today.

I’ve learned to ask healthier questions when I’m in in a hard situation: What have I learned? How should I respond? Where is God in my circumstances and how do I join Him in what He’s doing? I used to ask “What if…”, but I’ve learned to ask “What now?” 

Do I believe that God is working in the global COVID-19 situation? Yes. Absolutely. Do I believe that He is still Sovereign, in control of all things and is not surprised by this virus and the world’s response? I can sometimes give too much power to the giants in my life: a world-wide pandemic, economic crisis, biased reporting / propaganda, etc. These giants can seem too big to overcome, and in truth, they are beyond my ability. However, the question is not how do I compare to these giants. Rather, how does God compare to these things? 
We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God — those whom He has called according to His plan. (Romans 8:28) 
Take a look at Romans 8:28 and ask yourself: Who is orchestrating everything? It’s God, of course. That does not mean that God is the source of all evil and pain, but He will use it to bring about good things for His people. Evil is the absence of good just as darkness is the absence of light or cold the absence of heat. The physics of the universe are a revelation about God. God did not create evil, but He did allow it to happen in order to bring about some greater good. 

Heat, Light and Goodness are substantial; we notice their absence and long for their return. Life flows from the heat and light of the sun, and good is sometimes seen most clearly in contrast to the wickedness when goodness is absent. The same can be said about Hope. It is something real, something substantial, and we are left empty and hopeless when it is gone. I learned that J.R.R. Tolkein defined Hope as refusing to despair. I believe this to be true, and I believe that the fuel for Hope is Faith. 
Faith assures us of things we expect and convinces us of the existence of things we cannot see. (Hebrews 11:1) 
Do we truly believe that God is working all things together for good? That dying to enter His Kingdom is preferable to all that this world has to offer? That God has a plan for each of us and we can join Him in the good that He is doing despite how big and scary the giants in this world seem to be? 

God can wipe this virus off the face of the earth in an instant. He can heal the infected, and He can use a physical death to bring about a spiritual transformation and eternal life. Dying is not a bad thing, but dying without entering the Kingdom of God is horribly permanent. He has a plan in this. He can use medicine to heal a person, and He can use prayer. He can use medicine and prayer. We can choose to listen to how big the giants are, or we can choose to live without fear and seek to join Him in what He is doing. 

So in today’s reality, the question is not “What if…” but “What now?” There is an exciting and uncharted path ahead for those not paralyzed by fear or despair. What is God calling you to now? 
Never worry about anything. But in every situation let God know what you need in prayers and requests while giving thanks. Then God’s peace, which goes beyond anything we can imagine, will guard your thoughts and emotions through Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, keep your thoughts on whatever is right or deserves praise: things that are true, honorable, fair, pure, acceptable, or commendable. Practice what you’ve learned and received from me, what you heard and saw me do. Then the God who gives this peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:6-9) 
copyright ©2020 Mitchell Malloy (http://mitchellmalloyblogspot.com/)