On Tuesday this week, I started preparing my sermon for this week’s sermon and was planning on continuing our series on the Sermon on the Mount. I did my research, wrote an outline, went through the process, but I kept getting interrupted. Interrupted by everything that has been happening around us concerning the coronavirus. Sports being canceled, businesses and schools closing down. Having to shop around for toilet paper because we only had two rolls left. What seemed to be so trivial and small soon turned into a pandemic in a matter of days.
So I decided to take a quick pause from our current sermon series. I want to share what God’s Word says about all of this and how we should respond to it all.
Now, there are people who have different thoughts on this pandemic. Some people think this is all really ridiculous and a waste of time. While others are truly living in fear. Whether you are taking this seriously or not, here’s the truth. The chaos that surrounds us is affecting us all. Whether it’s affecting us directly or indirectly, it is without a doubt at the forefront of our minds. Even if it’s not affecting you, it’s affecting those around you.
I thought the worse that would happen to me would be having to find toilet paper, until it started affecting our finances.
Because of all this, two video projects Melinda and I were going to film this coming week were canceled. One will be postponed but the other one won’t. Speaking to some of you earlier, there are people in this room whose jobs are being affected. When chaos surrounds us, how should we respond?
If you are a Christian, please don’t ignore this and pretend it’s not a big deal. Even if the “monster” doesn’t exist, if the people around us believe it exists, we can’t ignore that. How we respond is very crucial!
So from Scripture, I want to answer the question:
When chaos surrounds us, how should we respond?
I will answer this question using a passage from Philippians 4. It’s a beautiful passage written by the Apostle Paul. While he was in prison, he wrote a letter to the Christians in the city called Philippi to encourage them. How amazing is that? Paul is in prison because of Jesus and he’s being used by God to encourage others.
Who knew you could be used by God in difficult circumstances?
What should we do when chaos surrounds us?
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.Philippians 4:4
When chaos surrounds us, what should we do? Rejoice!
He says it TWICE in one verse. “Just in case you didn’t read it the first time, I’m writing it again so you don’t miss it. REJOICE!”
The word rejoice means “to take pleasure in” or “to be delighted in”.
When we are surrounded by chaos, and nonstop news about the pandemic in our world, or when we are negatively affected by all of the changes and cancelations, it makes it so much harder to delight ourselves in anything.
You might be thinking, “There’s no good news right now! What am I going to take pleasure in right now? I can’t even find chicken to cook a meal!”
Paul is saying, “Hey, I’m in prison. I don’t have chicken either, but I’m still telling you to rejoice!” But how do we rejoice? He tells us how. Jump to verse 8.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.Philippians 4:8
There needs to be a change in our mind! The more we think about the chaos, the less we’ll find reasons to rejoice. Instead, we can focus on good things!
Just yesterday I was able to see a cute little newborn baby. As I looked at this baby sleeping, so soundly, so peacefully, for those few moments, I wasn’t focusing on everything happening in the world! For those few moments, I was able to focus on the fact that God is good. I was able to rejoice, and delight in that baby and in that family.
We can always find reasons to rejoice church!
I can only imagine what Paul was thinking as he wrote this.
“You know what’s surrounding me right now? Roman guards. I’m in prison. It’s cold, dark, I’m hungry, and there’s no toilet paper. So when I tell you to rejoice, you better understand it’s possible to rejoice when things are tough!”
When chaos surrounds us, we need to rejoice!
So when we go to the grocery store to find some toilet paper and chicken, let’s put a smile on our faces! Let’s rejoice that we were able to get to the grocery store. Let’s rejoice that we even have the means to cook a meal. Let’s rejoice that we have a nice bathroom to use every day. With or without toilet paper, REJOICE!
For how long should we rejoice for? What does Paul say? “Rejoice in the Lord” how many times? Always! There isn’t even a set number. It’s not a magic formula. It’s a lifestyle. The Greek word for always means “all the time” and “on every occasion”. So when times are good, rejoice. When times are bad, rejoice.
What else should we do? Let’s read verse 5.
Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand;Philippians 4:5
What should we do when chaos surrounds us? Be reasonable!
This word reasonable means “gentle, kind, and courteous”. To be reasonable is to be selfless. It is to think of others instead of just yourself.
It’s to keep in mind that you don’t need 10 years’ worth of toilet paper and 5 months’ worth of chicken.
This week I was reminded of the story of the Israelites in the desert. God was using Moses to lead them out of Egypt and into the Promised Land, but there came a time that the people were getting hangry…I mean hungry.
The Bible says that they grumbled against Moses. God heard their grumbling and created a solution. This is what God said to Moses.
4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Look, I’m going to rain down food from heaven for you. Each day the people can go out and pick up as much food as they need for that day. I will test them in this to see whether or not they will follow my instructions. 5 On the sixth day they will gather food, and when they prepare it, there will be twice as much as usual.”Exodus 16:4-5 NLT
So in the morning, God rained bread from heaven and in the evening, He caused quail to fly in and cover the camp.
17 So the people of Israel did as they were told. Some gathered a lot, some only a little. 18 But when they measured it out, everyone had just enough. Those who gathered a lot had nothing left over, and those who gathered only a little had enough. Each family had just what it needed.Exodus 16:17-18 NLT
That’s amazing right? Manna was a bread-like food that was white and looked like honey wafers. In other words, God fed them waffles every morning! That’s amazing! It rained waffles!
Somehow, there was always enough! But the people didn’t think it was enough. See, God set aside the seventh day as a day of rest. What did He say would happen on the sixth day as they prepared the food? It would double in portion! That way, on the seventh day, they could rest and have enough food for the day.
Do you think they obeyed God? No! Of course not! Check out what they did.
Some of the people went out anyway on the seventh day, but they found no food.Exodus 16:27 nlt
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? The Israelites had enough! There was enough to pass around but they got selfish and tried to hoard food to make it last longer.
Church, when chaos surrounds us, we need to be reasonable. We need to think of other people who actually need medicine and masks and important materials.
Then Paul tells us why we should be reasonable. We should because the Lord is at hand. The Lord is coming soon. He will judge us based on these decisions. Hope you like your 10 year supply.
Now Paul tells us something we should NOT do.
do not be anxious about anythingPhilippians 4:6a
When chaos surrounds us, we should not be anxious about anything!
Why? Because God isn’t anxious about anything. God isn’t surprised by what is happening. God knew this would happen and He is really good at taking what’s really bad and turning it into something that’s really good!
Melinda and I listened to a podcast yesterday by Pamela Crim and she said something really interesting. Check out what she said.
“It seems life just got canceled. Everywhere you thought you were going and everything you thought you were doing, well that all changed quickly. Canceled.
But make no mistake about it, God’s plans for you DID NOT CANCEL. He still has a plan, and it’s a good plan. Your purpose DID NOT GET CANCELED.
You still have a job to do and a role to fill. Your future is still on track because none of this is a surprise to God. Not one bit. Jesus knew all about this.”Pamela crim (big life podcast)
So when chaos surrounds us, do not be anxious about anything! Don’t be anxious about not having enough to eat or enough to wear. Don’t be anxious about your job or the future of your finances. Being anxious will not add to your life. It will only take away.
This doesn’t mean we give everything up. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be cautious, smart, and reasonable. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t think things through and make plans to be inside for a while. If our church can’t gather in the future, we’ll have to do church online and plan that out. But we should not be anxious, and panic, and fear
for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.2 Timothy 1:7
For several months, Melinda and I have been looking for a 2-bedroom apartment. But everything we find is way over our budget. Eventually, we just threw our hands up in the air and gave up.
We thought, “Maybe it’s not God’s will for us to have a 2-bedroom.”
Then we saw our neighbors with a 2-bedroom apartment pack up their entire apartment and leave. So I texted my landlord and asked, “Hey! Did our neighbors just move out?”
He responded, “Yes they did.” I thought, “Oh man!! This is an answered prayer! This would be perfect!” Then I texted him back, “We are interested in renting the 2-bedroom!”
He responded by saying, “The apartment is promised to someone else in the building. He asked me about a two-bedroom before you even moved in.”
So then we knew for sure God did NOT want us to move to a 2-bedroom. It just wouldn’t work out. We would have to figure out another way to move things around to make room for the baby and our office. A few weeks later, I was walking to my car as the landlord appeared from the two-bedroom apartment calling out my name. Like an angel coming down from heaven.
He said, “Hey Tim! I want to tell you something. You know that guy who wanted the two-bedroom apartment? He no longer wants it. It’s yours if you’re still interested.”
I said, “Oh we’re definitely interested!” Church, it took everything in me not to scream out and jump for joy! If it’s God’s will, we will be moving to the two-bedroom in April. Church, do not be anxious about ANYTHING!
God can see the end of the story. In the end, His way goes. In the end, His will is what stands. In the end, His Word remains true. Church, let’s not be anxious. Let’s rejoice and be reasonable.
There’s one more way to respond to the chaos that surrounds us. This is Paul’s main point. If we don’t do this, then we can forget about rejoicing, and being reasonable, and not being anxious because it won’t matter. This is the most important way we can respond.
6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:6-7
When chaos surrounds us we need to pray.
We must go on our knees and cry out to God. We must cry out to the God who can heal, save, restore, and take away all fear. When we pray, it changes us on the inside. When we pray, we experience the peace of God! Church, the world needs that kind of peace right now.
On Friday, President Trump declared today, March 15, 2020, as the National Day of Prayer. Whether you like President Trump or not doesn’t matter. He might have gotten things wrong like every human being on the face of the planet has. But he got this right! Pur nation needs prayer. Our nation needs God. It starts with us church.
God hates calamity and tragedy, but He often uses it to bring people closer to Him. Remember what happened after 9/11? Let’s come closer to God and seek Him in prayer! Only through prayer can things change!
Today’s message can apply to any type of chaos. Even after the coronavirus is gone, there will be other viruses. There will be other chaos. So here’s a phrase I wrote that we can use to encourage other people with.
When chaos surrounds your day, rejoice, be reasonable, and pray.
Please don’t ignore what’s happening. Use it as an opportunity. An opportunity to reach out to people in love. An opportunity to bring hope into a world that is afraid. A small gesture of reasonableness can make someone’s day.
Yesterday, when we shopped around at Walmart, we found out that the toilet paper was all gone. Surprise! We only had 2 rolls left. So we grabbed some quarantine snacks that we’ll probably end up eating in a few days and went to the self-checkout station. As I was scanning the items and putting them in the bags, Melinda turned around and walked away. I didn’t even notice it. I just noticed when she came back with a package of 12 rolls of toilet paper.
I was like, “Where did you get that? Did you steal it??” I had to ask. I mean, is this what it’s come to? No, she didn’t steal it.
This is what happened. There was a young couple behind us checking out their groceries. The woman said, “We already have toilet paper. We don’t need this. Let’s leave this here. Maybe it will make someone’s day.”
Uuuuh…yeah. It made our next several months! They had no clue how they helped us!
There’s this other story Melinda found online of this girl who was heading towards the grocery store. A woman over 80 years old yelled out to her from her car. The older woman asked the girl if she could help her and her husband buy groceries because they were afraid to go inside because of the coronavirus being more aggressive towards the elderly. She handed her a $100 bill and a grocery list. The girl went inside, bought them the groceries and gave them the change.
The woman said that they had been sitting in the car for 45 minutes, waiting to ask the right person for help. Church, I am begging you, be the right person to other people.
We can respond to all of this in many different ways.
- We can freak out and panic and judge those who aren’t taking it seriously.
- We can also say it’s all ridiculous and judge everyone else who is freaking out.
When chaos surrounds your day, rejoice, be reasonable, and pray.
We can put our trust in the God who’s in control, because the truth is, we can’t control anything! Just last week, most of us had plans that were changed in a matter of days. Jesus knows. He’s here with us even when it seems like He’s not.
I leave you with one last passage. This was David’s response to feeling like God wasn’t there for him.
1 O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way? 2 How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand? 3 Turn and answer me, O Lord my God! Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die. 4 Don’t let my enemies gloat, saying, “We have defeated him!” Don’t let them rejoice at my downfall. 5 But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me. 6 I will sing to the Lord because he is good to me.Psalm 13 NLT
Let’s fully trust in God church. No matter what, let’s rejoice, be reasonable and pray.
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