Sunday, March 29, 2020

Fr Phil - Seeing what God is doing

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic we are all under orders to "shelter in" - stay home with family,  stay away from other people,  wash your hands,  disinfect surfaces.   We're trying to minimize the spread of the pandemic and the loss of life.  We have no idea the scope of the orders or the timeline.  So we are obedient.  We're all getting a bit stir crazy,  some are getting lonely,  many are fearful and none of us know all that's going on here.  

What I want to address this morning is how can we see what God is doing here?  I believe God uses circumstances such as these to work His work. And we're the People of God. That means that we're in a relationship with the living God... He's our God, we're His People!  That means something in these times ... all the time actually!

I was struck when I saw our reading from Ezekiel for today.  Those verses were the roadmap that God spoke to me at the very beginning of my journey together with this church,  back in the day... summer of 1996!  St George's was on its last leg.  Bishop sent me in as a shock to the system -- as a ventilator! He yelled Clear! And shoved me through the door!  And God did a miracle! 

Ezekiel 37 was my roadmap! 
The place was dry and dead,  dead and dry... very dry!  I was called to enter in to that reality, to "walk among the bones."  Then he ask me what I believed about this church... "Can these bones live? " it's an overwhelming question!  'LORD,  you alone know!" This thing was above my pay grade and I needed to get that straight!  Val's favorite question was "Whose deal it's this,  anyway? "

Then God said Speak the Word, ... Prophesy!  Whenever you speak do so from an open Bible! We handed out Bibles for free,  put them in our pews for the first time - paid for by my parents!  I had one elder lady there tell me, " I have a stack of these at home, but you're the first person who ever told me to read it! "  prophesy to the bones,  declare the Word to God's People!  That's my charge. 

And then things began to happen.  The Vestry came to our house for 12 weeks of The Alpha Course.   Transformed them! Then they invited the church and led the groups!  We began to see the bones coming together - excitement,  noise,  messiness,  Holy Spirit was moving. 

And then God said Speak to the Spirit! 
Prophesy to the Spirit,  come!  Come,  breathe on these slain,  let them live again!  And the Wind blew!  Healings began happening,  people were filled with the Spirit,  God's Spirit was the gossip around the church!  Did you hear?  What happened to so and so? 
Those were fun times!  God,  please do it again!

RESURRECTION has its roots in that revival.  And God is using these days to do a wider work in the Church,  big C, and the culture.   How can we see what God is doing now. 

After St George's had gone from 30 to about 150 in services,  the culture around us in the larger church was becoming an issue.  We, in lent of '99, studied the letters to the 7 churches in Revelation.  "Let him with an ear, hear what the Spirit is saying to the Churches! "  I think we're there again! 

We were shown a vision of a wave crashing between the Twin Towers in New York City,  summer of 2K.  About 13 months before 9-11.  The wave is both "judgement and revival! "  for those not ready it's judgement,  for those ready it will be revival!"  

In that time we were also given to study in Hebrews 12, especially about the Lord's discipline of those He loves and the coming 'shaking' at the end.   Things are certainly being shaken today and it feels like a tsunami wave has hit our country!  Is this that?  

Let's "open our eyes,"  as we pray from time to time,  "to see God's hand at work in the world! "

God uses famine and pestilence when His People get forgetful!  Look at 2 Chronicles 7:13! Not an oft quoted verse!   "When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, 14 if my people..."  If My People will...

Humble themselves...
Today is a designated day to fast and pray in repentance for the sins of our nation.  Nehemiah 9 is the model.  National repentance... something we've never seen.  We've talked about it but never seen it.  Now it's the time! 

There is a great prayer in that chapter by Ezra, the high priest under Nehemiah.  Take some time today to read it.  Take some time to pray it! 

Seek God's Face...
The Aaronic blessing of God's people asks that God lift His Face upon us.  Do a study of God's face in scripture and then our face!  What happens when the two meet?  2 Cor 3:17-18 says this...

"Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit."

James likens the Word to a mirror, reflecting who we really are back to us.  We are so forgetful though!   Refresh your time in God's Word during these days of "pause."  Prayer is pausing with purpose. 

And finally Turn, ... the purpose of the pause is to press a "reset" button in our lives.   Start anew.  Let Him Renew Your Mind,  washing it and us by the Water of the Word.   

I'll do everything I can "from a distance" to help that to happen in our life together.  Until we're able to gather again and beyond let us observe to do according to all that God has said, and God will give us "good success."  

Let's pray
O God,  you made the heavens and the earth, yet you are intricately involved with the details and affairs of our life today.  Move us to hear, read, mark, learn and inwardly digest your Word to us, that we may be freed from those things we cling to other than You.  Hear our prayer, O Lord, and change our hearts to be made in the image of your Son,  Jesus Christ our Lord,  in whose Name we pray.  Amen.

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