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Preparing our hearts for Easter

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Easter is Sunday. It is likely that most churches around the world will not gather. In light of this reality I find myself wrestling with how to prepare my heart for Easter 2020. Perhaps you have found yourself in similar straits, as life has been newly cast in the shadow of a pandemic. But as I wrestled, it struck me to consider how God is preparing my heart for the celebration of Jesus’ victory over the grave.

            The entire world has in a matter of a few months been reminded of the frailty of life and the certainty of death. Of course, we know that life is frail, and death comes to all, yet in the bright days of vigor and prosperity we forget. Too easily we fall prey to the hope that human ingenuity secures the path to wellness, to wealth, to wellbeing. “Salvation belongs to man” is the cry of the unbelieving world with unrelenting confidence in all of our scientific and technological advancement. And then, comes a sickness we cannot stop, and we are beckoned to inquire if there is some other remedy for the gripping fear of death that we all live with.

This is a good place to be. Let me say it again, this is a good place to be. Isn’t this exactly where God tells us to be? Consider a few passages that call us to grapple with the brevity of life and certainty of death. 

1 “Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble. 2 He comes out like a flower and withers; he flees like a shadow and continues not. (Job 14:1–2)

4 “O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! 5Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Selah 6 Surely a man goes about as a shadow! Surely for nothing they are in turmoil; man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather! (Psalm 39:4–6)

            Both the psalmist and Job offer pointed words to us of the human experience. Job declares human life as short and strenuous. The psalmist asks that he would not fall under the allusion that he possesses power over his own life. He desires to know life as the fleeting breath that it is, that all of life’s bounty gives no lasting security. Both Job and the psalmist are thoroughly acquainted with the pervasive presence of sin’s curse, “by the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken…” (Gen 3:19). Difficulty and death form the rhythm of this fallen world. Sin’s toll is felt even in the modern age of unrivaled human accomplishment.

            Take a moment now to consider in the shadow of disease and death, that these are only symptoms of a far greater problem. Human rebellion. Willful idolatry. Sin. This is the heart of the issue behind life’s futility and death’s certainty. “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Rom 5:12). Yes, this is exactly the way God would prepare us for Easter, by calling us to contemplate the wreckage of the world on account of sin. So, I invite you to consider the harm and hurt of sin. We must know this truly and deeply before we are ever to rejoice in sin’s remedy.

Posted by Phil Broersma with

Strange Times and Real Danger

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Friends, these are strange times. In some measure, all of our lives have been affected by the present crisis of the coronavirus. Sadly, this past Sunday was one of those times. Not meeting together on the Lord’s day seems odd, feels weird, and is surely dangerous. Sure, we recognize that it is necessary for the moment. However, we should also be aware of the danger that comes with not meeting.

 

The danger that comes with less exposure to God’s people, especially the Sunday morning service, is that our straying hearts are not kept in check. To make matters worse, there is also confinement to our homes, restricting our free access to society at large. These are times for the perfect storm so to speak. Here is what I mean, there is a real danger when we do not receive the necessary checks to our hearts (like Sunday services, contact with God’s people, etc.) and there is further danger when our hearts free-reign is restricted (through confinement to homes, continual contact with the people we are closest to, new expectations, etc.). That danger is that our sin would be exposed and our hearts unwilling to repent of it.

 

In these times our personal walk with the Lord is of the utmost importance. There is no doubt that our sin will be exposed in these days. Let’s be honest, most of you are now home all day with your students and by this point find yourself in an extremely redundant and confined routine. We are often not even able to go outside due to weather. This makes our desire for “relief” all the harder, all the more needed, and all the more exposing of the way we actually think and what we actually desire.

 

Make no mistake, this present crisis we find ourselves in will expose our desires, both the good ones (desiring to be back at church) and the bad ones (impatience and selfishness). If our personal walk with the Lord is weak or non-existent, we will respond to these circumstances sinfully. It is only a strong personal walk with the Lord that will provide a means for us to respond righteously, pleasing the Lord.

 

So, do not be discouraged when your sin is exposed; but rather, be encouraged to strengthen your walk with the Lord and address your sin as He would have you to—remember Colossians 3, Hebrews 4:14-16 and Psalm 32. But please, don’t respond like Cain and refuse to fix what you know is wrong. For in the moment your sin is exposed there is the graciousness of the Lord’s words recorded for you, “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it (Gen 4:7).” If we want to please and be accepted by the Lord, we must deal with our sin.

 

The sin that we must deal with in these times is not new; it has always been there. It is simply that the normal outlets for our sin and callouses toward our sin have been removed for this moment. Therefore, we must not miss these opportunities to address our sin and repent of it before the Lord.

 

Friends, I call you faithful parents every week not only because you bring your students to church every week, but also because you live out what you profess before them every day. These strange days are no different. They may be harder; but they are no different. We must exemplify, now more than ever, the pious act of repentance, because our families are presented with the same danger. Our families know the same lack of fellowship and exposure of the heart. How will they know the salvation granted to us is true, unless we demonstrate it before them as an act of worship to God? Friends, these strange times are a marvelous opportunity for us to display what we profess; furthermore, it is guaranteed to display what we believe. So, in these moments let’s watch our lives and strengthen our walk.