How to Survive 2020 and the years to come..
2020, we had such high hopes for you! What a wild last few months it has been! If you are anything like me you’re probably wondering how the rest of this year is going to be. Will this shelter in place ever end? Is there going to be a “second wave”? It seems like the future is very unknown right now but we do not have to be afraid. The Bible teaches that in the end, perilous times would come. Jesus told us what would take place before His coming (wars, famines, plagues, earthquakes…etc. Matthew 24) but this is not another “end of the world” blog post. I do not want to share any gloom or doom with you. I want to encourage you and remind you of the tools Jesus has already given you to live abundantly as we see the Day of the Lord approaching.
The “Day of the Lord” is a commonly used term throughout the Bible. It is a reference to the return of Jesus Christ for His people and the final day of judgment. In 1 Thessalonians chapter 5, Paul addresses the church of Thessalonica and advises them on how they are to live as they wait for Jesus’ return. These clear and precise instructions were not just for them but apply to us today. They are here to not just help us survive hard times but thrive in spite of them!
Effective tactics for end-time living: 1 Thessalonians 5:6-22 (READ TO THE END)
- Watch and be sober (stay sensitive to God’s voice/ watch and pray).
- Put on faith and love as a breastplate (to protect your heart).
- Put on the hope of salvation as a helmet (to protect your mind and mental health).
- Comfort each other.
- Edify (build-up) each other.
- Honor those who serve among you and those who are over you.
- Esteem them very highly in love.
- Be at peace among yourselves (no divisions).
- Warn the unruly.
- Comfort the faint-hearted.
- Uphold the weak.
- Be patient with all.
- Do not return evil for evil.
- Instead, do good unto all people.
- Rejoice at all times.
- PRAY WITHOUT CEASING.
- In everything, give thanks.
- Do not quench the Holy Spirit (do not grieve Him).
- Do not despise prophecies.
- Test all things.
- Hold fast what is good.
- Abstain from every form of evil.
If you read this far, pat yourself on the back! Yes, this looks like a long list but I only want to focus on one of these today. One is key for all the rest. One will help you do all of the above. That one is PRAYER!
Intimacy with God is the simplest and greatest tool we have. With a pandemic running loose and uncertainty on the headlines, we need to spend time with God and seek His guidance. Watching the news, going on social media, posting, researching – none of these will solve the root issues we face in our world today. As we speak up we must be matching that with prayer. We are really good at talking about world issues but how many of us can honestly say we got on our knees today asking God to heal, save, and intervene? Prayer, communication between God and man, has been shifting the world scene for generations.
As I was reading this scripture, “Pray without ceasing!” caught my eye. To pray without ceasing seems impossible, almost too much to ask of the modern Christian. We have responsibilities, relationships, homes to tend to, and jobs that need our attention. So did the Thessalonians. They had full plates just like you and I. They lived under Roman tyranny and faced hate on the daily for simply following Jesus. Was God expecting from them more than they could deliver? No! God is not unkind. He is not unreasonable. He was giving them a safe place, a hideaway, an answer to their troubles in the midst of hardship.
Praying without ceasing is a lifestyle of communing. It is what lovers do or close friends but better. It is the constant referring to another; the sharing of life, love, stories, plans, hardships, and victories. This is the heartbeat of God, that we would commune with Him always. We can constantly commune because His Spirit lives within us. To pray without ceasing is living in awareness of what God is saying and responding to that. Yes, we should definitely set aside time to pray but when the “time runs out” we can still be connected in an unending prayer as we go about our daily lives.
How do we do this? We keep our hearts and our spiritual ears open, listening to His voice. We prefer Him over every other opinion, especially our own. As we position our lives toward Him and yield these vessels up to Him daily, we will thrive through hard times. I like to think of it as a continual text or phone conversation. We never say goodbye, He is present in every moment.
When we do not know what to do, we PRAY.
When joy is overflowing, we PRAY.
When sickness knocks on the door, we PRAY.
When we are running out of money, we PRAY.
When we wake up, we PRAY.
When we cook, we PRAY.
When we do 10 loads of laundry, we PRAY.
When we love our families, we PRAY.
When we see injustice, we PRAY.
When we sorrow creeps in, we PRAY.
When anxiety screams, we PRAY.
When we are mistreated, we PRAY.
When we are celebrated, we PRAY.
Prayer is for every moment of every day, keeping us at the center of His will. As Brother Lawrence said over 300 years ago, recorded in the book The Practice of the Presence of God, “There is no sweeter manner of living in the world than continuous communion with God.” To commune with God is the who point of the Christian faith. That is what Adam and Eve gave up when they rebelled against God and doubted His goodness. Now through Jesus, everything has been restored to us. Everything we need or could ever want is in the life of unceasing prayer.
So here is my challenge to you:
- Start with simple conversations – Lord, what is on your heart today?
- Read the Bible and pray the scriptures.
- Journal your thoughts to God and what you feel He is saying to you.
- Ask Him hard questions and expect answers.
- Sing your own song to the Lord – this is also prayer.
- Cast your cares on the Lord and pour out your complaint before HIM!
- Invite Him into every moment, even the mundane ones.
God wants to be the center of your life, your routine, and your year. Why? Because He loves you! (John 3:16) Jesus lived in constant communion with the Father and that was the source of the peace He lived in. No matter what we face this year like Jesus we can turn to God for hope, answers, and wisdom. 2020 does not have to be a bad year. I’m sorry, but Corona is not stealing 2020 from me. I am going to lean into what God is saying. I am going to position my heart so that I leave this pandemic stronger and more aligned with His will. Are you ready to not just survive but thrive in 2020? As we accept His call to unending prayer, we will see joy, hope, and peace fill the days to come!
Five Scriptures on prayer to get you started –
Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving. Colossians 4:2 (NKJV)
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Matthew 7:7-8 (NKJV)
Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. Matthew 26:41 (NKJV)
It shall come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear. Isaiah 65:24 (NKJV)
But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. 1 Peter 4:7 (NKJV)