Good morning, Prayer Warriors.
Song for the Day: https://youtu.be/DMZ8D6nTKhg
Complete the Verse & Name the Book: For God has not given us a spirit of . . . (completion at the end)
On Good Friday, there was a special livestream event organized by World Vision. I have shared what Samuel Rodriguez, Tony Dungy, Francis Chan, and Max Lucado had to say. Today, I’d like for you to hear from Edgar Sandoval Sr.—President of World Vision U.S. What he had to say spoke to me the most of any of the speakers. Perhaps it will be the same with you.
I'm so grateful for this opportunity to come together as the body of Christ during Holy Week. As we are all separated in our households, we need this time of prayer and unity. So thank you, Nicole, and all those who planned this service, and a special thank you to my son, Edgar Junior, who is filming me today.
Normally, when we observe Good Friday, we just have to imagine the darkness of this day 2000 years ago as Jesus hung on the cross, but now we find ourselves in a fearful, dark time with the COVID-19 death toll rising across the country and the world. And we haven't seen the peak yet. The virus is indiscriminate affecting the wealthy, the poor, the powerful, the weak, those from the North, those from the South, from the East to the West—all of us are vulnerable to the same imminent danger.
Just as the light broke through the darkness on Resurrection Sunday, we can trust that God is working behind the scenes today. We know the victory is assured in our salvation, and we've got a job to keep doing. Our Lord is calling people back to Himself. He wants us to be His hands and feet to do His work. That is why, during this uncertain time, World Vision is bringing prayer, kindness, and a bias to action. We are responding to COVID-19 everywhere we work—nearly 100 countries across the globe. Our actions are our response to the love of God in Jesus, because perfect love drives out fear (1 John 4:18). The love of Jesus gives us hope that outweighs our fear and releases us to love and serve others as He did. With each act of love, we can do more than just stop the spread of fear; we can replace it with hope. I believe this is a time when our obedience matters most. Our God is not just the God of the good times; he is a God of the here and now. He is working in your life and my life inviting us into His Kingdom to align our lives with His here on earth and for eternity.
What does God care about? Well, as I read the Bible, I see an unmistakable thread of verses about God's heart for the poor and vulnerable. They are everywhere in the Old Testament and in the New Testament. It's everywhere I look! Caring for the poor and vulnerable was consistently God's command to the people of Israel in Old Testament times just as it is the vision of Jesus for us today. Then and now God calls his people to be his instrument for sharing his love to the least, the lost, and the hurting.
The least of these are on my heart constantly now. They are the people who even before this crisis were ultra poor and highly vulnerable. They live in tightly built, overcrowded and unhygienic refugee settlements in Bangladesh and Syria, slums in India, shantytowns in Kenya, and barrios in Venezuela. I have been to these places. In fact, just a few months ago, I was in Bangladesh where nearly 1,000,000 Rohingya refugees live in a sprawling camp. The families’ tents are so close together and so flimsy. Each shack is barely 100 square feet and overcrowded with up to 12 people.
You and I can hunker down in our well built homes filled with amenities and plenty of food and running water. But for these ultra vulnerable people, these tightly crowded, unsanitary places are their homes. This is where they will hunker down to prevent infection. This is the only place for their elderly people. They have the same concerns you and I have for our parents and for their school age children—for their loved ones with disabilities like my daughter, Andrea. They are on my mind, and I believe they are on God's mind, too, because our God cares about the same things yesterday, today, and forever.
Everywhere I look in the Holy Book, He is pleading with his people to take care of the poor, the marginalized, the sick, the vulnerable. Take care of them! When we say, “Lord, we want to humble ourselves as we draw closer to you. Please tell us, Lord, how should we fast.” The Lord says, “Edgar, is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter?” (Isaiah 58:6-7, NIV)
When we ask, “Lord, who is a woman of noble character?”
The Lord says, “She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers. She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.” (Proverbs 31:16-20, NIV)
“Okay, but what about the man, Lord? Who is a righteous man?”
The Lord says, “Suppose there is a righteous man who does what is just and right. He does not eat at the mountain shrines or look to the idols of Israel . . . He does not oppress anyone, but returns what he took in pledge for a loan. He does not commit robbery but gives his food to the hungry and provides clothing for the naked.” (Ezekiel 18:5-7, NIV)
Then we asked, “Lord, what is pure and true religion?”
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress . . .” (James 1:27, NIV)
When we look at the earthly ministry of our Lord Jesus, how does it begin and end? Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of the prophet, Isaiah. He states his mission on earth: “The spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.” (Luke 4:18-19, NIV)
Just days before His crucifixion, as recorded in Matthew 25, Jesus gives us final instructions. In no uncertain terms, He tells us that all the nations will be gathered before him and people will be separated to the right and to the left. We want to know how he will decide who goes where, and the answer is clear: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, . . . I was sick and you looked after me, . . . Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:35-36, 40, NIV)
This is our mission in the here and now—to love our neighbors. Friends, the least of these are right here in our neighborhoods—those who are hungry, fearful, and alone. They're also around the world where COVID-19 could be utterly devastating in ultra poor communities and refugee settlements.
Let us take a moment to honor the World Vision staff and faith leaders working tirelessly to help those in the margins of our society who are affected by COVID-19, internationally and here in the United States.
Here are the words of some of the workers shown in the video:
· “In this time of need, Oh Father God, that we have with this coronavirus, with all this fear that’s out there, we are stepping out of our four walls to help our community.”
· “We believe that God is greater than this pandemic.”
· I urge you to be strong and to continue to keep your faith in God.”
· “The fear is real, but what we're trying to do is to show that we still care.”
· “We're really trying to put all our efforts to reach the most vulnerable families—those are our priority.”
· “This disaster response is on an unprecedented level. Not only is it around the whole country and around the world, but it's right here in our own backyard.”
· “This is a global problem. The solution requires everyone to do their part—from the average person washing their hands to organizations like World Vision doing their work to the international community working together.”
· “How do we alleviate the fear? It’s through acts of kindness—through love.”
· “We have not been given the spirit of fear but of power, love, and a sound mind.”
We invite you to join us. We need your help to respond quickly with the tangible love of God to meet the urgent needs of vulnerable families.
In the U.S., World Vision is working hand in hand with churches and school districts to deliver essentials to the most vulnerable children and families. Through our 13 strategic locations, we are distributing family emergency kits containing a week’s worth of food for a family of five, hygiene and protective items, educational supplies, and resources for kids. Our hope is to reach 650,000 people right here in the U.S. Globally, World Vision is uniquely positioned to face the spread of COVID-19. We are scaling up our response in 17 countries that are the most vulnerable. We are aiming to reach over 22,000,000 people including 11,000,000 vulnerable children.
We’re working in three ways: protect, provide, and prevent.
· To protect we're distributing protective equipment for health workers and supporting health systems in other ways including equipping 220,000 community health workers.
· To provide we are caring for children made vulnerable by COVID-19. These are kids in families who were already living on the edge. We’re providing food, care packets, cash, voucher programs, and more.
· To prevent we are helping families and communities stop or slow the spread of the virus by implementing our world class clean water and sanitation programs.
As we do this, we are engaging faith leaders who are key to influencing behavior change. We're also joined by our experience and success managing past global outbreaks including polio, HIV, Zika virus, and Ebola fever. So if you are able, please support us as we rush to help in the name of Jesus. Go to worldvision.org/pulse with your gift. It will go to fight COVID-19 here in the U.S. and around the world. Together we will be caring for the most vulnerable people everywhere.
Let's trust God like never before. Let's unite in prayer and move swiftly to help each other, and let's please not forget the least of these. God is pleading with us to take care of them. It was the critical mission of Jesus on Earth, and it’s ours today. God bless you.
If our victories don’t come through our cleverness, erudition, strength of will, or personality, then how do we gain victories? Dr. Moody explains:
· Call someone today to check up on them.
· Our church has a new website. Pastor Michael is giving a fireside fellowship talk from the book of Philippians on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10:00 am. If you have missed any of them on Facebook, they can be found at this website. All sermons are posted here, too. Check it out the Media menu.
· Join Ron for Transformative Prayer on Zoom, 7:00 pm on Wednesdays. Contact Ron at 253-732-6703 for details.
Verse Completion: . . . timidity, but of power and love and discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7 (NASB)