Oí truenos por primera vez la semana pasada justo cuando me estaba preparando para ir a la cama y la tormenta rodó en. El trueno fue un recordatorio para mí de que la temporada de tormentas, lo que es más importante, temporada de tornados, está a la vuelta de la esquina para Oklahoma. Si usted ha vivido en Oklahoma por cualquier cantidad de tiempo, entonces usted está en una base de nombre con nuestra gente del tiempo. Mike Morgan, David "Tornado" Payne, y Damon Lane todos se sienten como parte de nuestras familias no? Podemos perder contacto con ellos de vez en cuando, durante las épocas tranquilas del año, but when the air is heavy and the skies grow dark we reconnect in a hurry.
¿Por qué escuchamos tan atentamente a la gente del tiempo cuando se predicen tormentas para nuestra ciudad? Bien, no sabemos lo que está pasando allá arriba en la atmósfera. Podemos salir afuera, mirar hacia el cielo, y decirle a todo el mundo en la casa que no vemos nada. Aprendes, cuando vives en Oklahoma, que sólo porque usted no ve una cosa que no significa que una "cosa" no está llegando.
Tenemos que prestar atención a los chicos porque han dedicado sus vidas a entender los patrones climáticos, alteraciones atmosféricas, y qué condiciones hacen para el clima mortal. No tienes que escuchar sus advertencias, se puede descartar lo que tienen que decir, pero lo haces a riesgo de perder la vida. Y así es con la situación actual en la que estamos ahora mismo.
Estamos recibiendo actualizaciones en un, si no por hora sobre lo que está sucediendo en nuestra ciudad, alrededor de nuestra nación, y en todo el mundo. They are not simply giving us updates about how many are infected or those who have died, but they are telling us what we can and should do to lower our own risk of becoming infected. We are hearing from an endless string of local, estado, and national political leaders as well as our top medical advisers and people are glued to their television sets, móviles, and computers to find out the latest.
Why are so many locked-in and listening to those who are speaking to us every day? Bien, es por las mismas razones que prestamos tanta atención a nuestros chicos del tiempo, ¿no es? No sabemos qué está pasando. Yo no sé ustedes,, pero no sé nada sobre epidemiología, Virología, o enfermedades infecciosas. Quiero prestar atención a aquellos que han dedicado sus vidas a entender los virus y cómo se propagan. Ahora, no se equivoquen al respecto, al igual que los que desestiman el consejo de los chicos del tiempo, hay quienes están desestimando el consejo y la dirección que estamos recibiendo del Dr.. Fauci, Dr. Birx, y otros, but that’s not a good idea.
He compartido todo esto con ustedes esta mañana para señalar que estamos escuchando, estamos prestando atención, y bueno, debemos. Esta mañana quiero animarnos, Quiero instarnos a escuchar otra voz, una voz que no escucharás en las noticias de la noche, cualquiera de los 24 canales de noticias de la hora, o cualquiera de las conferencias de prensa del político–tenemos que escuchar atentamente lo que Dios tiene que decir sobre nuestra situación actual. ¿Estamos escuchando lo que Dios tiene que decir?
En el primer siglo, después de Pentecostés, un gran número de personas se convirtieron en seguidores de Jesús. Not too long after Pentecost, persecution broke out against the followers of Jesus and those who had called Jerusalem “home,” were scattered. The ignition point of the persecution was the killing of one of Jesus’ followers, un hombre llamado Esteban. Here’s what I want us to pay special attention to: When persecution broke out and the lives of Jesus’ followers were threatened, how did they respond? Podemos leer acerca de él en Hechos 8:1, 4.
1 Y Saulo estaba allí, giving approval to his (Stephen’s) muerte. En aquel día hubo una gran persecución contra la iglesia en Jerusalén, y todos, excepto los apóstoles, se dispersaron por Judea y Samaria. 4 Aquellos que habían sido dispersados predicaron la palabra dondequiera que fuera. (Hechos 8:1; 4 NIVO)
Their lives, their businesses, their neighbors, everything they had known and loved was taken from them when they had to flee their homes in Jerusalem. You and I haven’t had to flee Oklahoma City, but our lives have certainly been disrupted. Think of all of the things that have been taken from us over these past three weeks. You and I can’t go to the mall, buy some popcorn and a drink, and watch a movie. Deportes, and you know how important sports are to so many of us, sports are no more. You can’t watch a basketball game, baseball game, or any other game any longer. You can’t even look forward to the Olympics this summer. About one week before everything changed, Connie and some of our family went to Chesapeake Arena to see Lauren Daigle in concert. That’s out. We can’t go to concerts, take in a play, or experience the Arts Festival. They are all gone. All of these are things we enjoy, but there are those in our city and across the world who have lost so much more, they’ve lost loved ones and jobs.
Like those early followers of Jesus, our lives have been radically disrupted, but we need to listen and learn from those who have gone before us. Did you notice verse 4?
4 Aquellos que habían sido dispersados predicaron la palabra dondequiera que fuera. (Hechos 8:4 NIVO)
How was that, sharing the good news of Jesus, even on the radar for those who were under the threat of death? That’s a great question and I’ve got an answer for you. The good news was so much better than the bad news, that the bad news couldn’t distract them from telling everybody the good news of Jesus. Jesus had changed their lives, He had given them a new way to see life and the troubles they were presently facing. They had to tell others the good news!
The good news, for those who love Jesus, those who have been changed by Jesus, is so much better than the bad news that you and I are receiving every day. And those who have had their lives changed by Jesus are sharing the good news in all kinds of powerful ways right now. I could spend the rest of our time telling you stories of how people I know are serving others, cuidado de los demás, blessing others, and sharing Jesus’ love with others while bad news is all around us. How are these people able to see so many opportunities instead of being blinded by the crisis? Now that’s a great question. I want you to turn to Philippians 2 with me and let’s read together verses 1-4.
1 Si tiene cualquier estímulo en su unión con Cristo, si algún consuelo de su amor, si alguna comunión del Espíritu, si alguna ternura y compasión, 2 a continuación, hacer completo mi gozo, sintiendo lo mismo, teniendo el mismo amor, ser uno en espíritu y propósito. 3 No hagan nada por egoísmo o vanidad;, pero con humildad consideren a los demás como superiores a sí mismos. 4 Cada uno debe velar no sólo por sus propios intereses, sino también por los intereses de los demás. (Filipenses 2:1-4 NIVO)
Those of us who have been encouraged and comforted by the love of Jesus and by the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, we are to consider others as better than ourselves, we are to look out for the interests of others. In the middle of a crisis we see opportunities to care for and serve others. This has been true for Jesus’ followers throughout history. Déjenme darles sólo un par de ejemplos.
There’s nothing new about pandemics. History shows us that pandemics have always had a devastating impact on societies. Rodney Stark, en su libro “The Rise of Christianity," shows us how Christianity spread faster than the diseases during the plagues that impacted the Roman Empire. What was it that attracted so many people to Jesus during the crisis of the Antonine smallpox plague of the second century? The plague lasted for 15 years and killed up to 25% of the citizens of the Roman Empire. En 250 DC. another plague broke out in the Roman Empire that lasted 20 años. Una vez más, huge numbers of people became followers of Jesus. ¿Por qué es esto? Cómo sucedió? It wasn’t theology, high profile preachers, or elaborate cathedrals that drew people to Jesus, but it was the way Jesus’ people cared for the sick and dying.
Folks in the Roman Empire weren’t known for caring for others, but the Christians on the other hand, risked their lives to care for the sick and to take care of those who were dying. Years later Roman Emperor Julian complained in a letter that Christians “would care even for non-Christian sick people.”
En 1527, the bubonic plague came to Wittenberg, Germany and everyone who could get out of the city, did so. People left their sick loved ones behind in order to save their own lives. The shops were closed. Doctors refused to see patients and priests refused to administer the last rites. And then there was Martin Luther. Luther and his pregnant wife, Katherine, opened their home to those who were sick and dying and cared for them. Luther wrote to the followers of Jesus in Wittenberg,
We die at our posts. Christian doctors cannot abandon their hospitals, Christian governors cannot flee their districts, Christian pastors cannot abandon their congregations. The plague does not dissolve our duties: it turns them to crosses, on which we must be prepared to die. (Martin Lutero)
And this same story can be told over and over again my friends. Nosotros, tú y yo, todos los seguidores de Jesús, have been called to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Jesús dijo:,
12 Este es mi mandamiento: Ámense unos a otros como yo os he amado. 13 Nadie tiene mayor amor que este uno, que ponga su vida por sus amigos. (Juan 15:12-13 NIVO)
The followers of Jesus throughout time have taken this verse literally. In the same way that Jesus has loved us–hemos de amar a los demás. When pandemics break out the vast majority of people turn inward to try and find a way to survive, but the followers of Jesus turn outward and look for ways to care for and serve others.
Alguien está pensando en, “So are you saying we should open our homes to care for the sick like Luther did?” I’m not saying that at all, unless the Lord is leading you to take someone in who is ill and needing your care. Lo que estoy diciendo es esto, we should not be so consumed with our own welfare that we forget those who need our care and support. There are a myriad of ways to do this.
This past week some of our high school kids came together and put 200 care packages together for our seniors. We did drive-bys and left them on the front porch so that our friends would know we are willing to help in any way they need help. A lady in our church sewed masks for one of our doctors who would be spending the week caring for people in the hospital. People have gone grocery shopping for our seniors who shouldn’t get out. Another lady in our church bought lunch for all of the staff at a local nursing home to let them know we are praying for them and we appreciate them caring for those under their care. La lista sigue y sigue.
The key for you and me is this: What will we focus on when times of trouble, crisis, romper? Will we focus on the threat or on the opportunity? Left to our own thinking there’s no doubt where we will focus–we’ll be like those in the Roman Empire and Wittenberg–we’ll see the threat and take care of ourselves. But those who have been transformed by the love of Jesus, the hope that only Jesus can bring, will see trials, even pandemics, as an opportunity to grow strong in our dependence on the Lord and an opportunity to serve others. Déjeme darle un ejemplo de lo que estoy hablando. Venga conmigo a Santiago 1.
1 This letter is from James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am writing to the «twelve tribes»– Jewish believers scattered abroad. Saludos! 2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. 5 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. 6 But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. 7 Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do. (Santiago 1:1-8 NLT)
Did you notice that James was writing to Jewish followers of Jesus who were scattered abroad? These were troubling times for the followers of Jesus because of persecution, but James tells them to consider their troubles as an opportunity for great joy! How in the world could James see life-threatening troubles as an opportunity for joy?
I need to point something out for us this morning. The followers of Jesus and the people of the world think differently. The people of the world are fixated on happiness. We just want to be happy and the way to be happy is to alleviate all of our problems. If I could just get rid of my problems, then I would finally be happy. God’s Word teaches the followers of Jesus not to pursue happiness, but to focus on joy. Joy is altogether different from happiness. Happiness is directly tied to our circumstances, but joy is derived from a different source. Paul wrote to the people of Philippi and he told them,
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Regocijan! (Filipenses 4:4 NIVO)
We rejoice not in our circumstances, but in the Lord. Our circumstance right now is like everybody else’s circumstance. The news is not good, we have no idea when this will be over, but I do not have to allow my circumstance to dictate my mental, espiritual, físico, and psychological disposition. My disposition can be joyful if I choose to rejoice in the Lord. Ahora, Qué significa eso? It means that I focus on the fact that Jesus knows me, Él me ama, He has redeemed me, He has made a way for me to be reconciled to God the Father, and He is with me. If I focus on these truths and not on my circumstance then I can rejoice!
Let’s go back to James for a moment. James said that our trials are an opportunity for great joy and then he wrote,
3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. (Santiago 1:3-4 NIVO)
Para los seguidores de Jesús, the focus of our trials shouldn’t be to simply get to the other side, but to understand our trials as an opportunity to grow stronger in our dependence, our reliance, our trust in the Lord. We say we trust God, but when trials come do we really trust Him? Do the pressures of life weigh us down or press us into Him? James says our trials, the testing of our faith, can build our endurance. Ver la palabra, "Resistencia?” The Greek word is “???????" (hupomone) y significa, "firmeza, resistencia, or constancy.” The word describes a person who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose by even the greatest trials of life.
You and I are subject to all of the problems of life that everyone else on the face of the planet experiences. Just because we are followers of Jesus doesn’t mean we get a pass, but we don’t have to allow our problems to rob us of the joy that is found in Jesus. Does that sound like something you desire for your own life? Are you tired of being tossed back and forth by every trouble that comes your way? I’m not a gambler but if I was I would bet that this current trial, the coronavirus, is only one of a long list of problems that has rocked our world and kept us up at night. Our faith will grow, our dependence and trust in the Lord will sustain us, and joy will fill us, if we will see our trials first and foremost as an opportunity and not a threat.
Habakkuk was a man of God who was living in uncertain times, the nation was falling apart at the seams and Habakkuk had so many questions. Habakkuk recognized that the worst was yet to come and yet he wrote,
17 Aunque la higuera no florezca y hay no hay uvas en la vid, Aunque falla el cultivo del olivo y los campos no producen alimentos, Aunque hay no hay ovejas en el corral y no ganado en los establos, 18 con todo me regocijaré en el Señor, Estaré alegre en Dios mi Salvador. (Habacuc 3:17-18 NIVO)
Tiempos difíciles. Regocijaos en el Señor. Uncertain times. Regocijaos en el Señor. With the stories of death all around us. Regocijaos en el Señor. Our joy is in the Lord.
The followers of Jesus who had experienced such great fellowship in Jerusalem found themselves scattered, but they were united as one. They had one mission and that was to share the good news in any and every way possible. James wrote to the scattered Jewish followers of Jesus, but he knew they were united as one. They had one mission and that was to share the good news in any and every way possible. Now it’s our turn. We are scattered. We are so accustomed to coming together throughout the week for prayer, Estudio de la Biblia, and worship, but for the past two weeks we’ve been scattered all over Oklahoma City. There is no question that we are scattered, but are we united as one? Is our main ambition, our singular mission at this time in our lives to share the good news in as many ways as possible?
A virus can’t stop us from sharing the good news of Jesus if we will stay focused on Him. Isolation can’t stop us from sharing the good news of Jesus if we will stay focused on Him. Sickness can’t stop us from sharing the good news of Jesus if we will stay focused on Him. If the economy collapses and we lose our jobs, even that won’t stop us from sharing the good news of Jesus…if we will stay focused on Him. por ultimo, if our churches never opened their doors again, not even that would stop us from sharing the good news of our King if we will simply stay united, un solo pueblo, with one heart, with burning passion. It doesn’t matter how bad the bad news becomes, the good news is so much better. We must tell them.
Britton Christian Church
922 NW 91a
OKC, OK. 73114
Marzo 29, 2020