March 22, 2020: 4th Sunday in Lent

Let us pray:  Dear Savior, in a world gone mad, fear and uncertainty has gripped us and our nation.  And ultimately, that fear is grounded in death.  But we know that You have conquered death for us!  So today, move us to focus on that fact along with the truth that our future rests secure both now and in eternity because Your love for us is more powerful than death and always will be.  Amen


TEXT:  Romans 8: 1: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Dearly Beloved By Christ:

          I’m not fearful, I’m grumpy.  Like most of you, I’m a creature of habit.  I don’t like my schedule and my weekly agenda disrupted.  The corona virus has upset that applecart, especially since it may go on for weeks or months.  Yet, here we are. 

          America is in turmoil because people fear the unknown and the great unknown is: death.  How many  of you awaken in the night and run scenarios about the unknown in your minds?  This is true for everyone, especially parents with children.  And if you get “it”, are hospitalized, and eventually die, how will it all affect those you love?  It’s all just unsettling.

          I’m concerned about all of you.  I’m upset that I cannot see you, interact with you, read your facial expressions, and basically make sure you’re O.K.  There’s a reason we’re told in Scripture: “Let us  not forsake the assembling of ourselves together.”  The reason is: we feel safe and more secure when we can have physical contact with each other.  Since our government has curtailed that, well, I’m grumpy and I’ll bet you are, too.


          June 25th of this year marks the 5th anniversary of my open heart surgery.  Since then I’ve occasionally wondered: “Why did God get me through all  that?  I’m not terribly special.  So, He must have something more for me to do.”  Now I know what that “something special” is.  He’s prepared me to comfort, uplift, and get you to face up to your fears and by His grace overcome them!  And today’s lesson encapsulates my current purpose in life, namely, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus!”  That is a mighty truth.  In fact, it is the mightiest truth in all creation.

          Viruses are the smallest “microbe” there is—that we know of.  They can only be seen via an electron microscope.  So, the corona virus is literally the tiniest living organism which has turned advanced civilization upside down.  And yet, we have the Biggest Living God Who is our fortress and Victor over its singular power—death!  That’s because when Christ died on the cross and rose again for you, the power of death—fear—died.  I’ve always marveled at the early Christians who faced the arena and the lions and worse.  There are many tales of them fearlessly standing up and being killed without flinching.  What gave them such inner fortitude?  It was the truth of our text.  It was the truth that out of death comes life for the believer.


          My lovely wife keeps telling me, as I fret over internet hook-ups and over whether or not “my people” will be able to hear this sermon and be comforted; she tells me: “Dear, you’ll be reaching more people this Sunday than you would otherwise on a “normal” Sunday.”  She’s right.  Unbelievers could not have such confidence, because unbelievers have no antidote to fear.  They have no antidote to death.  But we do!

          I’m not going to say that the corona virus is God’s punishment on an evil world.—In fact, a spokesman for the Taliban said that on Friday!  What I am going to say is: when evil strikes this world, God always uses it to awaken people to their need for salvation,  including His answer to their fear of death.—If they turn to Him with repentant hearts. 

          All of you know you’re sinners.  This pandemic has shown that humans don’t have the personal strength of overcome  and “fix” the chaos caused by even the smallest living organism.  People need people to band together, help each other, and be united in spirit and in mission to achieve victory.  But even more, people need God to give them wisdom, guidance, and fearlessness as they do so.  And our fearlessness  comes only through Jesus Christ made manifest by His resurrection from the dead.  

          When Adam and Eve first sinned, they condemned all future generations to earthly death. People don’t talk about it and try to ignore that reality, but it’s true.  And when frenzied fear takes over–they don’t know what to do.  But, You do!

          God Almighty judged His Son instead of us.  He convicted Christ as the Guilty One, for all our sins.  He punished Christ with death in our stead.  And through faith in Christ, all sins and the fear they breed, are removed from us before God.  Or, as Paul says it: “There is now no condemnation to them that are in Jesus Christ.” 

          Fear is the most powerful negative emotion known to man.  And God’s love is the greatest Antidote!  Long after the corona virus frenzy recedes God’s grace will still be standing tall!  That’s because God is eternal and fear is not.  Since you now know that, live accordingly!  Use this time to minister to fearful people.  Show forth the love that God has put in your heart through acts of kindness and compassion.  Now is not your time to be fearful, but fearless!  Now is the time to fulfill your God-given purpose for living!    Amen


Pastor Thomas H. Fox

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