Staying alive in difficult times!
Evil is powerful, but God is even more powerful. Comforting thoughts in difficult times! What can we do? Fear God, accept His help, and then reach out and share it with others.
He has never been to Prague (Czech Republic) before, Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider revealed at the beginning of the divine service on Saturday, 5 March 2022. However, the most important thing for him was to share in a divine service with the congregation. His sermon consisted of three main points, based on the words of Psalm 33: 18–19: “Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His mercy, to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.”
God sees all who fear Him
These are complicated times, the Chief Apostle said in his opening words. “We are being swamped with information that is anything but good. And it really gets to us.” Psalm 33 is entitled: “The Sovereignty of the Lord in Creation and History”. Then it says to “rejoice in the Lord”. One might think that this is not really compatible with the times. “This is precisely what we need just now. God has comforted and strengthened people with these words for centuries. And He is still doing so today!”
There have always been terrible and dramatic times in human history, the Chief Apostle said. However, believers can find comfort and strength in the Bible. “God sees everyone and looks at the heart, which is the centre of decisions and conscience. What have you done with the abilities and opportunities I have given you? This is what God looks at.”
His plan is to save mankind. “Think of Jesus Christ. The whole world and hell were against Him. They attacked Him and even killed Him.” God let them do it and fulfilled His plan. “Think of the first Christians. They were persecuted.” God saw to it that they could continue to carry the gospel further and keep faith.
Now God expects those whom He has chosen to fear Him.
- First of all, we must be obedient: “We recognise the sovereignty of God. He is our Lord, we are obedient. We are obliged to do His will and keep His commandments.”
- Secondly, we must be humble: “Those who are filled with the fear of God know that God is great, holy, and perfect. He is far greater and more perfect than anything we can imagine.”
- Then we need to be confident. “God is almighty. He is perfect and He does what He says. I know that everything is possible for Him. I trust in His power and that is why I remain faithful to Him.”
- Nor should we forget reverence, the deep respect for God. “I respect God. What He offers me, I accept. I do not despise His gifts of grace. He gives me His word, His grace, His peace. Come, I offer you the bread of heaven.”
- And, finally, we need to love God. “The fear of God has nothing to do with being afraid, but with love. Those who are filled with the fear God have only one major concern: nothing should separate them from God. They love Him and want to be with Him—no matter what.”
He saves them
God saves His chosen ones and keeps them alive—even in famine, it says in the psalm. There is also such a thing as a spiritual famine, the Chief Apostle said. “Humans need God, they need the gospel and Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, this thought has been lost. Sometimes we experience periods of famine in our congregations. In order to function, a congregation needs various things. Many of these things we no longer have; maybe we never had them. Famine means that what is needed is not there.”
The example from 1 Kings 17: 2–6 is very helpful. The prophet Elijah was filled with the fear of God, and God had helped him. “For example, He told him: ‘Go to the brook, and I will provide for you.’ And then ravens came in the morning and evening and brought him food. It is definitely not the nature of a raven to bring humans food. They rather steal food. God, however, showed Elijah: “I care for you, I can do miracles and make extraordinary and impossible things happen. Even today He can provide for us in mysterious ways. Trust in the omnipotence of God. He can make impossible things possible.”
And He keeps them alive
Sometimes God Himself intervenes in the lives of His children and does a miracle, as He did in Elijah’s case. “Sometimes, however, He wants to humble us and says, ‘I can help you, but you have to go to a weak person now and accept his help. This might be a minister, or perhaps even a brother or a sister, or a complete stranger. Forget your pride and accept this help. Let that person give you something.’”
And this giving and taking is the third way in which God wants to help God-fearing people. Chief Apostle Schneider said: “Share! And if you reach out, you will receive what you need! Don’t only think of yourself, reach out to your neighbour. You may have worries and problems, but don’t forget your neighbour. Give him or her time, your heart, pray for them.” God will bless the fact that we share and we will receive more than we gave. “The Bible already says: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”