Fear and Foolishness - we are cautioned against fear throughout the Bible, it's presented as contrary to faith. Foolishness - don't throw caution to the wind during this present crisis. Mind the safeguards that have been put into place.
Acts 5 & 11 - they had periods of distress in the first century as well. Ananias and Sapphira lie and are struck dead, apostles are arrested and jailed, all types of distress.
Internal conflict: Acts 5:1-16.
- we can't allow what's happening now to cause internal conflict within the church. We need to be wise, be careful how we respond publicly on social media
- we always need to respond to any conflict with respect for the Lord, godly fear.
- distressing situations did not impede the spread of the gospel in the first century, it flourished.
External conflict - 5:17-42. The apostles are arrested, thrown in jail until an angel opens the door and they are released. They are told not to preach. This is a direct attack on the gospel.
- we haven't been forbidden to meet because of our beliefs, so far, just for health reasons. But it may evolve to a point where we are and we will be forced to decide between following God or following man, just as they had to.
- it's the forces beyond our control where the real comparison lies
Cosmic distress - 5:27-30. It's not within our control to handle situations like we are now facing so we have to find ways to adapt.
The present distress:
1. Through distress comes growth. In every situation in Acts the Word continued to spread. The gospel multiplied. It can be the same for us, an opportunity for growth.
2.This can drive us to faith. We can see this as a stepping stone, not an obstacle. This is a great opportunity for families to spend time together, to worship together, for fathers to take the leadership role in their family spiritually. What lessons will your kids learn from how you handle this? Unless they're very small, they will remember this and what the family did together to work through this.
3. Endeavor to serve God faithfully despite a less than ideal situation. We may develop some new habits as a result of this that we will want to carry over when things return to "normal." We may also make some mistakes as they did in 2 Chron. 30, as we worship on our own, so we need to do what Hezekiah did then. Pray to God. Ask Him to forgive us of any mistakes and allow that we are doing the best that we can. God heard Hezekiah, He will hear us. This will push us to a lot more time in prayer - praying that our hearts are right, that if we're not doing things exactly right that God will forgive us.
The big takeaway is the people responded together in their unity with love for God and it created growth. Let's think about how we can handle this situation that will lead to growth, that will lead to unity. How we respond is more important than the situation itself.
God and faith are greater than our problems.