Whew – the 1st Half of 2020 is behind us… So, how about the rest of 2020

Whew – the 1st Half of 2020 is behind us…
So, how about the rest of 2020.

What a 1st six months of a year…

2020 began as 1973 did, with impeachment.
Then it became like 1918, with the pandemic.
Next, it took on the financial shape of 2008 with a recession.
And, followed by looking like 1968 with civil rights protests.
Like most of you, I remember all but the 1918 global pandemic.

And… there was so much more..
Kobe Bryant and his daughter died in a helicopter crash along with seven others.
Wildfires swept Australia.
Locusts swarmed East Africa.
Earthquakes struck Turkey and the Caribbean.
I’m sure each of you can name some more.

Here we are…
It’s the 1st of July!
Yep, the year is officially only half over.

Then yesterday, we heard Dr. Anthony Fauci tell a Senate committee that he is very concerned about the surge of coronavirus infections in many parts of the US… stating that he would “not be surprised if we go up to one hundred thousand cases a day if this does not turn around.”

If that was not a sobering enough warning, news agencies broke the story of a new flu virus (G4) in China having the potential to become a “pandemic flu virus.”
I’m not really sure why this suddenly became newsworthy, since it has been known in infectious disease monitoring circles since 2016, but they released this information: “Chinese researchers discovered a strain of influenza in pigs that has all the essential hallmarks of a candidate pandemic virus.” “Pig farm workers showed elevated levels of the virus in their blood. As a result, “close monitoring in human populations, especially the workers in the swine industry, should be urgently implemented (Published in paper by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences)
If there is any good news in the report – the scientists say there is no evidence that the virus is circulating among humans.
But, the bad news is that the World Health Organization made the same statement about COVID-19 last January.

So… Here we are… July 1, 2020

I sense that one lesson the first half of 2020 has taught us is that we cannot predict the second half of 2020.

Consider this – Hum… we are not in control of our world.

It is tempting in our “scientifically advanced, technologically sophisticated” culture to think we can control our natural world, but natural diseases and disasters point out the folly in such suppositions.

It is likewise tempting in our “existentialist culture” to predict the future based on the present, but recent months prove how also flawed that suppositions… and how uncertain our lives really are.

How might this relate to Christians seeking godly character…
it’s called sanctification.

Jesus prayed for his followers: “Sanctify them in the truth” (John 17:17).
Paul similarly prayed for the Thessalonian Christians: “May the God of peace himself sanctify you completely” (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
He told the Corinthians that despite their former sins, “you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11).

In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis described the way sanctification works: “The real Son of God is at your side. He is beginning to turn you into the same kind of thing as himself. He is beginning, so to speak, to ‘inject’ his kind of thought and life . . . into you; beginning to turn the tin soldier into a live man. The part of you that does not like it is the part that is still tin.”

Please understand that as sinners, we cannot sanctify ourselves.
Just as we required Jesus’ atoning love for our salvation, so we require his Spirit’s transformation for our sanctification.
We cannot make ourselves more holy, no matter how hard we try.

However… our obedience is nonetheless essential to the process.
Not to earn God’s sanctifying grace, but to receive it.
When we pray, read Scripture, and obey God’s word and follow his will, we position ourselves to be made holy by our Holy Lord.

Today, let’s choose to make praying for holiness a regular, consistent commitment and discipline.
God can give only what we will receive and lead only where we will go.
If we do not ask Him to make us holy, He cannot make us holy.

A prayer I encourage you to make your own

Some time ago when he was among us Henri Nouwen, a Dutch theologian, offered this prayer:

“O Lord, who else or what else can I desire but you? You are my Lord, Lord of my heart, mind, and soul. You know me through and through. In and through you, everything that is finds its origin and goal. You embrace all that exists and care for it with divine love and compassion.

“Why, then, do I keep expecting happiness and satisfaction outside of you? Why do I keep relating to you as one of my many relationships, instead of my only relationship, in which all other ones are grounded? Why do I keep looking for popularity, respect from others, success, acclaim, and sensual pleasures? Why, Lord, is it so hard for me to make you the only one? Why do I keep hesitating to surrender myself totally to you?

“Help me, O Lord, to let my old self die, to let me die to the thousand big and small ways in which I am still building up my false self and trying to cling to my false desires. Let me be reborn in you and see through the world in the right way, so that all my actions, words, and thoughts can become a hymn of praise to you.”

“I need your loving grace to travel on this hard road that leads to the death of my old self to a new life in and for you. I know and trust that this is the road to freedom.”

As we travel this road of the remainder of 2020…
How will you traverse it?
Who will walk with you?
Who will guide you?
Who will comfort you when perplexing situations occur?

I pray you will engage daily with me in prayer that the Holy Spirit will be the “Who”…
Draw Close He is O’ so Near