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Terry Storch Dispatch w.14.2020
How quickly things can change. One day things are heading one direction, and in the blink of an eye, something radical happens. And the direction we were taking literally changes overnight. The Covid-19 pandemic has knocked the world off its axis, as I said last week, and the direction we’re headed right now doesn’t feel very promising and certainly doesn’t feel good. Short-term plans have been altered. With these new realities hitting, we’re all facing the fact that many of our long-term plans will be changed as well. In the midst of it all, these shifts and changes are not just happening to us, but to the entire world. So…
What do we do?
Where do we turn?
Where does our hope come from?
Before I try my best to answer these questions, let me share a few of my observations about our realities. There are some positives in the middle of the darkness. One of those being family engagement. I’ve never seen more families out walking in our neighborhood or around the lake like I’ve seen in the last few weeks. For us personally, we’ve never walked after dinner more consistently as a family than we have in the past week or so. A second bright spot is that our prayers have never been more specific and focused than they have been in the last few weeks. I’d also say our gratitude and thankfulness has ever been more expressed.
But in the midst of the good, there have come significant challenges as well. My oldest daughter, Reia, is a senior, and basically, all things that come with being a senior in high school have been wiped away. One very specific thing is that she has spent the past two years in a pre-nursing program that would provide a significant certification for her, and that opportunity is gone. This is pretty disappointing, and we hate this for her. While it may seem small in comparison to what we see on TV or hear from others, it’s very real to us, and to my daughter. I think it’s important not to minimize our problems and situations. God cares deeply about us, and He desires to bring comfort to us in the midst of our lives whether we are facing big or little disappointments.
As I write this, the United States has seen more than 185,000 infections and over 3,800 deaths. The White House just released a grim projection: the Coronavirus outbreak could lead to as many as 240,000 deaths. This weighs heavy on me, and I’d imagine it weighs heavy on you as well. I have faced more emotional swings these last few weeks than I can remember but at the same time, I actually have more faith and hope than ever. I know, those don’t seem to go well together, but I’ve found that they actually do. The reality we face is this —The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed that we’re not in control. This pandemic has brought the reality, front and center, that finding our peace and comfort from things of and in this world doesn’t work. What we’re facing exposes the internal crisis that might have been masked or hidden when all things appeared to be “peachy” all around us.
A few days ago I found that these new pressures, stresses, and challenges were exposing areas in my life that needed some attention. Areas of my life that had been masked by comfort and a cushy life that I needed to address. These areas didn’t need a Facebook kind of Jesus, but for me to press into who Jesus is, what Jesus did, and who I’ve believed Jesus to be. As I say this, I think it’s important to stress that I haven’t figured all of this out. I have a long way to go, and some areas that still need to be exposed. I still need to grow in significant ways. Paul’s words here should be a model to us all, as well as bring comfort and clarity as Christ followers.
“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” - Philippians 3:13-14 NIV
So, let’s get back to my earlier questions. In the midst of all the global shifts and changes happening, what do we do, where do we turn, and where does our hope come from? This is what I journaled on Tuesday. I pray that it brings you hope, peace, and clarity, and that it strengthens your faith.
Who is Jesus?
(v15) He is the divine portrait, the true likeness of the invisible God, and the firstborn heir of all creation.
> Jesus is a masterpiece painting of God himself. The invisible God we can not see was divinely revealed with Jesus. The firstborn heir is not the “firstborn.” This is not a title, and it’s an event. Jesus is technically before time, God.
Was Jesus God? Really?
(v16a) For in him was created the universe of things, both in the heavenly realm and on the earth, all that is seen and all that is unseen.
> As the event, firstborn, Jesus created all, made all, and is master of all. In him, the universe was created.
What authority does Jesus have?
(16b) Every seat of power, realm of government, principality, and authority—it all exists through him and for his purpose!
> Jesus resides and is overall. He created all, sits overall, and it all exists through him for his purpose. This one does give me some pause, and I have lots of questions. So many questions around government authorities living for Jesus' purpose. I can’t wrap my mind around some of our current and historical leaders and what purpose they have or brought. But I trust God!
In the beginning, Jesus?
(v17) He existed before anything was made, and now everything finds completion in him.
> Jesus, as firstborn, is God. He was God and will always be God. The Holy Trinity existed before time and space, and this dimension we reside in. And here we read that not only did Jesus create it all, he also completes it all.
Jesus and the church?
(v18a) He is the Head of his body, which is the church.
> The body of Jesus is the church. This sounds odd to me but does paint a picture. The body is made up of so many parts, and this shows diversity and uniqueness. The church should be diverse and different, but at the same time, reflect the character and nature of Jesus.
Jesus is the winner.
(v18b -19) And since he is the beginning and the firstborn heir in resurrection, he is the most exalted One, holding first place in everything. For God is satisfied to have all his fullness dwelling in Christ.
> I loved seeing Jesus as the winner, holding the gold medal. To earn that prize, he died and rose from the grave. Resurrection. I suppose that would earn you a gold medal. But don't miss the second part, all the fullness of God dwells in Christ.
Jesus makes all things new.
(v20) And by the blood of his cross, everything in heaven and earth is brought back to himself— back to its original intent, restored to innocence again!
> Everything is brought back to Jesus. The broken are made whole, and all the loss is turned into gain, the stained are washed clean! The blood of Jesus cleanses all.
So much uncertainty in the world today, but there is no uncertainty in who Jesus is. Praise God, praise Jesus.
“He is the divine portrait, the true likeness of the invisible God, and the firstborn heir of all creation. For in him was created the universe of things, both in the heavenly realm and on the earth, all that is seen and all that is unseen. Every seat of power, realm of government, principality, and authority—it all exists through him and for his purpose! He existed before anything was made, and now everything finds completion in him. He is the Head of his body, which is the church. And since he is the beginning and the firstborn heir in resurrection, he is the most exalted One, holding first place in everything. For God is satisfied to have all his fullness dwelling in Christ. And by the blood of his cross, everything in heaven and earth is brought back to himself— back to its original intent, restored to innocence again!” - Colossians 1:15-20 TPT
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There are no links or articles this week to read. So, close your laptop, put away your iPad, turn off your TV, and leave your phone in another room. I recommend getting outside—go for a walk, take a drive into the country, work in your garden or yard, or dive into an art project that you’ve put off for months or years. This weekend, why don’t you try and learn a new skill.
The Book for Philippians: