THE QUESTION IS - WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO? – THE ANSWER IS - STAND STILL
Bishop Melvin L. Maughmer Jr.
OPENING: - As the world has come to an unprecedented way of living, we find ourselves dealing with uncertainty, unsure of what we should do. As the coronavirus pandemic surges into every corner of life, it now is undeniable that our economical, governmental, political, and health systems are flawed. We ae faced with structural weaknesses that have made us all more vulnerable than we ever thought we could be. Hospitals closing in the middle of a pandemic. Personal protective equipment is nearly impossible to get. Toilet paper really doesn’t grow on trees. Meat processing facilities forcing workers to work despite hundreds of employees being sick with the coronavirus. Stay-at-home orders have been ordered in every state in the country to prevent the coronavirus from spreading through social contact. Public health officials have warned that social distancing measures can help flatten the curve of infections and limit the number of cases of the potentially fatal COVID-19, yet there are those that are protesting calling it a violation of their natural human rights while Health care workers stand firm in silent protest trying to protect lives and the right to live. Beaches in parts of Florida open during the outbreak and tempers flare because people aren’t practicing social distancing on the beach. Some leaders have said specifically that fitness centers, bowling alleys, tattoo shops, barbers, hair and nail salons, and massage therapy businesses can reopen as early as this week, while theaters and restaurants will be allowed to open after the weekend, however; bars and night clubs will remain closed for now despite that the same model predicts that dozens of people will die each day in the coming week if that is allowed to happen. People are worried that the economy has suffered long enough, and it needs a resurgence immediately for us to survive. It is obvious that the market will not save us. Less obvious is whether the governmental system is competent or trusted enough to take extraordinary measures to save lives, livelihoods, and economies without worrying about egotistical perspectives or self-gratification. The question everyone is asking is What are we going to do? – the answer is Stand still!!!!.
SCRIPTURES:- Exodus 14:13-14 “And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace”.
Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen; I will be exalted in the earth”.
BACKGROUND: - Our scripture in Exodus the 10 plagues have happened ending with the death of the 1st born of the Egyptians and passing over the Israelites who were covered by the blood of the lamb. Moses and the Children of Israel had left Egypt headed toward the promise land. They hadn’t made it there yet, however; they couldn’t go back to Egypt. They were faced with a seemingly impossible future the Red Sea in front of them and a deadly enemy pursuing them. The people began to complain looking at what they were facing and what was coming after them wondering what are we going to do – when in the midst of uncertainty, confusion, and fear God said Stand Still.
TEXT: - The nation and the entire world is now in that place of what are we going to do? There hasn’t been a cure yet for the coronavirus and we can’t go back to life the way it was before Covid-19. We are faced with the dilemma of are we going to open the country or keep it closed for a while longer? Medical experts say it is vital to keep the country closed and that people maintain the stay at home in order to continue to fight against the Coronavirus, yet there is a lot of propaganda from others saying it is a conspiracy designed to destroy political strategies. The death tolls are still rising dramatically day by day and new and puzzling developments are happening that has the medical profession literally scratching their heads. A seemingly healthy woman who died suddenly and it was believed she had a heart attack has been proven to be the first fatal victim of coronavirus as the medical profession confused. Then a remark is made that sunlight and disinfected can cure the virus which in all reality would cause poisoning. In a time where social distancing has become the new catch phrase and families are getting closer than they have been in a long time the country and world is yet becoming more and more divided racially, economically, politically, socially, and medically.
There are some in this nation that might seem like they have it all together. They have everything they need and everything they desire. They haven’t suffered any effects from the current situation and are literally going through this pandemic skipping, smiling, and happy because everything in their life is ok. They are Financially free, Emotionally elated, Physically fine, Relationally relaxed and the only thing they suffer from is being bored because they are not able to go and do what they want to do when they want to do it.
However; there is the rest of the world that is going through, everything isn’t fine. They’re not financially free, but financially frustrated, emotionally emasculated, physically debilitated, relationally ruined, mentally messed-up they are struggling to maintain life while living on the restrictions that are set in placed, unable to visit family members in nursing homes and hospitals and even attend funerals of those that have died either from the result of coronavirus or other reason because of social distancing. There are the healthcare workers that must be on the front lines testing and trying to save the lives of the people while making sure they themselves stay safe and protected from the coronavirus ensuring they don’t bring anything home to their family members.
We are in this place between there and there, life before coronavirus and life after coronavirus we are living in this place of uncertainty and unfamiliarity and it is here, we begin to ask God like David said in Psalm 13 “How long Lord wilt thou hide thy face from me…”
Although the situation may be a little different and have a different name It is within this place that we all must go through at some time or another, it just so happens that the entire world is going through this one at the same time.
Noah went through it, it was called the flood, Abraham went through it, it was called the Mount of Moriah, Moses went through it, it was called the desert experience, the Israelites went through it, it was called the wilderness, Elijah went through it, it was called Zarephath, the 3 Hebrew boys went through it, it was called the fiery furnace, Daniel went through it, it was called the lion’s den, Paul went through it, it was called prison, John went through it, it was called Patmos, and you and I must at some point go through this place our personal wilderness experience, and now the world is going through it and it is called Covid-19/Coronavirus.
Understand that every place that has been gone through has been for a purpose.
Understand that this is the place that God is developing our character. Martin Luther King once said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy”. Yes, this pandemic has changed how we live, tested faith, tried patience, cost jobs, and taken life but it is also developing character.
Character: one of the attributes or features that make up and distinguish an individual a feature used to separate distinguishable things into categories; a group or kind so separated, the detectable expression of the action of a gene or group of genes, the aggregate of distinctive qualities.
During this time God is telling the church 1st Peter 2:9 “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” Even though we are going through we still must praise Him for He is worthy to be praised.
To the world in general he is saying Matthew 22:36 – 40 “……. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets”. He is showing the world it’s all about Love.
UNDERSTAND: - Character is made in the obscure times of life and built in a lifetime. Reputations are built in a moment. Reputation is what man says about you, Character is what the angels says about you. Reputation is the form of godliness, character is the power thereof, reputation is like the shadow, but character is like the tree. When you succeed momentarily it is because of what you know, when you succeed temporarily it is because of what you do, when you succeed permanently it is because of what you are.
The reason that we are experiencing the wilderness, the reason we are between there and there is because God is working on us, He had to first get our attention, draw us closer to Him, and then work on our character. He is trying to get you to a point that you are able to stand in the midst of a challenge and controversy with comfort and confidence, not in the ability of man, not in what you think you know, not in economical, political, or military might but because of who and whose you are.
WATCH THIS: - If we look at Moses in the book of Exodus the 14:15 “And the Lord said unto Moses Wherefore criest thou unto me? Speak unto the children of Israel that they go forward.” Understand that Moses at this point was not praying, he was not calling on the name of the Lord saying O Lord we know that you are able to deliver us from out of the hand of Pharaoh, He wasn’t saying Lord we know that you didn’t bring us this far to leave us, Lord we know that you are a way maker and that you are able to do exceeding abundantly above all we ask or think, so Lord we need you to come by here and deliver us this day from out of the hands of our enemies. I don’t believe he told the children of Israel though he slay us yet will we trust him. There was no song being sung, no hands being clamped, or no scripture being quoted I believe he stood there in that place, the place between the Red Sea and Pharaoh with a dumb look on his face, here they had given up some things believing God for some things, but hadn’t yet come into those things, and they were now in this place talking about LORD NOW WHAT. The Red Sea is in front of us; Pharaoh is coming behind us Lord What Are We Going To Do.
Sometimes we get a dumb look on our face, we can’t figure out what is going on. The news outlets have us confused, the medical reports scare us, the governmental system has us running around in circles and we find ourselves with a look of uncertainty on our faces.
There’s nothing wrong with getting a dumb look on your face, because that just lets everybody else know that you know, you don’t know what in the world to do. Now Lord it’s totally up to you.
We are at the point where the world asking the question what are we going to do? Do we open the borders? Do we get back to life as normal? We are faced with a situation that causes our leaders to understand that the well-being of the people must be based of medical data and not egotistical propaganda. It is a time to stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.
Someone may say but if we stand still the economy will collapse, if we stand still business will never recover. If we stand still the political structure will fall. If we stand still, we will die. What benefit is there if we stand still?
When we stand still, God can teach us something. So many times, we think we have all the answers, we think I know exactly what to do, we think I got it all under control only to realize that we mess things up. If we would just stand still and watch God be God. Isaiah 40:31 “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Strength is renewed when we wait – stand still. When we stand still God teaches us patience. Patience is a fruit of the Spirit that comes as we learn to yield to the Holy Spirit. Developing and growing in patience is a process that cultivates and shapes our character, transforming us from our human nature, into the likeness of Christ.
When we stand still, we can listen to God. Listening to God is like listening to anyone else before you can hear Him, you must be ready to listen. Just as in any other conversation, you cannot hear the other person if you are talking or if your mind is distracted. So, we must stand still and listen to God speak just like Moses did. Moses listened for the Lord’s instructions. He realized that without listening to God, he couldn’t get where God wanted him to go. Without God’s instructions, his leadership, his guidance we cannot be successful moving forward. If we want to be successful, save lives, save the economy, gather together again in worship and beat this pandemic we need to stand still and listen to what God has to say.
When we stand still, we let God do the leading. WATCH THIS: - Moses didn’t lead the people out of Egypt. It was the Lord. Exodus 13:21 says “And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night”. The Lord led them Moses was just following instructions. We need to just follow instructions from the Lord and listen to how He is speaking either through the preacher or through the Doctors, the Medical professionals and let Him lead. It doesn’t matter what folk say you ought to do, it doesn’t matter what it looks like to folk, what matters is the we stand still and let God lead.
We need to stand still and let God be God in our lives in our world and in this current situation and see miraculous things happen. Daniel was told that if he prayed to any God but the king, he would be thrown in the lion’s den. But Daniel decided to stand still and pray to God anyhow and because he decided to stand still God performed a miracle and shut the mouths of the hungry lions.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were told, either bow down to the golden image or be thrown into a fiery furnace, they decided to “stand still.” Daniel 3:16-18 “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up”. Verse 24-28 “Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, came forth of the midst of the fire And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king's counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king's word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God Because they stood still”. If we stand still and let God be God when this is all over, we are going to come out of this miraculously. People will be wondering how did you make it through that and not be even a little bit scared and you can simply say because I stood still and let God be God therefore, I don’t look like what I been through.
Paul and Silas were in jail, they had been beaten and at midnight they decided to stand still and pray and sing praises to the Lord. Sometimes standing still means giving God praise in the midnight hour. This is the midnight hour and it’s time to stand still and praise the Lord. If we just stand still Fred Hammond said, “Late in the midnight hour God’s going to turn it around and around”.
Jesus stood still. When they talked about Him, he just decided He would stand still. When they lied on Him, he just decided He would stand still. In the Garden of Gethsemane, he decided to stand still. When they marched him from judgement hall to judgement hall, he decided to stand still. When they nailed Him to the cross, He decided to stand still. He died and was buried. Stayed there 3 days. But early Sunday morning. He got up with all power in His hands.
We don’t sing songs like this to much anymore but remember the song Victory Victory shall be mine. The lyrics are: - VICTORY, VICTORY SHALL BE MINE VICTORY, VICTORY SHALL BE MINE IF I HOLD MY PEACE LET THE LORD FIGHT MY BATTLES VICTORY, VICTORY SHALL BE MINE.
CLOSING: - Only when we stand still will we learn that God is in control. We need to pray Lord, help us to stand still and not strive, to stand still and focus on you, to stand still and listen to you, to stand still and be led by you. Teach us to wait without grumbling and complaining. Guide us where you will have us to be and not where we want to be. Give us the patience to wait on you and the promise of victory that is only able in you. Hear our cry, O God; attend unto our prayer From the end of the earth will we cry unto thee, when our heart is overwhelmed: lead us to the rock that is higher than us For thou hast been a shelter for us, and a strong tower from the enemy. Help us Lord to live Lamentations 3:25-26 which says “The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD” in Jesus name”.
Bishop Melvin. L. Maughmer, Jr.