As the storm of the coronavirus pandemic has not yet stopped, it has brought us so many chains and fetters: we cannot leave our mouth and nose exposed as we need to wear a mask every day; we need to show our health code everywhere we go; most Chinese stay put during Spring Festival and for the first time, they cannot experience New Year’s reunion... In the post-epidemic era, do you know how to deal with chains and fetters we are now facing and wonder what work God will do?
Liu Tong, senior pastor of River of Life Christian Church in Silicon Valley, the United States announced in his latest sermon that we had entered a new season of God's blessing. It had been a full year since last March 17, when California began to “escape the epidemic” at home.
The American Chinese pastor shared, “Our brothers and sisters are very excited to be able to worship in the sanctuary now. Although there is just a small group of brothers and sisters gathering, it is the beginning of a new season from God.”
Quoting Joel 2:23-25, he said, “The people of Zion means us. The autumn and spring rains represent the change of seasons. God's people should rejoice and be glad because God is bringing us into a new season. A new season is not the same as a new thing. Our God is the God who always makes something new. However, new things refer to what God does in each of us, and a new thing in you is different from that in me. But a new season means everything is going to change, it's a holistic change.”
Regarding what work God would do in this new season, Pastor Liu said, "When God works among us, he must first restore our spiritual hunger and thirst. Looking back on the past year, whether it was an assembly, prayer meeting, or gathering, it was all on the internet. We found it convenient, indeed it was, but the enemy also robbed us of the grace and blessing of God's glorious manifestation in our midst."
“God is with us all the time, but we need to understand that the presence of God in our personal lives is not the same as the presence manifested in the congregation. The Lord's manifestation in each of us is to make us personally experience his healing and guidance; but his presence in the congregation is to release his power and might to bring us healing and set us free,” he added.
He continued, "God's will is always to lead us forward into his promised land and promised grace. Although God has led us through many graces before, each new day we cannot rely on yesterday's grace. As the environment changes, God's leadership also changes. We have to follow God each day with faith and with a keen heart to follow the correction by the Holy Spirit so that we will see the work from the Holy Spirit."
“Favor is not a special favoritism from God. In fact, the Bible says that God is not partial," Liu emphasized.
He preached that Abraham was a man who won God's favor, and humanly speaking, he was not perfect. Twice he deceived people that his wife Sarah was his sister in order to protect his name. As a result, he almost had his wife taken away from him. But when God said He would give him the promised land, he obeyed God’s order before he knew where he was going.
“If we had been faced with such a situation, we would probably not have walked out even after thinking about it. Abraham was given favor not because of God's favoritism, but by following God with faith.”
Thinking back on these past 25 years about his church, he recalled that in the beginning there was nothing but simple faith, he believed that the river of life would flow from their midst to all nations and peoples. He said, “On the first day the church, we were singing ‘May your glory come here'. We have experienced many signs and wonders in these past 25 years and see God make a way in the wilderness and streams in the desert. When I am asked: ‘You are doing such a good job in cross-cultural mission, do you have special methods or strategies?' Every time I get this question I am embarrassed to answer, in the beginning we had neither a method nor a strategy. All the strategies and methods I am talking about now are from personal experience. From the beginning, we simply relied on faith, just following biblical leadership."
“Over the past 25 years we have encountered storms but we always come through with our eyes fixed on God. Whenever we failed, we always remained obedient to God's leadership and became renewed by God again and again, even in the midst of setbacks. Now, in the face of the recovery from the epidemic which is a path we have not walked before, we need God to give us strategies and make a way for us. Moreover, we need God to restore our faith in following Him.”
“No matter how much grace and works from God we have experienced in the past, we must return to God once again and follow Him with our whole heart and whole mind before we can experience His works once again in this present age”.
“The most obvious sign when God will begin to restore His people is joy.” Pastor Liu Tong said, “When people experience God’s power, they naturally begin to praise, and joy is in their midst.
This was why people longed to come into the presence of God when He began to work, because there was a satisfying joy in His presence. This joy was not from favorable circumstances, but the unspeakable joy in the heart that was full of glory.
"Some may ask ‘How can we have such joy now during the epidemic?’ The solution is that God has given us a very special anointing - the anointing of a ‘breaker’."
According to Micah 2:13, Pastor Lau said, "God gives us the anointing of a ‘breaker’, which means that God comes among us as a breaker, manifesting his glorious presence".
"He can break all the heavy yokes in our lives, he can remove all the gloom in our lives and bring us back to freedom and liberty". "Although the epidemic is not yet over, we need to believe that we have entered God's new season. The anointing of God will come upon us in a holistic way so that we can break free from the chains and fetters of the past with our thirsty hearts and faith, and have the power to overcome all."