Sweden – Linda Johnson

Feb. 10 – There’s a disease worse than coronavirus – it’s called sin and it will confine you to hell for eternity. John 3:19 sets the stage for man’s condition. It says that light has come into the world but men love darkness because their deeds are evil.

Since the time of Adam and Eve, God has not been willing for anyone to perish. So He devised a plan. A plan, a grand design, to make a way for any who want to escape the punishment for sin. But, first, it’s necessary to believe the Bible. Believe what it says, believe it to the core of your being. Then, according to II Corinthians 5:17, believers become new. The verse says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

There it is, the opening of the sermon. Pastor Josh referred to it as the pre-sermon. Probably because it lasted for upwards of ten minutes. It’s fair to say that he was setting the stage for those of us within earshot. He talked about the coronavirus, those who are stranded, the sick and dying, the ones confined to their rooms on cruise ships and what people are willing to do to keep it contained. Then, the question: “Wouldn’t you be willing to do whatever you needed to live?”

Religion is not a fad. It’s not something that is done on Sunday and then tossed aside. It’s not something to run to when times are bad and then pushed aside once the trauma has passed. It’s not something to please your family, neighbors, boss or anyone else. There has to be a change. If there is no change, no real change, you are lost. You’re not in Christ.

Jonah didn’t want to go to Nineveh. He took off for the far reaches of the known world. God had no desire to let Jonah die in that whale. Jonah had a change of heart. It’s in Jonah chapter 2. He said, “Salvation is of the Lord.” and the Lord spoke to the fish and Jonah was spit out on dry land.

The Prodigal Son wound up wallowing with the pigs. He realized his sorry state and changed. Luke 15 tells us the story of both sons. The prodigal son changed direction and went home. The faithful son who remained at home grew angry and bitter. God, in his mercy, restored both to salvation.

Change has to happen. It  happened to Matthew, the tax collector, who got up from his job and followed Jesus. It happened to Zacchaeus, the crooked tax collector, who climbed a tree to see Jesus. Jesus called him down and went to his home. Zacchaeus changed. He wanted to make things right with the people he had swindled. It happened to Paul on the road to Damascus. His encounter with the Christ turned him from persecuting the Church to being persecuted for the Church.  

There’s got to be a difference. If you’re living the same way, you’re lost. Read II Corinthians 5:17 again. Believe the Bible. Become a new person. Be in Christ. Pray for the Spirit to draw you. Pray, pray, pray. God isn’t willing to lose you either.     

Pastor Strong can be  heard on our radio program which is on KKOZ 92.1 FM at 8:05 a.m. Sundays. Or, come and hear Pastor Josh live on Sunday mornings. Service begins at 11 a.m. (Sunday school is at 10 a.m.) and evening service at 6 p.m.  Bible study is Wednesday evenings at 7 p.m. Sweden Church is east of Ava about 10 miles on Highway 14 and then left onto 14-219 a quarter-mile.