As my dear friend, Debbie Cope, and I were discussing the long-term ramifications of COVID-19 on our society, along with the apparent fear factor that has seemingly taken affect among so many, I was compelled to ask her to share a word of encouragement with those who waver in faith and to include it as closing remarks in this week's By His Grace column.

As my dear friend, Debbie Cope, and I were discussing the long-term ramifications of COVID-19 on our society, along with the apparent fear factor that has seemingly taken affect among so many, I was compelled to ask her to share a word of encouragement with those who waver in faith and to include it as closing remarks in this week’s By His Grace column.

As I read Debbie’s message, I knew it had to be shared in its entirety. It reminded me of the lyrics: “Oh, when the saints go marching in, oh, Lord, I want to be in that number when the saints go marching in.”

Debbie’s heart for you and me is complete with the love of God. May her words draw you closer to him and be blessed…Edith

At a time when everything in the news is all about the numbers (contracted and/or died of the virus) in regards to COVID-19, let us be reminded of a few number-facts throughout scripture with just as much significance, specifically the number 40.

According to the Bible the rain of Noah’s days lasted 40 days and 40 nights. Moses was 40 years of age when he fled Egypt. He stayed on Mount Sinai 40 days and 40 nights to receive the Ten Commandments. The Exodus of the Israelites lasted 40 years. Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights on the Mount of Temptation in the Judean Desert. And there are 40 days of “fasting” between Carnival Season and Easter. So, what’s with the number 40 in the Bible, you ask?

Well, theologians believe that the number 40 represents “change”…it is the time of preparing a person (or a people) to make a fundamental life change.

As disheartening as our current situation is with this pandemic, especially during this time of self-quarantine -- better known as shelter-in-place, allow me to remind you God is still in control. Where less mindless rushing from one occasion to another leads to even less time to take-in a deep breath and clear our thoughts. The inhabitants of the earth are now able to momentarily “pause” as we put God first once again. Please do not misunderstand, I am not alluding that God caused this pandemic. What the enemy meant for evil in the form of the virus has caused many who would not have otherwise to turn toward the Lord for answers.

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

In the Bible, whenever the number 40 appears there is always “a change” that follows. We are creatures of habit and, therefore, do not easily adjust to change. But maybe (just perhaps) this “change” we all are currently experiencing will allow us to return to quality family time and quiet time together in prayer. By allowing change to re-shape us it will be of great blessing as we are more clearly able see the changes that God can work in us and through us and beginning at home. Ecclesiastes 3:1-11 explains there is a “time for everything;” but, more importantly, in verse 11 God’s word promises that He makes everything beautiful in its time - in those “times of change.”

Friend, will you allow the Lord to make something beautiful of your life? Allow Him to be the “change” that you’ve been searching for. You can have the blessed assurance of knowing that you are counted in God’s number by inviting Him into your heart today.

“Therefore there is now no condemnation [no guilty verdict, no punishment] for those who are in Christ Jesus [who believe in Him as personal Lord and Savior]."

Perhaps you have walked away from your commitment to serving God. It’s not too late for you to be counted in God’s number as well for you see he sent his only begotten Son so not one should perish but have everlasting life.

“Don’t overlook the obvious here, friends. With God, one day is as good as a thousand years, a thousand years as a day. God isn’t late with his promise as some measure lateness. He is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End because he doesn’t want anyone lost. He’s giving everyone space and time to change.”

Time is running short as Jesus return is imminent. Are you willing to surrender your life to the Lord who is waiting and longing to hear from you?

Romans 10:13 in The Message version reads: Scripture reassures us, “No one who trusts God like this—heart and soul—will ever regret it.” It’s exactly the same no matter what a person’s religious background may be: the same God for all of us, acting the same incredibly generous way to everyone who calls out for help. “Everyone who calls, ‘Help, God!’ gets help.”

Why wait 40 days, 40 hours or even another 40 minutes longer; take that step of Faith now.

“Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near.”

If this is your desire, please repeat this simple prayer with me:  “Dear God, I know that I have sinned against You and am deserving of punishment. Right now, I repent of my sins and turn to follow You. I confess that Jesus Christ died for my sins, and is risen for my salvation, that I may have eternal life. By faith, I accept Jesus as my personal Savior and I ask You to help me to live for You from this day forward. In the wonderful name of Jesus, my Lord, I pray – Amen.”

Friend, if you have just invited Jesus to be Lord of your life, please follow-up by attending a Bible-believing church in your community for spiritual guidance in this new walk of faith. 

Congratulations for making this best decision in your life!

Be blessed, and be a blessing to others on your faith journey; Shalom, my friend ~

Guest writer Debbie Cope, Director of Ladies’ Ministry of Christian Assembly in Schriever.

Bible references: Genesis 6:9–9:17; Acts 7:23; Exodus 24:18; Joshua 5:6; Luke 4:1-14; Romans 8:1; Genesis 50:20: 2 Peter 3:9 MSG; Isaiah 55:6. To obtain the full benefits of each verse, please read the five verses before and after each verse.

Contributing Writer Edith Nevis can be reached at 857-2200 or at edith.nevis@houmatoday.com.