Saturday, April 4, 2020

Sunday School April 5 Here!

Sorry for the terrible audio. It sounded fine until I uploaded it. I'll try to figure it out for nest time.

Paul made the best of his quarantine

Hey Gang!
   It's my third week of Spring Break and I am getting a taste of what retirement might be like (except when you have retired you aren't trapped in your house). We still haven't gotten together for a Zoom meeting just to hang out, but I haven't let the idea go yet. Kyle and Seth and I are working on a podcast that we hope to give a try pretty soon. I have graded papers and checked my email and the news a thousand times because the word seems to be changing every five minutes. I hope you have a handle on that.
     I want to talk to you about a guy named Paul of Tarsus from the Bible. Paul also spent some time in quarantine except his quarantine was called prison. For a righteous dude, he certainly did a lot of jail time. When Paul was stuck inside, he had an interesting approach to his long hours; he used them to serve God.
   Now, how can someone serve God locked up in jail? He wrote a series of letters commonly referred to as  The Prison Epistles.  These were the four letters Paul wrote when he was on house arrest in Rome. Three of the letters are named for the churches they were sent to in Ephesus (Ephesians), Philippi (Philippians), Colossae (Colossians), and one was named for Philemon written to a man of the same name whom Paul trusted to deliver his messages. Paul wasn't just killing time with his old-school text messages, he was addressing problems in the churches he had set up. He admonished, encouraged, called people out by name and made requests for stuff he needed. If you can get over the fact that we're reading someone else's mail, you'll find lots of instructional, encouraging, wise words in these and other books Paul wrote.
   Paul asked the question all Christians should ask who are facing tough times; "How does God want me to handle this?" Paul is a witness to all he encounters and that included those assigned to guard him. Paul writes:

12I want you to know, brothers,e that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, 13so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guardf and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. 14And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the wordg without fear.           Phil 1: 12-14

He used his time to encourage, to offer help, to offer prayer and to request it for himself. Couldn't you use some prayers? What do you need? Let everyone know. We have time on our hands! Paul encouraged his friends to make the best use of the time for Christ's sake. You can do that too. You have email, texting, Instagram, Snap-chat, yada-yada-yada! Be involved in encouraging one another in Christ.Paul says:
Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. 3At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— 4that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.5Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. 6Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. Col. 4:2-6
I'm looking forward to seeing y'all when the pandemic is under control. Pray for your nation, your leaders and those who are ill. Pray also for those who work tirelessly to treat and care for them. Also, pray fr the elders who need to ake good leadership decisions for your local church. We would appreciate it. Take care! Wash your hands! I love ya.
In Christ

Fearless Leader

Friday, March 27, 2020

God is everywhere (Even now).

    My wife is taking a deep breath after completing the first week of "e-learning" at her school. I have been grading some leftover papers and working on my Sunday school stuff on the computer. We have been making our own ice cream and candy and enjoying some quiet time now that the world has come to a halt. As I follow the news and see what my friends are doing on Facebook, I am encouraged to find that for the believers in my life at least, the idea that God is working even in this crisis has made itself apparent.

   Lots of people have wondered if God is teaching us patience. Some have wondered whether he wants us to see that we can do just fine without celebrities, pro sports and eating at a restaurant table instead of our own. Others have even wondered if God wants to punish us. I for one believe God's grace is showing itself in these difficult times. If you have been telling yourself that you would study the Bible more carefully if you just had the time, your time has come! If you are tired of doing nothing or engaging in useless activity may I make a suggestion? All around us people are suffering. Sit down with a regular old pencil or pen and start making a list of everyone who could use your prayers and begin praying. In the hard times, God does not abandon us, sometimes he waits for us to make our needs known. "Be still" remember? My wife is fond of saying that "the teacher is always quiet during the test." God is near and He still hears your prayers (and praises, and thanks, and confessions).

  The Bible is filled with verses about times of trouble.

     Proverbs 18: 10 says "the Lord is a strong tower. The righteous run into it and are safe.

     God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2  Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, 3  though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah 4  There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. 5  God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. Psalms 46:1-5

Finally, my favorite is God's promise that nothing can separate us from the Love of Christ

     Rom 8:37  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39  nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:37-39.

The Lord has this well in hand. Ask God what he would like you to do during this time. I have a hint for you; it's not to worry.

Love ya,

Fearless Leader