RESPONDING TO THE CORONA VIRUS!

 Today is April 19, 2020, right in the middle of the Corona Virus
lockdown.  I am sitting alone in my home office.  I want to speak a
word of welcome to you, whoever you are.  I believe you will be able
to participate and enjoy this time together. 

All of us believe the Bible is the Word of God.  We believe in Jesus
Christ as God the Son - or, if you prefer, the Son of God.  We have
committed ourselves to following Him.  We know that we do not do a
very good job of following Jesus but we are COMMITTED to going on in
spite of everything as HIS PEOPLE!
We are diverse in our nationalities, our languages, our food, and
general cultures.  But we are ONE IN CHRIST!  We are also, at this
point in time, one in separation.  We are all doing our best to spread
SAFETY by NOT meeting together.  Yet, BECAUSE fellowship (being
together) is a basic part of being a strong believer in Christ, we are
meeting virtually to try and keep each other strong and accountable.

BECAUSE WE ARE the people of the Book (the Bible) let’s look at the
Bible to see WHY Christians meet together.  Please turn for a moment
to Acts 2:42.  Acts chapter 2 tells us about the beginning of the
Church, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, and
verse 41 tells us that 3000 people came to believe in and committed
themselves to follow Jesus Christ that day.

In verse 42 of Acts chapter 2 we read that “They devoted themselves to
the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread
and to prayer.”  (NIV)  Much can be said about each of these things
but today I just want to call attention to the fact that, here in the
beginning of the church, there were apparently 4 REASONS WHY THEY MET TOGETHER.

1.  Teaching (They did not have Bibles yet; therefore they had to rely
on the Apostles to receive teaching from the Holy Spirit and give to
the rest of the people.)

2.  Fellowship - gathering together around the Teaching and just
enjoying brothers and sisters ..

3.  Breaking of bread - Most of us share the bread and wine of the
Lord’s Table about once a month.  Some Christians enjoy this time with the Lord EVERY week when they meet together.

4.  Prayer - Everything we do is prayed about and sometimes we have
special times of praying for special needs - like this Covid-19
pandemic - we really need to pray through this!

Yes, all of us are like the rest of the world = We are cooped up
inside our houses, and, if we go out, carefully wearing masks, using
handy wipes with alcohol or clorox base, and staying far away from
other people, even the people we love.   Look at me:  I left for India
and Cambodia on February 18 and returned home on March 22.  I have yet
to touch my precious wife - not even a hug - until now!

Why?  Are we afraid?  Yes.  We are afraid of passing the virus to
other people.  We are afraid of adding to the worldwide problem and
causing MORE misery instead of fighting against it.

In the April issue of DECISION magazine, Franklin Graham tells us some
things we can KNOW for these days:

(1) We can know that whatever we are dealing with, even this horrible
virus - we can know that our God will never leave us or forsake us.
Matthew 28:20 says He will be with us “..always, even to the end of
the age.”  So IS this a sign of the end of time as we know it?  I
think we can safely say that, YES, anything this widespread and
powerful is certainly an indicator that we are nearing the end.
Details on that will require more time than we can give today.  But I
think we definitely can say that God had to allow, give His
permission, for this thing to have happened.  No question that GOD is
involved in it.  And the scope of it is such that we have to believe
it indicates something pretty powerful as a message from God.  But,
whatever it is and wherever we are in it, we are not in it ALONE.  God
is walking WITH US through everything that happens to us and we can
have more peace in that!

(2) We can also know that nothing can come into our lives that will
affect God’s loving care of us.  Romans 8:35, and 37-39 speak to us
here.  “Who (or WHAT?) shall separate us from the love of Christ?
Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or
danger or sword?”  “No, in all these things we are more than
conquerors through Him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither
death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the
future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in
all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is
in Christ Jesus our Lord.”    Now THAT is a powerful encouragement to
me in these days!  I am stable in the love of God, safe in the arms of
Jesus Christ, no matter what.  If I get sick, even if I die, I am
covered.  I am in the will of God and He is taking care of ALL the
details.  I cast “...all my fears (cares) upon Him, for He cares for...” me (I
Peter 5:7).  “...in God I have put my trust; I will not fear” (Psalm
56:4).  Even for my whole family and everyone I love.  The same God
who cares for me will take care of ALL the details for everyone who
belongs to Him.

So let’s share our strong testimony in this time of fear and trouble.
Graham says.... “this can be an opportunity for Christians to be a
bold testimony for the Gospel as we refuse to cave in to the
hysteria.”  Love that cares strongly for others can cause them to see
Jesus Christ in a new light and can actually cause an even greater
spread of the Gospel worldwide.

All of us are sinners.  Jesus said He did not come to the earth to
call good people, “...but sinners to repentance” (Matthew 9:13).  God
gave His only Son so that whoever will believe in Him and receive Him
into their hearts and lives will not die in their sins but will have
everlasting, eternal life  (John 3:16 - My translation).  Death, for
the one who is committed to Jesus Christ, is just a door to Heaven.

Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life.  Whoever believes in
me, even though he physically dies, he shall LIVE.  And whoever lives
and believes in Me shall never die!”  (John 11:25-26 - my
translation).

This plague makes me believe more strongly that soon Jesus Christ will
come back for us.  Until then, think on these words,
the Lord “has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love
and a sound mind”  (II Timothy 1:7).  I need your prayers and I will
pray for you that we ACT LIKE and SHOW that we belong to Jesus in this
time of fear and dread.  We have EVERYTHING in abundance because we
have Jesus Christ!
“To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before
His glorious Presence without fault and with great joy - to the only
God our Savior be glory, majesty, power, and authority, through Jesus
Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore!  Amen”  (Jude
24).

Live in peace without fear because of Him!

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