Things to do at HOME during COVID-19 Isolation.

COVID-19 & The things we can do.

In prayerful response to the COVID-19 concern, the church at Franklin & Juniper will cancel all services for the next 2 weeks.
We will continue to evaluate & update as the situation changes.

This decision is similar to how we cancel services during times of severe weather as well as how some make the personal choice to remain home when they are sick.

For some, if their condition prevents them from doing secular activities, it will prevent them from assembling with the saints.

This is not just a local situation, nor a national. It is an international situation.

Just because we’re practicing SOCIAL DISTANCING if we must go out for groceries (or take out) it doesn’t mean we’re no longer interacting with people in other ways. We may be in ISOLATION, but this is no time to be IDLE. There are several things we can do during the time we self-quarantine at HOME.

The first thing we can do is HEAL. This virus has a 14-day incubation period. Many may be asymptomatic, meaning they have the virus but have no symptoms. Let’s take time to HEAL our bodies.

We can HEED the warnings about limiting physical contact. We can HELP the helpless. There may be some who have compromised immune systems or other risk factors. Perhaps as some gather necessities, you could look out for their needs.

Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” [Phil 2:4]

We can OPEN OUR BIBLES. Far too many have lived hectic & harried lives. While you may still be able to work from home, almost every non-essential activity has been canceled. What a great time to start that Bible Reading Program you resolved to do this year.  It only takes about 20 hours to read the New Testament. Everyone could read the entire NT during this time. (30 min in the morning & evening.

Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Chris)” [ Eph 3:4]

Another great thing we can do is we can now have MEALS with the family. This is a lost tradition in modern times. What a great way to return to this wonderful custom where we can connect & talk with our family. Resist the urge to graze all day long, eating our meals in front of electronics.

Married couples can find ways to improve their MARRIAGES. This goes beyond the physical and looks to the Spiritual.

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;” [Eph 5:25]

Let’s remember the lonely and we can connect to the lonely through MESSAGING & calls. There are some among us who were lonely before this and are now more so.

Lastly, just because the building is closed there is no reason to shut down EVANGELISM. Crisis causes many to turn to God. We see this repeatedly in Scripture. Keep you EYES & EARS open to how your friends & family talk about the present distress. As Christians we are have the comfort of God’s word that removes all fear.

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord…” [2Tim 1:7-8]

We must maintain our hope & excitement for the Lord. When unbelievers see our enthusiasm, they may want to know why. Be ready to answer. [1Peter 3:15]

Be aware of a real phenomenon called cabin fever as well as the tendency for tempers to flare during confinement. Remember to ESTEEM others better than self. [Phil 2:3]

Trust in God, although our OUTWARD man is perishing, our INWARD man can be renewed daily. [2Cor 4:16]

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;”

–Spencer

4 THINGS YOU GET WHEN YOU READ

Image result for read the bible

 

These past few weeks I’ve been encouraging us to make READING our Bibles one of our resolutions for 2020.

We began by noticing those 4 things we do that we THINK are bible study but are not:

  • LOOKING over the text but not studying it. “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” [John 5:39-40]
  • Reading AUTHORS other than God. “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” [2Tim 3:7]
  • CLASS attendance without studying at home. “And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” [John 6:35]
  • KNOWLEDGE in Social media memes which sound right but are very wrong. “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” [Acts 17:11]

Then we saw the 4 signs of a DEAD church.

  • DOCTRINE gets replaced by TRADITIONS. “Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” [Mark 7:7].
  • EDIFICATION replaced by ENTERTAINMENT. Paul asked, “What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in?” [1Cor 11:22]
  • AUTHORITY of the word is replaced with FEELINGS. These feelings come from their own belly, not from the word of God. [Phil 3:19, 2King 5:11].
  • DISCIPLINE is replaced with TOLERANCE. Paul commanded the church at Corinth to DISCIPLINE an adulterous man [1Cor 5:1-2].

Now we shall see the 4 things we get when we READ:

  • READY to defend. Peter taught that we ought to be READY to give a defense of the hope that is in us. “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” [1Pet 3:15]. Reading is what will make us READY.
  • EQUIPPED for every good work. Paul wrote to Timothy telling him that the scriptures are what shall equip us. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” [2Tim 3:16-17]
  • APPROVAL of God. Paul asked the Galatians if he were seeking the approval of men or of God. Of course, the answer is that we ought to seek the approval of God. Therefore, he said, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” [2Tim 2:15].
  • DOCTRINE of Christ. Lastly, when we read, we can know what is the mystery and the doctrine of Christ. [Eph 3:3-4; Rom 10:17]. There is only ONE SOUND DOCTRINE, and that is found in God’s written word. “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.” [2John 1:9]

As you can see, the reading of God’s word is so very powerful. It provides us with READINESS to defend, EQUIPPING for every good work, APPROVAL of God and knowledge of the DOCTRINE of Christ. When we READ, we will have all the knowledge we need for service in His Kingdom.

In 2020, let’s make reading a regular part of our day, and let’s “… grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.” [2Peter 3:18]

–Spencer

The Restoration Plea

 

IT’S BEEN WRITTEN, BY THOSE WHO lived closer to the time, that there were 6 causes leading up to the RESTORATION MOVEMENT in the United States.

  1. DISSATISFACTION with human creeds: The first was a product of the REFORMATION movement that sought to transform the Catholic church. The Protestant denominations and their leaders had been forcing creeds upon the world as tests of fellowship. These creeds became sources of strife and were at best the opinions of men. Many of the creeds contained ideas that were objectionable to thinking people. The creeds set aside the authority of Christ and kept Christendom divided.

Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?” [1Cor 1:12-13]

  1. TEACHING babies were lost because of the false teaching of total depravity. The error was taught that a person was born a sinner. That meant that babies were lost spiritually from birth. Infants were doomed at birth if ‘unbaptized.’ The dogma goes onto teach that a person was eternally lost or eternally saved as God elected them regardless of their faith. This made man a mere toy in the hands of his Maker.

Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.” [Mark 10:14]

III. THE MYSTICAL conception of conversion. Calvinistic theory teaches that every conversion had to have ‘miraculous accompaniments,’ such as a dream, vision or some other sort of mystical occurrence. It can be easily seen that this mystical theory of conversion appealed only to people who were temperamentally emotional.

Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?” [Acts 8:35-36]

  1. NEGLECTING BIBLE STUDY. Strange as it is to say, but Protestants knew very little about the bible. JD Tant, a Presbyterian preacher before becoming a Christian, was criticized for using too many scriptures in his sermons. The protestants had effectively hidden the scriptures behind their speculations as did the Roman Catholic church did with her traditions. The average denominational exhorter would more likely send you to the Psalms of David or Jeremiah to find out what to do to be saved over the book of Acts.

And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” [Acts 22:16]

  1. RAMPANT SECTARIANISM. Not only were they ignoring the Lord’s prayer for unity, they were defending denominationalism. The arguments were that denominations were needed to suit the style preferences of the people. They became blind to the theological mess their reasoning had created.

Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” [1Cor 1:10]

  1. RELIGIOUS STAGNATION and a widespread decline of morals. Perhaps because of the aforementioned problems in denominational religion, the world grew skeptical and attacks against the bible and against the Christian faith increased. Skepticism was seen in the colleges & universities of the United States and the spread of irreligious activity was enhanced. Public morals dropped, intemperance, gambling and even debauchery prevailed to an alarming degree, even among their own clergy.

It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. And ye are puffed up,” [1Cor 5:1-2a]

WHAT WAS THE SOLUTION?

The pioneers of the RESTORATION movement stood on plain & simple high ground, the word of God.

  • “Where the scriptures speak, we speak; where the scriptures are silent, we are silent.”
  • They opposed anything that could not be supported with the Authority of Christ.
  • They rejected all sectarian names and creeds. During a debate over creeds, they petitioned an unbiased Frenchman who had heard the entire debate to decide who was right. The Frenchman asked the man with the New Testament who made his creed. “Jesus Christ” was the answer. Turning to the man debating for a creed he asked the same question. The creed holder said, “it was adopted in the city of Philadelphia, in the year 1742.” The Frenchman said, “Very well gentlemen, that is enough. If you follow your creed, Mr. Christian, when you die, it will take you to Jesus Christ. Follow yours, Mr. Baptist, and when you die, you will go to Philadelphia.”
  • “Nothing ought to be received into the faith or worship of the church, or be made a term of communion among Christians, that is not as old as the New Testament.”

The ‘pioneers’ of that day were only coming to the truth that many others had already been practicing in this country. Whenever someone takes the seed of the Kingdom, the word of God [Matt 13:19] and understands it, they too can become just a CHRISTIAN when they obey the Gospel of Christ.

References: adapted from, “Sermon Outlines on The Restoration Plea” by C.C. Crawford, 1927 second edition 1956.

How does The Holy Spirit work on your heart?

While talking with a denominational preacher about reaching the lost he said, “Some people just aren’t interested in spiritual things, they don’t study and don’t have many conversations about spiritual things. In these cases, all we can do is let the Holy Spirit work on their heart.”

This man would say that he doesn’t accept Calvinism, but he was vocalizing the false doctrine. To remind you of what Calvinism teaches allow me to summarize…

  • Total Depravity: All mankind is born into sin, including babies.
  • Unconditional Election: God picks and chooses who will be saved or lost and it’s unchangeable.
  • Limited Atonement: That God picks only a few individuals to be saved and all else will be lost and you can’t change it. Including babies.
  • Irresistible Grace: That if you’re among those being chosen to be saved, then you cannot prevent it nor resist it.
  • Perseverance of the Saints: Once God saves you (even if against your will) then you can never lose your salvation ever, no matter how sinful a life you lead or even if you change your belief.

Now this is my summary of their belief and if you asked a Calvinist, he will spin it so it sounds better, but the result will be the same; IT’S UNSCRIPTURAL. Another thing you might find is that there are denominations that accept all or part of the above. Belief (faith) comes from hearing the written word of God [John 20:30-31; Rom 10:17].

A partial belief is what this preacher had accepted. He rejects most of Calvinism, but his statement, that the Holy Spirit will work on a person’s heart even as they have no interest in spiritual things, no reading, nor studying with others from the bible, proves it.

HOW DOES THE HOLY SPIRIT CONVERT?

No Bible believer questions the fact the Holy Spirit saves sinners (John 3:5), the question is HOW? We only have 2 options a) direct operation of the Spirit or b) through the influence of a medium (the Gospel, Romans 1:16).

The Scriptures teach us that the Holy Spirit’s work, in the redemption of mankind, is the work of divine revelation. God originates, Christ procures, the Spirit reveals.

Review the chart on the next page to see HOW the Holy Spirit works to save sinners. What you will find is that people are converted through the Holy Spirit revealed word of God that utilized teaching, preaching or reading of the scriptures. Yes, the Holy Spirit does work on our hearts, but He does it through our diligent study of God’s divine word.

ILLUSTRATION: When a person says, “my spouse made a nourishing dinner,” who did it? Were they nourished by the spouse or the food? If a person and an instrument perform the same task, the person is working THROUGH the instrument.Thus, the Holy Spirit saves through the influence of the written word of God [John 3:5; 1Pet 1:22-23].

The Holy Spirit converts a person when they engage in seeking the Kingdom of God, Bible reading and a diligent study of God’s word, rightly divided. [Matt 6:33; 2Tim 2:15]

4 Easy ways to improve your Bible reading

LET’S FACE IT, WE ALL could be doing a better job of reading our Bibles. It’s just that we’re very busy. Although true, it’s still no excuse. After all, we are instructed to study… “Study to shew thyself approved unto God…” 2Timothy 2:15

Instead of trying to keep pace with one of the myriad of Bible reading plans, let’s take an approach that emphasises STUDY over just reading which could work better with your own busy lifestyle.

Study for the Bible classes. The congregation here at Franklin St. church of Christ, has determined to study through the whole Bible during our two weekly Bible class hours. This will take us about 5 years to study (not just read) the entire bible. By preparing for each Bible class, you’re reading the Bible!

Study Topically. So many of us keep a bookmark of “biblical references” in our Bibles. We keep them handy so that we can refer to them when a question arises during our personal work. What’s wrong with taking a few moments each day to study through one of the topics on the bookmark? For example, you could dedicate a week (just a few moments a day) to read all of the scriptures pertaining to baptism or the plan of salvation etc. I have personally used this method to improve my readiness when doing personal work.

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” 1Peter 3:15

There are other resources you can use to engage in this type of study, topical Bibles which simply list every scripture on a given subject, as well as concordances. Other trusted resources like, “Ready Reference for Growing Christians” or “Nichol’s Pocket Bible Encyclopedia” can be very helpful in your studies. Doing this is called reading your Bible.

Read what you can, when you can. Another strategy you can use is to keep a Bible handy. Download an app on your phone, or keep a pocket Bible in your purse or in your car, so that you always have God’s word with you to read during those many moments of pause. You know those moments of pause, waiting for a doctor’s appointment, or at the orthodontists office etc. Keep a Bible in every room of your house for quick access to His word. A friend of mine keeps her Bible open on the kitchen counter (away from the sink of course) as a constant reminder to take time to read. This too is called reading your Bible.

Make an appointment with yourself and God. Someone once told me, “nothing ever gets done until a deadline is set.” Make an appointment, or set an alarm on your phone, to spend time reading His divine instruction for your life. As an examle, set a goal to read the Gospels in a month. Everyone has time to read the Gospels. Look at these stats….

Matthew:        1 hour, 14 minutes
Mark:              46 minutes
Luke:               1 hour, 18 minutes
John:               1 hour, 3 minutes
The Four Gospels:  4 hours, 21 minutes

Looking at it another way, you could read…

  • Mark in the typical span of 1 or 2 quarters of NFL football.
  • John in the time lost watching commercials in 4 hours of TV.
  • Matthew in the average span of 4 Major League Baseball innings.
  • Luke in the typical length of 1 half of an NBA game.

Please understand, I’m not advocating that you give God the crumbs that are leftover from your day, what I am saying is there are multiple opportunities, during a day, to read the bible if we would just make it a point to take advantage of the time.

Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”
Ephesians 5:16

This verse from Ephesians should serve as a warning. Let us use the time remaining to protect ourselves from the evil that vexes our souls daily. What better resource do we have to do that than God’s own Word?

8 things that happen when you read the Bible

One of the things we as evangelists work hard to do, is to get our members to READ their Bibles. I’m reminded of the great commandment that our Lord quoted from De 6:5 “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” (Mr 12:30) The rest of the passage in Deuteronomy goes on to teach, “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.” (De 6:6 ) It appears that the continued study of God’s word is connected with the very Love of God.

There is much emphasis in the Bible for all Christians to study it. With that in mind, I would like to share with you

8 things the Bible says will happen to you when you read….

…you will….

1- Gain Understanding – The Apostle Paul wrote that we could understand what he knew by revelation, “when we read”. (Eph 3:4). Luke also wrote so that we, “may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.” (Lu 1:1-4) With the instruction you will gain Instruction in Righteousness – By reading the Bible, we will have godly instruction and become “thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2Tim 3:16, 17). In Romans, Paul tells us that even the Old Testament was “written for our learning.” (Ro 15:4) When you read, you will read better, be better at business, life and Godliness.

2- Gain Utterance – “And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,” (Eph 6:19)
You will become clearer about your faith.

3- Gain confidence / boldness – When the Apostles were preaching the gospel, the prayed for boldness, “And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word,” (Ac 4:29 ). We can have boldness, not only through prayer, but through our continued study. (1Ti 4:13)
You will have more confidence to share your faith.

4- Know the Truth – “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” (Joh 17:17) The Lord promised to send a Helper, “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth:” (Joh 16:12-13) We will also recognize error.
If you know the truth, the error will become evident.

5- Be Ready – Peter tells us to “be ready always to give an answer..” (1Pe 3:15) And Paul writes, “Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” (Col 4:6) If we read, we can be prepared to share our faith.

6. Apt to Teach – The writer of Hebrews rebuked the brethren, “For when for the time ye ought to be teachers,” (Heb 5:12) There are plenty of passages about us becoming teachers, “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.” (Mt 5:14) as well as, “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,” (Eph 4:11) – Ro 12:7; Eph 4:1Co 12:28;
You will be able to, and perhaps desire to teach.

7. Believe – Our Lord and Savior said that the written word served the purpose of helping folks believe, “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God…..” (Joh 20:31)
You will become more firm in your faith.

8. Have Salvation – In the same passage He also said, “…and that believing ye might have life through his name.” (Joh 20:31) When questioned whether he would stay or go, Simon Peter answered, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (Joh 6:68) By reading, we keep His word, “Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death.” (Joh 8:51) By reading, we are showing that we are receiving His word, “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him–the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.” (Joh 12:48) By reading the Bible, you will learn what it means to “…obey the Gospel.” (1Pe 4:17)
You can be certain of your salvation.

As I wrote this, I was reminded of the quote from Mark Twain, “The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.” But his words pale in comparison to the words of God spoken through the prophet Hosea,

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.” (Ho 4:6)