()Across the country (and truly the world) right now we are dealing with a varying degree of social distancing. Because of this many churches have followed the advice and recommendations of the CDC to close their doors. However (and here's the awesome part!), churches around the country have began flooding the internet with Bible studies and worship services in an effort to continue ministering to their flock, neighbors and community.
Now we have a choice. We get to choose where we place our focus. We can either focus solely on trying to quell the cabin fever we will inevitably begin to feel, or we can focus on the beautiful opportunity we have before us!
As Paul was closing out his letter to the Church at Phillipi, he wanted to remind them to focus and think about the right things.
"In conclusion, my brothers and sisters, fill your minds with those things that are good and that deserve praise: things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and honourable.", Phillipians 4:8, GNB
So your focus matters! Lets take a look at some of the things you can do as a family to keep Jesus central to your quarantine.
1. I have suggested this site to you before. Here's your chance to try them out for free! Because they know many churches are closing their doors, they recognized that families will possibly no longer have access to children's Bible study and worship services. It may be hard for younger children to focus on an adult worship service. To that end, they are offering some of their worship and devotions for free. Here's the link: https://www.gominno.com/lp/church-at-home/
2. Use this time wisely! One of the reasons so many of us busy parents don't have Bible studies with our kids at home is time. We are always on the move so we don't have the time to plan and read scripture with or to our kids. During this time that everyone and everything is shut down we have nothing BUT time! Let's use it to God's glory!! Since Easter is coming up, you could start there.
3. SWAG FB page. We have started two different video series. Molding the Clay is our series for our youngest SWAG members (Clay: preschool). A number of guest readers will read a Bible story from Jesus Calling: Storybook Bible by Sarah Young. You can use this as your bedtime story for your little ones. For our elementary (Fearless, k-5) aged members, we've started Fearlessly Focused. These videos are about 10-15 minutes in total. During these we will walk through a Bible lesson. Feel free to use the video as a starting point for a deeper conversation about the truth of God's Word.
4. Get your kids up and moving!! SEEDs is another ministry that I've suggested to you before. They have many videos on YouTube of worship music and scripture set to music.
5. Google!! Easter is one of the holidays that makes me concerned as a parent. I've always wanted to make sure my kids know the importance of what we celebrate on this holiday. It isn't about chocolate, or bunnies, or spring or even eggs. It's about the resurrection of Christ! The tomb was EMPTY!! Use google to find easy crafts and Bible studies to focus your minds on this truth!
6. As a family, set a goal of how many verses you'd like to memorize together. Set up a chart on the refrigerator with everyone's name on it. As a family member is able to recite a verse, place a mark next to their name. See who can recite the full number first!
These are just a couple things that your family can hopefully use to bless your time together. Don't forget to discuss GRACE. With families being this closely packed in with each other, it will be easy for everyone to lose grace and kindness toward each other. Use this time to discuss the beauty of God's grace toward us and how He expects that we respond to each other the same way.
During our last family devotion we studied the rebellion of the sons of Korah in Numbers 16. Our conversation fairly quickly turned to the lack of respect these men had for the authority dictated to Moses and Aaron by God. We started talking about ways that we quite often will disrespect those in authority over us. Great conversation for sure!
As the kids later began getting ready for bed, I began to think about how often I (as a role model for my kids) don't respect those in authority over me. The times that I fail to give them their full due or rather than build them up and make their jobs easier, I backbite, complain or only begrudgingly submit. God's response in this story to these disrespectful Israelites, was swift and unmistakable. Throughout scripture we see that even when the person in authority seems to not get it, or they seem to be doing the opposite of what God would want, we still are expected to honor the authority given them by God.
Flip over to 1 Samuel 24,
"3 He came to the sheep pens along the way; a cave was there, and Saul went in to relieve himself. David and his men were far back in the cave. 4 The men said, “This is the day the Lord spoke of when he said to you, ‘I will give your enemy into your hands for you to deal with as you wish.’ ” Then David crept up unnoticed and cut off a corner of Saul’s robe.
5 Afterward, David was conscience-stricken for having cut off a corner of his robe. 6 He said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, or lay my hand on him; for he is the anointed of the Lord.” 7 With these words David sharply rebuked his men and did not allow them to attack Saul. And Saul left the cave and went his way.", NIV
So prior to this David had been annointed to be the next King of Israel. For this reason (among others), Saul was not a fan of David and wanted to take his life. So David was on the run trying to keep from dying at the hands of this current crazed King of Israel. Saul gets an intelligence report saying that David was in the area. While out looking, he pulls over to use the restroom in a cave. This is when David finds him. This man who was out to kill him was indisposed in his presence. Rather than using self defense as the reason that he killed Saul, David cuts off a piece of Saul's robe and immediately feels bad for having done this. Take a look at why,
"6 He said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, or lay my hand on him; for he is the anointed of the Lord.” 7 With these words David sharply rebuked his men and did not allow them to attack Saul. And Saul left the cave and went his way.", NIV
Clearly, David was not in agreement with all that Saul did. His conscience wasn't stricken because of Saul, but rather the fact that Saul was God's annointed. In other words, because God had raised this man up to be in authority over him, David honored him and for this reason alone.
I want to model that kind of honor for my children. I want them to be the kind of people who honor and respect those in authority for no other reason than God placed them there.
Homework: Numbers 16, 1 Samuel 24, Romans 13
Have you ever felt insignificant? I mean just think about how many people currently live on Earth, (according to google, you are 1 in 7.8 BILLION). We don’t even have the capability to estimate how many people have ever lived on Earth! I constantly struggle with feelings of insignificance, and yet for some reason I’m still here. I choose to believe that this is by design, not accident. I choose to believe that God has a specific reason for my continued existence, and its bigger than just me.
I thought about this the other day as my son and I were doing some study in preparation for the upcoming Bible Bowl. (Shameless plug, start reading 2 Kings with your kids now! We can win this thing!!) So as is the story throughout most of the Old Testament, Israel had sinned continually by turning away from serving the one true God; so God allowed their enemies to oppress them. Because they were His, when they cried out, He came for them even though He knew they hadn’t truly repented of their wrongs. They were primarily crying out in their pain. Anyway, back to the saving part. Take a look at this verse,
“The Lord provided a deliverer for Israel, and they escaped from the power of Aram. So the Israelites lived in their own homes as they had before.”,
2 Kings 13:5, HCSB
I’m so used to seeing the heroes named that I passed over that verse the first few times that I read it. Eventually, however, I noticed that this person who did a magnificent work for God’s people is not named in scripture! When we get to heaven and this person introduces themselves to you, you will have no clue who they are in history!!
There are probably a great many reasons as to why God the Spirit didn’t illuminate this name for the writer. One I can think of, is that this (along with all the great stories in scripture and life) are really about God’s ability, not some human who’s just following orders. However, regardless the reason, we can’t miss the fact that they did a marvelous work on behalf of God’s people!
Are you a nameless face? Perhaps to some. But you’re not nameless to the One who created you. There is a great work placed before you. If you are a parent, I believe that at least part of that work calls you “dad” or “mom”. So let’s get to work!!