Worshiping Together…Separately

Happy Lord’s Day,

There is no doubt that it feels strange to most of us not to travel to the church building this morning. We know that people, not the building, are the church. In fact, that’s why we miss gathering together as brothers and sisters in Christ even more than we miss the familiarity of our weekly gathering place.

This morning, I’m reminded of this image from a t–shirt that I saw some time ago…

While that light–hearted and humorous graphic might make us chuckle, today, we’re somber. We again find it necessary to worship together—separately—in our own homes, not because of introversion, but because of a public health crisis. We’re of good courage and faith though. We will still give God the glory that he is due and unite our hearts in the love of Jesus, our only Lord and Savior. It will just look and sound a little different than what we are used to.

I’m going to share some children’s Sunday School resources with you this morning that LifeWay has made available for churches to use in these temporary days of “social distancing.” I am working to obtain access to curriculum for adults too. As we wait for those materials, I can go ahead and share resources for both preschoolers and older children with you. I will make other resources available when I receive them.

Here is the Sunday School lesson for preschoolers in a video.

Here are some resources for older children. Below the videos are download links to an activity page, an answer page, and a presentation of the gospel.

We are working diligently on a plan to bring as much of the experience and content of a “regular” Sunday morning worship service to you as we can in the near future, using technology to better serve you. I will let you all know when we have things set up. Please be in prayer for these plans, specifically that God would remove some roadblocks that we are facing.

Beginning today, I’m asking all of you to do two things with me:

The first thing is to continue (or start) praying for a quick resolution to the COVID–19 pandemic. Below, you will find a seven–day prayer guide that you can use to focus your prayers. Over the next week, I am going to pray specifically for the needs listed. Will you join me? You may pray for each of the seven things each day, or one of the things each day. However you choose do it, please partner with me as we ask God to bring an end to this crisis.

The second thing that I want to encourage you to do with me is to read a chapter of the book of Proverbs each day, for the next 31 days. To make it really easy, I’m going to post a chapter here on the church’s website every day. I’ll also include some brief commentary, questions to consider, devotional thoughts, or some combination of those things each day.

In these difficult days, in which we cannot physically gather together, we can still pray together and read Scripture together. I look forward to seeing how God draws us closer to each other during this time.

Soon, I will also create a password–protected page for your prayer requests and praises, here on the website. You may go ahead and begin sending me prayer requests and updates. I will post them when the page goes live. You may contact me by call or text at the number listed for me in the bulletin or the church directory. You may also email them to me. Once the page is set up, I will email the password to everyone on the church’s email list. (If you are not on the church’s email list, let me know, and I will add you, so you don’t miss out on the password or any other updates that we send out.)


Day One: Proverbs 1

The Beginning of Knowledge

The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel:

To know wisdom and instruction,
    to understand words of insight,
to receive instruction in wise dealing,
    in righteousness, justice, and equity;
to give prudence to the simple,
    knowledge and discretion to the youth—
Let the wise hear and increase in learning,
    and the one who understands obtain guidance,
to understand a proverb and a saying,
    the words of the wise and their riddles.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
    fools despise wisdom and instruction.

The Enticement of Sinners

Hear, my son, your father’s instruction,
    and forsake not your mother’s teaching,
for they are a graceful garland for your head
    and pendants for your neck.
10 My son, if sinners entice you,
    do not consent.
11 If they say, “Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood;
    let us ambush the innocent without reason;
12 like Sheol let us swallow them alive,
    and whole, like those who go down to the pit;
13 we shall find all precious goods,
    we shall fill our houses with plunder;
14 throw in your lot among us;
    we will all have one purse”—
15 my son, do not walk in the way with them;
    hold back your foot from their paths,
16 for their feet run to evil,
    and they make haste to shed blood.
17 For in vain is a net spread
    in the sight of any bird,
18 but these men lie in wait for their own blood;
    they set an ambush for their own lives.
19 Such are the ways of everyone who is greedy for unjust gain;
    it takes away the life of its possessors.

The Call of Wisdom

20 Wisdom cries aloud in the street,
    in the markets she raises her voice;
21 at the head of the noisy streets she cries out;
    at the entrance of the city gates she speaks:
22 “How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?
How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing
    and fools hate knowledge?
23 If you turn at my reproof,[a]
behold, I will pour out my spirit to you;
    I will make my words known to you.
24 Because I have called and you refused to listen,
    have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded,
25 because you have ignored all my counsel
    and would have none of my reproof,
26 I also will laugh at your calamity;
    I will mock when terror strikes you,
27 when terror strikes you like a storm
    and your calamity comes like a whirlwind,
    when distress and anguish come upon you.
28 Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer;
    they will seek me diligently but will not find me.
29 Because they hated knowledge
    and did not choose the fear of the Lord,
30 would have none of my counsel
    and despised all my reproof,
31 therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way,
    and have their fill of their own devices.
32 For the simple are killed by their turning away,
    and the complacency of fools destroys them;
33 but whoever listens to me will dwell secure
    and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.”

Footnotes:

  1. Proverbs 1:23 Or Will you turn away at my reproof?

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Pastoral Thoughts:

Biblical proverbs are short, pithy statements that convey a general truth from a God–honoring perspective. This means that proverbs, as a form of expression, are often not meant to be understood as universally true (although some proverbs are obviously universally true). If we misunderstand the general form of a proverb, we will very likely misunderstand the point that it is intended to convey.

For example, most of us know Proverbs 22:6

Train up a child in the way he should go;
    even when he is old he will not depart from it
.

Now, we probably all know folks who were great, godly parents. They loved, taught, and disciplined their children well. However, as those kids became adults, they strayed far from the path of righteousness. We probably also know some parents who seemed to do all of the wrong things in raising their children, yet those children grew into fine, upstanding Christian adults. Neither of those scenarios disproves Proverbs 22:6, because it is generally true that parents who raise their children according to biblical precepts will see those children blossom into great adults.

However, if we demand that the proverb be understood as universally true, we would force it to go beyond what it was meant to teach. If we were to demand that the proverb be universally true, it might lead us to (in our own error) question the Bible when we see one of the two exceptions I mentioned above, or to make us think that how our children turn out is solely based on us as parents. In each of these cases, we would have missed the point of the proverb. Proverbs 22:6 isn’t teaching any of those things. (More on that in 21 days.)

As we read through the book of Proverbs, our goal will be to take in its truths and ponder them from a God–honoring perspective. When we do this, we will grow in our understanding of God, his design for us, and in biblical wisdom.

Questions for today:

  1. Which proverbs from chapter one were most encouraging to you?
  2. How can you implement the truths from those proverbs into your life today?
  3. Which proverbs were the most challenging to you?
  4. Will you pray right now that God would give you the grace to see his love and kindness in the hard truths that you just read?

James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” Let’s pray that God will bless us with wisdom as we read the book of Proverbs together, and that we will be able to worship side–by–side again very soon.