A quick update from the Athens Church of Christ

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Sermon Follow-Up for Sunday, March 15, 2020
A CHRISTIAN RESPONSE TO “BAD NEWS”: A Faithful Look at Dealing with the Coronavirus.
“Even in darkness light dawns for the upright… Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever. They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the LORD.”  — Psalm 112:4-7 (abbreviated)
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  — Romans 8:28
These are certainly times like we have never experienced before in our lifetimes, where men and women are forced to modify their entire lifestyles due to the rapid spread of the coronavirus, COVID-19. But while many are tempted to act out of fear and insecurity, we, as disciples, are called to live by faith. Therefore, while the situation is serious to be sure, we must also remember that our God is in control and we, as his people, need not live in fear of anything! We need to look closer, then, at what constitutes a true Christian response to the current health crisis.
Read PSALM 112:1-8
How would you summarize the message of this passage? It is a passage of great encouragement! It offers great hope in the face of otherwise frightening times. The psalmist speaks of “light” in times of “darkness” and having “no fear” despite “bad news.” 
Who are these promises for? What, if anything, can we learn from this passage that we might apply to our modern situation? As disciples who walk faithfully in the footsteps of our Lord, Jesus Christ, we have been made righteous! We can claim the security this psalm describes!
Lesson #1 > We Should be Humbled and Reminded of Our Need for God
Read JAMES 4:13-17 > What is this passage saying?
Read LUKE 12:16-21 > What might this parable illustrate about our own ability to control what happens to us? What does it say about the tendency we have to put more faith in our own plans than in God?
How do these passages relate to what we are currently going through? What lesson do you think God wants us to take from these passages? Just 2 months ago, who among us would have ever imagined what has occurred? It just goes to show how fragile the plans, routines, and man-made structures (like our economic stability and other worldly sources of security) really are. 
As disciples, we should actually rejoice in the fact that God, not us, is in control of our lives and destinies! But for the unspiritual and unbelieving person, they are terrified of not being in control. We can thank God that we need not be tossed about by such fear… we can always turn to and rest in the refuge of our God. We should also recognize that times like these can present great opportunities to impact the lost with the Gospel. People are drawn to those who are at peace and secure when most are scared and uncertain. It is times like these when even “closed” people begin to ponder eternal and spiritual matters and are open to deep talks about God.
Lesson #2 > We Should See the Need to Nurture Our Relationship with God
Look again at Psalm 112:1-8. Who is it that is promised blessing, light in a  time of darkness, good, to not be shaken, and to be remembered by the Lord? It is the Righteous! Those who actually walk with God! 
God wants to be our refuge in times of distress! He wants us to feel the kind of security this psalm describes. But experiencing said security requires walking with God in righteousness. If you want to experience the security and peace that comes from God in times of trouble, then you need to have a relationship with God that has conditioned you to see and trust in him before the hard times come. 
Read ROMANS 8:28. 
Note what a wonderful promise this is! That for those of us who love God, we need not fear even a pandemic! We can know that all will work together for our good in the end. Our part is to keep loving God. Nurturing our relationship with God helps prepare us for this! This is why we pray, fast, study, obey, share, and fellowship. Rejoice and be confident as men and women who love God, the Lord is working all things together for your good!
Fear > This is the human reaction. But when we give into fear, we have taken our eyes off God. We begin to make unspiritual decisions because we are reacting humanistically rather than spiritually. 
Read 1 JOHN 4:18
Perfect love drives out fear. Fear thinks of self and acts to protect one’s own interest. Love thinks of others and lays down its life to protect those in need.
Faith > Read 2 Corinthians 5:7. 
What does this mean to you? It is natural to sometimes feel fear, but it is sin to be controlled by it. 
Read Joshua 1:7-9. 
What does God tell Joshua to do? What is God’s promise to Joshua? What might we learn from this passage as it relates to our current situation? Faith is obedience, which produces peace and security  in the face of fear!
Wisdom > We should not be controlled by fear, but we should be wise. Follow the directives and recommendations of health professionals and authorities. Don’t carelessly expose yourself or others to infection. And value the fellowship! Pursue contact with your brothers, sisters, and those you are reaching out to via online avenues and through texts, phone calls, emails, etc., during this time. 
We all still need the Body, and the members of the Body still need us (1 Corinthians 12:12-27). The WISE MAN AND WOMAN is deliberate and intentional in maintaining contact with brothers and sisters at times like these.
Times of crisis create opportunities for the church to shine! 
Read Matthew 5:14-16
In what ways can your light shine before men during this time? Some suggestions are:
Serve those in need (high risk), by helping with errands, etc.
Follow recommended public health precautions to protect the high risk, etc.
Pray for those affected by sickness, the illness of a loved one, or economically
Help those affected economically to the degree that you can
Walk through “open doors” the circumstances might create to share your faith in God.
Don’t be an agent of fear! Careful what you post and share with others.





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