Sunday 22 March - First Sunday in Lockdown

Dear friends,
Today is the Lord's Day and normally we would be preparing to meet together and to worship 
our God and Saviour  at Emmanuel. In these strange times that is not available to us. We regularly pray for persecuted Christians who are not able to meet together. We now find ourselves in a similar situation, in that although we are not persecuted, we are not able to meet in church either and this experience  will help us understand better how they must feel. We have the advantage though that we can pick up the phone and talk to each other about the Lord and encourage one another in our faith.
Today is also Mothering Sunday. There will be many who had hoped to visit their Mothers today, and Mothers who had expected a visit. Thank God there is still the phone and Skype etc. which allows contact to take place. Let us also thank our Heavenly Father that He knows all our individual circumstances.  And let us take comfort in knowing that by not visiting it is helping to keep this virus at bay.

Emmanuel supports and is part of the Peninsular Gospel Partnership. It is a partnership of local Churches working together to see a Christ-centred, Bible-teaching, people-loving church available to every community in Cornwall and Devon. The following is an article that they published during the past week, and I thought it would be helpful to share it with you. I have included some of the Bible verses quoted, others you may care to look up yourself. This is a slightly modified version of the original article.

Coronavirus and the Christian

15 truths to shape our thinking…

1    We still have God as our Father, and live under his daily care, provision & protection .
          (Isaiah 43:1   But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine., Luke 12:7, Psalm 34:4-6).
2    Our Father is still in control of his world, and of every single thing in our lives.
         (Matt 10:29   Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.  Psalm 115:3).
3    Our infection depends not on statistics or risk factors or age, but on the Lord’s  permission to allow it .
        (Isaiah 45:7   I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the Lord, do all these things., Job 2:4-7).
4    Fear the Lord more than Coronavirus, and love the Lord more than health.
         (Luke 12:4-5    “And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!, Mark 8:34-35).
5    Sin is far more deadly, keep staying clean of that more than infection.
        (Rom 6:23    For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord., Isaiah 1:4-6).
6    Beware of how fear can drive us to self-centredness (& stockpiling!), so keep serving & caring for other as they deal with the virus. Share resources. Be generous.
         (Acts 4:34-35   Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, 35 and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need.).
7    Read the Scripture and think on God’s word more than obsessing about the latest news! 
        (Col 3:16   Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. ).
8    Give thanks for God’s gracious provision of the NHS, wise medical advice & government care.
         (James 1:17   Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.).
9    Pray for our government and leaders around the world.
         (1 Tim 2:1-2 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men,   for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence).
10    However let your ultimate sense of safety & comfort come more from the Lord’s care & control, than the government & NHS .
            (Ps 44:6   For I will not trust in my bow, Nor shall my sword save me., Isaiah 33:1).
11    In God’s mysterious plan, the appearance of this virus will be one of God’s means to make us dependent on him .
            (2 Cor 12:8-9   Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. ).
12    The reality of Coronavirus can wean us off worldliness as it reminds us of the falseness of this world, the reality of death and the temporary nature of everything here 
            (Rom 8:22-23   For we know that the whole creation groans and labours with birth pangs together until now. 23 Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. ).
13      My ultimate hope isn’t to be free from infection, but to be found in Christ and glorifying him .
            (Phil 1:20-23   according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labour; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. ).
14    What my mind meditates on is worship - beware a mind overrun and obsessed by fears and anxieties about infection. 
            (Phil 4:8   Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. , Mark 4:18-19).
15    Our true hope isn’t health in this world, but the face of God forever .
            (Rev 22:1-4   And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. )

A prayer.
Lord God and Heavenly Father, you are our creator and sustainer, and we know that you are in control of everything. We praise you for our salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ. We commit our daily lives and those of our families and friends into your hands. Keep us all in your love. Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,  To God our Saviour, Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, Both now and forever. Amen.

Do you need any help? Errands run or shopping done?
I have heard from Andrea (513 973 and 07854 829 468), Babs (577 883) and Vicki (519 647), all of whom have offered to help.
And remember, wash your hands and keep your distance.

God bless you all,