Jump Start # 3501
Acts 5:42 “And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.”
Restorationist preacher Jacob Creath, Jr, wrote in his diary on Tuesday, December 9, 1862, “I rise at four o’clock in the morning. I make a fire and wash my head and feet in cold water to prevent colds, fevers, catarrh and other diseases as well as to preserve my hearing. My wife then rises and dresses herself, and we then read a chapter and pray to God for His blessing and direction. We then have breakfast between six and seven o’clock. I then take a walk abou tone mile to a wood west of me. There I spend fifteen to twenty minutes in private prayer. I then return to my house and write until one o’clock. We then dine, and I spend the afternoon in going to the post office and in visiting the members of our congregation. When my children were with me, at morning and evening devotions, I read one verse, and my wife read on verse, and each child read one verse. In this way, we read the entire Bible through more than ten times. Every family ought to maintain devotion mourning and evening” (The Life and Letters of Jacob Creath, Jr, volume one, pg 121).
Those early hours wouldn’t fit most of us. Those long prayers are great, but most do not have the time for that. Got to get to work. Kids have to get to school. So much to be done. But, with all of our modern conveniences, I wonder if we’ve missed something. Rather than having more time, we seem to have less. And, maybe we have just filled our days with insignificant and superficial matters that really do not matter.
I see in this diary entry, a disciplined believer that had some spiritual habits that set the course for his life.
Here are some thoughts for us:
First, I find it challenging, encouraging and insightful to read about the daily lives of Christians of other generations. This period in Creath’s life, as he lived in Missouri, was difficult because of the Civil War. Multiple times soldiers raided his home looking for guns and other things. He had to get signed papers to travel through armed roadblocks. His own daughter was arrested by soldiers. Yet, through this, he kept his daily practice of praise and devotion to God. Remarkable.
Second, Creath understood the responsibility and privilege of raising his children in a proper spiritual environment. Reading passages from the Bible, twice a day was an exercise that he believed in. Nothing takes the place of time in God’s word. Have we shifted all of this to our time in the church building? Are we too busy to do this? Maybe around the kitchen table, before dinner is eaten, the Bible is passed among each other and read.
Third, if this ole’ world continues on, our children and those that knew us, may reflect upon our daily habits. They won’t find me washing my face in cold water, but what would they notice? Is the first thing that happens in the morning, the TV is turned on? Emails checked? Facebook is searched? What we do each day becomes our pattern and our habits. Day in and day out, soon turns into weeks, then months, then years and finally a lifetime. One doesn’t need to flip the calendar to begin new resolutions, changes and habits. As you read those words from long ago, what impact does it have on you? Does it make you wonder what spiritual habits I have, other than showing up at the church building a couple of times a week?
Our verse today, one of many sprinkled throughout the N.T. that gives insight into the daily practice of those early disciples. Daily they were teaching. In the description of discipleship, our Lord says to “DAILY take up your cross and follow Me” (Lk 9:23). Jesus told the disciples to pray for their DAILY bread (Mt 6:11). We are to encourage one another DAILY, as long as it is called today,” (Heb 3:13). The Bereans were busy searching the Scriptures DAILY (Acts 17:11). Daily. Habits. Part of a person’s spiritual DNA.
Imagine the good that would come from a month of deep praying and reading the Bible together with your family? Imagine how your heart and your faith would grow. Maybe we’d worry less. Maybe we’d be less concerned about this ole’ world. Maybe our lives would look more and more like our Lord’s.
Enough time has passed along that river of life that most today are not familiar with the name, Jacob Creath, Jr. His life crisscrossed and intersected with the first generation of restoration preachers in this country such as Barton Stone, Racoon John Smith, Alexander Campbell, Benjamin Franklin, all giants in the early days of returning to the ancient paths. Forgotten by most, but remembered by God.