Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Onward Christian Soldiers"1 (Lyrics)
Acts 1:8 – You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (NIV)
I was startled when I opened an email and found a striking picture of the devil talking to Jesus.
"With COVID-19, I have closed your churches!" the devil gloated. And the response from Jesus? "Wrong! I have opened one in every home!"
I love beautiful sanctuaries, wonderful organ music, and the comfort of being with other Christians. However, the Holy Spirit is turning our focus to the places where the people are, not only in our local communities, but everywhere in the world!
As churches develop innovative ways to reach out via the Internet, I find myself challenged to discover where the Spirit may take us. For instance, a staff member of a large church with many pastors told me that they are receiving thousands of inquiries on their outreach website.
This virus is causing people to wonder about the big questions of life. Why am I here? Could I die, not having done what I could have done, perhaps what I was meant to do? Is there more beyond this life? I feel confused and lost in this new world of the pandemic. Where is God?
I became concerned about people who do not use the Internet or can't afford it. So, I asked a number of churches if they would join a "Need help?" list in the Hi-Rise Community Newspaper, which I publish here in Toronto, Canada. They would list only their pastoral phone numbers. Seven agreed, and they are getting phone calls.
Evangelism involves being willing to put ourselves out there, believing that the Holy Spirit will do the work. The apostles knew that. They went out to the towns and cites and into homes, and they took the risk of rejection, empowered by the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus promised to give them.
Now there is increasing pressure to allow churches to resume regular worship services. As this starts to happen, the challenge is whether our churches will not only continue in this new form of outreach, but build upon it, as the Spirit leads. Will we as individuals also seek to know the will of the Spirit in this matter?
Prayer: You sent Your disciples out into the world to preach the gospel to the ends of the earth. Help us to understand where the Spirit may be leading Your churches, that we will not be fearful, but trust the leadership of the Spirit. Amen.