Derek Smith, Lead Pastor LHBC
42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
In Shakespeare’s Hamlet we read the famous quote, “To be or not to be, that is the question.” During this COVID-19 situation the prevailing question is “essential or non-essential?” I am so grateful to our doctors, nurses, and first responders who are on the front lines battling this disease. They put themselves in harm’s way every time they care for someone with symptoms and they do it willingly. What heroes at a time like this! I am also grateful to those who work at places like Walmart, Kroger, Publix, Sams, and other retail stores that sell groceries and other items the American public relies on daily for survival. The Lord is our Provider, but we sure do count on these folks to help us procure these necessities. We owe them all a big “thank you.”
All this talk about essential and non-essential businesses and services has really got me thinking about the Church, our faith, and what is truly essential. Right now our church buildings, well organized programs, and well planned out productions seem a little non-essential. So, what is essential?
In Acts 2 we see the New Testament church in its purest form and those things which I believe are the essentials of the faith. The first essential is the Word of God. The continual study, teaching, and application of God’s Word to our lives is essential. The early church immersed themselves in the teachings of the Scriptures from the Apostles, and so too we must double down on the study and teaching of God’s unchanging word at a time like this. Second is prayer. Prayer is absolutely essential all the time. The early believers were desperate for the wisdom and manifest presence of the Holy Spirit, and we should express the same daily desperation.
Third, we see the relationships within the Christian community were and are essential. Even though we cannot meet together in large groups right now, nothing is keeping us from calling each other, checking on each other, praying for each other, and helping each other. This includes breaking bread from house to house and giving financially to help those in need. Many in the body of Christ have lost jobs or at least been temporarily furloughed as a result of this disease. Some feel unsafe to venture from their homes. It’s a perfect time for us to be the church and help one another. Cook a meal and take it to that family’s house from your lifegroup. Give financially to your church so that missions, ministry, and meeting needs can continue. Send some money to help that brother or sister who has lost a job. Call or text each other and give scriptural encouragement. That’s the kind of stuff that is essential and makes an eternal difference.
Lastly, sharing the hope of the gospel with everyone around us is essential. The world is so hopeless right now, so many are afraid and anxious. We are the salt and light that God wants to share with the world in these days. Why doesn’t God do something about this disease? He has….he saved you and I and has given us everything we need to point others to Him in such a complicated time. He has placed us on earth at this very time for just such an assignment. Our prayer should be that daily people would be saved as they come face to face with the One who defeated sin and death forever, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Church, what an opportunity we have right now to be the church although we cannot come to church. I encourage you: Dive into the Word more than ever before. Pray fervently and consistently. Pour into the relationships closest to you in the body of Christ. Share Christ every chance you get. These are the essential things. This too shall pass, but if it passes without us learning the lesson of what is essential for the faith our opportunity to grow will pass with it. Essential or non-essential, that is the question. Don’t miss the essentials.
PRAYER FOR TODAY:
Dear Heavenly Father, forgive us for what we have made of the faith. We have added so many things on to faith that we often miss those things which matter most. Help us Lord to dig deep into Your Word. Teach us to pray fervently. Remind us of the importance of the relationships we have in the church, and make us bold witnesses for You. We know this too shall pass, but help us not miss wisdom you are trying to give us. In Jesus name, amen.
MEMORY VERSE OF THE WEEK:
1 Peter 5:10
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.