“human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness.”
A broken world and brokenness in people often produce anger, but anger never repairs the brokenness. Only the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ can do that. We pursue it not with angry actions and reactions but through prayer, compassion toward others, forgiveness, bold gospel sharing, generosity….
Lord, produce your righteousness in me. Save me from and forgive me for unproductive human anger.
“But the word of God spread and multiplied.” Acts 12:24 #devo
Researchers say that each person infected with Coronavirus can spread it to 3 others. If those 3 each spread it to three and each of those spread it to 3, in 10 cycles, you’re at 59,000!
Would that this were true of believers spreading the gospel as well. God has not placed protective measures in place to stop the spread of our faith. We do that by remaining silent, socially distancing from the lost, and leaving the spread to professionals. The curve has flattened on the growth of churches and we are responsible. If you believe, think of three to infect with the gospel today. You may start a viral movement of transformation.
The Christian life is a race to the bottom. The goal is to serve, not to be served. To sacrifice for others benefit rather than for our own. The goal is not to make a name for ourselves but to serve without recognition. Entitlement has no place in the heart of a disciple. He lives for others with the goal of emulating the sacrifice of Jesus, who while on earth, chose others over himself every chance he had.
God used the negative social movement of Persecution in Acts 8 to accomplish His purpose of getting the gospel message beyond Jerusalem (see Acts 1:8). God can and does use the negative social movements in our day as well. Disasters, disease, wars, etc., scatter people everyday. COVID-19 has scattered church members, giving more time outside church walls. The question is: will we / are we being faithful to accomplish God’s big purpose of spreading the message about Jesus while we’re scattered or to those who have been scattered?
Stephen made a great difference b/c he was “full of the Spirit and wisdom… full of faith and the Holy Spirit… full of grace and power…” Acts 6:3,5,8
Full can also mean covered with or completely occupied with. What covers me? What completely occupies me?
Lord, cover us with your Spirit, Wisdom, with Faith, Grace, and Power for today. Of all the things that can completely occupy me today, help me be occupied completely with your kingdoms resources.
“you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.” Jesus, John 13:17.
Maturity, growth, fruitfulness means closing the gap between knowledge and practice and sharing. If you’re stuck or stale in your Christian walk, dissatisfied with your church, bearing little fruit for God. Close the gaps. Put a command of Christ to practice. Share what you know with someone else. It’s more than what you know.
“you will receive power…. you will be my witnesses.” Acts 1:8.
Two great promises: Power and Opportunity to Witness.
Two great tests: Do I have power? Am I a witness?
Two great prayers: Lord, fill me with your power. Lord, make me a witness and give me an opportunity today.
The Jews didn’t like being forced to carry a roman’s bag one mile. Jesus said, carry it two (Matthew 5:41). No one likes being backhanded on one cheek. Jesus said, let them right cross you on the other also (Matthew 5:39). No one would like having a shirt taken in a lawsuit. Jesus said give them your coat as well (Matthew 5:40). Persecutors? Pray for them. Enemies? Love them (Matthew 5:44). Insults? Don’t return them (1 Peter 2:23).
Jesus wanted above all to REACH people. To seek and save them (Luke 19:10). We cannot do that from an adversarial posture. Jesus’ commands remind us that our posture toward society, even an unchristian society, should be loving, humble, self-sacrificing, and even radical in its actions.
There are people who can and will fight for the legalities of a thing. We have opportunities to support them as we feel led through civic means. Let the disciples business be about following Jesus into a life of loving, seeking the lost, and making disciples, PERIOD. I’m afraid that arguing, quarreling, disparaging others over a piece of cloth will prove to be a hindrance to that mission and a triviality in eternity. Let our passion be for the gospel, for the kingdom, and for the lost.
What does it say about my heart if wearing a mask or not wearing a mask is of greater concern and riles more passion in me than the lostness and brokenness of people in the world? or causes me to disparage fellow believers? The mission of God, sharing the Gospel, healing hearts and lives is too important at this moment in history to be passionate about anything else.
The father sent Jesus on an intentional mission of love and sacrifice. He lived simply and invested in others. He came to seek and to save the lost. He stayed connected to heaven and free from the entanglements of life. He gave all he had to give. Lord, help us live this kind of sent life. #devo
We’re now over 500,000 deaths and almost 11 million cases worldwide. Impact on churches is a mixed bag. But we know the good will come (Romans 8:28). Some thoughts:
- Crowds are smaller. Crowds were getting smaller anyway. Now the pressure is off of pastors to produce big crowds. Big crowds were not a value of Jesus’ ministry. Equipping the few to make disciples in the daily course of life was and should be for us. Adjusting to fewer crowd drawing events and more equipping events for now will be a must. Jesus could have focused on the crowds, but chose to invest in a small number of disciples who would reproduce His words and ways exponentially.
- Mission Trips are cancelled. Travel is going to be greatly restricted in the coming years and this will have an impact on the work of missionaries, the experiences that drive calling to the mission field, and the way churches organize missions ministries. The bright side: We can get more focused with our going and giving. The things that we have done that doesn’t lead to evangelistic impact at home and abroad are clearer now than ever. The instagram moments on the mission field can give way to deep thinking and praying for the lost world wide.
- The Mandate to Gather? As churches have made tough decisions about regathering, the question of should we gather seems to get more complex each week. As positive cases arise, “should we close for a few weeks?” becomes a question. But, most likely, as soon as we reopen, someone else may very well test positive. So do we close for two more weeks? I’ve heard pastors arguing that the church has a “mandate to gather.” Is that our mandate? Shouldn’t we say our mandate is to worship God and make disciples? The Worship Gathering is a tool we use to do that, right? Hopefully, we come out of this with greater value for worship gatherings and a clearer picture of its rightful place as a time to surrendering our hearts to God and equipping believers for their own disciple making missions. Because what if we can’t gather next week? or for 12 weeks? Are they ready to make disciples who make disciples?
- What do we do online? We moved ministry online, UNTIL we could go BACK TO NORMAL. Now, we’re realizing that normal is changing rapidly. Most churches don’t enjoy or value online ministry. Most pastors are not trained and equipped for an online ministry. Many are adapting, but this is a radical shift and it doesn’t seem that we’re engaging the lost community directly online yet. Of course, many of our churches had not effectively engaged the lost around them for some time. Praying for breakthroughs.
- What do we do with all this empty space? Church building have been trending smaller, and even many small churches have been at less than 50% capacity for years. How do we re-purpose empty spaces in the age of Coronavirus? Larger, open spaces are needed for social distancing. Smaller classrooms are hard to use because of social distancing. This will change the way we utilize and imagine church space in the future.
- Disorientation leads to Direction. Honestly, I’ve felt like the disciples after the crucifixion or after the ascension. Nervous, disoriented, uncertain what we do next. We can count on Jesus, through His Holy Spirit to guide us to a clear direction for ministry in these uncertain days.