Dearly beloved, greetings in the name of Jesus Christ. There is a story to tell and a work to do. You and I are at the center of both.
Are a you like Joshua, Caleb, or one of the others? After Divine deliverance from four hundred years of oppression through many miracles, tribulations, and obstacles clustered together in a short period of time that taught the people the Almighty God loved them and was saving them, the people of Israel found themselves facing yet another obstacle. They were standing on the edge of receiving the promise with a river between them and the promised prize. When the 12 spies were commissioned to check out the promised land, it was a completely unnecessary step. Yet, the sidesteps from the path provided by God for them resulted in a 40-year delay in the Children of Israel entering the Promised Land.
You have been drawn by God to accept Jesus Christ as Savior. Having accepted Jesus by faith you have received the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit and received its gifts. Jesus has been faithful, and you have been called to service in the Kingdom of our Lord. Specifically, you have been gifted for service and called into a ministry at this time for the King. However, your ministry was either going well or just getting started when the novel pandemic caused by the coronavirus and COVID-19 struck our land and the whole world.
It caught us off-guard. We were not prepared for it. No one in the world was prepared for it. Some did better and some did worse, but all were affected. Businesses were closed. Church buildings were closed. We were all advised to “shelter-in-place”, “be-safer-at-home”, “practice social distancing”, “quarantine when necessary”, and not go where people are gathered without wearing a mask. Special events were canceled, falling like wheat cut with a sickle, one after the other in rapid succession. What was normal did not work anymore and new methods, ways, and means had to be developed to continue.
Local Church Pastors went online to reach those they served and to seek the lost with the gospel message. Facebook, YouTube, and similar social media picked up a host of new users. Little Company Apps, almost unheard of before 2020, became media giants, apps like Zoom and Cisco Webex. Local Churches began to use online giving more and cash became less used in favor of cards and phone pay. Bible study groups were formed. Local Church Pastors, Elders, and Deacons found themselves with people in their Bible Study Groups who lived across the country but were somehow connected to someone in their Local Church. Families began to be encouraged to start “Family Fellowship” in their homes. Pastors wondered, how will I serve these people when this over soon and we all go back to regular Church services?
Even though countries around the world closed doors on shops, houses of worship, businesses of many varieties, there was one place that did not close. The Kingdom of heaven did not close its doors. The Holy Spirit continued to work in the lives of the saints of God and open doors for ministry. But not everyone immediately engaged in ministry. Most were waiting for the Local Church to open so they could work there in their traditional roles.
Some churches did open after about 3 months. Most did not experience any major problems immediately. But some did and had to re-close their doors as the pandemic dug in for its second spike in cases across the country. The second spike of cases grew higher than the first wave of COVID-19. Over one hundred thousand people were already dead from the disease. Other Churches chose not to open immediately, declaring they would rather protect their members and continue developing alternative forms of continuing in the service of the Lord. Whether better or worse, decisions were made. Some worked, whether in assembly or from their homes. But some waited and did not work at all.
In all this one thing suffered more than the rest, and it was the ministry for special purposes, or demographic ministry. Yes, thankfully, the food pantries stayed open. Also, thankfully, the Bible studies grew appreciably, mostly for adults, however. The Internet, already being used so much was used so much more. But while the Pastors and some businesses found their way back into a degree of functionality, Local Church, District, and Conference demographic ministries struggled to find a place to serve.
It was like when God delivered the Children of Israel from Egypt. There was always a challenge or a difficulty of some kind, but every time God delivered his people. That is, until that day when they came to the banks of the Jordan. God told them to enter. They said, “Let us check it out.” Sadly, after checking it out they decided they just could not do it and did not receive what God had planned to give them. Similarly, Ministry Leaders, Board Members at all levels, workers in diverse ministries all find themselves in unfamiliar territory and wanting to see if things get better so they can resume their traditional forms of service. Now, that day may come. But how much will be lost?
The Kingdom of Jesus Christ is still open. You are still an ambassador of Jesus Christ into this world. You are still in charge of your ministry, whether a Local Church, a Ministry within the Church, an administrator in an organization, or a department head over others. The Power of God via the Holy Spirit still works in you. The God who made all things is still able to do whatever is needed for you to be successful. But you will have to cross the Jordan and engage a whole new world in ministry.
In the desert years of our ministry, we drank from a Rock that produced clear, refreshing, cool water, ate manna every day, and had quail sometimes. But if we cross Jordan, what then? We still have the Holy Spirit and all we need, but we get so much more. Your ministry is on the banks of the Jordan. Will you take it across this obstacle and harvest the blessings in service God has prepared for you?
If you are somewhat doubtful, do not fret. Of course, you cannot see what is in the valley on the other side of the hill until you go over the hill. You cannot pick the fruit from the far banks of the river from this side of the stream. Your ministry cannot provide the goods and services using the circumstances, ways, means and methods of the past. But in the future, Jesus Christ is still there. He is eternal.
May these favorite words of almost every youth pastor to ever live serve to encourage you. But they are so true, and they are not trite. Jeremiah records these words God is sending to Israel and they are still true for us today.
Jeremiah 29:11-14, MSG
- I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out–plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.
- “When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen.
- “When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. “Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else,
- I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.”
Right now, I invite you to step into the water that leads to a better life in ministry. Whatever God called you to do, how ever you are to serve both God and man, seek the Lord’s will in how you should do it. And then, do it. Just do it.
The battle is the Lord’s and he will provide for you. He provided for us in the years before now. And he has not abandoned us. But he is calling us to step forward in faith for the service to which he has called us. If you are one of our Ministry Partners, you have a family of believers around you who are willing to pray with you to receive the enlightenment of how God wants you to do his will at this time and in this place. He will carry you on eagles’ wings to fulfill his purposes in your life of ministry.
You may suffer, and God will be glorified. You may not suffer at all, and God will be glorified. What you do in ministry will glorify God, edify the Church, and serve the purposes of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Maybe you are in a fog and cannot see the blessings immediately that God has prepared for your ministry. Maybe it is not clear to you the blessing God is calling you to be in the time of this pandemic. But by faith, you do not have to see the end from the beginning. That is God’s privilege. You only must cross Jordan and take your ministry past the obstacle of this pandemic. The Kingdom of heaven is still open, and your ministry is still valid. Or, if there is some wild circumstance wherein it is no longer valid, do not grieve. If you have been faithful in a few things, he will make you ruler over many things. He will broaden your ministry to be a blessing to others.
Pray to God. Ask him to guide you and your ministry past the obstacle of this pandemic. Ask him how you can be a blessing to others and how you can glorify his name. He will show you; I am sure of it. But if you are struggling still, then you are to contact a fellow Ministry Partner, whether it is the one to whom you report and hold yourself accountable or a fellow soldier of the cross. The Holy Spirit will not fail you and you will be a fruitful branch on the vine which is Jesus Christ.
John 15:1-17, MSG
- “I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer.
- He cuts off every branch of me that doesn’t bear grapes. And every branch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more.
- You are already pruned back by the message I have spoken.
- “Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me.
- “I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing.
- Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire.
- But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon.
- This is how my Father shows who he is–when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.
- “I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love.
- If you keep my commands, you’ll remain intimately at home in my love. That’s what I’ve done–kept my Father’s commands and made myself at home in his love.
- “I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature.
- This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you.
- This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends.
- You are my friends when you do the things I command you.
- I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father.
- “You didn’t choose me, remember; I chose you, and put you in the world to bear fruit, fruit that won’t spoil. As fruit bearers, whatever you ask the Father in relation to me, he gives you.
- “But remember the root command: Love one another.
Focus On Jesus And Follow His Plan.
Focus On Jesus And Follow His Plan.
Focus On Jesus And Follow His Plan.
Abide in Christ and abound in life. You will be a blessing to many and your heavenly Father, and Lord Jesus Christ, King of kings and Lord of lords will be pleased for you.