Thursday, June 18, 2020


“…not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:35 ESV).

In the beginning of the Quarantines/Lockdowns, which covered almost the entire world, the excitement to reach previously unreachable via all kinds of social media was sky high. It did work for a time. Sermons, prayers, worship music, daily live devotionals and more were flooding Facebook feeds, Twitter timelines and LIVE YouTube streams.

Somewhere along the way, as the lockdowns (or shelter in place or quarantines) dragged on, interest started waning.  As of now, the majority of some of the largest states in the United States and Canada are still under lockdown. On the west coast it seems it may drag on through the summer to September! From the first, when the quarantines and mandated church shutdowns started in March, it was sold as just for weeks only. Now over three months later, with many more to go, the sense of anxiety, depression and lack of interpersonal communication are taking heavy tolls on a lot of people, not just Christians.

There is a reason Scripture exhorts us to be very careful to assemble as a body of believers- REGULARLY. We now see the fruits of not doing this for months on end.

For every Elevation Church, which I discover can have 48,000-50,000 viewers watching the Elevation Worship Band and Pastor Steven Furtick LIVE on YouTube, there  are 1000 more churches in our immediate regions, who are just struggling to pay their electric or airconditioning bills, never mind have the capability to stream services. 

Some of them have managed to improvise by having church leaders record a video on his phone at home, and post it to YouTube of Facebook, but some of our more traditional and older churches are simply out in the cold, filled with loneliness and despair, having not being able to meet for going on half a year now, being technologically or financially unable to stream services.

Why did the Lord tell us to not “neglect to meet together” as is the “norm” now? The answer can be found in the verse above Hebrews 10:25…”encouraging one another, AND ALL THE MORE as you see the Day drawing near” (emphasis mine).

The key word here is ENCOURAGING”, which in the original New Testament language is the word “parakaleo”. We are to assemble together in worship for the purposes of “parakaleo”.

This means we meet at church to invite others (to come); to admonish (by the convicting preaching of the Word) another from the pulpit; to comfort one another (whether in grief or to come along side a fellow saint who is having a hard time) and to exhort each other, via words of enthusiastic encouragement or literal cheering on! These are just a few of the characteristics of this powerful word, “parakaleo”. It also means to instruct (Sunday School and bible study groups) and to plead or come along side someone else, to buffet their spiritual growth.

All of this is included in the meaning of this one Biblical word “PARAKALEO”! This is the sum total of the function of the church’s call to assemble regularly. When this is suddenly cut off, we are now in territory where most of our brothers and sisters in China, Asia, parts of Africa and the Middle East, North Korea, Russia etc. are experiencing due to persecution. Recently, over 250 churches in China were literally destroyed by the communist party.

Why do we do all of this “encouraging”? The verse tells us here: “as we see the Day drawing near”. Which Day? The Day of the Lord, which means Judgment Day, when the Lord Jesus comes to judge everyone who has ever lived. In many places, it is called the "terrible day of the Lord”, because Judgment Day is not going to go well. It is a time of approaching horror to the vast majority of mankind, which has unfortunately rejected both Jesus and His Plan of Salvation. At the same time, it will be a time of joy for the saints who will persevere throughout these long days of separation from brothers and sisters in Christ. The Day of the Lord will be a day for the Redeemed who have persevered, to stand before our Savior and be judged not for the purpose of getting into heaven, but for rewards (or lack thereof) for the kingdom work we did on this earth (or not).

So how do we continue to persevere throughout these times of isolation and quarantine, even as some churches, in many places slowly reopen? 

We reach out to as many as we can, by all means necessary to encourage them in their walk, to discern their prayer requests, to ask about their needs or if all is well okay with them, and to just drop by and be a friend. 

Let us continue to encourage each other, as the times are evil and the days are little flying towards an inevitable conclusion. Let us also continue to remind each other, that the Joy of the Lord is our strength and that Jesus is there fore us, now and until the End of the Age. Amen

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