Category: covid

Jesus is Holding all Things in His Hands

Dear Grace Life,

I want to provide a Covid update, but let me first share with you Colossians 1:15-20, written by the Apostle Paul to the church of Colossae to encourage them to gaze and behold the supremacy of Christ.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

The Word of God is sufficient and timeless. Its solid truth is good for our souls today, even as Covid is furiously running through our community. This text is no different.

Just before this passage, Paul writes in verses 9-14 a prayer for “spiritual wisdom and understanding so that we will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing him”. He prays we will be “strengthened in the might of God” and that we will remember we are “delivered from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins”. 

He continues by reminding us of the greatness of our King Jesus. There is no one like Him. There is no earthly king, president, or ruler who compares to Him. He is the one who saved us and He is the one who sustains us through all things because “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together”.

The Savior of the world, the Son of God is holding all things together. Your life is included in “all things”. The state of our community is included in “all things”. All of life is included in “all things”. All things are held together in His hands. This is the promise I want you to hold on to today and in the days to come. 

JESUS IS HOLDING ALL THINGS IN HIS HANDS.

Like many of you, I thought we were on the other side of Covid, but, here we are again. This time we are seeing the impacts hit much closer to home. Many of you have now had Covid, and by God’s grace, have recovered. Many of you have lost a loved one or a very close friend. A few of you are working within the overworked and understaffed healthcare system and are tired of all things Covid. To all of us, remember, Jesus is holding all things together

The life we live was never promised to be easy. We were called to abandon and crucify the desires of the world because it is Christ who lives in us. Paul says to another church in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me”

And while we face the next few weeks, let us rest in Jesus Christ and not in our frail humanity. We grieve in our loss (John 11:35) and we mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15) and we hope in our future home secured by Jesus Christ. As 1 Peter 1:3-9 states,

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Though we do not see Him, we believe in Him and hold to the promise that He is holding all things together for our good and for His glory. What a Savior!

As we continue to deal with Covid, let me provide an update on our church plan and procedures.

  1. We will continue worshiping in person and provide a live stream of our Sunday gatherings. We plan to go online only if there is a situation within our church that prevents us from gathering (i.e. Covid exposure among leadership team).
  2. PLEASE STAY HOME IF: 
    1. You are sick in any way, even if it is minor.
    2. You have had close contact exposure to someone who has tested positive with Covid. (Close contact to COVID-19 occurs when you are within six feet of someone who is showing symptoms of COVID-19, for at least 15 minutes, or an infected person who shows no symptoms but later tests positive for the coronavirus. This is considered exposure regardless of whether one or both parties were wearing a mask.)
    3. You are feeling fine and have no symptoms but you are still within your 10 day isolation period due to testing positive or having a close contact.
  3. PRACTICE SAFE SUNDAYS:
    1. Practice Social distancing with those outside of your household.
    2. Wash and sanitize your hands.
    3. If possible, have conversation with others outside.
    4. Again, stay home if you are sick.

As a reminder, let’s practice grace and patience with one another, thinking the best of our brothers and sisters in Christ (Romans 14:1, Ephesians 4:31-32) and let’s continue to be an encouragement to one another in word and deed (Hebrews 10:24-25). 

If you need assistance or know someone who needs assistance due to Covid, please let us know HERE.

If you would like to serve on the Grace Life Care Team by providing food and supplies or running errands for members of our church and families within our community, please sign up HERE. (We are also working with Lake Asbury Elementary School and we are prepared to serve teachers, staff, and families impacted by Covid).

If you would like to give towards our Covid Relief Fund, please give HERE. All donations go towards families in our community dealing with a Covid crisis.

If you need to schedule a call with Pastor Matt for counseling, prayer, or anything else, please go HERE

I love you all and I am thankful for you. Be encouraged. Our God is faithful and it’s all in His hands.

By His Grace,

Pastor Matt

Do not neglect to (virtually) meet together

The book of Acts is the historical account of the early church and how God used the church to take the Gospel to the nations. At the end of Peter’s Spirit-filled sermon on the day of Pentecost, 3,000 souls were added to the church. In Acts 2:42-47, we see the early church devoted to God’s Word, prayer, and fellowship with other believers.

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42–47)

From this text, we see the early church believers were committed not only to the Gospel, but to each other. They worshiped together, studied the Word together, ate together, and they served each other when there was a need. They were devoted to God and to each other because the Gospel of Jesus had brought them together. The church gathers together to worship the God who redeemed them through Jesus Christ.

The author of Hebrews writes on the importance of the gathering:

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 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 10:24–25)

Our church functions on three distinct strategies that helps us make disciples who make disciples: Grow in the Gospel, Connect because of the Gospel, and Influence with the Gospel. Everything we do is guided by our strategy. So when we, along with the entire country, were called to practice “social distancing”, we had to find a new way to deliver on our strategy; especially when it came to connecting and gathering.

One of the key ways we connect is through weekly LifeGroups. These home groups gather to encourage one another, study the Word together, and pray together. If LifeGroups are a core component of our church, then what do we do when we cannot gather in homes? If we believe gathering is essential to the church, then we must find a way to continue gathering together.

Enter Zoom Video Conferencing. For the next few weeks, we will be gather with our LifeGroups virtually. We won’t leave our homes, but we’ll still meet to encourage, pray, and study the Word together. The early church attended the temple together, we’re going to zoom conference together. Social distancing does not mean isolation and if we believe community is essential for the Christian, then we must do everything we can to keep community while we practice social distancing.

Here’s why you should join and attend a Virtual LifeGroup:

To be an encouragement

Hebrews 10:25 clearly states not to forsake the gathering because it gives us an opportunity to “stir up one another to love and good works”. There is no greater time than now to be an encouragement to someone in your LifeGroup. You can encourage them to fear not, look to Jesus, and to stay in the Word. You can encourage them by saying they’re doing everything they can given the circumstances. It’s a unique time to love and encourage one another! 

When you leave the virtual LifeGroup, you’ll know how to pray for those in your group. You’ll know how to encourage them and to serve them. You miss this opportunity if you miss meeting with them.

To be encouraged

If we are all gathering to be an encouragement to someone, then at some point, someone will encourage us. As we share our struggles, fears, doubts, and confess our sins, we will be encouraged to repent and trust in the Lord.

Again, social distancing does not mean isolation. We need one another. This is God’s design of the church; members joined together by unity in Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-13). We are to be physically together but when we are called to not be together, we seek the gifts of grace such as the Zoom to gather together.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said in his incredible work (available free on Cristian Audio), “The Christian needs another Christian who speaks God’s Word to him”.

To worship

We have made worship to be a reference to music when, Biblically, worship is all of life (Romans 12:1-2). Everything we do is an act of worship to God or it is an act of worship of ourselves or of something we have made an idol. So how does gathering virtually lead us to worship God?

We worship God together knowing that God is in control of all things and hearing how God is at work in the hearts of your LifeGroup reminds us of this. He is our refuge and strength and a very present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1)

We worship God together knowing that we are a family, united by the blood of Jesus. We were once enemies of God brought near to him by the death and resurrection. This is why the church gathers in celebration. It is a gift of grace to be united in Christ with other brothers and sisters.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer again states,

“It is easily forgotten that the fellowship of Christian brethren is a gift of grace, a gift of the kingdom of God that any may be taken from us, that the time that still separates us from utter loneliness may be brief indeed. therefore, let him who until now has had the privilege of living a common life with other Christians praise God’s grace from the bottom of his heart. Let him thank God on his knees and declare: It is grace, nothing but grace, that we are allowed to live in community with Christian brethren”.

So don’t neglect the virtual gathering of the church. When your LifeGroup meets via Zoom on Wednesday night, join in. You need them and they need you and we will all leave worshiping God for the gift of the church.

Not in a LifeGroup? Join one at thegracelifechurch.org/lifegroup.

**Your LifeGroup leader will post a link to the Zoom Video Conference on your LifeGroup Facebook page. Reach out to them if you need help!

Making Jesus-Centered Disciples For God's Glory


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