Right now, across the United States, governments are restricting public and private gatherings. Texas Government Code, Section 418.108, authorizes the mayor and the county judge to control ingress, egress, movement, and premises-occupancy, as an emergency power. As of today, public gatherings are being limited to less than 50 people in a single enclosed space. Keep in mind, that this is a public health measure to prevent the spread of coronavirus. As of noon today, we still have not had a confirmed case of coronavirus in Nueces County.
Under the current restrictions, 49 people can meet in the sanctuary, 49 more can meet in the fellowship hall, 49 more can meet in Modular 3, and so forth. Furthermore, a larger group can meet outdoors as long as the space where they are meeting is not enclosed by a fence, physical barrier, or other structure and they maintain greater than arm’s length distance from each other. Nevertheless, many churches in our State and elsewhere in the nation have decided not to meet together but to live stream preaching and special music during their regular service times.
According to what we read in the Acts of the Apostles, I believe those who choose to do so and are not sick or at risk should continue to meet in smaller groups or meet outdoors. The Christians in Acts always found a way to pray together, no matter the circumstances. And we certainly need to pray together during this time. When we pray together:
We continue with one accord together – Acts 1:13-14 – Imagine the distress of the apostles and the others with them right after the ascension of Jesus Christ. Jesus had been with them for forty days after his resurrection [Acts 1:3], and then he just left. It would have been awfully tempting to scatter after that. Yet, they went back to Jerusalem and met together to pray [Acts 1:13-14]. They were all with one accord. During a time of uncertainty, prayer helps people to stay in one accord and to receive mutual encouragement.
We continue in fellowship together – Acts 2:42-47 – people need to pray together. There are spiritual benefits derived from fellowship in corporate prayer. You can’t have fellowship with each other, if you stay at home and watch live streaming video. Things were so tough for these Christians in Jerusalem that they “sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need,” [Acts 2:44-45]. They were like one big family. And despite the stress of the times, they were glad, they were praising God, they were having favor with all the people, and the Lord was adding to the church daily. Did you now we had a fellow saved at the Port yesterday? Did you know we had a great Bible study Monday night with a fellow who’s not yet saved? Hey, we’re continuing on in the fellowship of the gospel.
We continue to see prayers answered together – Acts 4:23-31 – the apostles were being threatened by the chief priests and elders to quit preaching the gospel. When they reported this to the church, they all began to pray for boldness. They were together to witness God’s answer to their prayers. The place where they were assembled together was shaken, they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.
We continue to be directed by the Lord together – Acts 13:1-3 – the church at Antioch was directed by the Lord to send Paul and Barnabas out for the work that the Holy Spirit called them to do. The church fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them and sent them away. What we do in this church, we do together. Who knows what the Lord may lead us to do in these days ahead. We need to be together in prayer for the Lord to lead us.
Conclusion: notice that they prayed together wherever they could meet, whether it was in an upper room [Acts 1:13], a place where they could assemble together [Acts 4:31], a woman’s house [Acts 12:12], a church [Acts 13:1-3], or down by a river [Acts 16:13]. Just because there are restrictions, right now, on how many of us can meet together in one enclosed space, we shouldn’t suspend meeting together, even if we have to meet in smaller groups. We must continue to pray together.