Ready to Join the Meeting: On-line?

A strange question, perhaps, and one we never would have thought about pre-coronavirus, because on-line meeting is new—to us at least. And I’m sure we all agree, it doesn’t have the same “appeal” as meeting together.

“Sing them over again to me…” online. Not so exciting? The words of life are the same. They are still words of LIFE.

Step back and look at it objectively: On-line meeting is something we can accept and appreciate, and be prepared to get maximum spiritual benefit from. Yes, it has takes a lot of patience and persistence—and expertise, which we are grateful to have among us. But it also has benefits.

Much of this is a summary of what we already know, after some weeks of experience. But maybe there is something more we can share in mutual profit?

Some thoughts relate only to on-line, and some are blended with a “real” church or meeting environment—let’s call it “off-line”—because that is where we all come from.

Any type of spiritually purposed meeting, on-line or off-line, will be more worthwhile if we prepare for it.

First, we want to take it seriously. Meeting, even on-line meeting, is consecrated time. It is a sacred privilege. When it is time for dinner, we are careful in the foods we select and prepare. The same is necessary for spiritual nourishment. Just as we choose the food we eat, and go where it is served, so we choose our spiritual food. When we go on-line, we go where we can find the food we want to eat, that is spiritually nourishing, because we all know the variety on-line is all but endless.

Paul identified clearly the right source for spiritual food: Scripture. Notice how clearly he details its proper ingredients.

2 Timothy 3:16–17  16All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Does it bother us that it is technical? We are looking for the right PRODUCT, not the packaging. Does technology seem cold and stiff? We must see technology as the tool God is using to make it available. Technology is what makes on-line meeting possible! And it surely is better to have this than nothing! Right now it is the way God has arranged for us to come “together” and help one another when we cannot meet in person.

On-line meeting is  means of REAL worship if we use it as a way to come into the presence of God. It all depends on how we think of it, what it means to us, and what we take to heart. However we meet, we need to realize we are offering prayer and praise together in corporate worship of our great Creator. It is sacred, committed time we offer to honor God and renew our spiritual reserves. We are lifting up our heart (our minds, our thoughts, our inner commitment) with our hands (whatever we do).

What did Jeremiah say about worshiping God?

Lamentations 3:40–41  40Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the Lord. 41Let us lift up our heart with our hands unto God in the heavens.

We don’t know what Jeremiah was referring to—probably worship at Solomon’s temple? But he emphasized what we must DO:

1 – SEARCH and TRY our ways

2 – TURN to God

3 – LIFT our heart WITH our hands.

4 – Offer all to God in the heavens

That is a FULL program of worship, whether on-line or off-line.

David had the same thought about worship.

Psalm 141:1–2  1Lord, I cry out to You; Make haste to me! Give ear to my voice when I cry out to You. 2Let my prayer be set before You as incense, The lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.

In fact, David lived so close to worship that most of the songs in his hymnbook are about worship offered to God.

Psalm 138:2  2I will worship toward Your holy temple, And praise Your name For Your lovingkindness and Your truth; For You have magnified Your word above all Your name.

Again he said,

Psalm 29:2  2Give unto the Lord the glory due to His name; Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.

Sometimes we get distracted by the seeming holiness of beauty. David was keeping his worship in “the beauty of holiness.”

Next, there are a few preliminary steps we need to take to be ready when the time for the meeting comes. They may seem unnatural, but they are necessary.

First are the physical steps. We must get our equipment ready: our computer turned on, the browser open, the program launched—whatever is needed so that we are “present,” ready to see and hear when the time arrives.

The other side of being “ready” is stepping aside from whatever was occupying us, and focusing our attention on God, His Word, and our inner spiritual life. Maybe we offer a short prayer, or read a few choice passages from Scripture, or stop to meditate.

Whatever separates us from the mundane around us and prepares our minds for worship is what we need.

We might say this is getting our minds “on-line.” Being at home, we could easily be distracted by a dozen different things. To avoid this we break away from whatever we were doing, so that our minds are ready to receive impressions. We don’t want our activities, our business, our email, etc., distracting us from our focus on the on-line meeting.

If we are “technically” and spiritually ready, in our on-line meeting we should be able both to read and hear from the Scriptures. This is our way of obeying, as we are told to do in

Revelation 1:3  3Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.

Why is meeting so important? Because it is our way of joining the fellowship of the believers in the bonds of Christian love, as Paul wrote to the Philippians:

Philippians 2:1–2  1Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.

We will also be assembling, as we are told to do in Hebrews:

Hebrews 10:24–25  24And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

Don’t you like that phrase: we come to stir one another up to “love and good works,”

“and so much the more as [we] see the day approaching.”

What brings us on-line together? It is both our privilege and our responsibility as brothers and sisters sharing a common bond in Christ. We are living (Titus 1:2)

Titus 1:2  2in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began,

It is all about the hope we share! – this is what draws us together, even to on-line meeting.

Now what else do we bring along? A couple of necessities come to mind:

1) A patient spirit

This is especially necessary with on-line meeting, because as we well know there can be—will be—technical delays. Paul describes the spirit we all need toward each other in these difficult times:

Colossians 3:12–13  12Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.

2) A long suffering spirit

This is much the same, with an extended allowance to keep strong and patient in delays!

Colossians 1:11  11strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy;

3) A humble spirit

There is plenty in Scripture about our need for humility, and it speaks directly to each of us in how we take the technical challenges!

Here is a proverb about it:

Proverbs 29:23  23A man’s pride will bring him low, But the humble in spirit will retain honor.

Good reason for this spirit because, looking ahead:

Isaiah 2:11  11The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, The haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, And the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day.

Jesus also said it:

Isaiah 2:11  11The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, The haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, And the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day.

There is just one more thing I would like to suggest about getting ready for on-line meeting. One is a tool to leave behind, and the other is a tool to take.

First the leave-behind. It is a “pic.” Taking a pic to church only does damage. It isn’t the right place to use a pic. And if someone does take a pic, he’ll find plenty of use for it. Things are not done to the level of professional perfection. He can pic at the grammar of the preacher—yes, and find some mistakes. (but what about the message? Focus on the errors, and you can miss the lesson completely!)

Or he can pic at the music – too loud, too soft, too slow, too fast? On-line now, it is all from the archives anyway. That’s the best we can offer!

What about the tool to take to meeting? I’m suggesting a rake and a basket. A good-sized basket. Is there something that may be of benefit later? Rake it up, and put it in the basket!

Even when the meeting is on-line, there should be something to rake. Come prepared to take home a basketful.

And when you come again, bring your basket again.

Something that you can take away.

The typical way to fill the basket is to say to yourself at the beginning, what is here that I can learn from? What lesson? What warning? Because I know I need this lesson. I need these warnings from the word of God. I want to be able to keep them and store them up.

When I leave I want to take with me a whole basket full of spiritual truths that I can take and mull over during the day.

This is what James said,

James 1:22  22But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

God’s online connections are not new.

When the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, he was online even in prison. The angel know where he was.

The angel came to Paul on the doomed ship. He was online even in the middle of the Mediterranean storm. Paul said, “There stood by me last night the angel of the Lord, whose I am and whom I serve.” And he brought Paul a message. They would all escape with their lives!

John the revelator heard voices and thunderings again and again.
He was online on Patmos.

So, are you ready for on-line meeting?

Someday soon there’ll be a meeting none of us want to miss. It will be the meeting of all the faithful when Christ returns. We don’t know just how that meeting will be, but if we have done all we can in advance, the angels may help with the rest of the preparing, so we can join in the thrilling events to follow.

May we one and all be ready to meet then!

Thinking more about the connectivity through the heavens…

How about being on-line with the family of God, online with the heavenly hosts, the angels, in the far reaches of the universe! Don’t you think they communicate, in ways we can’t begin to imagine? Maybe every newborn immortal gets with it a solid, stable, permanent connection with the heavenly network, with no fear of being separated forever!

Now that’s a connection I want to join, don’t you?

So get ready now, get ready now to join the FOREVER meeting… online!