We have been going through some difficult challenges in the life of our church. God has been revealing sin. Sadly, we've had to exercise church discipline.However, we have been seeing this as a time to seek God’s wisdom and direction for our church and our individual lives as He continues to cleanse this ministry and build His Kingdom.
Last Sunday evening, Andy Sikora, our lead pastor for 707, gave a very strong plea to our young adults to cleanse their lives of sin and to glorify God by living lives of moral purity. Many responded positively to his challenge. Andy also mentioned that it’s easy for us to see God at work when things are going well. It’s more difficult to see God at work when things are not going as well.
But God has reminded me that we must recognize that God is at work right now in the difficulties that our church is facing. He is purifying us for greater holiness and pruning us for greater fruitfulness.
I’m reminded of the truths of Hebrews 12. I think God would have us take this to heart, not only as individuals, but as a community of faith. I've asked our leaders to slow down, read the passage, and pray it into their lives and into the life of our church.
5 Have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said, “My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline, and don’t give up when he corrects you. 6 For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.” 7 As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? 8 If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all. 9 Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever? 10 For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. 11 No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. 12 So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. 13 Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong. 14 Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. 15 Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. 28 Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe. 29 For our God is a devouring fire. Hebrews 12:5-15, 28-29 (NLT)
On Sunday, I listened to a podcast by Rick Warren. He talked about what it takes to keep God’s blessing on a ministry – purity, maturity, and unity. He told a story of moral failure on the staff of Saddleback in 2006, how they dealt with it, and how God’s hand of blessing seems to have been restored to Saddleback in 2007. Hearing that message was very timely for me personally and, I think, will be for us as a church.
I fully have faith and hope in the Lord that He will bring us through this time of testing and discipline to greater faithfulness and fruitfulness.
Make it so, Lord Jesus, Make it so.