Last night, in meeting with some friends for coffee I was told by one friend that a church our family used to attend was on a downward spiral. I can't even start to tell you how much this news has troubled my soul since I heard that report. The reason I am mostly troubled is because it could have been prevented if the message the Lord had given to me for a particular elder, and which I had been obedient to deliver, had been taken seriously as a direct message from the Lord.
Exactly 3 years ago when our family moved and was forced to leave this particular church due mostly to distance, the Lord convicted my heart to confront one of the elders over a blatant disregard for the direction God had purposed for the church. (Now you must understand that I know about this matter because I had been part of the small chosen group who were responsible to pray and lead the church in this decision. But as decisions among certain members of the group started moving away from the direction God had clearly purposed and my insight was not being regarded, God was so gracious to take me out of the final meeting that eventually decided if the church would obey God or their own desires – we had a two week vacation scheduled and I went away knowing the Lord had protected me through my vacation. By the time I returned, the choice to disobey the will of God had been made and I had been protected from being part of the sinful and disobedient choice of the group but none the less it had been made.)
I had no contempt for the elder I wrote my letter to three years ago. And I did not wish at that time any of the things the Lord had to say through me to come about in the church. Instead, I had so wished and prayed that there would be repentance in the church and a turning back to the Lord from what I had revealed. But sadly there was no admittance to sin or any sign of repentance. All I was met with was a very hostile response towards what I had said and in how I had questioned his leadership – this elder was clear to let me know that in his mind I had over stepped my boundaries. I had to walk away from the situation with great sorrow knowing what the Lord had shown me and what was surely to be the future of this church. So, with the news I received last night my heart was grieving about what could have been avoided in a church that is filled with so many believers I love.
This morning as I was following along in my regular readings of the bible to complete a one year reading plan, I came upon the story of Hanani the seer and his confrontation of King Asa. Read what King Asa did when Hanani brought the word of the Lord to the king.
“And at that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah, and said to him: 'Because you have relied on the king of Syria, and have not relied on the Lord your God, therefore the army of the king of Syria has escaped from your hand. Were the Ethiopians and the Lubim not a huge army with very many chariots and horsemen? Yet, because you relied on the Lord, He delivered them into your hand. For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. In this you have done foolishly; therefore from now on you shall have wars.' Then Asa was angry with the seer, and put him in prison, for he was enraged at him because of this. And Asa oppressed some of the people at that time.” 2 Chronicles 16:7-10
Unfortunately there are many recorded incidents in the bible that are similar to this one I quoted above. And still to this day, as God speaks truth to churches through people He still gifts with the ability to bring truth into disobedient situations, many churches are refusing to listen to what the Lord has to say through them. I am not saying that I or anyone else with this particular gift are always in the right when we see situations and measure them up to the word of God, but from my experience I know that when the Lord has overwhelmed me to the point to cannot stand still and hold my tongue because the conviction He has given me is so strong, one that is even willing to endure the rage of the person/people I am speaking towards, then I can no longer shut my mouth with a clear conscience.
I know today I will be lifting up this situation before the Lord in my grief. I hurt for those who have been blinded by the decisions of their church leaders and I will be praying for their eyes to be opened to the truth of this situation. But on the other hand, I am pained by the hardened hearts of those in leadership who have turned their backs on the Lord and who are being used to destroy the church from the inside out. I know that theses type of people run rampant through the church of believers disguised as saints because the bible talks about them in many places, but not so clearly as in the book of Jude.
“For certain men have crept in unnoticed...who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ...These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever...These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage. But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit.” Jude 4,12-14,16-19
As the end of this world approaches these types of people are only said to increase in number and therefore the church needs to be all the more watching and waiting, keeping guard of their hearts and minds. The Spirit of truth is the only One who can keep a church and all of its members on the right path before the Lord. Heeding His word, when it is spoken in confirmation or in opposition to what we have purposed in our hearts is the key to not going astray – individually or collectively. I urge you today to seek His voice and to speak out if you are being called to be His voice. Or, if another believer comes to you with a word from the Lord, please take the time to listen intently to the words of truth God has purposed for your ears as you seek the Lord alongside their words with a tender and willing heart to hear any truth they speak to you in love. We need to stay strong and not be swayed, there is too much at stake if we do not heed the word of truth spoken into our lives.