Psalm 51:15-19 (ESV) 15 O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. 16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. 17The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. 18 Do good to Zion in your good pleasure; build up the walls of Jerusalem; 19 then will you delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on your altar.
We are coming off an incredible weekend at City on a Hill Church. It was our special Blessing Service where we bless and anoint our children, youth, college students of all ages, teachers, educators, faculty, staff, and schools as they begin the new school year. We seek God asking for favor, protection, and blessing over each of their lives and agree to pray, love, and support them. Needless to say it was just awesome. Glory to God!
But something amazing happened even before that service in our Servant’s Service. We had a sovereign move of God and a genuine call to repentance and prayer by the Holy Spirit. The enemy was hard after us with a flat tire on the trailer and band members held up in travel but we pressed on because I knew God had something to say to us as a people. In the past few weeks we have dealt with multiple interpersonal relational attacks. We had to call those things out and take a good hard long look at scripture (James 4:1-12, 2 Cor 11, and Psalm 51). This service is a critical time in the life of our church. It is a time where our front lines we connect with God on a personal and corporate level and stay connected to the Church’s vision, mission, and purpose. I attribute much of our church’s health, growth, and strength to the work that God does in these services every Sunday.
Fifteen months ago we planted City on a Hill Church and we decided before we even opened our doors that we would not build on church on the backs of volunteers rather we would build it side by side together with the Master Builder and only Church Growth expert I know, Jesus Christ. Anyone who would tell you church planting is easy is not telling the truth.Anyone who tells you ministry is easy is not telling the truth. Both are extremely difficult and require God’s grace in heaping helpings.
Not only do they require God’s grace but they also require those involved to extend and receive grace. We can not expect grace if we do not express grace. Church planting is made even more difficult when you are in a rented facility because it requires weekly tear down and weekly set up. Please understand I know buildings come with their own troubles especially a financial burden that taxes the people. However, without access to a facility practices have to be held off campus, storage is a huge concern, wear and tear on equipment is extensive, and wear and tear on our teams is equally extensive. All of these factors can create issues among team members ultimately we are family members, God’s family.
As a pastor/shepherd I strive to keep a close eye on the flock that God has appointed me as overseer over (Acts20:28).When conflict arises, and it does and always will, we must be ready to deal with it extend and express grace and move forward so that God’s ultimate purpose, the preaching of the Gospel and salvation to our city, is accomplished. We have a cunning enemy that seeks to destroy the unity of the church so that we take our eyes off Jesus and our focus off the ministry and mission He has called us to. If we aren’t careful we can become hard hearted and ministry just becomes a heartless endeavor until we die on the vine. Some indicators that this is happening is a sharp tongue toward others and a critical spirit toward others and the church.
Passion leaves and frustration enters. Psalm 51 illustrates this when the Psalmist says to do not delight in sacrifices or I would give them to you, you do not delight in burnt offerings or I would offer them. Ministry becomes nothing more than an empty act and burnt offerings become burn out when we are disconnected from the Savior. The Psalmist goes on to teach us that a broken spirit and a contrite heart God will not despise. Ministry is tough and it will break us and burn us if we are not careful. Then we are left to wander outside God’s grace with a hard heart toward God, His Bride the Church, and our brothers and sisters in Christ.
We must turn to Jesus in these tough times. Rather than lash out at our brothers and sisters in frustration we must pray for them, extend grace to them, and express grace. If we come to God with a broken spirit and a contrite heart we have a promise we will not be despised. He is more interested in us than what we can do for Him. He is more interested in our hearts than empty lifeless ritual and service. We see the results in this Psalm it says the Lord will do good in Zion and build up the walls of Jerusalem.
God says if you come to me with a broken spirit and a contrite heart I will delight in your sacrifices. He says if we put down our self -righteousness and replace it with self-examination He will do in us what is necessary to make those sacrifices acceptable and holy. If we lay down our offense and pick up grace we can and will heal us and make things right. If we repent of our actions first (James 4:1-12) then He can do in the work in us, in others, and in our church. Holding our ministry hostage does not only hurt us it hurts the advancement of the Gospel, it hurts the Church, it hurts individuals, and ultimately we lose and the enemy of our soul wins through disqualification. Not His disqualification, but ours. We disqualify ourselves take our ball and go home.
Earlier in the Psalm we see the recipe for repentance vs 1 God’s mercy, God’s unfailing love, and God’s cleansing power.Vs 2 Our broken and contrite heart that reveals our desperate need for God’s forgiveness, our broken spirit vs 11 and 12.Brothers and sisters this is where we must live if we want to see God’s kingdom come in our lives, families, churches, and ministries. We can no longer offer empty sacrifices and burnt offerings. If we want our ministry to be effective it is birthed out of a broken spirit and a contrite heart that fully recognizes we live and breathe according to God’s grace. It is our total dependence on God, the righteousness of Christ, the love of God, and the grace of God that makes our ministry a right sacrifice.
If we are going to live and move into all that God has for us it will be by grace. God’s grace! If we expect grace we must express grace. I appeal to all of my faithful ministry leaders and team members of COAH. I love you all dearly and remember you in my prayers daily. Please treat one another with grace. Measure your words. Check your hearts and motives. Don’t compare anyone’s commitment to yours rather you compare yourself to Christ and see how you measure up then deal with each other. The souls of men and women in the balance. The life of COAH hangs in the balance. Offer right sacrifices not because of what you do but because of WHOSE you are. Never forget where you came from so you don’t end up back there.
God has given us to each other as grace gifts. He has given City on a Hill Church to St. Petersburg, FL as a grace gift.Together with Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit we can and will change our world to the glory of God! Yesterday we truly had an amazing God ordained visitation. I could see the Holy Spirit bringing gentle correction and rebuke convicting us and spurring us on toward the mission God has called us too.
For those reading this blog today in desperate need of God’s grace I encourage you. Read Psalm 139 and do an self-examination of the heart. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal truth in your soul. Repent of wrong actions, forgive those who have sinned against you, extend grace to others, express grace when asked to, and live the life God has called you too. Offer yourselves first to God then your service will be acceptable.