Having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.
So we are now as a church in Illinois in our seventh full week of shutdown from the Coronavirus Pandemic. For many people, this “stay at home” order and the closure of churches from meeting may seem like life is being suspended and all has come to a halt; this should not be the attitude or thought of a Christian as we can worship, grow in faith and serve others even in a situation such as we are facing. We only need look at the Apostle Paul who wrote the letter/epistle to the church in Colosse, along with other prison epistles, to see how the Lord can use us and grow us in less than ideal circumstances. Paul used his time in prison, a time of captivity and removal of freedoms, to grow in faith, worship the Lord, witness to people who did not know Christ, and to encourage and equip the church. God used Paul’s time of imprisonment to guide him to write letters to others that are part of our Bible that is used to this day, 2,000 years later, to help people to grow in their faith. Paul did not allow being held in a cell to stop him from singing and praying to his Lord, just as no one can stop you from doing that either. The key to being successful in growing is to see every circumstance we face in life as an opportunity to deepen our roots in Christ by trusting in Him and obeying Him with thanksgiving. The nourishment and life for this growing process is found in having a heart and mind that is thankful and grateful to the Lord. I am thankful in this shutdown time we have been provided many means to still communicate with one another through things like phone calls, texts, Facebook, Zoom, social media, websites, emails, and yes, even old fashioned letters and cards! Our ability to grow in faith and reach others is not being held back, no more than it was for Paul. Now let me be clear, I greatly miss being able to worship with my brothers and sisters in Christ and I long to be able to meet again as a church body. I feel in a very real way the lack of fellowship due to not being able to sit face to face and have conversations with others. Our current conditions are not good for long term growth and discipleship as God has ordained it for the church body to meet together for worship, fellowship, ministry, discipleship and evangelism. The way we are operating now is not the model we want to continue any longer than we have to, however, we must make the best of our situation and redeem the time we have today for God’s kingdom. If Paul could do it and be used of God, so can we by God’s grace and the empowerment of His Spirit in us. Let us ask how we can each one increase our growth in personal faith by seeking Him daily and obeying the promptings of the Holy Spirit and God’s Word. Let us ask the Lord who we can be a blessing to by reaching out to in an encouraging way and sharing the gospel message to anyone who may not know Jesus. If we each do this, we will grow deep roots that usually develop from hardships and challenges like we are facing. From hardship, our faith in Christ can become stronger and more resilient to future challenges just as a tree grows deeper roots from droughts and wind; the difficulties force the roots down deep to find the necessary things for life and growth. Again, be sure thankfulness and gratitude saturate your efforts for them to be blessed by the Lord.
Love in Christ,
Pastor Gary Houdek