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ARTICLE 3- Corporate Disciplines

Confession, Worship, Guidance, Celebration

Have you experienced the sorrow that comes from seeing a loved one suffer a pain that you felt you could have prevented?  Or experienced the shock of finding out that someone you thought you knew well committed a terrible act as a result of pain that they did not deal with properly?  Many people these days are craving authentic relationships where transparency and mutual accountability exist. We long to walk through life with people we can bare our hearts to and who can bare their hearts to us also. These types of relationships are rich and leave us fulfilled.  As fulfilling as relationships with others are, however, they cannot substitute for the fulfillment from a deeper relationship with God. Richard Foster, the author of Celebration of Discipline gives us four disciplines that help us grow in our walk with Christ and experience a greater richness of relationship with each other.

Confession. James 5:16 challenges us to “confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another…” The author teaches us that, while personally confessing your sins to God is very valuable, we ought to create environments where we are comfortable to confess our sins to trustworthy believers in Christ. Foster states that “Confession is a difficult Discipline for us because we all too often view the believing community as a fellowship of saints before we see it as a fellowship of sinners” (p. 145).  When we realize that we are walking this Christian life with others who also face challenges as we do, we tend to feel comfortable sharing our pains and triumphs with them.
So how does one go about confessing their sins: First, come to God, realizing how much He loves you.  God is not angrily waiting to punish you! Contrarily, His arms are waiting to receive you. 1 John 4:19 reminds us that “we love him because He first loved us.”Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any area in your life for which you need to repent. If He reveals anything to you, express sorrow for the sin and takes personal responsibility for your sins; don’t blame or put the responsibility on others for your wrongdoings.   Receive the Lord’s forgiveness and grace to not go back to that sin. If you know a trustworthy and mature believer, confessing your sins to them can cause you to experience liberty and joy that you may not have experienced with personal confession.

Worship. Worship is one of the most important things a believer can do. But whom do we worship and how? The object of our worship is to be Jesus!  Matthew 4:10 states, “…You shall worship the Lord your God and he only shall you serve”.  A believer must prioritize worshiping God. We sometimes become caught up in serving others that we forget that we are primarily called to worship God. We should never replace worship with service.  We are to come to worship God in a sense of expectation; expect God to speak to you and transform you as you worship Him. Worship is not to be an individual act alone; believers ought to gather in a holy expectancy with other believers.  At those times, the Spirit of God gives us a sense of unity in His presence that cannot be replaced by virtual gatherings. As we gather in worship with other believers, we ought to have a stillness within ourselves that allows us to be led and directed by the Spirit of God.

Guidance. Foster states, “God does guide the individual richly and profoundly, but he also guides groups of people and can instruct the individual through the group experience” (p. 176). The early church understood the unity we are called to. They gathered together and received guidance from the Holy Spirit about what they needed to do.  In decisions, you face daily, such as decisions of whom to marry, business decisions, ministry decisions, seeking wise counsel from a group of believers should not be ignored.  Foster states that “Unity rather than majority rule is the principle of corporate guidance. Spirit-given unity goes beyond mere agreement. It is the perception that we have heard the Kol Yahweh, the voice of God” (p. 182).

Celebration. God’s desire is for us to have enjoyment and fulfillment in our relationship with Him and with others. Nehemiah 8:10 states, “the joy of the Lord is your strength”.  We are able to endure difficult situations if we know that joy lies in the end. However, one has to internationally maintain a joyful attitude. This comes by choosing to cast all anxieties upon the Lord and choosing to focus on things that are good and excellent in life.  We are to gather together for festivals that allow us to reflect on the wonderful happenings of our lives. Celebration is thus a discipline and a conscious choice.  As Foster accurately surmises, “Celebration gives us the strength to live in all the other Disciplines. When faithfully pursued, the other Disciplines bring us deliverance from those things that have made our lives miserable for years which, in turn, evokes increased celebration. Thus, an unbroken circle of life and power is formed” (p201).

Do you have unconfessed sin in your life; find a Christian you trust and speak with them about this sin; pray together and receive the grace to no longer go back to that sin.  How is your worship life; if Christ is always the object of your worship? How can you prioritize worship? Have you taken the opportunity to receive guidance from other believers concerning a major decision in your life? Do you celebrate as you ought to? Take time this week to reflect on the good things in life and set aside time to celebrate, however simply, with others.

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