On Sundays, I have been focusing on the mission and strategy of our church. The series of messages is entitled, “This Is Us.” Now it has nothing to do with the show on TV this fall. It has all to do with who we are as the Body of Christ. Where has God been leading to operate in this community and universal body of Christ?
I have been reminded over and over how important it is to reach all generations at all times. We would be missing an important part of our ministry if we neglected the younger ones and their spiritual growth. The church needs to make youth a priority because they are often the key to major revival movements. Making youth a priority is not neglecting the older generation. It is actually pulling all generations together to be holistic in our approach.
In the book of 1 Timothy, Paul is investing in young Timothy and training him in how to shepherd and lead the church of Jesus Christ in all matters. This is a letter to Timothy that we draw from to train pastors and also to get some of our administrative direction as a church. You cannot separate the person from the church. So it dips in areas of personal growth as well as body growth issues.
In Chapter 4, Paul is instructing Timothy about speaking the truth and counteracting false teachers that are deceiving many people. Some are trying to pull back believers and have them adhere to old ways and customs. He instructs that everything we do is to be consecrated by the word of God and prayer. I want to jump in at verse 6.
6 If you point these things out to the brothers and sisters, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. 7 Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. 8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 9 This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. 10 That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe. 11 Command and teach these things. 12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. 14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you. 15 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.
1 Timothy 4:6-16
For the next few weeks I would like to unpack a few of the concepts touched upon in these verses. For this focus, take a look at verse 12. As a matter of fact, let me turn that into a prayer for our younger generation.
“Lord, don’t ever let me look down on the youth of the church because of their age. Instead, let them be the ones who by their love for you set an example for the rest of us. Enable them to be exemplary in speech and life and love and faith and purity. I pray for the time to come when they younger generation will challenge us all by the way they live. Do it today Lord!”
I look forward in the days ahead, to pull out the many different thoughts Paul poured into Timothy and in turn, pours into us.
Let me challenge you to come and learn about the strategy of our church to reach not only this next generation, but all of those who walk within impact of our local church and beyond.
May God show us all how we can spur others and especially this younger generation to put God first in all of their endeavors.
Joy in Jesus!
We are familiar with the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42. Martha is preparing a meal for Jesus but her sister Mary is not much help because she is sitting at Jesus feet listening to what he said. Martha gets upset because Mary isn’t pulling her weight and helping. Martha wants Jesus to tell Mary to help her but Jesus says that Mary has chosen the better thing by sitting at his feet in fellowship.
Many people have given Martha a bad rap over the years as we use the phrase, “Be a Mary and not a Martha.” I don’t think the point of this passage is to say that Martha was bad and Mary was good. They both were good. We should learn that we can’t make another person the way God wired us. We need to celebrate our differences and yet submit ourselves completely to God with the way he has made us.
Did you know that I sat in camp meeting this summer between Mary and Martha? It was not an easy task to do. They were fighting back and forth the whole service. One said, “this,” the other said, “that.” I could hardly keep the noise down because of their complaining about each other. Ok, maybe it wasn’t all that bad. Yes, I did sit between Mary and Martha. They actually rode together each day to go the service. The truth is that they were not actually fighting. I just made that up for fun. It was fun to tell people that though. Mary Honecker and Martha Weigman just rolled their eyes.
There is another passage in John 12 where Martha serves a meal. Jesus must have eaten at Martha and Mary’s house several times. This one is before the triumphal entry into Jerusalem. We celebrate that on Palm Sunday. It is the beginning of Holy Week. Lazarus and the disciples are there too. Martha, in only the way she could do it, served up another great meal. This occasion was to celebrate the raising of Lazarus from the dead. I would have loved to have been there. There was Good food, good company – and just being in the presence of Jesus. Then Mary, in typical fashion, took some expensive perfume and anointed the feet of Jesus. She has gone from questioning where Jesus was when Lazarus had died in the previous chapter, to not being able to contain herself by worshipping Him with all of her heart and mind. It was an expression of giving your best to Jesus and worshipping Him like no other. Mary was extravagant in her worship, holding nothing back.
When Jesus makes his presence known, an outpouring of worship naturally flows from people who have been touched by the Savior. Mary expressed her heart and wouldn’t you know it, others were there to criticize as if she is auditioning for America’s Got Talent. When things are done with a pure heart and motive, don’t let other’s criticism steal your worship. Don’t let it steal your joy. Express to God how much He is worth to you in spite of your surroundings.
By the way – I want to be like Mary and Martha. I don’t want to have to choose between two women that Jesus loved hanging around with. Martha was a hospitality queen and Mary could not hold in her expression of worship in showing Jesus love in her own way while not worrying about how the meal was going to be prepared. We need both. Please don’t draw a line and wish someone else was like you or that you were more like someone else. God made you just the way you are. He should be in the center of what it is we feel called to do.
May God bless you today as you are all He created you to be. I am looking forward to worship Jesus with you on Sunday.
Joy in Jesus!
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” 4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” 5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” 7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” 10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” 11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
As we met today for our prayer time, I was led to read the preceding passage. It speaks of a time when Jesus had just finished fasting and praying for forty days and nights. The Scripture says that the tempter came to him and tempted Him three times. Each time the Lord used the powerful Word of God to combat this season of testing. I am reminded that temptation and sin are not the same. Everyone is tempted, even Jesus. Temptation begins in our minds. It then tries to lodge itself in a continual loop to get us to dwell on it. Then when the tempter is successful at getting us to dwell on that temptation, we are then set up to say, “Yes!” to that temptation. Then a major foothold gets in our lives and when it is not dealt with and confessed, can lead to more sin which will eventually harden our heart to the things of God.
Jesus cut it off at the first stage where the enemy wanted Him to ponder the half truth presented. Jesus’ relationship with the Father was always on His mind. Any attempt at the father of lies to suggest anything else was rejected immediately. We should take note and not allow anything to overcome our thought life that does not make it through the filter of the Holy Spirit. Believe me, there are plenty of opportunities throughout the day to fall to such a demise.
When a given temptation results in a string of defeats, our lives become ineffective and unproductive. On the other hand, consistent victories translate into a life of power and productivity in the Spirit. That sounds like a revival waiting to happen.
Take heart… You are victorious in the Name of Jesus! He will provide the strength needed when tempted:
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
1 Corinthians 10:13
Here is the formula to use when tempted:
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
I am looking forward to a great day on Sunday.
Joy in Jesus!
1 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4who wants all men to be saved and come to knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:1-4
Paul says, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people” in Ephesians 6:18. Sometimes we need to come together and pray for the unity of the Spirit to prevail in everything that we do. Conformity does not mean uniformity. We all have different expressions but only One God who is over all.
Starting next Wednesday, September 4, we will gather in the Worship Center from 6:30am to 7:30am for prayer. We will pray for our nation, our church, our community, and for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all the people of God. I know that you are hearing this again, but we are in desperate need of prayer. There seems to be a volatile spirit in our world that is affecting everyone at every level.
Paul goes on to say to Timothy, “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people” 2 Timothy 3:1-5.
We are living in the last days. The enemy is on the loose but so is our God who is the God of all gods, King of all kings, and Lord of all lords. Would you join me in this pursuit of a fresh filling of the Holy Spirit in our midst? I hope to see you there.
Joy in Jesus!
The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 2 He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. 3 He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.” 4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! 5 This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. 6 I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’” 7 So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. 8 I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them. 9 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army. 11 Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel.13 Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 14 I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.’”
Ezekiel’s vision of dry bones contains a marvelous message of hope for restoration and revival for people who are “dead” in their sins. We are certainly in need of revival in our nation. Here in recent days I have awoken early each morning wondering, “Why can I not sleep?” This morning I was led to Ezekiel 37. My heart yearns for revival in our church and our families. I know when that begins to set in then it will not be able to be contained. Below find an article that was written in the New York Times on Saturday, March 20, 1858. I know it is shocking to see a paper put such a newsworthy story for all to read. But that is what happens when revival breaks out. The Spirit of God does the impossible.
“The great wave of religious excitement which is now sweeping over this nation is one of the most remarkable movements since the Reformation. From every hamlet and village and town; from the forests of Maine, the crowded City-ports, the manufacturing towns, the new cities of the West; from the villages of the southwest, and even from the mines and mountains of California, we have constant reports of the profound religious feeling and interest of the people on this great subject. Travelers relate that on cars and steamboats, in banks and markets, everywhere through the interior, this matter is an absorbing topic. Churches are crowded; bank-directors’ rooms become oratories; school-houses are turned into chapels; converts are numbered by the scores of thousands. In this City, we have beheld a sight which not the most enthusiastic fanatic for church-observances could have hoped to look upon – we have seen in a business quarter of the City, in the busiest hours, assemblies of merchants, clerks and working-men, to the number of some 5,000, gathered day after day for a simple and solemn worship. Similar assemblies we find in other portions of the City; a theatre is turned into a chapel; church of all sects are open and crowded by day and night.”
Wow! These dry bones can still live again. Would you pray with me for revival to break out like that in Hancock County? Pray as if it needs to start with you.
Joy in Jesus!
My family and I visited the place where the battle for freedom took place. It was in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and was called the Gettysburg Battle. This was the turning point for freedom from slavery in the United States during the Civil War. The battle was between the North (Unions) and the South (Confederates) July 1-3, 1863. I probably don’t need to give a history lesson but Abraham Lincoln and his constituents finally defeated slavery once and for all, or did they? The interesting thing is that slavery continued to take place in many southern states and then segregation put a damper on the freedom movement by instituting a form of slavery in the social ranks. Colored people were still not able to go to certain public places and enjoy the freedoms that we all have a right to. It is fascinating to look at how history unfolded during this hard time. Thank the Lord for people like Martin Luther King who never gave up the fight for freedom for all people. We are now experiencing the freedom that was won in our social ranks in America.
There is still a battle going on today among us even though another battle has been won. This battle is for our soul. Even though Christ has won the war, the enemy wants us to believe that it is not fully won yet. Jesus Christ has set us free but so many people are not living in that freedom. Look at what the Apostle Paul wrote:
"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit." Romans 8:1-5
Do not live as though the war has not been won. Jesus Christ, our Lord, has come to this earth to take our place. The Cross He bore is still powerful today. Live by letting Jesus live through you by consecrating your life to Him. Exercise the freedom you have in Christ by not letting the enemy get a foothold in your life.
On Sunday we will continue our series on, “Hanging Out with Giants,” by listening to what Jonah would say to us. We will also have our Summer Picnic on Sunday night at 5:30pm. Plan on joining us out on the lawn as we come together to share our lives with each other.
May God remind you today of the freedom only He can provide.
Joy in Jesus!
“These are the commands, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life.” Deuteronomy 6:1-3
God has blessed us by leaving commands, decrees and laws in order to provide and protect us from the enemy’s attack and from wandering off aimlessly on our own. We are to continue to observe them and hand them down to our children so they too may fear the Lord and keep these commands.
Moses goes on to say the following, “Hear O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." Deuteronomy 6:4-9
On Monday, we had the opportunity to write notes to the future generations of this church. As I was watching people come in I couldn’t help but see some families with young children come in to write notes and draw on the floor. My mind quickly went to this passage in Deuteronomy that reminds us to keep the faith alive and plant the seed in our children.
Revival is desperately needed in our nation. A revived nation is impossible to have without a revived church. A revived church is impossible to have without revived families. Revived families can happen when the parents get serious about their relationship with God. Our homes are the most necessary place to begin to see revival happen. Revival is when the life of Jesus is filling us and flowing through us. That life is realized as we fellowship with each other and are at one with those we live our lives. There is nothing between us and God, and nothing between us and others. Sounds like a good place to be and to lead our families. It is not impossible to do this as some are in the habit of thinking.
I think the biggest impact of writing on the concrete before they put down the new gym floor was on those who participated. The fact that people took the time to reflect on what God has done in their lives and the life of the church has the greatest impact. Whether the future pastor reads my note or not, it was good to recall God’s hand at work in the Church.
May God continue to remind you of His faithfulness to us through all generations and may you continue to seek the Lord with all your heart no matter your age. Oh, and thank you for giving me something to write about.
Joy in Jesus!
We are in the middle of summer when people are definitely in another rhythm. Camping trips, day trips with the family, days spent at the pool, cookouts, bonfires, yard work, projects to complete before the fall comes, the list goes on. This is what many of our families are doing this summer. Typically we go down in attendance at church because summer is a free for all. It is good to get away and replenish as we can. One of the things that we need to be intentional about is sharing our faith.
Matthew concludes his Gospel with the great commission. They are on a mountain in Galilee where He gave the Sermon on the Mount, where He fed the 5,000, and where he took Peter, James, and John for the transfiguration. He now tells them his last command before He ascends into heaven. It wasn’t stated as a recommendation or a good suggestion, it was a command. Did I forget to say that Galilee was known as the area for the Gentiles? Jesus is sending the disciples on mission to share the Gospel with the lost people who were not one of the chosen Jews.
16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:16-20
Matthew added that when they saw Jesus, some worshipped and some doubted. He does not elaborate but you would think that there were more than the disciples there. Jesus knew who was in the crowd but He continued to say the all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to him. Then it leads Him to call them to go and make disciples. He did not expect them to do it on their own strength but on His. Jesus had the opportunity to receive the kingdoms of the world found in Matthew 4. But Jesus resisted the temptation of the enemy and received authority from the Heavenly Father.
It leads to Jesus calling His disciples to bring the Gentiles into a relationship with God. Jesus says to go and make disciples of the lost Galileans. He is standing and overlooking Galilee. I picture lost people crowding in the streets going on their normal routine. That is where we are called to make disciples. In our everyday, ordinary days. That includes this summer. Jesus goes on to explain what it means to make disciples – baptizing and teaching. Discipleship entails both becoming a Christian (being baptized) and being a Christian (obeying Jesus’ teaching). He concludes by saying, “I am with you always.” The risen Lord who stands over the disciples also stands with them as they embark upon this important mission.
How many people have you shared the life changing story of salvation with this summer? It’s not too late to start. Ask the Lord to show you opportunities to do so. He is faithful and will give you more than you could dream of. He will also give you the words to speak. That’s the kind of God we serve.
Let’s walk faithfully to what God has called us to do as followers of Jesus Christ.
Joy in Jesus!
Success takes on many different forms because there are different ways of determining if you are successful or not. In Webster’s dictionary it states that it is “a favorable or desired outcome that has been met.” So success is determined by the person setting what the measurement and outcome is. Success is different according to your personal desire. If your goal is to be rich in earthly wealth then by attaining a lot of money, one could say that you are successful. But for those of us who follow Christ, seeking success means seeking God’s presence and asking the Lord to go with us and be at work in the details of our lives.
In the Book of Nehemiah, we find the story of Nehemiah returning to his homeland to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. His heart was heavy because of the destruction of Jerusalem by her enemies. It was not an easy road to travel. There were many obstacles to go through. But Nehemiah was praying at the very beginning and boldly asked the Lord for His favor and success in meeting with the king to get permission to go on this long trip. Nehemiah knew that he first needed to seek the Lord first because he didn’t want to attempt this if God wasn’t going to make it successful.
“O Lord, please hear my prayer! Listen to the prayers of those of us who delight in honoring you. Please grant me success today by making the king favorable to me. Put it into his heart to be kind to me.” Nehemiah 1:11
There were many in opposition to Nehemiah. Eventually his enemies lost confidence because they realized they had been fighting God himself (Nehemiah 6:15-16). When God is in the mission, He will fight our battles for they are not ours but His to begin with.
In order to be successful, we need to first consult the Lord and make sure it is of His will. Then we can be confident to know that we are only called to follow His lead. Celebrating that kind of success is longer lasting because we serve and eternal God.
This Sunday we are continuing to “Hang Out with the Giants” from Hebrews 11. We will ask Isaiah to give us insight into his life as we strive to be all that God has called us to be.
May God find you successful today in all that you accomplish through Him.
Joy in Jesus!
What do you do when you get discouraged? Do you run toward God or do you run the other way? Jesus never promised that life would be without disappointments or discouraging situations. Knowing that fact sometimes doesn’t make the pain any better.
I made a new friend this week. I went over to his house to visit with him because he is not going many places these days. He has good days and bad days. You don’t know what kind of a day it will be until you get to it. For you see, he has been diagnosed with cancer that has moved to his bones. The doctors have given him a few months to live. As I was visiting with him I couldn’t help but think of how devastating that was when he got the initial news. No one wants to hear that kind of news. We have seen many things of that nature at our church. It doesn’t make it any easier to try to go through this with families. Each time is just as hard as the other. The one thing I do notice is that the one who has been diagnosed has more peace than anyone else. A lot of times they are the ones trying to help others through the outcome of their diagnosis. They know they are headed for a city where there is total freedom and an eternity to experience the peace of God. That is the kind of grace and peace that I want in life no matter what the diagnosis or circumstance that I am in.
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4 (NLT)
The word used in the New Living Translation concerning the results of the testing of your faith is steadfastness. Other translations use words like patience, endurance, fortitude, and perseverance. The Apostle Paul says in Romans 5:3 that enduring suffering produces perseverance. There is an unwavering firmness that is present when you run toward God instead run away from God. He calls us to endure to the end. Life can get difficult but know that God is greater than anything period. We are called to wait on the Lord.
So as you are experiencing life, remember to “Wait patiently for the Lord; be strong and courageous. Wait patiently for the Lord” Psalm 27:14. As you wait for the Lord, He will give you what it is that you need to move through the mountain you are facing. So let me remind you that with God you can. Maybe you need to remind someone else of that simple fact today.
On Sunday we are going to Hang Out with Giants. After looking at the life of David, I decided to pick out different giants in the faith from Hebrews 11 and look into their life. God put these beautiful stories in the Bible to help us to learn from the best or maybe even the worst. Whichever the case, it’s going to be good. Also I wanted to let everyone know that our Nazarene Youth Conference students and adults have safely arrived home in the early morning hours. It will be good to hear what the Lord has been doing in their lives. Thank you for those who prayed for each one by name.
Joy in Jesus!
Rev. Mike McClurg
Senior Pastor, Findlay First Church of the Nazarene