I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one. - Ezekiel 22:30
This verse reminds me of the Promise Keepers movement around 1997. It was supposed to be the largest gathering of Christian men in United States history. It was designed to help men seek forgiveness for their shortcomings as husbands, fathers, and churchmen. There was a strong emphasis on eradicating racism and sectarianism throughout the church. When the founder of Promise Keepers, Bill McCartney, presented this challenge, men stood to their feet in applause and agreement. If you were in the crowd you would have seen the Lord answering the cries of our hearts for God to bring conviction and repentance.
The seven promises of Promise Keepers, when changed to impact both men and women, would go something like this:
With God’s help I promise to…
I feel the men of our church who are going through the Conquer Series are creating a Promise Keeper Statement and trusting the Lord to help us to be men full of integrity. To be the men, husbands, fathers, and churchmen God is calling us to be.
When God looked for a man in Jerusalem to “stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land,” he found none. Thankfully, this is not the case as we continue to have men go through the Conquer Series. We are currently in our 13th group. Praise the Lord for hungry men.
During the month of February, we have called a Churchwide Fast in order to break the chains that bind us from experiencing Spiritual Breakthrough. It is a Promise Keepers movement that is for the whole church – men, women, and children. Would you join me as we trust the Lord to move among our church and our families? Let’s believe together that the Lord will do immeasurably more than we know to ask or think.
Stop by the church and pick up a brochure about fasting in February if you were not able to get one on Sunday.
Joy in Jesus!
Beginning next month, our church will embark upon our corporate fast as we have done for the past several years. I am praying that this year will lead us to a fresh spiritual breakthrough in our church as well as everyone who participates. I have been praying for the Lord to reveal to me what He wants me to fast from and what to fast for.
As we gathered this morning for prayer, I was led to Joel 2:12-17:
12 “Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” 13 Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. 14 Who knows? He may turn and relent and leave behind a blessing— grain offerings and drink offerings for the Lord your God. 15 Blow the trumpet in Zion, declare a holy fast, call a sacred assembly. 16 Gather the people, consecrate the assembly; bring together the elders, gather the children, those nursing at the breast. Let the bridegroom leave his room and the bride her chamber. 17 Let the priests, who minister before the Lord, weep between the portico and the altar. Let them say, “Spare your people, Lord. Do not make your inheritance an object of scorn, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’”
Fasting sheet guides will be available in the Worship Center on the back of each chair. Plan to pick yours up on Sunday and prepare to intentionally fast and pray for a spiritual breakthrough. We are in desperate need of one not only in our Nation but our church as well.
Joy in Jesus!
If the Son of God were to personally accompany us through each one of our days we would soon become highly sensitive to right and wrong. We would quickly realize that our excuses to walk in the flesh do not hold water. The truth is that this is exactly what he’s promised to do! Jesus told his disciples that the father would send “another Counselor to be with you forever – the Spirit of Truth” (John 14:16-17). The Holy Spirit dwells within us and performs this role of teaching and guiding and reminding for all who desire to be sensitive to Him.
I can remember when I was younger I had moments where I would find myself in a situation where there were two blatant decisions to make. I don’t think you ever grow out of that. But being as young as I was, it was as if my hand was holding a door knob that I knew wasn’t the right choice to make and I had these thoughts rush through my mind. One of my thoughts sounded like this, “If my mom knew I was going to do this, she would be so disappointed.” I have to remember that there is One who is more sensitive against sin than the purest mother who ever walked the earth. This One dwells in our hearts, and if there is anything unholy, impure, selfish, mean, petty, unkind, harsh, unjust, or evil in act or word, He is grieved by it. We must remember that there is no place I can go where I am alone. I might think from time to time that I am but I must never believe it.
Look what Paul says, “19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” - Galatians 5:19-26
In this passage Paul writes about Christians learning to live by the Spirit. Look over the list and see what is prevalent in your life. Red flags ought to surface if you see the flesh coming through. Remember, the Holy Spirit, who is the embodiment of the fruit of the Spirit, is living inside of you as a disciple. As a growing disciple of Christ, you would have to go out of your way to grieve the Spirit. As I look through the list of the “acts of the flesh,” I notice that many of these qualities influence others or are a reaction to others. The same is true for the fruit of the Spirit. It’s time we keep in step with the Spirit and to do that daily. There should be no room for anything but Christ alone.
I am looking forward to continue our series, “Inside the Fence.” Have a blessed day as you are intent on listening to the Spirit of God show you where you reside today.
Joy in Jesus!
I love the beginning of a New Year. Time to have a redo on several areas that are lacking. One of the things I try to work on is my relationship with the Lord. Being more consistent in practicing the Lord’s presence is the key to revival in your personal life. When you experience personal revival it is bound to affect others around you. I know that I want to raise the spiritual vitality of any place I am simply because of the presence of Jesus spilling out of my life.
A commitment to this lifestyle is what David describes in the familiar Psalm that many quote.
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3 he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Sheep are not adept at taking care of themselves. Even when blessed with a good shepherd they still stray. In A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, W. Phillip Keller writes, “A commonly held, but serious misconception about sheep is that they can just ‘get along anywhere.’ The truth is quite the reverse. No other class of livestock requires more careful handling, more detailed direction, than do sheep. No doubt David, as a shepherd himself, had learned this firsthand from tough experience. He knew beyond dispute that if the flock was to flourish and the owner’s reputation was to be held in high esteem as a good manager, the sheep had to be constantly under his meticulous control and guidance.”
The truth is that we don’t have to live very long to realize that people are a lot like sheep. They have a tendency to wander off. Without being under the care of a good shepherd then they could end up in a pretty bad predicament. We have the Greatest Shepherd of all – Jesus Christ. We need to intentionally stay as close to the Shepherd as possible. He is both our protection and our blessing. We can trust that David knew what he was talking about when he referred to the events of his younger years. The former shepherd boy did not hide the identity of his Shepherd. He wanted to stay as close as he could.
Beginning this Sunday I will be preaching a series called, “Inside the Fence.” God has always protected and provided for his sheep and our role is to stay close so He can do so. He even has given us some principles in order to stay close in this up and down world. Come and learn how to stay close to God in all areas so He can be Lord of all. I am looking forward to worshipping with you on Sunday.
Joy in Jesus!
Rev. Mike McClurg
Senior Pastor, Findlay First Church of the Nazarene