We are beings of worship. When we each were created, we were given a desire to worship. Someone said that we are either worshipping the Creator or His created things. The Lord said from the very beginning that we are to worship the Lord God and to worship Him only. It was important enough to make it on the top 10 list called the 10 commandments that were handed down to Moses to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt and bring order to their new life of freedom in the Promised Land.
One time the Israelites were waiting for Moses to come down from the mountain where he would speak directly to God. They were tempted to set up an idol made of gold. They got impatient and distracted and this led to idolatry – the worship of idols. It was a trap set up by the enemy and they fell for it. Read the story found in Exodus 32.
The Lord knew what was happening and He told Moses that the Israelites have corrupted themselves by forming a golden calf to worship and make sacrifices to. The Lord’s anger burned against the people. What happens next is astounding. Moses knew that someone must die for these sins and must become a substitute for their sin in order for God’s forgiveness to fall on the people. Does that sound familiar? It is exactly what Jesus has done for us. He became sin, who knew no sin, that we should be called righteous. How could a people who had so recently been the recipient of the might and power of God decide to do such a thing? To think, they would turn their back on God and worship an idol in place of the one true God.
God’s grace comes shining through again. He forgave Israel and was faithful to his covenant with them. Moses realized a price had to be paid and he could offered to be the substitute but he was not an unblemished sacrifice. What they needed was a perfect Lamb that would come in the form of Jesus. That is what we have been given by a gracious and loving God. Let’s don’t ever forget what we have been rescued from.
This summer when the routine changes, don’t be guilty of allowing any golden calf to take the place of your worship. The enemy is all too quick to distract us from putting God first before all things. Ask the Lord to point out the golden calves in your life that like to take the place of your worship of the one true God. Before you know it, they can creep into your life and draw you away from the best thing He has for you. It is good to come together and worship the Lord and fellowship with other people on the same journey. I love to worship with my church family. I can’t think of anywhere else I would like to be.
Tonight a dear friend of our church passed away – Dave White. Dave is worshipping like he never has before. His faith has become sight. Please be in prayer for Mark and Jan Powell, Thomas & Erika Naylor, Lyndsie Smith, Jeremiah & Kayla Magee, Kevin & Debbie Aukerman, Drew & Christina Aukerman, the grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and the extended family and friends. Dave was 91 ½ years old and lived a good, full life. He will be greatly missed in our services.
I am looking forward to graduation Sunday as we celebrate our graduates. May God bless you and keep you as we anticipate worshipping the Lord together.
Joy in Jesus!
There is a humorous story in the Bible found in Acts 20. Paul was in Troas and was going to leave the next day so he continued to speak for a long time. Now let’s not compare that to my sermons on Sunday morning. When they say long, it was for many hours. He went all the way up to midnight. A young man named Eutychus was seated in the window where many were gathered listening to Paul. Look what happened next.
9 Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead. 10 Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “He’s alive!” 11 Then he went upstairs again and broke bread and ate. After talking until daylight, he left. 12 The people took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted.
That scene could have been on a Sunday morning in many churches today. Once you get relaxed and you sit for a while, your eyes have a tendency to close and you begin to inspect the inside of your eyelids. Not that I have ever seen anyone do that in our church.
The good news is that the little boy was not hurt, he was healed. The not so good news is that there were probably others who had fallen asleep but were just not sitting in the window susceptible to fall three stories. Needless to say, the window is off limits for a while, especially to Eutychus.
I believe that sometimes you can be involved in a routine for so long that you can “fall asleep.” Sometimes we need to switch ministries up from time to time in order to breathe in new life. I don’t ever want to fall in a rut in any of our ministries.
Starting in June, we will be taking a break from our Front Row Ministry on Wednesday mornings for the summer. We will not stop praying and believing, just changing things up a little. Prayer sheets will be available to continue to lift the needs of the church up to the Lord. In no way do we want to diminish our prayer because it is through prayer that makes the church more effective. We will start back up in September.
I want to encourage people to pray without ceasing in matters that are eternal in nature. God wants us to pray fervently for the things that matter the most. If you are ever wanting to be more involved in the prayer ministry of the church, please contact me and let’s talk about what that can look like.
May God bless you today as you serve others with the same passion Christ served us.
Joy in Jesus!
Have you ever heard the analogy that living the Christian life is sometimes like going from a mountaintop experience to living in the valley? You go off to a retreat, conference, or mission trip and you quickly move up to the mountaintop. Then you come home and get back in the routine of life and you sink back into the valley. The goal is always to experience God in the valley just as we did on the mountaintop, but it never seems to work. So you grow up believing the Christian life is a series of ups and downs and as you get older you will have fewer downs than you have ups. How depressing. There may be some truth in that analogy at certain seasons of life, but it doesn’t have to always be that way.
I like Mike Yaconelli’s description of the Christian life. He was a youth minister who had a big impact on my life. He is now experiencing Jesus first hand after dying in a car accident at the age of 61. He thought the Christian’s life was more like a roller coaster. You say yes to Jesus, and suddenly you are strapped in and you think, “I’m going to die!” Then you begin a long climb of growth as you attend Bible Studies and become involved in the things God calls you to and you think, “Hey, no problem, I can follow Jesus anywhere.” And then you crash into the twists and turns of life, jerking you left and right, up then down, and fifty, sixty, seventy, eighty years or more go by and then you die.
Passion is the roller coaster ride that can happen when you follow Jesus. It is the breathtaking, thrill-filled, bone-rattling ride of a lifetime where every moment matters and all you can do is hang on for dear life. When you become a follower of Jesus Christ, you decide in favor of passion. Jesus came to forgive us of our sins but His mission was also to introduce us to the passion of living. He wants you to live life to the fullest (John 10:10). Look at what the Apostle Paul says to the church in Rome:
It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s!... This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?”
(Romans 8:10-11,15, MSG emphasis added)
What is passion? It’s being alive and living with expectancy and enthusiasm.
What is the opposite of passion? It’s living as if you are dead and being borrrrring (For the A-type personality, the spelling is wrong for emphasis).
Don’t let the devil rob you again today. Get out and live! Be encouraged that Christ lives in you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27).
Joy in Jesus!
I am like everyone else, when I repeat an activity, I like to do it better than I did the first time. If I ride my bike or run in a race, I want to beat my score. That is the competitive nature within me. It is the way that God created me. I have often said that there is a blessing and curse to every strength God gifts us with. In the area of competition, it can be a curse if you do whatever it takes to win, no matter who you run over in the process. We have all met someone like that before. God does not intend for you to use a competitive spirit for personal gain or to hurt one of his sheep. It is to be used for the glory of God. Now when you help the team win or are driven to become better, that is when it can be a blessing. But let’s bring all of this into perspective.
I was talking to someone today about trying to beat a record in a good way. Sometimes it isn’t always good to beat a record. We specifically talked about Twice Blessed. Every year we have been breaking the previous year’s records in many areas. We have seen that in Upward Basketball in our past history. I believe there are times when trying to get better can blur our vision and purpose. It is exciting to set records, but what about our purpose?
I am so glad that Twice Blessed and Upward is Kingdom driven. There were a lot of “1” moments I call divine appointments. There are stories after stories of how God has used these ministries to bring another “1” home. We always want to put our best foot forward but I always want to keep before us the main reason why we do these ministries. It goes along with our Scripture today.
“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”
Over the years, I have heard the “99” complain because their needs were not being met. Or I have seen churches focus so much on the “99” that they lose sight of their purpose. Don’t get me wrong, it is exciting to have the “99,” but I don’t want to forget the “1.” Sometimes trying to top the numbers from the previous year will get your focus on things the Lord may not want you to be focused on.
I am excited when I hear the stories of the “1” returning home or coming into relationship with Jesus because of the prayer and effort to minister to the “1.” I am so excited that the ministries of our church focus on the “1.” The leadership of Twice Blessed and Upward Basketball both are all about the “1.”
If we want to overdo ourselves, then let’s increase the number of ways in which we plant seeds and prepare the soil for the Lord to move on the “1” He is seeking. We need to do whatever it takes to light up the world with the love of Jesus. When we do, then the transforming power of the resurrection can spread to families in need of a Savior.
Another ministry that is all about the “1” is our ministry to Northview School. I just heard a story from Sharon Dawson about one little girl who was going to graduate to another school because she will advance to the next grade. She is so disappointed because she loves the Bible Club. She even said that she was going to tell all of her friends who are in the grade below her that they need to come to the Bible Club after school. All because of “1.” The Northview School ministry now has 11 children attending the Bible Club. I am so glad we have a church filled with people who care more for the “1” than trying to break another record.
I am looking forward to a great day on Sunday. Come with the anticipation of “1” you have been praying for, showing up and accepting the one who died for them – the name that is above all names – Jesus!
Joy in Jesus!
Rev. Mike McClurg
Senior Pastor, Findlay First Church of the Nazarene