When God delivered the people of Israel from bondage and slavery in Egypt, He led them to the Promised Land. On their long journey to freedom, they did not have to guess where God wanted them to go because they were led by cloud during the day and by fire at night. The cloud would many times stay over the tabernacle for several days and the Israelites obeyed God and did not set out for the next day’s journey. Sometimes the cloud was only over the tabernacle for an evening, then it would lift and they knew it was time to go. Read Nehemiah 9 sometime to see how faithful God was to the Israelites.
God was faithful to first disciples by sending His one and only Son to dwell with them on this earth. After Jesus called His disciples He spent three years performing miracles and showing them the way to the Father every day. Following Jesus was like the Israelites following God by way of the cloud and fire. If Jesus traveled east, then the disciples did the same. It was the physical manifestation of the Lord. There was no second guessing as to where and what Jesus wanted them to go and do.
God’s provision is just as real today as in the Old Testament and when Jesus was physically here before His death and resurrection. When Jesus ascended into heaven, He left His Holy Spirit to fill us so we can also follow Jesus.
“Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18).
When we come into relationship with Jesus by asking Him to forgive us of our sin and we follow Him with our whole heart, then the Holy Spirit fills our heart. As we are filled with God’s Spirit and refrain from those practices that may quench the Spirit, we can follow the path that God has purposed for our lives. The path may seem less clear than following a cloud and fire in the wilderness or walking with the physical Jesus as the first disciples experienced. But we are now indwelt with God’s Spirit. The power to obey and follow Jesus comes from within. We no longer have to follow external signs, we have the Spirit of God living within us and directing our steps to follow His ways.
Practice the presence of Jesus this summer. Don’t get away from the routine of spending time in God’s Word and praying every day. I am so thankful that my God has chosen to fill us with the Holy Spirit and guide us from within. There is power when you saturate in God’s Word and Presence daily.
May God continue to set your hearts on fire for the things that bring life.
Joy in Jesus!
I am at our General Assembly held in Indianapolis, Indiana as a delegate to the Discipleship convention and then to the General Assembly. It has been a great day to see many people and sense the Spirit of God in this place. Nazarenes from all around the world gather every four years to worship, and tell stories of what God is doing. We are now in 162 world areas.
I also saw our Work and Witness Team tonight who are made up of 24 teens and adults. I was so proud to see our youth group so unified. I can remember being a youth pastor just a few years ago and praying for our trips to be filled with unity. It only takes a few cliques to ruin a good trip. I just stepped back and saw all of our teens coming together and talking, laughing, and working together. It is also good to see our adults along side of them. We are so blessed to have so many working together on this trip.
As I watch people gather together in worship services, talking in hallways, and attending seminars together, I am reminded of a quote from Fletcher Spruce in a book, “When God Comes. When God Leaves.”
“What will remove the blight of unbelief? Will preaching do it? It hasn’t yet! Will theology do it? It hasn’t yet! Will arguments and reason do it? They haven’t yet! But the coming of the Comforter will! The Holy Spirit coming upon people individually and collectively, and upon the great Church of Jesus Christ, will do more to remove our doubts and give us blessed assurance than any one thing I know about today!”
The premise is that the Spirit will come before the truth is received. It would be a tragedy for people to gather at General Assembly from around the world and leave the same. But if the Spirit of the Lord sets the agenda, then there will be power and anointing fall fresh on the church. Pray with me for the Spirit of Truth to come and speak to the church.
“But when he, the Spirit of Truth, comes he will guide you into all truth” John 16:13
We are a people in desperate need of the Holy Spirit to be poured out on us. It is happening. God is falling fresh on the church, on the Work and Witness teams who are working in Indianapolis, on our youth group, and on this pastor. Praise be to the Lord!
May you be filled with the Spirit of God today and may it change the course of your day!
Joy in Jesus!
We have several new people at our church, so I thought I would talk about the larger church that we are a part of. We are a part of the Church of the Nazarene International. There are currently 30,574 churches in the denomination. There are 2,471,553 members in 261 world areas. We have 17,848 ordained elders, 820 ordained deacons, and 10,006 licensed ministers. In Ohio, for example, we have 5 districts and we are located on the Northwestern Ohio District. We currently have 57 churches. There are about 350 Nazarene churches in Ohio.
When I mentioned camp meeting on Sunday, I was talking about our camp grounds in St. Marys, Ohio. We purchased it in 1947 and our church was started in 1939. So our church was one of the churches instrumental in starting the camp grounds. It is called Lighthouse Camp. We have a weeklong camp meeting the week leading up to Father’s Day every year. During that we also have a District Assembly and Missionary Convention where we learn about what is happening in the denomination globally and take care of local business and support. Later in the summer we host our children’s camps as well. Tracy Stults is the Middler Director for the third year now. I have been our Discipleship Chairman on our district since 2010.
This year our Worship Team will be leading worship on Friday night. Come and support our team as they lead up to 700 people from across our district. On Thursday night, Ronglan Huang and Donna Ebanks will be ordained. Over the past several years, this church has helped to grow up several different people in ministry. I was just thinking of the names of some of them the other day. James Smith, Brian Knight, Ann Knight, Nate Stults, Jessica Myers, and now we add Ronglan Huang and Donna Ebanks to the list. Morgan Alumbaugh and Tracy Stults currently have their District License.
I want to invite people to take the hour drive to our camp grounds and experience the services. Services start at 7:00 p.m. during the week and 6:00 p.m. on Sunday. This Sunday they will have a hymn sing at 3:00 p.m. It is worth the drive to worship and hear the Word of God together with your sisters and brothers in Christ. The camp grounds are really looking nice these days. There are children’s activities during the services as well.
This Sunday will be Father’s Day. Come and let’s encourage our Fathers as they have the opportunity to give a glimpse of what the Heavenly Father is. There will be a gift for all the fathers present. Now, pack up your family and take a trip to St. Marys for some spiritual renewal. You will be glad you did.
Joy in Jesus!
I was reading in 2 Kings 6 today and came across a story that reminds me that God’s way of dealing with the enemy is not what comes natural to us. Let me give you a quick overview.
As verse 8 starts out, “The king of Aram was at war with Israel.” He would try to overcome the Israelites by setting up ambushes at different places they would travel. The prophet Elisha would tell the Israelites the plans of king Aram. Every time the king of Israel would send a delegation ahead of them and it was exactly as the prophets told them so they were ready for them. This enraged the king of Aram and he began to look for a spy amongst his people that was leaking out the information. Come to find out it was not one of his men but it was Elisha and the prophets who were the informers. Word got back that Elisha and the prophets tell the king of Israel the very words king Aram speaks in his bedroom. The last time I checked, they did not have access to spying equipment or camera device, it was all from the Lord.
Well, the king of Aram sent out men in search of Elisha and the prophets who were responsible for informing the Israelites of their plans. They found them in Dothan and sent horses, chariots and a strong force there to overcome them. A servant of Elisha woke up early the next morning and saw a huge army surrounding them and he was frightened. Elisha simply said, “Don’t be afraid. Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” The servant must have thought that Elisha was dreaming or losing his mind because the last time he looked, there were no others around except the enemy. But Elisha saw what the servant could not see because Elisha was driven by faith and the servant was driven by fear.
Elisha’s first response was not to pack up and go, it was to pray for the Lord to open the eyes of the servant to see the reality of the situation. The Lord answered Elisha’s prayer and the servant’s eyes were opened and he saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. The servant must have been relieved.
Elisha prayed for the Lord to strike the army blind and he proceeded to tell them that they were in the wrong location. He led them to Samaria which is right in the middle of the Israelites. The tables were turned on them. They are now being surrounded by a huge army of their enemies.
Now here is where God shows us that His ways are greater than ours. The king of Israel was chomping at the bit to kill his enemy once and for all. Elisha instead told them to prepare a big feast and then send them back to their master. What? They were thinking that if they let them go then they will try to overcome them at another time and another place. Again, God’s ways are greater than ours. After he sent them back, the Scripture says that they stopped raiding Israel’s territory. This kind act terrified the king of Aram. It was the grace shown to them that frightened them the most because they knew that they could have been toast.
Let me remind you that God is bigger than all of your problems combined. He may choose to deal with them in a way you would have never thought of. Let Him show you an unconventional way of dealing with the enemy once and for all. Let me warn you, it may not make sense, but it works.
This Sunday we will be looking at another parable of Jesus and it will also begin our District Camp Meeting week. Have you ever gone to St. Marys and attended a camp meeting service? Our church is a part of the Northwestern Ohio District and every year we gather together for services held at our district center located in St. Marys, Ohio. It is one hour southwest of our church. I want to encourage you to attend a service throughout the week. More information is in the bulletin on Sunday morning.
May your faith show you that the Lord is surrounding you with more than you need to be victorious today.
Joy in Jesus!
Rev. Mike McClurg
Senior Pastor, Findlay First Church of the Nazarene