As Moses was leading the people of Israel to the Promised Land, God had assured them that He would go with them and protect them. Moses was to be the mediator between the people and God. It is through Moses that God gave the Israelites the commandments. They had entered into a covenant relationship with the Lord Almighty. They consecrated themselves to God and said that they would do everything the Lord has said. Unfortunately, they didn’t fulfill their part of the covenant.
A covenant is when two or more parties come together to make a contract, agreeing on promises, stipulations, and responsibilities. God provided the details when He met with Moses on Mount Sinai and gave him the 10 commandments. He also gave him many other laws that you can read in Exodus 21-23. It was all spelled out for them to follow. The nature of a true covenant is to keep all of it. Keeping only some of it and violating the rest is not keeping it at all.
Every generation and newcomers to the community had to receive and endorse this covenant from the Lord. That would have been done by the previous generation living it out and upholding it before their children and community. If this did not happen then the next generation would not know and sense the importance of this covenant from a Holy God.
Moses did everything to lead the people in placing a priority on the covenant relationship established with God. There were five parts to this process of keeping the covenant before the people: the altar, the twelve stones of remembrance representing the twelve tribes, animal sacrifices for their sins, blood application, and the reading of the covenant. All of this prepared the people and kept the ongoing relationship fresh.
In Exodus 24 we read that the covenant was confirmed. Moses heard the call of God to come up to the Lord and he did just that. After returning, he told the people all of the Lord’s words and laws. In verse 3 it says, “…they responded with one voice, ‘Everything the Lord has said we will do.’”
If you keep reading the rest of the chapter, you will notice that Moses goes up to the mountain again and spends forty days with the Lord. I keep seeing a time when the leader is continually renewing and sharpening. There is something about not taking our relationship with the Lord for granted. In order to be in a true covenant with God there has to be an ongoing consecration and time spent with the Law Giver.
May the Lord find you hungering for more of Him today and may your face glow with the radiance of God for all the world to see.
Be praying for our services on Sunday as you prepare to worship the Lord with your church family.
Joy in Jesus!
I remember some of the first verses I memorized as a teenager when I was getting grounded in my faith. In Romans 12:1-2 it says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Those verses have always been close to my heart and mind over the years. They have reminded me of what my focus ought to be and what it should not be. This morning as I was reading, I was drawn to the verses that followed in this passage. I saw the words, grace and faith jump right off the page. My mind started thinking of the encounters I have had with grace and faith. I have even baptized a Grace and a Faith. Brandon and Andrea Morgart named their daughters, Grace and Faith. Ok, I need to pull this back in.
According to Scripture, God distributes faith and grace to the believer. It says in Romans 12:3, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” In Romans 12:6 it says, “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.” So God himself distributes to us the faith and grace we need to fulfill the purposes of God? What a humble thought.
We also see in Ephesians where grace and faith are key factors in our salvation. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast” Ephesians 2:8-9.
So, what is grace and faith? Let me break down the two. Grace is the love of God shown to the unlovely; the peace of God given to the restless; and the unmerited favor of God given to all. It is love that cares, stoops, and rescues. It is the unconditional love that is given to those who do not deserve it. It is given to all of us and somehow our gifts are spurred on by it. It is so big that we can’t break it down to just one definition. What a God we serve.
Faith is trust, confidence, assurance, and belief in God. It accompanies with it a total faith. The Hebrew writer says, “Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” Hebrews 11:1. The amazing thing about faith is that not only are you saved through your faith, but God himself gives you faith.
Why not take the time to saturate in the Word of God and look at faith and grace. You will be amazed at how wide and deep you will find it. To think, in our relationship with God we can exercise grace and faith not only in our relationship with the One true God, but we can give it away as we model a life lived for Christ.
What a wonderful day we had last Sunday. I want to thank everyone who helped with the set up, the tear down, and everything in between. There are too many to mention. It was good to see all the fun activity as we enjoyed our time together. Someone said to me that they have never seen the transition go that fast before as we transitioned from a worship center to a banquet hall. I am looking forward to being with you on Sunday. We will continue to look at another parable as we study the words of Jesus. There is so much we can put into practice as we engage in the life giving words of our Lord.
Joy in Jesus!
What a great week we are having here at the church. Tonight will be the last night of Vacation Bible Adventure and it is going to be another wonderful, exciting packed night. It is amazing how Pastor Tracy and her team have transformed this space into a wild and crazy glow in the dark fortress. The theme has been “Glow – Go Light Our World.” Countless hours have been spent in preparation for this year’s Vacation Bible Adventure and it shows.
As I walk around and see all of the children, the workers, and the activity, I am overwhelmed at how this church invests in others. Our mission is to Make Christlike Disciples in the Nations. I am seeing our church involved in doing just that. All ages have come together to learn about Jesus, to share the love of Jesus, and to train up the young to know the ways of the Lord. Sunday will be a wonderful day as we gather and hear stories of people using their gifts and talents to glorify the name of Jesus. Make sure you plan to attend and participate in this wonderful experience. Following the second service, we will transform the Family Life Center and enjoy a picnic together. There will be many activities to be involved with or just observe as others enjoy the activities. The good thing will be the intergenerational feel as we all come together to worship and fellowship.
I think of Psalm 84:10-11, “Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked. For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.”
Those verses sum it up for me. It is worth it all to be here and experience Jesus being spilled out all over the place. I am so thankful for the church and our people who are willing to do whatever it takes to see others come to a thriving, vital relationship with Jesus Christ. Thank you church for being the hands and feet of Jesus. As parents, we see how our children have benefited greatly from the many servant leaders who invest in the kingdom of God over the years. God is on the move!
Let’s keep in prayer those in our surrounding community who have been impacted by the rains these past few days as you go throughout your day. Maybe God will use you to do a miracle today for someone in need.
Joy in Jesus!
Last week I was a delegate to the 29th General Assembly of the Church of the Nazarene. It was a historical event that will be known for taking a strong biblical stance in a downward spiral world concerning morality. Please read the statement below that came from the Wesleyan Church as they affirm our stance on human sexuality and marriage:
"The Church of the Nazarene (COTN) is a sister denomination to The Wesleyan Church with which we share an intertwined history of partnership. During their 2017 General Assembly this week, they elected Dr. Filimao Chambo and Dr. Carla Sunberg to serve on the COTN Board of General Superintendents. I celebrate their elections and welcome them to the always wonderful world of the General Superintendency!
"Speaking of that, my office has received an unusual number of questions related to a COTN General Assembly display. I understand why some might have appropriate initial questions about the display's ministry, and I wanted to report what I've learned about it. My staff were able to build a relationship with the leader of this work and other COTN leaders in order to do our homework before responding to questions. We learned about a Nazarene congregation called Trinity Family Midtown Church which has a ministry among those struggling with same sex attraction. This ministry is led by ordained ministers of the COTN, who have been faithful to their ordination vows as well as the doctrinal positions of their denomination. They have also been highlighted at COTN leadership events in the past, and are living out the calling and mission of their denomination in their work.
"The Church of the Nazarene also expanded their statement on human sexuality in their manual (with a 97% vote) with some extended and carefully crafted text grounded in theological ethics. Their beautifully worded statement resonates with The Wesleyan Church views that have been clarified through the years in our Discipline and in other position statements.
"Like us, Nazarenes affirm that sexuality is intended for a "monogamous lifelong relationship between one man and one woman within the framework of marriage" (TWC International Wesleyan View of Homosexuality). Like us, they also urge their churches to ministry that creates a "safe place for individuals to open up transparently to one another in the midst of personal struggles and successes" (TWC Pastoral Letter on Homosexuality).
"I commend the Church of the Nazarene, its leaders, and its scholars on thinking well theologically and living well on mission in this area. They match their words and deeds in a way I admire. I also call on those in The Wesleyan Church, as A Wesleyan View of Homosexuality does, to "respond to the homosexual community with both boundless compassion and a call to biblical standards of sexual morality." This seems to me to be the COTN approach, and it has my affirmation.
"No one person speaks for our entire denomination. I want us to value a variety of voices speaking with nuance and different perspectives. However, as the General Superintendent, it is my role to bring clarity and ensure we are not doctrinally or missionally out of sync. Our variety of perspectives lie within the parameters of our doctrine. They should also be communicated within the parameters of civility and the fruit of the Spirit. At times it is not our views but the language and tone with which we communicate them that is out of bounds.
"A Wesleyan View of Gender Identity and Expression warns, "Some observers and some recipients will mistakenly interpret simple compassion as approval of nonconforming gender behavior. However, every person deserves the care of others within the body of Christ, as we 'carry each other's burdens, and in this way... fulfill the law of Christ' (Galatians 6:2)." I am glad to see many Wesleyans working hard this week to ask direct questions of our Church of the Nazarene brothers and sisters, for when digging deeper and seeking to understand, we find people who are committed to Christ, in agreement doctrinally with their church's positions, and taking risks to see people come to Christ and be discipled toward holiness.
"I want to conclude by congratulating our Church of the Nazarene brothers and sisters on a successful General Assembly in 2017.
-Wayne Schmidt, General Superintendent of The Wesleyan Church, June 30, 2017
May God continue to guide our church with love for others and a path filled with the spirit and attitude of Jesus.
Joy in Jesus!
Rev. Mike McClurg
Senior Pastor, Findlay First Church of the Nazarene