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!
Rev. Mike McClurg
Senior Pastor, Findlay First Church of the Nazarene