Don’t get the title of this Faith Builder confused. I am not pointing out that Christmas hurts. Christmas is a reminder of the love of God. I am simply saying that the Christmas Season carries some pain for some of our people. There are many people during the Holiday season that struggle with a broken heart. Yes, they have the joy of the Lord in their heart and the peace of Christ is still reigning in their life, but the memory of a loved one who is not with them this Christmas can be present amongst the presents.
As I was praying today, I couldn’t help but thank the Lord for this church. God is doing so many amazing things all around us. They are too numerous to mention them all. So I thought I would just use this space to say thank you for all you do. Thank you for giving me a place to raise my family up in Christ. Thank you for giving your bests to see the Kingdom of God fall fresh on our church so we can approach life and ministry with excellence. Thank you for being a place who embraces everyone for who they are and prays for the Lord to help us strive to live according to His Word. Thank you for praying that God will remove the complacency of our life and set us free to experience the Joy of the Lord. Thank you for loving your church staff and making ministry fun. I always look forward to the weekend as we gather corporately and live out of the abundance of God’s direction in our life.
The following prayer of thanksgiving wells up in my soul today for you and all who will call this church their home in the coming days.
3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people— 5 the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel 6 that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace. 7 You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, 8 and who also told us of your love in the Spirit. 9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience,12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:3-14
May God give you a reason to sing of His love and provision as you celebrate Thanksgiving with your family and circle of friends.
Joy in Jesus!
I was thinking the other day about the time that we spend in keeping our material possessions from fading away. In order to keep things running, there has to be some time allotted to maintaining “stuff.” The question is, “How much time are we spending on keeping things running that will eventually dissolve?” How much time are we spending on temporal things that only have a short term life expectancy? A day is coming when all the material possessions you own and hold to be dear will be dissolved.
“10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. 11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. 14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.” 2 Peter 3:10-14
The only things to survive this life will be what we do for Jesus Christ and the Word of God. We tend to think that our houses, buildings, and the things we construct in life will live forever. But the truth is, even the structures that are built to survive through the ages of time and any storm that rages will eventually pass away. Since the only thing that is done through the Word of God and for eternity will last, we can see why Peter asks the question, “What kind of people ought you to be?”
Peter is alerting us to the fact that nothing we presently own will last. To stretch it even further, even our empty words will not have a lasting impact. So how should we prioritize our lives?
Although, we must give attention to the basic things that are necessary to live, we make a huge mistake if we focus on these temporal matters while neglecting the eternal spiritual issues that will pass from this life into the next. Only what is done in the spiritual for the Lord will last. Everything else will be left behind in a world that will one day be consumed with a fervent heat. So it makes sense. Investing in our spiritual future is also investing in our physical present. You can even reverse that sentence.
So rephrasing Peter’s question, why not ask yourself, “Since the heavens and the earth and everything said and done are temporary and will one day pass away, what should have my greatest attention and devotion? Are you investing in eternal thoughts and things? Do your priorities reflect the temporal or the eternal?
I have spent several weeks focusing our devotions on memorizing Scripture. Can I remind you that the Truth of God’s Word will last forever? Spend time today internalizing the Word of God. Let it come up in conversation. Stake your life on it and God will transform you wherever you are.
I love how our church is hungering and thirsting for more of God. I see it everywhere I turn. Keep on hungering. Let God continue to be the church through us. We are experiencing great days. On Sunday night there were several people who prayed and settled the Lordship issue. As the song says, “God is on the move!”
May God richly bless you today as you seek Him with all your heart.
Joy in Jesus!
I want to tell you about a lady named Fanny Crosby. She has written many hymns over her lifetime. You may recognize some of them like, “Blessed Assurance,” and “To God Be the Glory.” She was born in 1820 and her father died shortly after her birth. She was blinded in infancy by a careless doctor treating her eyes. As a result of her blindness, Fanny developed a phenomenal memory. She would memorize whole books of the Bible including all four Gospels. She would say that whenever she wanted to read a portion of Scripture that she would go through her mind and the verses would flow through her brain like a recorded tape.
After she came to the Lord, that vast reservoir of memorized Scripture became the nurturing fountain for her hymns. She would compose hymn after hymn in her brain and retain them with perfect memory. She would then go to her publishers and dictate them one after another. During her ninety-four years of life, she wrote approximately nine thousand hymns. This is more than anyone else in church history.
Whenever she wrote a hymn, she prayed that God would use it to bring people to Christ. She had a goal of winning a million people to Christ through the words of her songs. I believe she has surpassed a million people.
Fanny is proof that when your mind is focused on Scripture, you’ll seldom be at a loss for something to say that will make an eternal impact. The wisdom that came from her writing was unlimited.
Can I ask you again, what Scripture are you working on memorizing? It is only when we allow the Word of God to sink into the very walls of our heart that we can be ready in season and out of season, to share with others. For 2 Timothy 4:2 says,
Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.
We are to live out the Word and be a walking sermon. Bill Gothard, who would conduct seminars across the country about getting into the Word said that meditation is the practice of memorizing, visualizing, and personalizing the Scripture. As we continue to faithfully memorize and meditate on Scripture, the Holy Spirit will gradually remold our minds until we see things and evaluate life increasingly from God’s point of view, and that’s the essence of wisdom.
May God continue to lead you to Scripture to unfold to you new pathways of thought that you can feed on each and every day. I am looking forward to being with you this Sunday.
Joy in Jesus!
The weather has now made a turn toward winter. I can just feel it in my bones. There are days that I can’t get this body of mine to warm up. That has nothing to do with my age. I know what you are thinking.
With all of the seasonal changes that come our way, we have many things to look forward to. The time change this weekend for one. We all get one hour of extra sleep on Saturdaynight. For those who forget to move their clocks back, they will be at church an hour early. For some, that means they may make it on time to church. Did I say that? Shame on me. I know, I don’t have 3 kids to get ready. Thanksgiving is another holiday to look forward to. Then there’s Christmas.
For the past several weeks, Vickie and I have been listening to Christmas music before we go to sleep. We put on an app called Spotify and listen to all the sounds of Christmas. I am so proud of myself. I have finally worn Vickie down to the point of listening to Christmas music before Thanksgiving. It took close to 30 years to do that but it just goes to show that if you are persistent you can make changes, even in your spouse. I won’t go into the many things she has changed in me, for the good of course.
As I have been focusing on Scripture memory for the past few months, I thought I would bring up the mother of Jesus since I am getting in the Christmas spirit. Mary was chosen by God to carry His Son. She must have been a special woman of God. When you read carefully in Luke 1, you will notice when the angel Gabriel told her she would bear the Messiah, she hurried to the home of her relative, Elizabeth, and there she broke out in one of the Bible’s greatest prayers of praise – the Magnificat. It is found in Luke 1:46-55.
46 And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord 47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, 49or the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name. 50 His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. 51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. 52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. 53 He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. 54 He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful 55 to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.”
Mary must have been a great Scripture memorizer. Her exhortation drew heavily on Old Testament Bible verses, and we get the impression that Mary was a student of Old Testament Scriptures, with a rich treasury of verses packed away in years of saturating in God’s Word. She knew how to ponder these things in her heart. We can also assume she frequently quoted those verses to her firstborn as He was growing up. This Scripture memory undoubtedly filled her heart and her home.
Let me encourage you to fill not only your mind with God’s Word, fill your homes with it as well. Follow the principle found in Deuteronomy 6 and creatively weave it in all aspects of your life.
This past Sunday night during our Night of Worship, God showed up in a powerful way. I believe it was a culmination of prayer, revival, and hungry hearts coming together and seeking the heart of God. Let’s continue to hunger and thirst after the things of God and be an eyewitness of the new things He is doing.
Joy in Jesus!
Rev. Mike McClurg
Senior Pastor, Findlay First Church of the Nazarene