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!
Success takes on many different forms because there are different ways of determining if you are successful or not. In Webster’s dictionary it states that it is “a favorable or desired outcome that has been met.” So success is determined by the person setting what the measurement and outcome is. Success is different according to your personal desire. If your goal is to be rich in earthly wealth then by attaining a lot of money, one could say that you are successful. But for those of us who follow Christ, seeking success means seeking God’s presence and asking the Lord to go with us and be at work in the details of our lives.
In the Book of Nehemiah, we find the story of Nehemiah returning to his homeland to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. His heart was heavy because of the destruction of Jerusalem by her enemies. It was not an easy road to travel. There were many obstacles to go through. But Nehemiah was praying at the very beginning and boldly asked the Lord for His favor and success in meeting with the king to get permission to go on this long trip. Nehemiah knew that he first needed to seek the Lord first because he didn’t want to attempt this if God wasn’t going to make it successful.
“O Lord, please hear my prayer! Listen to the prayers of those of us who delight in honoring you. Please grant me success today by making the king favorable to me. Put it into his heart to be kind to me.” Nehemiah 1:11
There were many in opposition to Nehemiah. Eventually his enemies lost confidence because they realized they had been fighting God himself (Nehemiah 6:15-16). When God is in the mission, He will fight our battles for they are not ours but His to begin with.
In order to be successful, we need to first consult the Lord and make sure it is of His will. Then we can be confident to know that we are only called to follow His lead. Celebrating that kind of success is longer lasting because we serve and eternal God.
This Sunday we are continuing to “Hang Out with the Giants” from Hebrews 11. We will ask Isaiah to give us insight into his life as we strive to be all that God has called us to be.
May God find you successful today in all that you accomplish through Him.
Joy in Jesus!
What do you do when you get discouraged? Do you run toward God or do you run the other way? Jesus never promised that life would be without disappointments or discouraging situations. Knowing that fact sometimes doesn’t make the pain any better.
I made a new friend this week. I went over to his house to visit with him because he is not going many places these days. He has good days and bad days. You don’t know what kind of a day it will be until you get to it. For you see, he has been diagnosed with cancer that has moved to his bones. The doctors have given him a few months to live. As I was visiting with him I couldn’t help but think of how devastating that was when he got the initial news. No one wants to hear that kind of news. We have seen many things of that nature at our church. It doesn’t make it any easier to try to go through this with families. Each time is just as hard as the other. The one thing I do notice is that the one who has been diagnosed has more peace than anyone else. A lot of times they are the ones trying to help others through the outcome of their diagnosis. They know they are headed for a city where there is total freedom and an eternity to experience the peace of God. That is the kind of grace and peace that I want in life no matter what the diagnosis or circumstance that I am in.
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4 (NLT)
The word used in the New Living Translation concerning the results of the testing of your faith is steadfastness. Other translations use words like patience, endurance, fortitude, and perseverance. The Apostle Paul says in Romans 5:3 that enduring suffering produces perseverance. There is an unwavering firmness that is present when you run toward God instead run away from God. He calls us to endure to the end. Life can get difficult but know that God is greater than anything period. We are called to wait on the Lord.
So as you are experiencing life, remember to “Wait patiently for the Lord; be strong and courageous. Wait patiently for the Lord” Psalm 27:14. As you wait for the Lord, He will give you what it is that you need to move through the mountain you are facing. So let me remind you that with God you can. Maybe you need to remind someone else of that simple fact today.
On Sunday we are going to Hang Out with Giants. After looking at the life of David, I decided to pick out different giants in the faith from Hebrews 11 and look into their life. God put these beautiful stories in the Bible to help us to learn from the best or maybe even the worst. Whichever the case, it’s going to be good. Also I wanted to let everyone know that our Nazarene Youth Conference students and adults have safely arrived home in the early morning hours. It will be good to hear what the Lord has been doing in their lives. Thank you for those who prayed for each one by name.
Joy in Jesus!
7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened." Matthew 7:7-8
There is no clearer promise than this in the Word of God that prayer will literally bring results. According to James 4:2, many times we don’t receive because we don’t ask. Matthew 7:9-11 goes on to say, 9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”
There are a few things I would like for you to pray for. Pray for our Vacation Bible Adventure. Tonight will be our third night. Thursday night is the last night before we come back together on Sunday. Pray for strength and creativity for all of our leaders. There is excitement in the air as we all gather together. Part of the excitement is because our leaders are being used by God to pour into all the families who come into the church. This would not happen without our volunteers. Would you also pray for the children to hear the story of Jesus and what He has done for them? We are believing that this week will impact these children and change the course of their lives. Pray that some children will accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.
Pray for our group of 17 who are in Phoenix, Arizona for Nazarene Youth Conference. They left the church at 1:45am this morning to travel to Columbus to fly to Phoenix. It is going to be a life transforming week if we commit to praying for them. Let me list the names of those who are attending:
Adults: Ben Stanhope, Samantha Stanhope, Tracy Stults.
Teens: Hayden Carr, Lindsey Fark, Rachel Fark, Ally Heldman, Drew Heldman, Rosaline Hertenstein, Lei Melick, Rheanna Patterson, Olivia Rook, Rebecca Rook, Sophia Ruiz, Alauna Stults, Avery Stults, Noah Williams.
This is a great group from our church. Pray for each of them for the next week and let’s anticipate hearing what the Lord has done in their lives. Pray for their safe return a week from today.
One more thing to pray for, pray for our services on Sunday. Following the second service we will be enjoying an indoor picnic and lots of activities outside for our VBA Sunday Funday. Everyone is invited to stay and get to know each other better. I think of it as an extended family reunion. It is always good to fellowship together and hear what God is doing in other people’s lives. Don’t forget to bring a couple dishes for our potluck following the second service which will be held in the Family Life Center. The first service will be in the Worship Center.
Matthew 7 does not sound like asking for something and getting something entirely different. It is getting what we ask for. As we pray within the framework of God’s will, we can be absolutely certain that we will get what we ask for. There are many lives that will be impacted in a powerful way. Let’s truly believe in the power of prayer.
Joy in Jesus!
Starting on Monday, July 8, our church will be buzzing with excitement as we begin this year’s Vacation Bible Adventure. The theme is Power Up. It is going to be a power packed week as our kids gear up for a great week full of adventure. Please pray for our families who will be attending during this week. There are many families from our church but there will also be families who do not have a church home. Especially pray that they will sense the love of Jesus this week and will feel the wooing of God to return each week to grow together to the maturity of Christ.
Another exciting event is Nazarene Youth Conference that same week where we will have 14 teenagers attend this great conference. They will leave on Wednesday, July 10. Many teens in the past have made major life decisions on this trip by making Jesus the Lord of all of their life – past, present, and future. There are many who have even answered the call to full time ministry. Please remember our group who will be traveling to Phoenix, Arizona for this life changing event through July 16. Pastor Ben has been doing such a great job in connecting our teens to God and others. We are blessed to have him leading the charge.
These kinds of events cannot happen without a lot of planning and preparation. Pastor Tracy has done an awesome job of pulling a team together to go over the top with our Vacation Bible Adventure each year. We are so blessed to have a church full of people who love God and love others as Jesus calls us to. I know that there are lots of things to do whether it is behind the scenes or on the front lines. If you are able to help, then plan on attending a VBA meeting following the second service on Sunday. Most of all, pray. Pray for the Lord to move in a powerful way this week. We love to have fun with the kids but we love, more than anything, to see children and families come and meet Jesus and then walk in relationship with Him.
Summer is always a time of changing up the rhythm of our daily routines. This summer is no exception. Please be in prayer for the different events that are happening and continue to be the loving people God has called us to be. Thank you for serving the Lord with the passion He has given us.
May God richly bless you as you seek Him wherever He may be found.
Joy in Jesus!
For many early Christians, the idea that Jesus came in the flesh was a hard pill to swallow. Many in the Roman world believed that everything physical or material was bad, that the goal of salvation was to escape this world. They thought the goal was to escape the physical and become a spirit. John took on the challenge of confronting that ungodly thought of his day. He writes,
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We write this to make our joy complete. 1 John 1:1-4
John the evangelist wrote both the Gospel of John and the 3 Epistles of John known as 1, 2, and 3 John. You will see a similarity in the first part of the Gospel of John as he talks about the incarnate Jesus which means that He came in the flesh.
In one sense, if the physical world’s only foundation comes from itself, then the early Christians would be right in the fact that it was not so good. But when the spiritual is in control of the physical then it can be controlled by the mystery of God. John wants to bring fellowship with man and God to the forefront. We are to constantly be growing closer to God and with others. The Christian message can be summed up with the greatest commandment, Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, then to love your neighbor as yourself. This will truly bring your joy to completeness. It is through the physical that Jesus impacts this lost world.
May God remind you that He loves you with a love so much that He came down to this earth and became a part of the physical world to show us how to love Him more and save us from sin. What a God we serve.
Thinking on this makes for a great day…
Joy in Jesus!
We have been looking at God’s revelation to man as He speaks in the skies, as He speaks Scriptures, and now as He speaks in the soul.
He Speaks in the Soul (19:12-14)
12 But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults. 13 Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression. 14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
Jeremiah 17:9 says, The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
Basically it is saying that we can’t even understand our own heart. We need the mirror of the Word to reveal it to us. The Psalmist goes as far as to ask the Lord to reveal his secret sins (Psalm 139:23-24).
As I have been reading through the Old Testament, I thought it was interesting that the Old Testament law provided for sins of ignorance but for sins of open rebellion and defiance there was no sacrifice (Numbers 15). Here David asks not only to be cleansed of secret faults but to be restrained from running into deliberate sin. David knew how deliberate sin could shackle his every thought of walking in freedom from fear and debilitating sin. In Romans 6, the Apostle Paul says that sin should have no dominion over us.
Could it be that David is telling us that it is an accumulation over time of the small hidden faults that are unbridled that could potentially lead to a willful, deliberate sin against God? It is so good to humble ourselves before God and give Him my all.
I think that verse 14 ought to be our prayer before our feet hit the ground in the morning. “May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer” Psalm 19:14. The word “meditation” here has the image of a musician plucking the strings of a harp. Who controls the music of your heart, God or Satan? Meditation is to the heart what digestion is to the body; it is the taking in of the Word of God and making it a part of the inner being. As the heart and mind think on the Word all day long, the Spirit guides the life. That is why I always talk about saturating in the Word of God. It is what we dwell on that will begin to permeate in our heart and mind.
I think of the Parable found in Mark 7 where Jesus says it is not the outside that makes a man unclean, it is what is coming from the inside.
This Sunday I will finish up the series, “Decluttering Our Past.” Many have been running from things of their past and the Lord is calling us to embrace them and fully commit it to Him. If we don’t thoroughly give it to Jesus then we take a chance of repeating something that God wanted to grow us through.
Make Psalm 19:14 your prayer each day as you strive to be more like Jesus…
“May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer” Psalm 19:14.
Joy in Jesus!
Last week we looked at God’s revelation to man as He speaks in the skies. This week we focus on God speaking in the Scriptures.
Rev. Mike McClurg
Senior Pastor, Findlay First Church of the Nazarene