Friday, December 27, 2013

God's Great Love

God’s Great Love

The Prophet Isaiah said in Isaiah 9:6-7,
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of His government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over His kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.

God’s grace in the flesh. As we pondered at the Christmas Eve Service, out of His deep love for you and me, Jesus was willing to leave His majestic realms of glory to enter the realm of humanity. Shedding all His visible attributes that were too much for man's flesh to endure, He dressed Himself in the clothing of a human being and was manifested in the flesh. That little baby in Bethlehem was the eternal, ever-existent God Almighty, who dressed Himself in human flesh so that He could dwell among men and purchase our salvation. Christ did all of this conquer the darkness. He is the Light of life. What a Savior!

As we come to the final days of 2013, I think of the many new faces that have come to be a part of our church. We are so blessed to be having so many new babies added to our families. We are so blessed to see new members come into the church. I also think of the ones who have gone home to be with the Lord and the ones who have been diagnosed with cancer. The enemy will not discourage God’s anointed. We are overcomers! God has many good days in store for us.

Thank you for being an awesome church. My family and I are overwhelmed at the love of Jesus present in our fellowship.

May you be found seeking Him in the days ahead…

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Four Essential Ingredients: Mission

Mission

We continue to look at the four essential ingredients for a thriving Christian life represented in Acts 2. This is where we see the very first church focused on the four ingredients necessary to grow together – nurture, worship, community, and mission. In order to grow as vibrant Christians, we need to make sure we place these as a priority in our faith journeys.

In Acts 2:42-47, it says, “They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

Have you ever heard of Christmas caroling after Christmas? That is what a particular small group did one time. Since the retail stores are jumping the gun by getting ready for Christmas shopping in October, a small group decided to extend the message of the Christ child a few days after Christmas. Their witness sparked curiosity and they were able to share the love of Christ. Another small group adopted a missionary together. They took turns writing notes of encouragement and sending small gifts on special days. The people in these small groups took serious the fourth component of a thriving Christian life — they were involved in mission together. Everyone doesn’t have to do the same thing in order to be involved in missions. It is probably impossible for that to take place since we have different spheres of influence.

All through the book of Acts we see where groups came together to serve and minister to the needs of people around them. It looks like sometimes it was the whole church and then other times it was a smaller group of people. The point is, we all need to be serving. Let’s look in Acts at different examples where this took place.

Acts 1 – Having been promised the Holy Spirit and commanded to be Christ’s witnesses locally and worldwide, the Twelve gathered with several women and Jesus’ brothers to pray. After they prayed they began to preach. An incredible revival broke out and 3,000 were added to their number.

Acts 4 – As the believers began to mature, they became one in heart and soul, and all they possessed belonged to each other. There was no one who had need. The Apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and grace was upon them all. They began to experience authentic community and all the material needs of each other were met. The word spread and God was glorified.

Acts 6 – A group of people started complaining because a small group of widows were being overlooked. People were extended so the Twelve decided to create a small group of seven to help with the issue. It was a simple task but it met a big need and oversight. This let them focus of the most important task – prayer and the ministry of the word.

You can continue to see this thread of mission throughout the book of Acts (Acts 13, 15, 16-17, 24).

Mission is sharing the good news of Christ’s love in word and deed. We must individually and together, reach beyond ourselves. Starting this January, we are going to give people an opportunity to be a part of a group that will mature together in the faith and minister in word and deed. Are you a part of a group that is mission oriented for Christ’s sake?

In order to follow the first Church's example, we are going to encourage people to be a part of a Discipleship Class and then breaking it down smaller into a Disciple Group. Each class could have several Disciple Groups in them. This will allow our classes to get larger while still keeping the smaller feel. It is going to be amazing to see these groups ignite with the passion of Christ.

This past Sunday was tremendous as we saw the church choir sing in the service. Unfortunately there were several who were not able to come because of the snow storm. This Sunday will be a great day. It is our Christmas Sunday Celebration. A special quartet will open up the service. You may remember this quartet from last year. Come and see the new song they will perform. Also, I keep forgetting to mention that I have done a tradition for 26 years in each church I have been in. All the men are encouraged to wear red socks. I will be wearing mine so join me as we bring in the Christmas Sunday with our red socks.

Come out tonight and enjoy a Christmas Concert at 7:00 p.m. It has become part of our celebration each year.

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Four Essential Ingredients: Community

Community

We continue to look at the four essential ingredients for a thriving Christian life represented in Acts 2. This is where we see the very first church focused on the four ingredients necessary to grow together – nurture, worship, community, and mission. In order to grow as vibrant Christians, we need to make sure we place these as a priority in our faith journeys.

In Acts 2:42-47, it says, “They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

You have probably heard the phrase, “We need each other.” From the very beginning of creation, God has put in all of us the need for others. To go a little deeper, we need people with whom we can feel close, with whom we can share, and we need it on a regular basis. Not just anyone. We need people who are followers of Jesus Christ to be in our inner circle. We cannot live out our relationship with Jesus Christ in isolation. There are times when we need pushed and times we need to push. There are times when we need challenged in our routine of going to corporate worship and kept accountable in our time of digging deep in the Word of God. We need others with whom to share personally and struggle over issues that are facing us in real time.

Building community takes more than a shared faith and common beliefs. It takes more than just coming to church weekly and sitting beside each other in worship. Community is devotion to another person or set of persons based on our joint experience of God at work in us. It is being intentional at placing others in our lives to process life in general. We are encouraged to spur one another on in the faith. If we just rely on seeing others on Sunday morning, then our spiritual journey will be lacking depth.

Christ has forgiven us. We are new creations in Christ when we are redeemed by His love and living in His fullness. Our identity is in Jesus and our relationships should be rooted in Him. Many have said that this Christian journey is learning how to get along with each other. None of us are perfect. We have simply believed in Christ’s forgiveness and lean on Him for our daily bread. By belonging to God’s Kingdom, we are free to risk ourselves in involvement with each other. This is where so many people miss out on God’s best.

If we are going to spend eternity in heaven together, why not begin to work on these relationships now? Being a part of God’s kingdom is about working through life’s trials and temptations together. I simply cannot go on my own path and expect to find wholeness. Part of wholeness is finding where I fit in the family of God. It is working through my fears and failures. It is learning to make conflicts a stepping stone and not an obstacle. Being open for the holiness of God to shine in all areas of my life is opening myself up to others, trusting God to protect my inner most being.

As our church continues working on providing tools for us to not be a Sunday-Morning-only church, ask the Lord to prepare you to go deeper and grow more in love with Him and His body. We are growing wider as a congregation. I am not talking about our weight. I am talking about the number of people who are attending our church. As we get bigger, we need to work on getting smaller so we do not lose the ability to grow deeper.

I really enjoyed the preschool and family Christmas musical on Sunday. They did an outstanding job. I will have to admit that some of the angels scared me a little. But after a few nightmares, I finally got over it (LOL). It was good to see so many people involved in the program. We are so blessed as a church. There are so many wonderful things going on. I always look forward to hearing the many stories of God’s hand at work in so many lives. God is on the move… We are continuing to get testimonies of how God used the seed money to bless someone. Keep the reports coming.

Our choir will be singing on Sunday and we will be bringing new members into the church. The Theme forSunday is, “Be Blessed.” We truly are…

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Four Essential Ingredients: Worship

Worship

We continue to look at the four essential ingredients for a thriving Christian life represented in Acts 2. This is where we see the very first church focused on the four ingredients necessary to grow together – nurture, worship, community, and mission. In order to grow as vibrant Christians, we need to make sure we place these as a priority in our faith journeys.

In Acts 2:42-47, it says, “They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

From the outside looking in, one could surmise that there are a lot of “oughts” in Christianity. We ought to love one another, we ought to be a community, we ought to witness, we ought to obey God. But the things that motivate a follower of Jesus Christ to be obedient, live in community with other believers, and witness is not a sense of “I ought” but rather a sense of “I want.” When we are motivated from the heart and not out of duty, we are enthusiastic in our approach.

When you read the New Testament, a natural result of worship is to "do church." In the book of Acts we see the experience of the resurrection bringing about worship and an enthusiastic zeal for God. The disciples devoted themselves to prayer after Jesus ascended to the Father. They were filled to completeness and could not hold in their worship.

In John 4 Jesus speaks to a Samaritan woman about worship. She seems eager for an abstract talk about theology, but Jesus brings the discussion down to a personal level. He emphasizes two things about worship. First, God is looking for worshipers (John 4:23). He has taken the initiative. He wants us to know Him more so He seeks us out. Second, God wants us to worship Him in spirit and truth. God is more concerned about our heart than He is how we do it. He sees the spirit with which we approach Him.

As a church, we want worship to permeate through all we do. If people are getting together as Disciple Groups, we want worship to be the central theme. If a Discipleship Class gathers, worshipping the Lord by bringing Him honor and glory ought to be the flavor of our time together. Experiencing the presence of God as we live a life of worship is the key.

I always enjoy coming together as a church on Sunday morning as we worship. Each Sunday is unique and I always come away encouraged and blessed. I am excited to see what God does through the seed money given out this past Sunday. We have been praying as to how God wants to meet a need through our faithfulness.

Don’t forget to come for Worship this Sunday at 9:15 a.m. We will not have Discipleship Classes. Following that service we will go to the Family Life Center (10:45 a.m.) for our Kinder Choir presentation, "The Best Gift of All," followed by the Family Musical “Bethlehem Bound.”

May you be like the Wiseman who sought Jesus out to worship Him. He is worthy of all of our praise and worship…

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Four Essential Ingredients: Nurture

Nurture

For the next several weeks we will be looking at four essential ingrdients for a thriving Christian life represented in Acts 2. This is where we see the very first church focused on the four ingredients necessary to grow together – nurture, worship, community, and mission. To grow as vibrant Christians, we need to make sure we place these as a priority in our faith journeys.

In Acts 2:42-47, it says, “They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

In the physical body we need nourishment. When you go without a meal, your body reacts by sending hunger signals to the brain. Not that I have missed very many meals, but when I have, sometimes I get a headache or my body becomes weak. Our body is looking for fuel and can’t find much to work with when we don’t eat. Our spiritual lives are like that as well. Our spiritual body needs nutritious food to bear the fruit that shows we are disciples of Christ. In John 15:8 it says, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” It is imperative that we nurture our souls and hunger for soul food like we do physical food.

Leland Eliason, a professor at Bethel Seminary in St. Paul, put it this way: “Those who give into the pressures of ministry by failing to study will run dry; those who give into the pressure of study by not being involved with people will become distant.” Nurture cannot happen by ourselves. You need to be nurtured by, and you need to nurture, someone else.

The disciples devoted themselves to prayer, the breaking of bread, the fellowship, and to the apostles teaching. All of this was done in the context of others. It all works together as a lifestyle of believers who are being nurtured to follow Christ. To this lifestyle the early believers corporately devoted themselves.

What group are you involved with where you receive and give nurture to follow Christ? Let me recommend you become a part of a Discipleship Class on Sunday morning. They meet at 9:15 or 10:45 a.m. There are several to choose from. I believe you will grow in your relationship with Jesus Christ as a direct result of your faithfulness to come and grow. I am excited about the Disciple Groups we will be launching in January. This will enhance our Discipleship Classes and allow us to go deeper and serve more together.

Don’t forget to come Sunday for a special Advent Celebration kick off. You will be glad you came to experience the ADVENTure. Remember, it is the first of December, the first Sunday of Advent, and the first time we have ever done what we are about to do in the service. You have to be there to experience it.

Have a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving…

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Four Essential Ingredients of Vibrant Christian Growth

Vibrant Christian Growth
Our church is experiencing some exciting days. Many new faces, including newborns, are present each week. We have prayed and even fasted for God to move in our midst and we are seeing the church grow spiritually, emotionally, and numerically. I believe this is just the beginning of what God longs to do in Findlay, Ohio.

I want to refocus us on our mission, “To Make Christlike Disciples in the Nations.” It is so crucial to always keep that before us as a church and as individual members of this church. Whenever I want to remind myself of the privilege and responsibility we have as the “Church,” I am always drawn back to the first church that began in the book of Acts. In Acts 2:42-47, it says, “They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

The growth we are experiencing is very small compared the growth of the early church. The previous verse mentioned the church growing 3,000 in one day. Now that would change your structure over night.

As we look at the first church and the fact that we are to be making disciples for Christ, I want to remind us of our responsibility. There is a three-fold responsibility:
One is for the church. We have a responsibility to provide opportunities to be and make more disciples. This is always before us.
The second responsibility is for each person. Everyone is called to be and make disciples. It is not an option.
The third responsibility falls on our homes. Every parent is called to raise up their children in the Lord. So let me begin to break down the responsibility that is placed on us.

In Acts 2:42-47, it shows the church was devoted to four ingredients that were essential for a vibrant Christian life: nurture, worship, community, and mission. In the weeks ahead, I want to expound even further on these important expressions of the faith. Let me just touch on them briefly in this devotional.

Nurture involves growth in both mind and spirit (Romans 12:2). God can nurture us through different books, films, lectures, sermons, and other resources. But the most effective way to grow is with others. That is why we are always encouraging everyone to become a part of a Discipleship Class on Sunday morning. Learning together and processing the Word of God on a regular basis is good for the soul.

Worship is the natural overflow as we take in God’s Word into our lives. Knowledge and love for God increases and worship springs forth. In verse 43 it says that everyone was filled with awe. That means filled with amazement, respect, reverence, and wonder. They worshiped with a glad and sincere heart, not mad and critical hearts. Worship unites a body of believers like nothing else.

Christian community is different from being a member of an organization. It resembles love and obligation we have toward members of our immediate family. It is devotion based on experience we share of God at work saving us from a “corrupt generation” around us (Acts 2:40). The outcome is that we are built up together as we share needs, confess sins and faults, bear each other’s burdens, encourage and pray for each other.

Mission is the fourth ingredient to a vibrant Christian life and church. We exist to serve and reach out to a hurting world in need of hope. We are to share the good news of Christ’s love to all people. As people come in contact with the love of God, the Spirit witnesses to their spirit and transformation can happen. Mission includes sharing our faith, social action, world missions, taking a meal to the sick, ministering in Jesus’ name, learning how we can make a difference locally and globally.

As we continue to grow, we want to stay true to our mission and purpose. We don’t exist to keep programs running. We exist as a church to advance the kingdom of God and provide a place of equipping and an atmosphere of Biblically centered growth.

So let me encourage you to get all you can by putting your whole self in growing to be more like Christ. Mix in all four ingredients to experience growth directly from the Lord that will last.

Let me remind you of our Advent series entitled, “Celebrate.” It will begin on Sunday, December 1. Devotional books are available in the foyer for the next few weeks as we prepare for this great advent experience. You will not want to miss the first Sunday of Advent. We are doing something we have never done before. You will be glad you came.

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Celebrate: An Advent Experience

celebrate
An Advent Experience

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.            Isaiah 9:6-7

This year during advent we are celebrating together a lot of firsts. Advent begins on the first day of December which is the first day of the month. Advent is celebrating the first appearance of our Lord. There is also another first. Are you ready? Here it is… I’m not supposed to tell you. Come on the first Sunday of December to find out what the excitement is all about. It will be the first time we have ever done this particular thing I am thinking about right now. No, you can’t get it out of me. It’s going to be good. You will want to make it a priority to be here and bring others with you. It will be life changing. Did I mention that if you are not here on that Sunday then you will not be able to fully experience it? It’s true. Don’t believe what others may tell you.

This Advent season is going to be power packed. Every family will be able to participate with a twist. We'll provide you with an Advent calendar where you can place daily random acts of mercy. Instead of celebrating by preparing to lavish resources where there is merely want, we will prepare by lavishing mercy where there is need. Every Sunday will focus on being ready and bringing as many along with us as we can. I am so excited for all the festive things we will participate in. This Sunday, special devotional books will be available. Make sure you get one for your family so you can begin this experience on Dec. 1.

Be praying for and preparing for the greatest Advent season ever. Remember, it starts on Sunday, December 1, and you will want to be present for the beginning of a great adventure. Be blessed and let’s celebrate together with an awesome service on the first Sunday of December!

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Parable of the Lost

The Parable of the Lost

In Luke 15, we see the heart of God as Jesus describes three stories of something or someone lost. The first one is a lost sheep, the second is a lost coin, and the third is a lost son. These are familiar parables but are worth reading again as we pray for a great harvest this week from the “My Hope with Billy Graham” meetings happening all over America. Let me show you the conclusion of each parable:

“And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” Luke 15:5-7

“And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15:9-10

“So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found,’ so they began to celebrate.”  Luke 15:20-24

Do you see how great the Father’s love is for us? Even while we are still far off, He is filled with compassion for us and runs toward us. He exchanges our dirty filthy rags for new ones. He adorns us with a promise ring and puts new coverings over our feet to walk in a new way. What an awesome, holy God, the Savior of the world.

In light of that, we have been praying for the Lord to move on our Nation. Continue to pray with me as we intentionally share the love of Christ with our neighbors.

This Sunday I will start of new series called, “My Hope.” We will look in John 20 and 21, where Jesus appears after His resurrection. There were three individuals who needed a fresh filling from the Spirit of Jesus. This Sunday will also be our Harvest Dinner in the evening at 5:30 p.m. Rick James will minister in song and we will celebrate what God has done through the many Matthews who presented the Gospel story. If you were one who invited others to your home and there were decisions made for Christ, bring your cards in so we can follow up with a gift. Place your cards in the box located at the back of the sanctuary.

Looking forward to great days ahead…

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Let's Party!

Let’s Party!

We have been praying for this party for some time now. Preparations have been made and people have been trained on how to throw a great party where the angels will rejoice in heaven. In Luke 15:7, Jesus says, “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”

I remember in college when Vickie and I travelled and sang. There was a song many people requested over and over. The title was, “That’s When the Angels Rejoice.” It says that there is only one thing that will make the angels jump and shout – a sinner repenting of their sins. What an awesome picture.

What party am I talking about? I’m so glad you asked. It is on Thursday, November 7. We are celebrating Billy Graham’s birthday. He is the greatest evangelist of our time. Millions have come to know Jesus Christ through a Billy Graham Crusade. Billy is turning 95 years old. He has longed for the strength and opportunity to speak God’s message once more to America. With modern technology, he is able to enter into the homes of millions of Americans through the television. Whether you show it on a DVD or watch a scheduled program, many will have the opportunity to hear the Gospel from a trusted, household name.

Thousands have been praying for this week. They have prayed for lost loved ones and friends by name. It is time to pull the wool off of many people’s eyes caused by the father of lies and enemy of our soul. God promises in 2 Corinthians 6:2, “’In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.’ I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.”

So what are you waiting for? Get on the phone and invite your neighbors and friends to come over and celebrate a birthday. Whether you watch it on TV in your home, on a laptop in a coffee shop, over dessert and watching it on DVD, celebrate and give someone an opportunity to confess Jesus Christ as Lord. There is a lady in St. Louis telling her neighbors that she is throwing a party for Billy Graham’s 95th birthday on November 7. There will be cake and party favors. She tells them that they will watch Billy Graham’s new message for America being broadcast that night. She intends to give everyone a copy of his book, “Peace with God,” wrapped in birthday paper with a bow. She says, “A successful witness is sharing Christ in the power of the Spirit and leaving the results to God.” Maybe you can take her idea and run with it.

Last night, I helped with our Upward float in the Halloween Parade in downtown Findlay. By the looks of things, all you have to do is offer candy and people will come in droves. It is crazy how many people come to that parade. Just think, this party can make an eternal impact on the lives of your friends and loved ones. It’s worth the effort.

This Sunday, we will be wrapping up our series, “Not a Fan.” Come and anticipate a move of God in a powerful way. Let’s pray that the party will begin early and go all week long. Do it Lord…

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Atmosphere of Prayer

Atmosphere of Prayer

Our staff and Church Board have been going through a study on prayer by Jim Cymbala called, “When God’s People Pray.” This study has challenged me to take a hard look at our church in the area of prayer. Many wonderful things are happening in our church. We are seeing new people come and join our fellowship, many lives are being touched by the hand of God, relationships are being mended, and many other things that won’t fit in this email. But as I look closer, could we see more transformational things happening if our church was a house of prayer? What does that even look like? I don’t want it to show up in the form of another program. Programs come and go. Prayer is a direct line to our Heavenly Father through Jesus Christ. We need to follow the mandate Jesus laid down when He said, “My house will be called a house of prayer.” in Matthew 21:13.

We desperately want great things to happen as we pray and seek to open the floodgates of fresh grace and revelation. We don’t want to copy how others are doing it; we want to be authentic and new as we seek the heart of God. If you were to attend Brooklyn Tabernacle on Tuesday nights, you would have to stand in line to get in. Hold on to your seats. They are not standing in line to attend a concert; they are waiting to attend a prayer meeting. We must give God room to operate. He is the Great Physician. If there is going to be a heart surgery (which there needs to be), I choose to let God be my doctor over anyone else. Programs tend to produce earthly, temporal results because they begin with us. But if we begin with God, eternal and transformational results are the norm. Call me selfish, but I want that in my life, in the life of my children and wife, in the life of this church, in the life of this community. Findlay, Ohio, needs to have a church on fire for God. I want to be in the middle of a church that is seeing Biblical outcomes.

“The feature that is supposed to distinguish Christian churches, Christian people, and Christian gatherings is the aroma of prayer. It doesn’t matter what your tradition or my tradition is. The house is not ours anyway; it is the Father’s… I have seen God do more in people’s lives during ten minutes of real prayer than in ten of my sermons.” Jim Cymbala in Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire pg. 71

So pray with me as we truly seek the heart of God as a church. Pray that we will become a “House of Prayer,” and that people will experience a fresh anointing from the Holy Spirit.

This Sunday we will continue our series, “Not a Fan.” Come with anticipation, filled with prayer, ready to respond to the deep love of the Father who embraces fully, devoted, committed, followers of Jesus Christ.

Come tonight at 7 and see what God will do if you clear your schedule. This is the last night of our revival services. The teens will be meeting at 6 p.m. for pizza and fellowship in the Family Life Center before the service. I have enjoyed the worship led by Thom Sneed and the spirit-filled messages by Rev. Kevin Seymour. God is on the move.

By the way, I’m looking for some people to join me for prayer at 6:30 pm in room 202 on the north side of the church (across from the office).

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Recipe for Revival

Recipe for Revival
“For the people had all been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.” Nehemiah 8:9 (NLT)
There’s a pattern that we see throughout the Bible – a pattern of something very powerful happening whenever people turn to the Scriptures. In the verse above (which is read on day 30 of our “Engage the Word”), we see that the people of Nehemiah’s day (who had wandered away from the Word) were all moved to the point of tears as they heard God’s Word being declared to them. The result was a widespread return to God.
We see this pattern repeated in 2 Chronicles 34. The temple of God was in ruins, and as they went to repair it, a copy of the long forgotten law was discovered. When King Josiah read it, he tore his clothes, begged God’s mercy, and instituted spiritual reform in the land.
Something similar happened in the book of Acts as the Apostle Peter preached the Word to thousands who gathered in the streets of Jerusalem. It says that these people, many of whom had a hand in Christ’s execution just a few days earlier, were cut to the heart by what they heard. The only response they could summon was, “What do we do now?” What they did was go on to become the first 3,000 converts to Christianity (Acts 2:37-41).
The pattern is undeniable. Something very powerful and something very spiritual happens whenever God’s Word is discovered and declared. Sin is identified, conviction sets in, repentance happens, and revival follows. God uses His Word to revive His people.
What an important truth for our Church. It’s only when the Scriptures are given center stage that the first fires of revival are kindled in the Church collectively and in our hearts personally.
This Sunday begins revival at our church. Revival will not happen until we fall into the rhythm of what God calls us to do in our walk with Him. I love the picture Neil Cole, our speaker at the District Empower the Church Tour, gave this week when he talked about breathing. Exhaling is the confession of sin and inhaling is taking in the Scripture. If you do not exhale, then you cannot inhale and vice versus. We are to put off the old self and to put on the new self according to Ephesians 4:20-24.
So you will determine if you will see the revival fires upon us. If you come seeking the Lord, confessing what is not submitted to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and soaking in the Word of God like a sponge soaks in water, then you will be open for what God will provide.
Come to the church on Friday night at 7 p.m. for an hour of prayer as we seek God and prepare the soil for His presence.
Have a great day in the Lord and remember to put God’s Word on the top of your to-do list.
Joy in Jesus!
Pastor Mike