Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Living in Humility

Living in Humility

Today is the last day of the year. It is a time to reflect on the past while striving to move forward in faith. God has been ever so present at our church. We have seen many new faces and have seen many new opportunities to grow together to the maturity of Christ. As we set our sights on letting Jesus be Lord of all in this New Year, I want to bring our attention to Philippians 2:1-11.

Paul knew that there is a difference between unity and uniformity. True spiritual unity comes from within; it is a matter of the heart. Uniformity is the result of pressure from without. This is why Paul opens this section appealing to the highest possible spiritual motives in verses 1-4. Since the believers of Philippi are “in Christ” this ought to encourage them to work toward unity and love, not division and rivalry. In Paul’s way, he was saying to the church, “Your disagreements reveal that there is a spiritual problem in your fellowship. It isn’t going to be solved by rules or threats; it’s going to be solved when your hearts are right with Christ and with each other.” Paul wanted them to see that the basic cause of disunity was selfishness, and the cause of that was pride. There is no joy in the life of a Christian who puts himself above others.

The secret of joy in spite of circumstances is found in Philippians 2:3: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” In Philippians 1, it is “Christ first” and in Philippians 2 it is “others next.” Paul the soul winner in Philippians 1 becomes Paul the servant in Philippians 2.

It is important that we understand what the Bible means by “humility.” The humble person is not one who thinks meanly of himself; he simply does not think of himself at all. Humility is that grace that, when you know you have it, you have lost it. The humble person knows himself and accepts himself. Romans 12:3 says, “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.” The humble one yields himself to Christ to be a servant to bring glory to God and to see himself through the gift of faith given by God Himself.

Being a servant does not mean that the believer is at the beck and call of everybody else or that he is a “religious doormat” for everybody to use! Paul is not suggesting that we purchase friends or maintain unity in the church by giving in to every whim and wish. Look at what 2 Corinthians 4:5 says, “For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.” Did you see it? It is for the sake of Christ. All that we do should be for the sake of Christ. If we put Christ first then we will have no problem submitting to others in service.

Before you start the New Year, take the time to read Philippians 1 and 2. Make this a year to remember by being filled with the spirit and attitude of Jesus in all things.

I am looking forward to seeing what Jesus does through His Holy Spirit who lives in us this year.

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike


www.findlayfirstnaz.org

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas


For the past several years the motion picture industry has been featuring movies that tell the story of Christ – from “The Passion of Christ,” to “The Chronicles of Narnia,” to “The Nativity.” They have taken different stories like Noah, the book of Exodus, Moses, and several more to come because people have always been drawn to God’s Word. I will be the first to say that everything that happens in a Hollywood motion picture is not always completely accurate. They may have the overall story right but the details get lost or exaggerated. Some would say that Hollywood is trying to make a quick buck on a great story. That may be the case but I choose to believe that God wants to give people an opportunity to know Him better and accept the free gift of salvation. It is an opportunity for Jesus to speak to the hurting and lonely. In Romans 5:8 it says, “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

The Nativity is about Almighty God sending His one and only Son down to this earth. This is His gift to us, not for Christmas, but for eternity. He doesn’t want us to admire it, anymore than we would merely admire a gift given from a loved one. He doesn’t want us to merely acknowledge His gift. He wants everyone; He wants you and your neighbor, to receive His gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ, by inviting Him into your life. He wants those who have already received this gift to be faithful and share the Good News with a lost world.

Are you prepared to be available for God to use you to share the greatest story ever known? Invite someone to attend the Christmas Eve Service at 4:00 p.m. or 6:00 p.m.Invite someone over to share the love of Jesus this season. Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God!

I want to say on behalf of the staff, that we find it a privilege to work alongside such an awesome church. Many people who have visited our church have said that we have a unique church in the sense of so many things going on the unity we share together in Christ. I would have to agree. God is so greatly to be praised.
May the Lord give you a safe Christmas and may the end of this year be filled with many memories of God moving through your life.

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike


www.findlayfirstnaz.org

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Miracle of Christmas

The Miracle of Christmas

“For unto 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.”
Isaiah 9:6


It’s hard to believe that a week from today is Christmas Eve. There are still lots of things happening leading up to Christmas. Tonight is the “Light the Night” Christmas Concert at 7:00 p.m. On Sunday we will gather for our Christmas Sunday Celebration and enjoy a special quartet number, a drama presentation, and my message concluding the series Bright Christmas entitled, “Leave the Past in the Past.” Men, don’t forget your red socks. Then there is the annual Christmas Eve Service. What a highlight to a great year.

On Sunday night we had the Chinese students over at our house. We had 30 counting my family. It was a great time of fellowship and sharing the greatest story of all time – the story of when Christ entered and intersected our world. The testimonies of how these students and their families are accepting Christ as their personal savior was exciting. We are so blessed to have the International students as a part of our church. It humbles me to think that God is using our church to make such a big impact in China.

As I was praying this morning during our prayer time at the church, I was reflecting on the Miracle of our God choosing to come and live among us. As I prayed through the names of God I prayed that we would live out His name today as a church. Let me recall the power and authority that rests only in the name of Jesus. He is the Triune God, the Creator God, the Most High, the All-Sufficient One, He is the Great I AM! Jesus is our sanctifier, our righteousness, our peace, our provider, our shepherd, our victory and our purpose. He is our healer, our hope, our future and everything we could imagine and more. Yes, Jesus, the little baby in the manger is all of these things to us and He so desperately wants to live out His name through us today. Would you step aside and let Him spill out of you today and impact a world in need of a Savior?

Looking forward to see what God is going to do with our availability.

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike


www.findlayfirstnaz.org

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Serving Brings Contentment

Serving Brings Contentment

“The end of all things in near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.”   1 Peter 4:7-11

I was just thinking this morning how many people fall into a rut. We get so consumed with our routines that no one, not even God, can get us out. Did you know that God has better things in store for your life than just having your day end well?

Peter is getting caught up in helping people to understand what it is to really live for God. He states that we are to pray purposefully, love deeply, love without grumbling, and use our gifts to serve others as faithful stewards of God’s grace.

I love the church. It is a place where we can do all of the things Peter lays out for us. This Christmas is about taking our eyes off of ourselves and ministering in Jesus’ name. In order to experience a Bright Christmas, we are to take the focus off of ourselves and care for others. That not only brings a Bright Christmas rushing in, but it brings life back into the church. It is at that moment that selfishness and discontentment fall off. New life and purpose in our lives, our families, and our church begin to emerge. That is why we have Operation Serve: Christmas Edition.

I just had lunch with Stuart Wyatt yesterday and he was sharing with me about his son Noah. We have adopted this family as part of our Operation Serve: Christmas Edition. Noah was born with Spina bifida. He is paralyzed from the arm pits down. Noah is 12 years old and has undergone surgery to open up his airway through his vocal cords. There are two other surgeries scheduled for January and February. We are in the process to know how best to minister to this family. Stuart is a pastor in Van Wert, Ohio. Please be in prayer for this family (Stuart, Amy, Noah, Alex, and Lily).

What can you do to serve others this month? We are encouraging everyone to look for ways to bring glory to God. There is an opportunity tonight to go out and serve with your church. Come to the church at 6:30 p.m. and leave with a group to carol at a nursing home or the house of a shut in. Many have already signed up or have planned to serve in some way. If you have not already let us know that you were coming, then call the church office (419-422-8660) to tell us how many are coming with you. We will assign you to a group. Teens, children, families are all welcome to join us. There are some Disciple Groups already planning to visit people or help with a particular project. Following our different serving points, we will gather in the Family Life Center for hot cocoa and cookies.

What a great service we had last Sunday. We are in the middle of an exciting Advent Season. This Sunday we will continue with our theme of forgiveness as we open our lives up for the Lord to fill us.

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike


www.findlayfirstnaz.org

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Prayer of Faith

The Prayer of Faith

The American missionary to India, John Hyde (1865-1912), was known as a man of strong faith. He set out in life to bring one person to the Lord every day. The Lord honored his prayers. Later, he felt led to be even bolder and ask for two souls a day; eventually the number increased to four! But he was best known as one who prayed for revival. He was like a modern day Elijah — the prayers of this righteous man were powerful and effective. In 1911 Hyde began his return to the States because of broken health. As he was returning, he stopped in England to visit missionaries he had known in India. There was an American evangelist by the name of J. Wilbur Chapman preaching in the area. The response to the altar was very minimal. John Hyde attended the services and noticed that there were not many responding to the messages. When John decided to pray earnestly for people to be open to the Holy Spirit, the response changed dramatically. Now the place where they were meeting became filled with not only people, but the Holy Spirit. Fifty people responded to the invitation to accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

I earnestly desire to see God continue to move in the hearts of people here in Findlay. During this Advent Season, we are focusing on forgiveness. Our theme is “Bright Christmas.” There are so many people who need to experience the forgiveness of God and to experience the power of forgiveness given to others. When we are faithful to forgive as God has forgiven us, then we can experience the Bright Christmas God intends.

I want to remind you of some times set up to pray for the Lord to continue to move on the hearts of people in our services and in our sphere of influence in the community. EverySunday we gather to pray from 8 to 8:30 a.m. in room 202 which is across from the church office. Every Wednesday we gather in the sanctuary from 6 to 7 a.m. I want to get in the rhythm of praying together as a church and I invite anyone to join me as we desperately call upon the Lord to fill this place with His presence.

This Sunday we will be having a regular service at 9:15 a.m. in the sanctuary and then at10:45 we will gather in the Family Life Center for our annual Children’s Musical. We are so blessed to have children who love the Lord and want to express it in worship. Come, and invite someone to come with you for this powerful day of worship.

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike


www.findlayfirstnaz.org

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

From Our Lips to Our Lives

From Our Lips to Our Lives


“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that confess his name.”  Hebrews 13:15

There are two aspects of worship mentioned in Hebrews 13:15 – lips and service. They are both important as we look at living out worship in every aspect of life. Our lips are to praise the Lord – but “the fruit of lips that confess His name” will be lives that are continually lived for God’s glory in a “sacrifice of praise.” It is not an “either/or” but a “both/and.”  Let me explain.

Our lips delight in praising the Lord as we come together and worship. We corporately come together on a Sunday morning and lift up the name of Jesus. It is a dynamic time of expressing how much God is worth to us. One of the early signs of revival is a worship that comes alive in the church. When the King makes his presence known, it’s only natural that his people will want to praise him. According to our services, we are in the middle of revival.

I enjoy coming and worshipping with our Church. Our services are an inspiration and we are truly in the presence of the Lord. I always look forward to what the Lord is going to do with our time together. Even in the midst of a pastor’s feeble attempt to describe the history of the church and get his words twisted up, there is a spirit of excitement when we laugh together. I remind you often how real I am in the mistakes I make. Lord help me!... and He truly does.

There is also personal worship when you get caught up in a song or the presence of God when you are alone or with a couple of friends. No one can duplicate the sweet spirit of God that falls down on you when you least expect it.

There is also a dynamic that takes place when we serve each and every day. There is an element of putting fruit to what we say and bringing glory to the name of Jesus. It is in the expression of our worship that serving opportunities arise. There are some times when they drop in our lap and they seem so natural. There are other times when it is a difficult thing to do. All in all, our service is the overflow of our worship.

What better time to put fruit to our lips than Thanksgiving. We should always be a thankful people but especially when we gather with friends and family, around the table, sharing the many blessings God brings to our lives. What a great day to express the Lord’s goodness.

This Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent. Our theme is “Bright Christmas.” Our sanctuary and church are looking great. Many thanks for the people who came out last Sunday night to decorate our church. My prayer is that the Lord will fill our church with the hope and love that will be life changing this Christmas. Invite a friend and let the Church be the Church.

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike


www.findlayfirstnaz.org

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Crowding God Out

Crowding God Out


Last Sunday I finished my series on the book of Jude. I mentioned that it is a mirror of 2 Peter 2. Peter and Jude were talking about how false teachers can distract people of faith and get them to run a course they were not prepared to run. When someone turns from their faith and begins to walk in another direction it is called backsliding. Peter says in 2 Peter 2:22, that it is like, “A dog returning to its vomit and a sow that is washed and goes back to wallow in the mud hole again.” Not a pleasant thing to think about but it happens. The backslider begins to see his or her sin as attractive and desirable. But God doesn’t. It is not just a problem of human weakness. It is the sin of crowding God out by filling your life with self. Peter also says in 1 Peter 5:8, “Be self controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” After experiencing revival as a church and seeing God move in our lives, the enemy is not going to let up. Verse 9 continues and says, “Resist the devil, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of suffering.” Yes, turning from God is as disgusting as a dog returning to his vomit.

Let me encourage you today to keep current with your relationship with Jesus. Keep the revival fires burning in your heart. There is a great hymn called “Search me, O God” written by J. Edwin Orr. It talks about the cure for backsliding or a sure remedy to keep a vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ. Meditate on the words today as you seek the Lord and also pray this for others you come in contact with.

Search me, O God, and know my heart today,
Try me, O Savior, know my thoughts, I pray;
See if there be some wicked way in me;
Cleanse me from every sin, and set me free.

I praise Thee, Lord, for cleansing me from sin;
Fulfill Thy word and make me pure within;
Fill me with fire, where once I burned with shame;
Grant my desire to magnify Thy name.

Lord, take my life, and make it wholly Thine;
Fill my poor heart with Thy great love divine;
Take all my will, my passion, self and pride;
I now surrender, Lord, in me abide.

O Holy Ghost, revival comes from Thee;
Send a revival, start the work in me;
Thy Word declares Thou wilt supply our need;
For blessings now, O Lord, I humbly plead.

This Sunday we will be celebrating 75 years as a congregation called, “Back to the Future.” Come and celebrate a great heritage as well as a great future God has laid out before us.

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Just Another Ordinary Day

Just Another Ordinary Day



In Luke 24:13-35 we see Jesus encounter two men who were caught up with the events that had just taken place. Jesus had died, was buried, and was believed to have been raised from the dead. These two men were so engrossed in the moment that they did not realize that Jesus Himself was walking and talking with them. Jesus even poured Himself out to these men and explained what all the Prophets had said concerning the events that just took place. They probably understood it clearer than they ever had before because it came from the One whom it was about. Their hearts were burning within themselves because the King of kings was speaking to them. It was just another ordinary day and they were going through the motions as they normally did. They were not even open to the fact that they were with Jesus until Jesus broke bread and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they saw things for what they were.

We can’t be too critical of these men because we too have been so preoccupied with things happening in our life that we missed a real encounter with Jesus. He is actually in more places today through His Holy Spirit than He was in this story. I have found myself wishing that I was one of the men on the road to Emmaus. I think to myself, “I would have recognized Jesus from the very first word.” Then I quickly am humbled when I think of the times I have really missed seeing His hand at work through His Holy Spirit because of being preoccupied. As a matter of fact, the disciples learned that it was much better to have Jesus living in them than for Him to be physically present. The realization of Jesus living inside of us takes every ordinary day and turns it into extra-ordinary.

During our revival services with Stephen Manley, our attention was drawn to the fact that Pentecost happened so we could live like Jesus. Revival takes place when one person lives in the reality that Jesus is living inside of them and they are able to walk in the light. Soon, the revived begins to walk in the light with another person, horizontally as well as vertically. This other person is probably going to be someone close. It could be a spouse, a brother or sister, or a close friend. It is amazing what happens when we allow God to turn our normal days into something extra-normal. I look at it this way, I am either going to return back to what I was before revival by allowing others to dictate the end result, or I can let God make a change in others by using me to change those around me and determine the outcome. I think I like the latter plan better. That is when revival breaks out wherever I go. It has nothing to do with me, it has all to do with Jesus. I am just called to “be” faithful in all I do.

Wasn’t it an honor to have over 24 veterans in our service on Sunday? I didn’t realize we had so many attending our church. We are a blessed church because of their willingness to serve. This Sunday I will be finishing up the book of Jude. Jude points out that the people who are dividing the church are trying to live in their natural instincts and not in the Spirit. It is an interesting thing to ponder as we think of maintaining a spirit of revival in our lives.

On Sunday we will also have several babies being dedicated. It gives the church an opportunity to support the parents of these little ones and pray for them as they raise them in the Lord. What a special time of worship we will have when we recognize God as the miracle giver of our children. Every life matters at every stage of life because they matter to God.

So tell me about your everyday ordinary day. What is God doing around you?

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Face to Face

Face to Face

One day Jesus was traveling through Jericho and the crowds were starting to gather wherever He went. A man named Zacchaeus was wanting to see Him. Being short, he had to climb up a tree just to lay eyes on Him. In the story, it was as if Jesus already knew He was going to go to his house. Zacchaeus is a great example of what happens when you encounter the living Christ. He came face to face with the One truly worth following and put everything on the line to be His disciple. You can look at the story in Luke 19:1-10.

In 1971, the Palmers, who wrote the book, The Winds of God Are Blowing, left Nebraska to visit Canada to see for themselves a revival that was breaking out. The Holy Spirit was moving in the western provinces. One account they wrote about was in Saskatoon where a farmer who sold cars during the slow season felt compelled to tell the congregation what God was doing in his life. He explained why he had arrived at the service late: “I must tell you where I’ve been. God has been speaking to me the last week or so about some of the sharp deals I’ve made. This morning I decided I could resist Him no longer. I’ve driven five hundred miles since leaving home, visiting people I’ve knowingly cheated. I told each one of them what had happened to me and why I was there, and we worked out a fair financial settlement in each case. It made a big dent in my bank account but, praise God, I can stand here tonight with clean hands!”

When you come face to face with Jesus, it demands a cleansing of your hands and your heart. Jesus doesn’t make you do it, you want to do it. You want to set right past wrongs and allow Him to fill you with a new Spirit. An encounter with the Living God strips down all inhibitions and makes you openly transparent with the attitude that "whatever it takes to get closer to You, that is what I am willing to do." Whether you are a new Christian or a longtime believer, this kind of encounter fills you with great joy and excitement in your faith. That’s what revival is all about. That is where we are as a church. We have been praying for God’s Spirit to move and He is answering our prayer.

For the next couple of Sundays I will be speaking from the book of Jude. Come and expect God to speak to us as we seek Him with all of our heart. There will be a special recognition of our veterans in our service this Sunday. We are blessed to live in a free country where men and women risk their lives for us to experience that freedom.

On Sunday night at 5:30 p.m. we will have our annual Harvest Dinner. You will enjoy good food as well as music from the Tacketts. What a day it is going to be…

Joy in Jesus!

 
Pastor Mike

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Never Give Up!

Never Give Up!

 In Luke 18:1-8, there is a parable about a persistent widow who shows not only her persistence but the heart of God and His willingness to grant our requests. The need for persistence in prayer is a must when it comes to a continuous revival in this world we live in. Jesus taught that we should always pray and not give up. It is significant that He used a widow to underscore his point. You don’t have to be a superstar to exercise this discipline. The late Martin Lloyd-Jones captured this remarkable truth when he wrote these words in his book Revival: “Now you will find that in all these instances, the movement began with just one man. Take the man who began the prayer meetings in Fulton Street in New York City in 1857, a most ordinary man, but he felt this burden, and did something about it. The revival in Northern Ireland, started with just that one man, James McQuilken . . . I dare not pass lightly over a point like this because somebody reading this book, whom I do not know, may be the person that God is going to use.”

There are numerous accounts of women assuming the role of the persistent prayer. Two sisters, Peggy and Christine Smith, were instrumental as prayer warriors in the powerful awakening in the New Hebrides islands off the west coast of Scotland in 1949-1952. Peggy was 84 and blind; Christine, 82, was bent almost double with arthritis. But these two women knew how to connect with the Lord in prayer. History records their praying alongside the preaching of Duncan Campbell in Edinburgh.

It encourages me to know that God can use me to stir the revival fires here in Findlay, Ohio. He can use you as well. I have often said that our community needs to see a church rise up because of the Spirit of God moving in the hearts of the people. Would you pray with me during the week for God to pour out His Spirit on all people? Join us at church for a corporate time of prayer on Wednesday at 6:00 – 7:00 a.m. and on Sunday at 8:00 – 8:30 a.m. Yes, God still hears and answers prayers.

It is exciting to see what God is doing in the lives of our people. From stirring the hearts of our international students and their families to celebrating baptism this past Sunday and hearing how God is on the move, my heart is overwhelmed in a good way. To think that God is not done here…

Sunday is International Day of Prayer for the persecuted church. We will have a special time of prayer designated at the end of our service. Come anticipating a move of the Holy Spirit.

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Revival Fires

Revival Fires



 During the great revivals of 1857-1858, people began to gather daily for prayer in theatres, tents, YMCAs, civic auditoriums, fire stations, and of course, churches. It spread from New York to Philadelphia, Cleveland, Chicago, and continued to move westward. At its peak, 50,000 people per week were being converted throughout the nation. It was all over the news. Can you imagine that being the most noteworthy news on TV today? The impact of a national revival went way beyond what most people could even imagine. But on the heels of this powerful revival, Civil War broke out. It diverted the attention from God’s transforming work. That didn’t stop God from moving. Revival fires continued to burn with 150,000 converts reported among the Confederate troops alone.

In Revival Times in America, Fred Hoffman tells the remarkable story of the battleship North Carolinaanchored in New York harbor. The narrative reveals how the Lord continued to work in spite of the bloody conflict that had divided the nation: “More than a thousand young men were on board. Among these were four Christian boys who agreed to meet together for prayer. They were granted the use of a small room far below the water line. As they knelt in prayer, the Spirit of God so filled their hearts with joy that they broke into song. The sounds so strange to a battleship arose to the deck s above, and the ungodly men on board came running to mock and jeer. But the convicting power of God so gripped them that many remained to pray and to cry for mercy. Strong men who were deep in sin were literally broken down and knelt humbly in repentance and in faith. Night after night the prayer meeting was held, and hundreds were converted. When men completed their training on that particular ship, they transferred to other ships throughout the Navy, and so the revival fires were kindled everywhere that American naval vessels sailed.”

I love reading stories of God’s Spirit moving freely in the midst of upheaval. It reminds me of Paul and Silas praying and singing to God among all the prisoners (Acts 16:25). They were not in the best of places. They should have been discouraged and worried about what was going to happen next. Instead, they were singing praises to God and many were coming to know this personal God as their Savior.

Revival begins somewhere. I want to go on record and say that it has begun here in our church. Pray for God to be glorified and the message of Jesus Christ to be multiplied throughout our community. Even in the midst of national dysfunction, God still moves. My prayer is that the Lord will move within every family in our congregation. Then I pray that He goes beyond our borders.

This Sunday will be a great day with a few baptisms to celebrate. Come, and expect God to move in a powerful way. I hope to see you tonight during our last “scheduled” revival service with Stephen Manley this week.

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike

www.findlayfirstnaz.org

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

As If It Depended on Me

As If It Depended on Me


Charles Finney was a New England lawyer who became a widely-known and highly-sought-out revivalist. He lived during the years of 1792-1875. He became the president of Oberlin College in Ohio in 1850 where he continued to write extensively on the subject of revival. Let me show you an example of what he would write.

Suppose you were to go to a farmer and tell him that God is sovereign. He is so sovereign that He will give them a crop only when it pleases Him. So don’t waste your time plowing, planting, or even working the field because that would be taking the work out of God’s hands and it would interfere with His sovereignty. Suppose the farmer believed every word you told him. Let me tell you what would happen. The farmer would yield no crop. If all farmers would stop toiling their land, the world would eventually starve.

The results would be the same if the Church was persuaded to stop spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ. If the Church was convinced to stop praying for revival, then we would send the message that we are satisfied without the move of the Holy Spirit. If we just got caught up in the routine of life, then we would be supporting the thought that there is no connection between the means and the end. If the Church lived like it didn’t matter if we prayed for revival to come, then we would see generation after generation without hope or any thought of being changed by God. The means has a major impact on the end. The devil’s most successful means of destroying the soul is to get the Church to think the means does not impact the end. The connection is as clear in the spirit realm as it is when a farmer sows his grain.

What if revival depended on you? Don’t get me wrong. We don’t determine if revival is going to happen. God is the one who brings revival. But, God has chosen to use us as themeans of revival. It is when we pray and believe and show God we are serious about seeing Him move in our church, that He is willing to answer our prayer by manifesting Himself in our lives, our families, and our church. “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

Would you pray with me as if it depended on your prayers for revival to break out in our church? I want to invite you to come every morning or evening from 6:00 – 7:00 to the church for prayer. There are plenty of resources to help you know what to pray as you arrive in the sanctuary.

Remember that revival services begin this Sunday morning during our regularly scheduled worship celebration. There will be services on Sunday at 6:00 p.m. in the sanctuary andMonday at 6:00 p.m. in the Family Life Center with a chili and potato bar for the whole family. Tuesday and Wednesday services will be in the sanctuary at 6:30 p.m. Child care is being provided for nursery and toddlers age four and under each service. Elementary age children will enjoy a special speaker on Sunday night for a “Superhero Sundae Sunday,” and Wednesday night for “Wacky Pizza Wednesday,” then they will be in the service with us on Monday and Tuesday. The teens will share each service with us as we plan to grow together.

Put it on the calendar and pray for God to take us on a Holy Spirit driven ride of our life. There is something for the whole family for you to make this a priority.

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Solid Rock

The Solid Rock


 
24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
Matthew 7:24-27

When revival is experienced in the home, we live each day as though Jesus were our houseguest. We do whatever we can to please Him. One of the benefits of Jesus’ presence is that it gives us stability during life’s storms. Jesus promised that when we build our lives on the foundation of obedience to His Word, it would not be forgotten during difficult times. He doesn’t say that His Word would become our strong foundation, He says that obeying His Word would be our strong foundation. As we go about this journey we call life, there will be times of testing. The foolish man is not the only one tested, Jesus says that the wise man will be tested as well. So now let me bring this home.

We are not to prepare ourselves, our homes, or even our church for a fair-weather storm. We are to prepare for a 100-year flood. We who live in Findlay know a little about that don’t we? The building of the foolish man and the wise man will go through the same testing. Sometimes it seems like our testing is different. Maybe it has to do with the amount of preparation, the obedience factor, or the foundation in which we build upon.

Fathers, are you preparing your family for the next trial? You prepare for it by opening up your life for more of God. Are you building on a strong foundation only found in the Word of God? Are you seeking more of God and then putting it into practice? Mothers, how about you? We are called to lead the way in our families. Maybe you are a single parent. God will provide others to influence your family for His purpose. God does not see you as a challenging case nor is He shocked at the events that led up to your family structure. It is an opportunity for God to show how powerful He is in spite of the challenges.

Starting this Sunday, we will be gathering in the Sanctuary for prayer for 7 days. Pray and ask the Lord what kind of fast He wants you to do. This Sunday we have changed the time to 7 - 8 a.m. for prayer. Prayer will also take place from 6 - 7 p.m. on Sunday night. The rest of the week will be 6 - 7 a.m.6 - 7 p.m., or both. Come and hear what the Lord wants to say and plan to obey. Even if you have never spent an hour in prayer, we will have things there to help you. If we step up to this call to prayer, then I guarantee our lives, our homes, and our church will be changed for the better. Can I say that you will get as much out of the revival as you put into it?

I’m looking forward to a great day on Sunday. Join me for prayer at 7:00 a.m.

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Fasting and Praying

Fasting and Praying

 
Revival is scheduled for Sunday, October 19, through Wednesday, October 22. But as we all know, revival doesn’t happen by attending a set of services. It does aid you in seeking for revival. It is when we humble ourselves and yield our will to the Lord and invite the Holy Spirit to reveal areas we need to submit to Him. In preparation for revival, we will gather in the sanctuary for 7 days (October 12-18), and pray for God to prepare the soil for revival in our church and in our lives. We will meet from 6-7 a.m. and 6-7 p.m.each day. You can choose to attend one or both. This will be a time of directed prayer, personal prayer, and 20 minutes of teaching from our evangelist as he focuses on the book of Ephesians. It will be an enriching experience. I want to encourage everyone to consider blocking this time out.

I am also asking that you consider fasting. I grew up with it being taught not to talk about it or let others know you are doing it. I think that has made it a practice that is not exercised. In Matthew 6:16-18, it says to not look somber as the hypocrites do. They do it to be seen as spiritual. They want the applause of men. Fasting is a private discipline between you and the Lord but it is alright to talk about it and look at how you go about it. There are times in the Bible where it is a public fast. Isaiah 58 is a public fast we are going to look at later. The early church often committed to corporate prayer and fasting. Many have said that our generation prefers pot-luck dinners instead. I want to prove them wrong when it comes to our church. So let’s learn what it is to fast together.

Fasting is an act of sacrifice, humbling yourself before God. It opens your mind up to hear the voice of the Lord. A lot of times eating food can make your mind foggy, preventing you from hearing clearly. It is taking control of your physical appetite and developing strength to take control of your emotional appetite.

Fasting can be done in many different ways. Some say that they fast from television or particular activities. While I think that is a good thing to do from time to time, especially if you feel it has a hold on your life or is causing you to neglect much needed disciplines or activities. The fasting I want to talk about is a Biblical fast. There are four kinds of fasting:

 
  1. The normal fast – going without food for a definite period during which you only drink liquids (water and/or juice). The duration can be 1 day, 3 days, 1 week, 1 month, or 40 days. Extreme care should be taken with longer fasts, which should only be attempted after medical advice from your physician.
  2. The absolute fast – this allows no food or water at all and should be short. Moses fasted for 40 days like this but it is not recommended today.
  3. The partial fast – it omits certain foods or is on a schedule that includes limited eating. It may consist of omitting on meal a day. You could also choose to eat vegetables only for several days. People who have hypoglycemia or other diseases might consider this kind of fast.
  4. A rotational fast – this consists of eating or omitting certain families of foods for a designated period of time. Some choose to eat grains only every fourth day. Various food families are rotated so that some food is available each day. This would have to be an outside directed fast in order to properly eat the right food groups.
     
The important thing to remember when you fast is to prayerfully consider when and how. This has to be of God. Being a corporate fast, the when is set. Now how will you go about it? I would not recommend fasting for the purpose of losing weight only. It needs to be a spiritually driven purpose. When you begin fasting, it is good to start in the morning and break your fast at breakfast. The word in itself is break-fast.

The Bible has plenty to say about fasting and how it can help us to go deeper in our relationship with the Lord. The Bible records many different ways of fasting. God honors any sincere committed effort in the area of fasting. When we fast Biblically, Isaiah 58 says that we can expect many results. It is not just to humble ourselves before the Lord, it is to loosen the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke. It also says that when we call upon the Lord that He will answer. Read Isaiah 58 in its entirety and consider participating in a fast with your church family. This is truly a counter-culture event we will be doing together. It might even be referred to as radical. Don’t wait for others to commit, commit today.

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike


www.findlayfirstnaz.org

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Meaning of Revival

The Meaning of Revival


 Have you ever stopped to think what revival is? Viv words are life-related. Vivid means “full of life.” A vivacious person is someone who’s energetic and lively. So with –viv- at the heart of revival, we know its meaning is life-related. The prefix re – adds “again”  to the mix. If a person faints, we hope he or she can quickly be revived. The same is true when someone’s spiritual life is faint. Unfortunately, lack of spiritual life can be hidden for awhile. If we were to know, we would want that person to return to spiritual health and vitality because the longer in that state, the harder to revive. The suffix – al means “that which pertains to.” So the word revival is literally, “that which pertains to life coming back again.” It is reviving the living. So revival is for believers. Now, I have been a part of revivals where people have come to know Jesus Christ for the first time. New life begins to course through their veins. That alone can start a revival among believers.

Revival is just what David is asking for in Psalm 51. After a tragic spiritual fall, he longs for his former closeness to the Lord. “Have mercy on me, O God,” he pleads (verse 1). God does just that. He has mercy on David and brings new life in him. A proper understanding of revival makes it attainable for everyone. It first begins with the individual and spreads to the family, the church, the community, and then to the nation. What David experienced by his spiritual life being restored is something God desires for all of us.

God wants life in its fullness to be experienced on a grand scale. For instance, in Ezekiel 37 the Lord tries to open his prophet’s mind to the passion he has for revival among his people, the Israelites. To do this God takes Ezekiel to a most unlikely place – a valley of dry bones: “He asked me, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’ I said, ‘O, Sovereign Lord, you alone know,’ then He said to me, ‘Prophesy to these bones and say to them, Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! … I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life’” (verses 3-5).

You know the song, “The thigh bone's connected to the hip bone” and so on. Now I have that song going through your head. The point is that God did want to see revival in Israel, as He desires to see it in our church, our community, and our whole country. We don’t need to be convinced that we desperately need revival at every level. But it must first begin with the individual. We are accountable for our relationship with Jesus Christ. How invigorating it is to know that we can personally experience “life coming back again,” even if things around us are far from it. But oh, let me tell you, people will take notice. The things around you will eventually change or you will change the things that are around you. I am not talking about families breaking up. I am talking about habits, and some friendships that have dragged you down, will change or disappear. In order to sustain life, you have to be around things that will help you to grow daily in the Word and increase your faith in God. Your desires will change and you won’t want to do the same things you did before.

Read Ezekiel 37 and Psalm 51. Picture God’s desire for David and Israel as the same picture He wants for you and this generation. Read it over several times and allow the Holy Spirit to speak into your life.

Raymond Edman, a pastor in Pasadena, California, said over 40 years ago, “It is one thing to wish for revival, and yet it is something in addition to be willing for revival at any cost to come in any way through any means that God may choose.” Would you pay the price and set aside time to pray for revival with your church family? Starting Sunday, October 12, we will begin 7 days of prayer and fasting for revival. You have the choice to come to the church between 6-7 a.m. or 6-7 p.m. You can attend one or both each day. We will gather together to pray for revival to fall on our families, our church, and our nation. It only takes a spark to start a fire. Revival will come if we seek the heart of God together. Will you seek the manifest presence of God with me?

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike


www.findlayfirstnaz.org 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Revival Spilling Out

Revival Spilling Out

Have you ever felt as though you were the only Christian in your workplace? Are people so faith inclusive that they bought into the lie that there are many ways to God? They say, “just be sincere in what you believe.” I know some people who are sincerely wrong. There’s only one way to God and it is through Jesus. Peter says in Acts that Jesus is the cornerstone. “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). That settles it for me. There is only one way to heaven. No matter how much tension you may feel from others, it doesn’t change the fact that God may use an encounter you have to turn someone toward Him.

I think Noah knew what it was like having people look at you strangely when he was building the ark in preparation for the flood that destroyed the earth (Genesis 6:1-22). Even though he was in another time period and culture, people have a way of drifting away from God’s ways. In Genesis 9:20, Noah is called, “a man of the soil.” Perhaps he was a farmer instead of a shipbuilder. Whatever he was, we know that when God calls you to a certain task, He will empower you to complete it. The fact that he was building an ark made it virtually impossible for him to be a silent witness.

Do you know that when revival touches the church it’s not long before there’s a spillover into the home life and workplace? The Holy Spirit affects how people act on Sunday in church as well as Monday through Saturday at home or the job. In his book Ablaze with His Glory, Del Fehsenfeld, Jr., includes this report from a pastor whose church was powerfully touched by the presence of the Lord: “Revival has come to salesmen, printers, store managers, preachers, and church leaders, secretaries, schoolteachers, computer experts, nurses, dentists, doctors, veterinarians, bricklayers, housewives, CPAs, postal workers, electrical contractors, military personnel, beauty operators, counselors, students from grade school through graduate school, and on and on. These have been broken before the Lord, have confessed their sins, and are experiencing the continuing joy of forgiveness and an obedient life. They are reaching out in love to each other and to others in and out of the church.”

We have a revival scheduled for Sunday, October 19-22. We call it a revival but we all know that you cannot put revival on the calendar from an experience point of view. Some may say it is an opportunity to set aside time for exponential spiritual growth. I am excited for what God is doing in and around our church. I am even more excited because I believe there is more to come. For the next several weeks, I want to focus on different aspects of revival, the outflow of what happens, and look at revivals in history that swept across our nation and are still producing fruit. Would you join me in this journey of pulling all stops out and praying for a revival to move through our church and into our neighborhoods and workplaces?

On Sunday, we will be bringing in new members and continuing our series on, “Fresh Faith.” Make a difference today where God leads you.

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

God's Church (And Our 4 Objectives)

God's Church



 This past weekend we had a board retreat. It was held here, at the church, and we looked at the wonderful things God was doing in and through our church. There are so many God-led stories in our church. I have really enjoyed hearing the stories of our people in our ConneXions tour, held every other month. God is bringing many faith journeys together to make an impact in our community. We want to be a simple people who are all about the Father’s business of reaching the lost. I am so glad to serve the Lord at such an awesome church with a unified leadership and congregation.

While being a people of prayer and truth, we have set out 4 objectives to work on in this year ahead. Let me share briefly what they are:


1. Create Irresistible Ministry Environments
We want to evaluate our facility and our ministries and be more intentional at doing everything with excellence. From our greeters to our classrooms, we want to prepare people for a move of God to be fluent every day. This will create an environment people can know God more and not deal with distractions.
 

2. Expand Ministry Involvement
Improving the way we go about sharing ministry needs and opportunities for people to serve along side of each other. Developing leaders, helping people to find their strengths, and giving people an avenue to make a difference are just a few of the things we will be focusing on.
 

3. Work on the Discipleship Process
We want a grace filled place where people can come to know the Lord, new believers can be discipled, and mature believers can continue to grow in their faith. This spiritual formation has to be simple and clear. It is our responsibility as a church to create a culture of Spirit-filled living.
 

4. Continue to Expand our Ministry in the Community
We don’t ever want to be complacent of the needs around us. As we continue to be generous and look for opportunities to meet physical and spiritual needs, we will be mobilizing our efforts to be a missional people by being a visible light in this dark world.


God is moving, people are growing, and lives are being changed. Jesus’ last commission to the disciples is found in Matthew 28:18-20. “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” We need to live this out.

In the book of Acts before Jesus ascended to heaven, He promised the gift of the Holy Spirit. He said, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”Not only has God called us to make disciples, He has promised to personally live in us through His Holy Spirit. That same authority Jesus was given, now resides in us.

Let’s keep inviting our family, friends, and neighbors to come and be filled with the presence of God in order to make a difference in this dark hour. Just spending a few minutes watching the news is enough to know that our world needs a miracle of God in all things.

On Sunday we will be looking at what we need to do to revive our faith. We all need a Fresh Faith. My prayer is that people will not wait for the National Back to Church Sunday onSeptember 21, but that every Sunday people will feel welcome to come.

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Obedience Through Suffering

Obedience Through Suffering


 
Hebrews 5:7-8
“During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, He offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverent submission. 8Although He was a son, He learned obedience from what He suffered…”

Did you see the deeper truth in these verses? First, Jesus provides a clear example of what a man of prayer is. He not only prayed, He prayed with passion and reverence. Verse 7 tells us that He prayed with such intensity that His prayers included loud cries and literal tears. That is intense.

In Luke 22 it says that Jesus prayed so hard that He sweat drops of blood. I can’t think of anything more intense.

But quite frankly, that doesn’t shock me from Jesus. He is all God and all man. He came to save the world and be a mediator between God and mankind. That needs intensity and reverence. So that is not shocking at all. The fact that God heard His prayer is not surprising. Jesus is praying to the One who is able to save Him from death. Here is the big surprise – although God heard His prayer, He waited!

Jesus, God’s one and only Son, still had to endure suffering and death even though God heard His prayer. Look at verse 8 again. “Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from what He suffered”(Hebrews 5:8). That is crucial to know as a follower of Christ. By God’s power, Jesus rose from the grave and lives today. God saved His Son from death. Where, oh death is your sting? However, He did it after death. It wasn’t before the betrayal, the mocking, the suffering; it was after all of those trials.

Do you understand what that means for us? The reality is that God may hear our prayers, and He may still ask us to endure suffering in obedience. He did that with Jesus, why not us?

This changes the way I look at prayer, suffering, and even answers to prayer. The big question we have to face is simply, “Are you willing to learn obedience through suffering?” Is your prayer life marked with the kind of reverence that means you will do whatever He asks? What if God doesn’t answer your prayer the way you want Him to?

This really puts a new light on Hebrews 4:14-16. “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."

Receiving mercy and finding grace to help us in our time of need does not always mean that you will not have hardship or avoid suffering. It does mean that His power and presence are made perfect in our weakness, and we can endure anything in obedience – by His power.

Starting this Sunday, I will begin a new series entitled, “Fresh Faith.” We will look at the story of Joshua facing the walls of Jericho. Bring your story to church and let God fill it with His faith as we look at His Word.  Begin today and ask the Lord to give you a fresh faith that is willing to do anything He calls you to do without complaining.

May you glorify the Lord in your day no matter what circumstance you find yourself in. He will make a way for you to live above the trials and through the victory, one decision at a time.

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike