Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Uniquely D.E.S.I.G.N.ed

Uniquely D.E.S.I.G.N.ed
 
Psalm 139:14
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Romans 12:6
We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith;

 
From time to time we offer a class called, “Strengths Finder.” You take a test to figure out what your top 5 strengths are. It is pretty accurate. Most of the time people are not shocked at what they find out. It matches up with what you are drawn to. My question for you as you get ready to cross over into another year is, “What unique quality has God gifted you with?”

Let me suggest a series of questions for you to consider to identify your unique D.E.S.I.G.N.? 
  • Drives: What excites you? What fires you up? 
  • Experiences: What experiences makes you unique from other people? 
  • Spirituality: How do you best connect with God? 
  • Impact: What arena do you feel most compelled to impact? 
  • Genius: What do you do repeatedly, successfully, happily? 
  • Nature: What is your personality? Extrovert, introvert, structured, spontaneous? 
Write down your answers to each of these questions and pray for the Lord to use you to make a difference in the places He leads you this new year. May God provides opportunities for you to glorify His name as you safely cross over to 2017.
 
Joy in Jesus!
 
Pastor Mike

www.findlayfirstnaz.org

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Purpose of Christmas

The Purpose of Christmas
 
Yes, this past Sunday was another bad stormy day. I remember in 2007 when it was nice all week long and then the weekend came and it the weather turned bad for 9 weeks straight. We are working on 2 weekends of bad weather so far. I just hope and pray that it is not so bad this weekend as we gather for a wonderful Christmas weekend.
 
One thing that this weekend did do though was to help us to experiment on putting our services on the web. We have heard some good feedback on this and we are going to explore what we need to do in order to get our services on our website in the not so far away future.
 
While this season is all about the birth of the Christ Child, Jesus’ purpose in coming to earth was not to give us the sweet picture of a baby in a Bethlehem manger. The little baby was born to die for you and for me and thus pay for the forgiveness of our sins. He was born to die so that we might be reconciled to God.
 
So while we are out and about going from one party to the next, from one family gathering to the next, don’t just think of a baby in a manger. Christmas is much more than that. It is about God coming to earth in human flesh so He could die on the Cross to pay for your salvation and destroy the works of the devil in our lives! That is what Christmas is all about!
 
In Philippians 2, Paul connects the birth narrative with the cross narrative. As he writes about God becoming a man, he goes on to express the ultimate reason God chose to take this amazing action. Paul says in verse 8, “And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”
 
The word fashion is the Greek word schema. It is the same word that was used to describe a king who exchanged his kingly garments for a brief period of time for the clothing of a beggar. The Holy Spirit inspired Paul to use this word which describes what we celebrate at Christmas. Jesus comes to earth, sheds His glorious appearance and exchanges it for the clothing of human flesh. Although man is wonderfully made, it cannot be compared to the eternal and glorious appearance of God. However, for the sake of our redemption, God laid all of the glorious things aside and made in the likeness of a human being.
 
The story doesn’t stop there. Not only did Jesus take on the clothing of a servant, but He loved us so much that He humbled Himself and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross! The word “humbled,” is being willing to stoop to any measure that is needed. This describes the attitude God had when He took upon Himself human flesh. The Creator became like His creation with limitations put on Himself. The fact that He had to become obedient in the flesh shows that it was not an easy task. He humbled Himself to the point of dying a humiliating death on a Cross to purchase the debt we could not pay.
 
So as you celebrate Christmas this weekend, be sure to remember the real purpose of Christmas. Let me encourage you to get in a discussion with someone about the greatest gift of life that we received because God entered our story with the purpose of taking our place on the Cross.
 
I’m looking forward to celebrating Christ with you this weekend at our Christmas Eve Service at 4 or 6pm, and on Christmas Sunday morning at 10:45am.
 
Joy in Jesus!
 
Pastor Mike

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The First Noel

The First Noel

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.(Luke 2:8)

What a wonderful time we had last Wednesday night during Operation Serve as we divided up and visited different families to sing carols, spread Christmas cheer, and deliver some goodies. The Christmas season would not be complete without singing “The First Noel.” Have you ever wondered where this song came from? I don’t think the shepherds sang it around manger that very first Christmas. It is believed to have had its rise in France during the 15th century. Noel is a French word originating from Latin meaning “birthday.” The song is thought to have been brought across the channel to England by the wandering troubadours. The carol under the English form, “Nowell,” became a great favorite for Christmas Eve, especially west of England. This was when the entire village gathered for singing and celebrating the bringing in of the Yule log. At this time carols were thought of as popular religious songs meant to be sung outside the church rather than within.

“The First Noel” portrays, in vivid narrative style, the story of the birth of Christ. All six verses are needed to complete the entire event when the hymn is sung. The sixth stanza urges us to join together to sing praises to God for the marvels of His creation and for the salvation provided through Christ’s shed blood. The repetition of the joyous “noel” in the refrain is equivalent to our singing out “happy birthday” to someone.

It is interesting to observe that the “King of Israel” was first announced to “certain poor shepherds” only, but in the final stanza the phrases “let us all” and “mankind hath brought” remind us that Christ came to redeem the whole world.
 

The first noel the angel did say was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay—in fields where they lay keeping their sheep on a cold winter’s night that was so deep.

They looked up and saw a star shining in the east, beyond them far; and to the earth it gave great light, and so it continued both day and night.

And by the light of that same star, three wise men came from country far; to seek for a king was their intent, and to follow the star wherever it went.

This star drew nigh to the northwest; o’er Bethlehem it took its rest; and there it did both stop and stay, right over the place where Jesus lay.

Then entered in those wise men three, full rev’rently upon their knee, and offered there, in His presence, their gold and myrrh and frankincense.

Then let us all with one accord sing praises to our heav’nly Lord, that hath made heav’n and earth of naught, and with His blood mankind hath bought.

Refrain: Noel, noel! Noel, noel! Born is the King of Israel!

The Sunday before Christmas is always a special Sunday in our church as we lift our voices together celebrating the birth of Jesus and lighting the 4th Advent Candle. I have especially sensed a peaceful spirit this year during all of our activities as a church family. So many activities that have ushered in the season from the awesome Children’s Musical to Operation Serve on Wednesdaynight, to the Chinese Ministry party, to random acts of kindness as our church family gave gifts to families represented around the tree in the foyer, to the series, “The Light that Overcomes.” We still have our Christmas Eve service to look forward too as well. This year Christmas will be on Sunday. We plan to have one service at 10:45 a.m. with special communion being served.

Every year I forget to mention the traditional red sock Sunday for the men. We always have it on the fourth Sunday of Advent. That will be this Sunday, December 18. Since it is a special year with Christmas being on Sunday, we will also give a second chance for the men to wear their red socks. Pass the word around. This is our 16th year to have this tradition so I think it is appropriate to have two Sundays to celebrate it.

Let’s allow the joy of Christ’s birth to be reflected on our faces and be heard in our glad singing of praises to Him all through this Christmas season.

Joy in Jesus!
Pastor Mike

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Advent of Christ

The Advent of Christ

 Did you know that Advent is not only preparing for the Christ child to come in the manger, it is also tied to the second Advent – the return of Christ and the home-going of those who are in relationship with Jesus Christ? Jesus coming to earth was a history-changing, life-changing event. Had He not come as a babe in the manger on that night long ago, we would not have had the man Jesus to die on the cross for our sins. The reality of Advent never changes. We are in a season of Advent where we walk in preparation to receive Christ again. I remember as a child, going to the altar many times to accept Christ into my heart. We don’t believe that you have to ask Jesus to come into your heart several times before He actually saves you. But it is good to have a soft heart toward God. I would much rather see someone burn a path to the altar several times than to have a hard heart and not come at all.

I have been seeing a lot of new people coming and seeking the heart of God in our church. It is good to see people drawn to His spirit, not because we have the latest music, but because the Spirit of God is alive and active in our congregation. I don’t want to see a growing church because it is the popular place to be. I want to see a growing church because God is moving on the hearts of people. People are coming to know the Christ of Christmas and are ready to receive the Christ of the last days. It’s all one and the same and it is just as powerful today as it was when Jesus died on the cross.

Look with me at what Paul tells the believers in Thessalonica:

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

Jesus’ return is sooner than ever. Let’s enjoy this Advent season as we look forward to the glorious day of Jesus’ return.

Our children did a fantastic job on Sunday. It goes down in the history books as the biggest attendance we have had as a church. We saw 545 people in both of the services. Our children presented the Christmas story in such a dynamic way. I am reminded every Sunday how blessed we are to have such a God-filled, Holy Spirit, Bible believing Church.

I want to invite everyone to come and be a part of “Operation Serve” tonight. We will meet in the Family Life Center at 6:30 p.m. and divide up into groups to go sing and visit many different needs in our church family. Bring the whole family and plan to stay for a short time of fellowship afterward.

This next Sunday is the third Sunday of Advent. We will continue our series, “The Light that Overcomes” as we look at Christmas story through the eyes of Matthew. We will also celebrate church membership by bringing several new members into the church. It’s going to be a great day! Come and see what God is doing…

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Watching Over Us

Watching Over Us

This morning at 5:36 a.m. I was awoken to a text message on my cell phone. It was from American Express. They asked if I attempted to purchase something that morning. They wanted me to reply with “yes” or “no.” After I replied “no,” a quick response came back asking for me to call them to discuss this purchase. I was thinking, “Do you know what time it is? Why would I want to call and discuss a fraudulent purchase on my card? You know it isn’t, I just told you, now leave me alone so I can get some more sleep!” After laying there for a few minutes, I crawled out of bed and called them. Don’t get me wrong, I am very appreciative of Amex watching over my accounts at night while I sleep. I just wish that we could deal with this when the sun is shining on my end of the earth. It turned out to be a fraudulent charge and they cancelled the card. They are even going to send me another card over night so I don’t miss any shopping opportunities around the holidays. So, someone is going to stay up all night and drive my card to my house so I can be secure. I feel so special. Now, I hope they catch the one who tried to purchase something at ungodly hours, keeping me, the fraudulent department of Amex, and the mailman who will deliver my package tomorrow, up all night.

That reminds me of a Psalm 121, where the writer recalls how the Lord watches over us at all hours of the night. He does not need sleep. It says that the Lord will watch over our life and keep us from harm. So today, I rejoice in the Lord that He always watches over my day and my night. He neither sleeps nor slumbers. Take a moment and read this Psalm and rejoice with me about our personal living God who cares for us so much that He sent His Son to experience life on this earth with all of its temptations and blessings.

Psalm 121
I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip—He who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm—He will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.


The Lord thinks so much of us that He personally is involved in our protection. This chapter doesn’t say that He sends His angels to watch over us. He personally takes it upon Himself. What a God we serve! So if you get a call in the middle of the night from your credit card company, let it be a reminder that the Lord watches over more important things that will make an eternal impact on our life.

I am looking forward to Sunday as we participate in the annual children’s musical and look at the story of Jesus through the eyes of Mary. The key verse is found in Joshua 1:9, “This is my command – be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” It’s going to be a glorious day! Come and worship the new born King together.

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike   


www.findlayfirstnaz.org

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Give Thanks!

Give Thanks!

Throughout Scripture we are called to give thanks. It doesn’t say to only give thanks when things are going your way or when you feel like it. It says to be thankful in all things and all circumstances. I for one am thankful for what God has brought me through, what He is bringing me through, and what He will bring me through. We are not promised a life filled with everything going our way, but we are told that He will see us through whatever the circumstance.

Take the next few minutes and thank the Lord for who He is. His love endures forever. His faithfulness is never ending. Read the following 10 verses on thanksgiving and rejoice in the Living God who blesses us beyond what we deserve.

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:18

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever!
Psalm 107:1

Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Ephesians 5:20

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.
Colossians 3:15-17

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
Philippians 4:6

Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever!
Psalm 106:1

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.
Colossians 4:2

That my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!
Psalm 30:12

Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise! Give thanks to Him; bless His name!
Psalm 100:4

And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name.
1 Chronicles 29:13

Enjoy this thanksgiving season by living a thankful life and rejoice in Him forever.

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike


www.findlayfirstnaz.org 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Prayer 101

Prayer 101


“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” 
Ephesians 6:18

How is your prayer life? Do you pray every day or do you pray only when you are around other believers? Is prayer a daily discipline for you or do you only pray when you get in trouble? These and many other questions probing how consistent you are in your worship, prayer, devotions, and other spiritual practices will either confirm the consistency you are in or it will bring guilt due to a busy lifestyle that has pushed these much-needed habits to sporadic at best.

Schedules and tiredness unfortunately push people to the status of “on-again, off-again” way too often. Have you found that you are faithful for a while, and then something happens to get you out of the routine of setting aside much-needed time for God to direct your ways? Bill Hybels wrote a book entitled, “Too Busy Not to Pray.” The title alone gets the message across loud and clear.

How often are we supposed to pray? Ephesians 6:18 gives us the answer. It says to pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. It conveys to pray anytime there’s an opportunity – no matter where you are or what you’re doing. We are to pray at every occasion, every season, and every possible moment. I would recommend not closing your eyes some of those times – especially when you are driving.

Along with praying on all occasions, it is good to give God the first part of your day. Set aside specific times where it is just you and the Lord. He longs to spend time with you alone. Prayer is not an optional exercise for the Christian who is serious about their spiritual walk. According to Scripture, believers are to make prayer a top priority.

If prayer isn’t a priority in your life right now, why not make it a priority starting today? We all make time to do whatever we want to do. If it’s truly in your heart to pray, you will find the time. Make prayer your first order of business.

When you expand your prayer life to include others, it will be good to pick a few friends who are willing to meet on a regular basis. It is always good to pray and share with other brothers or sisters in Christ. This will spur other times of spiritual growth in your daily walk.

Be encouraged to know that God loves the time you set aside to pray to Him. He longs to have an intimate relationship beyond the Sunday worship experience. He also loves to see you pray with others when they present a need. He even loves it when you pray at different occasions. Let’s grow in our prayer life to be more like Jesus.

This Sunday I will be looking at a familiar verse found in John 10:10. If your spiritual life has grown stale or you feel you are constantly under attack, then you will want to make sure you make a priority to attend this Sunday during the morning worship. Bring a friend with you to experience all God has for you this weekend. It’s always good to come together and worship the Lord.

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike


www.findlayfirstnaz.org

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Post-Election

Post-Election

The election is over. Some are excited about their candidate winning and some are not so excited because their candidate lost. Either way, God is on the throne!

Max Lucado is a gifted author who is able to draw word pictures on your mind as you read his books. I want to put an excerpt of an article he wrote and published on the Fox News website. I believe it sums up what people of faith ought to be thinking and living out.

“We are really ready for this presidential election to be over. We’re ready for an end to the rancor and tackiness. Voters on both sides feel frustrated, even embarrassed by it all. There is a visceral fear, an angst about the result. What if so and so wins? When we wake up to November 9, post-election, when the confetti is swept away and the election is finally over, what will we see?

I have a prediction. I know exactly what November 9 will bring – another day of God’s perfect sovereignty.

He will still be in charge. His throne will still be occupied. He will still manage the affairs of the world. Never before has His providence depended on a king, president, or ruler. And it won’t on November 9, 2016. 
“The LORD can control a king’s mind as He controls a river; He can direct it as He pleases” (Proverbs 21:1 NCV).

On one occasion the Lord turned the heart of the King of Assyria so that he aided them in the construction of the Temple. On another occasion, he stirred the heart of Cyrus to release the Jews to return to Jerusalem. Nebuchadnezzar was considered to be the mightiest king of his generation. But God humbled and put him in “detention” for seven years.
 “The kingdom is the Lord’s, and He rules over the nations” (Psalms 22:28).

Understanding God’s sovereignty over the nations opens the door to peace. When we realize that God influences the hearts of all rulers, we can then choose to pray for them rather than fret about them. Rather than wring our hands we bend our knees, we select prayer over despair.

Jeremiah did this. He was the prophet to Israel during one of her darkest periods of rebellion. He was called “the weeping prophet” because he was one. He wept at the condition of the people and the depravity of their faith. He was so distraught that one of his books was entitled Lamentations. But then he considered the work of God. Note the intentionality of his words:

This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. The LORD’s loving kindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness (Lam. 3:21-23).

Imitate Jeremiah. Lift up your eyes. Dare to believe that good things will happen. Dare to believe that God was speaking to us when He said:
 “In everything God works for the good of those who love Him” (Romans 8:28).

I would imagine that several people are worn out because they stayed up and watched the drama unfold. I know I was flipping from station to station to see what was transpiring. Be encouraged today. God is still God. Nothing will ever distract Him. He is not shocked by the things that happen in our time. Keep the faith and believe in the One who saves us. Let’s pray for a peace and unity to be restored to our Nation. It will be a miracle, but God is into miracles.

I look forward to a great day of worship on Sunday and another time to get together on Sunday night for our Harvest Dinner. Come rested up and ready to experience the Name of Jesus.

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Which Plan Are You Following? (Part 3)

Which Plan Are You Following? (Part 3)

For the past two weeks, we have considered Jesus’ words found in John:
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” John 10:10.

The enemy of our soul is going to do whatever it takes to step in on any progress we make toward becoming like Jesus. He is relentless in his efforts to discourage followers of Jesus. But don’t get discouraged because Jesus promised to fill us and give us the ability to live above the enemy’s tactics. He calls us to embrace this matchless, incomparable, overflowing life He has provided.

In what areas are you not experiencing abundant life? It would be very helpful for you to make a list of these areas so you can pray about them and begin to believe for God’s abundance to flow into these parts of your life.

Here is a simple prayer and confession you can pray:
I confess that Jesus Christ gives me a life that is filled with extraordinary abundance! He came that I might retain a zest for living that springs up from deep down inside of me. He gives me a life that is not rattled or easily shaken by any outward event. I therefore embrace this overflowing life that Jesus died to give to me! I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!

When you pray a prayer like that, you are reminding the devil that he has no place in your life. You are choosing to embrace the plans God has for you and you are speaking and living it into existence.

I am looking forward to worshipping together on Sunday. Don’t forget to change your clocks on Saturday night before you go to bed. If you don’t remember, then I will see you an hour earlier. As a matter of fact, you can join the staff and me for prayer if you forget to set your clock. So forget there is a change this weekend. Now in the Spring that is a different story…

May you live a life that reflects the holiness of God today.

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Which Plan Are You Following? (Part 2)

Which Plan Are You Following? (Part 2)

John 10 is filled with the words of Jesus as He describes Himself as the Good Shepherd. He says that His sheep know Him and can recognize His voice. The sheep follow Him and they will never perish. It is a beautiful depiction of the kind of relationship we have with Jesus as His followers. After describing Himself as the gate for the sheep where He only allows the sheep to enter, He strategically puts in verse 10. We started to look at this verse last week. I want to continue to saturate on the meaning of this verse.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” John 10:10.

According to Jesus, the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy everything good in our life. He wants to destroy our family, our job, our joy, our health, our finances, our marriage, our kids, and so on. He just wants to ruin anything he can.

The word “thief” comes from the Greek word klepto, which means to steal. It describes someone who is so good at what he does that you don’t realize that he has done it. It depicts a pickpocket who can slip their hand in your pocket, take what they want, and be long gone before you discover they were even there.

Jesus uses this word to let us know how cunning the devil really is. He knows that if he does it in plain sight that he will be recognized for who he is. His plans are always deceptive and his goal is always evil. He injects thoughts into a person’s mind to steal his peace, his joy, and even his beliefs. He steals everything he is not capable of receiving or giving himself. His name is where we get the word kleptomaniac. It describes a person with a persistent, neurotic impulse to steal. It is the very nature of the devil and he is only living up to his nature.

Not only does the thief come to steal but he comes to kill. At first glance, you would think that it means to physically take someone’s life. The Greek word for kill is thuo which means sacrifice. To take it further, it could mean to sacrifice, to surrender, or even to give something up that is dear to your heart. Jesus is saying that if the thief hasn’t already walked away with everything we hold close to our heart, he will try to convince us that we need to sacrifice or give up everything he wasn’t able to take from us.

The devil can’t stand the fact that you possess something he can never have. So if he can’t steal it from you, he will try to convince you to give it up on your own. He may even try to create stressful situations that cause you to conclude that your only solution is to sacrifice some things that are for you.

Finally, the devil wants to destroy, which carries the idea of something that is ruined, wasted, or trashed. So, if the thief is unsuccessful in his attempts to steal from you or convince you to sacrifice what you hold dear, he will then try to ruin it!

So the enemy is trying to totally obliterate you and he will not stop until he does. But don’t lose hope, Jesus has won the war. Commit the battles you face to Him and He will put the devil in his place. Don’t lose heart. Trust in God and spend time saturating in His Word so you can be more alert in the spiritual realm. God is more than able to defeat the devil’s schemes in your life.

This Sunday we will be finishing up our series in Daniel by answering the question, “Are we in the last days?” Come and worship the Lord and bring someone with you the Lord lays on your heart.

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike


www.findlayfirstnaz.org

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Which Plan Are You Following?

Which Plan Are You Following?

John 10 is filled with the words of Jesus as He describes Himself as the Good Shepherd. He says that His sheep know Him and can recognize His voice. The sheep follow Him and they will never perish. It is a beautiful depiction of the kind of relationship we have with Jesus as His followers. After describing Himself as the gate for the sheep where He only allows the sheep to enter, He strategically puts in verse 10. That is what I want to focus on for the next few weeks.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” John 10:10.

This is a familiar verse that is quoted by many. But does everyone completely understand it? What I see is that God has a plan for each of us to be completely in sync with His purpose for our lives. The enemy of our souls, referred to as a thief, has another plan he wants to unfold to us. The thief does not reveal the price that is paid when we choose his plan. Jesus exposes the true nature of the thief. When following the plans of the world we experience fatigue, hopelessness, fruitlessness, depression, and the list goes on and on. The price we have to pay for temporary fulfillment has lingering results that last a lifetime.

Some translations say, “I have come that you may have life and have it more abundantly.” How do you gauge an “abundant life”? Do you measure abundance in terms of spirituality, finances, health, relationships, or your place of employment? How many of these areas do you think Jesus was referring to when He spoke of living life “more abundantly”?

I would have to say that God will never invest in things that can be destroyed by moth or rust. If your list of abundance includes material things, then I think you have the wrong list. As a matter of fact, the thief has done a work in your life if those things have made it on your list. We will look at that aspect next week.

The phrase, “that they may have” are from the Greek tense that means, “To have and to continually possess.” The word for “life” is the Greek word, “zoe.” It suggests a life that is filled with vitality. The word “abundantly” is from the Greek word, “periossos,” and it means to be above, beyond what is regular, to be exceeding. So it literally means super-abundance. Jesus is saying that He wants to give you life as we have never known it.

Here is what Jesus is saying when He says that He wants to give you life more abundantly. “I have come that they might have, keep, and constantly retain a vitality, gusto, vigor, and zest for living that springs up from deep down inside. I came that they might embrace this matchless, incomparable, overflowing life to the greatest extent possible.” Can you feel the energy for living? It’s available for each one of us. Are you experience life more abundantly? If not, maybe the enemy of our soul has stolen that away from you without being detected. Our mundane life may be a direct result of being deceived. By exposing the three ways in which the enemy gets us to follow his plan, we will be able to take back lost ground and live the abundant life God plans for us. More to come next week.

Tonight is the last night of revival with Stephen Manley. Come for supper at 5:45 p.m.and plan to stay for the service at 6:30. Amy Ambrose will be here to minister to our children in the Power Plant. She is an energetic children’s pastor with many years of successful ministry. Preschool age children will also enjoy a special time during our revival service in their room next to the stage in the FLC. Bring the whole family and let God pour this abundance in each one as we seek Him with all our heart.

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Unwritten Rules

Unwritten Rules

Everyone knows that in golf there are some unwritten rules that people abide by. They may not be legal, but it is all done in fun none the less. Now, if you play by these rules and brag about how low your score is, then it is not so fun.

One of those unwritten rules is called a mulligan. A mulligan is when you miss-hit your first ball on the first tee and you get to do it over. Now there are some who take a mulligan randomly throughout the golf course. It is not a proper golf rule to begin with so how can we be so critical? My question is, “Where and when did the Mulligan begin in golf?” Well, that depends.

The USGA, with supportive research by GriffGolf.com, found the Mulligan became rooted in the game’s lexicon sometime between the late 1920s and mid-1930s. During that period, Canadian-born amateur David Bernard Mulligan had established himself as a prominent member of clubs that included Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, N.Y.

In the late 1920s, Mulligan had a regular club foursome, and once on the first tee, the story goes, his partners allowed him to hit a second ball after miss-hitting his drive. Mulligan complained that his hands were still numb after driving rough roads and a bumpy bridge.

Mulligan joined Winged Foot Golf Club sometime between 1932 and 1933. A generation later, in July 1985, journalist Don Mackintosh interviewed Mulligan for a column, “Around the Sport Circuit.” Mulligan said: “I was so provoked with myself that, on impulse, I stooped over and put down another ball. The other three looked at me with considerable puzzlement, and one of them asked, ‘What are you doing?’ ‘I’m taking a correction shot,’ I replied.”

His playing partner asked what he called that. “Thinking fast, I told him that I called it a ‘Mulligan.’ They laughed and let me play a second ball. After the match, which Mulligan and Spindler won by one point, there was considerable discussion in the clubhouse about that free shot.

“It all worked out amicably enough, but after that it became an unwritten rule in our foursome that you could take an extra shot on the first tee if you weren’t satisfied with your original. Naturally, this was always referred to as ‘taking a Mulligan.’ From that beginning, I guess the practice spread, and the name with it.”

We won’t mention the several other things you can do to get a better score. I personally know of several people who have lots of tricks up their sleeve. I learned from the best and you know who you are… It’s all in fun though. We all know we are not professional golfers in my circle of friends.

The problem comes in when we transfer that to our walk with Jesus. How do you deal with mulligan Christianity? Our God is the God of second chances. That is called grace. But to play a mulligan with everything we do is another story.

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot” Matthew 5:13.

Putting in play a new set of rules to govern your walk with Christ is not the way to hunger and thirst after the Lord. Lowering the bar doesn’t do anyone any good. Let me encourage you to do whatever it takes to draw closer to God. You can be as full as you want to be. Some of you just need to get your “want to” in line with our Heavenly Father. To have a preferred future, you have to put some good habits in place in the present.

Beginning this Sunday, we will be hosting Stephen Manley as our revival speaker. Revival services run through Wednesday. Supper is being planned at 5:45 Monday through Wednesday to make it easier for you to come. Children’s ministry will be available on Sunday and Wednesday evenings.Monday and Tuesday, ages four-year-old through sixth grade are in the “big service.” I have many childhood memories of being in the “big service.” Children hear more than you think they do.

Make a choice today to be a part of the revival together. The specifics will be in the bulletin on Sunday. You and your whole family will benefit from this opportunity to grow together.

Now, go to Matthew 13:1-23, read the Parable of the Sower and make that your prayer as we lead up to revival this Sunday. Let’s pray for fertile ground so we can understand the Word of God, apply it, and put it into practice. I am looking forward to growing with you.

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike


www.findlayfirstnaz.org

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

God is Great, God is Good

God is Great, God is Good

I have been pondering lately about the season changes. The leaves will soon begin to turn, the days are already getting shorter, the leaves will fall only to be picked up and disposed of. What a beautiful time of the year. There is another season upon us – the political season. That is not so nice. “He said, she said,” is flying from the left and right. The national debates are mudslinging, political jargon that makes a lot of people just turn it off. After the vice presidential debate last night, they talked with undecided, Ohio voters. They asked if the debate changed their mind. The majority of them were still indecisive. I thought it was revealing of our culture when one said, “I was with a certain candidate until they started talking about their faith. Then that made me mad.” What? It’s only when we bring our faith or God into the mix that we are able to see the issues for what they are.

I like what the Reverend Sammy Rodriguez says, “Our hope is not in the donkey or in the elephant, but in the Lamb.” We need to look at our candidate choices through the lens of biblical authority. In order to Make America Great Again, we need to recognize that God is the only one who can do that. Jim Garlow, pastor of Skyline Wesleyan Church, says, “I frequently hear people object, ‘But I don’t want to vote for the lesser of two evils.’ Well, until Jesus runs for office, all candidates are flawed, sin impacted, less-than-perfect human beings. The fact is in every political race, you are, in effect, choosing from the lesser of two evils.” So the fact remains, our hope does not abide in political parties. My hope is in God and His truths. We need to ask the God of wisdom to give us the mind of Christ and give us the ability to influence governmental integrity in our nation.

We have been looking at Daniel on Sunday. This past Sunday Daniel interpreted the dream of King Nebuchadnezzar in chapter 4. He said, “You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox and be drenched with the dew of heaven (in other words, go insane). Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes. The command to leave the stump of the tree with its roots means that your kingdom will be restored to you when you acknowledge that Heaven rules. Therefore, Your Majesty, be pleased to accept my advice: Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your prosperity will continue” Daniel 4:25-27.

There you have it, when you recognize the Lord and live according to His Word, then prosperity, the peace of the soul and of a nation, will return. That is my desire and it is the desire of all those who seek the Name of the Lord.

So, based on sound biblical wisdom, what candidate will reflect God more? Because you see, only God is Great and God is Good. We learned that at an early age before we ate of the food that His hand provided. If you have to, turn off the TV channel and turn on the channel of blessing by consulting the only One who sees all and knows all – the King of kings, and the Lord of lords.

I am looking forward to a few things in the days ahead. I am excited to go with several people from our church to Columbus for a prayer rally with Franklin Graham. I am excited for Sunday as we continue in our series on the Book of Daniel. Now for more political commercials and advertisements – not so much!

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike


www.findlayfirstnaz.org

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Total Devotion No Matter the Outcome

Total Devotion No Matter the Outcome

I have a confession to make. On Sunday during my message I wanted to read a verse concerning the Hebrews being forced to worship an image of gold instead of the One true God. I had it written in my notes but I put the wrong passage in. I repeated a verse I had read earlier in my sermon. So let me make those verses the focus of this devotional.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are being forced to serve and worship the god of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar set up before the people. It was actually an image of himself. The king said that if they didn’t, then they would be thrown into a burning furnace. It has come down to a confrontation. Look with me at Daniel 3:16-18:
16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and He will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if He does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

They had complete confidence that God was in control, not the king. Here is where these three show their devotion to God. When they said, “Even if He does not deliver us, we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Now that is total devotion. They trusted God enough to know that no matter how things ended up, God was going to do the right thing.

How many times throughout the day do you think that things should have gone another way? How do you know that? What if God’s design was to let things work out differently? That is why it is so good to be in tune with what the Lord wants to do. Don’t let anything rob you of your time with the Lord. The more time you spend with Him, the more you will know His heart. The more time you spend with Jesus, the less of you will be in the way.

May you spend today wanting more of God’s Will than your will. Let the Holy Spirit guide you into all Truth as you seek Him with all your heart.

This Sunday is Grandparents Day at church. Bring your grandparents, your grandkids, your mom and dad and enjoy the day together. There will be a delicious meal following the second service. Come and celebrate how the Lord continues to work through ALL generations to bring glory to His name. That’s what I love about our church – we all work together to accomplish more than we could do by ourselves.

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike


www.findlayfirstnaz.org

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Intimacy with God - Part 3

Intimacy with God - Part 3


Psalm 15

We have been looking at the question, “Who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill?” The latter part of verse 5 says, “He who does these things will never be shaken.” The first “thing” the Psalmist writes is to walk blamelessly. In order to walk blamelessly, one would have to obey the commands of God in everything. The next qualification has to do with speech: Speaks truth from his heart. The word translated “truth” comes from a root meaning “to be firm, reliable, and trustworthy.” In other words, “He who speaks with one mouth,” “He whose words are straight,” or “He whose words are true.” When you mix in the heart, you are adding a whole lot of sincerity.

The next qualification for entering the Temple has to do with not spreading malicious gossip or speaking ill of others. The next two deal with two synonymous terms, friend and neighbor. The Temple dweller does no harm or nothing bad to others. That would be implying those who may be considered enemies as well.

David sets himself to remind his friends of certain key truths about God. He is sovereign over all (v. 4a). He is well aware of the wicked and what they are doing (v. 4b). He is not ambivalent about evil but has a perfect dislike for it and in due time will bring judgment on the wicked (vv. 5–6). On the other hand, the Lord loves righteousness and smiles upon those who practice it (v. 7).

Such truths present us with a sharp dilemma. If the Lord indeed loves righteousness and hates evil, why does he allow evil to flourish and to trouble His people? David does not attempt a detailed answer. He wrote to affirm his faith, not to unravel the tangled thread of evil. But he does drop a hint for us: ‘The Lord tests the righteous’ (v. 5).

When evil thrives, it gives the people of God the opportunity to show the stuff of which they are made; to show that they do not love and serve God only in fair weather but also in turbulent storms.

Continue to read through Psalm 15 and ask the Lord to reveal new and ever-flowing truth to you as you learn to love others as Jesus does.

Pray for the services on Sunday as we continue the series in Daniel.

May you speak the truth from your heart today as you show a lost world the hope of Jesus.

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Intimacy with God - Part 2

Intimacy with God - Part 2

Psalm 15

Last week we began to look at the question, “Who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill?” The latter part of verse 5 says, “He who does these things will never be shaken.” The first “thing” the Psalmist writes is to walk blamelessly. In order to walk blamelessly, one would have to obey the commands of God in everything. The next qualification has to do with speech: Speaks truth from his heart. The word translated “truth” comes from a root meaning “to be firm, reliable, and trustworthy.” Many different languages would pen this phrase differently. Let me just list out the different ways this could be stated. “He who speaks with one mouth,” “He whose words are straight,” or “He whose words are true.” When you mix in the heart, you are adding a whole lot of sincerity.

This brings a picture of someone who is intent on speaking the truth no matter what circumstance they find themselves in. It shows that there is no other option. No matter what the outcome, the one who speaks the truth from his heart will not have to wonder what he said to who because it will all be the same. It is this person who will live on God’s holy hill.

Next week we will look at the third qualification. Are you living out these qualities that God sees through and through? Continue to read Psalm 15 and allow the Holy Spirit to plant seeds of truth as you go throughout your day.

Last Sunday was a powerful service as we asked the Lord to protect the law enforcement in our community. What a tremendous opportunity to pray for people who are willing to sacrifice at any moment for the safety of their neighbors. Keep them in prayer and also remember to put your faith before your politics as we lead up to November 8.

I want to extend another invitation for those who want to be a part of the Front Row Ministries at the church. We meet every Wednesday morning at 6:30 a.m. for one hour of prayer. If you are not able to physically be there and still want to be a part of this vital ministry of the church, then talk with me and I will tell you how you can participate.

May you speak the truth from your heart today as you show a lost world the hope of Jesus.

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Intimacy with God - Part 1


Intimacy with God - Part 1

Psalm 15

There is a question posed in Psalm 15 and the answer is sandwiched in the middle of a promise in the last verse. I would like to take the next few weeks to unpack this Psalm as it pertains to walking upright before the Lord. The question found in verse 1 is, “Who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill?” The latter part of verse 5 says, “He who does these things will never be shaken.” Now I want to dive into understanding what it is that I can do not to be shaken. So for the next few weeks we will look at verses 2-5 as we try to understand what God is saying.

Psalm 15 is not about what God expects people to do to be saved from their sins. The psalm is about enjoying close fellowship with God.

In Old Testament times high standards of personal holiness were required of someone who wanted to remain in the presence of the Lord, which was represented by the ark of God in its tabernacle. Dwelling in the sanctuary in the Old Testament referred to a specific place. In the New Covenant we are living in today, the temple is our bodies. We are the dwelling place of God where His Holy Spirit lives. Today, in the church, only people with high standards of personal holiness enjoy a deep intimacy with God. Psalm 15 is a signpost on the road along which the Holy Spirit yearns to lead each believer in Jesus.

As you read through the conditions of personal holiness, you will notice that they are all moral and spiritual in nature and not ritual and ceremonial. In other words, they have to do with character and conduct.

According to the response to the questions, a worshiper must walk blameless or perfect. Using the word, “walk,” gives the impression of all of life. It reminds me of Psalm 1:1 where the Psalmist writes, “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.” The word blessed is a Hebrew word that does not mean that God blesses, or rewards such a person; rather it means that such a person is happy, or fortunate. It is the same word used in the Beatitudes found in Matthew 5. It doesn’t mean “lucky.” That would imply chance. A godly or blameless walk results in close fellowship with God. It is one who obeys the commands of God in everything. Even when things around us are not working out, we still have a deep settled peace because we are never shaken.

I want to encourage you to read this passage a few times. Let it begin to read you as you seek to understand the kernel of truth God has for you today.

This Sunday will mark the 15th anniversary of “911.” Come and participate in one of our services as we pray for our local law enforcement, and are reminded of our need of the Almighty God in our Nation.

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

We Stand United

We Stand United

We Stand United will be our theme on Sunday, September 11. We will remember the 15thanniversary of the attack on America when planes were used as weapons as they hit the Twin Towers in New York. Do you remember what you were doing on that day? It is hard to believe that there are children who know nothing about this tragic event. It has made it in the history books but there is no comparison from reading the story to watching it live on national television. This will always be a day to remember forever.

There was also another event that happened on this site, or at least very close to it back on April 30, 1789. American history tells us that George Washington, America’s first president, gave his first inaugural address from the Senate balcony of Founder’s Hall on Wall Street in NYC. He later led an entire delegation of dignitaries up the street to St. Paul’s church for a prayer service to ask God’s blessing.

What is so significant about St. Paul’s church where Washington led the nation to a prayer service? I am glad you asked. St Paul’s church is adjacent to ground zero. In fact, when the towers fell, one of the only places not destroyed, was this church. Another interesting fact is that the ground that the twin towers rested on was once owned by this church.

If you go to googleearth.com and type in ground zero, it will take you to the site. To the right you’ll see an area with several trees next to the site. That is St. Paul’s chapel. If you go to the street level, you’ll see that the properties are next to each other. I don’t think that is a coincidence.

Prayer ought to be the focal point of every activity under the sun. It ought to be promoted from the highest position of the land. This fall we will be voting for the next president of the United States of America. I believe that we would see a change if the person we voted in to this office placed importance on prayer as our first president did.

I have been reading the Old Testament and came across Solomon’s prayer  in 1 Kings 3:9. He says,“So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?”

Look at God’s response, “The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. So God said to him, ‘Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but or discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be.’” God goes on to say that He will give him wealth, long life, and honor if he would continue to obey Him. That is what I am praying for. I am praying for leaders who recognize that without God in the center of all things, our Nation will be lost. I choose to have faith over fear. God knows what He is doing.

Pray for our service coming up on September 11 as we invite the local law enforcement in so we can pray for their protection and safety.

Have a blessed day as you show people what it is to live with the peace and assurance of knowing the right from wrong as you follow Jesus closer than ever.

Joy in Jesus!
Pastor Mike

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Staying the Course

Staying the Course

“After the whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel” Judges 2:10.

When you look at history, you will see that the Israelites would move in and out of close relationship with the Lord. One minute they were following God in covenant and following closely the leader the Lord had provided. The next minute they were rebelling and serving other gods. Many times their plight was dependent on the leader’s heart and the direction he would take them. There were many kings who did not serve the Lord and the people would follow suit. The result was a whole generation growing up and not recognizing the Lord, therefore, the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord. It just reminds us how important it is to live and follow the one and only true God and be about passing that faith on to the next generation. Other things will try to distract us and get us off course, but we are to be wise to the things of God and the things of this world, and be able to discern the difference. How can a people pass on something they are not carrying themselves? To think that a whole generation could drift away from the Lord is alarming.

It reminds us that we need to live out our faith daily. Just because you experienced revival last year doesn’t mean you are still living in that reality. It’s good that you were close to the Lord last month – but that doesn’t ensure that you are this month. You practiced the presence of the Lord last week. What about this week?

In his book Dry Bones Can Live Again, Robert Coleman reflects on the importance of staying close to God: “What we may fail to comprehend is that the fruits of revival can endure only as the conditions of revival are maintained. There must be spiritual openness to the Spirit’s direction. As He leads on to deeper truths in Christ, we must follow. Where we see a wrong deed or attitude in our own life, obedience to Christ demands that we confess our sin, forsake it, and by faith in the covenant of grace renew our dedication.”

Let me encourage you today to keep the fire of the Spirit burning in your heart. Don’t let the flame go out. As Paul reminded Timothy let me remind you:
For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline.   2 Timothy 1:6-7

Be faithful with the faith in God that you have received from Him. Give it away to your children and those who are in your sphere of influence. Then seek the Lord with all your heart to replenish what you have given away.

I am looking forward to a great day of worship on Sunday.

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike