One Nation under God
The Apostle Peter asked the question, What kind of people ought you to be? (2Pe 3:11aniv). He was writing a second letter to a church that was facing an uncertain future, yet even in the face of persecution he tells them, You ought to live holy and godly lives (2Pe 3:11bniv).
When Moses led Israel out of Egyptian slavery, the Lord knew where they were going but they didn’t. From all appearances it seemed that they were on the road to an uncertain future, even dehydration and destruction in an unforgiving desert. Three months out of Egypt and in front of a mountain called Sinai, God told Israel what kind of people, nation she was to be: Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Ex 19:5b-6niv).
Whatever its name…Israel or Church, God will always have a nation or a people for Himself. They are not defined by geographical boundaries or political institutions or cultural pedigree, but by a holy character that reflects the image of the God who saved them.
| From Joseph to Moses |
The Story reads like a novel, moving from one scene to another in what appears to be a rather short period of time. But the time span from Joseph to Moses is over 400 years. In God-time, that’s a blink of His eyes but for us in the U.S.A., we’d have to wait another 162 years before we celebrate 400 years as a nation.
That’s a long time, but as The Story tells us, God remembered. Remembered what? He remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He also remembered the oppression of the Hebrew people in Egypt. I can’t even remember where I put my reading glasses five minutes ago, but God remembered…400+ years. It’s a good thing I have all my teeth.
A very reluctant Moses didn’t exactly jump into God’s story…he kind of stubbed his toe into the story and a nation was born….an enslaved people that nobody else wanted but God claimed for Himself. He will be their God and they will be His people.
| Creation, Abraham, Joseph |
We’re heading into week 3 of The Story and so far God has revealed Himself as Creator, Relational Redeemer, and a Keeper of His promises. Noah and Abraham both jumped feet first into God’s story, believing His word and obeying His commands. By faith Noah believed God’s word about a flood and built a big boat in a dry land to save his family. By faith Abraham believed God’s word about a land, a son, and a nation and it was credited to him as righteousness. Whether it’s Noah, Abraham or us, the essential foundation for relationship with God has always been by (His) grace through (our) faith.
Faith is often perceived as a “head-in-the-clouds” intellectual exercise but God has revealed through His Story that faith in God/Jesus Christ is never passive. Faith is expressed through active verbs like believing, trusting, and obeying.
This Sunday we’ll look at the next major character in God’s story: Joseph. He trusted God with an incredible faith in the face of undesirable and hopeless situations. God had promised his great-grandfather Abraham a great nation, and by the time of Joseph’s generation, the nucleus of the nation was in danger of being exterminated by starvation. It appears that God’s promises were on the brink of bombing out. But Joseph jumped into God’s story and gave instructions to have his bones buried in that Promised Land. What faith!
| JAN. 20, 2014 |
We begin the High Quest journey this week and it shouldn’t surprise us that the climb begins with GOD. It is our tendency to begin with me/us, asking questions of our existence and purpose: “Who am I?” and “Why am I here?”. But GOD begins with Himself, In the beginning GOD, and every movement of GOD’s after those initial words was toward humanity, So GOD created man in his own image…and it was very good.
So we were created BY God, FOR God, and LIKE God. So in answer, very simple answer to those two questions of our existence and purpose, I belong to GOD and was formed to reflect His image for His glory. Very, very, very simply, HE IS GOD AND I AM NOT. The sooner I fully grasp that truth, the fuller my life becomes. If I am to truly understand who I am and why I’m here, I must truly know GOD as He has revealed Himself.
| JAN. 19, 2014 |
God created us for relationship, and worship is an essential element of that relationship. We gather to acknowledge He is God and we’re not, that we’re dependent upon Him. If you’re new to The Story, join us for the jump into God’s Story!
As of now I’ve been up 24 hours, arising at 4:30am (British Standard Time) and pulling into Pickerington OHIO at 10:30pm (which is 3:30am Friday BST). It was a long trip. Guess who was randomly selected for a pat down and bag search at Manchester Airport? Do I really look that guilty…or suspicious?
Yesterday evening (Wednesday) was the first time I was able to get a picture of the sunset across Morecambe Bay (without the clouds, that is). My English friend, Bill Shand took me and another team member up to St. Peter’s church & St. Patrick’s ruins to capture the rays shimmering across the still bay. If you look at the sunset picture below you’ll notice that the shapes cut in the rock are shapes of people who were buried in these rocks (burial grounds).
Setting Sun from St. Patrick’s ruins
Last night’s farewell gathering enabled the congregation to imagine the possibilities for how to use their newly refurbished sanctuary. We had a meal of “jacketed potatoes” (a loaded potato bar). Words of appreciation were exchanged. Gifts were presented from the church to the team. We received a Heysham hand towel, a tea spoon with an English coat of arms, and an original watercolor of Morecombe Bay by Knowlys Rd Nazarene’s newest church member, Barb Vernon. Hugs and farewells ended our time at the church. I believe the Knowlys Rd congregation is ready to break out into their community in word and deed with the gospel of Jesus Christ. I’m anxious to see what God is going to do through these faithful people.
I can’t hold my eyes open anymore…and the familiar bed of HOME SWEET HOME awaits me. Thanks for allowing me to share this journey with you.
Today was a sightseeing day for 3 of us (that’s all that could fit in Pastor Trevor’s car; he took the others on earlier days). The Lake District is absolutely stunning…reminded me of Glacier National Park (with much smaller mountains).
Narrow roads, mountains, waterfalls, deep gorgeous lakes, open range sheep and picturesque villages all made for a grand finale for me in England. We went to Keswick. We also stopped in a village called Grasmere (ate a biscuit of Grasmere Gingerbread… beware of imitations). Poet William Wordsworth is buried here.
William Wordsworth Headstone
We returned in time to meet with the District Superintendent of the British Isles South District, Rev. David Montgomery. We will have a fellowship time at the church with Rev. Montgomery and the folks of Knowlys Rd. Nazarene.
We leave at 5:45am from the hotel for the long ride home. Can’t wait to get home!