66 Gospels | Numbers

“Then the LORD said, “I will pardon them as you have requested.”

– Numbers 14:20

 

I hit a roadblock last week. I had every intention of writing a blog and my mind was blank. No matter how hard I tried, no words came to me. Then, a friend visited my wife and I and had a heart wrenching story to tell.

A church my wife and I have visited a number of times was not doing well; several key leaders had been removed from their positions and many members had left the church. As someone who desires to pastor a church, those stories sting. I hurt deep inside when the family of God begins to fall apart and the world around us takes center stage.

I’ve heard those kinds of stories all to often. I know that the church is full of messed up people; that is just a part of our nature. Jesus called the disciples knowing they had their own agendas and those agendas were discussed, debated and even fought for.

Do we pursue God for his glory or for our own sake?

In the Book of Numbers, God encounters Moses by informing him that the deal is off; there is no more promised land to enter and no rest for the weary. God is done with Israel. Why? Because the people won’t stop complaining against what God has done for them. To the people of Israel, God has led them into the wilderness to suffer and die. To the people of Israel, there is no hope of a better tomorrow. To the people of Israel, it would be better to return to Egypt and to a life of slavery.

Those words hurt. Those words cut into the heart of God who has pursued Israel with reckless love and has rescued them by his mighty arm. God alone acted on their behalf; he sent Moses and Aaron to speak for the people. He sent plagues to warn the nation of Egypt and he delivered them from Egypt.

Now, Israel doesn’t feel so secure about the next step. Israel isn’t so sure about God leading them and they begin to cry out against Moses, Aaron and God. When we don’t get out way, watch out!

“Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.”
Hebrews 7:25

Sometimes I forget the beauty of the Gospel. Sometimes I forget that the Gospel is first and foremost victorious (66 Gospels | Genesis). The gospel further demonstrates its beauty in intercession. Just as Moses prayed for the people, today, Jesus PRAYS for us!

I, just like you needed someone to save us from sins. We needed love to come into our lives and break through the walls we built up. We needed intervention; we needed someone to intercede for us. Jesus accomplished that on the cross when he said, “Father, forgive them…” (Luke 23:24)

As Jesus continues to intercede for us, God is continually reminded of the blood his Son shed for us. We are forgiven of our sins, we are set free, we are made new.

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66 gospels| Leviticus

“But no devoted thing that a man devotes to the LORD, or anything that he has, whether man or beast, of his inherited land, shall be sold or redeemed; every devoted thing is most holy to the LORD.”

– Lev. 27:28

Leviticus is one of those books in the old testament that is about the law. In the 27 chapters contained in this book, God is providing Israel step by step instructions of what to do and what not to do. This book is fleshing out the 10 commandments. God really speaks into the various aspects of the law; he speaks of the ceremonial aspect and deals with the appropriate laws for the cleansing of lepers. God speaks about how to appropriately sacrifice an animal to the LORD.

God provides the Law as well as the necessary steps to perform the law. Every detail is outlined because the Law either connects or separates God and man; the focus is upon obedience and disobedience. When we come to chapter 27 which closes out the book, God speaks to Moses about value.

A male ages 20-60 is worth fifty shekels of silver; a female is 30. A male ages 5-20 is worth twenty shekels and a woman is worth 10. Land, animals and homes have value to and God gives details on the priests providing value to those assigned items. All these things are valued when they are dedicated to the LORD.

It may be easy to focus on the value of male and female; land or animal but if we move beyond the numbers, we see that when individuals or things are devoted to the LORD, they are made holy to God. That which has value is now, invaluable to God and cannot be resold or redeemed (bought back).

The Gospel in Leviticus reveals to us that value that God placed upon mankind. We can return to the 1st Gospel in Genesis 3:15 when God offers to take our place. God, in love, comes as a man, Christ Jesus, and lives and dies for us. Why? Because God placed value in us. Christ was living out the commands that God would provide to Israel in Leviticus.

In the gospel, we are valued!

 

 

 

66 Gospels | Exodus

“Years passed, and the King of Egypt died. But the Israelites continued to groan under their burden of slavery. They cried out for help, and their cry rose up to God. God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He looked down on the people and knew it was time to act.”

– Exodus 2:23-25 nlt

“I cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye.” I recall saying this phrase when I was a kid. Sure, it is morbid to say and to think about but to a child, all it means was an undying devotion to a promise. It meant we were going to keep our word because the phrase “My word is my bond” is too deep for a kid.

Well, I’ll be honest, there have been a number of times when I didn’t keep my word and promises were broken. There are times when I have let others down even though, through my words, I said I would do something or be somewhere. My words are often weak and frail.

It is good to know God’s word is higher than our own. His words align with his character and he is truth and he is good. The term, covenant, is an agreement, often used to describe an agreement between two parties however; it can be only one. God’s covenant or God’s promise to Abraham was that his own people (Israel) would be foreigners in a land, not their own but God would bring them back.

The nation of Israel being in Egypt had  purpose. In the beginning, it was because of Joseph’s brothers who sold him into slavery. In God’s sovereignty he guided and protected Joseph through all he faced and gave him a position of leadership and influence. God gave Joseph these positions because Joseph was a man of godly character. Joseph sought after God and trusted in him.

So when the nation of Israel came to Egypt, things were good. There was peace among the people. Yet, over time, things changed. A new pharaoh came into power who did not have the same view regarding the Israelites as past Pharaoh’s. The new Pharaoh saw Israel as a threat and enslaved the people.

Slavery became a way of life for the people of Israel.

When Israel cried out God remembered his covenant with Abraham. God remembered his promise that he would bring the people back. The Gospel is a promise of liberation. God knew it was time to act; God knew that only he could save there from their oppressors.

God seeks to liberate people from the oppression that holds them down. The Gospel is the release from oppression; the Gospel is the promise that God will act on our behalf and set us free.

66 Gospels | Genesis

66 gospels_wide_t

 

66 Gospels | Genesis

Genesis 3:1-21
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made.
He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.

The LORD God said to the serpent,
“Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock
and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go,
and dust you shall eat all the days of your life.
I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

To the woman he said,
“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children.
Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”
And to Adam he said,
“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife
and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you,
‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you;
in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.
The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.”

[introduction]

So, I don’t know about you but I love Christmas. I remember on so many occasions, waking up really early and rushing downstairs just to see a ton of gifts wrapped underneath the Christmas tree. It was a wonderful day to spend time with my family and yes, get gifts that I wanted. I loved it! I loved when it would snow outside because it completed the picture for me. A day to spend inside, in a warm house, with my family. We would laugh together, open gifts, and then we would enjoy a big meal together. I’ll tell you, there are times i miss those days.

For all those memories of Christmas time, one stands out above the rest. It’s the one Christmas which all others are judged against. It was the first Christmas we had in which my family traveled from our little home in New Hampshire and drove in a beat up car, all the way down to Florida where my cousins lived. This was an incredible experience for us. While we all loved snow, we had already seen enough of it; so this was a pleasant change. We saw sun light and enjoyed 75-80 degree temperature outside. We spent time at Walt Disney World and we saw family, whom we didn’t normally see.

Now, let’s get to those gifts. That’s what Christmas is about, right? The gifts we get? Well, one particular gift I opened, which was my favorite gift this particular Christmas was an action figure of Mr. Miyagi from the Karate Kid franchise. I loved it! I was so happy to receive this gift because it went perfectly with my collection. I had a few other figures but I had never been able to get this one. Now, it was given to me as a gift. I smiled, thanked my parents and then continued to open my other gifts. When we were done, I remember my cousin coming over to me and asking if I was going to open up and play with my Mr. Miyagi figure. With excitement, I picked up the box and opened up the box, only to watch in complete horror as the action figure fell out of the box with a broken leg and it crashed onto the floor. I knelt down next to the figure crying out, “No!!” My mother came over and motioned to my dad and they did their best to console me. I was, of course, inconsolable. No words would ever heal the pain that resided in my heart. A little dramatic I know, I was a kid.

We ended our vacation and returned to New Hampshire. Prior to going to our house though, we stopped at Jesse’s Market, a small convince store close to us. My dad said he needed to grab something important before we went home. He left our sights, entered the store and returned a little while later. When he got into the car, he turned to my brother, my sister and myself and said, “When we get home, Mike gets to go in first. Is that understood?” I love when your dad says things like that cause it is like you becoming king of the hill. My siblings could snicker and argue and pout all they wanted but I got to go in first. So, we drove off and turned onto School St and then we went down our dive way. My dad shut off the car and handed me the keys and said, “Remember, Mike goes in first.”

I ran up to the door, put the key in and turned the lock and opened the door. There lying on the floor was a Mr. Miyagi figure, exactly like the one in Florida. This one, however, wasn’t broken. It wasn’t in a box either. My parents walked in stunned, as if they had no idea how it got there, other than maybe Santa had heard my figure had broken and he made a special trip, just for me.

[the message]

When I think about the text of Genesis 3, I wonder what went through God’s mind when he created us, out of the dust and breathed life into us. I wonder specifically what was going through his mind when he was walking in the garden, calling out for Adam and Eve. They were, of course, in hiding. They were hiding in shame and fear; as that is what sin does. Sin drives us from love and mercy and grace chase after us. Fear and shame creates this idea that we cannot possibly become vulnerable under any circumstances. Fear and shame leads us to believe that we cannot be loved because we did something wrong. Fear and shame leads us to walk away from love because we are underserving.

God himself walked into our mess; what he found was his creation standing before him, broken. Much like the Mr. Miyagi toy that was broken when I opened the package. You see, the action figure brought me great joy and it looked perfect inside the box it came in. However, when I opened it so I could interact with is and get close to it, I found it was broken. Same thing happens here. God fellowshipped with man. God came to us, in the cool of the evening.

God himself, walks into our mess. He finds us hiding from him. He finds us in our fear, covering our shame. He finds us broken, ashamed and lost. God’s beautiful masterpiece, came crashing down and breaks into a million pieces.

Both Adam and Eve knew they had done wrong. They became aware of their own nakedness, something which wasn’t previously known. As this transgression conspired, they became afraid when they heard the voice of God calling out their names. That is precisely what sin causes in us; hostility towards God. We are far from him, when we fall short of what he has called us to be.

Sin bears consequence. When God confronted Adam and Eve regarding their sin of disobedience, punishment was just and right. Adam placed the blame on Eve because she handed him the fruit of the tree of knowledge. Eve placed the blame on the serpent who tempted her. Regardless of who said what and who did what, the blame fell on both Adam and Eve. They knew the command of God to not touch the fruit and they willingly and intentionally ate the fruit.

[The Gospel]

In dealing with our sin, the first priority God places in our midst, is the Gospel. Without the fall of man, there is no need for the Gospel. Without the fall, there is no need for grace. However, as we live in the aftermath of the fall, we can now clearly see our need for forgiveness. We don’t need to be trained to be bad; we are so naturally.

God speaks first to the serpent. This doesn’t suggest the serpent is the one who is to blame solely for sin entering our world. Mankind is responsible for that. Genesis 3:15 is called the proto-evangel, the first gospel. “I [God] will put enmity between you and the woman and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

God pronounces a solemn judgement upon the serpent. First he is cursed because there is no redemption for him. He was given life from God and he wanted it for himself. He was a given a position before God and yet he desired to be above God. In the serpent there was no good, no hope, no honor and no love.

God also gives the serpent animosity towards the woman’s offspring. It is because we are created in the image of God that the serpent hates us all. We are image bearers and the serpent only holds hostility towards us because of that.

In a surprising move, God also provides the serpent with freedom. He is given a unique opportunity to strike the heel of the offspring which will bring about the serpent demise. It almost seems as if God is giving the serpent an idea that there will be a battle and the serpent will get in a shot. The serpent will strike the heel and cause certain injury to the offspring.

It is his heel because the serpent can do nothing but crawl and is underneath the offspring. The offspring strikes the head of the serpent first and then serpent strikes the heel second. This is not to suggest that God in Christ throws the first strike and the serpent the second strike. No, God is giving a clear indication of where the victory lies. It is with the offspring. The victory is with Christ.

The gospel is victorious.

Jesus was victorious in life for he lived without no sin.

Jesus was victorious in death for he submitted to God.

Jesus was victory in the grave for he rose up again.

This is good news. God is victorious.

In the chaos of life, we can easily find ourselves broken. We can find ourselves in a mess, wishing and hoping for something more or something better. In life we find triumph and joy mixed with sorrow and defeat. We can rise and we can fall. The great news is that in Christ, we have victory. In Christ we overcome. In Christ, we can find true peace and true joy. In Christ, we can find life everlasting, life the way God intended for us. Sometimes life can be like that broken Mr. Miyagi toy. We are heart broken and displaced. God in Christ pursues us and restores us to who we were always meant to be. The gospel brings victory.

 

Written by | Michael Monica

dear God…

dear God

 

“Commit your plans to the Lord and he will make you succeed.” – Proverbs

[this is a call]

I like having control over everything. When I am not in control, I get out of control. I don’t enjoy being stuck in traffic. I don’t like not knowing what’s next in life. I am a planner and I like routine. I recall when I first spoke to my pastor about God calling me to be a preacher and listening to his suggestions that I get into a good school and study theology.

Well, I wanted to get into school immediately but it took a few months. Even then I wanted to know “What’s next?” From my home study course to my undergraduate degree program to seminary. During seminary, the questions moved beyond schooling into how to get ordained as a pastor and the endless job search for a pastoral position in the local church began.

Every now and then I would go to my mail box to find another “Rejection Letter” from a church I applied for. For a long, long time, I have felt lost and confused. While I have discussed this before, I am going to re-share a story with you all; it is the encounter I had with Rod who asked me, “What are you doing now that requires faith?”

Near the end of that conversation, Rod encouraged me to write down the question to which I was seeking an answer to. I listened to his advice and asked God where he wanted me to be and where he wanted me to serve.

Over the course of ten days, I prayed and wrote ten simple prayers in a journal and each day, I felt God ask me a question. These are those questions…

What have i been preparing you for?
Why have I been preparing you?
Will your pursue me?
Why are you following me?
What are you willing to surrender?
Are you willing to let go of your past?
Will you give up your sins?
Will you give up your pain?
Will you give me room to speak?

Will you follow me?

[here i am, saying goodbye to myself]

Ever since I announced I was moving away, I’ve felt more unsure of the move. i’ve felt this way for one reason: FEAR! I am moving away without knowing the area at all, I have no idea where I am going to do for work and an income and I have no idea where I am going to stay.

That caused me to remain awake for many nights. I began to ponder all of the “what if” questions which came like a flood. I hated having to wrestle with my flesh. Then came the voices; the voices that drown out God’s voice.

What if I don’t make it?Where am I going to go?

What if I can’t find a job?

What if I go hungry?

What if my car breaks down?

God’s voice needs to be louder than everything else! I wanted to stay here, in Vermont but I know this- I am not being effective here and it’s not for a lack of trying. i’ve stepped out in obedience to God’s call.

I haven’t done as much as I wanted and I believe a lot of that is attributed to me being alone (without a wife and or someone to partner with). I don’t regret what hasn’t been accomplished either; I know God works all things together for the good. All things.

I pray for my area and I pray for the area I am moving to.

I still feel completely under qualified to do ANYTHING for God. That’s a good place to be though. God can do anything with anyone if they are willing to be used.

That said, I am moving to Texas. Whatever happens, to God be the glory!


 

dear God| written by mike monica

i have decided

I-Have-Decided-WEB

 

** Originally Posted here: http://bigdbentley.com/2012/12/14/sermon-notes-ordination-of-michael-monicaa-heart-set-apart/


 

 

John 12:26
If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me. Where I am, there My servant also will be. If anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.

The heart of the PASTOR
A Servant Heart

A Set Apart Heart

A Spiritual Heart

A Solid Heart
1 TIMOTHY 3.1-7

This saying is trustworthy: “If anyone aspires to be an overseer, he desires a noble work.” An overseer, therefore, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, self-controlled, sensible, respectable, hospitable, an able teacher, not addicted to wine, not a bully but gentle, not quarrelsome, not greedy — one who manages his own household competently, having his children under control with all dignity. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a new convert, or he might become conceited and fall into the condemnation of the Devil. Furthermore, he must have a good reputation among outsiders, so that he does not fall into disgrace and the Devil’s trap.
A Servant Heart

One of the truths about a person with a servant heart is that, long before there is a title or office designating them as a servant, they find ways to serve. Serving includes noticing a need a meeting that need. For a minister this is one of the key ingredients in the toolbox of the pastor.
A Set-Apart Heart
0Part of the significance behind the ordination of a person for service in the kingdom is the recognition that they have been selected, called, and gifted by God for a specific purpose. In a sense, every believer is ordained and expected to fulfill a certain role in God’s plan and purpose for their lives.

Answering the call to ministry, however, carries with it the weight of being responsible for the care and life of the Bride of Christ, the church. The weight of that calling, and the accountability before the Lord for this role is not something everyone is capable of managing.
A Spiritual Heart

· The Disciplines of Ministry

Spending Time in Prayer
Scripture Reading/Study
Keeping a Clean Heart, Mind, and Walk
Confession and Repentance when Mess Up
Seeking God’s Direction
Living Yielded to the Holy Spirit
A Solid Heart

Notice that Paul instructs Timothy that the Overseer should be:

above reproach
husband of one wife (a “One Woman Man”)
self-controlled
sensible
respectable
hospitable
an able teacher
not addicted to wine
not a bully but gentle
not quarrelsome
not greedy
one who manages his own household competently
not be a new convert
have a good reputation among outsiders
In other words, the person must be grounded, having a firm foundation of faith on the bedrock of beliefs and the teaching of the Bible. This foundation must be visible through their life to those around them.

Consider a building with a poor foundation…how long before it is visible?

A person who is living with a poor foundation in life will be evident to others
What if all of us, pastors or not, were striving to live with a firm foundation?
Invitation
· Are there some who need to be saved and come to faith in Christ? The first step of the greatest journey of your life is to make your way to Jesus and find forgiveness for your sins and the promise and hope of eternal life.

· Is there anyone here who has felt the nudge into ministry, a deeper calling to something greater, an urging to serve the church and the Lord in a specific role that carries greater responsibility. For example a missionary, a pastor, a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We have all been given gifts (Super Powers), and we all have a calling (reason/purpose), but not everyone is called to make a career out of those gifts and callings. That is what I’m talking about here. This person is like a soldier under command, and may be “called-up” to “go” and must be willing to follow those orders. Is that what you feel today?

Charges for the Ordination Ceremony
THE CHARGE TO THE CANDIDATE
Michael, on behalf of the Church of our Lord, Jesus Christ, in the power and authority of His name and by witness of the Holy Spirit, I charge you to…

Live up to a Standard set by Scripture
Keep Your Eyes on the Prize of Christ
Serve the Lord Jesus in His Body, the church, in accordance with your gifts and calling doing all things as though you were doing them unto the Lord.

THE CHARGE TO THE CHURCH

By laying our hands on Michael today we state with the blessing of the church that we believe that he is called and gifted by God to serve as a pastor, elder, and overseer in the church body. As Michael come forward to be ordained today I charge the church body …

Church, on behalf of the Church of our Lord, Jesus Christ, in the power and authority of His name and by witness of the Holy Spirit, I charge you to…

Pray for this man
Serve along side of this man in the ministry and service in the body
Hold this man accountable in love and grace, always encouraging him in his ministry and service and aiding him as you are able.


i have decided| written by dave bentley