Presentation on theme: "REDEDICATION DEVOTIONAL 2014. In a couple of weeks just beyond the midpoint of the Lenten season we will rededicate our sanctuary. The renovations that."— Presentation transcript:
In a couple of weeks just beyond the midpoint of the Lenten season we will rededicate our sanctuary. The renovations that we started in the latter part of April are complete and even with a simple quick glance one can see the enormous difference between the old sanctuary and the new. During the renovations we had to move some things around, adjust our worship and practice. We found ourselves stretched, feathers ruffled, feelings hurt, miscommunications and mistakes made. Still we praise God for the blessing of what we were able to accomplish. With the rededication we will be declaring a new era in the life and ministry of the Florida Avenue Baptist Church. If we are to continue to make a difference we cannot bring old attitudes, old grudge holding habits, and staid practices and perspectives into this new era. For God to use us and this to be a true sanctuary- a place of refuge, rest, reconciliation and rejuvenation then we have to let go of some old ways.
Then the Lord appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him: ‘I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice. 13 When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, 14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land… II Chronicles 7:12-14
22 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are the skins; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.’ * This is easily said, but not so easily done. Releasing the old and embracing the new only comes about by prayer and fasting. For the balance of the Lenten season I invite you to prayerfully join in this devotional study of God’s answer to King Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the original Temple of Jerusalem.
Sunday March 23, 2014 II Chronicles 6:20-21 May your eyes be open day and night towards this house, the place where you promised to set your name, and may you heed the prayer that your servant prays towards this place. 21 And hear the plea of your servant and of your people Israel, when they pray towards this place; may you hear from heaven your dwelling-place; hear and forgive.
Solomon’s dedication prayer is summarized in these two verses. His closing request is really the summary of all our prayers, hear, Lord and forgive. How different this is than our modern prayers. Truly if they were to be summarized too often it would be hear Lord and give. Behind this request is the assumption that despite all our good works we fall short of what Holiness requires and our greatest need is forgiveness so that we might be acceptable to God. In reflecting on our contemporary prayer assumptions it is almost as we assume we are entitled to ask God for anything and he is obligated to deliver without us changing a bit. It is worth reflecting upon what our prayer assumptions are and what our greatest need truly is.
Monday March 24, 2004 II CHRONICLES 7:14 If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land What does it mean to be God’s people?
I Peter 2:9-10 9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, * in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
To be called God’s people is a title of honor that is underappreciated in today’s religious culture. The assumption is that we are all God’s children. It is more accurate to say that we are all made in the image of God. There is a difference between being part of a non- descript crowd and being set aside. To be called God’s people is to be set apart.
The honor of this title can more vividly be appreciated by a group that has been rejected and disfavored who then come into favored status. I Peter 2 is a snapshot description of us. Once we were as African- Americans, despised, rejected not even considered a people. We were split into various groups and not able to communicate or decide what to call ourselves. But now we are in a different place. We are now a people. Black history month is over but we should never forget what God has done in shaping and continuing to shape us as a people.
Tuesday March 25, 2004 John 21:15-18 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ 16 A second time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Tend my sheep.’ 17 He said to him the third time, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ And he said to him, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep.
To be called God’s people has a responsibility. I Peter says we have been called God’s people that we might proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. In this era of individual emphasis we tend to overlook the group emphasis that has a priority over the individual. Family comes before individual. The church is the group of people; a collective that must be feed. If you love me feed my sheep Jesus says to Peter. Our individual faith is visible only as we respond as responsible disciples to the needs of others. God calls us to responsible acts of love.
Wednesday March 26, 2014 Jeremiah 23: 1-3 Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! says the Lord. 2 Therefore, thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who shepherd my people: It is you who have scattered my flock, and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. So I will attend to you for your evil doings, says the Lord. 3 Then I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the lands where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. 4 I will raise up shepherds over them who will shepherd them, and they shall not fear any longer, or be dismayed, nor shall any be missing, says the Lord.
To be called the people of God is to be known and identified as a remnant. The history of Israel was never as a mighty nation. Its land mass at its height was only slightly larger than the state of Vermont. Conquered the first time by the Assyrians in 722 bce the nation lost ten of the original twelve tribes. Conquered the second time by the Babylonians in 586 bce many of the nation were taken into exile in Babylon. It was only a remnant that came back.
We as modern American Christians are used to a triumphal and powerful faith. We are the only superpower nation left and we are a “Christian Nation. “ We tend to think in triumphal terms. But to be called a remnant is a different perspective. One has a different sense of frailty, but also it can foster a deeper sense of caring and dependence on God. To be identified as a remnant is a constant reminder of God’s grace, his marvelous protection and our deep need
Thursday March 27, 2014 Matthew 5:13-16, Isaiah 49:6 ‘You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot. 14 ‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
Isaiah 49:6 ‘It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.’
When Jesus declares to the multitude listening to him that they are the light of the World, they become part of a remnant that has roots in the prophet Isaiah. The witness of Israel is not simply to its own, but also to the world. Through them the salvation of God is to be shown.
To be called God’s people is to step into history and step into a highly visible yet gracious position. We cannot be hid because of the nature of our claim to be God’s people. We cannot be secret. We are exposed for good or ill yet not without something special for we are light not darkness. How has the light of God shown in you this day?
Friday March 28, 2014 II Corinthians 4:7-12 But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. 11 For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you.
“Watch us and we will lead you to knowledge of God.” That is how the late Dr. Samuel Dewitt Proctor translated the awesomeness of the task we have as God’s people. That is what we dare to say. It is humbling and as Paul goes on to say, it is a realization that anything we accomplish that leads others to a deeper understanding of God is done not by our power alone but through the power of God. Left on our own our lives are but clay jars. We tend to make many, many mistakes. Still God has the ability use us. It is a wonder worth meditating upon. God uses us despite our faults.
II CHRONICLES 7:14 If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land
Saturday March 29, 2014 Exodus 3:13-14 But Moses said to God, ‘If I come to the Israelites and say to them, “The God of your ancestors has sent me to you”, and they ask me, “What is his name?” what shall I say to them?’ 14 God said to Moses, ‘I am who I am.’ * He said further, ‘Thus you shall say to the Israelites, “I am has sent me to you.” ’
The second identifying phrase in II Chronicles is well worth contemplating. What does it mean to be called by the name of God? God never gives Moses his name, it is a description I am that I am. We have taken it to mean the great I am. That is not however the name of God. The description is an approximation for describing the indescribable.
What if we lived such lives of character that we began to reflect the indescribable part of the name of God. Then we as God’s people would no longer be seen as a passive people limited to a neat box of worship on Sunday morning. In our skeptical contemporary world because of the confusion and the loss of hope of many of our people, we must respond in ways that shatter the box of the safe, the faddish and the traditional thoughts, but reflect the dynamic nature of the living God.
Sunday March 30, 2014 Isaiah 1:16-19 16 Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, 17 learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow. 18 Come now, let us argue it out, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be like snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.
To be called by my name speaks of an intimacy with God. The song says “He walks with me and talks with me.” It captures a mood and moment. It is a desire on God’s part not just on our part. It is a parental, a good caring parent intimacy. Many do not know this kind of parental intimacy and love in our community. We must show them, receive them, and help them to share it with others..