Pastor Miles opened this Sunday's message talking about the M.A.P process. M.A.P stands for ministry action plan. As the Rock begins planning for the new year, part of that ministry plan is specifically geared towards Sunday services, and how to improve upon them.
A question that comes to mind in the midst of that planning is, what is the ideal Sunday? As Pastor Miles and his team bounced around ideas they came up with a list of things to implement to make Sunday services a place to give people the opportunity to experience God.
Often times when we come to church we come with cares of the world on our shoulders, and when that happens we can totally miss out on the opportunity to meet with God. Some of us have been going to church our entire lives and yet we have never really experienced God at church.
Pastor Miles presented four points in this Sunday's message that are to get people to the place where they have the opportunity to experience God. These points were demonstrated in the book of Exodus in the Tabernacle.
It Will Cost Your Life
After Moses had led the children of Israel out of Egypt, and they had traveled through the wilderness, Moses had gone up to the top of Mt. Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments from God. Upon coming down from the mountain Moses saw that the Israelites had made for themselves a golden calf to worship and Moses was very angry with them.
However, Moses was a humble leader. Exodus 32:31-32 states, So Moses went back to the Lord and said, "Oh, what a great sin these people have committed! They have made themselves gods of gold. But now, please forgive their sin - but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written."
Moses was willing as the leader of the Israelites to put his life on the line for them. Because of Moses' humility the Lord had mercy on the children of Israel.
We too can fall into the trap of worshipping other gods. We worship our money, our status, our success, or our home. We must surrender these things and worship the one true God, and we will be blessed. Pastor Miles also reminded the church of the three week fast coming up in January. What will you give up? When we surrender ourselves completely to the Lord we will see Him work in mighty ways.
Are You Willing to Submit?
After the golden calf incident the Lord told Moses words that would disturb the children of Israel.
Exodus 33:1-6 states, "Leave this place, you and the people you brought up out of Egypt, and go up to the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, saying, 'I will give it to your descendants.' I will send an angel before you and drive out the Canaanites, Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. Go up to the land flowing with milk and honey. But I will not go with you, because you are a stiff-necked people and I might destroy you on the way."
When the people heard these distressing words, they began to mourn and no one put on any ornaments. For the Lord had said to Moses, "Tell the Israelites, 'You are a stiff-necked people. If I were to go with you even for a moment, I might destroy you. Now take off your ornaments and I will decide what to do with you.'" So the Israelites stripped off their ornaments at Mount Horeb.<
Are you willing to submit to the will of God? We must be willing to lay down our will and way to follow the Lord faithfully. James 4:7 states, Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Are You Willing to Sacrifice?
Pastor Miles mentioned that last Friday night when Toys for Joy event took place over 3,500 toys had been donated for it in a period of two weeks. Overwhelmingly 150 tons of food was donated for the families in need as well. For some people making any kind of donation was a financial sacrifice.
Exodus 35:5-9 states, Take from among you an offering to the Lord. Whoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it as an offering to the Lord: gold, silver, and bronze; blue, purple, and scarlet thread, fine linen, and goats' hair; ram skins dyed red, badger skins, and acacia wood; oil for the light, and spices for the anointing oil and for the sweet incense; onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod and in the breastplate.
Then Exodus 36:4-5 says, then all the craftsmen who were doing all the work of the sanctuary came, each from the work he was doing, and they spoke to Moses, saying, "The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work which the Lord commanded us to do."
The Israelites were a group of people willing to give sacrificially to the work of God. They even went above and beyond giving what was necessary. This is truly an example of their willing hearts. Are we willing to give to the Lord what He calls us to? Are we willing to give beyond what He calls us to?
Pastor Miles talked about the status of giving towards np3 donations and pledges. Those who have made the pledges are encouraged to continue to give as well as anyone else who is willing to sacrifice and give towards the new Rock facility. There is still much money left to be raised in roughly six months.
Are You Willing to Work?
Exodus 36:1-2 states, and Bezalel and Aholiab, and every gifted artisan in whom the Lord has put wisdom and understanding, to know how to do all manner of work for the service of the sanctuary, shall do according to all that the Lord has commanded." Then Moses called Bezalel and Aholiab, and every gifted artisan in whose heart the Lord had put wisdom, everyone whose heart was stirred, to come and do the work.
Exodus 39:42-43 states, According to all that the Lord had commanded Moses, so the children of Israel did all the work. Then Moses looked over all the work, and indeed they had done it; as the Lord had commanded, just so they had done it. And Moses blessed them.
When it came to working together, the Israelites were willing to do so to help build God's house. It is also necessary as seen in Exodus that we step out and use the gifts and talents God has given us to help further the work He has called us to do.
We all are gifted to serve in some way, and it is important that we step up and serve with those gifts not only to bless and honor God, but to bless those we help as well. Are we willing to work for God using the gifts He has given us?
Don't Just Do It
Church is not a place we just come to every Sunday to be comfortable and relax. Church shouldn't be something we just do, but rather a place we come to experience God and all His glory.
Exodus 40:34-35 states, Then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting because the cloud had settled upon it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.
God's glory follows the faithful efforts of His followers. The question is: Are we willing to put those faithful efforts forward and submit to the Lord, sacrifice to the Lord, and work for the Lord, surrendering to Him our very lives? When we do we will experience God and His glory in amazing ways.