2024 Theme

2024 Theme

“Strengthening the Faith – Increasing the Number”

Acts 16:5

Having found refuge in the wilderness around Mount Horeb, Moses was not ready to give it up, especially in the twilight of life. After all, he had tried serving his people and they had scorned his efforts. He had left Egypt and found peace, family, and a profession. He had been gone 40 years and that wasn’t long enough. Why would he surrender the comforts for which he worked so hard just to go back to Egypt?

But life has a funny way of coming full circle. While out and about with his flock, Moses saw something that he would never forget and something that would rip him from the comfort of Horeb and send him back into the “iron furnace” of Egypt. Moses saw a bush—no doubt a scrawny shrub one might expect in the desert—that was on fire. As Moses stood looking at this bush—possibly wondering who started the fire—he noticed that it was not burning up. As he took a step closer, God called to Moses from the bush and Moses said, “Here I am.” Within the next few minutes, Moses would wish he had kept walking.

God told Moses that He was aware of what was happening to the Israelites in Egypt: their toil, their suffering, and their tears. God had decided to act, and Moses would be His agent. God said to Moses, “Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people…out of Egypt.” But Moses is now 80. According to his own Psalm (90) he is toward the end of a normal life and at that point, normal was what Moses wanted. He had found the peaceful life that most long for and he wasn’t ready to give it up.

But who can just say “no” to God? Moses begins with an excuse based on modesty—who am I that I should go to Pharaoh? When God answered Moses’ objection, it was time for number two: I don’t even know your name! The second objection is followed by a second answer so Moses reaches for a third excuse: What if they do not believe me? To this God almost responds with a wink and says “Oh…they’ll believe you!” But, but, but…I am not a public speaker, I am not eloquent, I might stutter. God patiently responds to this fourth objection saying that He made man’s mouth and He will go with Moses.

The excuses have not worked. Moses has tried everything. We know what he is thinking: I am too old, I am busy, I am tired, I am not trained for this kind of work. And Moses finally blurts out – “Oh my Lord, please send someone else.” There it is. The real reason. He simply did not want to go! He had sat down in his comfy recliner, turned on his favorite show, and now someone was calling him to get up and come do something. Sound familiar?

To this God’s responds, in anger, that Aaron will accompany Moses and the conversation was over. Whether Moses knew he had angered the Lord and gave in or if God just ended the discussion, Moses heads home to tell the family that he is headed back to Egypt. And this is the last time you see Moses without a fire burning within him.

When Moses arrives in Egypt, he addresses Pharaoh face to face and demands that he let the Israelites go. Moses goes toe to toe with the great Egyptian sorcerers. Throughout the plagues Moses condemns Pharaoh to his face. In the wilderness he rebukes the people for their lack of faith. He leads Israel into battle. On Mt. Sinai he approaches the very presence of God within the smoke and fire atop the mountain. When the people sin, Moses steps between God’s anger and the people’s rebellion. What Moses had once assumed would be his golden years became 40 years of “mistreatment with the people.” But rarely do we see such an example of fire, zeal, and passion. From making excuses and begging God to send someone else to putting his life on the line, Moses was committed to giving the service, the attitude, and the passion the Lord’s commandment deserves.

When Jesus entered the temple and saw how the people treated it as a marketplace, He made a whip, turned over the tables, and drove out the people. It reminded the disciples of Psalm 69:9 – “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

When David thought about going to the temple to worship, he could not help but sing out – “I was glad when they said to me ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord!’” And again, “A day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.”

When Paul was stoned and left for dead in Lystra, he stood up and moved on to Derbe the next day to continue preaching the gospel.

When Isaiah had seen his vision of the Lord, God asked, “Who will go for us?” And, without hesitation, Isaiah responded, “Here am I. Send me.”

When Barnabas saw that the new Christians were in need, he sold a piece of land and gave the money to the apostles.

When the spies saw giants living in the Promised Land, their countenance fell. They assumed there was no way to defeat them. They even contemplated killing Moses, appointing a new leader, and heading back to Egypt. But willing to stand against the majority, Caleb and Joshua beg the people to have faith, trust the Lord, and prepare for a war that God will surely win.

Are we ready to leave our comfortable surroundings and get to work? Do we have a fire for the Lord? Do we have passion for His commandments? Are we offended when God is insulted and treated as common? Do we have an excitement for worship? Do we have a burning desire to share the word of God even after suffering harm? Do we have the enthusiasm to volunteer in the service of our king? Are we looking for opportunities to sacrifice for the needs of others? And are we willing to stand with faith in God and do the hard stuff?

When Paul travelled back through the churches of Galatia in Acts 16, we read in verse 5: “So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in number daily.” That should be our motto for the year. “Strengthened in the faith and increasing in number.” Is that a little scary to you? We can always say that we were strengthened in the faith – that is not a tangible statistic. But do we have the fire and passion to lay out a goal of increasing in number. And we will know whether we have failed or succeeded by the end of the year. But don’t you think if we attack this next year with the passion of Moses, the fire of Jesus, the enthusiasm of David, the determination of Paul, the willingness of Isaiah, the sacrifice of Barnabas, and the courage of Caleb that we will have no choice but to grow in our faith and number? It’s going to take work. It’s going to take time. It’s going to take commitment. Are you in?

Adult Classes for 2024

The Sunday morning adult classes will continue through the Old Testament study Jonathan has started and will look something like this:

1st Quarter – Finishing Genesis

2nd Quarter – Exodus-Numbers

3rd Quarter – Exodus-Numbers

4th Quarter – Deuteronomy

The Wednesday night adult class will help us carry the theme for the year:

1st Quarter – Lifelong Zeal (1)

2nd Quarter – Lifelong Zeal (2)

3rd Quarter – Worshiping like the Psalmists

4th Quarter – Working Like Paul

Lifelong Zeal was written by brother Philip Shumake who preaches in Atlanta, GA. We all know what it feels like to be excited about something new: a new job; a new semester of class; a new exercise regimen. But after some time, the excitement you felt may fade. In marriage (and other areas) we talk about the “honeymoon period.” This is all true for living the life of a Christian. The fire we felt at first may fizzle out. What then? How do we develop a lasting passion for God? Kevin Bray will teach this class over the first and second quarter.

Worshiping Like the Psalmists If we want to know what enthusiastic worship looks like, we need to dig into the Psalms. The Psalms are the hymnal of Israel. They are both prayers and songs of worship in joy and complaint in sorrow. Chris McCann

July 3 – Introduction to the Psalms and a Life Pleasing to God (Psalm 1)

July 10 – Remembering Whom We Worship (Psalms 2, 18, 46, 128)

July 17 – Preparing to Worship (Psalms 84, 122, 123)

July 24 – Excitement in Our Worship (Psalms 100, 148, 150)

July 31 – Upholding Truth in Worship (Psalm 119)

August 7 – Acknowledging God’s Love (Psalms 105 and 136)

August 14 – Confessing Sin (Psalms 51 and 106)

August 21 – Lamentation as Worship (Psalms 22, 38, 80)

August 28 – Thanksgiving as Worship (Psalms 32, 107, 116)

September 4 – Trusting in God (Psalms 23, 37, 73)

September 11 – The Psalms We Sing (Psalms 23, 51, 27, 19, 119, 148, 150)

September 18 – The Psalms we Do Not Sing (Psalms 54, 69, 137)

September 25 – Practical Takeaways

Working Like Paul If we are going to strengthen the faith and increase the number then we have got to be working. Who better to study than the apostle Paul when it comes to work ethic. This study will cover most of the second half of Acts and much of Paul’s epistles to the churches and Timothy and Titus. John McCauley

October 2 – Fighting on the Right Side (Acts 9, 22, 26)

October 9 – Paul and Barnabas: Learning from Somone with Experience (Acts 9, 11, 13-14)

October 16 – Dusting Yourself Off: Getting Back Up after Being Knocked Down (Acts 14; 2 Corinthians 11)

October 23 – Taking Advantage of Opportunities: When God Says “No” (Acts 16)

October 30 – Clear Communication (Acts 20; 2 Timothy 3-4)

November 6 – Talk about What Is Important (Acts 24-26)

November 13 – Getting Your Head Right (Philippians 1-2)

November 20 – Embrace Challenges (1 Corinthians)

November 27 – Remember Why (2 Corinthians 2:14-17)

December 4 – Calling a Spade “A Spade” (Galatians 2:11-14) and Speaking the Truth in Love (Ephesians 4:15)

December 11 – Praying for the Brethren (Colossians 1:9-14)

December 18 – Thinking about Christ’s Return (1 and 2 Thessalonians)

December 25 – There is No Retirement (2 Timothy 4:9-18)