This Sunday morning I am preaching at Parkhead Nazarene in Glasgow. This year is a big year for this congregation, they will move out of their current historic building, knock it down and rebuild over the next 18 months or so. They are stepping out on a journey with God to a new future. They will lose many of things they associate with being church, having a building, being able to run certain programmes etc and so they will have to rethink not only what is important to them this year as God’s people but also what it means to be God’s people.
I think I am going to preach from an incident where an earlier generation of God’s people had to set out again on a journey into God’s presence and what their leader discovered was important to being God’s people. Here it is:
12 One day Moses said to the LORD, “You have been telling me, ‘Take these people up to the Promised Land.’ But you haven’t told me whom you will send with me. You have told me, ‘I know you by name, and I look favorably on you.’ 13 If it is true that you look favorably on me, let me know your ways so I may understand you more fully and continue to enjoy your favor. And remember that this nation is your very own people.”
14 The LORD replied, “I will personally go with you, Moses, and I will give you rest—everything will be fine for you.”
15 Then Moses said, “If you don’t personally go with us, don’t make us leave this place. 16 How will anyone know that you look favorably on me—on me and on your people—if you don’t go with us? For your presence among us sets your people and me apart from all other people on the earth.”
17 The LORD replied to Moses, “I will indeed do what you have asked, for I look favorably on you, and I know you by name.” Exodus 33:12-17 New Living Translation (NLT)
So here is where I think I am going in the sermon, these are the two basic points I am going to make
The irrefutable evidence we are God’s people and so the indispensable characteristic of being God’s people, is God’s presence among us. We can do without a building, we can do without various programmes, we can do with just about everything we normally associate with being God’s people but we cannot do without God’s presence.
Moses wanted to know about plans and personnel from God but realised that what he and the people of Israel most needed was God himself.
We as God’s people must be desperate for God’s presence as if we cannot live without without it for the truth is we can’t because without God’s presence among us we are not God’s people we are just people. Many things will be important to Parkhead Nazarene in the next year, making plans, raising finance, recruiting volunteers, adjusting to a new meeting place but only one thing is all important, cultivating and pursuing God’s presence realising that you can make no progress without God’s presence.
Any reflections or insights from the passage?
Any comments on the direction I am going with it?
Any quotes or illustrations that come to mind?