notes from Pastor Jeremy

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Are You Ready to Return to God?

Are You Ready to Return to God?

The 40 days of Lent are a time for both new and longtime Christians to hear God's call to return with all our hearts, Do you need a new beginning, to return to God? One that refreshes God’s call in your life? It begins with Ash Wednesday and Sunday and continues through the next 40 days of our own turning around in repentance, reconciliation with God, and connecting to one another. And then preparing to publicly proclaim again our belief in the crucified and risen Christ. Every year, this is the time to revisit and return to the beginnings of our Christian journey of freedom and new life. God pursues us and says to each one of us, “It is time to return to Me with all your heart.” But will we?

We pursue happiness, fame, fortune, and success. When we begin to pursue greater meaning in our lives, we discover a God who loves us is pursuing us. How can we trust a love so encompassing? How can we accept God’s love and love God back? That is what we are exploring as we start our journey once again towards Easter and celebrate the Resurrection.

Join us in-person or online for our sermon series “PURSUED”:

 March 6      TEMPTED                          Luke 4:1-13
 March 13     ASTOUNDED & AMAZED Luke 9:37-43
 March 20     WASTED                           Luke 13:1-9 
 March 27     CELEBRATED                  Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32 
 APRIL 3       ANOINTED                       John 12:1-8
 APRIL 10     FORGIVEN                       Luke 19:28-40  Luke 22:14-23:56

Blessings in Christ,

Rev. Jeremy Squires 

New Beginnings

“Moses My servant is dead; now therefore arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel.” (Joshua 1:2)

Joshua was a faithful servant to Moses and God for years. Moses had died leaving a new generation in charge. Joshua was to take up the mantle of Moses and move God’s people forward into the promised land. The old was fading in the distance and there before him was the doorway to the future. What did Joshua feel? No doubt fear, and questions by doubters, supporters and perhaps even himself as to his ability to fill the shoes of Moses. 

After all, those are big shoes, Moses had been used by God to do incredible things, things never seen before. He delivered them from bondage, parted the Red Sea, drew water from a rock, and the gave the Ten Commandments.

Who could fill those shoes? What lay in store for Joshua by following God to a new land? And Moses lost the privilege of taking the people into the promised land after wandering with them for forty years. If Moses had paid such a great price just to lead them to the desert, what cost would Joshua pay in the future leading them into battle for the land that God had promised?

Something I have realized after 25 years of serving in the United Methodist Church as an ordained Elder is that we are always a series of Moseses and Joshuas. A time of goodbyes and hellos. It is the way of things when the calling and timing of God is involved. 

As we both have said farewell and our goodbyes (which only means God be with you until we meet again) to a beloved pastor here at Nolensville First and a church that has loved our family for almost nine years, the old comes to a close and the new begins to emerge upon us. 

Waves of doubts filled with fear can overwhelm our hearts and minds as we contemplate the unknown of what lies ahead. We do not know what to expect of each other. We only know what we have known. The promised land lies ahead of us but we only see it from a distance and it looks hazy right now. We often restrict our decisions and perceptions based upon our limitations rather than on God’s limitless power. I am sure Joshua’s first thought after God had told him to lead could have been; "Where do I begin?" 

That is a question we all ask at the beginning of a new relationship and a new journey. I am asking it. You are asking it. We are asking it together as our journey begins now. 

But God made it very simple for Joshua, as God does for us. God told Joshua two things to do: arise and cross. Joshua could not remain where he was and fulfill the purpose God had for his life. He could not wallow in grief or fear, recite a list of excuses, or wait for a better time to emerge. He had to choose to get up, go where he was being sent, and to obey all that God had told him to do. Refusing to arise and move forward defeats God’s desire for us to answer the call of God upon our lives. Joshua 1:9 says Be strong. Have courage. Know that your God will be with you wherever you go. 

The second thing Joshua had to do was to cross the Jordan River. This river was the only thing standing between God’s people and the land of Canaan. Stepping out into the waters of faith allowed Joshua and the people of Israel to cross over into their calling of God. Joshua could not allow the Jordan to keep him from obeying God, no matter how impossible it seemed to overcome. Joshua had to leave the "how to" to God.

And when they stepped out into that water, God dried it up before them. After all, God parted an entire sea for them with Moses; surely God could part a river. God takes our Jordans and dries them up before us when we move forward in faith with God. It was the first step of obedience that cleared a path to walk across. God will always meet us at our place of obedience.

Together there are new challenges ahead of us, fears to conquer, new land to enter, and walls to bring down. With our new journey before us, let us step out into the waters of faith and behold the power of God to bring us into a new land! I am excited for where God is going to take us all next!

Rev. Jeremy Squires