REBUILDING ONE NATION, UNDER GOD –based on Joshua 24:1-18
It is no secret that right now, our nation struggles to be one nation, under God. We are certainly not one; we are deeply divided, sometimes on partisan politics, and other times over what it means to be the church. Further, we are not one nation under God, for we as a nation do not have one outlook on who God is; each of us carry different opinions about God. Sometimes, those opinions are contradictory, leading to mass confusion. It is quite frustrating and life-draining. Can we ever get back to one nation, under God?
If there was a “united states” before the United States, it was Israel. The brothers because leaders of twelve tribes of Israel, who became a nation. But that unity was quickly destroyed, initially over the issue of taxes. But the divide was deep, from who should be king and high priest, to where one should worship, to how the nation should interact with their neighbors, to whom they should worship. That division greatly weakened Israel, and ended up being on the of the largest factors that led to its ultimate defeat and exile. Their national infighting led to disaster.
How could Israel have avoided this fate? And how can we as a nation avoid this fate as well?
Shortly before Joshua died, he gathered the entire nation at that time at Shechem to renew the covenant. He outlined for things the nation needed to do going forward, and if they did these things, they would remain as one nation, under God. But each and every one of these things are really difficult to do. How can we become one nation under God again?
1) Fear the LORD. We should fear the LORD because he is the one who has been faithful, leading us through the Red Sea of our lives. We should fear the LORD because we all share our common heritage from him. For Israel, it was the history from Abraham through the possession of the promised land. They all shared the common ancestry, and all saw the handprint of the same God. For us today, it is Jesus on the cross. Every denomination has the cross at the core of its formation.
Why should we FEAR the Lord? Because the LORD is a holy God. That means nothing impure can stand in his presence. The LORD is also a jealous God (‘el qana’). God will have nothing to rival him. What does this mean about God? Yes, God is mercy and love, but God is also holy and will not tolerate manipulation. This does not mean we have to be perfect, because none of us will ever be. But what it does mean is that we should have a healthy attitude toward God, recognizing who he is and living in the utmost respect!
2) Serve the LORD with faithfulness. To serve literally is to take the will of another. Jesus is our example, who even though being equal to God, he submitted his will to the Father all the way to the cross. To serve means that we are no longer in charge. We are to serve the Lord with faithfulness, or utmost integrity. That means there should be no rival, no dual allegiance. In other words, the challenge is to serve God at all times and not only when it is convenient. Many different things compete for our attention. Does God’s voice command our attention?
3) Throw away the gods. Joshua specifically referred to two sets of gods–the gods of the forefathers (history) and the gods of the neighboring nations. We may not have physical idols today, but there are still idols that we sometimes cling to. An idol is an “image of god.” Some of those images are visible, but sometimes, we can carry within ourselves a false image of God. God may be challenging us to lay down idols such as sports or money–things that may demand more of our devotion than God himself. But it may also be a false image.
Tradition can become a false image. Tradition is good, because it does link us to our heritage and allows us to share a common identity. But if we are not careful, a tradition can morph into a mandatory way of life, leaving no room for God. Is our tradition pointing us toward God? Or is it something we have always done and will need to always do, regardless of whether it points us to God or not? Remember, Joshua challenged Israel to throw away the gods of the forefathers–in other words, to not become dependent upon history and tradition!
Another false image is making God in our own image. If we are not careful, we can make God look just like us instead of us becoming more like God. And if we have a God that looks like us, it might look alot like our political persuasions. We pick and choose what of God we like and ignore the rest. This was the trap Israel faced as it interacted with other nations, and is a trap still today. God is not bound by a perspective, worldview, viewpoint, or political ideation. For example, God cares deeply about the sanctity of life, including the unborn (Psalm 139:13-15; Jeremiah 1:5). But God also cares about the sanctity of life of the widow, the orphan, and the foreigner in our midst (James 1:27, Leviticus 19:9-10).
4) Draw the line in the sand. Joshua said, “Choose this day who you will serve…but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15). Culture wants us to believe we should live a certain way. Peer pressure can sometimes be deeply powerful! But sometimes we need to simply draw the line in the sand and commit to follow God!
None of these are easy. They all take a lifetime to fulfill. But what if we, as a nation, put these principles into practice? We would be at a much different place! Every time a nation has entered into a time of renewal, it was led by the church. What if we as Beaver Creek committed to fear the LORD, serve him with all faithfulness, throw away all gods, and drew our line in the sand, that regardless of what the USA does, we will serve the LORD? Maybe we can lead the way and our nation will return to being one nation, under God?
Questions for reflection
1) What is difficult about holiness?
2) What are some of the ways you show God you serve him?
3) Are there any false representations of God that you have struggled with?
4) Why is it so hard to draw the line in the sand, especially in the face of culture?
Pastor Ryan will continue the Rebuilding Series with the sermon titled, “Rebuilding A Damaged Legacy,” based on the book of Ruth. What did Ruth do to restore the damaged legacy of Naomi and the family? And how can God restore any legacy that is damaged? Tune in Sunday to find out!
Daily Bible Readings for May 5 – 11
May 5: 2 Kings 23:1-27 How did Josiah try to bring Israel back under the domain of God?
May 6: Ezra 10:1-17 How did Ezra help rebuild one nation under God?
May 7: Nehemiah 8 How did Nehemiah help lead the nation to return faithfully to God?
May 8: Haggai 1 How did the prophet Haggai encourage the nation to return to faithfulness?
May 9: Revelation 2:1-7 What did God desire from the church of Ephesus more than anything?
May 10: Genesis 6 What was God’s plan to restore the damaged legacy of humanity?
May 11: Genesis 21:8-21 How did God restore Ishmael’s damaged legacy?
Beaver Creek will be closed through June 10th, in keeping with Executive Order 53 and the recommendation of the Shenandoah District and the Leadership Team. Should the governor move his timeline, the Leadership Team will reconvene and act in accordance with the information and current guidance.
UPDATE: In Governor Northam’s press conference yesterday, he announced phase one of reopening Virginia would begin on May 15th. Included in his phase one plan was allowing churches to reopen in a limited capacity. We do not have the specific details as of yet, but Worship Team has already met to come up with potential creative ideas for church, and Leadership Team will meet next week (be on the look out for an email!). Also, the District will be meeting with pastors via Zoom on Wednesday and Thursday to discuss reopening. The District Leadership Team will provide guidance to all congregations on Friday, May 15th, after they meet.
What does this mean? Reopening is on the horizon, but we do not have a specific day to reopen as of yet. It also means because of COVID, when we do reopen, it will be different for a while.
There are many announcements today!
Call for Worship Leaders and Children’s Story
As we look at the ability to reopen in the coming weeks, we are in need of both worship leaders and children’s story. May is covered for children’s story except May 24. If you are willing to do either, please contact Alice Over or Tami Stine.
For youth, there is a collaborative devotional available at https://blog.brethren.org/ called the Good News Devotional. It was initially crafted by Gabe Dodd, Associate Minister of Young Families at Montezuma just down the road. This is a good way to keep growing in your faith!
Also we hope to have a Zoom youth gathering in the coming days.
For both Youth and children, we will have a special Zoom event on Friday, May 8th at 7 pm called Stump the Pastor! Obviously the youth and children will need to be online with their parent’s permission on the parent’s Zoom account!
Here are the rules: Every child will get to read up to 3 Bible verses of their own choosing from the New Testament. I as the pastor will identify to the best of my ability where it is found. I can ask for a help by asking for the verse before or verse after to be read, but if I do that, I cannot earn full points. If the kids can get to 100 points before I do, then every kid who participates will get a gift certificate for an ice cream cone from Klines! If a youth or child is able to stump me all three times, they will get a total of three certificates for ice cream!
Points for Pastor Ryan:
3 points–If Pastor Ryan can correctly identify book, chapter, and verse without help
2 points–If Pastor Ryan can correctly identify book, chapter and verse with help
2 points–If Pastor Ryan can correctly identify book and chapter
1 point–If Pastor Ryan can correctly identify the book, but the chapter is wrong
Points for youth/child:
1 point–If Pastor Ryan can only identify the book
3 points–If Pastor Ryan gets the book wrong!
1 bonus point–If you can share what you learned from that verse
The Zoom link is available from Pastor Ryan.
Bible Trivia For Adults: I don’t want you to miss out on the fun! Next Tuesday there will be a 50 question Bible Trivia that will be included in the Good News Brief. All entries are due by Saturday, May 9th. The person who gets the most correct will win a gift certificate for Klines! The only rule: you can only use your Bible for help (on the honors system!). In the event of a tie, the tie breaker will be the fastest to submit their response! The trivia questions are attached!
There will be a Zoom Bible Study on the Parables of Jesus on Wednesday at 7 pm. The link is available from Pastor Ryan. If you have not yet participated in the Bible study and would like to see what it is all about, a recording of the study is posted on our church website. This will also enable you to “catch up” if you miss a week.
Before church closed for COVID, we had begun to announce a baptism and membership class (for transfer of membership). So for we have two that have expressed interest. If you are interested in either, or even if you recently became a member without the class and would like more of what it means to be a member of Beaver Creek, please let Pastor Ryan or Tess know you would like to take the class. Once there is enough interest, more specifics will be shared at that time.
Although Spring Festival is postponed, there are still two fundraisers that are COVID-19 safe to help support the camp at this time:
1) Hike-in-place-a-thon: Even though you cannot go to camp and hike, you can still hike in place for camp! If you would like to participate in this fundraising effort, please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call the church office, and I will get you a form. Likewise, if you would like to sponsor Katie or Samantha, who will both be doing the hike in place, please email me as well and let me know how much you are pledging. You can simply mail the donation to the church office and mark “hike-a-thon” and we will collect it.
2) Dunk the Dunkard: Instead of a dunking booth, you can “dunk” Pastor Ryan ALS ice bucket challenge style! If you would love to see me with a bucket of ice water dumped over my head, please email and sponsor! The goal is at least $200 for camp. If we can get over $200 for camp, Heather will record it, and we will upload the video to the website for all to watch! We will also air it during the church service! To date, I have received only $105 in donations. I would love to come up with the $200! Again, you can mail the money also to the church, label it “dunk the dunkard”, and we know it will go to camp. If 20 district pastors can raise $200 each, Doug Phillips, the director of Brethren Woods, will get “dunked” with a back hoe’s payload of water! That will be recorded for everyone to see as well.
3) There will be a Facebook live auction to benefit camp in the coming days. If you would like to donate something to the camp auction, please let the office know ASAP! The auction date will be shared as soon as we have it.2) Dunk the Dunkard: Instead of a dunking booth, you can “dunk” Pastor Ryan ALS ice bucket challenge style! If you would love to see me with a bucket of ice water dumped over my head, please email and sponsor! The goal is at least $200 for camp. If we can get over $200 for camp, Heather will record it, and we will upload the video to the website for all to watch! Again, you can mail the money also to the church, label it “dunk the dunkard”, and we know it will go to camp. As of right now, we have only raised $9
All money for Brethren Woods for the hike-in-place-a-thon and dunk the dunkard need to be in by this Wednesday!
Once COVID restrictions continue to loosen, the Outreach Team had approved to allow Beaver Creek to be a host site for a babysitting training class for teenagers. When a teen completes the class, they would be officially certified to babysit anywhere in the commonwealth. The cost is $95. I have attached the official fact sheet from the trainer (thank you Scott McAvoy for working on this!). You can also see that fact sheet below.
Again, due to COVID, we do not yet have a date. But they want to know if there are truly enough interested teens to take the class before they commit the date. I will also be passing this along to other area Brethren churches later today. If you are interested, either let Pastor Ryan or Tess know, so we can get your teen on the list.
Four Ways to Give! With the extended closure, this is greatly necessary.
1) Direct Deposit–form available on the website
2) Mail your tithe into the church office
3) Drop it by church office on Tuesday, Thursday or Friday, 9 am – 1 pm
4) New online giving platform: https://beavercreekchurchva.churchcenter.com/giving
Accordius Nursing Facility–(Carolyn Wine) Prayers for healing and protection!
Sandy Shomo–(health, has returned home)
Whitmore family–(let us congratulate the family in Josiah’s birth last week!)
Charles Wright–(health, at home)
Pastor Ryan Cooper
Beaver Creek COB