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Guest Blogger Chris Macedo — The “Presence Carriers” Sermon Rewind

Our Worship Arts Pastor Chris Macedo gave the message yesterday.

Drawing on some relatively obscure Scriptures regarding the ark of the covenant, the tent of meeting, and the poles used to transport both, he reminded us that we are all presence carriers … and yet presence carrying never happens alone.

 

It also allowed Chris to introduce our radical new method of launching LifeGroups called Grab, Gather, and Grow.  The method allowed us to recruit 88 hosts in one day — and these hosts will facilitate groups during the upcoming One Sixty-Seven series, Feb. 11 – March 4.

Here are Chris’ notes!

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Presence Carriers Outline

  • Welcome and Introduction
  • Innovations
    • Types of innovations
      • Good ones
        • Indoor plumbing, cars, internet, iphones
      • Bad ones that made us lazy
      • Another good one is a cart like this (cart with bin)
        • They’ve been around for thousands of years
          • They make life so much easier. These things paved the way for motor vehicles which are essential for life today.
        • Essential tool to working at Good Shepherd
          • This place is huge. Hard to carry a lot of things at once.
        • What if this simple innovation was a huge problem for the Israelites?
      • Well today I want to talk to you all about what it means to be a carrier of the presence of God. Before we get there, I want to share with you an epic story about the ark of the covenant.    The same ark of the covenant from the first Indiana Jones film. 

 

  • The Ark
    • In the book of Exodus, we learn about a people called the Israelites. They are the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
    • They are being held as slaves in Egypt. God decides he wants them set free. Pharaoh won’t do it, so God sends plagues and Pharaoh relents.
    • Moses leads the Israelites on a journey which take them through the Red Sea and to the foot of Mt Sinai
    • At Mt Saini, God gives the 10 commandments which is the covenant he makes with Israel. They’re inscribed on stone tablets and presented to the people.
    • Then God has the Israelites bring an offering that will be used to make a bunch of holy furniture.
    • God gives very specific instructions on how everything is to be built, including something called the ark of the covenant.
    • The ark (SHOW PIC) was the container and vessel for which the stone tablets with the commandments would be stowed and carried. It was to be made of wood and gold. It was around 4 feet long, 2ft high and 2ft wide. It had rings in which poles were inserted so that it could be carried. On top of the ark was the atonement cover with 2 cherubim facing each other. IT WAS HEAVY! The total weight could be around 180 to 300lbs.
    • God also gives instructions for a tent to be made called the tabernacle. In that tent was a place called the Most Holy place. This is where the Ark was to be placed.  The tabernacle was called the tent of meeting.
    • The presence of God would cover the tent with a cloud and meet with Moses.  That was God’s way of telling the Israelites, “stay put”.  When the cloud moved on, they packed up the tent and travelled on.
    • There were also directions given for how the Ark was supposed to be moved. (SHOW PIC) The tribe of Levi was set apart by God to be his priests and they were instructed carry the ark by hand.
    • At times, the Ark would be carried into battle. It would go out before the Israelites and God would defeat his enemies.  However, this only happened when God commanded it.
    • While Moses and Joshua were in charge, they were pretty good at always spending time in God’s presence and seeking him.
    • In Judges however, Israel stopped seeking the presence of God and began a pattern of doing what was right in their own eyes.

 

  • Israel and the Philistines
    • In chapter 4 of the first book of Samuel we read about how Israel goes to battle with their bitter rivals, the Philistines.
    • The Philistines decimate the Israelites, killing several thousand.
    • Israel’s response?  “Get the ark! We can’t lose if the Ark goes in front of us.
    • When the Philistines saw the ark, they were afraid.  BUT, they win anyways and capture the Ark.  
    • How did the Israelites lose?  Well it’s simple, they never asked.  They confiscated the presence of God for their own selfish ambition.
    • However, the Philistines learn a hard lesson in chapter 5.  The Philistines had many idols and they thought they would add another to their collection. The Ark is not like any of their other idols and the God of Israel doesn’t play nice with false gods.
    • When they put the ark in their temple, God knocks down the Philistine god, Dagon. They pick it up and God knocks it down…repeatedly until it’s smashed.
    • God also afflicts the Philistines with tumors.  God never asked to be brought into this battle but now he’s using the Philistines to teach Israel a lessonl.  “I can defeat my enemies without you doing anything.  The enemy is powerless in the presence of almighty God.”

 

  • So what’s the Philistines response?
    • READ 1 Sam 6:1-2
      • When the ark of the Lord had been in Philistine territory seven months,the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners and said, “What shall we do with the ark of the Lord? Tell us how we should send it back to its place.”
    • Read 1 Sam 6:7-8
      • “Now then, get a new cart ready, with two cows that have calved and have never been yoked. Hitch the cows to the cart, but take their calves away and pen them up.Take the ark of the Lord and put it on the cart, and in a chest beside it put the gold objects you are sending back to him as a guilt offering.

 

  • So the Philistines have placed the ark on a cart and send it on its way. The Israelites, see the Ark returned and rejoice.  They chopped up the cart, made a fire and sacrificed the cows.  Woohoo!
  • Then disaster. Some of Israelites died because they decided to look inside the ark. So the ark was sent away to a different city called Kiriath Jearim where it stayed for 20 years.
  • During that time…David becomes king.

 

  • David and the Ark
    • David is a good guy. He loves the Lord and is extremely zealous.  He decides it’s time to bring the Ark home.
    • READ 1 Chronicles 13:1-4
      • David conferred with each of his officers, the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds.He then said to the whole assembly of Israel, “If it seems good to you and if it is the will of the Lord our God, let us send word far and wide to the rest of our people throughout the territories of Israel, and also to the priests and Levites who are with them in their towns and pasturelands, to come and join us. Let us bring the ark of our God back to us, for we did not inquire of[a] it[b] during the reign of Saul.” The whole assembly agreed to do this, because it seemed right to all the people.
    • Seems right to them? David’s intensions seem pure. He even sought advice from his military leaders. Who didn’t he consult?  The LORD!
    • READ 1 Chronicles 13:7
      • They moved the ark of God from Abinadab’s house on a new cart, with Uzzah and Ahio guiding it.
      • A “new cart”? Sound familiar?  It should. That’s exactly what the Philistines did.
    • READ 1 Chronicles 13:8-9
      • David and all the Israelites were celebrating with all their might before God, with songs and with harps, lyres, timbrels, cymbals and trumpets.When they came to the threshing floor of Kidon, Uzzah reached out his hand to steady the ark, because the oxen stumbled.
      • There’s a party going on. They’re having the most rocking worship service ever and “uh oh!” The oxen get a little tipsy and the ark is getting read to fall off of the cart. Uzzah to the rescue!  He reaches out, steadies the ark and everyone keeps partying.  Except…no.  Take a look.

 

  • READ 1 Chronicles 13:10
    • The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah, and he struck him down because he had put his hand on the ark. So he died there before God.
    • DISASTER! Uzzah tried to do a nice thing and he died for it.
  • SO WHAT HAPPENED?  Many things.  
    • David asked everyone except for God
    • The was placed on a cart instead of being carried
    • And Uzzah, a NON-Levite touched the Ark
  • Now eventually David fixes his mistakes. He recognized that he never consulted with God. He gathers the Levites and the Ark is carried to Jerusalem. And no one dies.

 

  • You see, with the Ark, God was setting a standard for how his presence is supposed to be handled. It wasn’t really about a golden box it was about how God wants his presence to dwell and reside with his people. Through Jesus we were given access to the presence of God and we became a holy royal priesthood. So it is our job now to carry the presence of God.
  • So I wonder how we’ve made the same mistakes. Have we placed the presence of God on a cart?  The cart represents anything and anyone that we ask to carry the presence of God for us.
  • So what are some of the carts that we like to place the presence of God on?
    • Every pastor that serves here at Good Shepherd carries the presence of God. Every time they visit one of you in the hospital or counsel you in crisis, they represent the very real presence of God. We have a great pastor who is an incredible preacher. The holy spirit is the source of power in his life and his messages reflect the time he spends in God’s presence. However, he is not the presence of God nor is it his job to carry it for you.  If you’ve ever caught yourself saying, “Whenever our pastor preaches, I just feel the presence of God wash all over me.”  Or “Whenever Chris sings that song, I just get Holy Ghost goosebumps.”  Goosebumps are an emotional reaction and that’s good sometimes.  But is that the only time you experience the presence of God?  When you’re here at church?
    • Your spouse. Some of you have married very well.  Maybe a little too well.  Your spouse is the spiritual leader in your family and you feel totally inept whenever it comes to spiritual matters. Sometimes you feel like you’re just along for the ride. A marriage will likely not reach its full potential if both partners don’t have a living relationship with Jesus Christ.  Both must carry the presence of God.
    • The government. I often times hear people say things like, “The united states is the greatest hope for the world” or “If our leaders were more Christian we could really change this nation.”  What a bunch of baloney.  The greatest hope for the world is Jesus Christ. And his work is performed through christians.  When you live into the reality that God has called you to carry his presence, then you will see the world change.  So stop asking the government to carry something it was never designed to carry.  As a matter of fact, in Isaiah 9:6 we read that Jesus is the one carrying our government, not the other way around.
  • So, at this point many of you are thinking…“Okay. I get it. I need to carry the presence” And that’s true. But wait, this only speaks to our own individual responsibility but what about our responsibility as the church?
    • I want you to take a look at an important part about the construction of the ark. Namely the poles.
    • READ Exodus 25:14-15
      • Insert the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark to carry it.15 The poles are to remain in the rings of this ark; they are not to be removed. 
    • Not to be removed. Why? I believe that God was try to tell us something very important is it relates to community. You remember the ark was really heavy, so it took 4 priests to carry it.  By leaving the poles in at all times, it was God’s way of saying, “You are going to have to carry this thing together.” 
    • He never altered the design. If it was me, I’d have removed the poles and put some wheels on that thing.  Work smarter, not harder.  But by doing so, we miss out on the beauty of carrying the presence in community.  Because frankly there are many, many, many times I get this whole carrying the presence wrong.
  • We need to be in community with other presence carriers who are all heading in the same direction, living out our lives for Jesus.
  • When we try to do this alone, we run the risk of isolating ourselves and mishearing or not hearing from God altogether. Yes, personal devotion time is important and we encourage you to be starting your day off in the presence of God alone.  But who do you think made that printed devotional guide you use every day?  That’s right, another presence carrier.  You all are carrying the presence together.
  • But it can’t end there. Our faith can live in rows and prayer closets some of the time, but we need to find ways for us to live out our faith, face to face with other presence carriers.  You need someone to learn with, pray with and just do life with.
  • That’s why at Good Shepherd we do something called LifeGroups. LifeGroups are how we make this big church feel small.  Many of you are in LifeGroups and they are making a huge difference in your lives.
    • They’ve made a huge difference in my life throughout the years. It was a LifeGroup that still meets in Fort Mill that basically rescued my family in our first year at Good Shepherd 10 years ago.  We moved here from Colorado and didn’t know anyone.  Now these people are our family and a huge part of our identity in Charlotte.
  • So what about you? Are you in a LifeGroup.  If you’re not, today is the day that can change. So what I want to do at this time is invite our Director of LifeGroups, Shannon Schauber up to the platform to talk about an exciting new initiative called Grab Gather and Grow.

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