First, let me say thank you for the compliments so many of you shared with me concerning the letter Rachel wrote the congregation.
If you weren’t here on Sunday, one of Rachel’s Bible assignments while she was in Italy this semester was to write several letters to different people who have influenced her, including her home congregation. These letters had to be written in the style of a first century letter (like the letters in the New Testament).
So, in keeping with the assignment, I asked the elders here to read her letter to the church...like say the letter to the church in Rome or Corinth would have been.
I have a copy of the letter in my office. If you would like to read it, just ask!
Now for the matters I wish to write about...
Intercessory prayer in a nut shell is praying for other people. We can pray for our friends, our neighbors, our family, our coworkers...even for our enemies.
Perhaps the most prominent example of intercessory prayer for enemies is given by Jesus when He prayed for God to forgive those who were crucifying Him (Luke 23:34). In Acts 7:60 we are told that Stephen prayed the same prayer for those stoning him.
We are even told to confess our sins and pray for each other (James 5:16). In this verse, James also tells us about the incredible, awesome power that prayer has.
I bring this up to remind you of the prayer request cards that are now in the pews. I want to encourage you to use these to request prayers for whatever is on your heart: it can be a burden you’d like us to help you bear or it can be a joy you’d like to share.
Each Sunday morning, the “closing prayer” of our worship assembly will be led by one of our Shepherds. During this “Shepherd’s prayer” your request will be mentioned (unless you ask that it be kept confidential, in which case the elders will share it with each other).
So, if you would like for us to pray for you or a friend or family member or a situation you or someone you know is facing, you now have a simple and easy way to make that request known.
And if you wish to make a prayer request on Sunday night or Wednesday night, just give your completed card to me or one of the elders and we will see to it that your request is fulfilled.
The bottom line is that we are a body. When one part of a body hurts, the whole body hurts. When one part of a body feels joy, the whole body shares that joy. When one part of the body has a need, the whole body helps to meet that need (see 1 Corinthians 12:26).
This past Monday, I was on my way home after picking up Jamie at school in Rogers and spotted a Benton County Sherriff’s vehicle traveling about 55 miles per hour in the middle lane of I-49.
I was in the right lane and passed him...please note that the speed limit on that section of I-49 is 70 miles per hour...even though I was only traveling 60 or 65 miles per hour. A car changed lanes in front of me and I applied my breaks.
The Benton County Sherriff then pulled in behind me and turned on his lights. My first thought was “Oh, great!”
As he walked up beside the car, I took off my seat belt to get my wallet out of my front pocket and then put the seat belt back on.
The first thing he asked me about was the seatbelt! I explained and he said OK. Then told me that my driver’s side brake light was out.
After taking my license, registration, and proof of insurance to his car, he returned and gave me a verbal warning about the brake light (he also told me my registration and insurance were expired...turns out I need to clean my glove box out!).
So we drove home and I went to a local parts store and purchased a new brake light. I thought I’d replace it in the parking lot, since sometimes I need a little help with simple automotive procedures.
As it turns out, when I had replaced the bulb the last time, I apparently didn’t get it all the way in and it had fallen out of the socket. After asking an employee for suggestions and failing to retrieve the loose bulb, I drove home and took off the whole light assembly and was able to get the bulb out.
I put it in the socket and the light lit. It turns out it wasn’t working because it wasn’t plugged in.
We are told by Jesus to let our light shine (see, for one, Matthew 5:16). So is your light shining?
If it isn’t, perhaps it is because you are not quite plugged in as solidly as you need to be and the vibrations on the road of life have caused you to come lose from the socket (Jesus).
So, before you end up “pulled over” by the “sheriff of this world” (a.k.a. Satan), do a quick check and make sure you are plugged into Jesus.
Remember, if you’re unplugged from Jesus, you can do nothing (see John 15:5 where Jesus is the vine and we are the branches).
Although this article has more to do with things going on at Eastgate, I believe it can be applied where ever you are...
About a month ago, we had a fellowship meal and family meeting following morning services. This event was well attended and we saw a lot of great discussion.
Several of you have submitted ideas to the elders about how we can grow our congregation. Each of the ideas have been wonderful. The elders continue to solicit your thoughts on how to reach out to the people in our community.
This coming Sunday (April 14) is the second Sunday of April. At the afore mentioned meeting, it was decided that, in lieu of three Family Life Groups, we would have one monthly meeting for the whole congregation on the second Sunday of the month…which means that the first of these second Sunday fellowships and meetings will be this Sunday.
I encourage you to make plans to stay. This is really a critical time in the life of the Eastgate congregation. While we have several younger-ish families, we are mostly an older-ish congregation. We need to be reaching out and evangelizing our community. We need to be growing.
YOU play an important role in our congregation. That’s why the elders want YOU to attend these fellowships and meetings. That’s why the elders want YOU to participate in the discussion.
YOU may have witnessed a very effective ministry at a previous congregation you attended. It may be just as effective here or it may not be as effective...but the elders want YOU to share it with them.
If our congregation is going to grow, everyone, even YOU, needs to play their part. YOUR part may be as simple as inviting YOUR friends and neighbors to attend services or as involved as leading a new ministry for the congregation here at Eastgate.
You can start to increase your level of involvement this Sunday, by staying after our morning assembly for a fellowship meal and information sharing meeting.
Our future is going to be shaped by our present.
Most all of us have some experience with a bank account. Most all of us have a regular way of depositing money into that account.
You may use direct deposit, you may get a paper pay check, you may be paid in cash...but in some form or fashion, this payment for your job gets put into that account.
The intervals of these payments can also be different. Some are paid monthly, some twice a month, some every two weeks, some weekly, some daily.
Regardless of how you are paid and how frequently you are paid, you kind of depend on the money being put into your account.
What would happen if you were not paid for one pay period? Would that upset you? Would you want to know what was going on in accounting? Would you insist that your employer make it right as soon as possible, like NOW!?
How long could your bank account hold out if you missed a second pay period? Or a third? Or a fourth? How many pay checks could you afford to miss before you found yourself in financial trouble?
I think we all see how much trouble we would find ourselves in if we missed a pay check...if we failed to replenish the supply of money in our bank account. For some it may take more than one, for others, missing even one pay check would spell financial disaster.
Spiritually speaking, how often do you need to replenish the supply of “money” in your “bank account?”
Our souls, like our bank accounts, have a limited supply of “energy” (for lack of a better term). That supply needs to be replenished from time to time. That supply can be replenished each time we assemble together.
So is “the preacher” just harping on attendance and saying we HAVE to come on Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday night? No, I’m not.
What I am saying is that we should WANT to come together as often as possible (not just limited to three times a week either).
Look at it this way, if your pay check would stay the same amount and you could get one pay check a week, or two a week or three a week...which would you choose? (In other words, not dividing your check, but multiplying it.)
Spiritually speaking, I would rather have my tank replenished as often as I possibly could than see how far I can go before my tank is empty...or even half way empty (or full)!
Attendance at as many services as possible can multiply the energy in your spiritual tank and provide you with the reserve you need to make it through the especially tough times.
So when things are tough, don’t decrease your attendance, increase it...and maybe even ask some of your brothers and sisters to spend time away from the church building with you. Then see how quickly your spiritual energy is restored!