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Worship February 2019

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Church Family,
 I pray this month finds you well! This month, I’d like to leave you with an article from Gavin Ortlund, a worship leader and writer from Deerfield, Illinois. I pray we read his article and apply these truths to our hearts and lives!

                                      “Three Ways to Guard Joy on Sundays”
Sometimes we are so exhausted from our week that we simply “let go” when the weekend comes. I can understand that, but I also have found that a little intentionality on the weekends can go a long way. During this season, we’ve discovered a few simple changes that have helped our church attendance, and the whole Sunday experience, be more fruitful.

1. Sanctify your Saturday nights.
If you treat Saturday night as a time to start preparing, Sunday mornings go much better. Are there ways you can make Saturday evenings special? Can you go to bed a little earlier? Even something as simple as talking with your kids about church the next day over dinner, and then praying about corporate worship before going to bed, can make a huge difference. A joyful Sunday morning often begins the night before.

2. Prepare for the inevitable fight or spilled milk.
I am amazed at how often something goes wrong on the car ride to church! I believe this is often Satan’s strategy. He needles us in the car on the way there, or on our way out the door — whatever he can do to get us grumpy and  discombobulated by the time we walk into the sanctuary. If we prepare for this in advance, we can catch him in the act, “for we are not ignorant of his designs” (2 Corinthians 2:11).

So, when you climb into your minivan, tell yourself in advance, Someone is probably going to spill their milk in the van, or pull their sister’s hair, or chuck their Bible out the window on the interstate. When that happens, I will pray rather than yell.

3. Find creative ways to make Sundays a delight.
There is no reason why Sundays should be austere rather than a delight. We might associate “holy” with “somber,” but that is not how the Bible talks. Notice, for example, the language Nehemiah and Ezra use when they lead the    people in covenant renewal:
“This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep. . . . Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send    portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. . . . This day is holy; do not be grieved.” (Nehemiah 8:9–11).  In this context, holiness is celebratory. The logic goes like this: “today is holy, so stop  crying and drink some wine.”

We also should pursue cultivating an atmosphere of joy and celebration on Sundays. Is there a favorite restaurant you can make your Sunday tradition, or a favorite breakfast food you can make on Sundays? What other Sunday traditions might help the day be enjoyable? When your kids think back twenty years from now, what memories and  associations do you want them to have with Sundays and church?

God is our greatest joy and we want him to be our children’s greatest joy, and Sundays are a unique weekly opportunity to worship and enjoy God together. Let’s strive to make Sundays a delight for our children, not a burden.

In Christ,
Jared

 

Posted by Jared Mitchell with

Spiritual Development February 2019

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           “Why You Should Be Praying the Psalms” by Don Whitney

While you can pray through any part of the Bible, some books and chapters are much easier to pray through than others. Overall, I believe the book of Psalms is the best place in Scripture from which to pray  Scripture. In part, that’s because Psalms is the only book of the Bible inspired by God for the expressed purpose of being reflected to God. God inspired them as songs, songs for use in both individual and corporate worship. The Psalms also work well in prayer because there’s a psalm for  every sigh of the soul. You’ll never go through anything in life in which the root emotion is not found in one or more of the Psalms. Thus the Psalms put into expression that which is looking for expression in our hearts.

Christian, here’s how you’ll benefit from praying the Psalms.

1.You’ll pray more biblically-faithful prayers.
The Bible will guide your prayers, helping you to speak to God with words that have come from the mind and heart of God. This also means you’ll be praying more in accordance with the will of God. Can you have any greater assurance that you’re praying the will of God than when you’re praying the Word of God?

2. You’ll be freed from the boredom of saying the same old things about the same old things.
One way this will happen is that the psalm will prompt you to pray about things you normally wouldn’t think to pray. You’ll find yourself praying about people and situations that you’d never think to put on a prayer list. What’s more, even though you also continue to pray about the same things—family, church, job, etc.—you’ll pray about them in new ways.

3. You’ll pray more God-centered prayers.
When you use a God-focused guide like the psalms to prompt your prayers, you’ll pray less selfishly and with more attention to the ways, the will, and the attributes of God. Prayer becomes less about what you want God to do for you—though that’s always a part of biblical praying—and more about the concerns of God and his kingdom.

4. You’ll enjoy more focus in prayer.
When you say the same old things in prayer every day, it’s easy for your mind to wander. You find yourself praying auto-pilot prayers—repeating words without thinking either about either them or the God to whom you offer them. But when you pray the Bible, your mind has a place to focus. And when your thoughts do begin to wander, you have a place to return to—the next verse.

5. You’ll find that prayer becomes more like a real conversation with a real Person.
Isn’t that what prayer should be? Prayer is talking with a Person, the Person of God himself. Prayer is not a monologue spoken in the    direction of God. Yet somehow, many people assume that when they meet with the Lord he should remain silent and they should do all the talking. But when we pray the psalms, our monologue to God becomes conversation with God.

I’m not alluding to the perception of some spiritual impression or hearing an inner voice, imagining God saying things to us—away with that sort of mysticism. Instead, I’m referring to the Bible as the means by which God participates in the conversation, for the Bible is God speaking. God speaks in the Bible, and you respond to his speaking in prayer. That’s why people who try this often report, “The pressure was off. I didn’t have to think about what to say next, and the whole experience just kind of flowed.”

Want to experience these benefits for yourself? How about right now? Pick a psalm, read what God says there, and talk with him about it.

 Recommended ResourceYour Future Self Will Thank You by Drew Dyck
Self-control isn’t very popular these days. We tend to think of it as boring, confining, the cop that shows up and shuts down the party. But the truth is that people who cultivate this vital virtue lead freer, happier, and more meaningful lives. After all, our bad habits—from the slight to the serious—bring a host of painful consequences. Ultimately, they keep us from becoming the people God created us to be. Your Future Self Will Thank You is a compassionate and humorous guide to breaking bad   habits and growing your willpower. It explores Scripture’s teachings on how to live a disciplined life while offering practical strategies for growth based on the science of self-control. Whether you want to deepen your spiritual life, conquer an addiction, or kick your nail-biting habit, this book will help you get motivated, stay on track, and achieve your goals.

Posted by Nick Scott with

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