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Worship Ministry - May 2024

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Sons and Daughters of God

Hymn 64 from Hymns and Spiritual of Isaac Watts
1 Behold, what wondrous grace
The Father hath bestowed
On sinners of a mortal race,
To call them sons of God

4 A hope so much divine
May trials well endure,
May Purge our souls from sense and sin,
As Christ the Lord is pure.

I am blessed with such a great family! A wonderful wife and two kids that I get to do life with every day! A wonderfully loving dad who has taught me so much and loves me well despite my faults. A compassionate mother who worships at the throne of Jesus and a step-mom who loves me fiercely. My mother-in-law and father-in-law are so supportive, and encouraging, and I think I might be their favorite child! Two brothers, three sisters, four brothers-in-law, and three sisters-in-law with twelve nieces and nephews!

That is a big family, so big I had to think when counting to make sure I didn’t leave anyone out! One of the incredible parts about this big family to me is that out of thirty-plus people I only share genes with six of them, yet we are family. We are this weird conglomerate of people who love and care for one another. We are all different, have different interests, and have different personalities, but we are bound together in love.

1 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. 1 John 3:1-3

Seems like just yesterday my brother, Austin, and his wife were announcing that they were going to foster to adopt Grayson. A little boy who was born into a broken world, unable to swallow correctly because of neglect, but two people opened their hearts to him and gave him a home. They love him not because they made him, or that they share the same “blood”, but rather they love him just because he is who he is. He was a baby, he didn’t give them anything other than spit-up and dirty diapers, but they were willing to sacrifice and pay whatever the cost. They formed a family. A few years later they adopted Grayson’s brother Jordan. I am so thankful that I get to call them family!

Similarly, we offer God nothing more than the “spit up and dirty diapers” of our sin throughout our lives, and yet despite that sin, we can become His son or daughter! Through Christ’s death, we can be adopted into the family of God and receive everlasting hope in Him. God was willing to sacrifice and pay whatever the cost. We can know Him!

This is the grace that Isaac Watts is writing about in “Hymn 46,” that even though we are undeserving and unworthy, He “bestows” on us the title of son or daughter, and we receive the riches and abundance of His house. We receive the divine hope of Christ that is everlasting. He loves you like no other can. So run to Him, trust Him, call Him father!

Love you and mean it!

Posted by Evan Gray with

Grow & Go - May 204

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Be An Encouragement

My wife and I have been married for 29 years now and the first half of those years together we were not followers of Christ. But then God, in His sovereign grace, stepped into time and space and transformed both of us by the power of the gospel to have a desire to follow Him. Due to the unmerited grace that I/we have both received because of what Christ paid on the cross, she and I both take seriously the imperative to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mk 12:31). This desire exists because the Holy Spirit led others to encourage us in the faith. Other Christ followers showed us what it looked like to encourage and because of this, we now exist to give Him glory and be the encouragers.

In the years that I have been a follower of Christ, there has been nothing more encouraging to me than someone who offers encouragement. The apostle Paul encouraged the church at Thessalonica exclaiming “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing” (1 Thess 5:11). At every turn of adversity or trials in my life as a Christian, there have always been those believers who have offered encouragement to me. They breathed life into me, I remember them, and I want to emulate the same encouragement in the lives of others.

Intentional Encouragement

Some of you just heard my wife speak at the Ladies’ event recently when she shared testimony of how God has created a culture of hospitality in our home. Let me say, that hospitality and encouragement were not something that came naturally before our lives and hearts were transformed by the gospel. Since others have shown us what it means to be an encouragement and we have experienced this outpouring of love ourselves, there is an intentionality that has occurred from that fruit. More importantly, being an encourager flows from the fruit of a life that has been redeemed by Christ.

- Being an intentional encourager requires denying self. This means that we must set aside any motives that we have other than as Paul stated to “build one another up” (1 Thess 5:11). Ask yourself as you are in conversation with someone “Am I making this about me”? Or, am I “counting the other person more significant than myself” (Phil 2:3) just being a good listener, then responding in such a way that encourages them? If we are to be the encouragement that others need, it requires us to be more in tune with our selfish ambitions and learn to deny them. Being an intentional encourager means that other’s needs are simply more important than our desires, wants, and ambitions, and then seeking ways to elevate them instead of ourselves.

- Being intentional in encouraging others is led by the Holy Spirit. We should recognize that being an encourager is Spirit-led. With the Holy Spirit as our helper, comforter, guide, and even challenger we can know that God will equip us with the right words to say at exactly the right time to offer encouragement. I can say with certainty that God has without question worked in the life of another to give me an encouraging word when I
needed it most. Let me offer to you also that if we desire to be an encouragement, be intentional that God will present people to you who need your uplifting words. Pray that God will present people for you to offer encouragement.

- Words of encouragement are contagious. I am aware of several Life Groups here at Oakhill that make it intentional each week at the start of their groups to encourage each other toward evangelistic conversations. After they share these conversations the groups pray for those people that heard and rejoice about when the Spirit of God begins to move in their lives. There is nothing more encouraging for us than to hear how God is using gospel conversations to bring people to Himself. When we are encouraging one another to “stir up one another to love and good works”
(Heb 10:24), we have no opportunity to fill our time with issues and things that just stir each other up. It is also helpful to other Christians who do not have the gift of encouragement and for them to see what being hospitable and encouraging looks like from someone who has this gift from above.

- Set your mind to encouraging often. Who have you offered an uplifting and encouraging word today? Is there someone on your mind you need to check on? The greatest gift you can offer to your pastors is to encourage them, to pray for them, and to partner with them in offering support to others who are in need. You can offer encouragement to others by sharing the amazing fruit of God’s work in your life. Rejoice with others when good things happen in their life.

In reading this I hope it encourages you to be an encouragement to those in your life and sphere of influence. My prayer is you recognize at least one simple thing from this article that will inspire you to encourage and elevate the life of someone else. For each of us to grow more into the image of Christ and to grow spiritually, we need our church family, our brothers and sisters in Christ to encourage us “as you see the Day drawing near” (Heb 10:25).

Posted by Paul Willett with

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