Prayer, the Center of Christian Experience

Prayer has always been at the center of the Christian experience.

Immediately following the Lord’s ascension, the eleven apostles returned to Jerusalem, and Luke records, “These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers” (Acts 1.14).

At the conclusion of the great events on Pentecost—the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the preaching of the gospel, and the response of the three thousand—the text states, “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2.42).

When Peter and John told the brethren of their arrest for publicly preaching Jesus as the resurrected Messiah, “when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4.31).

When Peter was imprisoned by Herod, “prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God” (Acts 12.5).

Prayer was their source of power. Their complete dependence upon God, as expressed by their frequent and fervent prayers, enabled them to accomplish the unimaginable—the saturation of their world with the gospel of Christ.

– Bill

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened,
so that you will know what is the hope of His calling,
what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,
and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.

These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might
which He brought about in Christ,
when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him
at His right hand in the heavenly places,
far above all rule and authority and power and dominion,
and every name that is named,
not only in this age but also in the one to come.

Ephesians 1.18-21

 

The Back Page 4-30-2017

In Our Prayers

Mildred Meyers has been sick with a virus this week. Also remember Sue Jackson and Harold Brunswick….After an angiogram on Wednesday, Bill Bryan received a coronary stent.

 On the Calendar

Thursday, May 4: Women’s Bible Study, 10:45 to noon at Sunset Apartments, to finish 1 Timothy 2 and begin 1 Timothy 3.

 Today, April 30: 5th Sunday Area-Wide Singing, McCook Church of Christ, 711 East G. Street, 3:30 to 5:00 pm central time, with meal  at 5:15 and short worship service to follow at 6:00.

 

The Privilege of Prayer

Prayer grants us entrance into the Holy of Holies.

Prayer is a privilege that lifts us above the clamoring noise of the world and transports us into the very presence of the Majesty on High.

There is no pretentiousness with God. We can’t fool Him. He knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows our hearts and the intentions of our hearts.

Prayer is the secret place where we can go and unburden our souls before the One who knows all our burdens and invites us to cast them upon Him (1 Peter 5.7).

In his book on prayer, Richard Foster says prayer is ordinary people bringing ordinary concerns to a loving and compassionate Father…no pretense to be more holy, more pure or saintly than we actually are. We don’t try to conceal our conflicting and contradictory motives from God — or ourselves. And in this posture we pour out our heart to the God who is greater than our heart and who knows all things – “in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater that our heart, and knows all things” (1 John 3.20).

To believe that God can reach us and bless us in the ordinary junctures of daily life is the stuff of prayer. The only place God can bless us is right where we are, because that is the only place we are!

– Bill

 

 

The Back Page 4/23/2017

In Our Prayers

Shut-ins: Mildred Meyers in the Manor, Sue Jackson in Sunrise Heights, and Harold Brunswick in Hester Memorial Home in Benkelman….for Lois Silvester as she continues her treatments.

For Westside, that we will “rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

On the Calendar

 Thursday, April 27: Women’s Bible Study, 10:45 to noon at Sunset Apartments, to finish 1 Timothy 2 and begin 1 Timothy 3.

 Sunday, April 30: 5th Sunday Area-Wide Singing, McCook Church of Christ, 711 East G. Street, 3:30 to 5:00 pm, Central Time, with meal  at 5:15 and short worship service to follow at 6:00.

Middle of June: Sojourners – three couples, including Joe and Linda Thomas – will be in Imperial for about a week in June to help with  building improvement projects.

 

 

Salt & Light

“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.

“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand – shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.”

 THE MESSAGE, Matthew 5.13-16

Jesus used the analogies of salt and light to illustrate the Christian’s role in the world.

There are two things required of salt and light:

  1.  They need to be different from their surrounding environment. Salt seasons bland food and light banishes darkness.
  2. Both salt and light must penetrate their environment in order to make a difference.

“Salt of the earth” has become colloquialized in our language to describe a person we believe to have exceptionally high moral and ethical standards. If that’s the case, then we’ve missed the point Jesus is driving home here.

Here’s what He’s really saying, “You are the red hot chili pepper for the whole world!” His description refers not to status, to a person’s high ethical standard, but to function, a person’s impact on the world around him or her.

Light is one of Scripture’s most common symbols. God is light (1 John 1.5), Christ is light (John 1.7-9), and God’s people are light (Ephesians 5.8).

Light makes things visible. You can’t hide a city built on top of a hill. By day it’s visible by the light of the sun, by night by the lights of the city itself. The visible light within each Christian is the working of God in each one’s life.

With salt the world will taste the goodness of God because of the influence Christians have on their immediate surroundings. With light the world will see the goodness of God radiating from within the lives of Christ’s called-out people.

 – Bill  

 

The Back Page 4-16-2017

In Our Prayers

Shut-ins: Mildred Meyers in the Manor, Sue Jackson in Sunrise Heights, and Harold Brunswick in Hester Memorial Home in Benkelman.

The family of Don Hamm, whose mother passed away last Saturday. After a funeral in Scottsbluff, graveside services were on Wednesday morning at the Grant cemetery.

For Westside, that we will be the salt and light Jesus has called us to be (Matthew 5:13-16)

Welcome! To Joe and Linda Thomas, visiting with us on their way to York this week. Several Sojourners will be back in the middle of June to help us with building projects.

On the Calendar

Thursday, April 20: Women’s Bible study, 10:45 to noon at Sunset Apartments, 1 Timothy 2.

 

The Pure in Heart

“Blessed are the pure in heart…”

In the opening words of His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus focused attention on the center of true religion. Outside appearances, looking and acting religious aren’t what make us acceptable to God; rather it is the condition of our heart (Matthew 5.2-12).

The heart has always been the source of our troubles.

“For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, envy, blasphemy, pride, foolishness; all these evil things come from within, and defile the man” (Mark 7.21-23).

Some folks have the notion that the world is to blame. Change the world, improve our environment, and all our troubles will disappear. But that’s just not so. Where was man when the trouble started? He was in Eden – in “paradise” – no environmental problems there! Our troubles come from within, not without. That’s why purity of heart is so crucial. Neither education, health, power, wealth, nor fame make us good people – purity of heart does.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” How badly do we want to see God? Are we willing to open our innermost thoughts, our cleverly concealed desires, our secret ambitions for God’s inspection? Oh how happy are those who live without shame before the all-seeing eye of God.

Jesus is keenly interested in the quality of our innermost being – purity of mind so clean that lust cannot live; honesty so well-known that oaths are unnecessary; love, care, and concern so genuine that hate, anger, prejudice, and retaliation are never reasons for action; trust in God’s provisions so complete that worry, greed, and material indulgence don’t distract. Those are the characteristics of the pure in heart.

– Bill

 

 

The Back Page 4-9-2017

In Our Prayers

Shut-ins: Mildred Meyers in the Manor, Sue Jackson in Sunrise Heights, and Harold Brunswick in Hester Memorial Home in Benkelman.

Request for Prayers: Don Hamm’s mother passed away Saturday morning in Scottsbluff. Don and Norma have been with her the last few days….Marla Smith’s sister Maxine expects to be released from the hospital on Tuesday.

For Westside, that we will “deny ungodliness and worldly desires and live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus” (Titus 2:12-13)/

On the Calendar

Today: Potluck, with men’s business meeting to follow.

April 12: Joe and Linda Thomas will be in Imperial. They plan to stay through Sunday then continue on their trip to York.

Thursday, April 13: Women’s Bible study, 10:45 to noon in Cheryl’s home, 1 Timothy Chapter 1, beginning Chapter 2.

April 21-22: “Women Walking with God” conference in Wichita, begins Friday at 5 p.m. and ends Saturday at 4 p.m. The church will help with expenses for anyone who would like to attend. Let Cheryl know. Find out more at WomenWalkingwithGod.org.

 

The Contribution: An Act of Worship

The Lord’s church is a unique institution. One of her unique characteristics is the manner in which her financial needs are supplied.

No church policy pressures members into giving. We do not exact tithes from members, nor do we attempt to finance our work with street collections, fairs, bazaars, bake sales, bingo parties, or other such fund-raising activities.

Each week faithful Christians contribute from their hard-earned wages to support the work of this church. We are fortunate and thankful to our Heavenly Father for the loyalty of our brothers and sisters who have committed themselves to provide for these financial needs.

The principle upon which the financial needs of the church are supplied is given in 2 Corinthians 9.6-7:

But this I say, he which sows sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he who sows bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposes in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loves a cheerful giver.

Acceptable giving is something that is learned through studying God’s Word. It must be purposed and planned. It is a personal expression of devotion and love for God and His church. It is an act of worship centered in the heart expressed with money earned
through your labor.

– Bill

 

Westside Church of Christ Imperial, Nebraska

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