Elder Prayer (Sunday 12/8/19)

Heavenly Father,

At this time of the year when we remember the first coming of Jesus into the world, we lift up our hearts and voices in praise to You, for sending Your Son to us to be our Savior– so that through Him we can be brought back into right relationship with You and receive Your gift of an eternity with You – by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone.

Heavenly Father, we rejoice when we call to mind the glorious truth that the eternal Light of the world came to earth to become our Redeemer – to give His life for a lost world and to pour peace and hope into the hearts of a people who were estranged from their God. We stand in awe when we recall that He set aside His glory and majesty and closeness with You to take on the form of a man and be born into this world as a tiny, helpless baby, in such humble circumstances. He humbled Himself in obedience to You, and suffered and died a death He did not deserve, so that we can be saved.

Father, may our lives reflect Jesus’ obedience and love as we look back to the first Advent – but help us not forget that there is a future Advent – a second coming when the earth will be filled with Your glory. Lord Jesus, You are returning not as a tiny baby lying in a manger and wrapped in swaddling clothes, but as a conquering King, with power and great glory, to fulfill all promises, to judge with justice, to rule in righteousness.

Lord, I pray that You will find us, Your Church, ready and working, prepared for Your return. And, as much as we pine for the sentimentality of this season, help us to remain mindful that we have a job to do. Purify our hearts and sanctify our lives so that we may serve You in newness of life not only in this special season but every day of our lives.

We come to You this morning with many needs Father. And You already know each and every one. In fact, You have allowed each one into our lives to help us mature and become more like Jesus, and to drive us to dependence on You.

We lift up to You the hurting this season. The grieved, the discouraged, the depressed, the suicidal. Help them know that You not only came near through Jesus so many years ago, but You are near, with them, now. Help this to comfort them.

We lift up to You those with physical ailments of many kinds. Some are irritating, some are life threatening, all are not what we planned for. Help them know that You are able to heal, but that even if You don’t, You are Sovereign and worthy of our praise, and even in sickness, we can be witnesses of Your love, mercy and grace.

We lift up to You financial difficulties of all kinds. Help us not be fearful of or mastered by money, but to place our treasure in Heaven, remembering that You will provide all that we really need when we need it, and if we don’t have it, then it’s a safe bet we probably don’t need it. Our church has a significant budget shortfall Father, move on hearts and provide what we need to do the ministry You have called us to do.

We lift up to You the many events this season. We are thankful for a wonderful turnout and time together for the Women’s Christmas Tea this past week. We humbly lay before You our desire to serve this community this coming Friday night through One Winter Night. So many hours of preparation, so many hands sacrificing time and energy. Use it all Lord, including the parades, to help those who need You to feel Your love, to draw our community to You, and for You to be glorified. Regardless of the weather, regardless of the numbers, regardless of the last-minute glitches, take this our humble offering, be in it, and make much through it.

We are hopeful this season Father. Hopeful that wrongs will be righted, hopeful that hurts will be healed, hopeful that relationships will be restored, hopeful that lives will be changed. You are the God of hope. You have planted hope deep within our souls. By the power of Your Spirit, help us abound in hope. We watch, we wait. Knowing that You are Faithful to complete all that You have purposed. Just as You were Faithful to send Jesus to us that first Christmas, even though the world waited so long. Remind us this season that the deepest spiritual lessons are not learned by letting us have our own way and getting all that we want, but by allowing us to wait, bearing in love and patience, carrying many unanswered questions, so that we can come to the place where we truly can pray, ‘Thy will be done’.

Thank You, Father, for the Living Hope that we have through the resurrection from the dead of our Lord and Savior, Jesus. It’s in His name we pray all this, Amen.

(David Kneller)

GP FOCUS Process – Update

Thank you to the many folks who have been praying for the FOCUS process! It has been an exciting journey seeing God work and lead us over the last several months. A lot has been happening behind-the-scenes and it’s time for an update!

First, I thought I should give you a brief overview of the FOCUS process and what we hope it will accomplish for our church. We hope and pray that the FOCUS process will allow us as a church to bring some clarity and focus to our missions efforts, and address how we can engage in missions – locally, regionally, and globally.

FOCUS is an acronym that stands for:

  • F – First Priority – The selected FOCUS project and/or initiative will be the missions project that we talk about the most – whether that is from the stage on Sunday mornings or in our regular publications. When it comes to mission-related opportunities, we’ll consider our FOCUS first, then look at other ideas. This will include short-term mission trips, potential new missionary candidates, special offerings and other opportunities.
  • O – Objectives Oriented – The FOCUS will be based on specific objectives that are established by our global partner(s) and/or missionaries. A major aspect of a FOCUS is to come alongside them and help them accomplish their ministry goals and objectives.
  • C – Collaborative – We will select and work closely with ministry partners to help them accomplish their goals and determine what we can learn from them in true partnership. There is much we can learn from this process as well.
  • U – Unleashed Potential – We have many people within our church family who are highly-skilled and gifted in a number of areas. We hope that our FOCUS will provide multiple opportunities to engage and mobilize our people for significant missions impact using their gifts, skills and expertise. That may include you!
  • S – Strategic – We don’t ever want to engage in any missions project without a strategy. Our FOCUS will have a determined strategic emphasis that will help us all to stay on task and prayerfully focused on what God would have us to learn and accomplish through this process.

The FOCUS process began last fall, and in January the FOCUS Selection Team was assembled with the specific task of selecting GP’s next missions FOCUS project. Over the last several months, the FOCUS Selection Team wrestled with a number ideas and issues, attempted to map our missions DNA as a church, conducted research and narrowed our many, many options down to two.

While there were many worthy missions projects from which to select and with which to engage, we had to evaluate multiple factors and make a decision based on what we believe would be a good fit for Grace Point at this time. It was not an easy task!

The FOCUS Selection Team has narrowed the potential projects down to the following:

  • Lebanon – working with the Kinship Network to equip church leaders and reach refugees and Muslims from both Lebanon and Syria.
  • Thailand – working with Converge International missionaries in Bangkok to help start and support English schools – each of which are tied to a local church. Other opportunities may include assisting with a ministry that helps victims and those rescued from the sex trafficking industry.

Personally, I’m praying that our FOCUS will engage our entire church in meaningful and impactful ways – so much so that all of us become more missions-minded to reach our friends and neighbors and to help us accomplish our FOCUS, and live out our vision of building bridges for life change through Christ.

What’s Next?
The next step in the FOCUS process is to send survey teams to each country with the goal to evaluate things on the ground, meet with the national leaders, identify national facilitators, and gain a clearer understanding of what God is already doing in their ministries. We will be sending two small teams made up of members from the FOCUS Selection Team this summer. While some logistics are not confirmed at this time, we have the dates for our trips.

  • Lebanon – July 25 to August 1
  • Thailand – August 21 to 28

For now, you can join our prayer team. You can sign-up online using this form, in the foyer at the Missions Wall or send an email to “go@gracepointpa.org” to be added to the list.

I don’t know about you, but I think this is exciting! I’m thrilled with the progress we’ve made and look forward to what God has in store for us as a church!

Lastly, I’d like share our appreciation for Ellen Livingood, who has led our FOCUS Selection Team and really helped us prayerfully wrestle with the key ideas and issues related to missions. Ellen is a tremendous asset to us as a church and many other churches through her ministry. You can learn more about Ellen’s work with Catalyst Services on their website here: https://catalystservices.org/

Thank you, again, for praying! More details to come!

Resources for the Great Commission

Link to video used in 4/28 messageWorld map – What is a UPG?

Joshua Project – organization that tracks evangelism progress around the world, specifically Unreached People Groups.

Operation World, a classic book continually updated to inform our prayers for the peoples of the world.

Information on the FOCUS Process, in which Grace Point is currently prayerfully engaged, as we ask the Lord where He would have us concentrate our outreach efforts regionally and globally over the next 3-5 years.

Converge Worldwide (the church association with which Grace Point partners) is asking God to create a gospel movement among every least-reached people group, in our generation. Read more about Converge Missions here.

Perspectives Class at Cairn University. Perspectives is a 15 week life and learning opportunity that will change the way you view the world around you. In it, you will have your eyes opened to the heart and purpose of God, and how you can take part in His work all over the world, from the urban streets of America to the rain forest and deserts of distant lands.

Examine the Evidence for Jesus’ Resurrection

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“Come, see the place where He lay,” the angel said (Matthew 28:6). He’s not there any longer! You too can examine the evidence for the historicity of the Resurrection.

The Case for Christ, by Lee Strobel

Also a movie, included with Netflix and available to rent on Amazon Prime.

The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, by Gary Habermas and Michael Licona

Scholarly:

The Resurrection of the Son of God, by N.T. Wright

The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach, by Michael Licona

Devotional:

He Chose the Nails, by Max Lucado

Advent Conspiracy – video

Here is the link to the Advent Conspiracy video we watched together in Sunday’s service!

Advent-Conspiracy-for blog

Consider having a conversation with your family about “doing Christmas differently this year.” Here are some discussion questions you might use to engage your family in the decision:

  • What do you like, or not like about the idea of giving each other fewer presents this year?
  • What are different kinds of gifts we could give to one another that don’t cost a lot of money?
  • What activity could we do together to make a memory that lasts longer than a physical gift?
  • How could we collect the money we save from shopping in a visible way (maybe a container in the kitchen) to give toward clean water for people in need?

Benefits of Belonging!

There is an amazing wealth of riches available to us when we belong to Christ. To explore in more detail, check out this extensive post.

As you read, I encourage you to pause, note, and marinate on any riches that particularly grab your attention. God may be opening your eyes to a treasure He has provided to meet one of your needs!

 

And don’t forget to mark your calendar for our Connection Picnic on Sunday September 9! An opportunity to take another step toward belonging at Grace Point.

Picnic poster

Local “Good Samaritan” Opportunities

Here are a few ideas to “make neighbor a verb, not a noun!”

Don’t know where to plug in, but know you have a heart for Urban Ministries? Come to our Urban Ministry Interest Gathering in August, led by Steve Weir (Pastor of Missions & Communication): click here to sign up.

Burning Questions

Today we closed out our current series on the Pain of Life, which comes after messages about offering grace and truth to those who may think and live very differently than we do.

These have been some challenging topics, and we realize they may have raised more questions.

The leadership of GP would like to hear what is on your heart, what topic(s) would you like to see addressed from God’s perspective?

Take a moment and fill out the form to submit your questions and/or topics.

Submit your questions here.

Resources to Find Healing from Abuse

To find out more about the ministry of Transformed By Grace, visit their website at: www.transformedbygrace.org

You can also follow on their FaceBook page at Transformed By Grace, Inc.

Sylane Mack’s books are all available on Amazon and Kindle:

Convinced! – Sylane Mack’s autobiography, or as she calls it, “God’s transforming love story written in my life.”
This is also available in Spanish: ¡Convencida!
Grace Moments – a daily journey with God – is a daily devotional with reflective journaling pages.
Grace Moments – travel version – the same daily devotional, but without the journaling pages to make it easier to pack.

Other related books:

Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend

Cry of the Soul by Dr. Dan B. Allender & Dr. Tremper Longman III

Healing for Damaged Emotions by David A. Seamands

The Healing Path by Dan. B. Allender, Ph.D.

When Life Isn’t Fair by Dwight Carlson, M.D. and Susan Carlson Wood

When God Doesn’t Make Sense by Dr. James Dobson

To explore other counseling options, please contact our Pastor of Congregational Care, Chuck Arnold.

Hope is available for you in Christ! Please let us help you.