Elder's Prayer - March 1, 2020
Please find below the notes from the Elder's Prayer this past Sunday.
Today marks our annual Discipleship NOW weekend for our students. The event started Friday evening and concludes with our morning gathering today. The weekend is filled with biblical preaching, singing, small group discipleship, service, and relationship building activities.
On behalf of our student leaders and parents of the 32 students who participated, let me say thank you to the church. Thank you church for serving the students in particular and meaningful ways. This is not possible without your help. We have 15 adults volunteering weekly who are engaging in discipling relationship with our students. This weekend, we had church members lead us in singing, prepare and serve us 5 meals and 6 families opened their homes to host the student and adult leaders.
We regularly teach that student ministries is not to be seen as an island. It’s not a place where students are sent to exist for 6 years only to return to the church after high school graduation. No, we want students to see their position as part of the larger church even as middle and high school students. This weekend, the church gave our students a practical and visual representation that they are indeed part of the church – serving and being served by her. Thank you church.
Parents of Students – let me speak to you just for a moment. Thank you for giving us the privilege to come alongside you in your calling to raise your kids in the fear and admonition of the Lord. Student ministries is not a substitute or a replacement for your day-in, day-out discipling roles that takes place in your home, but we are glad to come alongside you in your efforts. Let me say this about your sons and daughters – they were a joy to be around this weekend.
Also, know this parents, your student was given 11 pages of notes on the grave danger of fearing man and the priority of fearing God. Those handouts are great resources to spur conversations along with the audio recordings of the messages. Let me encourage you to engage your son or daughter about the great truth they were exposed to this weekend.
Church family, I’d encourage you too to engage these students about what truth they learned this weekend. They are easy to identify today in their green shirts. The greatest gospel opportunity we have within these walls and under our noses are represented in our unsaved children and students. Church let’s be faithful to our calling to make disciples – we don’t have to go far.
Before I pray, let me give a brief introduction to our DNOW speaker for the weekend and who will be preaching this morning. He served the students brilliantly this weekend and I know he will serve us well this morning also.
Todd Murray is Pastor of Family Ministries at Grace Immanuel Bible Church in Jupiter Florida. Todd also teaches at The Expositors Seminary where he teaches biblical counseling, marriage and family counseling along with music and worship courses. As I understand it, in class a year or so ago, Todd made a gracious offer to his students that he’d gladly come visit their church. Dalton Vansell was attentively listening to this kind offer by Todd and we seized upon his offer before it could be rescinded. Hence, Todd has spent this fine weekend in Missouri.
Prior to joining the staff of Grace Immanuel in 2011, Todd had been on staff at The Bible Church of Little Rock, Arkansas, for 28 years. In addition to being a skilled expositor, Todd is an accomplished author and musician. He and his wife Tandy have been married for 37 years. They have 5 children ranging in age from 17 to 31 and also enjoy the blessing of two grandchildren.
You are good and kind to us to allow our paths to cross with like-minded men who are trained and gifted to preach your word. It encourages our hearts to meet and interact with men who similarly value your word and love your people. Thank you for bringing Todd to our church at this time and for the purpose of teaching.
Father, we are mindful of our responsibility to the children and students you have entrusted to us as parents and as a church. We know the simple gospel message holds all that is necessary for redemption. It is the desire of every parent and every church member to see every student respond in faith and repentance to be saved and grow in maturity. We know your Word is the sufficient, powerful, and effective instrument by which your Spirit brings life to those who are spiritually dead. We ask that you bring life to those who are spiritually dead in this room – not for our glory, not because of our efforts, but for your glory alone.
Help us as a church to grow in our culture of discipleship that extends to our student ministry May we place our confidence exclusively in your inspired Word which we know is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness. Help each member see himself or herself as a tool in your hand to wisely use your Word to admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, and be patient with everyone.
Father, I pray for the parents in our church to recognize your mandate to them to raise their children up in the fear and admonition of the Lord and to teach their children all that the you have commanded. No person or ministry is a substitute for the calling placed on parents to disciple their children. Nonetheless, Lord we know that you have gathered your church to love and support one another, to come alongside one another, to pray for one another and to disciple one another. Help us as a church to be faithful partners to these parents as together we endeavor to see their children come to faith and mature in Christ.
Father, I continue to pray for our students. I ask that you would remind them and help them understand the twin truths that Todd taught us Friday night that indeed
- I am as bad as God’s word says I am
- God is as good as his word says he is
Help them deeply understand the life altering impact of embracing and living in light of these truths. They seem simple, but we too often disregard them or don’t live as if they are true. God’s word says we are wretched sinners, our hearts are deceitful, we don’t naturally drift toward righteousness but instead we are drawn toward fleshly sinfulness. Guard their hearts from thinking comparatively we are “not so bad” and deceive ourselves by not recognizing our desperate need of a savior. Our works can’t save us. Our sinful nature makes the approval of man so appealing, but it inevitably leads to our sinful lying, blame-shifting, disobedience, and compromising as we rebel against you, our holy, creator God. Help them to see the binary decision before them- when we seek man’s approval it is at the cost of seeking your approval.
At the same time, help them see that you indeed are as good as scripture says you are. You don’t leave us in our helpless state. No, your goodness is so great that you provide a path to redemption through our loving savior, our perfect great high priest. Help the students see that your love for us neutralizes our need for man’s approval. Help them to cultivate humble and teachable spirits, to be prayerful, to be diligent in studying God’s word. Help them understand what they need most is a proper fear of you.