Weekly message from the Elders – April 15, 2020

Dear Church family,

The Eldership continues to keep all of you in prayer. We are looking forward to the time when we can meet together again and we pray that day will be soon!

Thankfully we still haven’t heard of anyone in our congregation that has contracted the virus but we do know of relatives of two of our members who have been hospitalized with the virus. Minnie’s daughter, Sophia is in Northside Hospital and Jeraldine’s brother-in-law, Eddie is in the hospital in Warner Robbins. We direct you to the daily prayer list for details on these situations and many others. We ask that you pray for them daily. We also encourage you to reach out by phone, email, text, and social media to check on all of your brothers and sisters as often as you can.

If you know of other needs or have those you would like added to the prayer list you can contact the church office or contact the elders. The church office phone number is 770-926-8838 and the elders email address is elders@woodstockchurchofchrist.org. Also, if you are in a position to help those in need please let the office know. We are so thankful for the caring Christian attitude displayed during this difficult time.

We are thankful to know that the Church is continuing to meet as individual families every first day of the week to pray, sing songs of praise to the Lord, partake of the Lord’s supper, study God’s word and to give of our means. It’s encouraging to hear of the joyful worship being offered to the Lord from our church family!

We would like to mention that as you study and worship the invitation of the Lord is always open. Even though we are separated, we can respond to God’s invitation to ask for prayers where we have failed and we can certainly make arrangements for anyone to put on Christ in baptism to become a Christian. Please notify one of the Elders if you would like your response to be made public or if we can assist with a baptism. There would be no greater joy than for someone to respond to the Lord’s invitation.

Just a few reminders:

  • The building will remain closed and services suspended until the end of April. We’re continuing to monitor the situation and will update you as plans change.
  •  Matt continues to provide a Sunday morning lesson that is available at 10:00am each Sunday and a midweek bible study that is available each Wednesday at 5:00pm or anytime thereafter. Each of these are on our YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/c/woodstockchurchofchrist
  • We now have a few ways to give your offering;
    • The offering can be mailed to the church building. The building address is Woodstock Church of Christ, 219 Rope Mill Rd., Woodstock, GA 30188.
    • We also have an online offering option for the congregation called “Givelify”. This can be used as an app on your phone or from the online site. Many were able to use this app over the past couple of weeks to make their offering. The link below will take you to the page. If you have questions regarding this payment method, we will be happy to answer your questions or help you set up the application. The following is a link to our page https://giv.li/6lyqwe
    • If you have online bill pay with your bank you can use that tool to make your weekly offering as well.

Over the past few weeks our lives have certainly slowed down from the constant rush that we had become accustomed to. Hopefully it has given us all more time to contemplate the things that are most important in our lives. It has given us opportunity to spend more time with family, more time to think about and examine our priorities, more time to examine ourselves and hopefully more time to spend on spiritual things. In Matt’s lessons over the past few weeks he has encouraged us to do just that, to incorporate bible study, meditation and prayer into daily lives. A couple of weeks ago in our weekly letter a “prayer template” was included at the end of the letter. This week we would like to include an article focusing on meditation. We hope this article will be helpful as we read and meditate on God’s word.

In Christian Love,
The Eldership

 

5 Steps to Meditating on God’s Word

Not long ago, I asked my minister about the difference between meditation and prayer, as the two can be hard to distinguish. He replied, “In Scripture, God speaks to us. In prayer, we speak to him. What he says to us prompts what we say to him.”

To meditate, then, is to think deeply about what God has said to us in Scripture and to prepare our minds and hearts for prayer. Scripture fuels meditation, and meditation fuels prayer.

But what exactly does meditation look like? The Psalms give at least five steps for meditating on God’s Word. We meditate to focus, understand, remember, worship, and apply.

1. To focus

I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. (Ps. 119:15)

Whether we read our Bibles in the morning, over lunch, or before bed at night, our schedules and responsibilities tend to assail us with distractions. In fact, distractions are a tool Satan uses to pull our eyes off Christ and prevent us from hearing God in his Word.

Psalm 119 exhorts us to fix our eyes on God’s ways. As wayward humans with many pursuits and persons vying for our attention, meditation frees us to fix our eyes on Jesus and tune out distractions, even if only for five minutes. Focusing on what we’re reading in Scripture provides clarity when we pray.

Meditate to focus on how God is speaking to you through his Word.

2. To understand

Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works. (Ps. 119:27)

In meditation we seek to understand how the God of the universe is speaking about himself, our world, and our hearts. We begin by praying with the psalmist, “Make me understand your way!” This is a prayer God delights to answer.

Questions to ask during meditation include: Why is this passage important? What do I need to know? What does it say about God? What does it say about me? How does this reading point to Jesus?

Meditate to understand what God is communicating to you through his Word.

3. To remember

I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands. (Ps. 143:5)

The whole Bible is one grand story that points to Jesus Christ from beginning to end. When we meditate on Scripture, we do so to remember all God has done in his great redemption story, how he sent Christ to save a people from their sin. In meditation we ponder the work of God’s hands.

Remembering may also bring us to ponder all God has done in our own lives: how he saved us, the opportunities he’s giving us to share the good news, and what we’ve learned about who God is.

Meditate to remember all that God has accomplished through the gospel of grace.

4. To worship

But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. (Ps. 1:2)

Once we’ve meditated to focus, understand, and remember, we will normally find our hearts inclined to worship. So we pause to lift our gaze to the excellencies of Christ, to bend our eyes off the world, to express thanksgiving and adoration when we pray. Meditation leads to delight when the Holy Spirit inclines our hearts to see and savor how glorious God is.

Because of sin and its effects, our hearts often don’t delight in God’s Word. We are tempted to stop reading, to lose focus, to move on to other things. Meditation “arrests” our hearts to delight in God’s Word, which is vital for our spiritual strength and joy.

Meditate to worship the God who deserves all thanks and praise for who he is and what he has done in Christ.

5. To apply

Finally, we’re better able to understand how to apply the Bible when we slow down to meditate. In applying what we read, we ask, “Now what must I do?”

Here’s a brief example. Let’s say you’re reading Titus 3:3-4:

For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray. . . . But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy.

From this passage, you might confess specific ways you’ve disobeyed and gone astray. You might praise God for sending his undeserved lovingkindness in Christ. You might ask for his help in loving someone who’s hurt you with the mercy you’ve received.

Our desire in meditation is to be careful to “do according to all that is written” in the Bible (Josh. 1:8). Then, we bring these points of application to God in prayer, asking for spiritual strength to obey, forsake sin, humble ourselves, and walk worthy of our calling in Christ.

Meditate to apply the Bible to your daily life, and to ask for help in prayer.

Help in Weakness

It’s no accident the Bible often speaks about the value of meditation and its purposeful placement before prayer. Our time in the Word is like running a race: meditation is the warmup; prayer, our run to the finish. We cannot be effective in the discipline of prayer apart from engaging in the warmup of meditation.

So what do we do when meditation seems impossible, when our focus is affected by outside circumstances and our hearts feel cold to God’s Word? We cling to his gracious help, poured out through his Spirit. And if we realize we’ve never truly meditated, we trust it’s never too late to begin.

For the Spirit helps us in our weakness, fixing our eyes on Christ, giving us understanding, bringing to mind God’s wonderful works, filling us with joy, and leading us to walk in the truth.

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