Each week we webcast Lord's Day Sabbath School at 10a, morning public worship at 11a, and p.m. singing and sermon at 2:30p (sermon at 3:30); and the Weds. Prayer Meeting at 6:30p

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Narrowing Activity Focus, Broadening Prayer Focus - 2019.09.19 Hopewell Herald Pastoral Letter

I ended up sending out a much abbreviated version with the actual Herald in order to stave off too many TLDRs for recipients, but here's the original version of this week's pastoral letter.

Dear Congregation,

Abraham had a huge role to play in God’s plan of redemption. But we saw last week that the Lord had known him in order that he might command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord.

Now, we come to a passage in which the Lord provokes Abraham to pray for Sodom and for the righteous whom he hopes will be found there, because God is the judge of all the earth, who is bringing salvation to all the earth.

Abraham’s primary place of ministry activity was in his household. Did he have a ministry to the city-states in the green valley? Absolutely! He prayed. He wrestled with God for the sake of whatever righteous might be there.

I grew up being challenged (and hoping) to be a world-changing Christian, but as the Spirit has reformed my thinking to conform to Scripture, there has been a shift in focus to the means and directives of our world-changing God.

While I have been places and involved in ministry that some would consider “front lines” of building the kingdom, I realize now that I am no less involved by means of what takes place around our dining table, and on our knees in the living room, in pews in the chapel on the Lord’s Day, and at tables on Wednesday evenings in the Fellowship Hall.

Keeping the way of the Lord, doing righteousness and justice in my own life. Commanding my children to do so after me. Being an active joint and body-part in local body of Christ’s church (Eph 4:16). That is well-focused kingdom activity. And I think that, to a significant extent, we know this in a congregation in which we have regained a biblically high valuing of the family and of following Christ’s agenda for us as church members (which we also promise in our vows).

But I wonder if we are failing to match the Gen 18:19 focus in our activity with a ministry of prayer of much greater scope—one that is shaped by the activity of God Himself. The Lord makes just that point about our prayers in 1Timothy 2:1-8, which we will look at as we consider Genesis 18:20-33 on the Lord’s Day morning.

When we know the God who will accomplish all of His holy will, we don't need to accomplish it for Him. We rejoice that He has given us whatever part He has given us. But, when we see the scope of what He is doing and that part of what He assigns to us is to pray according to that scope, this will necessarily mean a life marked by intercessory prayer.

Do you find it difficult to set aside an hour of time for secret prayer? To spend time as a couple (or as a family) for just that purpose? To prioritize your thoughts for prayer in corporate worship, and your time for gathering for the prayer meeting? What if we started taking as a cue to prayer whatever God says in His Word or lets us learn about His world?

Perhaps the focus-narrowing adjustment to our activity that some of us received in last week’s text will be matched this week by a focus-broadening adjustment to our prayers in the next one.


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