Sunday, November 14, 2010

Praise in the Assembly of the Elders

Psalm 107:31-32 Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! Let them exalt him also in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders.

you are a genuine Christian, then undoubtedly there are few things in life that you enjoy more than worship of God and fellowship with other Christians. After all. isn't that why you attend church services? If approached in a proper frame of mind, it never fails to edify.

Now, I love the local church where I am a member, and look forward with anticipation to each service, but let me tell you about an event that provides a similar spiritual boost.

This past Saturday, my wife and I attended the annual meeting of the Minnesota Association of the North American Baptist Conference. Our hosts for the event was Bethany Baptist Church, the lone Russian language church in our association. The meeting, despite small numbers due to our first snow storm of the season, opened with the robust singing of a number of old favorite gospel songs. I quickly concluded that I was perhaps the only one there without a good voice, but no matter ....the volume was such that there was little chance that my discordant notes would be noticed or detract from the whole.

After the opening singing and prayer, a report was given by each of the
churches in the association, outlining events of the past year and requests for prayer in specific areas. The pastor of the next church on the list would then pray for the previous church before presenting his report. Stories of conversions and baptisms, and of course in some cases dwindling numbers and struggles to keep the church doors open were the norm; in other words sharing one another burdens and triumphs. The opportunity to be lead in prayer by a multitude of godly pastors is a rare treat indeed.

Next up was a "charge" by Rev. Tim Blackburn, our regional minister, followed by reports from some of the entities which are supported by the association, such as Village Creek Bible Camp and Sioux Falls Seminary.

Also on the agenda was a sermon by Pastor Vitaliy Bak, the pastor of the host church. The message was from the book of Judges, noting some of the correlations between Christianity in our nation presently and during Gideon's day. Gideon was transformed by God from a man who considered himself the least in a family which was itself poor in the tribe of Manasseh, into a leader of the nation of Israel. God changed Gideon from one hiding from the Midianites as he threshed his grain, into the leader of an army so large that God had him send most of them home so that the glory for the victory would be God's and not man's.

We were also treated to a performance by Bethany Baptist's brass orchestra, a group of about 40 youth from the congregation, who obviously expend much time in preparation for their inspiring, God honoring music.

After all of the highlights, which included an excellent meal provided by Bethany's congregation, the business meeting was pretty anti climactic; as it should be. It seems right and proper for God's Churches to run on prayer and worship, with finances playing an important, but secondary role.

Undoubtedly, there are similar meetings that take place across the country each year in various church associations. There is probably one for your church. In many cases these meetings are open to the members of those churches. I highly recommend that you take the opportunity to do as Psalm 107 says, and praise the Lord in the assembly of the elders.

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