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As we gathered to worship Sunday morning at Mill Creek Baptist Church, we recognized our pastor, Brother Mark Hall, as we begin Pastor Appreciation Month. We are so blessed to have him as our pastor. Doug Cory greeted the congregation and welcomed back Becky. Special prayers were offered for Norma, Susan, Jimmy, Zoe, Grant, travel, Skip and Gene. In announcements, the business meeting will be held at 6 p.m.

The adult Sunday school lesson was a study of Isaiah 25 taught by Shelley Hall. "God Saves" was a study of God's sovereign plan that includes providing a way of salvation for those who believe in Him. God's salvation leads to praise of Him. His peace will be enjoyed by all who trust Him and God's salvation comes through faith in Him.

Linda Abercrombie referred to Matthew 15 and shared the devotional, "Where the Healing Begins." God never grows weary with prayers but He grows weary with the lack of prayers. Bring your troubles to Jesus Christ and lay them out at His feet. That's where the healing begins.

Hymns of praise included "Victory in Jesus" and "Do Lord," led by Karen Gardner with Susan Cory at the piano. We were blessed with a beautiful and meaningful "Unspoken Request," sung by Jerry Abercrombie.

"Who's Your Daddy" was the title of God's message for us. Brother Mark began by reading Luke 15 and the story of the prodigal son. Brother Mark told us that there are more prodigal sons and daughters in the world than any other group and we need to be able to recognize them and their needs.

Brother Mark began Sunday's message by looking at the younger brother, the lost son who left home and eventually came back. Brother Mark talked about the younger brother's fall as he referred to Luke 15:11-16. "First, he was self-willed. That is the first step out of fellowship. Second, he was selfish. Selfishness is when we think about what we deserve. When you do that, you better look out because you might end up with what you deserve. Third, there was separation for the younger brother. He separated himself from his father and forgot about everything he had done for him. The fourth reason he fell was because of sensuality. He didn't have the restraints of his father's house anymore. Just remember, the ride with the devil is always longer than you ever planned. You don't get to call the stops. All of those result in spiritual destruction, self-abasement and starvation. The good life was over for the younger brother and he was now in the hog pen. He was starving physically, emotionally and spiritually. Those always result in hitting rock bottom. The world is full of prodigal sons and we need to know what we can do for them."

Brother Mark then talked about the older brother. "The older brother was angry because his father welcomed the younger brother home. He told his father that he had always done what was right and served him, but he never celebrated for him. Luke 15:32 says, 'And he said to him, 'Son you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad for your brother he was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.'"

Brother Mark told us that we don't always know what's going on with someone in their hearts and minds. He talked about the seven steps of the prodigal son's return and referred to the scripture in Luke 15: realization (verse 17), resolution (verse 18), repentance (verse 21), a true return (verse 20), true reconciliation, the re-clothing when the son confessed and the father cleaned him up (verse 21) and the rejoicing (verses 22-24).

As Brother Mark closed the message, he told us that the prodigal son went in with full pockets and pride. "He left with empty pockets and humility. He made a choice and the father knew that it would have to be the son's choice to return. We cannot repent for others. They have to come home on their own. Most come to that realization on their own. They pick themselves up out of the pigpen and walk home. The only way out of the pigpen is the same gate you walked in. We need to get out of the pigpen and get back in the father's house. Where are you at today?"

Our hymn of invitation was "Where He Leads Me." Wayne Holly gave the benediction.

Please join us for worship on Sunday mornings at Mill Creek Baptist Church, located 3 1/2 miles east of Noel just off Highway 90. Sunday school begins at 10 a.m. and worship at 11 a.m. Everyone is welcome.

Opinions expressed are those of the author.

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