As we gathered to worship Sunday morning at Mill Creek Baptist Church, the American flag adorned the altar in observance of Memorial Day and in honor of those who fought for our freedom. Doug Cory greeted the congregation and Karen Gardner was celebrating a birthday. Special prayers were offered for Jimmy, Frankie, Skip and Donna. Janet shared a praise.
In announcements, the gospel group "Cornerstone" will be with us during our morning worship service for homecoming on Aug. 15, and we will host "Legacy Five" at Blankenship Park in Southwest City on Sept. 12, for a free concert.
Shelley and Mark Hall taught the adult Sunday school lesson, "Commissions," as we studied Luke 24:36-49. Jesus commissioned His followers to proclaim the gospel. It is our commission through the spiritual gift that God gives us to spread the gospel. Terry Lett taught the children's Sunday school class.
We were blessed with special music during our song service from Jerry Abercrombie, who sang "Prodigal Son," and special praise music from the Cory grandchildren. Congregational hymns included "Glory to His Name" and "Come and Dine," led by Karen with piano accompaniment from Susan Cory. Tyrel Lett asked God's blessing upon the offertory and he and Rick Lett served as ushers.
Scripture for Sunday's message, "What Is Holding You Back?" was from John 5:1-15 about the pool of Bethesda. Bethesda means "house of mercy." Our pastor, Brother Mark Hall, began by telling us that everyone has some sort of weakness, mental or physical. "God's church should be a house of mercy, not judgment."
As Brother Mark talked about the scripture, he talked about the man who had been there for 38 years waiting to be healed. He used the excuse that no one would put him in the water. Brother Mark told us that everyone has an excuse and it all comes down to our fault. "Excuses are an epidemic and hold us down. If you really want to get 'er done, you will get 'er done. If you want it bad enough, you will find a way." In verse 6, Jesus asked him, "Do you want to be made well?"
Brother Mark told us that in the scripture, verse 7, the man made a multitude of excuses. Verse 8 shows a lack of effort on his part and a reluctance for a new experience.
"It is amazing what people can do if they put forth the effort. Anything worth doing is worth the effort." In verse 8, Jesus told the man to "Rise, take up your bed and walk."
Brother Mark told us the first time Jesus saw the man, it was at the pool at Bethesda; but the second time He saw him, he was in the temple to praise Jesus. "He had a life-changing experience with Jesus and wanted to praise Him. My biggest concern for all Christians is for those who believe and want prayer but then feel no need to praise Jesus. They just use Him for a backup plan. What's holding you back? Get rid of the excuses and put some effort into being obedient to the one who takes care of us and gives us things. We cast our bread out on the water because we trust Him. What's holding you back? Is it a lack of effort or excuses? Do you want to be made well?"
Our hymn of invitation was "Amazing Grace." Wayne Holly gave the benediction.
We invite you to worship with us at Mill Creek Baptist Church located 3½ miles east of Noel, just off Highway 90. Sunday school begins at 10 a.m. and worship service at 11 a.m. Everyone is welcome.
Opinions expressed are those of the author.