As we gathered to worship Sunday morning at Mill Creek Baptist Church, Jimmy and Jeanette Easter were celebrating their 52nd wedding anniversary and we wished a happy 75th wedding anniversary to Tom and Mildred Sharp. Doug Cory greeted the congregation and our visitors, and special prayers were requested for Donna, Shelley, Grant, Finley, June Sherman, Jimmy, Becky, Don, Daniel and the Jackie Barton family. Thank you notes were read from the Mason family and the Pease family. The business meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Sunday evening.
The children's Sunday school lesson was the stories of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the prodigal son. They also enjoyed doing some crafts. The adult Sunday school lesson was "Celebrate," a study of Luke 15:20-32 and the story of the prodigal son. Like the father in the parable, God extends open-armed forgiveness when we return to Him in repentance. The lesson made three points: "God offers us forgiveness when we turn to Him in repentance, jealousy can rob believers of the joy of others coming to Christ, and believers should celebrate the salvation of others."
Linda Abercrombie shared the devotional, "Yes" and read 1 Corinthians 1:19-20. "Yes is one of the most popular words in the vocabulary. When God sent His son, that was the biggest 'yes' because it meant we can enjoy eternal life and peace if we choose to. Count the 'yes' in your life as the blessings from God."
The congregation joined voices in singing hymns of praise led by Karen Gardner, with Susan Cory at the piano. We were blessed with special praise music from Jerry Abercrombie as he sang "Had It Not Been," and Susan, who sang a song of testimony and praise for God's amazing grace.
Our pastor, Brother Mark Hall, brought us God's message, "Overwhelmed," from Mark 4:35-41. He began by reading Isaiah 61:1-3, where Jesus speaks out about himself in His message. Jesus uses us to glorify God and shows us how to do that. As Jesus talks about poor people, prisoners and the broken-hearted in the verses, He is telling us to trade worry for worship. Brother Mark told us, "When we feel overwhelmed to the point we don't know what to do, that is when we need to trade worry for worship. Worry can become your main occupation or hobby and you can have a worship deficiency. Worry will eat up your life. Worship isn't about where you are at, but where your heart and attitude are. It shows up in your thoughts and reactions. Do you see obstacles in opportunity or opportunity in obstacles?"
Brother Mark read 1 Corinthians 16:8-9 where Paul said to trade worry for worship and sees the opportunity through the obstacles. Brother Mark said, "Your fear and worry will overwhelm you if let it. How do you react when a storm hits your norm? How do you react when your average normal day gets blown up? It happens." Brother Mark then talked about Mark 4:35-41 and how the disciples handled it.
He read the scripture in Mark and talked about the "code-red reading" and Jesus' words to the disciples during the storm when He told them, "Let us cross over to the other side. Peace be still! Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?"
Brother Mark told us that when Jesus told them, "Let us cross over to the other side," that was Jesus' promise to get to the other side. When Jesus told them, "Peace be still!" That is the power of Jesus. And when Jesus asked them why they were worried, it was just them that were overwhelmed. God gives us the promise and the power. We bring the problem.
Peter, James and John, the fishermen in the story who sailed the ship, had been in lots of storms, but this storm hits their norm and they became overwhelmed. Although they thought Jesus didn't care because he slept during the storm, Jesus just wasn't worried about the storm like they were. Even though the fishermen had seen Jesus' miracles, this storm overwhelmed them because they hadn't learned how to worship. Jesus had brought them through lots of storms; why should they worry about this one? Jesus told them to "be still and have faith and the wind ceased and there was a great calm."
Brother Mark then read verse 41: "And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, 'Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!'" Brother Mark told us, "That is when they went from the fear of the storm to the fear of God and worship. They traded their spirit of heaviness for a garment of comfort and peace because the Heavenly Father had the wheel. They traded their worry for worship and gave control to God."
Brother Mark said that it is tough for a person to give up that controlling spirit and give it to God. "Jesus won't take control, you must give Him control to help you from becoming overwhelmed. Jesus has this. He tells us, 'Peace be still!'"
Where is your faith? When you give Him control, that is when you shed that spirit of fear and trade worry for a garment of praise and peace. Let God be in control with His plan. Trade your worry for worship. The hardest and biggest blessing in life is giving God that control.
Our hymn of invitation was "Leave It There," and Wayne Emanuel gave the benediction.
As we begin this Easter season, we invite you to worship with us Sunday mornings at 11 a.m. Sunday school begins at 10 a.m. and everyone is always welcome. Mill Creek Baptist Church is located 3 1/2 miles east of Noel just off Highway 90.
Opinions expressed are those of the author.