Matt

Dear Church Family

Dear Church Family,

We hope that this day is filled with Joy, Peace, Family, and Food for you all! It is a truly wonderful time of year that each of us celebrate in a slightly different way. However you are spending your Christmas, we hope that it is a blessed day.

We also hope that in the midst of wrapping paper flying across the room, the heat from 12 dishes being cooked simultaneously, the hectic travel, and the much-needed naps that you take time to reflect on the greatest gift of all, Jesus Christ.

Take a moment to share with the Good News of Jesus’ arrival with your family and friends. Read the Christmas Story from Matthew or Luke together. Share how the gift of Jesus’ life on the cross has changed your life.

His gift to us is what inspires all of the giving in this season.

Let’s all join in prayer for each other in this holiday season and give thanks for our Savior!

Merry Christmas,

Matt, Sam, and Josh

P.S. Thank you all for the kind Christmas wishes, cards, and gifts! We are all especially reminded of our thankfulness to be a part of this church family in this season!

The Role and Importance of the Deacon

Hello Church Family

   On Sunday morning the 28th we are having a special service in the life of South Harriman.  It is a Deacon Ordination Service that we will be performing for Bro. Edwin Underwood.  I hope that you will all be there for this wonderful occasion.  
    In thinking about that, I wanted to explain to you a bit about what is the role of a deacon and what the Bible says their duty is in the life of a church. In our church, deacons serve many roles.  They wear many hats.  But their ministry can be characterized by one word: Servant.  These acts of service can be things like making hospital visits, assisting the widows of the church, taking someone to a doctor’s visit.  These are duties that aren't going to land them the prestige of having their picture on the front cover of the newspaper.  They aren't going to be rewarded monetarily or ceremonially but this type of service is part of the “job description" of a deacon.  But it is not the rewards that a deacon seeks.  
    For a deacon at South Harriman, they have a high calling.  The way that our church is organized, it is the deacons that serve as sort of a governing board.  Not to lord over the people or the staff of the church, but to be there if difficult situations were to arise and offer sound, Christ-like leadership in those situations.  With that sort of responsibility, deacons are also held accountable by the members of South Harriman and ultimately they are accountable to Christ.  
    In 1 Timothy 3, Paul gives us the qualifications of a deacon.  He says first of all, that they must be dignified.  Meaning a deacon cannot be dishonorable in their dealings with their family, their careers, their finances, or their Lord.  Next, Paul says that deacons cannot be double-tongued.  Meaning they cannot be deceitful.  They must speak truth without any mixture of hypocrisy.  Paul goes on to say that deacons cannot be addicted to much wine.  This means that they are not drunkards.  They don’t allow the things of this world, in this case alcohol, to impede their judgment and harm their walk with the Lord and their reputation with others.  Paul then states that deacons “must hold to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience”.  This means that while no deacon is perfect in their walk with Christ, they are not allowing sin to continue to invade them and cause them to stumble.  That the deacon is striving to cling to Christ more than the sin in their life.  
    Paul ends this section on the role and qualifications of a deacon by saying this: “For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.”  The “good standing” is talking about how the church should view their deacon.  He is a man who is respected and appreciated for the work that he performs.  The “great confidence” is a direct result of the work of a deacon.  We see him live and walk with the Lord.  We see him selflessly serve and give of himself.  The church sees that this man puts the Body of Christ before his own wants and desires.  And because of this humble approach to ministry, it gives the church confidence.  Confidence in the faith, in the Gospel message.  Confidence that we as a collection of believers can see through the mission that we have been given.  And that we as individuals can make it over the steep hills of adversity and through the rushing waters of trials all the way to the Other Side to the place that the Lord has prepared for us.  
    So, as we prepare for this special service, the ordination of a South Harriman Baptist Church Deacon, I hope that you will take special notice of what this role means.  The significance that it holds in the life of our church. 

- Matt

Prayer and the Church

Last night in Prayer Meeting, I talked a little about prayer.  So, for those of you who weren't able to make it, I want to share with you some of the foundational aspects of prayer.  

1) God takes PLEASURE in our Prayer.  Sometimes we get in the mindset that the All Powerful, Creator of the universe isn't really concerned with the things that we have going on down here.  But as Believers, the Bible says that we are beloved sons and daughters of God and an all-loving, Holy God takes pleasure in the conversations with His children!

2) We pray to God out of REVERENCE.  Jesus said that if we ask anything in His name that He will do it.  Many people end their prayers with “In Jesus name I pray”.  The reason that we do this is because coming to God in the Name of Jesus means that we are saying that we have no righteousness, no salvation, no meaning in this life EXCEPT through Christ.

3) When we come to God, we come into His PRESENCE.  In the Old Testament, the picture of prayer is the incense before the alter that goes up and as it rises, it is a sweet smelling aroma to God.  Our prayers are just that, something that God wants from us and is sweet to Him as we stand before our Lord in prayer.  

4) God gives us HELP in prayer.  At the end of Chapter 8 of Romans, Paul tells us that even in the times that we don't know what to pray, that the Spirit of God prays for us “with groanings too deep for words”.  Paul is saying that in those difficult times that you don't know what to say to God, don't worry.  You just come to Him.  He knows your heart.  You don't have to have all the right words, just open up that line of communication to your Father.

5) We come to God in prayer with the right kind of HEART.  Psalm 66 says “If I regard iniquity (sin) in my heart, the Lord will not heart me”.  1 John says “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”.  This means that we keep short accounts with God.  Constantly confessing our sin to Him.  We shouldn't let an hour pass by before we seek repentance for what we do wrong.  God knows us.  He knows our sin.  But He wants us to confess it to Him and seek obedience.  That is having the right heart in prayer.  

6) We pray for our NEEDS.  When we endure suffering, hardships, struggles, heartache, problems, and worries, we bring them to our Lord.  God wants us to bring to Him to big needs and the little needs.  The big concerns and the little ones.  So we pray for all things, physical and spiritual, great and small.  

7) We are THANKFUL to God in our prayers.  We thank Him for everything.  Our family, our church, our health, our safety, our possessions, the ways that He has blessed us, the struggles that He has brought us through.  As Psalm 136 says, we gives thanks to the Lord because He is good!

8) We pray for OTHERS.  We aren't selfish in our prayers.  We don't put the spot-light constantly on ourselves, but we pray for the needs and struggles and lives of those around us.  We pray for the Gospel to be heard by the lost, for the Word to be understood by the saved.  We pray for people who live in our homes, who go to our church, for our neighbors and friends.  We pray for all those that God has put into our lives.  

9) We pray with STEADFASTNESS.  Don't give up in your prayers.  In the parable of the persistent widow, you had a crooked judge and an old widow who kept coming to him for justice.  The judge continued to deny her but that did not stop this woman.  She was persistent in her petition.  Finally, the crooked judge has enough and gives the widow what she was seeking.  Jesus ends this parable by saying, if this evil Judge can answer the needs of the woman, how much more will a Holy, Good God be willing to answer the prayers of His children?  Some of you have prayed the same thing for years and God delights in the fact that you continue to trust in Him so much, that you are relentless in your prayer!

10) Sometimes in our prayer requests, God says “NO”.  There is always a reason that God says “no”.  Maybe it will hurt your walk with Him, maybe it will hurt you, maybe you don't need it.  There is always a plan at work in our lives and we rarely know all the details of that plan.  So we have to understand that when God says “no”, it is for our good.  

11) Our prayers have POWER.  God is sovereign over this world.  He is in full control of everything and everyone around us.  In saying that, we must also understand the power that our sovereign God has given us in prayer.  That when we go to Him, He listens.  That the prayers of Believers have the ability to reach our Father who can do things, change things, intercede in things for us.  We have to understand that there is great power in prayer.  

 

So, the challenge to you is this:  make time for prayer.  Every day.  Find a quiet place to go to Him.  Set aside time to get with the Lord and lay it all out to Him.  Draw near to Him and you will be amazed at what God can do!


-Matt

Coming this Sunday! - Pastor Matt Edwards

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Hello Church—

Yesterday was a wonderful Easter service here at South Harriman!  We had 298 people joining us in celebrating our Risen Savior!  I want to thank each of you that invited a friend of family member and I hope that you will continue to encourage them to join us in the future.  Also, a special thanks to Sam, our accompanists, choir, and A/V team for their outstanding job this week.  I think we had the best music in East Tennessee this Easter!

For this Sunday, we will be back in the book of Romans, and I really hope that you will be here for what I believe will be a very special sermon.  It is entitled Church & State and if you want to do a little reading ahead, check out Romans 13:1-7.  I believe that learning this passage comes at a perfect time in our nation being that we are nearing a Presidential election.  So, be prepared to hear some things that you may not be used to hearing very often in church as we learn about the Biblical view of government!

Have a great week!
-Matt

Practical Christian Growth - Pastor Matt Edwards

Hey everyone-
Yesterday morning I spoke from Romans 12:9-13 about some of the practical aspects of how we grow in Christ.  Specifically from verses 12 and 13, I mentioned 5 different areas that we can focus on to get us out of a “spiritual rut”.  
They were:

  1. Rejoice in hope (the confidence that we have as believers that we will see Jesus one day)
  2. Be patient in tribulation (patient in times of trouble)
  3. Be constant in prayer (living with a mindset of prayer)
  4. Contribute to the needs of the saints (giving financially and of your time to the church)
  5. Seek to show hospitality (showing kindness to your brothers and sisters in Christ)

As I said yesterday, if we will apply all 5 of these things to our life, we will grow in our walks with Christ.  I hope that each of you will think of ways that you can, starting today, implement all 5.  

Use this table to fill in different areas that you can work on in your relationship with Christ to begin a closer walk with Him.  Maybe you need to start a daily devotional time where you focus on prayer, write that down in the “Be Constant Prayer” column.  Maybe you need to start serving in an area of ministry at the church, fill that in the “Contribute to the Needs of the Saints” column. So, think on the areas that you need to work on in your life and ask the Lord to guide you in the steps that you need to take!

See you soon
-Matt