"I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God's grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God."
Did you all have a good summer?
Its really only been two months since our last rehearsal together but a lot can happen over the summer period, when we're not together as the same group, especially as there aren't as many practices on during the week.
Some corps opt only for the one Sunday meeting. People go on holiday, people stay at home and without the ongoing activities of the Salvation Army during that period, its easy to be exposed to or become aware of things that you wouldn't involve yourself with during the academic year (or season!). The vast majority of us are friends here, so you will have all heard from each other during the holidays at some stage and its important to have that bond and encouragement in the Army. To know that there are other Salvationists your age still wanting to deal with you outside the 'curricular' goings-on.
I'm glad to see you all here tonight, which I'm sure the other locals will concur with. Even though we have a weekend coming up and a lot of you are back at school or in your studies, its encouraging to see so many of you come out on a Monday night to a Youth Band practice. And encouragement is important because, without it, playing doesn't become as dun and out performances can suffer. But the fact is you're all good players; you're all in this band for a reason. We spoke about encouragement and nurturing this evening in our locals' meeting, and our aim is to help elevate you guys further so you can make the best noise possible for the Lord.
Verse 7 says this: "It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart" - that's my testimony this evening.
This band's been in my prayers a lot over the summer, as a group and as individuals. We have the weekend, entitled "Vision of Grace" coming up; lets be mindful that we have so much more ahead of us as Army bandsmen/women. My prayer - my vision - is that we become a band of witness, where we do change lives with our ministry; but ew can only do that if we look out for each other first, so our fellowship can translate out there. We need to let the grace spread within before we can justifiably take it out. And, with our eyes wide open, we'll be able to recognise that goal and claim it for the kingdom.
May God bless you.