An Awe-Sensing Church

“And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. And everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles.” Acts 2:42-43

This description of the early church in the apostle Luke’s account never ceases to stir my heart. In the margin of my Bible, I once wrote: ‘The sign of a committed church,’ probably in response to a sermon I had heard. Often as I come to this passage I reflect on how our church measures up in relationship to the verse.

Yesterday was a different story. Throughout the morning I was in awe at the things I observed during our worship service: A musician just back from the mission field, playing his instrument with renewed passion. An overflow of donated school supplies on the steps to the platform. The prayers of my friend’s daughters, who had been invited to participate as part of Family Worship Month.

As we came to a time of communion, I was actually reminded of this verse as I observed interactions between people in the pews with people who were making their way down the aisles. We always have an exuberant time of ‘family greetings’ each Sunday, but this was something entirely different.

In those few short moments I saw people reach out of the pews to greet one another: the young man who had fallen ill while at a sports competition in a foreign country, whom we had prayed for, was now home and on the mend with an incredible story of God’s grace and mercy; the couple who had been very active in revitalizing our small group ministry before moving away to be nearer to their children and grandchildren had come for a visit; the woman whose daughter had passed away recently from cancer attending with her son and daughter-in-law.

Tears sprang to my eyes as I saw hand after hand reach out to greet, comfort, and love on one another. And the delight and care that passed from person to person. All this after hearing a powerful sermon from Oxford University mathematician, and one of the premier apologists of our day, Professor John Lennox on the power of God to transcend the laws of nature ~ gravity to be specific ~ such that He was able to miraculously raise Jesus from the dead. And how that foundational truth of our faith is proven by Luke’s description as he reiterated that it had been seen, observed, witnessed by many. Now these witnesses were taking the gospel into a sick and hurting world, as Lennox pointed out, taking the word of God which was increasing such that the church was growing.

It was not lost on me, however, as I found myself sitting next to my friend whose wife was at home with her father, sitting vigil by his bedside as he succumbs to Alzheimer’s, that when Lennox spoke of the equally miraculous return of Jesus, yet to come, we must continue to devote ourselves to the word and to one another. There is still much sickness and hurt that needs to be covered by the resurrection power of Jesus Christ.

We were reminded by the Professor, that we each have been invited to participate in this gospel so that others will see, observe and witness the difference our Savior’s miraculous resurrection has made in our lives. The difference it can make in their lives. Participation requires commitment. A commitment to God’s word, and a commitment to His people.

Yesterday, I was truly in awe of my brothers and sisters who modeled that kind of commitment. A commitment to love one another, a commitment to provide for the community, a commitment to share God’s love in a hurting world. Don’t know that I’ve ever been prouder to be a part of the bread-breaking, praying, awe-sensing Church … I hope you are too!

Rejoicing with you,

Tina

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The Upright Word of God

The precepts of the Lord are upright, rejoicing the heart ~ Psalm 19:8

Not only does God’s word rejoice our hearts, seeing women get into God’s word pretty much makes our hearts ecstatic around here. Anyone who’s spent time around me when I am studying the Bible or leading a class knows that I can light up like Danny DeVito’s house in Deck the Halls over the smallest observation or insight. Of course we all love a party right? So when the word brings rejoicing we are all in!

But rejoicing is not the only benefit of God’s word. Consider just some of the benefits of the Word of God:

God’s word is the standard for truth. The psalmist declared, “The sum of Your word is truth.” Psalm 119:160. Jesus, when He asked God to sanctify His disciples in the truth, also declared, “Your word is truth.” John 17:17. We know that Jesus Himself is described as the Word in John 1, and later in John 14 we see that Jesus, God’s Word, is the Truth.

In a world that espouses relativity, making such declarations about God’s Word, the Bible as we know it, as being THE truth can be uncomfortable. I would point you back to yesterday’s post, and consider point one. Where do we place our faith? In the Word of God. Are you firmly persuaded of God’s word? Rejoice! It’s truth!

God’s word trains us in righteousness. As we seek to live authentically in our faith, we look to His Word, the truth. As we do this, something amazing begins to happen. It teaches us, trains us, transforms us. Paul, the apostle, told Timothy that Scripture was profitable (beneficial) for “teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness,” why? So that the man/woman of God would be artios – adequate, complete, sufficient – equipped for every good work. 1 Timothy 3:16-17.

We often look at our deeds as righteous, but apart from Jesus, apart from the word, we have no idea what righteousness looks like. The more we study His word, the more we come to know and understand the righteousness of God, the better prepared we are to walk in the good works we are called to. See again Ephesians 2:10 

God’s word approves (refines) us. One of my favorite verses has always been 2 Timothy 2:15 “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” I had always focused on the last part of the verse as the take-away for the entire verse – until recently when I studied it a little more closely in the context of the whole of 2 Timothy.

The word approved ~ dokimon, in the Greek ~ means proven, refined as by fire. The letter to Timothy speaks to the suffering he will soon face as a follower of the true gospel. Paul is warning him not to shrink back but submit himself to the refining process. When we accurately handle God’s word, and don’t shrink back from its truth, allowing it to refine us, we will have no need to be ashamed when we stand before God someday. Hallelujah!

God’s word guards against sin. “Your Word I have treasured in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” ~ Psalm 119:11 When we know the truth contained in God’s Word, we are less likely to miss the mark of His standard for our lives. And one of the best ways to ensure we know His Word is to memorize it. I found a great article over on the kyria blog about this today.

First Corinithians, chapter ten tells us that the things that happened to those who have gone before us were for an example, and were written down for our instruction. When we are tempted, the temptation provides a way of escape. Often the way of escape for me comes in the form of a Scripture verse that comes to mind in that split second before I am going to act on an impulse. It serves me well when I choose to embrace that Scripture and walk away from the temptation. If I am armed with those verses, I have a way of escape.

Finally, God’s word teaches us about Who He is, What He Does for us, the benefits of knowing Him and belonging to Him:

Psalm 103 Bless the Lord, O my soul,

And all that is within me, bless His holy name.

2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,

And forget none of His benefits;

3 Who pardons all your iniquities,

Who heals all your diseases;

4 Who redeems your life from the pit,

Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;

5 Who satisfies your years with good things,

So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.

Sisters, what benefits have you received from the Word of God? I would love to hear your stories!

As an added benefit of leaving a comment today (and because tomorrow’s my birthday and I love a party!) I will use random.org to choose one comment whose author will receive a free copy of Kay Arthur’s wonderful book “LORD, Teach Me to Study the Bible in 28 days” Winners will be announced on Friday!

I hope you win!

Rejoicing with you,

Tina

An Authentic Life of Faith

Rejoicing Our Hearts encourages women to live an authentic life of faith. Much can be said on the topic of faith, lucky for you I’m not going to say it all here! But I think there are some key qualities of a woman who is living an authentic life of faith. And lest you think that I have all of these things mastered in my life ~ let me set the record straight…I do not, but I hope that I am at least “pressing on toward the goal” (Philippians 3:14)

I believe the qualities of a woman living an authtentic life of faith are:

  • She is confident and unwavering in her faith. Faith – ‘pistis’ in the Greek NT – is ‘a firm persuasion, conviction, belief in the truth.’  She is like the psalmist who says: The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread? … Though a host encamp against me, My heart will not fear; Though war arise against me, In spite of this I shall be confident. ~ Psalm 27:1-3
  • She is genuine in her faith. The apostle Paul told his true son in the faith, Timothy that he was mindful or very much aware of his ‘sincere’ faith. The root of the word sincere, ‘anupokritos’ is the word from which we get our word, hypocrisy, which literally means under judgment. The ‘a’ in front of hypocrisy means against or without…so to be sincere is to be without hypocrisy or pretense. What you see is her true self.
  • She values His word as truth, obediently conforming her life to its principles. She believes “The sum of Your word is truth, and every one of your righteous ordinances is everlasting.” Psalm 119:60 and instead of asking “How does this Scripture apply to my life?” she asks, “How do I conform my life to the truth of this Scripture?” See also Romans 12:2.
  • She is honest and truthful about her struggles and her need for grace. 1 John 1:6,8 says “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth…if we say we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” For the most part it is easy to hide the things we struggle with, but a woman wanting to live authentically realizes the need to bring these things into the Light of God’s truth so that He can cleanse us.
  • She recognizes her value to God and unique calling in the body of Christ. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which He prepared before hand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10 We are each specifically crafted by God (Ps. 139), and He has plans and purpose for our lives, and she knows it. She strives to find and carry out that purpose with His help and the help of those around her.
  • She shows love to all those who are her brothers and sisters in the household of faith, the Church, the bride of Christ. She knows that Jesus commanded us to “Love one another” just as He has loved us (John 15:12) and that love is patient and kind, it is not jealous; it does not brag, is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffereddoes not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. It never fails (ceases or becomes inadequate.) ~ 1 Corinthians 13.

Do you want to live an authentic life of faith in Jesus Christ? Then I hope you will hang out with us here at Rejoicing Our Hears often, because we love spending time with women like you! Come back soon!

Rejoicing with you,

Tina

Welcome to Rejoicing Our Hearts!

The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart. Psalm 19:9 NASB

Psalm 19 ~ a psalm of God’s glory that speaks to the awesome reverence that comes as a result of knowing who God is: our rock and our redeemer, and what He does, more to the point, what His word does in our lives: restores our soul, makes us wise, rejoices our heart.

Nothing rejoices my heart more than getting into God’s word. Except maybe seeing other women get into God’s word. And when that Word touches women’s hearts and lives … well, that’s really worth rejoicing over.

The thing is ~ sometimes God’s word takes us to a place that doesn’t feel like rejoicing. Instead of awesome reverence it feels convicting, compelling, maybe even confusing. At Rejoicing Our Hearts we seek to cut through our troubling emotions that relate to Scripture and hope to encourage, equip and empower women through the word, to live authentic lives of faith and walk as God’s set-apart women, lights in a darkened world.

But if you really want to know how we feel about Scripture at Rejoicing Our Hearts, you might want to listen to this compelling song, Speak, O Lord, by modern hymn writers, Keith and Kristyn Getty. If you enjoy it you can get a free MP3 download of the song here.

May this song be our prayer each time we open His Word.

Rejoicing with you,

Tina 

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Copyright (c) 2011. Rejoicing Our Hearts. Tina M. Picard ~ All rights reserved.

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