Phil and I were blessed with a wonderful gift of rest and refreshment last week at a retreat in the mountains. It was a relaxing time of fun with friends and teaching from the Word. I came away with several profound Truths that God clarified and solidified for me. In response to the teaching from Acts on the Holy Spirit and the experience of powerful worship, more than a few questions arose in my heart as we left that place of rest. I am easily inspired to feel very strongly and passionately about things and often, condemnation and doubt are quickly on the heels. I realized I needed more than my "retreat high" to navigate this experience for me.
In acts 17, the Bereans heard a stirring presentation of the gospel from Paul and they "recieved the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so." Eager to make sense of my exciting week, I cracked open Acts to read for myself in a Berean-esque manner.
Here are several verses that spoke to me:
1. Acts2:43 awe came upon every soul
I certainly can't speak for everyone in attendance, but I do know that personally, I felt a depth of freedom to worship my God like I have not felt in times past. For the most part, I was completely unconcerned with what others were doing around me. The awe of the simultaneous immenseness OF God and the intimacy WITH God filled my soul to overflowing.
2. Acts 3:19 Repent, therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord
I was taught a very important distinction in my heart that comes when I enter God's presence with a heart full of worship for Him instead of a heart full of shame for my sin. When I preface my repentance with worship, my time with God begins and ends with the focus on Him. If I praise Him for His character and His magnificent works and ways, then naturally I will come to a place of brokenness as I want to turn again to behold His holiness and perfection. I am refreshed when I behold Perfection, repent of my imperfections and rest in His presence and love for me.
3. Acts 4:33...great grace was upon them all.
A simple and yet, deeply profound Truth that I often forget. On my best day and certainly on my worst, I am drowning in the Great Grace of my Savior to sustain me.
4. Acts 5:42...they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.
This was a powerful reminder to me as Phil and I teach the engaged couples in the Preparing for Marriage class. We often get young, starry-eyed couples asking for tips and tricks and steps to a happy and healthy marriage. This verse reminds me that even in a class on marriage, we must always begin and end with Jesus is the Christ. He is the bedrock, foundation and sustainer of marriage. He alone transforms and gives life - tips and tricks don't fundamentally change anyone.
5. Acts 7:51 "You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit"
Lord, I know what it feels like for you to stir my heart with your Holy Spirit and I know what it feels like to resist you - may I never talk myself out of the fact that I have heard your voice and must respond.
6. Acts 9:31 And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it (the church) multiplied.
This is my prayer for Mars Hill - that as we each live with a proper understanding of God's power and might (fear Him) and boldly believe that God's power is in us (because of the comfort of the Holy Spirit) - our church will multiply. People who don't know Jesus will be drawn to Him because of Him in us.
7. Acts 11:23 he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose.
I want this to be said of me - not that I was deeply passionate for a few moments that faded with the sun and the end of a retreat. I want my purpose (to worship God and enjoy His presence) to be steadfast (lived out til the end of my life) as I remain faithful to the Lord (not letting my heart stray to other lovers).
8. Acts 13:10 "will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord?"
How often do I twist the commands of the Lord, make what He has promised as black and white to be gray and murky? God does not speak in vague, confusing terms. His Truth is simple, His way straight. My wicked heart and my crafty Enemy make the way crooked. Forgive me Lord for distorting your Word.
9. Acts 20:28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which He obtained with His own blood.
This is my prayers for the elders of Mars hill Church. One of those men is my husband, one is my little brother and all are men that I respect and trust as godly leaders. Please know that I will be praying for your vigilant watch over your own souls, your families hearts and the health of all those in your care. Jesus paid a much higher price for those souls than you ever will and He loves each of them more than you ever could. He has chosen you to bring them along with you on your journey to the Cross.
10. Acts 21:14 Let the will of the Lord be done.
Ultimately, this is my heart's cry. With some trepidation and uncertainty, we must receive what we were taught and experienced last week as given from God and for God. I do not know what His will is for the future of His church and my life but I trust Him. It is ultimately a test of our maturity and our humility that we seek God for His will in our lives and our church.