Day 1: Refuge and Fortress

June 15, 2012.  Friday.

At 7:30 A.M, I left the house going towards a place, which I know would be the start of the journey I’ve began praying for since December of 2007.

It was quite a “wrestling match” with the Lord.  No audience involved. No referee.  Just me and Him.  It was never easy coming up with the decision to work not in a clinic, a hospital, or do “home health”.  This time, by God’s grace and mercy, the Lord called me to serve Him full-time in a local church as part of their pastoral staff.

Anxiety, anticipation, fear and joy – a strange concoction of such feelings crept in as I stationed myself inside my cubicle.  I honestly don’t know where to start.  Even if I’ve been in the ministry (as a volunteer) for more than eleven years now, everything just seemed different.  Everything’s new.  I was only left with one thing to do. I grabbed my bible while whispering a prayer to God, uttering words like these:

“Father, please speak to me.  Affirm me today.  I’m scared, but I know You have called me by name. I really need You.”

The passage assigned for me to meditate on that day was Psalm 91, which I want to share with you here. It’s a little long, but I enjoin you to read along and contemplate on the words of the psalmist.

My Refuge and My Fortress

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High

will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.

I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress,

my God, in whom I trust.”

For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler

and from the deadly pestilence.

He will cover you with his pinions,

and under his wings you will find refuge;

his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.

You will not fear the terror of the night,

nor the arrow that flies by day,

nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,

nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.

A thousand may fall at your side,

ten thousand at your right hand,

but it will not come near you.

You will only look with your eyes

and see the recompense of the wicked.

Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place—

the Most High, who is my refuge—

no evil shall be allowed to befall you,

no plague come near your tent.

For he will command his angels concerning you

to guard you in all your ways.

On their hands they will bear you up,

lest you strike your foot against a stone.

You will tread on the lion and the adder;

the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.

“Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;

I will protect him, because he knows my name.

When he calls to me, I will answer him;

I will be with him in trouble;

I will rescue him and honor him.

With long life I will satisfy him

and show him my salvation.”

Today’s the 17th and I can already feel both the fulfillment and the tension in this phase of transition.  It’s difficult.

But no amount of fear nor difficulty could surpass the peace that the Lord gives – especially when you know that it is God who calls us.  Furthermore, we can remain confident that He shall provide us with whatever we will need to accomplish His agenda.  It may be hard to believe, but it’s true.  (Oh, what a great God we serve, right?)

My prayer for you today is that your heart would burn as you open God’s Word, just like the people at the road to Emmaus.  May God meet with you wherever you are and in whatever situation that you may be.

I pray that you would be refreshed with the truth that He alone is our refuge and our fortress, which we can always trust!

“Church: Day One” (A Study Guide on Acts 1-2)

“Church:  Day One” (A Study Guide on Acts 1-2)


Introduction

When we think of church, why is a building the first thing that comes to mind? Is church a place full of robes and pews? Bands and banners? Or is church meant to be something different?

Originally, the church began as a movement.  Not only did the teachings launch the church, but the testimonies of those who witnessed the life and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  A moment in history began this movement.

However, when about 300 years passed, the definition of the church transitioned from a “movement” to a “location” (kirche – German word for the “Lord’s house”), which may be considered a form of retrogression to the Old Testament temple/synagogue.

Additional Information:

*Derivatives of CHURCH:  EKKLESIA (Gr.) = assembly, gathering, congregation

*William Tyndale – 16th century scholar/translator; he was the first to translate considerable parts of the Bible into English for a public, lay readership. Sadly, he was betrayed by a friend, named a heretic, was strangled and burnt at the stake.

Discussion Questions

  1. What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of church?
  2. What were your first/early experiences of attending church? Were those positive or negative experiences?
  3.  Read Matthew 16:17-18 and Acts 1:7-8. In your words, how would you define church? How would you define the mission of the church?
  4. After reading the first two chapters in Acts, what sticks out to you the most about that “first day” of church?
  5. If the church began as a movement, how do you see the church moving today?
  6.  If the church began as a movement, what can you do to be a part of that movement?

Changing Your Mind

Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far offfor all whom the Lord our God will call.”Acts 2:38-39

Time to Level Up

We are the church or “temples” of God (Holy Spirit; cf. 1 Cor. 6:19).  Therefore, we should start living like one.

*Note: Items written in this study guide were a combination of the author/blogger’s personal research and those from North Point Community Church’s “Big Church” series.