I am continuing my study of Acts at Trinity CRC in Artesiaand it is going really well. Yesterday the passage was:
The ate their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and enjoying favor from all the people and the Lord was adding to their number daily those who were being saved.
Key here is to see the value of their "gladness of heart' and its relationship to the authenticity and therefore power of their proclamation that "Jesus is the Messiah". To the Christian the eschatological event that brings the abundant life of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit has already occurred in the death and resurrectio of the the Christ. And we live a morally beautiful life of Gladness and sincerity of heart to prove it. The proof is in the winsome witness of our story as a community. John Piper says it this way, editting the Westminster Catachism Piper says, "The cheif end of man is to Glorify God BY enjoying His presence forever". Meaning that the means to Glorifying God is to live a life which finds its satisfaction in the presence of God in the midst of His people.
The witness of the early church was marked by a distinguishing joy.
The sermon goes on to ask the question: How do we become a more joy-filled Christian Community?
The answer is three fold in scripture:
1. Cultivate Praise. Examples in scripture include paul and Silas in prison. They found reason to praise the greatness of God in the worst possible circumstance. They continued to think BIG THOUGHTS about God and His salvation regardless of the trial. Romans 5 explains this by saying we exalt in tribulation knowing that ...God demonstrated His love in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us". What this means is that our worldview empowers us to get a proper perspective on our circumstances. If we cultivate praise by thinking BIG THOUGHTS about God and His participation in our lives, we can guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. We will learn to cast our anxieties upon Him and the peace which surpasses understanding will guard our heart and minds.
2. Pursue being Pure in heart. It is the pure in heart that can see God and maintain this proper communion and conviction of God's goodness and His abiding participation in our personal and corporate story. The beginning of beautiful and skillful living is the fear of the Lord. So long as we place our relationship with the Lord and our desire to please Him in the forefront of our consciousness, we will continually be able to "take our meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart".
For example, I have a saying about marriage. It goes like this: "marriage is easy; its learning how to maintain the fear of the Lord and perfect peace with the Lord that is hard". Whta this means is that if we focus all our attention on being perfectly repentant before God we will learn all the skills of confession and humility which make marriage a walk in the park. I know this from experience. Seek to ofend the Lord in nothing, do all you can to please Him no matter what the cost and you will possess the wisdom to have a glorious and marriae.
All in all this leads to beautiful witness.
enough for now