When the Word penetrates

My pastor has a cold. He called last night and let me know that he didn’t think he would make it to the service. I could tell he wasn’t feeling good, and told him we’d work it out and to get some rest.

I sent a quick email to a couple of our leaders and just told them to be prepared, and asked their help with the prayer time.

In the meantime, I thought of a passage I had been meditating on for some time — Psalm 119. It’s a long psalm, broken up by the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. It speaks of the importance of meditating on and obeying God’s Word. I felt a nudge from the Spirit saying, “let’s just read this aloud tomorrow. Let me speak.”

So, I typed up the divisions of the passage in English and Arabic, so I could have 22 people each read a section. I slept, knowing the Lord would work out the rest.

During the Sunday School hour, the pastor showed up! It’s hard to keep a good man down, but he asked me what I was thinking to do. I told him. He said he could share a little something, so I didn’t think we needed my reading after all. No worries, if there’s anything about being a part of my church, it’s the ability to be flexible.

However, when he walked up to the pulpit after the music, the pastor said I had prepared something for us to do and asked me to share. I began passing out the sheets of paper to everyone present. I explained that we were going to read aloud God’s Word, and encouraged them to focus on what it said.

The first person to read was a man, whose family had just arrived from Egypt two weeks ago! He went to the microphone and began with a clear voice in Arabic, “Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord…”

One by one, Arab, American, each in his own language, stood and read God’s Word. As I watched them stand and listened to them read, I found tears coming to my eyes. What was it like in the Temple of the Lord to hear this psalm read?

I am laid low in the dust; preserve my life according to your word…

Turn my eyes away from worthless things…

I will speak of your statues before kings and will not be put to shame…

I felt the power of God’s Word moving among us. Then, Judy got up to read:

Your statues are wonderful; therefore I obey them. The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple. I open my mouth and pant, longing for your commands…

She stopped reading, as the tears flowed; so moved by the words, the intimacy of connection with One’s Creator. My tears continued as I listened.

Turn to me and have mercy on me, as you always do to those who love your name. Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me. Redeem me from the oppression of men, that I may obey your precepts. Make your face shine upon your servant and teach me your decrees. Streams of tears flow from my eyes, for your law is not obeyed.

We continued and finished the reading, and the pastor said a few words on how, as he listened, he made certain verses personal prayers for his life.

No need for a sermon. God had spoken, and we all knew it.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

We felt the penetration of God’s Word on our hearts today, and our souls were pierced. May you know the power of the living Word in your life.

Grace and Peace

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