Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Prayer That Turned The World Upside Down - Session 5 - Give Us This Day - God's Abundant Physical Provisions




The Church of Divine Guidance Sunday Morning Adult Bible Study Group studying the book Prayer That Turned The World Upside Down: The Lord's Prayer as a Manifesto for Revolution by R. Albert Mohler, The President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

The Lord’s Prayer is the most powerful prayer in the Bible, taught by Jesus to those closest to him. We desperately need to relearn its power and practice.

The opening words of the Lord’s Prayer have become so familiar that we often speak them without a thought, sometimes without any awareness that we are speaking at all. But to the disciples who first heard these words from Jesus, the prayer was a thunderbolt, a radical new way to pray that changed them and the course of history.


Far from a safe series of comforting words, the Lord’s Prayer makes extraordinary claims, topples every earthly power, and announces God’s reign over all things in heaven and on earth. Study along with us by getting a copy of the book by clicking this LINK or the image of the book in the study notes. 


Up to this point, the Lord’s Prayer has revealed a great deal about the  character of God. We have seen that for those who are in Christ, God is a caring Father. Jesus emphasized God’s transcendence and omnipotence by observing that he is “in heaven.”

He established the worth of God and the value of his glory by teaching that God's name should be hallowed. Finally, Jesus emphasizes that God is king—the sovereign Lord who will bring his kingdom to every corner of the earth.



Give Us This Day


He now instructs His disciples to ask that God provide for us.  This request is an acknowledgement that we are dependent on God as our provider.

Matthew 6:11 NIV - Give us today our daily bread.

The petition “give us this day our daily bread” reminds us of our dependence on God for even the most fundamental needs of life. Jesus in this model of prayer points out the difference in the Creator ant the creature. God’s name is to be hallowed in heaven.  We, on the other hand, are incapable of even getting basic sustenance without his help. Jesus teaches us to exalt God while humbling ourselves.
 
God is our Creator and He designed humans to be dependent. From the moment of birth, we rely on the kindness of others to meet our needs. We need our parents to feed us, dress us, and even train us to sleep. Even as we grow older, we remain tremendously needy. We depend on others for relationships.

He knew that Adam needed help in order to accomplish the command to subdue the earth.

Genesis 1:26-28 NIV - Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”  So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.  God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

We need communities in which to live and work. We depend on the government for safety and security.

Romans 13:4 NIV -  For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.

1 Peter 2:13-14, 17 NIV -  Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.

The Apostle Paul even says that we should pray for our government leaders.

 1 Timothy 2:1-2 NIV - I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.

We have no sufficiency in and of ourselves, and we delude ourselves by believing we can be truly independent of others.

The church is a place or community of people which when functioning in the love of Christ is a place populated by people who support each other.

  Acts 4:32-35 NIV - All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.

 Hebrews 10:24-25 NIV - And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.


PHYSICAL NEEDS IN BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE

Before the fall mankind depended on God to provide but there was always surplus and abundance so there was no need to ask for Him to provide because there was nothing disturbing the relationship.

After the fall however their experience was quite different, as is ours today. Our default experience is no longer abundance but scarcity. Food must be produced by the sweat of our brow, and its existence is never certain.


Genesis 3:17-19 NIV -  To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life.  It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.  By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”

Since the fall there are no guarantees. With regard to food there are droughts, disease, insects, etc.  There are financial disasters.

Thus, after the fall we become even more dependent on God for our daily sustenance. We are no longer merely creatures in need of provision; we are sinners in need of the Creator’s mercy.

We talked about God being the Father of those who have become part of His family through Christ. In our prayer we acknowledge that He is our Father, and as our Father He provides for our physical needs.

Matthew 7:9-11 NIV - “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?  If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

Earlier in our study we emphasized the fact that in this prayer the petitions are not for self only but for others.

The first-person singular (I, me, my, mine) is completely absent from the Lord’s Prayer. Evidently, prayer should not center on you or me.

Jesus did however recognize the need for physical resources. Asking that God provide for physical needs is not unspiritual.  People who teach that we should not be concerned about our physical needs being met are suspect.  I don't mean obsessing about physical comfort I’m talking about our needs.

Our lives are not divided between spiritual activities and earthly activities, but both spiritual and secular activities are to be to the glory of God. 

German theologian Helmut Thielicke once described the horrors of World War II and explained that one of the most terrible realities of the war was widespread deprivation and starvation. He reminded his readers that we should never undervalue physical needs, observing that a hyper-spiritual theology that ignores physical needs has never had to come face-to-face with the horrors of deprivation.

In asking that God provide our daily bread Jesus is saying that God is concerned about everything that affects us from our ability to eat to our greatest needs.  The emphasis is on need.

The Bible Eve tells us that we should help each other.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
Philippians 2:3-4 NIV

If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
1 John 3:17-18 NIV

This word shows us that we ought not pray for opulence and riches, only for the needs of the day. Further, this word teaches us to pray for our needs every day, seeking God’s provision in our life hour by hour. In sum, the word daily here teaches us to train our hearts to depend consistently on God, rather than just in times of need.

AN OLD TESTAMENT ILLUSTRATION


There is an example of daily provision in God providing for the Hebrews while the sinned and grumbled in the wilderness for 40 years.

Exodus 16:4-7 NIV -  Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days.”  So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, “In the evening you will know that it was the Lord who brought you out of Egypt, and in the morning you will see the glory of the Lord , because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are we, that you should grumble against us?”

God knows exactly how much to provide.

 Exodus 16:5, 17-18 NIV - On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days.”  The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little. And when they measured it by the omer, the one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little. Everyone had gathered just as much as they needed.

He not only provided food and protection but their clothes didn't ever wear out.

Deuteronomy 8:4 NIV - Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years.

We can be sure, as God’s children, that He will provide for us today.  God may not provide for us in the way that we think is best. But we will always find that he provides for us according to his infinite love and care.

BREAD OF EARTH, BREAD FROM HEAVEN: ECHOES OF ETERNITY IN JESUS’ PETITION FOR BREAD


Thoughts from Mohler:

This passage teaches us that God designed physical needs to point to our deeper spiritual needs. Our need for daily physical sustenance is a faint echo of our daily need of spiritual sustenance and satisfaction from God.

  Deuteronomy 8:3 NIV - But humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord .

The only way that we will taste the goodness of God’s provision is by living according to what comes from the mouth of God. This is why Jesus regularly referred to himself as the “bread of life,” the true man sent from heaven

John 6:35 NIV -  Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

He is God’s ultimate provision for our spiritual lives.
           
Each day, as we pray for our daily bread, we should be reminded of our daily need for Christ to forgive our sins and empower us for obedience. Each time we pray for daily bread, we should recognize our deeper need for the bread of life—the only one who can truly satisfy.


Bible Study Audio


Sunday, May 6, 2018

The Prayer That Turned The World Upside Down - Session 4 - Your Kingdom Come






The Church of Divine Guidance Sunday Morning Adult Bible Study Group studying the book Prayer That Turned The World Upside Down: The Lord's Prayer as a Manifesto for Revolution by R. Albert Mohler, The President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

The Lord’s Prayer is the most powerful prayer in the Bible, taught by Jesus to those closest to him. We desperately need to relearn its power and practice.

The opening words of the Lord’s Prayer have become so familiar that we often speak them without a thought, sometimes without any awareness that we are speaking at all. But to the disciples who first heard these words from Jesus, the prayer was a thunderbolt, a radical new way to pray that changed them and the course of history.


Far from a safe series of comforting words, the Lord’s Prayer makes extraordinary claims, topples every earthly power, and announces God’s reign over all things in heaven and on earth. Study along with us by getting a copy of the book by clicking this LINK or the image of the book in the study notes. 


Whose Agenda Is It Anyway?


Matthew 6:10 NIV - your kingdom come,  your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Last week we learned that the very first petition that Jesus taught his disciples that they should make in prayer is that God’s name be hallowed.  Jesus is not merely saying that God’s name is hallowed; rather, he is asking God to make his name hallowed. The verb hallow, however, simply means to “make holy” or “consider as holy.  Just as we speak of “having a good name” as a way to refer to a good reputation, the Old Testament uses the same idiom to refer to God’s reputation. A name is something personal. It always feels more or less unpleasant when others misspell or garble our name: it stands for our honor, our worth, our person, and individuality. . . . There is an intimate link between God and his name.

How then does God “hallow his name” in the world? First, “hallowed be your name” is a request that the church be sanctified. The church is the steward of God’s name.  We must petition God to “hallow his name” in our discipleship, in our prayer, in our preaching, in our witnessing, in our work, and in eternity. Our ultimate concern is not that our lives be comfortable, but that God be glorified, and that our lives, even our prayers, put God’s glory on display.  Faithfulness in the Christian life makes the glory of God go public.

The second petition, “your kingdom come,” builds on the first by showing us how God’s name is hallowed in the world. God reveals his character and reputation as his kingdom spread to every corner of the earth and as citizens of that kingdom do God’s will on earth as it is in heaven.

The Lord’s Prayer is for revolutionaries, for men and women who want to see the kingdoms of this world give way to the kingdom of our Lord.

But what is God’s kingdom, and what does it mean to pray for its arrival?  

We’re going to talk about that today.

Pastor likes to say that the kingdom of heaven is inside us.  

Luke 17:20‭-‬21 NKJV Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation;  nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”

The context of Jesus’ statement is a question put to Him by His Pharisee detractors who had asked when the kingdom of God would come (verse 20).

Jesus’ answer was that the kingdom of God was not coming in the manner the Pharisees were expecting. The kingdom would not be inaugurated with spectacle or splendor; there would be no great and magnificent leader who staked out a geographical claim and routed the Romans; rather, the kingdom would come silently and unseen,

Matthew 13:24‭, ‬26‭-‬33‭, ‬38‭-‬50 NKJV Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field;  But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’  He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.” ’ ” Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field,  which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.” Another parable He spoke to them: “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.”

The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one.  The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age.  The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.  Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear! “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls,  who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind, which, when it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad away. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just,  and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”

In fact, Jesus says, the kingdom had already begun, right under the Pharisees’ noses.

Various translations render the Greek of Luke 17:21 various ways. The phrase translated “within you” in the KJV and NKJV is translated as “in your midst” in the NIV, NASB, and NET; “among you” in the NLT and HCSB; and “in the midst of you” in the ESV. Earlier versions of the NIV had “within you” with a marginal note suggesting “among you.” There is obviously a difference between saying “the kingdom of God is within you” and “the kingdom of God is among you.”

“Within you” comes off as an unfavorable translation, seeing that Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees at the time. Jesus was surely not saying that the kingdom of God resided within the Pharisees’ hearts. The Pharisees opposed Jesus and had no relationship with God. Jesus in other places denounced them as “whitewashed tombs” and “hypocrites” (Matthew 23:27).

The better translation would be “in your midst” or “among you.” Jesus was telling the Pharisees that He brought the kingdom of God to earth. Jesus’ presence in their midst gave them a taste of the kingdom life, as attested by the miracles that Jesus performed. Elsewhere, Jesus mentions His miracles as definitive proof of the kingdom: “If I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Luke 11:20).

There are three popular interpretations of Jesus’ words in Luke 17:21 that the kingdom of God is within you (or among you): 1) the kingdom of God is essentially inward, within man’s heart; 2) the kingdom is within your reach if you make the right choices; and 3) the kingdom of God is in your midst in the person and presence of Jesus. The best of these interpretations, it seems, is the third: Jesus was inaugurating the kingdom as He changed the hearts of men, one at a time.

For the time being, Christ’s kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36). One day, however, the kingdom of God will be manifest on the earth (Isaiah 35:1), and Jesus Christ will rule a physical kingdom from David’s throne (Isaiah 9:7) with Jerusalem as His capital (Zechariah 8:3).

The kingdom of God is not something that is part of the political systems of this world. No government on earth truly represents God’s kingdom. Instead, Christians are citizens of a kingdom that will one day arrive in consummate glory. Our hope is not that the governments of this world will transform into the kingdom of God, but that the kingdom of God will come from heaven to earth in power and glory.

In Scripture the kingdom of God must be understood as something that is already here on earth but not yet fully present. In other words, the kingdom of God has been inaugurated but not yet consummated.

This kingdom arrived with the coming of Christ, who urged his hearers to repent because the “kingdom of God is at hand.” Christians are now part of that kingdom. As Paulstated, “[God] has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son” (Col. 1:13). Thus, even though we await the full expression of God’s kingdom that will come in glory and power at the return of Christ, we are at this time living under the reign of God as his people—we are citizens of that kingdom.

The kingdom of heaven is what the writer of Hebrews said the faith heros were looking forward to.

Hebrews 11:13‭-‬15 NKJV. They all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return.


Biblical Theology of the Kingdom


the Bible speaks about God’s kingdom in terms of creation, the fall, redemption, and consummation.  “God’s people in God’s place under God’s rule and
blessing.

Creation


Each of these features is present in the earliest manifestation of God’s kingdom in the garden of Eden. God’s people, Adam and Eve, live in God’s place, the garden of Eden, under God’s rule and blessing.

The Fall

Adam and Eve are exiled from the garden, no longer able to enjoy God’s blessing because they rebelled against God’s rule.

Redemption

In the work of redemption, God continued the work of building a kingdom on earth. Thus, God called Abraham and his children (God’s people) to be a light to the nations (Isa. 42:6; 49:6). He promised them the land of Canaan (God’s place) where he would dwell with them in the tabernacle and then in the temple. Finally, God gave the Israelites his law and the sacrificial system so that they might draw near to him (God’s rule and blessing).  Yet, as we all know, Israel failed to do and to be what God desired of them. Like Adam, they rebelled against God.

The prophets spoke of a day when God would fully and finally bring his kingdom from heaven to earth. Jeremiah, for instance, spoke of a day when God would inaugurate a new covenant, when the law would no longer be written on tablets of stone but would instead be written on the tablets of people’s hearts. In other words, the law would no longer only be something outside of us (demanding obedience and condemning our failure) but instead would be something God etched on our hearts giving us the power to obey his commands.

Jeremiah 31:33 NKJV But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord : I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
Jesus came preaching the inauguration of the kingdom. His disciples were allowed a glimpse of his kingdom in glory during the transfiguration (Matt. 17:2;  Mark 9:2).

After his resurrection Jesus declared that he had been given “all authority in heaven and on earth” (Matt. 28:18). The Great Commission is rooted in Christ's declaration that he is the king on the throne of all creation. In our current stage in redemptive history, therefore, God’s kingdom is made up of those who believe in Christ (God's People) gathered in local churches across the world (God’s place) under the law of Christ and partaking of the new covenant (God’s rule and blessing).
Now we have a few key insights helpful in interpreting this petition—“your kingdom come”—in the Lord’s Prayer. God’s kingdom is essentially his reign over his people for their good and his glory. God’s reign is not just his absolute sovereignty; is also a redemptive reign that transforms hearts and creates obedience.

Now we have a few key insights helpful in interpreting this petition—“your kingdom come”—in the Lord’s Prayer. God’s kingdom is essentially his reign over his people for their good and his glory. God’s reign is not just his absolute sovereignty; is also a redemptive reign that transforms hearts and creates obedience.

THE COMING KINGDOM


According to Scripture, how does the kingdom of God come from heaven to earth?

It does not come through moral reform and social justice, which is a good thing but can lead to a very liberal view of lifestyle and sin. It does not come through political processes either which can also be good but taken to legalistic extermes.

The Bible teaches that God’s kingdom only comes as God’s people preach God’s Word, which, coupled with God’s Spirit, produces life and obedience. To use the language of Paul, God’s Word and Spirit change the hearts of sinners such that they are rescued out of the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of his dear Son

Colossians 1:13‭-‬14 NKJV  He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.

THE REIGN AND RULE OF GOD: YOUR WILL BE DONE


The “will of God” can be used in two different ways. First, Scripture can speak of God’s will of decree, or what we could call God’s sovereign will. When Scripture speaks of God’s will in this sense, it refers to his absolute, sovereign rule over all things.

Psalms 115:3 NKJV But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases.

Second, Scripture uses the phrase “will of God” to refer to God’s commandments. Theologians also refer to this use of the “will of God” as God’s revealed will. The revealed will of God speaks to what God expects of his human creatures. The Ten Commandments, for instance, are an excellent example of God’s revealed will.  The call to repent and believe the gospel would be yet another example of God’s revealed will.

Acts 17:30‭-‬31 NKJV Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”
Jesus is not talking about God’s sovereign will because that is already set both in heaven and already on Earth. Jesus is clearly referring to God’s revealed will. He is asking the Father to reshape the hearts of every single person such that God is obeyed and glorified by men.  When the kingdom of God arrives anew and afresh in the hearts and lives of the lost, they begin to obey God from the heart, just as the angels in heaven. In this age, the age of the inaugurated kingdom, we know that reality only in part. In the comingage, the age of the consummated kingdom, we will experience that reality completely.

It is no longer “my will” that is preeminent, but his.  “Here more clearly than anywhere the purpose of prayer becomes plain: not to make God do my will (which is practicing magic), but to bring my will intoline with his (which is what it means to practice true religion).”

WHAT ARE WE REALLY ASKING?


For the kingdom of God to come means that all other kingdoms (including our own!) must fade into oblivion.  By praying “your kingdom come,” Jesus Teaches us that we are ultimately meant to value God’s agenda, not our own.
We mentioned before that God's kingdom is not something that we can make happen. We can't do it  through humanitarian efforts and good works. We can't do it pushing a particular political party or a particular government with the kingdom. Christians too often fall prey to the temptation that we can bring about the kingdom of God by political force or some other sociological means. But God's kingdom is not of this world. As Jesus teaches us in this prayer, we are dependent on God and God alone to bring the kingdom to every heart and every corner of the earth.  We cannot manufacture God’s kingdom by our own efforts. Instead, we are called to be faithful in the Great Commission, trusting that God by his sovereign, supernatural grace will spread his redemptive reign to every tribe, tongue, and nation.
        
So what are we asking when we say “your kingdom come”? We are asking for something wonderful and something dangerous all at the same time.
        
        
        •We are praying that history would be brought to a close.
        
        
        •We are praying to see all the nations rejoice in the glory of God.
        
        
        •We are praying to see Christ honored as king in every human heart.
        
        
        •We are praying to see Satan bound, evil vanquished, death no more.
        
        
        •We are praying to see the mercy of God demonstrated in the full justification and acquittal of sinners through the shed blood of the crucified and resurrected Christ.
        
        
        •We are praying to see the wrath of God poured out upon sin.
        
        
        •We are praying to see every knee bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.
        
        
        •We are praying to see a New Jerusalem, a new heaven, and a new earth, a new creation.


Bible Study Audio


Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Praise In Tragedy





2017 was the year of Prayer at The Church of Divine Guidance (CDG).  This year our pastor wants to continue the emphasis on prayer to add prayer our praise. Our Bible Studies and most of our Sermons will have an emphasis on praise this year as it enhances our prayer life.   These are my notes for the Tuesday Night Bible Study May 1st.  In the study I talk about how we can praise God in the midst of tragedy.


James 1:2 (NKJV)2  My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,

The Year In Review


I want to start by reviewing just a few of the things that we’ve learned this year about praise. 

The definition of praise is

      to express warm approval or admiration
      the expression of approval or admiration for someone or something
Although we praise men and when done right there's nothing wrong with praising a person for a job well done but we must be careful that our praise doesn't put that person on a petistle. When we do that we are in danger of making that person an idol, and the scriptures say that we are not to have any god before Him.   making the object of our praise an idol, but we must be careful that our praise doesn't put that person on a petistle. When we do that we are in danger of making that person an idol.
Deuteronomy 5:7 (NIV) “You shall have no other gods before me.
The primary object of the Christian’s praise is God
A definition of Christian praise is the joyful thanking and adoring of God, the celebration of His goodness and grace.

From the Holman Bible Dictionary

Praise comes from a Latin word meaning “value” or “price.” so to give praise to God is to proclaim His merit or worth.

Many terms are used to express this in the Bible, including “glory,” “blessing,” “thanksgiving,” and “hallelujah,”


The Bible tells us that all things praise God;


Starting with the angels;

Revelation 5:11-13 (NKJV)11 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands,12 saying with a loud voice: "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!"13 And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: "Blessing and honor and glory and power Be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever!"

Psalm 19:1 (NKJV)1 The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.,

Isaiah 55:12 (NKJV)12 "For you shall go out with joy, And be led out with peace; The mountains and the hills Shall break forth into singing before you, And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

Luke 19:40 (NKJV)40 But He answered and said to them, "I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out."

Psalm 148:10-13 (NKJV)10 Beasts and all cattle; Creeping things and flying fowl;11 Kings of the earth and all peoples; Princes and all judges of the earth;12 Both young men and maidens; Old men and children.13 Let them praise the name of the LORD, For His name alone is exalted; His glory is above the earth and heaven.

And to really emphasize that man the crowning jewel of creation is to praise Him;

Praise the Lord . Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens.  Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness.  Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre,  praise him with timbrel and dancing, praise him with the strings and pipe,  praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals.  Let everything that has breath praise the Lord . Praise the Lord .
Psalm 150:1-6 NIV

We’ve learned that praising God is not a feeling. Praise is conscious admiration and thanks for who God is and what He does. It is an act of the will to praise Him by thoughtfully celebrating His goodness, His greatness, His majesty, His love, His grace, His mighty deeds on our behalf.

We praise God because;

● He’s worthy

Revelation 4:11 (NKJV)11 "You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created."

● He’s full of glory

Psalm 138:5 (NKJV)5 Yes, they shall sing of the ways of the LORD, For great is the glory of the LORD.
      He is great
Psalm 145:3 (NKJV)3 Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; And His greatness is unsearchable.

● He’s wise and powerful

Daniel 2:20 (NKJV) Daniel answered and said: "Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, For wisdom and might are His.

● He’s good

Psalm 107:8 (NKJV)8 Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men!

● He’s merciful and faithful

Psalm 89:1 (NKJV)1 I will sing of the mercies of the LORD forever; With my mouth will I make known Your faithfulness to all generations.

● He saves

Psalm 18:46 (NKJV)46 The LORD lives! Blessed be my Rock! Let the God of my salvation be exalted.

      He provides
Psalm 136:25 (NKJV) Who gives food to all flesh, For His mercy endures forever.

● He keeps His promises

2 Corinthians 1:20 (NKJV)20 For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.

● He pardons sin

Psalm 103:1-3 (NKJV)1 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 not all His benefits:3 Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases,

The reasons to praise God are limitless

To try to list all reasons to praise God is impossible,let’s just say we should praise God because of who He is and what He’s done.

Praise Is What Happens Before


I've said this a lot but it bears repeating praise is not what happens afterwards it’s what happens before.

Remember the Paul and Silas?

Acts 16:25-26 (NKJV)25  But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.26  Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were loosed.

Or Jehoshaphat

2 Chronicles 20:21-22 (NKJV)21  And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who should sing to the LORD, and who should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army and were saying: "Praise the LORD, For His mercy endures forever."22  Now when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were defeated. 

 

• Praising God is more than merely using superficial catch phrases.  When we understand who God is and what he does, our praise vocabulary grows and becomes descriptive.

• We praise God because we have complete confidence in Him because He never changes.

• Biblical praise engages our minds, bodies, and our heart.

• Praising God enables us to see life from his perspective because it takes the focus off us.

With that as background, last Sunday Mikey started his message with

James 1:2 (NKJV)2  My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,

In his sermon he talked to us about changing our perspective when facing trials from worry, anxiety, and stress to one of praise. As it says in James we are to count it joy when we face various trials.   That doesn’t mean we are to be happy with the trial but we are to look beyond the trial and to what happens after we have endured. Just look at the next several verses:

James 1:3-4 (NKJV)3  knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.4  But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

Praise is what we usually do after we’ve been delivered from something or we’ve been healed, or God has gotten us out of a tough spot, and we should do that, but like I said before, and I'm really convinced  that  rea! praise is really something that we do before we’re out of the woods. 

We praise God in anticipation because we know from the experiences of those in the Bible, experiences of our friends and family membera, and our own experiences that God has our backs and the scripture at Romans 8:28 is true.

.29  For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.30  Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

So like Paul said in

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NKJV)16  Rejoice always,17  pray without ceasing,18  in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

We are to have an attitude of joy, thanksgiving and prayer at all times, no matter the conditions or circumstances that surround us.

We Can Even Praise In Tragedy


How is it possible to rejoice, pray, and give thanks in the wake of a natural disaster, a terminal illness, sudden tragic death of a loved one, terrorist attacks  It’s personal because individuals are the ones affected.  Individuals die, individuals are wounded, individuals are affected physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  Families, made up of individuals, are impacted forever.

It’s easy to say, rejoice, pray and give thanks when we’re in church, surrounded by other Christians,  or talking to our Christian friends.  It’s easy for us, who are not going through tragic events, to say

Philippians 4:4 (NKJV)  Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!

But when we are the ones affected by tragedy how is it possible to praise God?

It’s easy for us to say everything works together for good when we aren’t under extreme stress, grief, or sorrow.  We may even start to question whether God loves us at all even though we say that we love Him. 

Obviously this doesn’t mean that we are to thank God for bad things and tragedies.  We don’t thank Him for accidents, sickness, and other tragic events, because He didn’t do or send them.  God is not the author of evil.   The author of evil is the devil, and the fact that we live in a fallen world things happen.   Scripture tells us that the whole creation is in a mess because of Adam and Eve's disobedience.

Genesis 3:17-19 (NKJV)17  Then to Adam He said, "Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, 'You shall not eat of it': "Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life.18  Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, And you shall eat the herb of the field.19  In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return."

Romans 8:18-22 (NKJV)18  For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.19  For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.20  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope;21  because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.22  For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.

It’s interesting that Romans 8:28 is just a few verses later. 

Romans 8:28 (NKJV)28  And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose

It’s actually an insult to God to thank Him for things He didn’t do.

It’s interesting that that this is just a few verses after it says we should count it all joy when we face trials.

James 1:13-18 NIV When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.  Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

Satan is good taking tragedy, which he causes by the way, and blaming it on God.  If he can get people to believe the tragedy is from God he has an easy time in convincing them that God has failed and deserted them  That’s when we hear things like “Why do you serve a God who does or allows these kinds of things”.  Satan’s target is your mind and in destroying our faith in God.

What the scriptures about thanking and praising God at all times mean is that we are to stay joyful no matter what’s happening because we have the Lord, and in Him we overcome no matter what.

 Deuteronomy 31:6 (NKJV)6  Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you."

John 16:33 (NKJV)33  These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

Nehemiah 8:9-10 (NKJV)9  And Nehemiah, who was the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, "This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn nor weep." For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law.10  Then he said to them, "Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our LORD. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength."

I said we are to remain joyful no matter what, not happy no matter what.  There’s a difference between joy and happiness.

Dictionary.com defines joy as "the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation."

With this definition, we could say that "happiness" and "joy" are interchangeable. But that’s not biblical joy.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a Jesuit biologist and philosopher, once wrote, “Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God.”

Tragedies don’t feel like they should be occasions for being joyful or happy.  Here’s the difference between happiness and biblical joy or the joy of the Lord.

Happiness is usually dependent on circumstances. If everything is going well I'm happy. If not, not so much.

Our joy should rise above circumstances.   This joy is not produced by something external that makes me feel happy. It is supernatural result of a life filled with the Holy Spirit of the living God.

Galatians 5:22-26 (HCSB)22  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith,23  gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.24  Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.25  Since we live by the Spirit, we must also follow the Spirit.26  We must not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

James 1:2-3 (NKJV)2  My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,3  knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.

Rejoice

Praise is an act of the will. Creation has no choice but to praise God but we as humans do have a choice  We can choose to live in an attitude of resentment, anger and fear or we can choose rejoice even in tragedy.

We often talk about

 Philippians 4:4-6 NIV Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

God also gives us a joy that is impossible to describe.

1 Peter 1:6-9 (NKJV).6  In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials,7  that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,8  whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,9  receiving the end of your faith--the salvation of your souls.

Joy  which is better experienced than expressed because there are no words to describe it.   It is a joy on account of the glory of God, which the believer lives in the hope and faith of; and by it saints may know a little what heaven itself will be.  - Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Christian joy is not dampened by affliction or other harsh circumstances, because it is rooted in our relationship to God. 

Psalm 34:1-4 (NKJV)1  I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.2  My soul shall make its boast in the LORD; The humble shall hear of it and be glad.3  Oh, magnify the LORD with me, And let us exalt His name together.4  I sought the LORD, and He heard me, And delivered me from all my fears.

 We are to bless God at all times, not just when things go smoothly. We are to bless Him when things go wrong, too. We are to boast in the Lord even when all looks bleak. Our prayer should be similar to David's or one like this, "Father, I love and appreciate You. I know You are going to bring the answer I need because You are a good God, and You care for me. I trust You, Lord, no matter what I see with my natural eyes. I am looking through the eyes of faith, and I believe You are sending my answer. I love You, Lord, no matter what happens." When we keep this attitude of praise in the midst of our trials, we come through victoriously”

None of these things are possible if you are trying to do it on your own.  The only way to rejoice, pray, and give thanks amidst tragedy is with the help of God’s Spirit, The Holy Spirit.

John 14:15-18 (NKJV)15  "If you love Me, keep My commandments.16  And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever--17  the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.18  I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.

 John 14:25-27 (NKJV)25  "These things I have spoken to you while being present with you.26  But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.27  Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
I don't mean that all your problems go away when you give thanks, but  they stop being such a problem. What goes on around you no longer controls what’s going on within you.  You start to live from the inside out.  Thanksgiving changes our mindset from that of a victim to that of a victor.
You can't control the problems that come into your life but you can control how you respond.
Romans 8:31-39 (NKJV)31  What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?32  He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?33  Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies.34  Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.35  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?36  As it is written: "For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter."37  Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.38  For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,39  nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
A friend sent me this a couple of years ago;

Imagine the God of the universe speaking these words to you… ;

Thankfulness takes the sting out of adversity. That is why I have instructed you to give thanks for everything. There is an element of mystery in this transaction: You give Me thanks (regardless of your feelings), and I give you Joy (regardless of your circumstances). This is a spiritual act of obedience—at times, blind obedience. To people who don’t know Me intimately, it can seem irrational and even impossible to thank Me for heartrending hardships. Nonetheless, those who obey Me in this way are invariably blessed, even though difficulties may remain.

Thankfulness opens your heart to My Presence and your mind to My thoughts. You may still be in the same place, with the same set of circumstances, but it is as if a light has been switched on, enabling you to see from My perspective. It is this Light of My Presence that removes the sting from adversity.

Ephesians 5:20 (NKJV) giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

Yes, with the Holy Spirit who lives within us we can praise God even in tragedy.
One final point. Our praise in all things must be real and not fake.
While the Bible contains frequent injunctions for people to praise God, there are also occasional warnings about the quality of this praise. Praise is to originate in the heart and not become mere outward show.

Matthew 15:8-9 (NKJV)8  'These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me.9  And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.' "

Jesus confronted the religious leaders of his day for appearing to do all the right things but inwardly neglecting to show justice and mercy. He called them “hypocrites” and “blind guides”

Matthew 23:23-24 NIV “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.  You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.

Remember what I said earlier ;

Praising God is more than merely using superficial catch phrases. We need to expand our praise vocabulary.

True worship is your response to how great you know God to be. We should worship Him with everything we have, everything we are, and everything we do.


When we worship in spirit and truth we do what Paul urges us to do in;
Romans 12:1 (NLT)1  And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.


Because God sent His Son, Jesus, to die for you—because God loves you so much—because God has done great things in our lives—our only natural response to all of that should be the sacrifice of our whole lives.  Our worship in spirit and truth.

Your faith in God is enhanced with praise.  Praise affects you, and it affects God.

Psalm 22:3 (KJV)3  But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.

Praise touches everything and every part of your life. A lack of praise affects you in a negative way because remember praise takes the focus off you and places it on God.  Lives that are not constant with praise and thanksgiving are not spiritually healthy.

Praise is not the thing that comes when everything's going right in our lives; it is the driving force of our lives. When we start praising God in the middle of our problems, our problems become so small that we hardly remember them at all, they become an afterthought in the wake of our praise. Always remember,

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NKJV)16 Rejoice always,17 pray without ceasing,18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

I'll end with something else that I always say; When you live a life of praise it’s who you are and what you do.


Bible Study Audio