Sunday, January 21, 2018

Psalms: A Guide To Prayer And Praise - Session 1 Psalm 8


The Church of Divine Guidance Sunday Morning Adult Bible Study Group studying the book Psalms: A Guide to Prayer and Praise by Ron Klug. The Psalms are some of the most widely read and best-loved portions of the Bible. For thousands of years these songs of faith have spoken to the hearts and minds of people around the world. The Psalms are songs–music our spirits sing to the Creator. They are poems–full of vibrant imagery and strong rhythms. And they are prayers–our deepest emotions expressed to the Lord who feels with us. Most importantly, the Psalms are God’s Word to us, revealing the truth about him and our relationship with him. Study along with us by getting a copy of the book by clicking this LINK or the image of the book at the end of the study notes. You can also hear the audio of each session of the study by clicking on the YouTube Thumbnail

Don't Heap up Empty Phrases in Prayer?

Mike Fabarez

Jesus said that when we pray we should “not heap up empty phrases” (Matthew 6:7). Later he lamented a hypocritical form of worship by quoting the indictment that first came through Isaiah: “These people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me” (Isaiah 29:13; Matthew15:8).

We must be so careful when we bow our heads to pray, or lift our voices to sing. God is not impressed when we utter mere words such as “Praise the Lord!” or “Hallelujah!” He is looking for worshippers whose spirits (i.e., minds, hearts, and thoughts) are engaged in expressing the meaning of those words

John 4:23 NIV Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.

It is easy to melodically recite lyrics of Christian songs, but it takes concentration, sincerity and thoughtfulness to truly worship in song. We should never hide behind fine sounding words while our minds wander through a set of thoughts about something else.

This is a special challenge when someone else is leading us in prayer during a church service or at a Bible study. Those words coming from the one composing and vocalizing the prayer must be echoed in our own minds and then thoughtfully directed to God from our own hearts. When we are leading in prayer or praying privately, we must be careful to never “heap up empty phrases” which our minds never grasp or our hearts never direct to God.

Real prayer and real worship require our minds. Don’t switch them off. Don’t let them wander. God deserves our full attention and desires our attentive communication.

Taken from “Empty Phrases ” by Focal Point Ministries (used by permission).


PSALMS ARE SONGS

The book of Psalms was the hymnbook of the Old Testament. The word psalm comes from a Greek word that means “songs sung to the accompaniment of stringed instruments.”

The book of Psalms is sometimes also referred to as the Psalter, which comes from a word for a stringed instrument or songs accompanied by stringed instruments.

Psalms were sung in the temple in Jerusalem and later in synagogue worship. Since New Testament times, psalms have also been at the center of Christian worship. Martin Luther turned psalms into hymns to be sung by the congregation. In our day composers have set psalms to folk or jazz or rock music.

PSALMS ARE POETRY

C. S. Lewis wrote: “Most emphatically the Psalms must be read as poems, as lyrics, with all the licenses and all the formalities, the hyperboles, the emotional rather than logical connections which are proper to lyric poetry. They must be read as poems if they are to be understood.

Parallelism

Almost all psalm verses are divided into two parts. Often the second half of a verse repeats the thought of the first half, expressing the thought in a parallel but slightly different way. A few examples will make this clear:

The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. (Psalm 2:4)

The earth is the LORD’S, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it. (Psalm 24:1)

Sometimes the second half of a verse, rather than repeating the thought of the first half, offers a contrast:

For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. (Psalm 1:6)

At other times the second statement merely completes the thought of the first one:

The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. (Psalm 19:7)

Imagery

Simile (comparisons with as or like):

Psalm 1:1‭-‬3 NIV Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord , and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.

As the deer pants for streams of water,so my soul pants for you, O God. (Psalm 42:1)

Metaphor (direct comparison):

The LORD God is a sun and shield. (Psalm 84:11)

Hyperbole (exaggeration to make a point):


All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. (Psalm 6:6)

PSALMS ARE PRAYERS

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Christian pastor executed by the Nazis in 1945, called Psalms “the prayer book of the Bible.” In the psalms God speaks his Word to us, and we in turn can use psalms to speak his Word back to him in prayer.

PSALMS ARE GOD’S WORD TO USE

Psalms are more than beautiful poetry and lovely songs. For thousands of years people have heard God speaking to their human situations through psalms. They tell us the truth about ourselves, our nature, our troubles, our hopes, our frustrations, or pain. They tell us the truth about God—what he is like and what he wants of us and for us. And perhaps more than any other part of the Bible, the book of Psalms speaks of our relationship with God, the intimate personal knowing that can happen between a human being and the God who is Creator and Lord of all.

Like all of the Bible, psalms are the Word of God expressed in the words of people. God used human writers in a variety of situations to express his truth. Almost half of the 150 psalms are attributed to David.

Scholars have recognized that psalms can be divided into various literary types. Some of the main styles include:

  • hymns of praise 
  • laments (a cry of pain or struggle from an individual or group)
  • penitential psalms (a cry of remorse, seeking forgiveness)
  • songs of thanksgiving 
  • songs of trust
  • wisdom psalms (expressing truths about life)
We are going to look at examples of each style throughout the study.


PSALM 8
Psalm 8:3-4

A Psalm of praise.

1. How has nature helped you think about and/or worship God?

Looking at the oceans or the mountains especially after it snows, or a beautiful valley like the one that I saw in Arizona after cresting a mountain highway and looking out over the view, or I look at the sky at night especially away from the city. it shows how great a creator God is and how insignificant I seem.

Psalm 8:1-9 (NKJV)1 O LORD, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth, Who have set Your glory above the heavens!2 Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have ordained strength, Because of Your enemies, That You may silence the enemy and the avenger.3 When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,4 What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him?5 For You have made him a little lower than the angels, And You have crowned him with glory and honor.6 You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet,7 All sheep and oxen-- Even the beasts of the field,8 The birds of the air, And the fish of the sea That pass through the paths of the seas.9 O LORD, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth!

2. What is the theme of this psalm as stated in the opening and closing verses?

The Theme is the majesty of God. The greatness of God’s name.

The Hebrew word translated excellent is ʾaddîr (pronounced ad-deer) means wide or (general) large; figurative powerful :- excellent, famous, gallant, glorious, goodly, lordly, mighty (-ier, one), noble, principal, worthy.

Magnificent" or "majestic" would be a better translation than excellent and it’s translated that way in many translations

mag·nif·i·cent
impressively beautiful, elaborate, or extravagant; striking.
synonyms: splendid, spectacular, impressive, striking, glorious, superb, majestic, awesome, awe-inspiring, breathtaking

very good; excellent

Psalm 8:1‭-‬9 NIV Lord , our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens. Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet: all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. Lord , our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Lord is translated Jehovah or Yahweh in some translations so it Jehovah or Yahweh our Lord how excellent or magnificent is your name.

His name refers to the perfection of His attributes and the mightiness of His deeds. In other words, God’s name refers to who He is and what He has done, as revealed in His Word. David also says that the majesty of God’s name is seen in all the earth and above the heavens.

What do these words mean to you personally?

3. How could the praise of children be a defense against God’s enemies (verse 2)?

We praise God for who He is so children would recognize that. Just as they look at their parents to protect them from everything they have no doubt that they can’t protect them. Their parents have protected them in the past so they don’t give it a second thought. Confidence can be a big defense especially against God’s enemies because all they have in their arsenal is fear, and praise can destroy fear because it’s entire focus is on God.

Matthew 21:15-16 (NKJV)15 But when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying out in the temple and saying, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" they were indignant16 and said to Him, "Do You hear what these are saying?" And Jesus said to them, "Yes. Have you never read, 'Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have perfected praise'?"

4. Why may children be able to perceive God’s glory more readily than adults?

Children aren’t looking for anything special. They are just in awe of what the see. They are not looking under the rocks or behind the trees trying to find the source of all the glory they just accept it.

Thus the Lord overcomes His enemies by the marvel of little children and the praise that they sing in their simple faith.

God uses otherwise weak things to display His glory and strength.

1 Corinthians 1:27-29 (NKJV)
27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty;28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are,29 that no flesh should glory in His presence.

Have you seen this happen in your own experience with children? Give examples.

We have seen examples here at CDG with our children. They are eager to learn more about God and to be more like Him in their interaction with others. We also see how enthusiastic they are in preparing and then performing at Christmas and Easter.

5. When the psalmist contemplated the moon and stars, what question came to his mind?

When man (ʾenôsh, frail man) is compared with all of the expanse above, now insignificant he seems. He is truly just the son of mankind (ʾādām, generic man).

6. Why might the stars make a person feel small or insignificant?

With the naked eye, one can see about 5,000 stars. With a four-inch telescope one can see about 2 million stars. With a 200-inch mirror of a great observatory, one can see more than a billion stars. The universe is so big that if one were to travel at the speed of light, it would take 40 billion years. Considering the heavens makes us see the greatness of God.

David also considers God’s splendor above the heavens. Of course, he had no telescopes to show him how big the universe is. What would he have thought if he knew what we know! The sheer vastness of outer space and the coordination of it all is astounding. If you could travel at the speed of light, 186,000 miles per second, it would take you 8 minutes to get to the sun. To go from the sun to the center of the Milky Way would take about 33,000 years. The Milky Way belongs to a group of some 20 galaxies known as the Local Group. To cross that group, you’d have to travel for 2 million years. The Local Group belongs to the Virgo Cluster, part of an even larger Local Supercluster, which is a half-billion light years across. To cross the entire universe as we know it would take you 20 billion light years (National Geographic World [Jan., 1992], p. 15)!

Compared to the vastness of the universe, what is man that God thinks of us, much less that He cares for us!

7. What answer did the psalmist give to his own question in verse 4?

The question in verse 4 is with all the vastness of creation why is man so significant? Why do You even spend time with him. The answer that David gives to his own question is that God has really elevated man. The fact that he is just a little lower than the angels puts him up pretty high in status On top of that He has given man dominion over everything connected with the earth. All the plants and animals.

What other answers to this question might be given by a scientist, a philosopher, or a person on the street?

Man has accomplished some remarkable feats in gaining dominion over creation. Think of all of the wonders of modern science, including the advances in medical science. And yet, all of these accomplishments are tainted by sin. Proud man boasts in them and does not acknowledge that the ability to discover scientific facts has been given to him by God. Like the builders of the Tower of Babel, proud modern man uses his scientific breakthroughs to proclaim his independence from God. With a few more breakthroughs, we can cure all our diseases and live forever!

But science cannot reconcile us to God. So what did God do? He sent His own Son, the Son of Man, to provide the sacrifice for our sins and to fulfill Psalm 8 in a way that we cannot. Hebrews 2 cites Psalm 8:4-6 and then applies it to Jesus (Heb. 2:9): “But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.” Leupold summarizes (p. 101), “man as created reflects God’s glory. But the Son of man, in whom the original pattern is more fully realized, reflects this same glory far more perfectly.”

So David tells us to worship the Lord because although we are puny and insignificant, He has graciously thought of us and cared for us. Although we marred God’s image through sin, God has restored it in Jesus Christ. In Him, we are again crowned with glory and majesty. - From a commentary on Bible.org - God’s Majesty and Ours

8. What does it mean for us to rule over God’s creation?

Good rulers care for their subjects. They protect them and provide for them in times of need. They are really stewards or managers (administrators).

9. How does our ruling over nature relate to current ecological problems and the use of Earth’s resources?

We are not doing a very good job. We are not replacing what we use. We are over using some of our natural resources and wasting others.

10. After describing our exalted role in the universe, to what theme did the psalmist return?

Yes God exalted us to the role of caring for His creation but He is still the Creator and He is majestic.

Why did he stress that the God of creation is our Lord?

The refrain calls man back to the majesty of God lest he become absorbed in thoughts of personal grandeur. Man has dignity, but God alone is majestic.

11. How could the psalmist have such a positive and high view of human beings?

12. In what way does this passage change or affect your own view of humanity?

13. What insights does this psalm give you into the purpose of your life?



Bible Study Audio


Sunday, January 7, 2018

Praise God And Thank Him: Biblical Keys For A Joyful Life - Session 2



The Church of Divine Guidance Sunday Morning Adult Bible Study Group is going through the book Praise God and Thank Him: Biblical Keys for a Joyful Life by Jeff Cavins. The Bible holds many keys for living a joyful life, and praise and thanksgiving are two of the most powerful. Biblical praise can transform any difficulty and lead to a deeper trust in God.Thanksgiving—the attitude of gratitude—is a natural expression of praising God we should incorporate it into our lives.  Study along with us by getting a copy of the book by clicking this LINK or the image of the book at the end of the study notes.  You can also hear the audio of each session of the study by clicking on the YouTube Thumbnail  

In our last study, Prayer Warrior Praying Your Way To Victory, we talked a lot about spiritual warfare.

Something that I read this past week;

Partnering with the Truth in the Middle of Your Battles

from Stronger than the Struggle by Havilah Cunnington.


Have you ever asked the question, “If I’m following Christ, why do I still struggle?” or, “Is it normal to feel like I’m in a battle while following Jesus?” Whew! Me too. I’ve learned to ask, “Where is this battle coming from and is it coming from God, myself, or the devil?” Knowing its origin always gives me a better battle plan.

Here are a few battlegrounds we can find ourselves occupying.

Internal Battleground


Once we accept our new identities in Christ, our battles will most often originate from inside.

Therefore if anyone is in Christ [that is, grafted in, joined to Him by faith in Him as Savior], he is a new creature [reborn and renewed by the Holy Spirit]; the old things [the previous moral and spiritual condition] have passed away. Behold, new things have come [because spiritual awakening brings a new life]. (2 Corinthians 5:17 AMP)
I love how this verse reads: “He is a new creature [reborn and renewed by the Holy Spirit].”

As soon as we receive Jesus, we become entirely new people. The Bible says our spirits suddenly become alive for the first time. If invited, the Holy Spirit will live inside of us. His primary purpose is to affirm what God is saying to us through his Word. We are reborn, born again!

But even with the Holy Spirit living in us, the Christian life is not always as easy as we assume. Have you ever felt as if it isn’t entirely working for you the way it is supposed to? Have you ever thought someone else got more God than you did? I know I have — but why? It’s because our minds, thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs must also be renewed. Yes! Our spirits want to agree with God, but our old lifestyles and habits of sin can trick us into believing we are not yet free. They lie to us.

Our quickest and most potent weapon, then, is to agree with truth. It really is that simple.

We need to ask ourselves, What does God say about me? If you know what He says, then you’ll know how to do battle with what’s coming out of the old you. It’s no wonder the Word says in

John 8:32 (NIV) Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

External Battleground

Sometimes the struggle merely happens because we live in a fallen world. Matthew 5:45 (NLT) says,

Your Father in Heaven… sends rain on the just and the unjust alike which means no one is untouchable.

Each of our lives is and will be touched by pain, sickness, and death. Life happens. Evil persists. The Devil is real. The fact that we face hard things doesn’t always mean we are guilty of a specific crime.

Suffering only confirms that an active battle still separates us from God.

It’s important to remember, God doesn’t remove our power to choose good or evil. Our choice is vital to God’s supernatural eco-system because without choice there is no such thing as real love. Everyone must have an authentic opportunity to choose Him or to choose evil. And sometimes this means other people will choose evil. We have no power over other people’s choices.

Many of our battles are the results of people’s wrong decisions, as they give themselves over to Satan’s darkness. Their decisions have consequences that affect us no matter how much we are relying on God’s guidance.

So whether our struggles are internal or external, what are we to do when faced with them? We make a conscious choice to partner with the truth. We can ask Holy Spirit, “What are You saying to me?” and “What do I need to know in the darkness?”

Last night, in the middle of my battle, I heard Him speak to me. “Havilah, you are enough, what you have is enough, and you have all you need.” It was like a breath of fresh air. Reciting this truth in my head, over and over, letting the words sink deep below the surface. “Yes, I am enough! I have ALL I need and what I have is enough. Everything You gave me is working perfectly on the inside of me.” Suddenly there was peace.

Now to our discussion about praise.

A little review of some of the things we talked about last week.

The Bible holds many keys for living a joyful life, and praise and thanksgiving are two of the most powerful. Praise is like power steering—once you begin to praise, things get easier. If you just sit and complain, everything is harder.

There Will Always Be Problems

Life will never be problem free. Look at what happens in the world on any given week—wars, terrorist attacks, government shutdowns, natural disasters, horrific accidents, violent crime. Individuals are faced with job loss, serious illness, and family tragedies. Problems are a fact of life.

When people are faced with obstacles or problems, they might respond positively, or they might respond negatively, or they might choose to do nothing. But they will respond. Some deny that the problem exists. Others run away from their problems. Still others look for someone else to blame.

In the Bible there are those who choose to respond positively to devastating situations: Job is just one example.

Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face. Job 13:15 NIV

I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. Job 19:25 NIV

There are also examples of those who responded negatively to their situations like King Saul when facing the Philistines.

1 Samuel 28:3‭-‬8 NIV Now Samuel was dead, and all Israel had mourned for him and buried him in his own town of Ramah. Saul had expelled the mediums and spiritists from the land. The Philistines assembled and came and set up camp at Shunem, while Saul gathered all Israel and set up camp at Gilboa. When Saul saw the Philistine army, he was afraid; terror filled his heart. He inquired of the Lord , but the Lord did not answer him by dreams or Urim or prophets. Saul then said to his attendants, “Find me a woman who is a medium, so I may go and inquire of her.” “There is one in Endor,” they said. So Saul disguised himself, putting on other clothes, and at night he and two men went to the woman. “Consult a spirit for me,” he said, “and bring up for me the one I name.”

It’s not a question of if we are going to respond, but how we respond to our problems and obstacles that will determine whether we are successful in our walk with God or whether we will become even more frustrated with the difficulties that we face.

The Best Response

There are plenty of inferior ways to respond to problems and handle the stress in your life. You can respond by yelling or by throwing something. You might turn to alcohol or become addicted to social media and the Internet. But we want to learn God’s prescribed way of dealing with difficulties which is praise and thanksgiving.

In order for him to act in your life, some things are required of you. First and foremost is your cooperation.

The prophet Hosea said; Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain salvation upon you. (Hosea 10:12)

If You Feel Hopeless…

No matter what the difficulty is, know this: God is with you and wants to be active in the details of your life. He knows your situation and wants to go through it with you. He doesn't want you to go through it alone.

God has something greater than the answers you hear in the world. Today, on television, radio, print media, and the Internet, we are faced with a plethora of life coaches, mentors, pop psychologists, all purporting to solve our challenges and bring us peace and prosperity. Too often, though, all of these various experts lack the power to follow through on their own advice. In the end, they offer simplistic solutions to complex problems.


Praise is creating space in your life for God to do what you are hoping and dreaming he will do. Always remember: With God, nothing is impossible. All things are possible!

Matthew 19:23‭-‬26 NIV Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

To Praise God You Have To Really Know Him

There is no shortcut to a deep meaningful relationship with another person. Just as a newly married couple must spend hours, days, and years with each other if they are going to hope to really know each other. so the Christian must spend lots of time interacting with God, listening and speaking to him in prayer and reading and meditating in His Word. When we know what He has done in the past we learn how he will respond in any situation.

In other words, when we spend time with God in prayer and study, we learn what His plans for us are.

Jeremiah 29:11‭-‬13 NIV For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord , “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

This is actually a very powerful thought: We can know the plan of God and the heart behind the plan which is a heart of love.

1 John 3:1‭-‬3 NIV See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

Romans 8:37‭-‬39 NIV No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Paul put it this way;

1 Corinthians 2:16 NIV for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

In other words, we have some understanding as to how God thinks. Now, that is valuable in tough situations!

You don’t want to wait until some calamity comes upon you to discover that you don’t really know God.

Praise involves knowing who God is in your life and what He has done for you.

Here is an example of what I mean from a story that read while studying praise. It's from a book written by an author by the name of Jeff Cavins, “Praise God and Thank Him”:

Two neighborhood bullies tricked him into climbing on the roof of their garage and then took the ladder away now I’m quoting from the book:

There I was, stranded on the roof—afraid, embarrassed, panicked. So what did I do? Our house was just a few doors down from the Zimmermans, so I went to the edge off that roof and yelled as loud as I could, “Dad! Dad!” I didn’t yell, “Bob Cavins!” I yelled out according to my relationship with Bob Cavins: “Dad!” The Zimmermans mocked me. “Go ahead, call your daddy.” I didn’t care—I Just yelled louder. And a few minutes later, my dad came flying around the back of that house, and the Zimmerman boys took off. My dad put the ladder back in place, and I came down off that roof and into his arms.

Why did I call my dad? I knew that if he heard me, he would come. He had always been there for me in the past. He was faithful. I knew my dad, and I knew his previous actions. Would I have called for him if I had thought he would see me there and say, “You deserve to be there; you are such a dummy. Look at you!”? No. I called on him because I knew he loved me and would help me in spite of my own foolishness. It’s the same way with God. When we know him, we have confidence that, no matter what befalls us, even when it’s our own doing, he will be there for us, full of love and mercy.

Biblical Praise Has Substance

Knowing the answers to the Who is this Jesus? Why am I praising him? What has he done? questions is absolutely necessary in praise.

Here are the answers to those questions:

“Lord, I praise you because you are so faithful, and you have never let your people down.


You are the one who created the stars and the moon.

You created this earth

You are the one that came into this world in the midst of darkness and despair and defeated sin, death, and hell.

You stood against the devil when he tried to tempt you, and you defeated him with your word.”

We praise him because we know him and know what he can and will do. This kind of praise declares who God is, what he has done in the past, and our confidence in him today.

Learning the Language of Praise

Praise is more than catchphrases, such as “Praise you, Lord! Praise you, Lord—hallelujah!Glory to God! Thank you, Jesus!”

Although these words are often incorporated into praise, biblical praise is more than that. Biblical praise describes who God is and what he has done. Praise is descriptive, based on truth, and from the heart. Knowledge of God and the vocabulary to describe it only comes from spending in His Word. Our praise should be filled with Scripture and truth.

Psalm 119:160 NIV All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal.

Seeing Life from God’s Perspective


When we praise God, we also make a declaration of who we are in light of him. We assess who we are in Christ. That means that when we praise him, we move from our limited power to his unlimited power. We trade our limited wisdom for his infinite wisdom and our limited experience for his unlimited experience. We move from our perspective to his perspective. We begin to see life through his eyes because we trust what He has said in His Word.

Jeremiah 29:11‭-‬12 NIV For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord , “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.

A Life of Praise


Everyone, well almost everyone, agrees that praise is good. When we’re happy we praise God but, when we’re not happy we don’t praise….. we pray We should do both. We don’t feel any responsibility to praise God when things aren’t going good. We think that praise is just a response to what happens. That’s not true.

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

Praise is not what happens afterwards it’s what happens before. Praise is the engine that causes everything else to move.

Remember Paul and Silas?

Acts 16:22-26 (NKJV)22 Then the multitude rose up together against them; and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods.23 And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely.24 Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.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.

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 praise takes the focus off you and places it on God. Lives that are not constant with praise and thanksgiving are not spiritually healthy.

So in summary;


• Praising God is more than merely using trite, superficial catch phrases.

• When we understand who God is and what he does, our praise vocabulary grows and deepens.

• We can have complete confidence in God—he is never arbitrary or capricious.


• Biblical praise engages both our mind and our heart.


• Praising God enables us to see life from his perspective.

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.

Bible Study Audio



Sunday, December 31, 2017

Praise God And Thank Him: Biblical Keys For A Joyful Life - Introduction





The Church of Divine Guidance Sunday Morning Adult Bible Study Group is going through the book Praise God and Thank Him: Biblical Keys for a Joyful Life by Jeff Cavins. The Bible holds many keys for living a joyful life, and praise and thanksgiving are two of the most powerful. Biblical praise can transform any difficulty and lead to a deeper trust in God.Thanksgiving—the attitude of gratitude—is a natural expression of praising God we should incorporate it into our lives.  Study along with us by getting a copy of the book by clicking this LINK or the image of the book at the end of the study notes.  You can also hear the audio of each session of the study by clicking on the YouTube Thumbnail  


Psalm 150:1-6 (NKJV)1 Praise the LORD! Praise God in His sanctuary; Praise Him in His mighty firmament!2 Praise Him for His mighty acts; Praise Him according to His excellent greatness!3 Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet; Praise Him with the lute and harp!4 Praise Him with the timbrel and dance; Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes!5 Praise Him with loud cymbals; Praise Him with clashing cymbals!6 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD!

God commands us to praise Him, and we do that by saying praiseworthy things about Him.

What is praise?


Webster defines the word praise as to say good things about and it is synonymous to words such as admire, commend, extol, honor, and worship. A definition of Christian praise is the joyful thanking and adoring of God, the celebration of His goodness and grace.1 This simply implies that the act of praising is rightfully due to God alone.

From the Holman Bible Dictionary


Praise comes from a Latin word meaning “value” or “price.” Thus, 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 last named being a transliteration of the Hebrew for “Praise the Lord.” The Hebrew title of the book of Psalms (“Praises”) comes from the same root as “hallelujah” and Psalm 113-118 have been specially designated the “Hallel” (“praise”) psalms.

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 (NKJV)8 'These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me.

Praise is also firmly linked to an individual's everyday life

Amos 5:21-24 (NKJV)21 "I hate, I despise your feast days, And I do not savor your sacred assemblies.22 Though you offer Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them, Nor will I regard your fattened peace offerings.23 Take away from Me the noise of your songs, For I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments.24 But let justice run down like water, And righteousness like a mighty stream.

One Hebrew word for “praise” is yadah, meaning “praise, give thanks, or confess.” A second word often translated “praise” in the Old Testament is zamar, “sing praise.” A third word translated “praise” is halal (the root of hallelujah), meaning “to praise, honor, or commend.” All three terms contain the idea of giving thanks and honor to one who is worthy of praise.

God is the Object of our Praise


In the Bible God who is the object of praise. The entire creation is to praise Him from the angels;

Psalm 103:20 (NKJV)20 Bless the LORD, you His angels, Who excel in strength, who do His word, Heeding the voice of His word.

Revelation 5:11-12 (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!"

All creatures and inanimate things praise Him;


Psalm 19:1-4 (NKJV)1 The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.2 Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge.3 There is no speech nor language Where their voice is not heard.4 Their line has gone out through all the earth, And their words to the end of the world. In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun,

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.

Revelation 5:13 (NKJV)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!"

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."

Man the crowning jewel of creation is to praise Him;


While the Bible tell us about the angels, the creatures, the rocks, it is primarily concerned with the praises offered to God by man.

Psalm 117:1-2 (NKJV)1 Praise the LORD, all you Gentiles! Laud Him, all you peoples!2 For His merciful kindness is great toward us, And the truth of the LORD endures forever. Praise the LORD!

Isaiah 25:1 (NKJV)1 O LORD, You are my God. I will exalt You, I will praise Your name, For You have done wonderful things; Your counsels of old are faithfulness and truth.

Jeremiah 20:13 (NKJV)13 Sing to the LORD! Praise the LORD! For He has delivered the life of the poor From the hand of evildoers.

Luke 18:43 (NKJV) And immediately he received his sight, and followed Him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.

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.

Why Should We Praise God ?


Praise gets the focus off yourself and puts it on God. We praise Him because;

 ● He’s worthy

Psalm 96:4 (NKJV)
4 For the LORD is great and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods.


Psalm 145:3 (NKJV)3 Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; And His greatness is unsearchable.

2 Samuel 22:4 (NKJV) I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies.

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’s 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 keeps His promises

1 Kings 8:56 (NKJV)56 "Blessed be the LORD, who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised. There has not failed one word of all His good promise, which He promised through His servant Moses.


● 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,

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. Making a list is an excellent idea because it puts our focus on Him and takes it off us. It reminds us of how much we owe to Him.


Ways to Praise God


The list of ways to praise God is also endless...singing songs and hymns, clapping our hands, even jumping for joy etc. We can praise God with the use of our physical limbs, our hearts and minds, and our deeds. Although there are many way to praise God, they should all result in acknowledgement of His power, love and grace.


● Praise Him with Sacrifice

Before Jesus became the last sacrifice required for the forgiveness of sin the offering of sacrifices was a way to praise God.

Leviticus 7:13 (NKJV)13 Besides the cakes, as his offering he shall offer leavened bread with the sacrifice of thanksgiving of his peace offering.

Romans 12:1 (NKJV) I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

● Praise Him with movement (dance)

2 Samuel 6:14 (NKJV) Then David danced before the LORD with all his might; and David was wearing a linen ephod.

● Praise Him with silence and meditation

Psalm 77:11-12 (NKJV)11 I will remember the works of the LORD; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.12 I will also meditate on all Your work, And talk of Your deeds.

● Praise Him with testimony

Psalm 66:16 (NKJV)16 Come and hear, all you who fear God, And I will declare what He has done for my soul.

● Praise Him with prayer

Philippians 4:6 (NKJV) Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;

● Praise Him with your life

1 Peter 1:3-9 (NKJV)3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.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.

● Praise Him with music

Often praise is associated to music, whether structured Praise and Worship, personal quiet time, or spontaneous outbursts of thanksgiving.

2 Chronicles 29:30 (NKJV) Moreover King Hezekiah and the leaders commanded the Levites to sing praise to the LORD with the words of David and of Asaph the seer. So they sang praises with gladness, and they bowed their heads and worshiped.

Colossians 3:16 (NKJV)
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

Exodus 15:1 (NKJV)1 Then Moses and the children of Israel sang this song to the LORD, and spoke, saying: "I will sing to the LORD, For He has triumphed gloriously! The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea!

Judges 5:1-3 (NKJV)1 Then Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam sang on that day, saying:2 "When leaders lead in Israel, When the people willingly offer themselves, Bless the LORD!3 "Hear, O kings! Give ear, O princes! I, even I, will sing to the LORD; I will sing praise to the LORD God of Israel.

A Life of Praise


Everyone, well almost everyone, agrees that praise is good. When we’re happy we praise God but, when we’re not happy we don’t praise….. we pray. I say we should do both. We don’t feel any responsibility to praise God when things aren’t going good. We think that praise is just a response to what happens. Not true.

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

Praise is not what happens afterwards it’s what goes on before. Praise is the engine that causes everything else to move.

Remember Paul and Silas?

Acts 16:22-26 (NKJV)22 Then the multitude rose up together against them; and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods.23 And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely.24 Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.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.

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. 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.

When you live a life of praise it’s who you are and what you do.

We are going to start our studies in 2018 with the book. Praise God and Thank Him: Biblical Keys To A Joyous Life. by Jeff Cavins.


The Bible holds many keys for living a joyful life, and praise and thanksgiving are two of the most powerful. In this book Jeff Cavins explains what biblical praise is and how it can transform any difficulty and lead to a deeper trust in God. He shows how thanksgiving—the attitude of gratitude—is a natural expression of praising God, and he provides practical tips for incorporating it into your life.


The pattern in Scripture is consistent. When faced with difficulty, people responded in a specific way for success. To be victorious, they responded with praise.

Hebrews 13:8 tells us that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.


Back in the 1970s, Merlin Carothers wrote a book called Power in Praise. He used the example of driving a car without power steering. Without power steering, the steering wheel is hard to turn, but with it, it’s a breeze.

Carothers compared this to praising vs. complaining. He said praise is like power steering—once you begin to praise, things get easier. If you just sit and complain, everything is harder.


By Actively praising God and giving him thanks, our hearts will find rest. St. Teresa of Avila said this:

Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you.
All things are passing away:
God never changes

There Will Always Be Problems


One thing is certain: Life will never be problem free. Look at what happens in the world on any given week—wars, terrorist attacks, government shutdowns, natural disasters, horrific accidents, violent crime. Individuals are faced with job loss, serious illness, and family tragedies. Problems are a fact of life.

When people are faced with obstacles or problems, they might respond positively, or they might respond negatively, or they might choose to do nothing. But they will respond. Some deny that the problem exists. Others run away from their problems. Still others look for someone else to blame.


In the Bible there are those who choose to respond positively to devastating situations: Job is just one example.

Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face. Job 13:15 NIV

I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. Job 19:25 NIV

There are also examples of those who responded negatively to their situations: King Saul

Now Samuel was dead, and all Israel had mourned for him and buried him in his own town of Ramah. Saul had expelled the mediums and spiritists from the land. The Philistines assembled and came and set up camp at Shunem, while Saul gathered all Israel and set up camp at Gilboa. When Saul saw the Philistine army, he was afraid; terror filled his heart. He inquired of the Lord , but the Lord did not answer him by dreams or Urim or prophets. Saul then said to his attendants, “Find me a woman who is a medium, so I may go and inquire of her.” “There is one in Endor,” they said. So Saul disguised himself, putting on other clothes, and at night he and two men went to the woman. “Consult a spirit for me,” he said, “and bring up for me the one I name.” 1 Samuel 28:3‭-‬8 NIV


Judas

Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over. Matthew 26:14‭-‬16 NIV


It’s not a question of if we are going to respond, but how we respond to our problems and obstacles that will determine whether we are successful in our walk with God or whether we will become even more frustrated with the difficulties that we face.


The Best Response


There are plenty of inferior ways to respond to problems and handle the stress in your life.


You can respond by yelling or by throwing something. You might turn to alcohol or become addicted to social media and the Internet. But we want to learn God’s prescribed way of dealing with difficulties which is praise and thanksgiving. Our study will teach us how to respond to difficulties in a way that changes both you and your circumstances. in order for him to act in your life, some things are required of you. First and foremost is your cooperation.

The prophet Hosea said; Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain salvation upon you. (Hosea 10:12)

If You Feel Hopeless…


No matter what the difficulty is, know this: God is with you and wants to be active in the details of your life. He knows your situation and wants to go through it with you. He doesn't want you to go through it alone.

God has something greater than the answers you hear in the world. Today, on television, radio, print media, and the Internet, we are faced with a plethora of life coaches, mentors, pop psychologists, all purporting to solve our challenges and bring us peace and prosperity. Too often, though, all of these various experts lack the power to follow through on their own advice. In the end, they offer simplistic solutions to complex problems.


Praise is creating space in your life for God to do what you are hoping and dreaming he will do. Always remember: With God, nothing is impossible. All things are possible!

Bible Study Audio



Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Grace




In December 2014 The Church of Divine Guidance (CDG) Sunday morning adult bible study group started a study series on Grace. God's grace (favor) is indeed a reason for praise because it was by His grace we are saved. In anticipation of CDG's 2018 Year of Praise the group revisited the session of that study in which we discussed the forms of God's grace. These are the notes to today's session.


Ephesians 2:8-9 (HCSB)8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift—9 not from works, so that no one can boast.


Definition: 
  • unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification 
  • a virtue coming from God 
  • disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency 



The word grace is used in the Old Testament 39 times in the King James Version. King James Version uses for the Hebrew word ḥēn (pronounced khane)

The Greek word that’s usGrace is in the English translations in the New Testament between 118 times in the Revised Standard Version to 131 times in the King James. ed most in the New Testament and translated grace is charis (pronounced cars). 

The reason that it’s mentioned so much more in the New Testament is:



The Old Testament or old covenant was a covenant of law whereby in order to be justified by God you had to obey the law to the letter in other words you had to work gain favor or grace. That was done away with when Jesus gave His life as a sacrifice for mankind and his blood sealed a new covenant. That covenant came into effect after Jesus was sacrificed and He presented His blood in heaven to atone for the sins of those who accept that sacrifice as being made for them. 


Hebrews 9:11-14 (HCSB)11 But the Messiah has appeared, high priest of the good things that have come. In the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands (that is, not of this creation),12 He entered the most holy place once for all, not by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.13 For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow, sprinkling those who are defiled, sanctify for the purification of the flesh,14 how much more will the blood of the Messiah, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to serve the living God? 


Introduction

God’s grace may be most difficult thing for our natural minds to really understand. We all understand the law. It’s pretty simple really it says “do this” and “don’t do that”. You don’t even need to be a Christian to understand that and many ‘good, law abiding, unsaved people’ will tell you that. In fact they will often point to things that Christians do which are against the Mosaic law and say I’m better than that. Everybody understands the law but we can’t keep it. So when we say that we are saved God’s grace through faith it takes more than the natural mind to understand it. We can’t understand, with our natural minds, why a righteous would allow His Son, who was able to keep the entire law, be punished in the place of those who could not keep it. 


1 Corinthians 2:14 (NKJV) But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 

Grace takes many forms in the Bible

Common grace

The kindness or favor God give to all mankind believer or not. 


Matthew 5:44-45 (NKJV)44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.


Acts 14:16-17 (NKJV)16 who in bygone generations allowed all nations to walk in their own ways.17 Nevertheless He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness." 


He grants grace also in delaying judgement on mankind giving them a chance to accept His gift of eternal life.


2 Peter 3:9 (NKJV) The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. 


Saving grace

The provision of salvation through Jesus


Romans 1:5 (HCSB) We have received grace and apostleship through Him to bring about the obedience of faith among all the nations, on behalf of His name, 


Romans 3:24 (HCSB) They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. 


Romans 5:2 (HCSB) We have also obtained access through Him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 


Romans 5:15-17 (HCSB)15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if by the one man’s trespass the many died, how much more have the grace of God and the gift overflowed to the many by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ.16 And the gift is not like the one man’s sin, because from one sin came the judgment, resulting in condemnation, but from many trespasses came the gift, resulting in justification.17 Since by the one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive the overflow of grace and the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. 


Securing grace

The favor of God by which the Christian's salvation is kept secure in spite of sin.


John 10:27-29 (NKJV)27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand.


John 3:16 (NKJV) For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 


Philippians 1:6 (NKJV) being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; 


Ephesians 2:8 (NKJV) For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 


I could go on and on but as you have often heard me say, you didn’t have anything to do with your salvation. You are saved by the grace of God by and through faith, so there is nothing you can do to “un-save” yourself. Salvation is obtained and maintained by grace alone.


Sanctifying grace



Sanctifying grace works within the true believer causing them to grow and mature and progress becoming more Christ-like. If you remember from our Winning the War Against Worry study God is working, through His grace to conform us the the image of His Son Jesus. 


Romans 8:28 (NKJV) 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. 


1 Corinthians 15:10 (NKJV) But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. 


2 Peter 3:18 (NKJV) but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen. 


Serving grace

Are the Spiritual Gifts that believers have been given by the Holy Spirit. Remember I said, last week that the Greek word translated grace charis (pronounced cars) is the root of the word charisma which is the word Paul used for spiritual gifts. 


Serving grace enables us to minister in a way that we manifest the life of Jesus as members of His body, the church. 


Ephesians 4:7 (NKJV) But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift. 


1 Peter 4:10 (NKJV) As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 


Sustaining grace



Grace given at special times of need, especially during adversity or suffering.


2 Corinthians 12:9 (NKJV) And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 


Hebrews 4:16 (NKJV) Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. 


James 4:6 (NKJV) But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: "God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble." 


In Conclusion 

God’s grace is manifested in a variety of ways. Grace seeks us and saves us; grace keeps us secure; grace enables us to serve and to endure the tests and trials of life. Grace will bring about our sanctification in this life and will ultimately bring us to glory. From beginning to end we are the object of divine grace.


Bible Study Audio


Sunday, December 17, 2017

Christian Atheist - Session 8 - Review



The Church of Divine Guidance Sunday Morning Adult Bible Study Group is going through the book The Christian Atheist by Craig Groeschel.  A Christian Atheist is someone who believes in God but lives as if He doesn't exist.  If you are courageous enough to admit that sometimes you act like a Christian Atheist maybe along with us we can shed some of our hypocrisy and live a life that truly brings glory to Christ.  To hear the audio of the study group session click on the YouTube Thumbnail 

To get your copy of the book click this LINK or the image of the book at the end of my notes for the study.  

We started with the definition of a Christian definition of the word “Christian” is a person who is a believer in Jesus and His teachings. The definition of the word “atheist” is a person who disbelieve or lacks belief In the existence of God or gods. So Gregson definition of a “Christian Atheist” is a person who believes in the existence God but acts like He doesn’t exist. 

One characteristic is the hypocrisy of coming to worship on Sunday, Bible studies, prayer meetings, and leave and act like we never heard what we sang or read or said Amen to it's like,

James 1:22‭-‬24 (NIV) Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.

Three levels of knowing God


Level 1: I believe in God, but I don’t know him


Level 2: I believe in God, but I don’t know him well.

Galatians 4:8‭-‬9 (NIV) Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces ? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?

Level 3: I believe in God, know him intimately, and serve him wholeheartedly.

Example: David is described as a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14).

1 Samuel 13:14 (NIV) But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.”

Acts 13:22 (NIV) After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’

Psalm 63:1-4 (HCSB)1 God, You are my God; I eagerly seek You. I thirst for You; my body faints for You in a land that is dry, desolate, and without water.2 So I gaze on You in the sanctuary to see Your strength and Your glory.3 My lips will glorify You because Your faithful love is better than life.4 So I will praise You as long as I live; at Your name, I will lift up my hands.

When You Believe In God But Don’t Really Know Him

A Christian Atheist might sound like someone who’s got a faith problem or perhaps at least a spiritual confusion issue. But the core problem for the Christian Atheist Isn't belief; it’s intimacy. The Christian Atheist doesn’t really know God very well.

It says in our book that “A recent Gallup poll reported that 94 percent of Americans claim to believe in God or a universal spirit. However, a quick glance at Scripture and our culture makes it plainly obvious that nowhere near 94 percent actually know God. I mean, really know him—intimately.

Belief isn’t the same as personal knowledge. What you call God often reveals how well you know him.

What are some of the things or names we call God?

  • Father 
  • Savior 
  • Lord 
  • Provider 
  • Shepherd 

Knowing God requires more of us than simply believing God exists


You believe there is one God. That’s good, but even the demons believe that! And they shake with fear.
James 2:19 ERV

And it requires more of us than dutiful adherence to Christian rules

Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “ Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces ? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.
Galatians 4:6‭-‬11 NIV

Knowing God requires loving obedience, an obedience that comes from the heart.

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.
John 14:23‭-‬24 NIV

“If you love me, keep my commands.
John 14:15 NIV

Believing In God But Don't Think He Loves You

One of the first Bible verses many Christians memorize is all about love: “For God So loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, so that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). It’s a foundational truth every new believer claims, but one that Christian Atheists sometimes struggle to fully embrace.

It's one thing to hear this with our ears, and another to understand it with our hearts.

A belief in God does not automatically result in the belief—the genuine heart conviction—that God loves us.

Oddly, our disbelief doesn’t necessarily question whether God can or does love people. Christian Atheists can easily believe that God loves other people; they just can’t comprehend how or why he’d love them. We hide our real selves from other people so they won’t reject us. So we try to hide the real us from God. We feel that there’s just no way God could love someone as undeserving and evil as I am.

One of the questions that Christian Atheists ask is Why would God love someone as bad as me?

Another question is How could God love someone so insignificant?

It isn’t only our sense of guilt that prevents us from believing that God loves us—sometimes it is a simple sense of insignificance. Six billion people inhabit this planet; how could God love us all?

Christian Atheists believe in God and even believe that God loves people, but always other people, who are less sinful or more important.

To truly overcome this feeling, we must understand who God is. According to 1 John4:8-10, God is love.

1 John 4:8-10 (NLT)8 But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.9 God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him.10 This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

That means God doesn’t pick and choose whom he loves—he can’t! God is love, and we are loved, every single one of us six billion sinful, undeserving people.

Love is not something God does. It is who God is. And because of who he is, God loves you. Period. There is nothing you can do to make God love you more. And there is nothing you can do to make God love you less.

Benefits of God’s love

His love covers our sin Titus 3:4-5 (NLT)4 But—“When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love,5 he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.

His love makes us significant. you to myself. Luke 15:1-10 (NLT)1 Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach.2 This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with the3 So Jesus told them this story:4 “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it?5 And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders.6 When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’7 In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!8 “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and sweep the entire house and search carefully until she finds it?9 And when she finds it, she will call in her friends and neighbors and say, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost coin.’10 In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.

God loved us first. Before we were even aware of God’s existence, God already loved us.

There’s nothing we can do to earn God’s love. We are already and always loved simply because God made us and he loves each and every one of his creations. There’s nothing we can do to get God to love us more, and there’s nothing we can do to cause God to love us less.

In Romans 8:35 – 39, the apostle Paul offered a list of things that cannot separate us from the love of Christ: trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, sword, death, life, angels, demons, the present, the future, any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:35‭-‬39 NIV

When You Believe In God But Don't Think He's Fair

There are those times when life doesn’t make sense, when all our expectations are shattered, and we wonder, we doubt, we question, we wrestle with this God who refuses to conform to who we want Him to be.

Who is this God?

He isn’t the God we’ve expected Him to be? Life doesn’t turn out as we expect. God doesn’t turn out as we expect. We need to explain to Him the type of God He’s supposed to be. Sounds silly when we say it that way. But when our expectations are broken, we often look at God as if something’s wrong with Him. We lose faith because He hasn’t lived up to our expectations, He hasn’t conformed to our image of Him, He hasn’t acted according to our ideas of what’s right and good.

God explodes expectations.

He does not conform to our view, but instead He conforms us to His.

He is the God who breaks all expectations, who shatters preconceptions, who wants nothing more than to blow apart my ideas of who He is and replace them with a true vision of who He really is.

He is the God who calls us to leave our expectations at the door and come in to sit at His feet.

Three things to remember when you don’t understand something about God:

1. We don’t deserve good things.

Romans 6:23 (NKJV)23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

If you think you’re good, Jesus didn’t come for you

Mark 2:13-17 (NKJV)13 Then He went out again by the sea; and all the multitude came to Him, and He taught them.14 As He passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, "Follow Me." So he arose and followed Him.15 Now it happened, as He was dining in Levi's house, that many tax collectors and sinners also sat together with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many, and they followed Him.16 And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eating with the tax collectors and sinners, they said to His disciples, "How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?"17 When Jesus heard it, He said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance."

We are not good in the eyes of God

Romans 3:10-12 (NKJV)10 As it is written: "There is none righteous, no, not one;11 There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God.12 They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one."

Romans 6:23 (NKJV)23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

2. Good things happen to bad people.

It’s a good thing God is not fair because then he would give us what we deserve Instead, he gives us grace. God does not treat us as our sins deserve

Psalm 103:10-12 (NKJV)10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities.11 For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;12 As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.

3. God is present in your pain.

When you hurt, your heavenly Father hurts with you and longs to comfort you

Isaiah 49:13 (NKJV)13 Sing, O heavens! Be joyful, O earth! And break out in singing, O mountains! For the LORD has comforted His people, And will have mercy on His afflicted.

God isn’t fair. He doesn’t give us what our sins deserve. He is higher. He is working in all things to bring about good.

When You Believe in God but Don’t Think You Can Change

Identifying the Lie

Many Christian Atheists live year after year under the illusion that we simply can’t change. Once we’ve forgiven ourselves for past mistakes, some surrender to present problems, never even hoping to overcome them. We may openly, even proudly, believe in God, but we honestly don’t believe he can change us. Christian Atheists who’ve tried to change and failed, wrongly believe that God simply can’t change them.

The first step is often the most difficult, and That’s admitting that there is a problem. Too many Christian Atheists won’t acknowledge their problem in the first place. If we won’t admit our problems, we can’t change.

Admitting our problems is only the first step. After that, we must invite God to work,
because he is the one who can change any problem. Nothing is impossible with God.

Mark 10:24‭-‬27 NIV The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

With people, change maybe difficult, even impossible—but not with God. God is bigger than our problems, no matter what they are. If you’ve believed that you simply can’t change, acknowledge that that is a lie. With God, all things are possible.

Can the Excuses

Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”
John 5:1‭-‬3‭, ‬6‭-‬7 NIV

This hurting man was offered the opportunity to see God’s power. But he had grown so accustomed to his condition that he was focused on all the reasons he’d never get better.

If you have any excuses talking you out of changing, capture those wrong thoughts and replace them with truth.

2 Corinthians 10:3‭-‬5 NIV For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Grab any thought contrary to God’s, overtake it, and replace it with truth. Remind yourself that you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength

Philippians 4:13 (HCSB)13 I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.

Surrender to God’s power

If you believe you can’t change, you’re right—sort of. Your strength is limited. Your willpower isn’t bottomless. Your determination will eventually run dry. That’s why to change for good you need the power of the only one who is good—Christ!

Colossians 1:28‭-‬29 NIV He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT)17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

When You Believe in God but Still Worry All the Time

For Christian Atheists, our worry proves we don’t trust in God as we claim to. We think,
I know God’s a good God and all that, but I’ve got this situation handled. And when it turns out we don’t have it handled, then it falls to us—not to God—to fix it.

Worry is the opposite of faith; therefore, it’s sin.

But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.
Romans 14:23 NIV
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Philippians 4:6 NIV

Then we live by faith, we believe that God has everything under control. But if we start to worry, how we live says the opposite. If we are worried about losing our jobs, we are essentially saying that our jobs are our providers. But isn’t God our provider? What if God has something else planned for us? And what if, as unpleasant as it may be to think about, the path to that “something else” is through some pain? Will we still trust in God to provide during that time?

Worry, in essence, is the sin of distrusting the promises and the power of God. It's choosing to dwell on, to think about, the worst-case scenario. It’s faith in the bad things rather than faith in God. Second Timothy 1:7 says, “God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline” (NLT). In this verse, you could also easily translate “fear and timidity” as “anxiety, tension, and worry.” Fear doesn’t come from God. It’s a tool the evil one uses to distract us from our true purpose here.

In Matthew 6:25, Jesus says, “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink;
or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?” The Greek word Jesus uses for “life” is psuche (SUE-kay). It doesn’t just mean your breathing life, the force that makes your body go. It actually means every aspect of your life, taken together in total: mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual. It means your yesterday, today, and future life. Jesus is simply saying don’t worry about anything.

No Matter What Happens, Trust God

Who do we believe in more? Ourselves or God? Our actions and decisions will reflect that.

If God does what you think he should do, trust him. If God doesn’t do what you think he should do, trust him. If you pray and believe God for a miracle and he does it, trust him. If your worst nightmare comes true, believe he is sovereign. Believe he is good.

In Matthew 6:33 – 34, Jesus says, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Godis outside of time. He has no beginning, and no end. That means he has no yesterday and no tomorrow. He just is. So for God, tomorrow is the same as today, same as yesterday.

Was God in control yesterday? Undoubtedly, yes. Is God in control today? You know he is. Then he’s in control tomorrow too.

Even if the future God chooses for you isn’t the one you would choose, trust him.

When You Believe In God But Don’t Want To Go Overboard

When You Believe In God But Don’t Share Your Faith

Many of us, and this includes me, are reluctant to share our faith with others. There may be many reasons; we don’t think the time is right; we don’t know what to say; the other person doesn’t want to listen, etc. If we somehow feel that the Holy Spirit wants us to share our faith with someone, whether we know them or not, I think that He has somehow prepared the person or the circumstance for us to talk to them. Remember what Jesus said to His disciples.

Matthew 10:19-20 (NLT)19 When you are arrested, don’t worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time.20 For it is not you who will be speaking—it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

What we have to remember is that if we don’t share our faith it may be the last opportunity for that person.

We Should Always Be Ready To Share Our Faith

1 Peter 3:15 (NLT) Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.

Maybe you can relate. You’d like to be ready for anything, but you’re afraid you might choke under pressure. So to be prepared.

Preparation—studying and thinking about what you’ll say—will give you confidence. Not every chance to share will be set up for you. But no matter who starts the conversation, if you engage enough people, you’re going to be amazed how many of them are genuinely hungry to hear the truth from an honest, caring heart.

When You Believe In God But Not In His Church

Many Christian Atheists don’t really believe in the church.

There are lots of Christians that say they don’t do church. They don’t do church for various reasons. They had a bad experience with a church member, or pastor, they fell for a false teaching and got hurt, they don’t see any difference in church goers and people who don’t go or are not even believers, they think they can read the bible and gain as much knowledge by themselves as if they went to church every week. Church repulses them because they feel it’s full of hypocrites.

Other people accept that people are hypocrites by nature; they just can’t stand churches talking about money.

Even if they can get past those issues, still others steer clear because church is irrelevant to their everyday lives. They tried church before, and it didn’t make a difference. Why bother?

Maybe they even want to attend church, but when they do, they feel even guiltier than they did before. The pastor and all the other put-together, perfect people just make them feel worse about themselves.

Finally, there a the “super spiritual”. Their ideals are so high that no church can possibly meet their standards. They have detailed lists of what’s wrong with each church in town. The worship music isn’t “Spirit-led” enough, or it’s too loud, too soft, or too whatever. The sermons are too shallow or too intellectual. The missions program isn’t aggressive enough or it’s all the church talks about. They spend too much money on the building or not enough. Churches, with their mere mortals, can never measure up.

Here’s The Key, Don’t Go To Church Be The Church

To many people, church is a place. It’s a building, bricks and mortar, a destination. We know that God isn’t confined to a church building or only available at certain times of day. So we don’t have to wait until we come to church or a certain time of day to worship Him. We don’t even have to wait until we feel spiritual. If we are delighting ourselves in Him we can be confident of His presence all the time.

Matthew 22:36-40 (NLT)36 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’38 This is the first and greatest commandment.39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

Church allows you to do both and the church needs every believer.

Romans 12:4-5 (NLT)4 Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function,5 so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other

1 Corinthians 12:12-20 (NLT)12 The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.13 Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.14 Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part.15 If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body.16 And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body?17 If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything?18 But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it.19 How strange a body would be if it had only one part!20 Yes, there are many parts, but only one body.

A Place to Belong

While the church meets physical needs, it also provides a place for us to belong. A Barna poll revealed that 92 percent of Americans claim to be independent. Though Independence is a goal for many, God never intended for his believers to be independent.

A Place to Believe

In addition to belonging, church also gives us a place to grow spiritually. Romans10:17 says, “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” Our faith grows as we hear God’s Word taught and proclaimed. Living out what we've heard solidifies it for us. James 1:22 says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”

Many Christian Atheists hesitate to join a church because they don’t think there's any way God would work through them and their imperfections. But the Bible says differently


When Jesus called his first followers, he recruited tax collectors, uneducated fishermen, and dangerous revolutionaries. Notice who Jesus did not call: not one rabbi, scribe, or priest. Not one Pharisee or Sadducee, nor any other person from the formal religious establishment of the day. When he chose friends, Jesus surrounded himself with the lonely, the broken, and the overlooked. God is calling you to be a part of his church, to be his church.

If we’re not overboard for him, then chances are we don’t really know him.

It’s time to seek him. It’s time to surrender everything. It’s time to let go of everything in this world.

“Whatever it takes” became my heart’s cry. Whatever it takes to know him. Whatever It takes to live like I truly love God. Whatever it takes to love eternity more than this world. Even if I have to fight, scrape, and crawl away from my Christian Atheism Into a genuine, crucified life of faith and radical obedience to Christ, I’ll do whatever it takes. - The Christian Atheist, page 235

Wholly surrendered. Those are beautiful, nourishing words for a God-hungry heart. They mark the beginning of a journey from life as it is to life as it could be. A life of knowing God and allowing yourself to be known by him. Of walking through hardships and loss steadying the hope that God is out to do you only good. Of experiencing the deep love of Christ every day. Of discovering God’s trustworthy provision when you put him in charge of your money and your happiness. These are the kinds of things that lead to the life that is truly life. And isn’t that what you really want? If so, it’s time to jumpship from Christian Atheism and go completely overboard — take a flying leap of white-hot faith and let the God who loves you catch you.

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