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

No comments:

Post a Comment