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Week 1—What Is Worship
Week 2—What Is Praise
Week 3—Knowing God More
Week 4—Worshiping with Other Believers
Week 5—Hearing from God
Weekly Scripture Memory Verses
Endnotes
Small Group Study Guides
About the Author
Going Deeper
Community Blog Information
Bible Quotations from New Living Translation unless otherwise noted.
Excerpted from Praise More Powerful: Insights to Transform Our Worship,
© 2005 by Dwayne Moore. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Praise More Powerful 30-Day Devotional Journal © 2006 Dwayne Moore
Praise More Powerful 30-Day Devotional Journal.
PLEASE NOTE: This downloaded version of the 30-Day Journal is
authorized for up to 50 copies. Please go to WorshipSpice.com if you
need to purchase the rights to make more than 50 reproductions of
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Introduction
Contents
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Dwayne Moore
His servant,
Despite what many Christians think, worship is not an activity undertaken
primarily for their personal benefit. My prayer is that in these coming
weeks you and your church will discover afresh the joy and power of
true, Biblical, God-honoring worship and praise!
At the end of each devotion, you will notice in smaller font the words,
“From pages….” Each day in this journal is an excerpt from the in-depth
study called Praise More Powerful: Insights to Transform Our Worship. Praise
More Powerful is a 9-week, in-depth Bible study on worship and praise
that I wrote for worshipers and worship leaders. If you would like to dig
deeper and learn even more, you can find information in the back of this
journal about the Praise More Powerful in-depth study and how to order it.
Each week includes a page for small group study notes. Also, each week
concludes with a blank page where you can write down thoughts and
insights God has taught you from that week of study. A Small Group Study
Guide is located in the back of this journal for leaders who are taking
groups through this devotional study.
It is vitally important that you take a few minutes each day to read the
daily devotion in this booklet. Though brief, these devotional thoughts
are packed with scriptural truths and insights. Please don’t rush through
them. Prayerfully consider what God may want to teach you. Pay
particular attention to “My Turn” which is at the end of each devotion.
This is your opportunity to respond to what you are discovering each
day. It is also important not to read ahead.
Welcome to the Praise More Powerful 30-Day Devotional! You are
embarking on an exciting adventure! Our God is so incredibly worth
knowing, and he is worthy of every ounce of our worship! He loves it
when we praise him. Perhaps most amazing is that he wants to be known
by us. He wants to ignite our hearts as he reveals more and more of his
awe-inspiring character to us.
Introduction
Join our growing community
of online worshipers!
Regular blog entries by Dwayne as well as guest
writers on insights about praise and worship
♦ Dwayne’s personal online spiritual journal
♦ Community Forums
♦ Links to worship resources like great websites,
books and magazines
The Praise More Powerful Blog features:
♦
www.PraiseMorePowerful.com/blog
Then go to
Want to ask questions about things
you are learning or need help with?
about what God is teaching them through
Praise More Powerful?
Want to hear from others
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visit www.WorshipSpice.com,
visit www.PraiseMorePowerful.com,
or write to Next Level Worship, LLC,
P.O. Box 66, Arab, AL 35016
For this and many other resources by Dwayne Moore,
This life-changing journey into God’s Word involves interactive lessons
designed to be used during your quiet time with the Lord each day. For 9
weeks you will join Dwayne in climbing a “mountain of discovery” about
how to worship our God better and experience him more intimately.
Each devotion in this booklet is excerpted from
Praise More Powerful: Insights to
Transform Our Worship.
Order the in-depth Bible study today!
Want to dig deeper?
For further insight, read Mark 12:28-32.
From pp. 13-14
My Turn
Think of something about God that you want to thank him for - perhaps
it's his mercy and love or his greatness, power and his protection over
you, or maybe it's his faithfulness to you everyday. Now pray and tell him
how thankful you are. (He loves to hear you thank him!) Then ask God
to reveal any actions or attitudes not bringing him glory in your life right
now.
Paul said, "Whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do, you must do all for
the glory of God." (1 Corinthians 10:31) Everything we do should be worship to him. Worship is not just something we do on Sundays at church.
And it's certainly more than singing or attending a service, although those
are included. Worship is whole-life. It involves every part of our lives.
Rick Warren summed it up like this: Worship, he says, is simply "bringing
pleasure to God."1
I've had people ask me, "Isn't the Christian life really just a bunch of 'Thou
shalt nots'?" To that I reply, "No, the Christian life is actually one big
'Thou shalt'...love God.'" It's really that simple—worship him completely.
Deuteronomy 6:5 says, "You must love the LORD your God with all your
heart, all your soul, and all your strength.” This verse is central in helping us
grasp acceptable worship to God. We are to love the Lord, our God,
with everything we are: heart, mind, soul, and body. When we do this,
we are paying honor to him. Just like the People of Judah bowed in surrender, we must surrender to him as our Lord. Anything less than our all
yielded to him is not Biblical worship. Jesus underscored the priority of
worship when he quoted Deuteronomy 6:5.
According to Strong's Concordance, the word "worship" in the above
passage means "to bow down, prostrate oneself, before a superior in
homage, before God in worship." God is our Superior; he is our Lord.
When we submit to him as our Master, that is the essence of worship.
Jehoshaphat bowed with his face to the ground and all the people of Judah and
Jerusalem fell down in worship before the Lord. – 2 Chronicles 20:18
Monday
Week 1—What Is Worship
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For further insight, read Ephesians 1:3-14.
From pp. 15-18
Sanctuary is a wonderful song of surrender. If you know that chorus, sing
it out loud as a prayer to God now.
Lord, prepare me to be a sanctuary, pure and holy, tried and
true. With thanksgiving I'll be a living sanctuary for you.2
My Turn
According to Romans 12:1-2 our "spiritual act of worship" is to lay
ourselves down on an altar of surrender. God wants our hearts yielded
to him, pure and simple. Have you given up control and allowed God to
do whatever he wants to do in you and through you? Pray a prayer of
surrender right now.
God wants to work through us, his people, to bring glory and honor to
himself. And so may it be in every step we take and in every move we
make. May our lives shout our awesome Lord's praise so loud this world
can't help but take notice!
Not only will we be his trophies in the coming ages, we are his witnesses
now as living proof of his goodness and mercy. 1 Peter 2:9 says, "You are
a chosen people. You are a kingdom of priests, God's holy nation, His very own
possession. This is so you can show others the goodness of God..."
As God's children we bring him glory too. Our very living and breathing
is an expression of worship to him. Like Adam and Eve, we are created
for his praise! All he has done for us and in us is "to the praise of his
glorious grace." In fact, amazing as it may sound, he has raised us up and
seated us with Christ in heavenly realms so we can one day be trophies
of his grace!
When God finished creating Adam and Eve on the sixth day he said it was
"very good." Think about that. They had just been created. They had not
had the chance to do anything, yet he was pleased with them. He enjoyed
their company as he walked in the cool of the day with them. His creation was "good." They were made in his image; they were a reflection of
who he is. Therefore, they brought him glory.
the praise of his glorious grace. – Ephesians 1:5-6
In love He predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ...to
Tuesday
Dwayne and his wife Sonia reside in Arab, Alabama with their two sons,
Stephen and Justin.
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For information on Dwayne’s products or to contact Dwayne, please visit
www.PraiseMorePowerful.com.
Dwayne is also the worship leader at The Church at Ross Station, a new
church plant located in Hoover, AL.
Dwayne trusted Christ as his Savior when he was six years old. He committed his life to living full-time for the Lord when he was ten. Since then,
God has opened doors of opportunity for Dwayne to lead and teach
praise in over 1000 churches and conferences.
An accomplished musician and vocalist, Dwayne is a featured artist as
well as author on WorshipSpice.com, a division of SermonSpice.com, and has
written and produced several songs and worship CDs.
Dwayne Moore has been leading worship
throughout the nation for over 30 years. He is
the founder and president of Next Level
Worship, LLC. Next Level Worship offers materials and resources to help
churches grow upward in their understanding and experience of true,
Biblical worship and praise.
About the Author
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Prayer: Lord, we know you want to talk to us through your Word, the
Bible and as we pray to you and listen to you. Help us be quiet and make
time to listen. Then help us to obey whatever you tell us to do.
Let’s stop right now and pray and ask God to speak to us this week while
we’re being quiet and still each day.
devotion times and to ask questions they may have
Option: Allow time for people to share what are learning from their
Ask: Are there any questions?
We know he wants to speak to us, but we have to take time to read the
Bible and to pray. That is why this week for 30 minutes every day, I want
to challenge all of us to turn off the TV, the CD player, the MP3 player
and/or the video games. We need to be completely quiet and alone. You
don’t have to read your Bible and pray during those 30 minutes but I
hope you will want to.
reading the Bible, praying and through other Christians at church)
Ask: What are some ways God wants to speak to us? (Lead them to say
You know, if we hadn’t have been quiet, we might never have heard that
(or those) sound(s). God wants to speak to us, but sometimes we are so
loud and noisy and busy that we don’t hear him trying to speak to us.
That is because he speaks in a still, small voice—not out loud like I’m
talking right now—but inside our minds and our hearts.
while being silent.)
Ask: What did you hear? (Let everyone describe something they heard
I want all of us to be very still and quiet for a few seconds. I want us to
listen really closely for any little noises and sounds we can hear while
we’re being quiet. Ready? 1, 2, 3, go! (Wait 15 –30 seconds in silence.)
morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught. – Isaiah 50:4b (NIV)
Say this week’s memory verse together: He wakens me morning by
Small Group Study Guide
Week 5—Hearing God’s Voice
Wednesday
For further insight, read Psalm 51:6-17
From pp. 18-20
My Turn
Be honest before God right now. Ask him to show you any private areas
of your life that he does not control. Confess and forsake those. Pray and
thank the Lord for forgiving you and for helping you by living his life
through you today.
According to 2 Chronicles 16:9, God is searching throughout the earth
not to support those who sing the best or shout the loudest. Rather, he
seeks for those "whose hearts are blameless." As worshippers, that must
be our foremost goal. All other worship expressions are sickening to
God without a blameless and pure heart.
Worshiping inwardly by being good is perhaps the litmus test for all our
worship. If our heart's desire is to please God we can no longer enjoy
wallowing in the pig pen of our former sins. He knows that if the heart
inside us is purely devoted to him, then that will affect everything we do
with our body on the outside.
The inward direction of our worship refers to who I am when no one is
looking. It's not really difficult to lift up praises to God when we're at
church or around other believers. That's an environment where we're
encouraged, even expected to do so. But what about when we're in the
privacy of own homes, browsing the internet or casually reading though a
magazine on the news stands? Are we being careful to please God with
our private thoughts, where our eyes look, where our feet go?
True, Biblical worship encompasses our entire lives. In fact, in his book,
Worship, the Ultimate Priority, John Macarthur explains that for our worship to be "whole-life" it must include three directions. Most certainly, we
worship God when we focus directly on him, pointing our worship upward toward God (as we normally think of worship). But we should also
worship God inwardly. The third direction we should worship him is outwardly, to those around us.3
Above all else, guard your heart for it affects everything you do. – Proverbs 4:23
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Thursday
My Turn
Are there any attitudes and actions that may be causing an offense to
another believer? Do you cheerfully give your money as you feel led of
God? Ask him to cleanse you now and change you.
For further insight, read Romans 14:13-21.
From pp. 20-22
For some unknown reason, my father had a hang up with Christian ladies
wearing shorts. So for all the years I can remember growing up, I never
saw our next door neighbor wearing shorts outside. She chose not to
wear them in front of my dad simply because she didn't want to offend
him. That's the kind of selfless sensitivity God honors in us and is honored in.
The fourth way we give outward worship to God is by being sensitive to
our weaker brothers and sisters. The entire 14th chapter of Romans focuses on strong and weak Christians. Listen to what verse 13 says to us:
"…live in such a way that you will not put an obstacle in another Christian's
path." Verse 18 shows God's view of this: "If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God…"
Giving to those in need is a third way to express our love for God. It's
important, though, that we be cheerful when we give, not grudging, because that represents the real motives of our hearts.
Secondly, we worship God when we help others. In our day and age, old
fashioned neighborly help is hard to find. And if we're really honest, most
of us are ok with that trend. We often lack the motivation to want to
lend a hand. But Jesus clearly taught us to give a cup of cold water in his
name.
First of all, God is worshiped when we share the Gospel with someone
else or in some way play a part in a person coming to know Christ. In
Romans 15:15-16, Paul said he had the "priestly duty of proclaiming the Gospel" to the Gentiles so that the Gentiles might become an offering, acceptable
to God…" Here Paul is telling us that someone who trusts Christ as Savior because of our witness is actually an acceptable offering we present to
God. What a way to bless God by helping lead a soul into his Kingdom!
The outward direction of worship has to do with our relationships with
other people. There are actually four distinct outward ways we can bring
glory to the Lord.
Do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God
is pleased. – Hebrews 13:16
Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, help us put other people before ourselves.
Teach us to want to praise you together with our brothers and sisters in
your great big wonderful family—the family of God.
devotion times and to ask questions they may have.
Option: Allow time for people to share what are learning from their
God loves to hear and see his family worship and praise him
together. And he really loves to see us love and care for each other. That
is why we should think of what other people like, rather than only
thinking about what we like. We should respect them and show them we
care for what they like to sing and how they prefer to praise. Why?
Because if they know Jesus as their Savior, they are in God’s family too.
Some people like slow songs. Others like fast songs more. Some like
songs they know really well. Others like to learn new songs. Let’s sing a
song together now. (Choose a simple and short chorus that everyone should
know—perhaps “Jesus Loves Me,” “Sanctuary,” or “Amazing Grace.”)
eat.
Ask: What is your favorite food? Now name something you don’t like to
Not only do people in God’s family look different, we also like
different things. Some like one kind of food but don’t like another.
Ask: What color is your hair? Point at someone whose hair is a different
color than yours.
God’s family is really, really large. There are many people at our church
who love the Lord and are in God’s family. But there are even more of
God’s family in other churches in our community, in our country and in
our world. Everyone in God’s family is different. Some have dark brown
skin; some have red or yellow skin; some have beige or light skin. Some
have red hair; others have black, blond or brown hair.
Say this week’s memory verse together: Let each of you look out not
only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. – Philippians 2:4
(NKJ)
Small Group Study Guide
Week 4—Worshiping with
Other Believers
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more. Help us read the Bible and pray and listen closely for you to speak
to us this week. Thank you for wanting to be our best friend as well as
our Lord and King.
Prayer: Father God, we want to get to know you more and more and
devotion times and to ask questions they may have.
Option: Allow time for people to share what are learning from their
(Option: Here you may want to ask if anyone wants to meet Jesus by asking
Jesus to be their Savior. If so, carefully explain the plan of salvation.)
In the same way, as you spend time with God, you begin to think more
like he does and like the same things he does. Getting to know God begins with meeting Jesus and asking him into our hearts. Jesus wants to
first be our Savior and Lord, so he can then become our very best friend.
Ask: The more we get to know God, the more like him we will become.
Have you noticed how you and your best friend say some of the same
things? You pick up little habits and phrases from them, don’t you?
Ask: What are some ways we can get to know God better? (Lead to
them to identify these: Bible reading, praying, paying attention in Sunday School
and to the pastor preach, being still and quiet)
You know these things about your friends because you spend time with
them, you watch them, you talk to them a lot and they talk to you.
Do you know God wants us to know him like that? He wants to become
our very best friend.
Ask: Think about who is your best friend. How did you get to be best
friends? Were you best friends the first time you met or did it take some
time to become best friends? What is your friend like? What does he or
she like to do and where does he or she like to go?
Say this week’s memory verse together: As the Spirit of the Lord
works within us, we become more and more like him and reflect his glory even
more.—2 Corinthians 3:18b (NLT)
Small Group Study Guide
Week 3—Knowing God More
Friday
For further insight, read Hebrews 13:15-16
From pp. 24-26
My Turn
Take some time now and think of every blessing you can. Verbally express your thanks out loud to God for these. (Remember, blessings can
come disguised as heartaches.) Talk to God about any areas where you're
finding it hard to be thankful.
We are not told to give thanks for our circumstances, but rather in our
circumstances. We're not expected to be thankful for those problems
and hardships that come along. They're not designed to be liked or appreciated. (That's why they're called difficulties!) We can and should trust
our God to use the problems as well as the victories to shape us more
into his image.
Before any of us can give thanks and praise to the Father and really mean
it, however, we've got to understand this one incredible truth: Our God
reigns! In Revelation 4, John said he saw "a throne in heaven with someone
sitting on it." Let that precious truth sink in. There is a throne in heaven.
And it is occupied! Our great God, mighty and majestic Father, is sitting
on that throne right now! This world may look like it's spinning out of
control, but God is still in charge! And he hasn't lost any of his omnipotence! He is still the all-powerful, all-knowing, ever-present King of kings
and Lord of lords! - And he loves and protects you and me.
As believers, we can be sure nothing ever happens to us that our loving
God doesn't permit. After all, like Moses, he protects us "in the cleft of the
Rock" as he covers us with his mighty hand. His rod of correction and his
staff of protection and direction should bring us great comfort at all
times.
Worship pointed upward toward God is the third and final direction of
worship. It is what most Christians think of when they hear the word
"worship." The upward direction involves giving to God our praise and
thanksgiving.
No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who
belong to Christ Jesus. – 1 Thessalonians 5:18
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Saturday
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For further insight, read Isaiah 6:1-9.
From pp. 27-30
My Turn
Has there been a worship experience you've had where God gave you a
"glimpse of his glory"? If so, how did it impact you, and how were you
changed? Ask God to make you thirsty to see him and know him more.
Confess any known sins to him now. Pray for the Lord to "show up and
show off" this Sunday during the worship services at your church. Ask
him to change lives, starting with your own.
Another example is Isaiah in Isaiah 6. In just one service, he went from a
downcast and reluctant worship spectator to a willing participant of anything God wanted him to do. He didn't even wait to be singled out. He
enthusiastically volunteered to go! That's the incredible change God can
make in people's lives through worship.
What happened that made such a huge difference? What was the
"mystery cure"? It's found in verse 17. Asaph entered "the sanctuary of
God"; there he saw the final destiny of the wicked. There he turned his
eyes back on the Lord, and got a proper perspective of everything
around him.
A great example of a person who experienced the radical change worship
can make is Asaph in Psalm 73. Asaph had an extremely negative outlook
in the first half of that chapter. His eyes were focused on the prosperity
of the wicked. Yet, something happened to Asaph that caused his entire
attitude to brighten. Rather than continue to look around and get so discouraged he wanted to quit, in the last part of the chapter he began to
see the end of the wicked. He suddenly realized, "Earth has nothing I desire
besides you." In fact, while he hardly mentioned God's name in the first
part, Asaph began to pray directly to God, using the word "you" no less
than 14 times.
We cannot encounter God's presence and awesome glory and not be
somehow affected.
I have seen you in your sanctuary and gazed upon your power and glory.
– Psalm 63:2
Prayer: Lord, thank you for being good and big and loving and awesome.
Help us never be ashamed to praise you—no matter where we are.
devotion times and to ask questions they may have.
Option: Allow time for people to share what are learning from their
Let’s make it a habit this week—and every week—to praise him using at
least one of these ways.
Now, everyone pick one to do and let’s all do them at the same time.
Remember, whatever you choose, do it for the Lord because you love
him and he deserves your praise. Ready? 1, 2, 3, go!
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∗ clapping
∗ lifting up our hands
∗ singing
∗ shouting
∗ saying things to/about him (also known as testifying)
∗ dancing
∗ playing an instrument (Option: Have someone play an instrument nearby)
∗ Kneeling (Those physically unable to kneel may crouch low as is possible.)
(Read the entire list again to review.)
As you read through these, have everyone do them together:
He loves it when we compliment and praise him. In fact there are 8 ways
we can praise him. Notice they are all done outwardly with our bodies.
God is much more deserving of praise than we are. He created the stars
and the earth and made everything around us that is good and perfect.
Name some things now that God has made.
Ask: Don’t you enjoy it when someone praises you for something you
did? Maybe someone compliments you on a picture you drew or a song
you sang. Or maybe you do really well on a paper at school or assignment at work and someone says, ”Good job!”
Say this week’s memory verse together: Therefore by Him let us
continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving
thanks to His name. —Hebrews 13:15 (NKJ)
Small Group Study Guide
Week 2—What Is Praise
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We worship God when we show him we love him by what we think, by
what we say, and by what we do.
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Prayer: Lord, help us love you more today and want to obey you and
show you we love you in everything we do. Thank you for letting us
worship you.
devotion times and to ask questions they may have.
Option: Allow time for people to share what are learning from their
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All of these are places and ways we can worship if we love God and want
to obey him. If we don’t, then none of these are worship to God. Why?
Because if we love him everything we do is worship to him. If we don’t
then nothing we do is worship to him.
Ask: Which of these are places and ways we can worship? church,
school, work, home, playing, singing, doing homework, helping others
Ask: Are you glad and thankful you could take that breath? Do you love
God and want to please him? Then you just worshiped when you
breathed in and out. Even our breathing is worship to God!
Have everyone breath in and out.
When our heart is pure and really loves God we want to do things and
say things that show God how special and awesome we think he is. The
Apostle Paul said, “Whether we eat or drink or whatever we do, do all to the
glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31) So even eating at the table or
drinking a soda can be worship to God if we do those things from a heart
that loves God.
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Have everyone say together: Worshiping God means loving God.
Ask: How can we worship God—from a heart that loves him and wants
to obey him or from a heart that doesn’t love God and is full of sin?
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Small Group Bible Study Notes
Say this week’s memory verse together: You shall love the Lord your
God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
—Deuteronomy 6:5 (NKJ)
Small Group Study Guide
Week 1—What Is Worship
Week 2:
Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is,
the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. —Hebrews 13:15 (NKJ)
Week 3:
As the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him
and reflect his glory even more.—2 Corinthians 3:18b (NLT)
Week 4:
Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests
of others. – Philippians 2:4 (NKJ)
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1Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life, (Nashville, Zondervan Publishing, 2002) 64
2 John Thompson and Randy Scruggs, Sanctuary, (1982)
3Dr. John Macarthur, Worship, the Ultimate Priority, (Chicago: Moody
Publishers, 1983) 15-20.
4Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline, (New York: HarperCollins,
1983) 60.
5Taylor, Jack, The Hallelujah Factor, 234.
6 Lloyd-Jones, Martin, Great Doctrines of the Bible, (Crossway Books,
2003) 57.
7Bridges, Jerry, The Practice of Godliness, 27.
8Schaeffer, Francis A.., Art and the Bible, (Intervarsity Press, 1973) 51.
9 Bonhoeffer, Dietrich , Life Together, (Fortress Press, 1996) 68.
10Beach, Nancy, An Hour on Sunday, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan
Press, 2004) 183.
11Stanley, Charles, How to Listen to God, 20-22
Endnotes
Week 5:
He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being
taught. – Isaiah 50:4b (NIV)
Week 1:
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with
all your strength.—Deuteronomy 6:5 (NKJ)
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Weekly Scripture Memory Verses
What God Taught Me in Week 1
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My Turn
Stop now and praise the Lord out loud. Tell him he's worthy of adoration
and how glad you are to be his child. Don't be bashful. Come boldly before his throne of grace. Decide today that no stone is going to take your
place in praising him!
From pp. 33-36
For further insight, read Revelation 4-5.
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David said, "The heavens declare the glory of God." While God desires
praise from his people, he demands it from his creation. One way or the
other, God is going to be praised. If we keep quiet, Jesus said, "The stones
will cry out.'"
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Throughout creation God will be praised. All heavenly beings such as
angels, living creatures and elders will praise him! Every created being
including people, animals, fish, and all of nature will sing to him!
For all eternity God will be praised. Revelation 4 - 5 details a vision John
had of a glorious gathering in heaven that is yet to take place. Heaven will
never stop shouting his praise! In fact at this very moment in heaven God
is being praised!
Another landmark is that throughout God's Word we can find praise
being given to him. The word "praise" can be found well over two hundred times in the Bible. When we include related words, that number
climbs to close to five hundred!
For example, we would see that God's people have always praised him. In
our day many churches and believers are embracing greater freedom in
worship. Praise is no longer just for "that denomination down the street."
However, praise to our wonderful God has actually been in vogue for
thousands of years. Throughout Israel's history, their most shining
(pleasing to God) moments were when they lifted him up in praise.
Whether they were kneeling quietly or being loud and joyful, they never
considered what they were doing as strange or inappropriate. Praise to
them was not just for the "less educated" or "less cultured." Rather, it
was every believer's most natural response to God's power and grace.
Praise is universal. If we could fly over the "plains of praise," we would
see many landmarks that would give us a clearer picture of just how universal and far-reaching praise to God really is.
Let the godly sing with joy to the LORD, for it is fitting to praise him.
– Psalm 33:1
Monday
Week 2—What Is Praise
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What God Taught Me in Week 5
Tuesday
14
For further insight, read Luke 7:36-50.
From pp. 37-39
My Turn
Choose to praise the Lord right now where you are and no matter how
you may feel. Try praising him for an attribute of his character, like his
love or omnipresence. Thank him for the privilege to praise him. Let
words of love, adoration and surrender pour from your heart right now.
Then there was that group of children in Matthew 21 who made the conscious choice to praise him in the temple. They were making so much
noise that the Pharisees tried to hush them. But Jesus flatly reminded
those religious leaders of what Psalm 8:2 says: "Out of the mouths of babes
and nursing infants you have perfected praise."
There was a lady in Luke 7 who was also motivated to praise from a hot
heart. She poured a very expensive gift on Jesus. The woman outwardly
expressed her love to Christ. She had been forgiven of much, and her act
of genuine praise toward her Savior showed that because of that forgiveness she loved him much.
That young girl made a choice to praise him with her voice. What motivated her to praise was nothing less than passionate love and devotion
for her Lord. Richard Foster defines praise as the "bubbling over of a hot
heart."4 Evidently that teenager had a "hot heart" for God. Praise was
bubbling out of her!
A teenage girl once said to me, "You know, I don't sing very well, but
that's okay with me, because I figure this. God made my voice. And since
he made it, he must like to hear it. So I'm just gonna sing as loud as I can!"
As we've already seen, worship to God should include everything we do.
Our very breathing in and out is an expression of our worship and a testimony to his faithfulness in our lives. Praise, on the other hand, is that
upward part of worship. You may not even think about some of the
things you do as being worship because they flow so naturally from your
heart and mind that are given over to God. However, you are almost
sure to be aware of every time you praise. That's because praise is direct
and deliberate adoration. Simply put, praise is a choice.
My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite verses for my King.
– Psalm 45:1
43
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Small Group Bible Study Notes
42
For further insight, read Mark 1:35.
From pp. 105-109
My Turn
If you are physically able bow your knees now. Bow your mind, your
emotions, and your heart before the Lord. Listen quietly, attentively.
Confess any known sins as he brings them to your mind. Speak them and
forsake them. Thank him in advance for how he may prompt you to
praise him during your church’s worship time tomorrow. Now praise him
out loud for speaking to you today!
In our quiet times alone with God and in times of worship with other
believers, our goal should always be to connect with Almighty God, to
focus our thoughts and affections on him, to wait before him until we've
given him every opportunity to speak. Then as he leads us, we must willingly and joyfully obey.
Prayer is communicating with God in both directions. He talks, we listen.
We talk; he listens. Listening, however, should always take priority. In
John 12 Jesus explained, “I say whatever the Father tells me to say." How
could he know what to say had he not first listened and heard from his
Father? In the same way, we must listen so we will know what to say and
do.
Psalm 46:10 says, “Be silent and know that I am God.” Isaiah 26:4 reads,
“You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he
trusts in you.” (NKJ) David said in Psalm 37 to “be still in the presence of the
LORD.” In Luke 10 Jesus commended not the one who was busy preparing his meal, but rather the one was sitting at his feet listening to him
teach. He said, “There is really only one thing worth being concerned about.
Mary has discovered it – and I won't take it away from her."
For further insight, read Psalm 149:1-3.
15
From pp. 42-44
My Turn
If you're alone now and no one is watching but the Lord, try kneeling (if
you're physically able). While on your knees pray and thank God for his
greatness and goodness. Stay on your knees long enough to remind your
flesh that it won't rule you today. God will.
Along with praising him through kneeling, another way we can praise is
through dancing. David danced for joy before the Lord when he saw the
Ark of the Tabernacle being carried into Jerusalem. Of course, like anything else we do, dancing can be done for the wrong motives and in the
wrong ways. But genuine, joyful dancing before God and for God is absolutely Biblical.
When the Magi saw the baby Jesus with his mother, they "bowed down
and worshiped him." That means they knelt or stooped as an act of worship. They had to physically bend the knee or somehow crouch down.
There is something incredibly humbling and powerfully worshipful about
bowing down before our great Master.
There are actually eight ways (or expressions) we can use to praise him.5
We will look at these eight expressions over the next few days.
Praise, by its very nature, is outward, open, demonstrative and obvious to
anyone watching. We are exhorted numerous times in the Psalms to
praise the Lord publicly. We are on this earth to make our God known
through our praise. What a privilege! What a responsibility! So we had
better know every possible avenue we have available to us to praise him.
Have you ever thought how strange praise must appear to those who
don't know Christ? People around you may never know you are worshiping God through the normal activities of your day. But if anyone happens
to be nearby when you're compelled to praise, they'll not only notice
you, they'll probably wonder what you could possibly be doing! Say, for
example, you're sitting at a red light. You've got your favorite praise CD
playing. Before you know it, you're lost in the moment. You start lifting
your hands, singing to the top of your lungs. Now, for you this kind of
behavior may be perfectly normal. But imagine what the person beside
you must be thinking?
The pinnacle of listening, the ultimate goal of our spiritual ears is this: We
should be ready and able to hear our Lord speak to us anytime and anywhere he wishes. When we deliberately and regularly place ourselves in a
listening posture, God can download into us his truths, insights and directives as often as he wants. We as believers must go beyond simply studying on how to listen for him; to hear him most often, we must quiet our
souls and minds and actually listen.
Wednesday
I will praise the LORD with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright, and
in the congregation. – Ps 111:1 (KJV)
Saturday
He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being
taught. – Isaiah 50:4 (NIV)
Thursday
16
For further insight, read Ezra 3:10-13.
From pp. 44-46
If you prefer - and if you won't wake up those around you! - why not
shout out loud to God? It can be a short sentence like "Thank you Jesus!"
Or you might use a "woo" or "hallelujah." Whatever it is, just be sure to
shout it from your praise-filled heart.
My Turn
Try out one of these ways to praise right now where you are. You could
raise your hands before the Lord. It may feel awkward if it's your first
time, but try it. Remember, God wants us to lift up holy hands. So confess any known sin before you try this exercise.
Shouting to the Lord is another powerful and quite natural way to praise.
As a part of their praise and thanksgiving in Ezra 3, the Israelites all gave a
great shout to celebrate the rebuilding of their temple. In fact they made
so much noise that it was heard far away! What does that remind you of
today? Have you ever sat inside a football stadium when the home team
scores a touchdown? The celebration shouts are deafening. Wouldn't it
be incredible the next time someone comes forward to receive Christ in
your church if you all stood up and shouted "Touchdown, Jesus!"?
Perhaps you have a son or daughter or grandchild. How did you feel the
first time you saw him or her looking up at you with those big eyes and
holding out his or her hands toward you? You probably stopped whatever you were doing and reached down to hold that child, didn't you?
Imagine how our Father must feel when we reach up for him…
Tuning a piano or guitar by ear requires total concentration on the
sounds being produced. Hearing God's voice most easily requires complete concentration as well. As they gathered to seek God's direction and
help in 2 Chronicles 20, Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah focused
their minds totally toward God. Jehoshaphat said, "Our eyes are upon You."
Several passages in God's Word encourage us as worshipers to lift our
hands to the Lord. Psalm 134:2 says, "Lift up your hands in the sanctuary
and praise the Lord." One of my favorites is Psalm 63:4. "I will praise you as
long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands." Several times in the
Bible followers of God expressed their praise by lifting theirs hands upward toward God. For example, when Ezra stood in Nehemiah 8 to read
from the Book of the Law, the people responded by lifting theirs hands
and saying, "Amen."
For further insight, read Philippians 4:8
41
From pp. 102-104
My Turn
Every time you walk outside today look up at the sky. Purposely comment on how the sky looks. Then respond to what you see with praise to
God. Ask God to fine-tune your ears to hear every prompting of his Holy
Spirit today. Then promise to respond with obedience and deliberate
praise.
Imagine what might happen in our church's worship service if we didn't
respond to his voice each time he speaks to us. Rather than becoming
more sensitized, we could actually grow dull of hearing him and become a
hindrance to the Lord's moving in that service.
Training ourselves to recognize God's voice also requires that we respond to every impulse from the Holy Spirit. As we respond to every
prompting from God, we will sensitize our spiritual ears to his voice.
We'll learn to recognize even the gentlest whisper from his Spirit. In a
worship setting with other believers, that level of sensitivity and responsiveness is particularly important. Everything from the songs we sing to
the ways we praise our Lord should be initiated and directed by him.
After all, it's his service!
Paul said in 2 Chronicles 10:5 that we are to "take captive every thought to
make it obedient to Christ." (NIV) Paul did not say that every thought had to
be Christ-like. That is impossible since Satan will, at times, shoot rogue
and evil thoughts into our minds. Rather, the instant a thought enters it
must be seized and checked. If it is God-honoring, it stays. If that thought
might dishonor the Lord, it must immediately be thrown out. Unless we
watchfully discipline our minds in this way, we will find ourselves constantly tormented by conflicting ideas and distracted by devilish notions.
As we focus our thoughts on good and godly things we create a fruitful
environment ready to receive whatever God has to tell us.
To train or "fine-tune" our spiritual ears to hear God's still small voice
speak to us, we must practice listening. We must also focus our thoughts.
Friday
Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. – Colossians 3:2 (NIV)
Yesterday we began considering the eight ways we have to praise our
Lord. Raising our hands and shouting are our focus today.
Let them ever shout for joy because you defend them. – Psalm 5:11
For further insight, read 1 Samuel 3:1-10.
40
From pp. 100-101
My Turn
If you're physically able, kneel before the Lord right now. Sing a praise
chorus or hymn to God as you humbly bow your body and your heart.
Think back over your day yesterday. How many times did you stop to
deliberately listen for God or ask him to speak to you? Was it once,
twice, ten times, or no times? Pray that he will help you practice listening
today for his still, small voice.
It will require hours of listening with our hearts to learn how to most
easily and confidently recognize the voice of our God. So be patient with
yourself - God is!
As we learn to discern his voice speaking to us, we need to be careful not
to ignore the characteristics of his voice and the contents of his words.
The powers of darkness will seek to deceive us. That is why we should
take whatever time we need to be certain who we are hearing from.
Hearing his voice takes effort on our part. Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 5
that we should "pray without ceasing," staying attentive to the Lord everyday. We need to create habits like waking up and making our very first
words, "Good morning, Lord! How can I serve you today?" Like Samuel,
we must learn to say, "Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening."
To train our spiritual ears we must practice listening. That may seem
obvious. Yet, how much effort do we actually put into expectantly listening and discerning God's voice? How many mornings do we awake ready
to listen in case our Lord wants to speak to us? How often do we lie
awake at night and, like David in Psalm 63, we remember God upon our
bed and think of him in the night watches?
The ability to most easily and quickly respond to the Lord's leading does
not come naturally to believers. Rather, we must train, or "fine-tune," our
spiritual ears.
For further insight, read Psalm 35:27-28.
17
From pp. 47-49
My Turn
Ask God to help you praise him today no matter what your circumstances may be. Choose to sing joyfully. Sing a song to God right now.
Then look for someone to talk with today about the Lord.
We can also use our voices to praise when we testify. Psalm 107:2 says,
"Let the redeemed of the LORD say so." (KJV) Once while I was leading a
Praise and Worship Weekend in a church, I saw like never before the impact a testimony can have in a service. One little lady who looked to be
in her 80's asked if she could share something. Her words were brief and
to the point. She simply wanted everyone to know her Lord had always
been faithful to her. One by one, others started standing as well. Each had
a unique and emotional testimony of how faithful God had been in their
lives as well. People started flooding to the altar. Forty-five minutes later
the service was still going strong! And it was simply because a little redeemed lady "said so"...
The Bible says that when we sing we should sing joyfully. In truth, though,
we don't always feel like singing with joy. There are days when we don't
feel like singing at all. The circumstances and trials of life can drain the joy
right out of us. The key is to remember that with Christ we always have
hope! Psalm 42:5 says, "Why so downcast, O my soul? Put your hope in God!
For I will yet praise him."
Singing is by far the most common expression of praise within the
church. There's something about singing that unites us no matter how
varied our backgrounds or cultures may be. I have had the opportunity
on occasion to lead the music in city-wide festivals that included churches
from several different denominations and races. It's a little taste of heaven
on earth to hear those thousands of diverse voices joining together as
one voice in song to praise our one, true God.
Worship is our response to God's greatness and worthiness. It is God
who initiates the praise inside of us. So, how should we praise him both
in private and public? - Simply as he leads us. The Holy Spirit will direct us
in each and every worship time. That is why it is vitally important that we
learn to confidently recognize and respond to his voice at any given moment.
Friday
Worship the LORD with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy.
– Psalm 100:2
Thursday
O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise..
– Psalm 51:15 (NIV)
Saturday
18
For further insight, read Hebrews 13:15-16.
From pp. 50-51
My Turn
Think of an upbeat praise hymn or chorus. Sing it out loud before God
now. As you do, try clapping your hands with the song. Finish your song
clapping your approval like you would clap for a great artist or sports
star. God is bigger and more awesome, so your clapping should be even
noisier!
Please note that these eight ways to praise are not commands that we
have to do if we are to please God. God's only requirement of us is that
we praise him. We are given eight wonderful ways to do just that, and
then we are exhorted to try them. Based on our personalities, some will
work better for us than others. However, just because certain ones seem
strange or uncomfortable is not a reason not to at least try them. Remember, praise is a "sacrifice"…
Perhaps when you clap you struggle at times with staying on the beat. Be
comforted to know that none of the Biblical references to clapping include the necessity of rhythm! The important thing is to clap with joy in
your heart to your awesome Creator.
The one other way we have available to us to praise is clapping. And apparently we're not the only ones God enjoys hearing clap to him. Isaiah
55:12 says, "The trees of the field will clap their hands." If God is pleased
with trees and floods doing it, how much more would he love to hear us
clapping to him?
There has been a resurgence of certain instruments within our churches
in the past several years. Some attribute this as trying to appeal to our
"younger generations". While that may be true in part, it is also a return
to what some very old generations used, particularly those of David's
generation.
Our voices aren't the only thing that can make a joyful noise to the Lord.
Playing an instrument is an equally powerful way to express praise to him.
David and the Israelites often used instruments in their worship times.
For instance, as they were bringing the Ark to Jerusalem in 2
Samuel 6, David and the house of Israel "were celebrating before the LORD
with all their might, singing songs and playing all kinds of musical instruments."
Let everything that lives sing praises to the LORD! Praise the LORD!
– Psalm 150:6
For further insight, read Philippians 3:13-14.
39
From pp. 93-96
My Turn
If we know God is speaking to us, our obligation is to obey. Pray now and
ask the Lord to help you listen for and recognize his voice today. Surrender to him to do whatever he leads you to do.
To be completely sure what we are hearing is from God, Charles Stanley
says we should ask ourselves these questions: Is it consistent with the
Bible? Does it conflict with human logic? Does it clash with our fleshly
nature? Does it stretch and challenge our faith? Does it require
courage?11 If we can answer yes to all of these, we can rest assured
Almighty God is speaking to our heart and mind.
What's more, our Shepherd's voice is loving and nurturing. Jesus called
himself the "good Shepherd." He said, "My purpose is to give life in all its
fullness." Satan seeks to condemn us with his words. The Lord will never
speak to us to condemn us. He wants only to give us abundant life. Even
when he's rebuking us for being disobedient, his purpose is still ultimately
to make us more like his Son.
The Lord's voice is simple and clear. God knows our level of understanding. He willingly puts his words in a language each of his children can
comprehend. For example, Jesus said he is the gate for the sheep. How
difficult is that to understand? Everyone knows what a gate is and what it
is used for. If the message we hear seems confusing and complicated,
chances are, it is not the Holy Spirit speaking to us.
The Shepherd's voice is also personal. When God speaks to us he wants
us to know exactly who he's talking to. So he calls us by name.
For one, the Shepherd's voice is a familiar voice. Jesus said the sheep recognize it. They have heard his voice before, so they know it when they
hear it. Even a newborn baby will sometimes turn his eyes and ears toward his mom when she speaks because he's heard her familiar voice so
many times while she carried him.
What does God's voice sound like? How can we know when God is
speaking to us? In John 10 Jesus gave his children some characteristics of
the Shepherd's voice. These can help us discern if what we are hearing
inside us is indeed the Lord speaking to us.
Wednesday
The sheep follow him: for they know his voice.. – John 10:4 (KJV)
Tuesday
For further insight, read Mark 8:14-21.
38
From pp. 83-86
My Turn
Stop right now and pray Samuel's prayer of surrender before your Lord.
Ask him to show you anything in your life that may be hindering you from
clearly and consistently hearing what God wants to say to you. Stay still
and silent in his presence as you listen.
God won't instruct us in anything until we're ready to do everything he
says do. He'll convict us of our sins, but he won't guide us. Like the boy
prophet Samuel in 1 Samuel 3, we need to say, "Speak, for your servant is
listening."
Jesus said the shepherd "calls his own sheep by name and leads them out." If
we don't hear from God, we don't know what to do. He is our leader,
our shepherd. We are dumb sheep that need him to lead us. In fact, we
had best not take one step unless he is leading us.
Finally, to clearly hear God's voice, we must be surrendered. Our spiritual ears must not only be open and sensitive; they must be bended ears
wanting to receive whatever words of instruction God has for us. Our
attitude should be, "Lord, counsel me, correct me, teach me, direct me,
rebuke me, just please talk to me!"
It is not enough just to have ears. Those ears must be sensitive to his
voice. John 10:4 says, "They follow him because they recognize his voice." The
sheep know his voice because they've heard it before. They've learned to
recognize it. It is imperative that we look below the surface of what we
can see and hear with our physical senses. We must discern what God is
up to. That kind of sensitivity takes time to develop.
First, we must be saved. We have to be one of his sheep. Jesus said in
John 10, "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the
sheep." Jesus made it clear here that not just anyone is a sheep. Only
those whose Shepherd laid down his life for them enjoy the privilege of
being called one of his sheep. Only those who put their faith in Christ are
saved. The day a person receives Christ as Savoir he or she becomes a
sheep. At that very moment that person grows a set of "spiritual ears"
that can hear his voice.
While it is true that God still speaks today, if we are to hear from him,
there are some conditions we must meet.
He who has ears to hear, let him hear. – Mathew 11:15 (RSV)
19
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Small Group Bible Study Notes
One other channel through which our Lord speaks today is the Holy
Spirit. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2, "We speak words given to us by the
Spirit, using the Spirit's words to explain spiritual truths." Although the
Spirit doesn't actually speak out loud, Jesus said in John 15, “He will be
telling you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future.”
God wants to speak to his children. If you’re his child, he wants to speak
to you. He will lead you to praise and worship him more powerfully and
effectively than you could possibly imagine—if you’ll learn to listen and
obey his voice.
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For further insight, read Matthew 11:15
37
From pp. 82-85
My Turn
Think about the last sunset you took time to notice. What were the
shapes of the clouds? What colors were in the sky? Decide to stop and
notice tonight's sunset and praise Him for designing it. In the same way,
ask God to help you stop and listen for his voice today.
A third avenue God can use to get our attention and communicate with
us is through circumstances. Romans 2:4 says, “The goodness of God leads
you to repentance.”
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A second way God speaks to us today is through other believers. "With
many counselors, there is safety," Proverbs 11:14 tells us. The Lord often
uses godly men and women to encourage us and counsel us.
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First and foremost, he speaks through his Word, the Holy Bible. In 2
Timothy 3, Paul urged Timothy to listen to God by studying his Word.
The Bible is the final authority for all the other ways he might choose to
communicate.
If we are to know how he wants us to praise him—whether we’re alone
in our quiet times or with other believers—then we must learn to listen
to him speak to us. There are exactly four ways that God speaks to his
people today.
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All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to
make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us
to do what is right. – 2 Tim 3:16
Monday
Week 5—Hearing God’s Voice
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What God Taught Me in Week 2
Our goal is not to fall in love with worship. Our goal is to fall in love with
God. As we begin to see how lovely, awesome and amazing he is, our
focus will turn away from other things that would compete for our attention. God is a jealous God. He said, "I will have no other gods before
me." (Exodus 20:3) When we abandon hope in all other sources and place
our faith in the Lord God alone, he will always prove himself to be the
one and only God.
In 1 Kings 18 Elijah put the prophets of Baal to the test, saying whichever
god, theirs or his, that answered by fire, then that was the true God.
From morning until night the Baal prophets begged their god to answer
them. They even cut themselves and shouted frantically. But no fire ever
fell on their altar. Then Elijah had a total of twelve large jars of water
poured on the offering. God came through for Elijah, sending flames that
devoured both wood and water. The people responded to God's fiery
answer by shouting repeatedly, The Lord—He is God!"
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For further insight, read Job 42:1-6.
21
From pp. 56-58
My Turn
Ask God to make you hungry to know him more. Tell him how worthy
he is of your attention. Praise him out loud right where you are now. He
loves to hear your praise, and you'll be blessed to give it!
Of course, we could invest our entire lives on learning about God and
still not come close to knowing everything about him. The reason is simple: God is incomprehensible. We cannot know all there is to be known
about him. Yet, everything he allows us to discover only causes us to love
him more.
Unfortunately, some of us still need to be reminded that God is God—
and we are not.
When we see God as we should we will worship him as we ought. Martin
Lloyd-Jones wrote, "Unless we understand what the Bible tells us about
God, our worship can never be real."6
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O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! how
unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past tracing out!
– Romans 11:33 (ASV)
Monday
Week 3—Knowing God More
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What God Taught Me in Week 4
Tuesday
22
For further insight, read Hebrews 12:28-29.
From pp. 59-63
My Turn
What about God causes you to fear him, to reverence him? How dependent are you on God's power? Pray and tell him why you're thankful
he has such unique qualities. Raise your hands before him now in surrender of your life, your day and your will.
Another quality that only God possesses is omnipotence. Jeremiah 32:17
says, "O Sovereign LORD! You have made the heavens and earth by your great
power. Nothing is too hard for you!" As powerful as God is, how much
power He makes available to us is somehow based on how much we
realize we need it.
There are certain characteristics about God that only he can possess.
They are a part of his nature that will forever be unattainable by humans.
One is His sovereignty. God is ultimately in charge and his perfect will
always comes to pass. Ps 33:11 says, "The LORD’S plans stand firm forever;
his intentions can never be shaken." Try as we may, no human can come up
against almighty God and win. Pushing against God's plan is like trying to
push the ocean waves back into the sea!
Our worship should reflect our honor of his holy and high position. Jerry
Bridges said, "The reverent, godly Christian sees God first in his transcendent glory, majesty, and holiness before he sees him in his love, mercy,
and grace."7
The first and foremost way we need to "see" the Lord is as Isaiah did,
"sitting on a throne, high and lifted up." When Jehoshaphat knelt before
God in 2 Chronicles 20 to ask for help in their crisis, his opening words
were, "God, are you not in heaven?" Jesus prayed, "Our Father, which art in
heaven." It must be human nature to want to reduce God to someone
more like us, someone we can better wrap our minds around. But we
must never forget that enthroned God is still way up there looking way
down here below.
Too many Christians today have become dangerously nonchalant in their
approach to God. The modern trend is to view God more as our
"buddy" than as transcendent, holy, and majestic God.
God has looked down from the height of his sanctuary; from heaven did the
LORD behold the earth. – Psalm 102:19 (KJV)
35
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Small Group Bible Study Notes
Saturday
For further insight, read Luke 7:37-38.
34
From pp. 185-190
My Turn
How open have you been to new ideas? What’s your first response when
you see someone try something new at church? When was the last time
you did something “strange” and unique, something creative for your
most worthy Lord? Be honest before God now. Ask him to open your
heart and mind to new ideas.
Being creative sometimes means doing strange and “out of the ordinary”
things. Paul and Silas found a strange place to worship God when they
sang praises in prison. An immoral woman did something daring, a way to
worship that had never been done before. She poured oil and anointed
her Savior’s feet then washed them with her hair. These people offered
ground-breaking praise for the greatest reason of all: Their Lord was
worth it. And that’s a powerful reason for us to give him creative
praise—our Lord is worth it!
Because God is creative we are creative. The reason is simple: God, the
ultimate and original Creator, actually creates through us, his children!
Nancy Beach wrote, “We have access to the Creator of All. For reasons
I don’t understand, he chooses to whisper ideas to the listening ones…if
only we’ll believe it and receive.”10 Because it is God who gives us the
ability to be creative, it almost goes without saying, therefore, that he
wants us to be creative in our praise to him.
We should be creative in our praise because God is creative. To see the
awesome creative “genius” of God, all one needs do is look up on a
starry night or gaze at the full spectrum of colors in a sunset. How true is
Psalm 19:1 that says, “The heavens declare the glory of God.”
Every day someone invents a new and needed utensil, perhaps for the
kitchen or for the workplace. And everyday someone comes up with a
way to improve and better use an old tool. God has given us this wonderful gift of creativity through which we can make our tools of praise
even more powerful and effective.
Creativity is the passage-way through which we can discover new and
exciting ways to lift up our Lord. A commitment to innovation is the reason new songs are written, old songs are rearranged, new technologies
are tried, and fresh ideas are put into action.
…sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, making music
to the Lord in your hearts. – Ephesians 5:19
For further insight, read Isaiah 53:1-6.
23
From pp. 64-67
If you have never trusted Jesus to be your Savior, admit to him that you
have sinned. Tell him you believe Jesus died on the cross and rose again.
Then ask him to cleanse you and save you right now. Be sure to call a
friend and let them know of your decision!
My Turn
How many times has God shown his mercy on you? Stop now and, if
you're physically able, kneel before the Lord in humility and gratefulness
for his kindness and love to you.
Perhaps the greatest reason we know he is our God is his mercy. Time
and time again our gracious God has shown mercy on his people. Psalm
103:10 says, "He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us
according to our iniquities." Incredibly, Jesus Christ took our sins upon himself when he died for us.
His holiness is another reason we know he is our God. Because he is
holy he is committed to making us holy. He has given us the Bible to
show us what he expects of us and how we are to live pure and upright
before him. We should never think we can act any way we want and still
receive his blessings and protection. David said to "Worship the Lord in the
splendor of His holiness." (Psalm 29:2 - NIV)
We can be assured he is our God, first of all, because he is faithful to his
people. The unimaginable thing is that God remains faithful to us even
when we are faithless. When one reads the book of Judges, it's difficult to
fathom Israel's moral roller coaster ride through those three hundred or
so years. Over and over God would restore them, only for them to do
evil again in plain view of the Lord. Yet, God was always faithful to answer them when they repented of their sin and turned to him for help.
Fortunately for mankind, God, through his Son, left his high and exalted
place in heaven and came down...all the way down to us. God has chosen
to make himself known to us and have a relationship with us. For those
of us who have placed our faith and trust in Jesus, he is not just the God
in heaven, he is our God on earth.
Wednesday
Thank God for his Son—a gift too wonderful for words! – 2 Corinthians 9:15
Thursday
24
For further insight, read John 15:13-16.
From pp. 69-72
My Turn
Ask God what you need to do to be a more trusted friend to him. Willingly submit to what he tells you to do. Try singing a hymn or chorus
now before the Lord in a time of intimate praise and fellowship with your
Emmanuel.
It's sad to say, but friendship with the Lord is a rare commodity these
days. Few can call themselves God's friends. Perhaps that's because Jesus
said in John 15 that to be considered his friends, we must do whatever he
commands us...
The clearest evidence that God wants to be our friend is through his Son.
Jesus had many friends. In Luke 7, he was called a "friend of sinners." He
set the example for what Solomon in Proverbs 18 called a "real friend
(who) sticks closer than a brother."
Friendship with God is a biblical idea. In fact, it was God who came up
with it. Genesis 3 tells us that God walked with Adam and Eve "in the cool
of the day." The tone of their conversation was friendly, natural and relaxed. Apparently, God had already made friends with his new creation.
Too bad Adam and Eve went and spoiled it with disobedience and sin.
Consider this: He already knows every hair that is on our heads. And
Jesus said to look at how he cares for the birds and the lilies. They don't
toil or reap, yet he provides for their every need. If the Father does all
that, Jesus said, "How much more will he clothe you? Are you not more valuable?" Since the Lord even cares when a tiny sparrow falls, imagine how
much more he takes note of us.
Some might ask, "How can we know for sure that he wants to be that
personal? Isn't it enough that he knows our names among so many billions of believers?" As inconceivable as it is, the Lord really does want to
be involved in every area of our lives.
Knowing God in a personal way is the highest level of Emmanuel. He is
not only God with us. He can and should be God with me. That is his
ultimate goal with each of us. He wants to be to us a very intimate friend.
You are my friends if you obey me. – John 15:14
For further insight, read 1 Corinthians 1:23
33
From pp. 182-184
My Turn
Think of a praise song you sing at church or listen to in your car. Does
the song express who God is and what he has said in his written Word?
Are the lyrics words your heart longs to say to God? Plan to sing and
meditate on those words over and over throughout your day today.
It’s important to note, however, that people who are not redeemed (or
saved) cannot truly appreciate or understand our worship songs. Some of
the most satisfying themes of the Christian Faith, some of our greatest
reasons to praise, may actually “turn off” a lost person. For example, the
washing of our sins in Christ’s blood may seem crude and outdated to
some. The thought of Christ’s death on the cross can be offensive. In the
same way, we can expect our songs and lyrics to, at times, also be offensive. Some songs simply will not seem “suitable,” no matter how hard we
try to be “sensitive” to those around us.
1 Peter 2:9 says God has called us to "show forth" his praises to people
who don't know him. The Children of Judah clearly and boldly proclaimed
his praise through their music and their actions. It is vitally important that
we consider what songs and worship styles will help reach the community around us. Not only is worship not about me, it's not ultimately even
about us as believers; rather, we are to be his light to the people who
don't know Christ. While the lost can't actually worship God, they certainly can watch us praising him. May we willingly and joyfully allow the
Lord to "put a new song in our mouth (so that) many will see it and fear and
trust in the Lord." (Psalm 40:3 NKJ)
God’s ultimate desire for man is to redeem or buy us back from the
bondage of our sin. In that awesome truth, we can all find hope. The Bible
has many wonderful themes that we can express in our songs of worship.
But, like quality work tools are made with steel, every praise song should
be filled with hope. We need to examine our music to be sure they are
songs of the Redeemed.
The praise song the People of Judah sang is an excellent example of the
kind of worship song that both honors and pleases the Lord. Not only
was it scripturally accurate (what God said), it was a redemptive song
that epitomized the very heart of God (who God is). “His mercy endures
forever.”
Friday
This is what they sang: ‘Give thanks to the LORD; his faithful love endures
forever!’ – 2 Chronicles 20:21
Thursday
32
For further insight, read Matthew 15:1-10
From pp. 179-184
My Turn
Think of the music you listen to most often. Are they songs that feed
your spirit and encourage your walk with God? Are they Biblically-based?
Or, do the lyrics include ideas and concepts that are foreign to the teachings of the Bible? Take some time now before God to review your personal “repertoire” of songs. What can stay, and what should go…?
The Father, his Son, and the Holy Spirit, that’s who we worship. That’s
who we sing to. That’s who we sing about. And whether we sing the
songs, play them, write them, or just ride down the road listening to
them, let’s be sure they are songs that properly represent the Lord and
are worthy to be sung straight to the Father’s heart…
In John 4, Jesus said true worshippers worship in spirit and in truth. Worship must start on the inside of us in our spiritual and truth-filled hearts.
Therefore, the praise songs and hymns we sing should, first of all, represent the adoration we have for the Lord in our hearts. Also, the songs we
choose to sing at church should properly represent who God is, both in
his character and his attributes. Moreover, in order for our songs to
qualify as praise songs, they must correctly represent what God said in
his written Word, the Bible.
However, while that’s true regarding the notes and beats of our worship
songs, it is not at all true of the lyrics to our songs. For those, God has
given us a standard. It’s the most clear and Biblical standard of all: the
Bible itself! When it comes to what the words of worship songs should
represent, we have no room to waver based on people’s opinions and
preferences. The truth of God’s Word is non-negotiable.
Because God has not laid down clear guidelines regarding musical style,
we can be somewhat flexible with the kinds of music we use to praise
him, and we can be sensitive to what other believers prefer.
Be strong and very courageous. Obey all the laws Moses gave you. Do not turn
away from them, and you will be successful in everything you do. – Joshua 1:7
25
My Turn
Thank God out loud now for allowing you to know him more. Pray this
prayer from your heart: Lord Jesus, I want to know you and the power of
your resurrection and in the fellowship of sharing in your sufferings...
From pp. 74-76
For further insight, read 2 Corinthians 3:18.
A third benefit of worshiping God is passion for the lost. Rather than
trying to "work up" a burden for those around us who are lost, as we get
to know God and gain his heart, we'll develop a burden for them quite
naturally!
Another fringe benefit of getting to know God better is freedom from
intimidation. Paul's favorite phrase was that we are "in Christ." And because we are complete in Christ, we don't need to be intimidated by
"super-saints". There will always be people more knowledgeable, more
apparently blessed, even more godly than we. But when we know our
Savior is smiling on us and that we are in his will, why should others intimidate us or make us feel uncomfortable? He is the only standard we
must compare with. Paul said in Romans 8, "If God be for us then who can
be against us?"
To start, a tremendous by-product of knowing God is character development. We always become what we worship. If we focus on the world or
other individuals we'll become like them. If we focus upward on God,
we'll become like him. As 2 Corinthians 3:18 tells us, we must gaze on
him and be transformed.
As we get to know God through our fellowship and worship of him, we
begin to see several benefits to knowing and worshiping God. Granted,
we should worship the Lord simply because he demands, desires
and deserves it. However, there are some fantastic "perks" to loving and
knowing our heavenly Father.
That is, after all, God's ultimate goal for us: to know him more. That's
where our cry for reality will be fully satisfied. As worshippers we must
have an insatiable hunger to know our God.
We became acquainted with God when he moved into our hearts and
saved us. However, for us to get to know him more deeply we must diligently invest time with him and focus on him.
Friday
As the hart longs for flowing streams, so longs my soul for thee, O God. My soul
thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of
God? – Psalm 42:1-2 (RSV)
26
For further insight, read John 6:33.
From pp. 76-77
My Turn
Where do you turn for your fulfillment—other relationships, work, a
secret addiction, or the Bread of Life? Surrender afresh to the Lord right
now. Ask him to fill you with his joy and peace today. Pray that he will do
a reviving work in you, and in your church leaders and members. Consider trying one of the eight ways to praise tomorrow during the church
service.
Apparently true satisfaction is hard to come by today. Tabloid magazines
remind us every week that even the richest and most famous can't seem
to harness contentment and peace. That is because the hole in our souls
can only be filled by the Lord. Jesus said, "You're blessed when you've
worked up a good appetite for God. He's food and drink in the best meal you'll
ever eat." (MSG) I've heard that one should never go grocery shopping
when he's hungry. It's best to go after one has eaten a good meal. Once
we've feasted on the "Bread of Life" nothing else looks nearly as tempting.
Yet another by-product of knowing the Lord better is the true satisfaction we find in him. In Philippians 4, Paul said he had learned the "secret"
to being content in any and every situation. He said, "I can do all things
through Christ who strengthens me."
It is not God's will for us to "burn out.” In fact, Galatians 6:9 warns us to
"not become weary in doing good." Life is loaded with many responsibilities,
and the only possible way we will not be weary is to have his supernatural strength. That power is available to us if we'll just take time to get to
know him better.
For further insight, read Ephesians 2:11-22
31
From pp. 191-195
My Turn
Ask the Lord to foster a team spirit within you and your church. Carefully consider, “What do I and my group of friends have in common with
other believers?” (Remember, believers come in all different ages and
from many different backgrounds, denominations, races, cultures and
styles of worship!) Now think of a song that your church enjoys singing
together—a song you have the privilege to “share in.” Sing it to the Lord
out loud right now. Sing it from your cooperative heart!
Dietrich Bonhoeffer made this selfless observation: “It is the voice of the
church that is heard in singing together. It is not I who sing, but the
church. However, as a member of the church, I may share in its song.”9
What others do in the church should, of course, be checked for quality,
effectiveness and doctrinal accuracy. Cooperation does not mean
“anything goes.” Furthermore, of all of the things the Children of Judah
had in common, there is one thing they did not have. They did not have a
common vote. You see, not only does cooperation not mean “anything
goes;” it also does not mean “everyone controls.”
Followers of Christ also have much in common with each other. The
Church is like one huge sky-scrapper, with each bolt and rivet doing its
unique part. God designed his people to work as a team. We can accomplish much more in his Kingdom together than we can apart. And he expects us to love, respect and encourage our team mates, giving preference to their ideas and abilities.
2 Chronicles 20 shows a wonderful picture of cooperation as the Children of Judah came together to seek God’s help in their time of crisis.
Among what they all had in common were a common enemy, a common
purpose, a common and unified praise, a common worship place, a common God and a common victory.
Christians don’t have a great reputation for cooperating with other believers. We’re often suspicious of how the “people down the street”
worship. We don’t easily let in new ideas and methods of praise. Imagine
what the world must think when they look at us; they don’t see unity
among God’s people. Instead they often see disagreements and distrust.
They may actually see us more clearly than we see ourselves.
A tremendous benefit of knowing God is energy in serving the Lord.
Isaiah 40:31 says, "Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young
men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength.
They shall mount up with wings like eagles. They shall run and not be weary.
They shall walk and not faint." (NKJ)
Wednesday
We who believe are carefully joined together, becoming a holy temple for the
Lord – Ephesians 2:21
Saturday
The people who know their God will display strength and take action.
– Daniel 11:32
Tuesday
30
For further insight, read Philippians 2:3-4.
From pp. 175-178
My Turn
Search your heart right now. Can you lay aside your own musical tastes
and choose to worship the Lord with your fellow brothers and sisters,
even when it's through a style of music you don't personally "prefer"?
Pray and ask the Lord to help you and your church honor each other
more. Try praising him right now by clapping to him to show your appreciation for his greatness and wisdom.
As long as a fellow believer's music clearly and scripturally honors the
Lord, we are compelled to honor him and his musical preferences. When
we esteem others and their interests as more important than ourselves
and what we want, then we are poised to let the world know we are
Christians by our love.
The problem is not in our varying "tastes." That is actually a blessing God
designed for his people. The trouble comes when we want to treat every
church worship service like it's our own personal "tasting fair," and we're
the judge. That way, if we don't particularly like a song, we can reject it
and toss it out of the service. Yet, Peter said in 1 Peter 3 that we should
all be "in agreement, understanding each other, loving each other as family,
being kind and humble."
Romans 12:10 says we should "Love each other with genuine affection, and
take delight in honoring each other." That means we should respect each
other in the entire family of God. And in this spiritual family of ours there
are all types of musical interests.
Any song that honors God and is scripturally accurate is suitable to be
sung at church. However, not every song is suitable every time the church
gathers. While particular music styles should not become a personal issue
with us, style still needs to be considered. True, the kind of Godhonoring music we sing and play does not determine our relationship
with God and how he responds to us. However, what we choose may
have an adverse effect on the relationships we have with other people.
And the way we treat each other ultimately affects how we relate to and
please our Lord.
Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.
– John 13:35
27
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Small Group Bible Study Notes
28
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My Turn
Ask God to search your heart right now. When you see someone praising the Lord in a style of music you dislike, do you feel somehow that
God isn't as pleased with their worship as he is with yours? What might
God be showing you through his written Word which you should correct
about your "assumptions"?
From pp. 170-172
For further insight, read Revelation 5:8-10.
29
Have you ever stopped to think that classics songs like "The Old Rugged
Cross" and "Amazing Grace" were new songs at one point? And some of
the choruses that are so new to us may one day be the old and familiar
hymns of the next generation. The status of a song changes with time.
The key to a good praise song is not whether it's old or new, or fast or
slow, but whether it expresses truth that believers' hearts long to sing.
Apparently then, style is not an issue with God. He loves all kinds of music - as long as it honors him. What matters to the Lord is not so much
what we sing, but how we sing it. He wants to see that our music is flowing from hearts which truly worship him.
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Revelation 4 and 5 record the most powerful worship service in the entire Bible. A close study of this passage reveals that it is actually a
"blended" service of both old and new songs.
In fact, rather than validate one over the other, the Scriptures seem to
point to the importance of both the old and the new. For example, passages like Psalm 96:1 encourage us to sing new songs. Yet, Jeremiah 6:16
says, "Look for the old, godly way, and walk in it." Here, we are exhorted to
seek the old path from former days when our ancestors walked with
God. No doubt that "old way" could include our ancestors' songs.
If we are not careful we will form ideas and beliefs about music styles in
worship that simply aren't supported in God's Word. Francis Schaeffer
wrote, "Let me say firmly that there is no such thing as a godly style or an
ungodly style."8
Some people prefer the older worship songs and styles, while others feel
that the newer songs are somehow superior. Too often, we assume that
our particular music preference is the best way—perhaps the only true
way—to worship.
The four living creatures and the four and twenty elders fell down before the
Lamb...And they sing a new song. – Revelation 5:8 - 9 (ASV)
Monday
Week 4—Worshiping with Others
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What God Taught Me in Week 3
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