The deepest level of worship is praising God in spite of pain, thanking God during a trial, trusting him when tempted, surrendering while suffering, and loving him when he seems distant.
To mature your friendship, God will test it with periods of seeming separation. God admits that sometimes he hides his face from us.
Sin disconnects us from intimate fellowship with God. But, often this feeling of abandonment or estrangement from God has nothing to do with sin. It is a test of faith.
Seeking a feeling, even a feeling of closeness to Christ, is not worship. Faith, not feelings, pleases God.
"The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised." Job
God is good, he loves me, he is with me, he knows what I'm going through, he cares, and he has a plan for my life
If God never did anything else for you, he would deserve your continual praise for the rest of your life because of what Jesus did for you on the cross.
"For God said, 'I will never leave you; I will never abandon you.'"
How can I stay focused on God's presence, especially when he feels distant?
This is a tough chapter for me. As a "baby" Christian, I feel Gods blessings all around me, but this chapter tells me that he will withdraw from me, that I won't feel his presence. In previous chapters we learned that God is our friend, but withdrawing does not seem to be the action of a friend. Sin disconnects us from God, yet sin may have nothing to do with God's absence from our lives. It's a test of faith. It's difficult for me to understand. If God withdraws from me because of my actions, I understand that and have something to work on, but if it's a test and not about sin, I'm left second guessing myself. My ideal would be to have a heart like Job; "The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised." I know that if the rest of my life is suffering, that God has already blessed me far more than I deserve. I only hope that when the rough spots in my life appear that I can say "Blessed be His name".
Day 14 is a must read! When God Seems Distant, we tend to seek other things – things that we can get an immediate response from. I think that God gets distant at times so that we can go to endless measures to try to seek Him. That is when things get hard. It gets hard because we look at God as someone to grant us wishes oppose to someone who has granted us life.
God is real, no matter how you feel.
We have to aggressively seek God, the same way we seek a mate, or a job, or some new clothes or a new car. We seek these things, research them and so on. With God, however, I’m sorry to say that sometimes we care/seek Him when it is easy…but when it gets hard…we go elsewhere.
When God seems distant:
Tell God exactly how you feel.
Focus on who God is – his unchanging nature.
Trust God to keep his promises.
Remember what God has already done for you.
Ask Yourself: How can I stay focused on God’s presence, especially when he feels distant?
© David McGhee
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Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren
What on earth am I here for?
Purpose Driven Life needs no introduction. I wish I had read it years ago and would recommend it to everyone.
Rick Warren has made several resources available at Purpose Driven Life Website, including a free video series of each day at this link.
My Favorite Quotes
- You have enough time to do everything in God’s will for your life.
- If you do not have enough time to accomplish everything then maybe you are doing too much or watching too much television.
- Obedience unlocks understanding.
- We are concerned with how fast we grow, God is concerned with how strong we grow.
- Stress can come from extending ourselves outside of the spiritual sphere God has given us and worrying about other people’s areas of responsibility.
- The rest of your life can be the best of your life regardless of your age.
- Living with purpose is the only way to live.
- Worry is the warning light that God is not the center of your life.
- I don’t know what God knows, so I can’t see what God sees, so I should trust Him.
- Who do you need to spend more time with?
- What do you need to cut out of your schedule to make that possible?
- What has God already told me in His word that I haven’t started doing yet?
- Does my level of involvement in my local church demonstrate that I love and am committed to God’s family?
Day 1: What Will You Do With the Rest of Your Life?
Point to Ponder: It’s not about me.
I was created by God for God’s purpose.
I cannot know my purpose apart from my Creator.
Being successful is not necessarily the same thing as fulfilling your purpose.
Five things God wants you to do with the rest of your life:
- Center my life around Him. (Worship)
- Connect with other believers. (Fellowship)
- Cultivate spiritual maturity. (Discipleship)
- Make a contribution with my life. (Service)
- Communicate God’s love to others. (Mission)
In spite of all the advertising around me, how can I remind myself that life is really about living for God, not myself?
Day 2: What On Earth Am I Here For Part 1
I am not an accident.
Everything about me has been custom designed by God.
Day 3: The Path to Personal Peace
Motivations, what drives me.
Vanity? Position? Praise of others?
If you do not have enough time to accomplish everything then maybe you are doing too much or watching too much television.
You have enough time to do everything in God’s will for your life.
If you have the correct motives it will help you make good decisions and say NO to the right things.
Day 4: Made to Last Forever
You will spend infinitely more time on the other side of life than on this side.
This life is just a dress rehearsal for true life in eternity.
The deeds of this life are the destiny of the next.
Day 5: Seeing Life From God’s View
Three Biblical views of life
- Temporary assignment
Day 6: Life is a Temporary Assignment
Life is not about pursuing happiness.
The things we see will be here now and gone tomorrow.
It is a fatal mistake to assume that God’s goal for your life is material prosperity or popular success.
Abundant life has nothing to do with material abundance.
Never focus on temporary crowns.
Within 2 seconds of being in heaven, you will regret having spent so much time and focus on temporary things of earth.
Day 7: The Reason for Everything
Bringing glory to God is the reason for everything.
We bring glory to God by fulfilling our purpose and doing what He created us to do.
Our 5 purposes:
- Worshipping God
- Loving other believers
- Become like Christ
- Serving others
- Telling others about Jesus Christ
You have been given gifts to help and benefit others, just as others have been given gifts to benefit you.
Day 8: Planned for God’s Pleasure
Anything you do that brings pleasure to God is an act of worship.
Worship is a lifestyle.
Day 9: What Makes God Smile
5 acts of worship that make God smile (uses the example of Noah):
Love God supremely
Trust God completely
Obey God wholeheartedly
Praise and thank God continually
When we use our abilities
Obedience unlocks understanding.
Understanding can wait, obedience cannot.
When we give God enjoyment, our own hearts are filled with joy.
Every human activity (except sin) can be done for God’s pleasure.
Day 10: The Heart of Worship
Offering ourselves completely to God.
95% is not enough.
Fear, pride and confusion are the three things that keep us from submitting ourselves to God.
Day 11: Becoming God’s Best Friend
Through constant conversation.
Through continual meditation.
Day 12: Developing Your Friendship With God
- I must choose to be honest with God.
(God’s friendship with Abraham, Job, and Moses.)
- Obey God
- Value what God values
- Desire friendship with God above all else.
You are as close to God as you chose to be.
Day 13: Worship that Pleases God
God is pleased when our worship is accurate
When our worship is authentic
When our worship is thoughtful
When our worship is practical
We can worship God imperfectly but not insincerely.
Some slow songs can lead us away from worshipping God because they focus our attention on ourselves and our feelings rather than God.
Types of praise in the Bible:
- Raising hands
- Standing in honor
- Playing musical instruments
- Making a joyful noise
God made us all different and we may all worship in different ways as long as they are true and authentic.
Book Reference: Sacred Pathways by Gary Thomas
You do not bring glory to God by trying to be someone He never intended you to be.
Day 14: When God Seems Distant
God is real, no matter how I feel.
How can I stay focused on God’s presence, especially when he feels distant?
Purpose 2: You Were Formed for God’s Family
Day 15: Formed for God’s Family
God treasures family and relationships
Since I am God’s child, everything He has belongs to me.
Day 16: What Matters Most
Love is the foundation of every command God has given us.
The best use of life is love.
Life is about relationships.
All of the 10 commandments are about relationships.
Learning to love others is the second purpose in your life after learning to love God.
Life – love = 0
Love is eternal.
When dying, people never ask for objects to see one last time, they ask for people.
God measures spiritual maturity by the quality of your relationships and how you treat others.
The best expression of love is time.
Giving your time is a sacrifice.
The best expression of love is to sacrifice.
The best time to love is now.
Who do you need to spend more time with?
What do you need to cut out of your schedule to make that possible?
Day 17: A Place to Belong
I am called to belong, not just believe.
Does my level of involvement in my local church demonstrate that I love and am committed to God’s family?
Day 18: Experiencing Life Together
Day 19: Cultivating Community
Thoughtless words leave lasting wounds.
Speak to each other in the church as loving family members.
Admit your weaknesses.
Point the spotlight on others.
Humility is thinking of yourself less and thinking more of others.
Humility is being considerate of the feelings of others.
Frequent regular contact with your group.
Day 20: Restoring Broken Fellowship
II Corinthians 5:18
Talk to God about it
Always take the initiative
Sympathize with their feelings
Confess your part of the conflict
Attack the problem not the person
Cooperate as much as possible
Emphasize reconciliation not resolution
Day 21: Protecting Your church
How to achieve unity.
Focus on what we have in common, not our differences.
Be realistic in your expectations
Chose to encourage rather than criticize
Refuse to listen to gossip
Practice God’s method for conflict resolution
Support your pastor and leaders
Purpose 3: You Were Created to Become Like Christ
Day 22: Created to Become Like Christ
Get rid of the old
Change how you think
Develop godly habits
Your character is the sum of your habits
God is far more interested in what you are than what you do (for a career).
Many Christians give up on living to fulfill God’s purpose in favor of a life of comfort and ease.
Day 23: How We Grow
God wants you to grow up
The first step of spiritual growth is changing how you think.
The way you think determines the way you feel.
The way you feel influences the way you act.
Two parts to thinking like Christ:
- Stop thinking immature thoughts which are self-centered and self-seeking. Selfish thinking is the source of sinful behavior.
- Start thinking maturely which focuses on others, not yourself.
Knowledge is not the only measure of maturity.
Day 24: Transformed by Truth
- I must accept its authority
- I must assimilate its truth
What has God already told me in His word that I haven’t started doing yet?
Day 25: Transformed by Trouble
II Corinthians 4:17
God has a purpose behind every problem.
Life is a series of problems.
When in pain we don’t have time for superficial prayers.
Your circumstances are temporary but your character is eternal.
What happens to you is not nearly as important as what happens in you.
Jesus went through:
Respond to problems the way Jesus would:
Remember God’s plan is good.
Rejoice and give thanks.
Refuse to give up. Be patient and persistent.
Day 26: Growing Through Temptation
Day 27: Defeating Temptation
I Corinthians 10:13
There is always a way out.
Refocus your attention on something else.
Reveal your struggle to a godly friend or support group.
Resist the devil.
Day 28: It Takes Time
We are concerned with how fast we grow, God is concerned with how strong we grow.
Real maturity is never the result of a single experience.
Why does it take so long to grow up?
We are slow learners
We have a lot to unlearn
We are often afraid to humbly face the truth about ourselves
Growth is often painful and scary
Habits take time to develop
Advice on Christian Growth
God is working in your life even when you don’t feel it.
Keep a notebook or journal of lessons learned. Review it regularly.
Be patient with God and with yourself.
Don’t get discouraged.
80 years of preparation for Moses.
Delay is not a denial from God.
Purpose 4: You Were Shaped for Serving God
Day 29: Accepting Your Assignment
I am saved and called to serve others.
What I give is more important than what I get.
Jesus came to serve and give.
Spiritual maturity is for ministry.
We grow up in order to give out.
Ask “Whose needs can I meet?”
If you aren’t serving you are just existing.
Service is the pathway to real significance.
Day 30: Shaped for Serving God
Each of us has been uniquely shaped by God to fill a specific role He intended for us.
- God shaped me before my birth.
- God planned every day of my life to support His shaping process.
You will instinctively care about some things and not about others. This is a clue as to where you should be serving.
When doing what you love to do, nobody has to motivate you.
Passion drives perfection.
Meaning is far more important than money.
You can have a lot to live on but nothing to live for.
Characteristics of doing what God intended you to do:
Day 31: Understanding Your Shape
The average person possesses 500-700 abilities.
My brain can store 100 trillion facts.
My mind can handle 15,000 decisions a second.
The nose can smell 10k different odors.
Touch can sense an item 1/25,000 in thick.
Many abilities mentioned in the Bible.
What I am able to do, God wants me to do.
Examine what you are good at and what you are not good at.
Look at past experiences to examine:
Painful (this one God uses most)
Day 32: Using What God Gave You
God wants you to make the most of what He gave you. Don’t covet or focus on talents and abilities that you do not have.
Discover your shape
Develop your shape
Forgotten experiences are worthless, keep a spiritual journal.
Take an entire weekend for a life review retreat.
Potter and clay.
Stress can come from extending ourselves outside of the spiritual sphere God has given us and worrying about other people’s areas of responsibility. Focus on finishing your race.
Never compare yourself or your ministry with others.
Utilize your abilities and talents or you will lose them. The same way muscles atrophy.
Day 33: How Real Servants Act
We serve God by serving others.
God measures your greatness by measuring your service.
Day 34: Thinking Like a Servant
Service starts in the heart.
Attitude counts more than achievement.
Real servants serve God with a mindset of 5 attitudes;
- Think more about others than themselves.
- Servants think like stewards, not owners. (Joseph) You must settle the issue of money in your life to become a real servant. No man can serve two masters. If money is your master you become a slave. Email Rick about how to start a kingdom builders group.
- Servants think about their work, not what others are doing.
- Servants base their identity in Christ.
- Servants think of ministry as an opportunity, not an obligation.
Day 35: God’s Power in My Weakness
II Corinthians 13:4
II Corinthians 12:9a
God often acts in ways opposite of what we expect.
God is not impressed with your strengths.
A weakness is a limitation that you inherited that you have no power to change.
Talent or intellectual
God is never limited by our limitations.
Admit your weaknesses.
Be content with your weaknesses.
Honestly share your weaknesses.
Glory in your weaknesses.
Purpose 5: You Were Made for a Mission
Day 36: Made for a Mission
Your ministry is your service to believers.
Your mission is your service to unbelievers.
My Mission is a continuation of Jesus’ mission.
My mission is a wonderful privilege.
Telling others how they can have eternal life is the greatest thing you can do for them.
My mission has eternal significance.
My mission gives my life meaning.
God’s timetable for history’s conclusion is connected to the completion of our mission.
Only the kingdom of God will last.
The disciples wanted to talk about prophecy and Jesus changed the focus to evangelism.
Fulfilling my mission requires abandoning my own agenda and accepting God’s agenda.
Day 37: Sharing Your Life Message
I John 5:10a
I Thessalonians 1:8
My life lessons
My godly passions
The good news of the Gospel
Make a list of your life lessons by asking these questions:
What has God taught me from failure?
What has God taught me from a lack of money?
What has God taught me from pain, sorrow or depression?
What has God taught me through waiting?
What has God taught me through illness?
What has God taught me from disappointment?
What have I learned from my family, my church, my relationships, and my critics?
Not everyone will be passionate about your passion.
Day 38: Becoming a World-Class Christian
World-class or worldly.
Shifts in mindset we must make to be a world-class Christian.
Shift from self-centered thinking to others-centered thinking.
Shift from local thinking to global thinking.
Shift from here and now thinking to eternal thinking.
Shift from thinking of excuses to thinking of creative ways to fulfill your commission.
Pray for the nations:
Opportunity to witness
Courage to speak up
Those who will believe
The rapid spread of the message
Rick says to email him for suggestions on how to pray intelligently for the world.
Day 39: Balancing Your Life
II Peter 3:17
My life is a pentathlon balancing all 5 purposes.
Keep your life balanced by
Joining a small group for accountability.
Regularly evaluating my spiritual health.
Recording my progress in a personal journal.
Passing on what I learn to others.
Stay on track by developing these habits [somewhat redundant, but more detail on the first list]:
Talk it through with a spiritual partner or small group.
Give yourself a regular spiritual checkup. Email Rick for a copy of the PDL spiritual health assessment.
Write down your progress in a journal. Record of life lessons. We remember what we record.
Pass on what you have learned to others.
The rest of your life can be the best of your life regardless of your age.
Day 40: Living on Purpose
Living with purpose is the only way to live.
Most people struggle with 3 areas:
Identity – who am I?
Importance- do I matter?
Impact – what is my place in life?
The answers are found in God’s 5 purposes for my life.
Knowing is not enough, you must do them!
Develop a life purpose statement.
Life’s 5 greatest questions to consider when preparing your statement:
- What will be the center of my life? The question of worship. When God is at the center of your life, you worship: when He is not, you worry. Worry is the warning light that God is not the center of your life.
- What will be the character of my life? The question of discipleship. List the character qualities you want to develop.
- What will be the contribution of my life? The question of service.
- What will be the communication of my life? The question of my mission to unbelievers. God may give you a specific group of people to target and minister to.
- What will be the community of my life? The question of fellowship.
Include scriptures that are meaningful to you. It may take several months.
Email Rick for some examples.
Have a short slogan to remind you in addition to your longer purpose statement.
All other decisions should support God’s purposes for you.
We are the only ones who can fulfill God’s purpose in this generation.
Day 41: The Envy Trap
You cannot fulfill God’s purpose for your life if you envy the lives of others.
Envy is an insult to God.
Envy is a form of spiritual rebellion based on ignorance and arrogance.
Four harmful effects of allowing envy in my life:
Envy denies my uniqueness.
Envy divides my attention.
Envy misuses my time and energy. (Workaholics) Ecclesiastes. Envy is the enemy of contentment.
Envy leads me to other sins. Envy causes disorder and confusion. James 3:16.
Steps to eradicate envy in my life:
Stop comparing myself to others.
Celebrate God’s goodness to others.
Be grateful for who I am and what I have.
Trust God when life feels unfair.
When life feels unfair, remind yourself of these things:
Everything I have is an undeserved gift from God.
I don’t know what God knows, so I can’t see what God sees, so I should trust Him.
Life on earth is unfair because of sin.
God sent Jesus to save us from judgment day when He will balance the books and right all wrongs.
It wasn’t fair for Jesus to die in my place for my sins but He did anyway.
Envy rots the bones.
Day 42: The People-Pleaser Trap
Your desire to be accepted and approved impacts your choices more than you realize.
The disease to please can consume you.
People-pleasing is the flip side of envy.
The opposite side of pleasing people is the fear of disapproval or rejection.
The 5 harmful effects of people-pleasing:
People-pleasing will cause me to miss God’s will for my life.
People-pleasing will prevent my faith from growing.
People-pleasing leads me to other sins.
People-pleasing causes hypocrisy.
People-pleasing silences my life message.
The expectations of others will box you in.
Whoever’s opinion and approval matter most to you is your god.
How do I break free of the people-pleasing prison? A shift in your mindset and thoughts, a transformation. The truth will set us free.
6 truths to remember when tempted to please others:
Remember that even God cannot please everybody.
Remember that I do not need anyone’s approval to be happy. I am as happy as I chose to be.
Remember that what seems so important now is only temporary.
Remember that I only have to please one person, God.
Remember that I will give an account of all my actions to God.
Remember that God has shaped me to be me and not somebody else.
If someone does not approve of you, the problem is them and not you. They may be unpleasable.
Rick asks readers to email him to let him know you read the book and sign up at the Purpose Driven Life Website.
My Action Steps After Reading
- Created a notebook of lessons learned.
- This led to my post of 2018 Lessons Learned.
- Developed a life purpose statement, this was in combination with Paul Chappell’s Stewarding Life book and journal.
- Emailed Rick Warren
- Living with more purpose and focus on God.
- Reading through the book a second time as a marriage devotional.
Related Book Summaries
Hope you enjoyed this and got value from my notes.
This is the 9th book read in my 2017 reading list.
Here is a list of my book summaries.
My notes started to get a bit longer so I’m cutting these down to 5 days at a time. Here are my day 11-15 notes on Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life
Day 11: Becoming best friends with God
- 6 secrets to becoming a friend of God (1-2):
- Constant conversation
- Don’t change what you do, change your attitude toward what you do
- What you normally do for yourself, do it for God
- Pray shorter prayers throughout the day vs long, sustained prayers at 1 time
- Could be 1 liners depending on the situation
- Train your mind to remember Him throughout the day
- Can’t love Him unless you know Him
- Focused thinking on God and His Word
- Prayer lets you speak to God, meditation lets God speak to you
- Constant conversation
- Point – God wants to be my best friend
- What can I do to remind myself to think about and talk to God throughout the day?
Day 12: Developing your friendship with God
- This takes desire, time and energy
- 6 secrets to becoming a friend of God (3-6):
- You must choose to be honest with God
- Trust Him always and be obedient
- Choose to value what God values
- You’re as close to God as you choose to be
- What practical choices will you make today to grow closer to God?
Day 13: Worship that pleases God
- 4 characteristics
- Accurate – based on the truth of scripture
- Authentic – no hypocrisy, be yourself
- Thoughtful – engage your mind, praise him specifically
- Practical – serving, giving, growing, discipling, etc
- Which is more pleasing to God right now, your public or private worship? What will you do about that?
Day 14: When God feels distant
- Faith is more important than feeling
- Tell God exactly how you feel
- Remind you of exactly who God is
- Trust God in times of trials
- Familiarity brings complacency
- God is real, no matter how you feel
- How can you stay focused on God’s presence especially when he feels distant?
Purpose 2: I was made for God’s family
Day 15: Formed for God’s family
- What does this mean?
- We will be completely changed
- We will be free from all pain and suffering
- Rewarded and given positions in heaven
- Should be living for this and not for a comfortable retirement
- You were formed for God’s family
- How can you start treating other believers like members of your own family?
14 life purpose driven day
Grace for a Purpose Driven Life Chapters 13 & 14
“Grace for a Purpose Driven Life” – Week 7
1. I want to begin our time this morning by reading a quote from A Purpose Driven Life:
“God doesn’t want a part of your life. He asks for all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. God is not interested in half-hearted commitment, partial obedience, and the leftovers of your time and money. He desires your full devotion, not little bits of your life.” – p. 100
Input: How would you respond to that quote? What thoughts do these statements generate in your mind? What do these statements do to motivate you, or what lessons are there to learned from what Warren states in his book?
- One of the responses ought to be:
> These words are TRUE, and God, I need Your GRACE to make this happen!
- That’s why we’ve entitled this series: Grace for a Purpose Driven Life
2. Our goal has been to tie this into our overall church theme for 2004 : Enjoying God’s Grace!
* Brief review of Lessons 5 & 6
A. God smiles when we LOVE Him supremely - Like David in Acts 13:2
B. . . . TRUST Him completely.
C. . . . OBEY Him wholeheartedly.
D. . . . PRAISE[for Who He is]and THANK[what He’s done]Him continually.
E. . . . Use our GIFTS and ABILITIES.
* The heart of worship is surrender to God’s authority and His will in our lives
- Last week we focused our RELATIONSHIP with God:
I. Our Relationship with God Began at Creation – Gen. 1 & 2
II. Our Relationship with God was Affected by the Fall – Gen. 3
III. Our Relationship with God Was Renewed in JesusChrist.
IV. Our Relationship with God is one of Friendship!
‘friend’ = a close, trusted relationship (not a casual acquaintance)
B. Ways to Develop That Friendship
1. I need to be engaged in constant conversation.
2. I need to be engaged in continual meditation of His Word!
3. I must choose to be honest with God.
4. I must choose to obey God in faith.
5. I must choose to value what God values.
6. I must desire friendship with God more than anything else.
-Today, we want to focus our time on two other aspects of our relationship with God:
1. Worship That Pleases God
2. When God Seems Distant
- Let’s think about . . .
1. Worship That Pleases God
- There are nearly 200 references in the bible to worship – you can assume from that, that worship is an important part of our lives
- We must be engaged in active worship of our God if we are to fulfill the purpose for which we have been created
i.e. to bring Him glory – to worship/praise/thank Him for Who He is and what He’s done!
- Of course the Psalms have a great deal to say about worship:
- Psalm 29:2 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due to His name; Worship the LORD in holy array.
- Psalm 66:4 "All the earth will worship You, And will sing praises to You; They will sing praises to Your name."
- Psalm 86:9 All nations whom You have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord, And they shall glorify Your name.
- In the NT Jesus, Jesus made this statement to Satan while Satan was tempting Him:
- Matthew 4:10 Then Jesus said to him, "Go, Satan! For it is written, 'YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY."'
- John clarified some worship issues when he quoted Jesus:
- John 4:24 "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."
Note: Make reference to the worship series Steve Viars did (available on the web, or can get hard copies at the MRC is you ask
- Let’s think about 4 characteristics of worship that is pleasing to God
A. God is pleased when our worship is ACCURATE.
- John 4:23 "But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.”
- God is not the way He is because we imagine Him a certain way – He is the way He is because the Word of God
- To worship in truth mean to worship God as He is truly revealed in the Bible
Input: What are some truths about God we need to focus when we worship?
[various answers – but include holiness, justice, righteousness, gracious, merciful, love!]
- This is reason why the Word is central to our worship – it reveals God and His will to us – it tells us about the true condition of man!
B. God is pleased when our worship is AUTHENTIC.
- Jesus said that we must worship God “in spirit”.
* IMPORTANT NOTE: The Lord is not talking about the Holy Spirit in this phrase.
- That’s why the word “spirit” is not capitalized in the various translations, which is an interpretive issue on the part of the translators, but an accurate one.
> The idea here is that genuine worship flows from the inside out...from a heart that is on fire for God, in love with God, seeking to joyfully follow and obey and adore God.
- And please notice the argument of the verse carefully...the logic of the text is that “in spirit” is contrasted to “in truth”
> God has made our hearts with the ability to both think and feel.
> We have cognitive abilities, and we have emotional abilities...
> And yes it is true that our emotions must be controlled with right thinking
> Its also true that our physical bodies must be controlled by a biblically informed mind [there’s an entire message on that subject last year in the A.M. services]
Point: Worship must not just be a passive, cognitive, lifeless exercise.
- We are to worship God “in spirit”...in a way that all of the faculties of our inner person are brought to bear on the process but also in truth!
- There are different ways to worship God – we don’t all have to do it just like you!
[You could talk about the many forms of praise & worship mentioned in the Bible]
C. God is pleased when our worship is THOUGHTFUL.
Input: What is one of the easiest times to not have your mind engaged during worship?
- One answer: Singing – mindless singing – not thinking about the words, their meaning, Who you are sing to, or Who you are singing about!
- Another answer: Prayer – letting your mind wonder and just go through the motions!
- Jesus referred to this as ‘vain repetitions’ – Matthew 6:7
- Next time you pray – CONCENTRATE and BE SPECIFIC
- Don’t just ask God to bless the missionaries, but to allow them to lead a person to Christ this week
- Be careful about the vain repetitions of His name: “Lord” 20-30 times in one prayer – He knows who you’re talking to at the moment!
> You don’t do that in talking to other people, I don’t say, “Steve can I talk to you Steve; Steve I want to know if you could do me a favor Steve, Steve I really need you to .. . .(get the point!)
D. God is pleased when our worship is PRACTICAL.
- By this we mean it’s not just about talking about God – it’s engaging in active, practical worship of God
- Another way of putting this would be: Worship must be demonstrated in ways that can be interpreted!
- One of the ways God defines His expectations is:
- Romans 12:1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
“We usually associate the concept of ‘sacrifice’ with something dead, but god wants you to be a living sacrifice. He wants you to live for Him! However, the problem with a living sacrifice is that it can crawl off the altar, and we often do that . We sing, “Onward Christian Soldiers” on Sunday, then go AWOL on Monday.” – p. 105
- Real worship leads to further faithfulness and obedience to our God
- One of the points that Warren makes is this: ‘Real worship costs.’
> Q: What does it cost?
- One of the answers is ‘self-centeredness’ – it’s not about you!
- Some people say, ‘I really enjoy my time of worship.” – while that’s OK, that’s not the point
- The question is: Did God enjoy that time of worship? Was He pleased?
ILLUSTRATION: P. 106 of the pastor in England who taught his people that worship was more than music, he banned all singing in their services for a period of time and taught them to worship in other ways. By that time, Matt Redman, the worship leader had written the words to, “Heart of Worship”:
When the music fades, all is stripped away, And I simply come
Longing just to bring something that's of worth, That will bless Your heart.
I'll bring you more that a song, for a song in itself, is not what You have required.
You search much deeper within, through the way things appear.
You're looking into my heart.
I'm coming back to the heart of worship, And it's all about You, it's all about You, Jesus.
I'm sorry Lord for the thing I've made it,
When it's all about You, it's all about You, Jesus.
Q: How many times do we make worship about us – our preferences –what I like?
[Note: If questions come up, please refer the person to notes on the web, or have them contact Steve or me with their questions.]
- the issue that often comes up is this: I don’t seem very close to God – or what do I do . . .
II. When God Seems Distant
Input: What are some times when we tend to think that God is far away and not interested in our life?
[usually during trials – pain – disappointment – even temptation to sin!
* 3 Suggestions to help you offset that way of thinking:
A. Focus on who God is – His unchangingnature!
Input: What specific things can I praise God for even in difficult times?
B. Trust God to keep His promises
- Numbers 23:19 God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?
Input: What promises of God can a person focus on that will help him during times of trial/difficulty?
Point: You focus on the truth about God – don’t listen to your feelings –they are cursed by sin, as is your mind, so you need God’s Word to help you through the times when God seems far away!
- He’s really not:
- Hebrews 13:5 . . . for He Himself has said, "I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,"
- James 4:8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
C. Remember what God has already done for you!
Input: What would that be?
- I don't know if I am the only one but, I feel closer to God when I am going through a storm. Most people feel close to God when everything in their life is going good, for me its the totally opposite. I draw closer to God when I'm going through a storm. I feel the most connected when I am going through a difficult time, I turn to prayer and to the bible for answers. The deepest level we can get with God is praising Him in spite of our pain. Sometimes God seems distant to us. This is for a reason. God becomes distant to mature our relationship with him and help us grow spiritually. Just like our earthly relationships are often tested with separation, you will not always feel close to God. God never leaves us though, He is always there for us. Psalms 37:28 says, "For the Lord loves what is fair and right. He does not leave the people alone who belong
1. Tell God EXACTLY how you feel
- When you are going through a storm and have anger, doubt, and fear. Tell God. Unload all your emotions on God. He can handle it and he wants you to. Rick Warren says, "Admitting your hopeless is a statement of faith."
2. Focus on who God is - His unchanging nature
3. Trust God to keep His promises
- When we are going through hard times we need to be patient and realize that God is taking us to a deeper level of maturity spiritually. TRUST ME I am the most inpatient person, this is very difficult for me. It's funny though because my patient's often tell me how patient I am with them and I always tell them, I am patient with you but when it comes to my own life, I am extremely inpatient. Rick Warren says, "When you feel abandoned by God yet continue to trust Him in spite of your feelings, you worship him in the deepest way." Sometimes we just have to let go and let God take control. Trust in his promises.
4. Remember what God has already done for you
- If you can't think of anything in your life right now to praise God for remember what he already has done for you. He sent His son Jesus to die on the cross for you so that you would not have to spend eternity in hell.
Pondering the question of the day, I need to remain focused on God in the good times as well as the bad. Everything happens for a reason and we need to praise God in the storm and on a clear sunny day!
Point to Ponder:God is real, no matter how I feel.
Verse to Remember:"For God has said, 'I will never leave you; I will never abandon you.'" Hebrews 13:5
Question to Consider:How can I stay focused on God's presence, especially when He feels distant?
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The LORD has hidden himself from his people, but I trust him and place my hope in him. Isaiah 8:17 (TEV)
God is real, no matter how you feel.
It is easy to worship God when things are going great in your life-when he has provided food, friends, family, health, and happy situations. But circumstances are not always pleasant. How do you worship God then? What do you do when God seems a million miles away?
The deepest level of worship is praising God in spite of pain, thanking God during a trial, trusting him when tempted, surrendering while suffering, and loving him when he seems distant.
Friendships are often tested by separation and silence; you are divided by physical distance or you are unable to talk. In your friendship with God, you won't always feel close to him. Philip Yancey has wisely noted, "Any relationship involves times of closeness and times of distance, and in a relationship with God, no matter how intimate, the pendulum will swing from one side to the other."' That's when worship gets difficult.
To mature your friendship, God will test it with periods of seeming separation-times when it feels as if he has abandoned or forgotten you. God feels a million miles away. St. John of the Cross referred to these days of spiritual dryness, doubt, and estrangement from God as "the dark night of the soul." Henri Nouwen called them "the ministry of absence." A. W. Tozer called them "the ministry of the night." Others refer to "the winter of the heart."
Besides Jesus, David probably had the closest friendship with God of anyone. God took pleasure in calling him "a man after my own heart."2 Yet David frequently complained of God's apparent absence: "Lord, why are you standing aloof and far away? Why do you hide when I need you the most?"3 "Why have you forsaken me? Why do you remain so distant? Why do you ignore my cries for help?"4 "Why have you abandoned me?"
Of course, God hadn't really left David, and he doesn't leave you. He has promised repeatedly, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."6 But God has not promised "you will always feel my presence." In fact, God admits that sometimes he hides his face from us. There are times when he appears to be MIA, missing-in-action, in your life.
Floyd McClung describes it: "You wake up one morning and all your spiritual feelings are gone. You pray, but nothing happens. You rebuke the devil, but it doesn't change anything. You go through spiritual exercises ... you have your friends pray for you ... you confess every sin. you can imagine, then go around asking forgiveness of everyone you know. You fast ... still nothing. You begin to wonder how long this spiritual gloom might last. Days? Weeks? Months? Will it ever end? ... it feels as if your prayers simply bounce off the ceiling. In utter desperation, you cry out, `What's the matter with me?"'
The truth is, there's nothing wrong with you! This is a normal part of the testing and maturing of your friendship with God. Every Christian goes through it at least once, and usually several times. It is painful and disconcerting, but it is absolutely vital for the development of your faith.
Knowing this gave Job hope when he could not feel God's presence in his life. He said, "I go east, but he is not there. I go west, but I cannot find him. I do not see him in the north, for he is hidden. I turn to the south, but I cannot find him. But he knows where I am going. And when he has tested me like gold in afire, he will pronounce me innocent.'"
When God seems distant, you may feel that he is angry with you or is disciplining you for some sin. In fact, sin does disconnect us from intimate fellowship with God. We grieve God's Spirit and quench our fellowship with him by disobedience, conflict with others, busyness, friendship with the world, and other sins.
But often this feeling of abandonment or estrangement from God has nothing to do with sin. It is a test of faith-one we all must face: Will you continue to love, trust, obey, and worship God, even when you have no sense of his presence or visible evidence of his work in your life?
The most common mistake Christians make in worship today is seeking an experience rather than seeking God. They look for a feeling, and if it happens, they conclude that they have worshiped. Wrong! In fact, God often removes our feelings so we won't depend on them. Seeking a feeling, even the feeling of closeness to Christ, is not worship.
When you are a baby Christian, God gives you a lot of confirming emotions and often answers the most immature, self-centered prayers-so you'll know he exists. But as you grow in faith, he will wean you of these dependencies.
God's omnipresence and the manifestation of his presence are two different things. One is a fact; the other is often a feeling. God is always present, even when you are unaware of him, and his presence is too profound to be measured by mere emotion.
Yes, he wants you to sense his presence, but he's more concerned that you trust him than that you feel him. Faith, not feelings, pleases God.
The situations that will stretch your faith most will be those times when life falls apart and God is nowhere to be found. This happened to job. On a single day he lost everything-his family, his business, his health, and everything he owned. Most discouraging-for thirty-seven chapters, God said nothing!
How do you praise God when you don't understand what's happening in your life and God is silent? How do you stay connected in a crisis without communication? How do you keep your eyes on Jesus when they're full of tears? You do what Job did: "Then befell to the ground in worship and said: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised."'
Tell God exactly how you feel. Pour out your heart to God. Unload every emotion that you're feeling. Job did this when he said, "I can't be quiet! I am angry and bitter. I have to speak!" He cried out when God seemed distant: "Oh, for the days when I was in my prime, when God's intimate friendship blessed my house."' God can handle your doubt, anger, fear, grief, confusion, and questions.
Did you know that admitting your hopelessness to God can be a statement of faith? Trusting God but feeling despair at the same time, David wrote, "I believed, so I said, `I am completely ruined!" 14 This sounds like a contradiction: I trust God, but I'm wiped out! David's frankness actually reveals deep faith: First, he believed in God. Second, he believed God would listen to his prayer. Third, he believed God would let him say what he felt and still love him.
Focus on who God is-his unchanging nature. Regardless of circumstances and how you feel, hang on to God's unchanging character. Remind yourself what you know to be eternally true about God: He is good, he loves me, he is with me, he knows what I'm going through, he cares, and he has a good plan for my life. V. Raymond Edman said, "Never doubt in the dark what God told you in the light."
When Job's life fell apart, and God was silent, Job still found things he could praise God for:
· That he is good and loving.
· That he is all-powerful.
· That he notices every detail of my life.
· That he is in control.
· That he has a plan for my life.
· That he will save me.
Trust God to keep his promises. During times of spiritual dryness you must patiently rely on the promises of God, not your emotions, and realize that he is taking you to a deeper level of maturity. A friendship based on emotion is shallow indeed.
So don't be troubled by trouble. Circumstances cannot change the character of God. God's grace is still in full force; he is still for you, even when you don't feel it. In the absence of confirming circumstances, job held on to God's Word. He said, "I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread "
This trust in God's Word caused Job to remain faithful even though nothing made sense. His faith was strong in the midst of pain: "God may kill me, but still I will trust him.”
When you feel abandoned by God yet continue to trust him in spite of your feelings, you worship him in the deepest way.
Remember what God has already done for you. If God never did anything else for you, he would still deserve your continual praise for the rest of your life because of what Jesus did for you on the cross. God's Son died for you! This is the greatest reason for worship.
Unfortunately, we forget the cruel details of the agonizing sacrifice God made on our behalf. Familiarity breeds complacency. Even before his crucifixion, the Son of God was stripped naked, beaten until almost unrecognizable, whipped, scorned and mocked, crowned with thorns, and spit on contemptuously.
Abused and ridiculed by heartless men, he was treated worse than an animal.
Then, nearly unconscious fromblood loss, he was forced to drag a cumbersome cross up a hill, was nailed to it, and was left to die the slow, excruciating torture of death by crucifixion. While his lifeblood drained out, hecklers stood by and shouted insults, making fun of his pain and challenging his claim to be God.
Next, as Jesus took all of mankind's sin and guilt on himself, God looked away from that ugly sight, and Jesus cried out in total desperation, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Jesus could have saved himself-but then he could not have saved you.
Words cannot describe the darkness of that moment. Why did God allow and endure such ghastly, evil mistreatment? Why? So you could be spared from eternity in hell, and so you could share in his glory forever! The Bible says, "Christ was without sin, but for our sake God made him share our sin in order that in union with him we might share the righteousness of God."
Jesus gave up everything so you could have everything. He died so you could live forever. That alone is worthy of your continual thanks and praise. Never again should you wonder what you have to be thankful for.
DAY FOURTEENTHINKING ABOUT MY PURPOSE
Point to Ponder: God is real, no matter how I feel.
Verse to Remember: "For God has said, `I will never leave you; I will never abandon you."' Hebrews 13:5 (TEV)
Question to Consider: How can I stay focused on God's presence, especially when he feels distant?
When you feel abandonedby God yet continue to trusthim, you worship himin the deepest way.