Did you know that one-third of the Psalms are laments? These honest struggles with difficult circumstances were sung by the congregation of Israel in corporate worship. We don't often pray like that today, especially in a corporate setting. What can we learn from these prayers that were inspired and preserved for us in God's Word?
At Christmas time, it is fitting to turn our minds to prophetic truths concerning Jesus the Messiah. The books of the prophets are usually the first to come to mind, and the literal fulfillment of the circumstantial facts they predicted hundreds of years prior to Jesus’ coming is nothing short of miraculous. Another prophetic witness is found in the Messianic Psalms. In total, twenty-five different psalms (one out of six) include at least one Messianic prophecy. Messianic psalms are quoted in eleven New Testament books.
These psalms are prophetic in a special way: in the words and feelings of the Psalmist were found the very words and feelings of the Messiah. (See Hebrews 2:12.) The Psalmist knew that the coming Messiah would “fill out” the emotional and physical suffering he was experiencing by experiencing them in a way he never could. The pain he spoke of figuratively, the Messiah would know literally.
We are familiar with Psalm 66:18: "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me." We need to understand it in its context. Often, this verse makes us question whether God hears our prayers; however, the following verses show that the psalmist had assurance that God heard his prayer because he was not one who cherished sin in his heart. The main emphasis of this psalm is the need to give praise to God. In fact, 14 different ways to praise God are mentioned in this psalm. We can be assured that if God would hear our prayer, then He must hear our praise.
David's life was highly dramatic, but he didn't get caught up in it. What gave him balance, stability, and reference for his direction? Psalm 138 shows us 3 components to the "gyroscope" of David's life.
Paul makes the Corinthians believers aware of his own hardship in 2 Corinthians 1:6-11. We can benefit from other people's struggles. They encourage us to persevere and endure in our own walk of faith until Christ returns.
This week, our study of Ecclesiastes moves from chapter 4's examination of oppression, competition, isolation, and position to adoration in chapter 5. While living through the difficulties of a broken world, God wants us to know His will and be refreshed when we come to worship Him. Solomon shares 3 aspects of wisdom to prepare our hearts for worship.
Psalm 12 expresses how David felt when he had been abandoned by godly friends. In Psalm 13, David is so alone, he feels he has been abandoned by God Himself. This feeling is prompted by the length of his suffering. Perseverance in a long time of difficulty is perhaps the most trying to our minds and hearts.
David's struggle will feel familiar to many people of God. In a marathon of trust, we often ask similar questions. Is God one who abandons? Through David's wrestling, we will learn that God's character and work confessed in prayer sustains us during long, drawn-out periods of suffering.
Where do we find real success and real help in our evangelistic efforts? No Gospel outreach is ever effective unless it is underpinned with the fervent prayer of God's people.
In whatever change we seek, God seeks to change us.
Psalm 3 and 4 show us David's struggle to find peace in threatening circumstances. Psalm 3 is his prayer about the physical threat of his son Absalom's coup. Psalm 4 is likely connected and addresses the threat of permanent harm to David's reputation. David's prayer, perspective, and poise are an example of how we can find peace regardless of our circumstances.
Romans 8:26 is another often-quoted verse from this chapter. Remember that its truth must be understood in the context of the spiritual security and assurance of the believer.
Christians long to have confidence in sharing the Gospel. Paul provides a model for an effective gospel witness. Paul could say that he was not ashamed of the Gospel because he lived out the Gospel. It was something that he not only professed with words, but possessed in his daily life.
An authentic, bold gospel confidence is preceded by personal spiritual integrity. Integrity is characterized by being undivided. Paul was wholeheartedly submitted to the Gospel and the Person at the heart of the Gospel, Jesus Christ.
The theme of the book of Romans is the righteousness of God as revealed in the Gospel. We should never cease to wonder that God's mercy and power were enough to save sinners like us!
We will take our church theme for 2017 from Romans 1:16-17: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘But the righteous man shall live by faith.’”
Virtually every Christian faces fear and hesitance in sharing the Gospel. What is the pathway to personal confidence in sharing Christ? The Bible teaches that an ingathering of souls is always predicated by prayer. The book of Acts is replete with instances of the miraculous salvation of souls on the heels of intercession by God’s people.
In Daniel 6:26-27, the pagan king Darius gave praise to the Lord of Israel because of the testimony of Daniel. Daniel's life demonstrates the fact that God will honor those who stand for Him in the most trying times. Even as a teenager, Daniel demonstrated godly courage, loyalty, humility, and integrity. He lived up to his name, meaning "God is my judge," and gained the trust and affection of his superiors.
Prayer is crucial to our spiritual development. Jesus' prayer in John 17 explains the purpose of Christ's life, which should be mirrored in the purpose of our lives. In this last section, we will seek to understand His passion for God's glory, which is His holiness and purity as demonstrated in His Son, God in flesh, who came to give His life as a ransom for all.
Prayer and Bible study are essential to the development of our spirit, that part of us that communicates with God. We are studying Jesus' prayer in John 17 to find the purpose of His life and how we can imitate it. In the second section, Jesus prays for His disciples at that time. His specific request in verse 11 is that they would be kept in the Father's name.
We are studying how to become more like Christ through prayer and reading God's Word. Jesus' prayer in John 17 shows His life's purpose and the influence He had. We can draw insight about our own purpose and influence from His prayer.
In our study of how to please God through our whole life, we are beginning with the spirit – the part of us that is being renewed against the effects of sin. Those who are born again have a new nature that is fed through our devotion to prayer and reading God's Word.
One writer said, "Whatever causes us to pray is a good thing." The Bible is chock-full of examples of God's people praying to Him. In John 17, we read an example of Jesus Himself praying. Christ relied heavily on prayer to sustain His life and ministry. His prayer in this passage shows the purpose of His life. We too can find particular purpose for our lives by studying this prayer and praying similarly.
The whole person includes a spirit, soul, and body. Our summer study seeks to understand each part and apply biblical principles to how we grow in each aspect. This will give us confidence that we are doing what we can to please the Lord.
The spirit is the image of God in a person (Genesis 2:7). It is what makes us an individual. This includes our moral ability, our rationality, our spirituality, and our personality. All of these can be pleasing to God. Jesus said we must worship with our spirit (John 4:23-24), and Paul personally worshiped God in his spirit (Romans 1:9). The development of our spirit is a necessity (Malachi 2:15).
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