Saturday, 1 November 2008

Using the Bible to Praise God...

Below is the text of a handout I prepared for a workshop I was asked to run today. It was in the context of a training day put on by our church on how to worship God together and in all of life.


“If reading the Bible doesn’t lead you to awe, reverence and praise, then something is wrong!”

“It’s often easier to pray for each other than to praise God, because praying for each other falls well within the bounds of our everyday experience… God doesn’t.”

Why use the Bible to help you praise God in all of life?
1. Because through the death and resurrection of Jesus, you and I now have access to quality time with the whole Trinity, getting to know them (Ephesians 2:17-19). It doesn’t get any better than this.
2. Because whilst access to God is now open, it doesn’t mean that we can approach him in any old willy-nilly fashion (Psalm 2:11). The Bible shows us how to relate to him appropriately.
3. Because, as humans under the curse of the Fall:
i. Praising God doesn’t come naturally, we needs the Spirit’s help (1 Corinthians 12:3)
ii. We are not immune from being duped by wrong ideas about God formed in our own sin-polluted imaginations. (Isaiah 65:2)
iii. Even when we believe true things about God, we can quickly end up allowing the part to overtake the whole: e.g. only praising God for his love and never praising him for his justice in punishing sin. He should be praised for both, (see Luke 10:21).

Because in the Bible, God has given us everything we need to:
1. Nourish our minds with truth
2. Convict and strengthen our hearts with grace.
3. Inspire our imagination for good works and what it will be like when we meet him

How to use the Bible to help you praise God in all of life
:: By reading/hearing -> meditating on -> paraphrasing -> memorising -> internalising scripture. (Warning, this could lead to a Psalm 119:62 moment! ;o)
:: By declaring scripture back to God, reminding yourself, and him of what he has declared and promised.

Try saying these verses in your own words:

Ascribe to the LORD, O mighty ones,
Ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.
Psalm 29:1-2

How many are your works, O LORD!
In wisdom you made them all;
The earth is full of your creatures.

Psalm 104:24

Some verses (not an exhaustive list) to inspire you to praise and thank the One God who is Father, the Son and Holy Spirit for:
(Categories (and many scripture refs) taken in large part from: Wayne Grudem’s book Systematic Theology, and Piper’s book The Pleasures of God)

A. Who they are.
1. How they are not like us
(Their incommunicable attributes – nothing in our experience is similar)
:: Have no constraints: Ex. 3:14, Rom. 11:35-36
:: Unchangeable: Ps. 102:25-27
:: Eternal: Ps. 90:2, Rev. 1:8
:: All-knowing: 1 John 3:20
:: All-seeing: Jer. 23:23-24
:: All-mighty: Isa. 46:9-10, Jer. 32:17
:: Unity in diversity: Ex. 34:6-7
:: Invisible: 1 Tim. 6:16

2. How they are like us
(Their communicable attributes – elements of our experience are similar)
:: Wisdom: Job 9:4
:: Truthful: Jer. 10:10-11
:: Faithful: Ps. 141:6
:: Goodness/Kindness: Rom. 8:32
:: Love: 1 John 4:8
:: Merciful/Gracious: Ps. 103:8
:: Patience: Rom. 2:4
:: Holy: Isa. 6:3
:: Peaceful (in the sense of not disordered): Rom. 15:33
:: Righteous and Just: Deut 32:4
:: Jealous: Isa. 48:11
:: Wrath: Rev. 19:1-4
:: Their will/desire: Eph. 1:11
:: Freedom: Ps. 115:3
:: Perfection (Completeness): Matt 5:48
:: Blessedness (happiness): 1 Tim. 1:11
:: Beauty: Ps. 27:4
:: Glory: Ps. 24:10, John 17:5

B. What they have done/do/will do.
1. …in “big-picture” history
:: Creation: Job 38:4-7
:: Keeping the universe in motion: Heb. 1:3
:: Hiding themselves from the so-called wise and revealing themselves to the simple: Luke 10:21
:: Standing up for the weak: Ps. 68:4-6
:: Redemption: Titus 2:11-14
:: Judgment: Acts 17:30-31

2. …specifically for you
:: For you to fill in if/when God has given/gives you scriptures for particular situations in your life.

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