God With Us Through Apathy – Stephen Orr 24/10/21

Passage: Psalm 136

Galatians 5:7 You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth?8 That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. 9 “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” 10 I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion will pay the penalty, whoever he may be.

What is Apathy?

Apathy – lack of interest of feelings, enthusiasm or concern

The warning from Jonah: his apathy to the needs of the people of Nineveh and to God’s command – it lead to him ignore God’s words, and deeds. 

Paul warned the Galatians and us. Could apathy be the issue for us?

You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion will pay the penalty, whoever he may be.

Paul to the Galatians (Galatians 5:7-10)
Think about:
  • Is apathy an issue for you now or has it been in the past?
  • How is it affecting your spiritual walk?

From a human point of view these add to apathy 

  • Mood
  • Distraction
  • Discouragement 
  • Disillusionment 
  • Misplaced focus 
  • Pain 
  • Energy levels
  • Hatred 
  • Spite 
  • Envy 
  • Unforgiveness 

What can you add to this list?

From a spiritual point of view these can add to apathy 

  • Not using gifts
  • Not serving
  • Not worshiping
  • Not praying
  • Not spending time with God
  • Not loving one another 

What can you add to this list?

If we are honest with ourselves, are these an issue for us?

Paul asked, “what stopped you running the race?”

Let us beware: the danger of spiritual apathy 

What is getting in and working its way through to damage our walk with God? 

What dispels apathy? 

Realising God is with us 

As we go through these times, God is with us, as we know from Psalm 23 and Jesus’ teaching on the Holy Spirit in John 14 and 16, Matthew 28:18-20.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Jesus’ final words to his followers

Remembering what God has done for us Psalm 136 

God love (HESED) endures forever

As we give thanks to God it helps us to defeat apathy 

God’s love for creation 

Think about: What God has done in creation?

God’s love for his people 

Think about: What God has done in the past?

Jesus 

God’s love for us and in Jesus 

Think about: What God has done for you?

Our personal faith journeys 

We give thanks

Think about: how can we increasingly live lives of thanksgiving ?

Living with Purpose

Love God, love neighbours, love one another, make disciples 

Romans 12 – Love

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

Paul to the church at Rome (Romans 12:9-15)

Let us heed Jesus’ warning and recognise his invitation  

To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

The risen Jesus to the church at Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22)

Parents and Children – from the resource “With God Together” by Faith in Kids

Chat with your child about what we learned. Try asking…

  • What is something God gave us that shows he loves us? Encourage your child to go and get it or point to it. (It might be something you talked about in Kingdom Kids, like something in creation.)
  • What is something I do (as your parent or carer) that makes you feel loved?
  • At different points in the week (successes and failures), ask your child, ‘How does God feel about you right now?’ Whatever they answer, reassure them that God loves them forever.

Let’s pray!

Sometime this week, say a family prayer and invite everyone to thank God for…

  • Something in creation
  • Something he did in the past
  • Something he did for you

After each item say, ‘His love continues forever!’ (Psalm 136). You could make up a hand motion that expresses ‘forever’ and use it as you pray.

Apply

What have I found interesting? 

What has challenged my life, attitudes and actions

How would this habit help me to become more like Jesus?

How would this habit help me to introduce others to Jesus?

What practical steps do I need to take to incorporate this habit into my life?

Is there there anything I need to pray about, explore further or extra help I need?

Is there someone I should to share with, pray with or encourage

Become – Worship – The Power of Praise – Stephen Orr 10/10/21

Passage: Luke 10:21-22

Acts 2:46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

The Power of Praise

Celebration is vital to our ability to live fully worshipful lives, that demonstrate our relationship with God.

To praise someone or something is to speak well of them or it. It comes naturally whenever we come across something that delights us. We’ll instinctively go on about a great movie we’ve seen, or something great our kids have done for us. We praise all sorts of things.

Sam Allberry, ‘Why Bother with Church?’

For the Christian, praise takes a more meaningful, powerful and life-changing place in our lives – as it did in the early church. We praise God!

Acts 2:46-7 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Supremely, this church praised God, in a joyful (glad), wholehearted (sincere) way. Joy in God seemed to mark their corporate life, whatever they were doing together. They knew their God to be unfathomably good and enjoyed reflecting that in the way they spent time with one another. 

Sam Allberry, ‘Why Bother with Church?’

Acts 2 gives us a powerful picture of a community that praises God through the power of the Holy Spirit. Here we see the change it made to their lives and the community around them.

Although praise is a word we often use, it’s actually difficult to define.

Praise words in the Old Testament:

  • Halal : from the root ‘making a noise’ 
  • Yada : originally associated with the bodily actions and gestures which accompany praising
  • Zamar : associated with the playing or singing of music

Praise words in the New Testament 

  • Eucharistein : to give thanks 
  • Aineo : to praise, celebrate
  • Doxazo : to glorify

PRAISE – An expression of worship which recognizes and acknowledges God as the ultimate source and giver of all good gifts. In the Bible it encompasses a number of elements. 

We praise God because of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection and for sending us the Holy Spirit.

In Luke 10:21 & 22, we see Jesus responding with praise to God for the ministry of those he sent out. They were becoming like him and introducing others to Jesus (doing as our vision states). As we consider these verses they help as to praise God.

Praise comes through Joy

The connection between joy and praise:

Psalm 71:22 I will praise you with the harp for your faithfulness, O my God; I will sing praise to you with the lyre, O Holy One of Israel. 23 My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you–

Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

James 5:13 Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise.

“Therefore praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed confirmation…. In commanding us to glorify him God is inviting us to enjoy Him”.

CS Lewis in ‘Reflections on the Psalms’

Praise is a mark of of God’s people and for His Glory

The connection between praise and glory:

1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

The act of praising implies the closest fellowship with the One who is being praised.

Praise in the Holy Spirit 

The Holy Spirit activates the church’s praise:

Ephesians 5:18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. 19 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Praise is specific. Name it

I praise you because… ” We actually need to verbalise the reason for our praise, as Jesus himself did.

A place of worship is a place for listening—listening to God speak. But it is also a place for answering, responding to what is spoken. God’s words initiate a conversation. We come together as a congregation in worship to speak “through prayer and praise” with the God who speaks with us.

Eugene Peterson

Name the Spiritual Blessings in Christ

Ephesians 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will– 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.

Praise as an act of witness

When Jesus praised God (Luke 10:21 & 22) it allowed him to express to all around something of the greatness of God. 

2 Samuel 22:50 Therefore I will praise you, O LORD, among the nations; I will sing praises to your name.

2 Corinthians 9:13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.

Praise is a way of life 

Psalm 35:28 My tongue will speak of your righteousness and of your praises all day long.

How we live can encourage others to praise God. 

Matthew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

The goal of God through Jesus is that everyone will praise God:

Philippians 2:10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Praise arises from the habits and drives us to them

Foundations: Love, The Bible, Prayer, Community

Silence and Solitude: Mediation, Fasting, Retreat

Sabbath: Slowing and Rest, Simplicity, Creation

Service: The Holy Spirit, Spiritual Gifts, Hospitality

A healthy church will be thinking about how they can declare God’s praise to their community, in both their gathered meetings and when their members are scattered throughout that community during the week. They will exhort each other to live in a way that reflects the beauty of the gospel, and equip each other so that they are ready to speak the truth of the gospel to those who ask them the big questions of life.

Sam Allberry, ‘Why Bother with Church?’

May our lives of praise seek to fulfil these verses:

Romans 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.

For Reflection

  1. What is going on when we praise God? Skim through The Power of Praise above: has anything in this section expanded your understanding of praise?
  2. Re-visit the section, Praise comes through Joy: what do you think about the link between these two things? What about the times when we simply don’t feel joyful though? What do you find helpful at such moments?
  3. What things can block our praise? Any thoughts on moving beyond the block?
  4. What do you think of the idea of naming specifics in praise? (Is this something you do?)
  5. Consider the final quotation from Sam Allberry alongside Romans 12:1. Pause to think of how tomorrow might look for you. How do you react to these two quotations in relation to your own situation?

Apply

What have I found interesting? 

What has challenged my life, attitudes and actions

How would this habit help me to become more like Jesus?

How would this habit help me to introduce others to Jesus?

What practical steps do I need to take to incorporate this habit into my life?

Is there there anything I need to pray about, explore further or extra help I need?

Is there someone I should to share with, pray with or encourage