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SURRENDERING YOUR LIFE FOR GOD'S PLEASUREsix sessions on worship
By BRETT and DEE EASTMAN TODD and DENISE WENDORFF KAREN LEE-THORP
ZONDERVANCopyright © 2002 Brett and Deanna Eastman, Todd and Denise Wendorff, and Karen Lee-Thorp
All right reserved.
Chapter OneSESSION 1
BECOMING A WORSHIPER
I would love to stride into church on a Sunday morning with the joy of surrender welling up from my inner being. It rarely happens. More often than not, I've been driving a carful of kids while combing their hair and insisting that they wolf down some breakfast. I am frequently late, so I rush, slightly sweating, into the worship service. The first song helps me begin to corral my thoughts and aim them in the general direction of God. I have to decide to put everything else aside and make this time be about him. The song lyrics remind me what my life is about-life together with my magnificent Lord. By the third song, I'm aware that God is doing something in my heart. Peace fills me. God's majesty transcends my life's chaotic details. I have become a worshiper.
CONNECTING WITH GOD'S FAMILY 15 min.
1. When have you had a great worship experience? (It's okay to respond, "Never.") What made it great?
2. It's important for every group to agree on a set of shared values. If your group doesn't already have an agreement (sometimescalled a covenant), turn to page 67. Even if you've been together for some time and your values are clear, the Purpose-Driven Group Agreement can help your group achieve greater health and balance. We recommend that you especially consider rotating group leadership, setting up spiritual partners, and introducing purpose teams into the group. Simply go over the values and expectations listed in the agreement to be sure everyone in the group understands and accepts them. Make any necessary decisions about such issues as refreshments and child care.
GROWING TO BE LIKE CHRIST 25 min.
Worship is central to our life together with God. Yet discussions of worship often revolve around aesthetic taste. One person likes hymns, another prefers praise songs, another goes for cutting-edge music, and a fourth likes silence. Formal or informal, in a church or on a mountaintop-we all have preferences. But the words, the music, and the setting are secondary. Worship begins with an attitude of our hearts before God. The apostle Paul describes worship like this:
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. 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.
3. Worship is motivated by an awareness of "God's mercy" (verse 1). What is mercy?
How has God shown you mercy?
4. Worship begins as you "offer your bodies as living sacrifices." What picture comes to mind when you imagine offering your body in this way?
5. What does your body have to do with it? Why doesn't Paul say, "Offer your heart"?
6. Worship comes to fulfillment as you do what Paul describes in verse 2. What does it look like when someone conforms to the pattern of this world?
7. What are the signs that you are being "transformed by the renewing of your mind"?
8. What is one area of pleasing God that Would be a new act of worship for you?
9. What is the connection between the kind of worship you've been discussing and the kind that goes on in a church building?
SURRENDERING YOUR LIFE FOR GOD'S PLEASURE 30 min.
Paul envisions worship as an all-day-long surrender to the will of a merciful God. The acts we normally think of as worship-singing, celebrating, and so on-are meant to train our hearts for this all-day-long surrender. Praise prepares us for surrender.
Praise is acknowledging a good quality in something. We can praise an actor for his talent, an athlete for her strength, a teacher for his insights. Similarly, we can praise God for his good qualities-faithfulness, justice, power, or wisdom. Worship goes beyond praise. Worship is acknowledging someone or something as the ultimate source of good, of life itself. Therefore, while people can deserve praise, only God deserves worship. Praise acknowledges value; worship says, "You have the highest value."
Another difference is that praise is a one-way compliment, while worship is a two-way interaction. Worship happens when we let God catch us up in the marvel of who he is, and we taste the intimacy of eternal life together with God. Praising God is a way of warming ourselves up for this worship connection that fuels our all-day-long surrender.
10. The psalms are the song lyrics for Israel's worship. You can use the psalms' words to expand your praise vocabulary. Read the following psalm aloud in unison. Afterward, allow some time for group members to offer their own words of praise to God in response to the psalm. Pick phrases from the psalm that are especially meaningful to you, and expand on them.
Come, let us sing/or joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. 2 Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. 3 For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods. 4 In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. 5 The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. 6 Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; 7 for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care. -Psalm 95:1-7
11. You're more likely to spend your day in an attitude of worship if you spend a few minutes thinking about God and listening to God. Reading a portion of the Bible will help you do this. On page 81 you'll find a list of brief passages for daily devotions-five per week for the six weeks of this study. If you've never spent daily time with God, this is an easy way to begin. Would you consider taking on this habit for the duration of this study? See page 84 for a sample journal page that you can use as a guide for your daily devotions.
If you're already consistent in daily devotions, consider acquiring the habit of Scripture memory. Six memory verses are provided on page 80-one verse per week. Would you consider accepting the challenge to memorize one verse per week and hide God's Word in your heart? We urge you to pair up with another person for encouragement and accountability.
12. Allow everyone to answer this question: "How can we pray for you this week?"
Take some time to pray for these requests. Anyone who isn't used to praying aloud should feel free to offer prayers in silence.
SHARING YOUR LIFE MISSION EVERY DAY 15 min.
13. You probably know someone who would appreciate being invited to join your small group. Pull an open chair into the circle. This chair represents someone you could invite to join your group.
Who could that person be? Think about family members, friends, neighbors, parents of your kids' friends, church members, coworkers, and the persons who share your hobbies. Take a moment now to prayerfully list one or two names, and then share the names with your group.
____________________ ___________________ NAME NAME
* making the call this week. Why not?-over 50 percent of those invited to a small group say yes! You may even want to invite him or her to ride with you.
* calling your church office to get the names of new members, and inviting new members who live near you to visit your group.
* serving your group by praying for and welcoming new people to your group.
Mercy. Mercy is receiving better treatment than we deserve. Paul has spent eleven chapters in his letter to the Romans detailing how God has shown us mercy. The more aware we are that God has been incredibly merciful in rescuing us from the consequences of our folly, the more motivated we will be to offer our lives to him. The more blasé we are, thinking that we aren't that bad and that life owes us a pain-free existence, the less motivated we will be.
Bodies. Our mouths that speak encouragement or gossip, our hands that build or destroy, our eyes that watch children at play or movies on television, our ears that listen, our brains that think, our feet that set out on our destination, our sexual desires, our ambitions, our health, our physical appearance, our manly strength, our pregnant or empty wombs. The members of the culture of Paul's day were inclined to think that only the soul was of interest to the gods, but Paul insisted that worship cannot be merely inward and mystical.
Living sacrifices. Paul's original readers were familiar with the daily sight of a priest placing a living animal on an altar, killing it, and doing various ritual things with the meat and blood. Some rites (such as those of the goddess Cybele in Ephesus) involved the offering of human body parts. The worship of Jesus Christ sweeps all this away but replaces it with a self-offering that is no less drastic.
Conform. To allow a fallen human culture to force us into its mold. To care more about what others think than about what God thinks. To reflect the current signs of the times rather than the character of God's kingdom.
Transformed. The Greek for this word gives us our word metamorphosis, the process of being changed from one "form" to another. God wants to break us out of the world's mold so that we can become very different kinds of persons in the mold of Jesus Christ. The key to being transformed is allowing God's Word to renew our minds and to unfog our perceptions of reality.
For Further Study on this topic, read Revelation 15:4; Psalm 2:11; Joshua 24:14-18.
Weekly Memory Verse: Romans 12:1
The Purpose-Driven Life Reading Plan: Day 8
Excerpted from SURRENDERING YOUR LIFE FOR GOD'S PLEASURE by BRETT and DEE EASTMAN TODD and DENISE WENDORFF KAREN LEE-THORP Copyright © 2002 by Brett and Deanna Eastman, Todd and Denise Wendorff, and Karen Lee-Thorp
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.