Do you believe that university life is about more than classes, assignments, studying and weekends? Are you interested in finding more meaning and purpose in your life? Do you enjoy listening to and sharing ideas with others? Then, please join our weekly Bible discussion group.

Campus Bible Talk meets every Monday during the school year (except during holidays and during Reading Week Breaks) at Athabasca Hall, Heritage Lounge, at 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

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Monday, March 26, 2012

Worshiping God - Part IV

Last Monday, we had our fourth lesson in our series about "Worshiping God."  We talked about the need to give God our best, not our leftovers, not our average worship, but the best effort we can offer Him.  We also spent some time discussing the need to worship God alone and no other human being or thing.  God it the only one who has created us, who has saved us and the only one who expects and deserves our worship.

Enjoy the notes from our discussion.

March 19, 2012
Worshiping God – Part IV
Opening Question: Has there ever been a time when you have been unprepared for an event, a supper, an exam, a visit?  How have you felt about it?
We should do our best in order to achieve our goals.  We know that we must study hard in order to get good grades in our studies.  We need to keep our houses clean, so that if a friend drops by we will not be embarrassed at them seeing our place a mess.
The same sentiment rings true when it comes to worshiping God.
1.         We need to give God our best
In Malachi 1:8, we read: When you offer blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice lame or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?” says the LORD Almighty.
The Hebrews were commanded to give to God their best, to bring animals for sacrifices that were flawless, not something that they could not use.  If such a thing was not acceptable to human, important officials, like the governor, God of course would not be please by this gesture.
What were the Hebrews doing here?
They did not want to bear the cost of giving to God.  They were offering as sacrifices things that were useless to them.  A lame or a sick animal had no value.  It could not be sold in the market, it could not be used for food by the owner.  It had no worth.  But the whole concept of the sacrifice is that it should be a cost for us.  It means that when we give to God, it should not be our leftover effort, it should not be the time that we cannot use for anything else, it should not be a half-hearted effort.  God deserves and expects our best and we should give that to Him.
Why does God deserved our best?  What has He done for us?
God has given us everything we have and the ultimate sacrifice He did was giving us His son.  Jesus was perfect, in the sense that He had no sin.  He was not an evil man, a man that had no value to God.  He was His own son, so He had tremendous value to God.  But if God was able and willing to give up His own son for us, how much more should be give up our own time and effort to serve Him and to worship Him.
In Matthew 22:34-27, Jesus tells us: 34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’
God expects us to love him with all our heart, soul and mind, not with just a fraction of our heart, but with no soul or the other way around.  God wants us entire being and we should give ourselves to Him.
Today, God expects no human sacrifices from us.  Instead, He wants us to offer our own bodies as a living sacrifice to Him.  In Romans 12:1, we read:  1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
What does this mean?
It means that our lives should reflect our efforts to please God, to give our best to Him, to try our best to live in a pure and holy way and to please God in everything we do.
2.         We need to worship God alone
Jesus tells us in Matthew 4:10: 10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.”  Then, in Matthew 6:24, he says: 24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
One of the greatest faults of the Hebrews was that they strayed from worshiping God alone.  They forgot the commandment and added idols to God.  They worshiped images made of wood and metal, instead of the true and only living God.
Today, we can fall into the same trap.  We may not worship images, but we may create in our lives certain things that gain a lot of importance, things that take away our attention and our dedication from God.  These things could be work, school, husband, wife, sports, money, etc.  Anything that rules our lives, that takes away our attention, is an idol in a sense.  And we should never allow anything to take the place of God and to receive our best worship instead of God and God alone.
When we come to worship God we should give our best to Him.  We cannot do our worship service with barely the minimum effort, or with half the heart, or only half the time.  God deserves our best and He has give us His best.  Our worship should go to God and God alone and no other real or created being.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Worshiping God - Part III

Yesterday, we studied the third lesson in our series about "Worshiping God."  We saw how our worship service to God is different from the many forms of entertainment that exist today.  Our worship to God is not and should never be for our own glorification, enjoyment or entertainment.  We also discussed how our worship to God could be acceptable or unacceptable to Him, depending on whether we are following what He requires from us or not. 

Enjoy the notes from our discussion.

March 12, 2012
Worshiping God – Part III
Opening Question: What is the latest concert, show or movie you went to watch and how did you like it?
Relaxation is an important part of our lives and sometimes we chose to relax by seeking entertainment, in the form of watching a concert, a TV show, a movie, going to the opera, etc.  These are places where we usually sit and expect others to entertain us.  We are not going anything, other than enjoying the show.  We have paid a ticket and expect to get something for what we have paid.
What does the Bible tell us about the worship service and the church?
1.         Worshiping God is not entertainment
Many people complain that church is boring or that they do not get anything out of it.  It is important to remember what are the purposes and the reasons of one going to church. 
We do not go there to entertain ourselves.  We go there to worship God, to sing praises to him, to pray and talk to him, to learn more about how to be closer to him, to encourage our brothers and our sisters. 
Worshiping God does not mean sitting back and expecting others to do everything, to relax and to enjoy the show.  There are no spectators in the church.  There is no clapping and applauding in the church, cheering for the preacher or the person who leads the prayer.  The worship service is done to praise God, in an environment or reverence and solemnity toward our God.
We are at church to give to God, to be active, in listening, in participating, in singing, in giving, in encouraging.
In Galatians 1:10, we read: 10 Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.
In our worship service, we are trying to please God and we should carry out our worship service in the way that is pleasing to Him.  As we have studied in our previous lessons, there is a certain way of doing things right, in accordance with the word of God and that is what we should always try to do.
This doesn’t mean that what we do in the worship service does not matter.  The lesson should be understandable and relevant to the members.  It should be Biblical and have a value for them.  The singing should be on key, so that everyone can follow, and of a song that people know or can learn.  The prayer should be loud so everyone can hear and they can say ‘Amen’ at the end of it.  However, everything is done to praise God and to worship Him and Him alone, not to entertain or please men.
Why can’t worshiping God be entertaining to men?
2.         Worshiping God could be acceptable or unacceptable
As we have seen in other lessons, Cain and Abel both worshipped God, but one of them did it in a way that was not acceptable.  This means that there is a right way and a wrong way of worshipping God.
Unless we want to be rejected like Cain, we should try to learn the right way and to worship God in the way in which He has commanded us.  Otherwise, regardless of how much effort we put in our worship service, it will in vain and unacceptable to God.
Jesus himself said that people worshiped him in vain.  What do we read in Mark 7:7: 7 They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’
What were this people doing that was wrong?  They were not teaching what God had taught, but were replacing His word with their own rules.  This was not acceptable to God and Jesus said that the worship of these people was in vain or useless.
This verse underlines the importance of always following the word of God and the word of God alone.  Regardless of what people teach and say, regardless of how beautiful their ideas may sound, regardless of what we think can be better or more beautiful or more meaningful or more entertaining, God has set up in place a model for our worship.  If we are to worship God so that He can accept our worship, then we should worship Him in the right, correct way that He has shown us.
What is this correct way God has shown us?  How and when did He show it to us?  This is something we are going to discuss in our next lessons.
Worshiping God is not for our entertaining.  When we come together to worship God, there are no spectators.  We are not in church to be entertained, to relax and to enjoy ourselves.  We are in church to worship God in spirit and in truth, in the right way He was shown us, so that our worship service will be pleasing and acceptable to Him.

Worshiping God - Part II

On Monday, March 5, we continued our discussion on "Worshiping God."  We focused on the meaning of worshiping God in spirit and in truth.  We looked at the Scriptures to understand these two aspects of our worship service that God expects from us.  Then we discussed how our worship service should be pure and holy.

Enjoy the notes from our discussion.

March 5, 2012
Worshiping God – Part II
Opening Question: What is your favorite easy-to-make food or drink and how do you make it?
Regardless of whether you are a chef or a novice in the kitchen, there is a certain way of preparing a good meal or a drink, whether it is very elaborate and from scratch or as simple as opening and heating a ready meal.
Today, we are going to look at the Bible, to see how we go about worshiping our God.
In our previous lesson, we talked a bit about the need to worship God in spirit and in truth.  Today, we are going to expand on the concept of worshiping God in spirit.
Worshiping God in Spirit
In John 4:23-24, we read: 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
What does it mean to worship God in spirit?
1.         Worshiping God in spirit means that it involved our spirit. 
It is not something we do mechanically, without any emotion or passion, something we are forced to do or embarrassed if other people realize we do not do it.
In Hebrews 12:28-29, we read: Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our “God is a consuming fire.”
We know that God is a spirit, so worshiping him in spirit means offering Him those things that are spiritual and that are appreciated and accepted by Him.  Our worship service should come with reverence, respect, honor and glory that goes toward God, not the people who are simply vessels in serving God.  In the same way that when enjoying a good meal the gratitude goes to the chef, not the spoon or the fork, our respect, honor and glory in our worship should go to God, not to men.
2.         Worshipping God in spirit means that your spirit should be right with God and with men.  
Being right with God means that we should strive to do our best not to have or to allow any sin to come between us and god.  Have you ever been in a situation when you are invited to someone’s birthday but you have had a fight with someone you know it is going to be at the party?  What do you do?  What is your attitude toward that person during the party?
The same is true about worship.  We cannot worship God in spirit if our spirit is not right with God.  We need to confess our sins, repent and try to do better next time, as much as we can to leave in peace with God and everyone else and as pure as we can.
Being in peace with men is similar.  We cannot love God and hate men.  1 John 4:20 teaches us that 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.  We need to do right by our brothers and sisters.  In Mathew 5:23-24, Jesus himself teaches us: 23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.
3.         Worshiping God in spirit means that our worship should be pure and holy
What does this mean?
Let’s see it from the other side.  What is a worship that is not pure and not holy?  What qualities it would have?
During our worship service we should remember why we are there.  We have come to bow before our God, to meet with Him, to give Him our love and to show Him how much we love us and how much we want to please Him.  If we want to do all these things, what should our attitude be?
How should we act before worship, in terms of arrival, rushing, hurrying up to get to church?  What about during service?
We need to control our minds, our thoughts and focus on what we have come to do, worship our God.  Talking, whispering, passing notes, any anything else that distracts you or others from worshiping God should have no place in our worship toward Him.  Think about if you are meeting the Queen or the Prime Minister or someone else important or whom you hold in high esteem.  Would you be doing any of those things?  Well, then you should not do those when you are in the presence of God.
Worshiping God in spirit means that we need to be humble, considerate, and reverent in our worship toward Him.  We need to be right in our hearts and minds with God and with men.  And we need to focus our minds and our thoughts, so that our worship is pure and holy and acceptable unto God.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Worshiping God

"Worshiping God" was our topic last Monday.  We saw how God has specified a certain pattern in which we must worship Him.  It is crucial for us to seek and to find this unique pattern, in order to please God through our efforts to worship Him.  Finally, we talked about the notions of worshiping God in spirit and in truth.

Enjoy the notes from our discussion.

February 27, 2012
The Purpose of Worship
Opening Question: What is the purpose of someone attending a university and what is expected of them?
While one may strive toward many goals while attending the university, the main purpose is to learn on the area of your studies, to obtain a degree that will help you in your career later on in life.
Today, we are going to study the purpose of worship toward our God.
What does it mean to worship?
To worship means to glorify, honor, praise, exalt, and please God.
What does the Bible says about this worship?
1.         God has set a certain pattern on how we must worship Him
In John 4:23-24, we read: 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
Note that Jesus used the word ‘must’.  God has determined how we must worship Him.  We are not at liberty of change, modify, add or take away from what God has asked us, from the way in which he wants us to worship Him.
Why should we not do these – changing, adding, modifying?  What happens if we do those things?
If change starts, no one knows when it will end.  If one person suggests something, the door is open for other suggestions and everyone has an idea or a thought on how to do things, how to improve or enhance them.  But God alone is the one whose pattern we should follow.
In Genesis 4:3-5, we read: 3 In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. 4 And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.
Abel and Cain were trying to worship God.  While Cain’s worship was not accepted, Abel’s was.  This tells us that for Cain’s worship to be wrong, it had to be a right way, the way which Abel had followed.  And of course God would have made it clear to Abel and Cain the way to worship Him.  God would not hold us responsible for something we did not know.
This example illustrates once again the importance of us knowing what is the right pattern in which we must worship our God.
2.         We should learn this specific pattern
If it is important for us to worship God only in the pattern which He commanded us, then it is equally important to learn what that pattern is.  And how do we do that?  How do we find out how God wants us to worship Him?
Hebrews 1:1:  1 In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.
We learn about God by listening to the one through whom He has spoken to us.  Jesus Christ is the only one God used to communicate His will to us in these last days.  We learn the words of God and how we can worship God in the pages of the Bible, which is the Word of God.
Like learning other things, learning how to worship God properly takes some times.  We can make mistakes, but we are expected to keep learning and to fix those things once we realize the errors of our ways.  God expects us to come to Him in a certain way and we must do that.
3.         We must worship God in Spirit and in Truth
Worship is directed toward God, not the people who participate in the worship, the people who lead the worship from the front or the people who are sitting in the pews of the building.  The object of our worship is God and God alone.
The way in which we worship God should be in spirit and in truth.  We will study these two elements in details later on, but for now let us mention that in spirit means that our worship to God should come from our heart.
What does this mean?
It means that our will is there, that we are not forced to worship God, we do not attend church on Sunday morning because we are obligated by someone or by something, or there is nothing better to do, but because we want to do that, our heart is in what we are doing, i.e. worshiping God.
In truth means worshiping God in the right way, in accordance with the Bible.  That means that we accept nothing else as the guidance in our worship toward God but what is written in the pages of the Bible.