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Psalm 100 1
1 Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. 2 Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. 3  Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. 5 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Background

This  psalm is a song of praise and should be considered a prophecy,  a prayer, for the coming of that time when all people will know God and worship Him as sheep of His pasture. We are encouraged to worship God and to do it cheerfully. Because we often stray like wandering sheep, God brings us to his fold again and again. For this reason alone, for God’s generous grace,  we have reason to bless His name.

In the matter of praise,  our motives are very important. Each of us must decide who God is to us. The closer and more constant our worship, more inward and serious we are in our worship, the deeper the relationship will be with our God. God gives us the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, filled with rich promises, for a purpose. It is to strengthen the faith of every weak believer through praise and worship.

Items for Discussion

  • What assists the acts of worship to become joyful?
  • Are these the same things or different that what is necessary to be drawn closer to God?
  • Where should each of us look and find our definition of God?
  • Are there places we should avoid that could mislead us in understanding God?

Luke 17:11-19
11 Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” 14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. 15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him-and he was a Samaritan. 17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

Background

Samaria and Galilee border each other, there is no “region between” them, and even if there were, it would be an odd route to take toward Jerusalem. Jesus is on his way to the cross, and the encounters He has along the way show us something about the nature of the kingdom He will establish. This encounter happens in a place where we would expect the tension between ethnic and religious differences to be intense.

We all have “spiritual leprosy.” This should make us very humble whenever we attempt to draw near to Christ. We should expect God to meet us with mercy when we are obedient to Him. At the outset of this story, ten men are stuck in a “no-man’s” land of being socially, religiously, and physically unclean. By the end of the story, all ten are made well. But one has something more. He has seen Jesus, recognized His blessing and rejoiced in it, and changed his course of action and behavior. Just one of those who were healed returned to give thanks.

Because the leper sees what has happened, he is not just healed, but is made whole, restored, drawn back into relationship with God and humanity. In all these ways he has been, if we must choose a single word, saved.  This should be the response of every Christian when God has bestowed His gifts of healing and grace, to be very humble in our thanksgivings, as well as in prayers. Christ noticed the one who distinguished himself was a Samaritan. The others only got the outward cure, the Samaritan alone got the spiritual blessing.

Items for Discussion

  • Are there people in our society today that are stuck in a “no-man’s” land? Who are they? Why are they stuck there?
  • What gifts “from God” do you see people taking for granted?
  • How would you describe a proper thank you?
  • What did the other nine lepers miss out on?

Philippians 1:3-6
3 I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Background

At Philippi the Paul was treated badly  saw little fruits from his labor, Yet, he remembers Philippi and the people with joy. The Aposlte Paul reminds us that we must always thank our God for the graces and comforts, gifts and usefulness of others, as we are the one’s who receive the benefits and God receives the glory. The work of grace itself will never be perfected till the day of Jesus Christ, the day of his appearance.

Items for Discussion

  • Paul is separating the treatment of a place from those who have helped him. Why is our opinion of a place often tied to how well or successful we have been? Think of a community, a job even a church.
  • What makes the difference in sorting out the joys from the sorrows?

Discussion Challenge

  • What are the top priorities of a congregation in making sure the worship experience and church life are joyful?

Notes:

  1. NIV New International Version Translations
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