Category Archives: Spiritual Growth

CHATGPT: Education and Church

Disclaimer: 

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a blog as “a website that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the writer.” My Christian blog, GreenePastures.org, is sometimes an emotional piece, an article, a sacred snippet, listings, quizzes, or more. It is just me sharing whatever I feel led to. It started with me wanting to practice my writing skills, so you may be horrified reading my early blogs. Personal blogs should not be looked at in the same light as professional articles. What follows is my opinion and the opinion of others that I have read about regarding Artificial Intelligence (AI) and ChatGPT. I am not sharing a bibliography or works cited page, but you might find a few indications of where quotes or materials come from along the way,

My Interests

As I mentioned in my previous blog, my two main interests regarding artificial intelligence revolve around two entities—education and the church, mainly because I was a high school librarian and I am a churchgoer. I recognize that this blog may be irrelevant and outdated with the changing pace of AI, maybe even by tomorrow.

With AI, there will be challenges with integrity in high schools and schools of higher education, just as there will be challenges in church uses of AI. The benefits and abuses of AI are moving fast, but I believe it is here to stay, and then we can wait for the next big thing—humanoids! Prototypes are already out there!

ChatGPT and Education

As my husband and I hung around the house today, I moaned that I had so much work to do, and he asked, “What?”

I told him about the papers and schoolwork I had to do, and I jokingly asked him if he would like to write my paper on “CRISIS” for me. He joked back and said, “Why? ChatGPT can write it for you.” You see, he had spent the morning on ChatGPT looking up information on 1 Corinthians 15, and he got a summary, paper, bibliography, and works cited, all in the same sitting. Impressive, right? Well, not so.

There are challenges with using AI, affecting the whole gamut of educational institutions, from preschool to professional academic papers and seminars. The significant deficiencies and/or comments I see are listed below.

  1. I see a problem with academic integrity. Dishonesty is already widespread, and educational institutions will be responsible for making new policies.
  2. There must be more time to make the necessary changes or policies because AI is moving rapidly. And who has the energy to accomplish all that needs to be done?
  3. A student’s temptation to cheat will increase. Yes, I will get into the Christian value system later, but let’s chat for now. No pun intended.
  4. Plagiarism will increase.
  5. Both educators and students might become less creative than they were designed to be.
  6. Laziness will occur.
  7. The value of higher education will decrease because information (whether credible or not) will be “more” accessible.
  8. Bias and possible brainwashing may occur because those inputting the information still come from human choices.
  9. There could be a problem with college admissions, because how would the admission office know who really wrote the applicants’ essays?
  10. Training on AI’s proper use is needed for faculty and students.
  11. Addressing the fear and injustice that honest students might experience, should be considered. They know that even if they are honest, they still compete with students using AI in their schoolwork.

ChatGPT and Church

There is also concern with ethical and moral principles in the church. I was reading an excellent article by Pastor Duke Taber. He said, “Church leaders must be careful to ensure that the use of ChatGPT complies with legal and regulatory requirements, is transparent, and considers privacy concerns.” In the article, Taber expresses his concern with the ethical and moral principles within the pastorate. He believed that pastors and ministry leaders should be transparent to their congregants about using AI in sermon preparation. His article was terrific until I read the Disclosure at the end. The Disclosure said, “This paper was written by ChatGPT with editorial oversight and guidance by Duke Taber.” I was duped as I read the article. So, I thought, “What if pastors were required to disclose that they used ChatGPT if they used artificial intelligence in sermon prep?

While many see benefits to using ChatGPT in ministry, I see some challenges, which are enumerated below.

  1. New policies and rules need to be written regarding using artificial intelligence of any sort in a sermon or Bible study prep.
  2. Training is needed on its acceptability or not to pastoral staff and volunteers.
  3. Pastors could rely more on artificial intelligence than the Bible or other credible Biblical materials.
  4. Busyness is part of our lives, and pastors could become more likely to depend on this time-reducing application rather than seeking out the Word of God through prayer and dependence upon the Holy Spirit.
  5. For the congregants, why bother to listen to a sermon that might have been written by AI? If I don’t sense the Holy Spirit’s part in my pastor’s prep, I would be tempted to avoid listening, and rightly so. I want to hear from God through my pastor. Many congregants might decide not to attend church at all.
  6. Using AI in any church form—blogs, devotionals, Bible studies, and more could create a distrust of church literature. This could even progress where people become distrustful of reading Christian books, magazines, articles, and listening to Christian podcasts, not knowing if the source is human. (I may be far-reaching on this statement, but if I write more books or materials, do I need to note that I wrote it and not some artificial intelligence source?)
  7. Pastors and staff could become lazy.
  8. Pastors should be reminded not to compare their sermons with others because following God’s principles are more important than how others plan their sermons.

The Associated Press recently published an article titled “ChatGPT AI Robots writing Church Sermons causing Hell for Pastors.” The report stated that using AI can cause both fascination and unease for pastors. It also said that ChatGPT “can’t replicate the passion of actual preaching” and “lazy preaching pastors might be tempted to use AI but not the great shepherds, the ones who love preaching, who love their people.” 

But here I am, wondering who wrote the article; there was no author’s name. It just said Associated Press—who knows, maybe AI wrote the article. Okay, I best stop now. I am questioning everything I see, wondering if a real-life person wrote it or not.

Biblical Thoughts

Many believers do not have a solid handle on Biblical integrity. This must be taught. It is hard to do in secular education, but Christian institutions and churches must provide ways to instill integrity into their student base or church flock.

At our youngest son’s college, the first semester students were required to attend a seminar by the library staff on how to use the library and all its features. What would happen if Christian institutions required students to participate in a workshop on Christian integrity? While it might not stop all cheating or plagiarizing, the school would relieve itself of some of its responsibility.

The students would know what was expected of them as they continued their studies. It would also help in the case of any academic dishonesty retribution. Administrators could tell students and their parents they were notified of their expectations. Just a random thought!

As I was thinking about these topics, I was simultaneously working on my MasterLife, Bk 2, which plainly said, “Do God’s will.” Yes, that is an easy way of addressing these issues. If we just did God’s will regarding honesty, working hard, Christian character, discerning Godly behavior, yielding oneself to Christ, being honorable, having peace, being controlled by the Holy Spirit, renewing our minds daily, and living victoriously, that would help. So, maybe the solution to all this is to stop relying so much on technology and depend more on God’s Word to guide our writings and sermons.

When All is Said and Done

Folks, artificial intelligence is here to stay. The University of Texas offers a certification to gain industry-valued AI and machine learning skills. Certifications will turn into college courses in the future if they are not already official classes in some colleges.

While we may reminisce about the good old days—sitting on the front porch of our home, playing kickball outside, and listening to our 45 RPM records, this technology is here to stay. We must adjust and adapt to it. 

Personally, we must intentionally slow down, process our life, spend time in prayer, study God’s Word, and seek guidance from Him.

Maybe, even possibly, AI/ChatGPT is an opportunity for believers to build new character traits and become more Christ-like in their behavior and thoughts. That’s something to think about!

Now What?

Now that I spent my afternoon writing this blog, I must decide to either get back to my schoolwork or listen to my favorite 45s.

Two hours later . . .

Guess what won? Listening to a few of my favorite 60s songs! YouTube won over getting out my record player, though. Then, the thought hit me, I thought my record player was the best electrical invention of my junior high era, and maybe this generation will think AI is the best technological invention of their era. Sort of makes me sad.

And what about my poor “CRISIS” paper that was not worked on all day today? Maybe it will get the attention it needs tomorrow or the day after. But, if not soon, I WILL definitely have a CRISIS on my hands!

God bless. 

Bible Verses:

People with integrity walk safely, but those who follow crooked paths will be exposed. Proverbs 10:9 (NLT)

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.   Philippians 4:6-8 (NASB 1995)

Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. Acts 20:28 (NASB 1995)

Prayer:

My heavenly Father, please give me the wisdom to pursue Your will in all areas of my life. When I am tempted, shield my thoughts and actions. Let me always honor and obey You and Your commandments and principles. You are sovereign. Keep me humble and prayerful. Let me know Your will. Lead all I do and think to be guided by Your Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Challenging Question by Bellator Christi from “Taking up the Sword of Christian Theology and the Shield of Classic Apologetics”

In the 13th century, Thomas Aquinas researched and wrote thousands of pages without the amenities we hold today.

Christi asks, “Could we do the same?”

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This article may not be reproduced except for written permission from the author. 

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Books by Patti

3 PRAYER JOURNALS – 3 BIBLE WORD SEARCH PUZZLES, AND  A BOOK ON CHRISTIAN CAREGIVING.

BIBLE WORD SEARCH PUZZLE SERIES

Spiritual Gifts, Part 3

Welcome back.

To read Spiritual Gifts,  Part 1, click here.

To read Spiritual Gifts, Part 2, click here.

Distribution of Gifts

           In the Old Testament, God’s children would receive a direct revelation of God through the agency of God’s Spirit. When this revelatory facet occurred, it became a central feature of the late Second Temple Jewish understanding of God’s Spirit. In the New Testament, God’s Spirit is seen in the ministry of Jesus Christ. Then proceeds when the Holy Spirit is sent to the disciples at Pentecost. While this Spirit helps in conversion, it is also this same Spirit that helps to discern what spiritual gifts the Lord has given to individuals. The Lord is the one who distributes the gifts. Often it takes some experimentation with various ministries to find the fit that the Lord has called a person to do. Not knowing one’s gift should not excuse a lack of ministry involvement. People can recognize their gifts by trying out assorted opportunities, receiving input from others, or taking spiritual gift inventory and survey tests, which can be found online, in churches, or multiple books. Contrarily, DeVries does not like spiritual gift inventory assessments as much as he uses the Bible to discover your spiritual gifts. He believes the Bible gives two testing criteria for discovering one’s spiritual gifts: The fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23 and the spiritual qualities of godliness noted in 2 Peter 1. Either way, one should take responsibility and pursue one’s spiritual gifts, leaving the results in the Holy Spirit’s direction.

           Confusion, conflicts, and questions arise when evaluating spiritual gifts. The primary topic causing the most confusion involves charismatic gifts, including the gift of tongues and the interpretation of tongues. Charismatic gifts (sign gifts) include tongues, interpretation of tongues, healing, miracles, and prophecy. Some charismatic groups also consider laying on hands, fasting, faith, and prayer in this category. 

      The Book of Acts deals with the custom of speaking in and interpreting tongues in three places. When the disciples were baptized in the Spirit at Pentecost, they began to speak in tongues. In Acts 10, Simon was preaching. When the Spirit fell upon the assembly, the Gentiles spoke in tongues showing the Jews that they had received the Holy Spirit. Lastly, when Paul encountered some disciples of John, they began to speak in other languages and to prophesy. Scholars use the word glossolalia when referring to tongues. In each of these instances, tongues are introduced to a different group of people: Jews, Samaritans (possibly), and Gentiles. Brand says, “[Paul] also noted that unless tongues speech is interpreted, it ought not to be employed in public worship since the purpose of spiritual gifts is the edification of the body” (1 Cor. 14:3, 6).

     The question is whether the sign gifts (including tongues) were delegated to the early church or does it continue today. The terms coined are cessationists and continuationist. Most cessationists believe that God can heal and do miracles, but they reject the idea that Christians can heal, prophesy, and speak in tongues. Cessationist Thomas R. Schreiner says, “As a cessationist, I believe God still heals and does miracles today, though I think such events are relatively rare. Still, I pray for the healing of the sick and believe God can do so miraculously. My argument is not that miracles and healings never occur. Instead, I claim that believers today [do not] have the gifts of doing miracles and healing.” Conrsely, a continuationist believes all the sign gifts are valid and operable today. As one can see, sign gifts can cause confusion, misunderstanding, and divisiveness in a church. C. Douglas Weaver says, “A growing number [of] Baptists are also continuationists. . . But plenty of Baptists also contend that some or all of the miraculous gifts [sign] are invalid for today, or they differ considerably from continuationists’ understanding of those gifts.” There has also been plenty of Baptist-continuationist rivalries since the first wave of Pentecostals began speaking in tongues and prophesying in the opening years of the twentieth century.

     Conflicts also occur when discussing the Holy Spirit and its role in our lives, including the holiness movement, gender, and racial egalitarianism. There is difficulty separating other issues from one another when speaking of the Holy Spirit, including how spiritual gifts are used.

Reasons for Personal Perspective

           God’s Holy Spirit has been functioning in lives for over six thousand years—through the Old Testament and New Testament times and even today. The Holy Spirit guided Jesus’s ministry and likewise in our ministry.

     First, God designed us to be used for Him. Psalm 139:13-16 states, “For Thou didst form my inward parts; Thou didst weave me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to Thee for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Thy works, and my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from Thee, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth. Thine eyes have seen my unformed substance and in Thy book they were all written, all the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them. God ordained our days. Moreover, He wants to equip us to use us for His service.”

      Second, John 16:13 mentions that the Spirit of truth will guide us into all the truth, and when He does, he wants to equip us for His service as mentioned in 1 Peter 4:10-11, which says, “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, let him speak, as it were, the utterances of God; whoever serves, let him do so as by the strength which God supplies. so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to who belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

     Third, the Lord wants us to meet the needs of others. One of the ways He accomplishes this purpose is by providing believers with spiritual gifts to be used powerfully for His intentions. Christians possess gifts to be used locally and universally within the body of Christ to serve others. In other words, we can be the hands and feet of Jesus (1 Cor. 12).

     Ephesians 4:11-14  speaks of our privilege to build up the body of Christ—for unity and to grow to become more Christlike. We should strive for the whole body to fit together, where every person is involved in the building up the church in love.

Conclusion

           Charles Stanley sums it up best when he says, “Time is a gift from God, and He has allotted each of us a measure in which to live and accomplish His purposes. We have only two options—to spend it temporally on our own interests or invest it eternally. Since time can never be retrieved or reversed, it’s critical that we make the most of every opportunity the Lord provides.” Just like the fudge cake mentioned earlier, where all the ingredients combine for the best results, we need all members of the body of Christ to employ their best selves. This can occur when one uses their spiritual gifts, in the supernatural power of Christ, within the body of Christ in love and unity.

God bless.

Prayer:  Dear Jesus, I love you and desire to know and use the gifts you have given me. Confirm what they are in my mind. May others see them in me. Lord, you are my God, and I give my entire life to you and desire Your presence every moment. Keep me from temptation and deliver me from evil. In Your blessed name, Amen,

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This article may not be reproduced except for written permission from the author. 

Sources not included.

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Books by Patti

3 PRAYER JOURNALS – 3 BIBLE WORD SEARCH PUZZLES, AND  A BOOK ON CHRISTIAN CAREGIVING.

BIBLE WORD SEARCH PUZZLE SERIES

Spiritual Gifts, Part 2

Welcome back. To read Spiritual Gifts,  Part 1, click here.

Categories of Spiritual Gifts and Definitions

           Brandon Deibert defines the Gifts of the Holy Spirit as “unique skills and abilities given by the Holy Spirit to faithful followers of Christ to serve God for the common benefit of his people, the church.” The Bible lists multiple spiritual gifts. The Apostle Paul states that we have different gifts according to the grace given to us. We are to use them proportionately to our faith (Romans 12:6). Gifts are often categorized into groups depending on how God gives them to individuals. Below, three categories will be defined, while the fourth category, the “sign gifts,” will be explored in the Debated Issues section.

           Many scholars label gifts with various headings containing God-given abilities to help the Kingdom of God. While many gifts overlap, each believer possesses at least one gift, but many gain more as they mature in faith. Dr. Ryan Denison lists three gift categories, along with a brief explanation of what each gift represents. A suggested typical example follows each gift in the category by Denison.

The Public Gifts

Administration—Organizing people and ministries effectively. [Organizing a mission trip]

Apostleship—Adapting to a different culture to share the gospel or do ministry. [Being a missionary or having involvement with people from other cultures]

Leadership—Motivating and inspiriting others to serve Jesus fully.[People, including pastors, sharing their faith and encouraging others to live their life for Jesus]

Music—Sharing God’s truth and love through music with unusual effectiveness. [A worship leader teaching music to children or youth]

Prophecy—Proclaiming the word of God with personal passion and effectiveness. [Pastors and other spiritual leaders, Evangelist]

Teaching—Explaining God’s Word and truth with unusual effectiveness. [Bible study teacher, mentor]

The Personal Gifts

Discernment—Distinguishing truth from error or heresy. [Understand beyond what others see as a danger in the church]

Exhortation—Encouraging, comforting, and challenging others as they follow Jesus. [Encouraging someone to use their gifts and live up to their true calling for the Lord]

Knowledge—Understanding and sharing the deep truths of God’s word and will (understanding). [Bible study teachers, pastors, scholars, religion or seminary professors, writers]

Shepherding—Helping others grow spiritually. [Pastors and individuals in the church body who guide others and help them]

Wisdom—Relating biblical truth to practical life effectively (insights/applications). [Counselors, teachers, pastors, one-on-one friendships]

Paradigm Gifts

Sharing the gospel effectively and passionately. [Missionaries, sharing a testimony, writing notes to people, authoring books]

Faith—Seeing God’s plan and following it with a passion and commitment that inspires others to do the same. [a communicator, a writer, a creative person sharing Christ]

Giving—Investing with unusual sacrifice and joy in God’s kingdom. [Usually monetary giving, but also includes giving of oneself, giving of oneself.]

Hospitality [Hosting a Christian event in your home, letting someone stay with you if needed]

Mercy—Showing God’s grace to hurting people with unusual passion. [Visiting the sick at their home, hospital, or wherever they are; writing notes; 

Service [Serving at a church banquet, cutting the lawn at church, babysitting the pastor’s kids]

       As one can see, the examples can overlap, and there are many different ways to use one’s personality in coordination with one’s gifts. The numerous ways gifts can be used are incredibly vast. Sometimes people confuse their talents with their gifts. They are often separate entities, but God often uses one’s talents by combining the two, i.e., If you are gifted in teaching music, your talent of playing the piano helps utilize your gift. Billy Graham says, “It appears that God can take a talent and transform it by the power of the Holy Spirit and use it as a spiritual gift. In fact, the difference between a spiritual gift and a natural talent is frequently a cause for speculation by many people. I am not sure we can always draw a sharp line between spiritual gifts and natural abilities—both of which, remember, come ultimately from God.”

The Nature and Role of the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit

           To understand the gifts of the Spirit, one must know how the Holy Spirit functions and who He is. The Holy Spirit is a person. When one speaks of the Holy Spirit, they are referring to the same Holy Spirit who led Jesus into His wilderness experience (Luke 4: 1, 13) and who fell upon Jesus at His baptism (Matthew 3:16Mark 1:10Luke 3:22John 1:32). Drawing people to salvation, teaching about Jesus and giving us confidence that one is a child of God happen to be some of the functions of the Holy Spirit. In John 14:16, Jesus says He will give his disciples another comforter to abide with them forever. That same comforter (the Spirit of truth) abides with those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior. Brand states that the Holy Spirit “grants spiritual gifts to the churches so that all persons within the body of Christ are spiritually gifted.” When people accept Christ through confessing their sins and accepting Jesus Christ in their life, the Holy Spirit comes to reside in them, giving them the power and desire to use their spiritual gifts. It is through this process that one is filled with the Holy Spirit. 

           However, the gifts of the Spirit must not be separated from the giver of the gifts—God. This combination makes us understand that the Trinity (three-in-one identity of God) participates in our spiritual giftedness. Brian DeVries says, “All three Persons of the Trinity are actively involved in spiritually gifting each believer for ministry in the church.” He continues to say that God the Father is the one who makes each gift effectual, and God the Son distributes gifts in the church by His Spirit. God the Spirit emboldens all believers with various abilities by working within and through them mightily. It is not in one’s strength or courage that gifts are given and used but through the three-fold work of the Trinity.

           The age-old question is, “What is the purpose of spiritual gifts?” An answer can be found in 1 Corinthians 12: 4-7 when it says, “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit.  And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. Our gifts are to be used for the common good—that is, the common good for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:12). People should use their gifts genuinely for unity within the body. 

           Two terms frequently used in connection with spiritual gifts or listings of the gifts are charisma and pneuma. Regarding charisma, 1 Peter 4:10 says, “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the multifaceted grace of God. Thus, charisma refers to the gift itself. While there are multip definitions of pneuma, it is often defined as the Holy Spirit — the vital principle by which the body is animated and the rational spirit, the power by which the human being feels, thinks, decides; the soul.”

The Body of Christ (Church)

         Brand says “spiritually gifted” Christians use their gifts for the common good so that all church members receive the ministries from one another that enable the church to mature (1 Cor. 12:7, Eph 4:11, 16).  Some scholars, including Brian DeVries believe God always produces the fruit of the Spirit and gifts of the Spirit simultaneously. The fruit of the Spirit consists of the qualities of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23). Combining these two aspects of the Spirit makes for sweet unity and maturity in the body of Christ.

           All believers, especially those in spiritual offices in the church and congregants, should use their spiritual gifts to strengthen the body of Christ. Pastors need humility and trust in the people in their church to allow them to use their giftedness. DeVries says, “church leaders are responsible for developing the spiritual giftedness of all members under their care so that these believers will be used by the Spirit to develop the church.”

         Many Christians leave one church to attend another where their gifts can be utilized. When the gifts of believers are not appreciated or used in the body, the body suffers. Churches vary in programs, spirituality, and growth because gifts are underutilized, causing a lack of church care and unity. In many instances, this underutilization can cause pastor burnout by leaving all that others could do in the church staff’s hands. DeVries states, “the Spirit has gifted each member of the body in different ways so that the holistic use of these gifts will function in unity to provide mutual care to all members.” An example would be if a member has the gift of teaching and is told repeatedly that there are no positions for them to teach. That member may go where there are positions—to another church, to a ministry outside their church, or they could become frustrated and not recover from a lack of the church’s attention to their giftedness and give up on the body. Both ministry staff and congregants must understand that the purpose of the gifts is primarily to build up the church. Hence, the pastoral staff and the congregants are responsible for building ministry.

To be continued. . .Part 3:  Distribution of Gifts; / To read Spiritual Gifts,  Part 1, click here.

Sources not included.

God bless.

Spiritual Gifts, Part 3 – Coming Next: 

Prayer: Heavenly Father, as I learn more about spiritual gifts, please open my eyes to see what you have given me to be used for your glory. I want to honor and serve you.  Thank you. Me

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This article may not be reproduced except for written permission from the author. .

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3 PRAYER JOURNALS – 3 BIBLE WORD SEARCH PUZZLES AND  A BOOK ON CHRISTIAN CAREGIVING.

BIBLE WORD SEARCH PUZZLE SERIES

Spiritual Gifts, Part 1

To make a fabulous fudge cake, one needs shortening, unsweetened chocolate, water, sugar, vanilla, cake flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, eggs, and buttermilk in the prescribed measurements. If one ingredient is missing or mismeasured, the cake loses some scrumptiousness. When one blends the nature of God with an understanding of the gifts of the Spirit, one can experience supernatural unity and love in serving Christ through the opportunities He provides.

About the Apostle Paul

To understand spiritual gifts, one must look to the person primarily responsible for laying out the various gifts to humanity through his letters and preaching. Paul, formerly called Saul, was born into a Jewish family raised in Tarsus. He was a Roman citizen trained under rabbis. His education took place in Jerusalem. The Mishnah’s structure held that one was ready to learn the Scripture at five years old. (The Mishnah is a collection embodying the oral tradition of Jewish law.) They were ready for the Mishnah at ten years old, and one could study the Talmud at thirteen.  (The Talmud is the central text of Rabbinic Judaism and the primary source of Jewish religious law and theology.) Acts 22 mentions that Rabbi Gamaliel I, a high-ranking Sanhedrin, trained Paul. Paul was steeped in the Jewish culture. However, Saul mentions in Galatians 1:14 that he advanced beyond his contemporaries in Judaism and became zealous for the traditions held by his ancestors. This zealousness led him to persecute Christians until, in 35 A.D., on the Damascus Road, Christ appeared to him, resulting in a salvation experience. He was baptized into the Christian faith and followed God’s call to preach the gospel and travel from area to area, which became known as his three missionary journeys. During these journeys, Paul traveled from city to city, prison to prison. It was during this period that Paul wrote multiple letters to the churches. It is through these letters or visits that he shared about spiritual gifts. Paul’s single status is debated in many scholarly writings due to 1 Corinthians 7:7, where Paul states, “Yet I wish that all men were even as I myself am. However, each man has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that.” 

Paul wrote to the Christian congregation in Corinth during the first century after receiving some unwelcome news of division and sin in their congregation. The best source to answer the following questions comes directly from some of the most famous Bible verses on Spiritual Gifts.

What are Spiritual Gifts?

Ministry Tools Resource Center defines a spiritual gift as “a special divine empowerment bestowed on each believer by the Holy Spirit to accomplish a given ministry God’s way according to His grace and discernment to be used within the context of the Body of Christ,” i.e., teaching,

Moreover, we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us. Let each exercise them according to the grace given to us, let each exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith, if service, in his service, or he who teaches in his teaching: or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligencehe who shows mercy, with cheerfulness (Rom. 12:6-8).

There are various gifts but the same Spirit, and there are varieties of ministries and the same Lord. For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and other gifts of healing by the one Spirit; to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and another the distinguishing of spirits, to other various kinds of tongues, and another the interpretation of tongues (1 Cor. 12:4-10).

And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, and third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healingshelpsadministrations, various kinds of tongues (1 Cor. 12:28).

Who Gives Spiritual Gifts?

But none and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills (1 Cor. 12:11).

And there are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons (1 Cor. 12:6).

Why are Spiritual Gifts Given?

For the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ, until we all attain the unity of the faith, and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ (Eph. 4:12-13).

How are Spiritual Gifts to be Used?

If I speak with the tongues of men and angels but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I have nothing . . . 

But now abide faith, hope, and love but the greatest of these is love (1 Cor. 13: 1-13).

Love

1 Corinthians 13 is commonly known as the love chapter; it makes a claim to fame in many wedding ceremonies. Separating it from 1 Corinthians 12:31 would be unfortunate since it sets the context that love is a pivotal point and the “greatest” attribute connecting with one’s spiritual gifts. 

This love chapter contains three major sections. First, Vv. 1-3 declares that if one speaks but does not have love, it sounds like a “clanging symbol,” which refers to the famous bronze products made in Corinth. Second, Vv. 4-7 describes an agape love, the self-sacrificing love God desires from His children. Third, Vv. 8-13, Paul stresses love in relationship to spiritual gifts and concludes by stating in the last verse in the chapter—”But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

American theologian and author Richard L. Pratt said, “If there is any similarity between the modern church and the ancient church, it lies in our failure to love. In fact, by most accounts, we are often worse than the Corinthians. At least the Corinthians had managed to remain united as a single church. They had not split their fellowship, even though they had abused it. Most Christians today tend to be self-centered. They do not place others first, and they certainly do not commit themselves to living the love of which Paul spoke.”

To be continued. . .

God bless.

Spiritual Gifts, Part 2 – Coming Next: Categories of Spiritual Gifts and Definitions

Prayer: Heavenly Father, as I learn more about spiritual gifts, please open my eyes to see what you have given me to be used for your glory. I want to honor and serve you.  Thank you. Me

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This article may not be reproduced except for written permission from the author. For the full annotated paper and bibliography, please get in touch with me through the comment section of this article.

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3 PRAYER JOURNALS – 3 BIBLE WORD SEARCH PUZZLES AND  A BOOK ON CHRISTIAN CAREGIVING.

BIBLE WORD SEARCH PUZZLE SERIES

Are You Thinking about Starting a Bible Reading Plan in 2023?

I want to wish all of you a pleasant and eventful New Year.

A New Year is Approaching

With the new year, we are faced with many choices and priorities. Please, let me encourage you to choose a Bible reading plan and read the Bible through in 2023. You will never regret soaking up the Word of God. The principles and applications can become part of who you are, making you more like the person God wants you to be. You will find insights, wow’s, support, and inspiration as you bask in both the Old and New Testaments.

There are many Bible Reading Plans

There are many Bible Reading plans. Maybe one of them will spark an interest in you. I hope so. While many sites with different Bible reading plans exist (printable, audible, online), I am not including links for you to look at. However, to find one perfect for you, type in “Bible Reading Plans” and the plan you would be interested in. Find a plan that fits you perfectly or make up your own plan in an excel document and cross it off as you complete each reading. Be sure to choose a version you enjoy reading from. [Avoid the Jehovah’s Witness New World Translation and other questionable versions.] Now, let’s look at a few of the various types of plans–there is one just for you.

  1. A read-through-the entire Bible plan—reading straight through from Genesis to Revelation,
  2. An Old Testament plan,
  3. A New Testament plan,
  4. A Bible chronological plan,
  5. A Bible historical plan,
  6. A Gospel plan,
  7. A 90-day challenge plan; a 180-day reading plan; a 365-day reading plan,
  8. A thematic Bible plan,
  9. A “Bible book at a time” plan,
  10. A blended plan—reading some Old Testament and some New Testament simultaneously,
  11. Jesus’ Words plan (red print in many Bibles),
  12. A short-term commitment plan,
  13. A personalized plan, and more.

Suggestions from Patti

  1. Skip over the Bible genealogy you can’t pronounce—Knowing there is a genealogy should be enough, especially if this is your first read-through.
  2. Read with a pen, highlighter, and notebook to write down verses, questions, or things you want to look up later.
  3. It is okay to read ahead. There will be days you will miss.
  4. If possible, find a friend to read along with you on the same plan—This way, you will have a comrade to share with.
  5. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t keep up. Keep at it. It is commendable if it takes you 1 1/2 or 2+ years to finish.
  6. If you are reading a book for your Bible study class or group, count it. When you get to that book, you will be happy to skip that book or portion of the book to have some catch-up time.
  7. If you are in a plan where you are reading the entire Old Testament at once, give yourself permission to stop and read something in the New Testament.
  8. Share meaningful verses with your friends and family.
  9. Look for God’s sense of humor as you read, and 
  10. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in each reading.

Enjoy, and best wishes in 2023! And please share this article with your friends and family!

God Bless,

Bible Verses:

Old Testament prophet Joshua said, “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it . . .” Joshua 1:8.

New Testament prophet John said, “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.” Revelation 1:3.

Prayer:

My Heavenly Father, Is this the year You want me to get serious about reading the Bible? I want to, but I am scared I will fail. I want to try, Lord. I do. Give me the confidence to know You are right there beside me as I try it this year. I love You and want to learn more about You and Your holy Word. Amen.

PRAYER JOURNALS – Books by Patti Greene; Caregiving for Beginners

BIBLE WORD SEARCH PUZZLE SERIES

Bible Word Search Puzzles by Patti Greene

Announcing my NEW Book Series!
 
Last-minute shoppers! I’m overjoyed that my Bible Word Search Puzzles books are out for Christmas! All 3 volumes include words from each chapter of the New Testament.
 
 
It has been a wild and crazy ride putting these together—-not anything I had on my radar this year, but God did. They are great for all ages from 8 and above. Seniors love them! Links to order are below for your convenience, and they are delivered QUICKLY to your home or a loved one’s residence. They are available for order from Amazon now. But you might ask, “Why should I buy word search puzzles for others or myself?”
 
Here’s why. They can be used as
– a learning strategy,
– to improve spelling,
– to improve concentration,
– to teach patience and persistence,
– to keep the brain active,
– to help develop problem-solving skills,
– to relax, and
– to provide an excellent opportunity for kids and adults to bond.
 
Below are the links to order today. Thanks.
 
Click to order Bible Word Search Puzzles: The Gospels, Volume 1 by Patti Greene
Click to order Bible Word Search Puzzles: Acts and Epistles, Volume 2 by Patti Greene
Click to order Bible Word Search Puzzles: Epistles and Revelation, Volume 3 by Patti Greene
Please share or forward, and Merry Christmas to y’all!
 

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Sacred Snippet: Tests and Trials

[Email followers: Click the title to see this article in its web version.]

Tests and Trials

You look okay on the outside. Everything looks great to others, but privately you feel threats, encounter significant problems, or experience suffering that people can’t see. The Bible calls these tests and trials.

When people start seeing through you, it’s tough. You don’t want to feel weak in front of other people. You don’t want them to see the difficulties you might be facing, the threats you might be encountering, or the internal turmoil you are going through. However, you know they are there.

My Test and Trial

One day, I opened my blog website and discovered it was no longer there. Panic engulfed me. Also, emails were being sent to my blog subscribers, which I did not send. I panicked–fearful some obscene image or article might show up on my site sent by an intruder. I tried to fix the problem on my own. But the backend software (the hidden infrastructure of the website) was in complete disarray. I went to my paid subscription sources and hosting site and got partial help. But internally, the data inside my blog was corrupt. There were severe problems–five, to be exact. “Hacked” was a word I never wanted to hear, but hackers were precisely who infiltrated my site. [However, if you are reading this now, no worries, it has all been fixed, my dear friends.]

God is our Source

In our lives today, personal pressures and problems consume our thoughts, and nobody but us know they are there. They destroy our thinking. We even go to trusted websites or self-help books to help to no avail. When we face inner struggles, our heavenly Father is the one to approach first. He knows what is going on in our minds, personal ruminations, and physical selves. God is there not only to help us with these difficulties but to walk alongside us until the time is right for Him to show us His purposes. 

Children, take your intimate struggles to the Lord and ask Jesus to plead with your heavenly Father to show His purpose. 

Sit before Your Heavenly Father

The Bible says we will have struggles and trials. Being a believer does not alleviate living in this fallen world. Before reaching out to friends, family, or Internet sources, go first to God, sit before him, rest, and ask Him to handle your threats, problems, struggles, and concealed thoughts. He is there for you. 

James 1: 2-5 says, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of our faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”

Then wait in prayer, meditation, and Bible reading for an answer. Sometimes God answers quickly, but oftentimes, we are left waiting, yearning, and seeking His response for even years. As we wait, let us be growing in an abundance of love for our Lord and Savior. Live in joy and service until the time comes when we have “been approved” for our dedication and undefiled obedience, whether in this life or the next.

James says, “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial, for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12).

How to Handle Tests and Trials

  • Recognize that tests and trials come to all people,
  • Realize our adverse circumstances allow us to reach greater maturity in Him,
  • Pray for guidance,
  • Seek His wisdom,
  • Obey God’s principles and precepts,
  • Understand that our trials are opportunities to honor the Lord,
  • Be joyful through testing and trials,
  • Trust that God knows what He is doing,
  • Know that when the trials cease, our faith will be stronger,
  • Stand firm no matter how long our testing or preparation takes, and
  • Know that the ‘Crown of Life’ awaits us when we have stood the test and our trials are over.

Just as it took time to fix my website, commit to journeying with the Lord during your wait time and love Him with your entire being, no matter what!

God Bless,

 

 

 

Books by Patti Greene

BIBLE WORD SEARCH PUZZLE SERIES

Psalms: Genres, Authorship, Themes, Structure, and Chapter Headings

I hate to admit it, but there was a time I was not particularly eager to read the Book of Psalms in the Old Testament. I found myself just wanting to be learning something “more substantial and productive.” Fortunately, in time, I saw the benefits of reading this 150-chapter book of the Bible. It came about when I realized I just needed to be still before the Lord, when I needed to rest in Him, and when I needed His presence more deeply in my life. Maybe you are in the same boat, so I want to share some information—yes, to me, important information, that might help you get started. Start with a chapter whose title sounds interesting. Cross them off when you read each one, and then come back and comment if reading this book makes sense to you.

Genres

The chapters in the Book of Psalms include the following number of different genres. The genres in Psalms identify and group the books by the main idea of the psalm. Below you will see how the 150 psalms are categorized by their overall subject matter. Some say the genres are like prayers.

  • Lament  - 59
  • Praise  - 41
  • Hymn  - 17
  • Royal  - 10
  • Wisdom  - 9
  • Thanksgiving  - 8
  • Trust - 6

Authorship

Psalms authorship can be attributed to multiple people.

  • David
  • Asaph
  • Korahites
  • Haggai
  • Zechariah
  • Anonymous

Themes

There are multiple themes in the Book of Psalms. The most prominent are listed below.

  • Worship
  • Faith
  • Prayer: Petition
  • Thankfulness
  • God: Providence
  • Righteousness
  • God: Faithfulness
  • God: Love

Structure

Many types of structures consist in Psalms. Here are just a few you might recognize when you read through this mighty book.

  • Strophe-a structural division of a poem containing stanzas of varying line length, especially an ode or free verse poem.
  • Chiasm-a repetition of any group of verse elements (including rhyme and grammatical structure in reverse order.
  • Acrostic-a poem, or other composition in which certain letters in each line form a word or words.

Chapter Headings

Now, it is time for you to browse through the titles of the psalms. If it helps, print off this list, keep it in your Bible and check off the ones you read. Find ones that interest you first and go from there.

Psalm 1           The Ways of the Righteous and the Wicked

Psalm 2           The Messiah’s Reign

Psalm 3           A Call to Yahweh in Distress

Psalm 4           Safety in Yahweh

Psalm 5           Prayer for Guidance and Protection

Psalm 6           An Appeal for Forgiveness and Deliverance

Psalm 7           Prayer for Deliverance from Enemies

Psalm 8           Yahweh’s Glory in Creation

Psalm 9           Praise for Yahweh’s Justice

Psalm 10         Prayer for God to Throwdown the Wicked

Psalm 11         Confidence in Yahweh’s Righteousness

Psalm 12         Human Faithlessness and God’s Faithfulness

Psalm 13         Trust in the Salvation of Yahweh

Psalm 14         The Folly of the Godless and God’s Final Triumph

Psalm 15         Description of Those Who May Dwell with Yahweh

Psalm 16         Confidence in Yahweh

Psalm 17         Prayer for Vindication and Protection

Psalm 18         Praise to God for His Deliverance

Psalm 19         Yahweh’s Creation and Law

Psalm 20         God’s Blessing on the King

Psalm 21         Joy in the Salvation of Yahweh

Psalm 22         Suffering and Waiting for Deliverance

Psalm 23         Yahweh the Shepherd

Psalm 24         The King of Glory

Psalm 25         A Prayer for Guidance, Deliverance, and Forgiveness

Psalm 26         A Prayer for Vindication

Psalm 27         Declaration of Trust

Psalm 28         Prayer for Help, and Joy in Its Answer

Psalm 29         Praise to God for His Glory and Strength

Psalm 30         Thanksgiving for Answered Prayer

Psalm 31         Yahweh is a Fortress

Psalm 32         Thanksgiving for Forgiveness of Sins

Psalm 33         Praise to Yahweh for His Character and Creation

Psalm 34         Thanksgiving for Yahweh’s Deliverance

Psalm 35         Prayer for Rescue from Enemies

Psalm 36         Human Wickedness and God’s Love

Psalm 37         The Protection of the Righteous and the Destruction of the Wicked

Psalm 38         Prayer of Repentance

Psalm 39         The Brevity of Human Life

Psalm 40         God’s Faithfulness and Deliverance

Psalm 41         Thanksgiving for God’s Provision in Time of Sickness

Psalm 42         Hope in God in the Midst of Despair

Psalm 43         Prayer for Rescue

Psalm 44         Present Defeat and Past Deliverance

Psalm 45         Celebration of a Royal Wedding

Psalm 46         God Provides for and Protects His People

Psalm 47         God Is King over All the Earth

Psalm 48         The Greatness of God in Zion

Psalm 49         Wealth and the Fate of the Wicked

Psalm 50         An Oracle Concerning Sacrifices

Psalm 51         Prayer of Repentance and Plea for Mercy

Psalm 52         God’s Judgment on the Wicked and Love for the Faithful

Psalm 53         The Folly of the Godless and Salvation for Israel

Psalm 54         Answered Prayer for Deliverance from Adversaries

Psalm 55         Betrayal of a Friend and Trust in God

Psalm 56         Prayer for Deliverance and Confidence in God

Psalm 57         Prayer for Rescue from Enemies

Psalm 58         Judgment on the Wicked

Psalm 59         A Prayer for Protection

Psalm 60         Lament After a Defeat and a Prayer for Restoration

Psalm 61         Confidence in God’s Protection

Psalm 62         Confidence in God’s Salvation

Psalm 63         Longing for God

Psalm 64         Plea for Divine Retribution

Psalm 65         Thanksgiving for God’s Provision

Psalm 66         Thanksgiving to God for His Works

Psalm 67         Prayer of Blessing

Psalm 68         Praise to God for Providing Victory

Psalm 69         Plea for Deliverance from Persecution

Psalm 70         Prayer for Deliverance from Enemies

Psalm 71         A Prayer to God the Rock of Refuge

Psalm 72         Prayer for the Prosperity of God’s Anointed King

Psalm 73         The Wicked and the Righteous Contrasted

Psalm 74         Lament in Time of National Defeat

Psalm 75         Thanksgiving for God’s Future Help

Psalm 76         Praise to God for His Rescue of Israel

Psalm 77         Remembering God’s Help for Israel

Psalm 78         God’s Faithfulness in Israel’s History

Psalm 79         Lament for Jerusalem after Its Destruction

Psalm 80         Prayer to Restore Israel

Psalm 81         An Appeal from God to Israel

Psalm 82         God Commands Justice

Psalm 83         Request to Act against Israel’s Neighbors

Psalm 84         The Joy of Worshiping in the Temple

Psalm 85         Hope in God’s Future Help

Psalm 86         Prayer for Help against Ruthless Men

Psalm 87         Foreign Nations Come to Worship in Jerusalem

Psalm 88         Prayer for Help in Despair

Psalm 89         Remembering the Covenant with David, and Sorrow for Lost Blessings

Psalm 90         God’s Eternity and Human Frailty

Psalm 91         God’s Protection in Times of Crisis

Psalm 92         Thanksgiving to Yahweh for Victory

Psalm 93         Yahweh Is King Over All the Earth

Psalm 94         Prayer for Retribution against Oppressors

Psalm 95         Call to Worship and Obey

Psalm 96         Yahweh the King Comes in Judgment

Psalm 97         Yahweh’s Glorious Reign

Psalm 98         Praise to Yahweh for His Salvation and Judgment

Psalm 99         Yahweh Is a Holy King

Psalm 100       Worship God with Joy

Psalm 101       Promise to Act with Integrity

Psalm 102       Plea for Personal and National Help

Psalm 103       Thanksgiving for Yahweh’s Compassion

Psalm 104       Praise to Yahweh for His Creation and Providence

Psalm 105       Praise to Yahweh for His Work on Behalf of Israel

Psalm 106       Praise to Yahweh for His Faithfulness in Israel’s History

Psalm 107       Thanksgiving to Yahweh for His Deliverance

Psalm 108       Prayer to Yahweh for Victory over Enemies

Psalm 109       Prayer for Help against Enemies

Psalm 110       Yahweh Gives Authority to His Messiah

Psalm 111       Praise to God for His Work and Commands

Psalm 112       The Path of the Righteous and the Path of the Wicked

Psalm 113       God’s Majesty and Care for the Needy

Psalm 114       Praise to God for His Works During the Exodus

Psalm 115       Dead Idols and the Living God

Psalm 116       Thanksgiving for God’s Deliverance

Psalm 117       Let All Peoples Praise Yahweh

Psalm 118       Praise to God for His Loyal Love

Psalm 119       Meditation on Yahweh’s Law

Psalm 120       Prayer for Deliverance from Enemies

Psalm 121       Trust in God’s Protection

Psalm 122       Jerusalem the Site of God’s Presence

Psalm 123       Prayer for Yahweh’s Action in the Face of Scorn

Psalm 124       Thanksgiving for Yahweh’s Help

Psalm 125       Confidence in Yahweh’s Protection

Psalm 126       Prayer for Restoration

Psalm 127       Prayer for Protection and Prosperity

Psalm 128       Blessed Is Everyone Who Fears Yahweh

Psalm 129       Victory Over the Enemies of Zion

Psalm 130       Hope for the Redemption of Yahweh

Psalm 131       Calm Trust in Yahweh

Psalm 132       Yahweh Dwells in Zion

Psalm 133       The People of God Dwell in Unity

Psalm 134       Praising Yahweh in the Temple at Night

Psalm 135       Praise to God for His Power and Redemption

Psalm 136       Praise to God for His Creation and Deliverance

Psalm 137       Lament During the Babylonian Exile

Psalm 138       Thanksgiving for Yahweh’s Goodness

Psalm 139       The Knowledge of God

Psalm 140       Prayer for Help in the Face of Enemies

Psalm 141       Prayer for God’s Help in Maintaining Integrity

Psalm 142       Prayer for Deliverance from Pursuers

Psalm 143       Prayer for Rescue from Enemies

Psalm 144       Prayer for National Safety

Psalm 145       Song of God’s Majesty and Love

Psalm 146       Praise to Yahweh for His Help

Psalm 147       Praise to Yahweh for His Provision

Psalm 148       Let all Creation Praise Yahweh

Psalm 149       Praise to God for His Future Judgment

Psalm 150       Let Everything Praise Yahweh

Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed this browse through these psalms. As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, at one time I was not particularly interested in reading the psalms. But God has a way of enlightening us! Only God’s sense of humor would have put me in a position where I am now facilitating a seventeen-session Bible study on the Book of Psalms from the Joy of Living Bible Study. God is good, wise, and always wants us to move on with Him.

God bless.

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Verses come from the New American Standard Bible. Photo Credit: Canva

Books by Patti Greene (Great for birthday gifts, Mother’s Day, and more)

           

Psalm 51 Bible Study

Are you looking for a Bible study to teach or to work on yourself?

Below you will find a Bible study on Psalm 51 that can be worked on at any time. By studying straight from the Bible, my prayer is that you will discover spiritual truth and direction in your life or in the lives of others.

BIBLE STUDY TEXT: PSALM 51 (NASB)

Read 2 Samuel 11:1-27 and 2 Samuel 12:1-25 for background information about King David’s sin and Nathan’s rebuke of him. This will enhance your understanding of the Bible study lesson.

A few years ago, a man wrote to Dear Abby needing help. The article titled, “Dear Abby, Guilt over affair leaves husband thinking of suicide.” This man had been married for 19 years and had two children. He fooled around, convincing himself that the women knew what they were doing and that he never promised them anything. His affairs became public, and his reputation was in ruins. He asked “Dear Abby” to provide a solution. He signed off calling himself Shattered in Louisiana. ¹

We find a similar real-life story in the fourth and most well-known penitential psalm, Psalm 51. Penitential psalms are psalms that express deep sorrow leading to a person’s true repentance of sin. Most scholars claim that King David wrote this psalm, or if not, by someone who knew the extent of the deep suffering he experienced. This prayer psalm was written after Nathan, the prophet, confronted David about his sin of adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband, Uriah. King David was on his palace rooftop when many say he should have been with his men in battle. He looks out and sees Bathsheba bathing. He asks his men to fetch her and bring her back to the palace, where he has sex with her. She becomes pregnant. David arranges for her husband to come home from battle, anticipating that he will sleep with her and then he would take the responsibility of fatherhood. However, being an honorable man, Uriah does not go into Bathsheba and camps in tents away from her presence. David arranges for Uriah to be killed in battle. [1]

  1. As a married woman, what do these two stories speak to you about being faithful in marriage?

KING DAVID’S CALL FOR MERCY, FORGIVENESS, REPENTANCE, AND CLEANSING. Read Psalm 51:1-2.

The King James Version uses the word mercy to describe what David wants from God. He is crying out to God for help. David’s goal is for God to blot out his sin, so he can be cleansed and resume fellowship with Him. To grasp how the Bible looks at blotting, cleansing, and washing away sins, refer to Isaiah 43:25, Leviticus 11:32, and Isaiah 1:18, respectively. He is aware that he willfully rebelled against God and is grieved. David is ready to confess his sin and have fellowship with God again. Today, our sins are covered by Jesus’ death on the cross.

  1. Describe a time you reached a breaking point, and you called out to God for forgiveness?

RECOGNITION OF SIN. Read Psalm 51:3-6.

David begins to openly concede he has sinned. In verse 3, David acknowledges that his sin is “ever before me.” Although he knows his sin was towards Bathsheba, Uriah, and the entire nation of Israel, he is addressing his grave sin toward God. His sin against the LORD was the most offensive. David shows his seriousness when talking of his sin by calling it EVIL.

  1. What does David’s example teach us about the seriousness of sin?

In verse 5, David is now ready to accept whatever judgment God may choose for him. David recognizes that he was born in sin in verse 5. He is not using that as an excuse for his sin, but he acknowledges that he is human. All humankind has a sinful nature within them. Here it is important that one mustn’t think David is criticizing conception or birth, but that he is just conversing with God regarding what he understands about human nature. Moving to verse 6, we find David wanting God’s truth to be within his innermost being.

In the Compact Bible Commentary, the inward parts are described as “a rare word in the Hebrew Bible, indicating something clouded over, difficult for anyone to see but God.” ² David trusted God so much that he does not mind God searching for his innermost being. These verses conclude with David desiring wisdom—God’s wisdom. [2][3]

  1. In James 1:5, what does James say we should do if we lack wisdom?

PURIFICATION, HYSSOP, SNOW, AND BONES. Read Psalm 51:7-9.

These verses contain the phrases, “purify me, wash me, make me hear joy and gladness, let my broken bones rejoice, and hide thy face from my sins.” David is pleading for cleansing from his sin. Verse 7 mentions hyssop. Hyssop was a bush whose stems were dipped in blood or water and then sprinkled on people who needed cleansing. See Leviticus 14:4 and Numbers 19:6. Ceremonial hyssop was used on lepers and others during this period. Today, we receive our cleansing from the mighty blood of Jesus Christ. David desires true repentance and pleads for a clean heart—one that will wash him, make him joyful, and heal him. He wants his life to be as white as snow. When a person accepts Christ, there are testimonies of how they feel so clean and pure inside. That is David’s desire to have his life like that again. He also wants his sins hidden from the LORD. Verse 8 is intriguing. David declares how his sin has affected his eyes and bones. It is easy to deduce that more had been affected as well. Keep in mind that when we sin, our sin does affect us. We can become depressed, ill, and even suicidal. We should take a special interest in caring for our friends and loved ones if we see their destructive behavior. Verse 9 circles back around to David desiring God to blot out his sin. (See Psalm 51:1) This repetition shows that David really is serious about repenting of all his sin.

  1. What matters most in David’s life at this point is God’s forgiveness. What matters most in your life, and how is God intertwined in the matter?

CENTRAL VERSE EXPRESSING THE HEART OF DAVID. Read Psalm 51:10-12.

The central verse (theological principle) in this Bible study comes in Psalm 51:10 when David says, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” David desires to be renewed, restored, and transformed. In verse 10, the word create is the same word used in Genesis 1:1, which states, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” God in His power called the world into being, and God in his power can cleanse David from his agonizing sin. David wants a new heart and a new spirit. He recognizes that he cannot do this by himself. It is up to God. We see God cleansing Israel and giving Israel a new heart and spirit in Ezekiel 36:25-27. This concept is very similar to Psalm 51 where it speaks of sprinkling water on the Israelites for cleansing, giving them a new heart and a new spirit, and allowing them to walk in His ways again. David wants to be in God’s presence again when he says he does not want to be cast from God’s presence in verse 11. He wants God’s Spirit, and he is ready to do the Lord’s will. In our life, we do not want to quench the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19). Striving to keep ourselves clean from sin is necessary for God’s Holy Spirit to move in our lives and keep us from temptation. Compare to Acts 15:8-9.

  1. While the LORD did forgive David, there were still consequences to his sin, one being the death of his son when he was 7-days old. (2 Samuel 12:18) What outcomes have you seen in your or other peoples’ lives due to sin?

Verse 12 speaks of regaining the joy of one’s salvation. David wants that “feeling” of purity and love for God back into his life. He wants it to be a sustainable feeling as well. He does not want to lose fellowship with his LORD again.

  1. Describe a time you or someone you know lost fellowship with God but then had it restored.

SINNERS CONVERTED, RIGHTEOUSNESS DELIVERED, RIGHTEOUS SACRIFICE, AND A BROKEN AND CONTRITE HEART. Read Psalm 51: 13-17.

In verses 13-15, David expresses his desire to be of service to God. He wants to teach others (sinners) and take what he has experienced and learned to help others. He wants to see people restored as he had been. It is a glorious event when we see others offering themselves up to serve God. Romans 5:20b eloquently states, “but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.” David recognized his sin, and now that he has experienced restoration, he wanted to share God’s righteousness with others. Verse 14 speaks, delivering David from bloodguiltiness. Scholars believe this refers to Uriah’s blood. David experienced forgiveness for all his sins. He got right with God.

  1. What does God call David in Psalm 51:14?
  2. Have you ever experienced God’s gift of salvation? Would you like to share your salvation testimony with the class?

DELIGHT IN GOD. Read Psalm 51: 18-19.

When we look at verses 18 and 19, David is longing for God’s security. This is what he is referring to when he says, “Build the walls of Jerusalem” The walls were to be a security to God’s holy city, and that is how he wants his heart to be—secure in His LORD and to delight in Him. David gave God the sacrifice He desired, his heart. He is ready to be “the man after God’s own heart” that many call him today.

  1. Where can we find our security in God?

APPLYING THE TEXT.

· God is gracious and compassionate; therefore, when we repent, He forgives and cleanses us.

· Sin is serious and destructive.

· We must cry out to God to create a clean heart in us.

· God desires a broken and contrite heart from us.

· Once true repentance occurs, we are restored and able to delight in the Lord, our God.

CONCLUSION: REMEMBER THE MAN IN ADULTERY. Read Psalm 51:17.

At the beginning of this study, a man asked Dear Abby for advice on dealing with his guilt over affairs, leaving him thinking of suicide. Dear Abby’s answer was purposely not shared. There is only one solution for this man. It is to follow King David’s path calling on the LORD to wash him, cleanse him, and seek repentance in Jesus Christ. Then, in God’s grace, he will become pure. His broken spirit can be healed, and he can face life with a renewed heart and spirit. If not, he will remain Shattered in Louisiana.

PRAYER

Dear Heavenly Father.

Thank you for washing me clean when I transgress against You. Lead me away from sin. Give me wisdom so that I can live with a pure heart. Keep my spirit steadfast in You. Lord, I want to be in Your presence always. Let me sing Your praises. Give me a broken and contrite heart so that I can praise You always.

In Christ Alone, Amen.

God bless,

Bibliography

Carson, D.A., R.T. France, J.A. Motyer, and G.J. Wenham, eds. New Bible Commentary. Downsers
Grove: Intervarsity, 1994.

Hays, J. Daniel and J. Scott Duvall, eds. The Baker Illustrated Bible Handbook. Grand Rapids: Baker
Books, 2011.

Hill, Andrew E. and John H. Walton, A Survey of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002.

Pfeiffer, Charles F. and Everett F. Harrison, eds. The Wycliffe Bible Commentary. Chicago: Moody
Press, 1962.

Radmacher, Earl, Ron Allen, H. Wayne House. Compact Bible Commentary. Nashville: Thomas Nelson,

Van Buren, Abagail, "Dear Abby: Guilt over affair leaves husband thinking of suicide," Accessed 4
October, 2021.

https://www.mrt.com/news/article/DEAR-ABBY-Guilt-over-affair-leaves-husband-7477821.php.

Wiersbe, Warren. The Bible Exposition Bible: Old Testament, Job—Song of Solomon. Colorado Springs,
David C. Cook, 2004.

[1]Van Buren, Abagail, “Dear Abby: Guilt over affair leaves husband thinking of suicide,” Accessed 4 October, 2021, https://www.mrt.com/news/article/DEAR-ABBY-Guilt-over-affair-leaves-husband-7477821.php.

[2]Radmacher, Earl, Ron Allen, H. Wayne House, Compact Bible Commentary, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2004. 378.

Permission: I, Patti Greene, am the copyright owner of the above material titled Psalm 51: Bible Study. I consent to use this material with the expressed purpose of individual or group Bible Study only. Please give credit to the author by including: “Written by Patti Greene @ GreenePastures.org  for use in Bible studies only.”

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Delighting in God by A.W. Tozer

A.W. Tozer

Just like with music, I get hooked on a particular song, and I play it over and over, much to my husband’s cagrin.

As a teenager, I remember playing “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” by Marvin Gaye so much that I thought my brother might rip the 45-rpm vinyl off the record player. I also obsess over topics and authors I investigate. I read an issue, or books by authors I like, until another new subject or writer piques my interest. 

The past few months, I have been obsessed with reading quite a few books by a true man of God— A.W. Tozer. During his life (1897-1963), Tozer was an American Christian pastor, Christian mentor, magazine editor, and author. As an author, he wrote sincerely! He wrote boldly! And he wrote with authority. Some of what he wrote contains many thoughts I have but am afraid to express. Maybe it’s my insecurity over being rejected, or perhaps it is my lack of courage or confidence. Either way, I am glad Tozer wrote what I mull over.

Tozer accepted Jesus Christ as his savior when he was a 17 year old teenager. His life was never the same after that. His schooling ended at 6th grade, but his education continued through extensive study in the Word of God. To read more about his life, click here. A.W. Tozer’s Biography from his Webpage!.

This past month, I wanted to read something happy, so I bought Tozer’s book, Delighting in God: True and absolute freedom is found only in the presence of God. This being a hectic time, I highlighted some sentences to share with you as I read the book. It turned out there was more conviction in the book than delighting. I know that conviction leads to confession, confession to a clean heart, a clean heart to a transformed heart, and a transformed heart to delighting in Him. So, I read on!

Below, I have quoted one sentence from each chapter of Tozer’s book, except in Chapter 7, where I splurged with two quotes, 

Two Activities

After I wrote, then reread this blog, I noticed something was missing.

What was missing was my thoughts on each profound phrase, so I quickly reread Tozer’s statements and jotted down the first thought that came to my mind. This activity reminded me of where I am at in my spiritual walk. You might find dialoguing over spiritual beliefs this way fun!

After reading Tozer’s chapter snippets, respond (aloud or on paper) to what you feel right after reading his quotation. You most likely will not have the same expressions as I did. That is to be expected, since we come from different backgrounds, encounter various trials, and experience wide-ranging circumstances. Also, our levels of maturity differ. It is an excellent dialoguing activity. To use a line from an old Alka-Seltzer commercial, “Try it, you’ll like it!”

Second, as a read-through activity, just read the chapter snippets I have noted from Tozer. You might become enamored of his writing style and decide if you want to pursue more profound readings along his lines. 

Chapter Snippets

Chapter 1: What I see lacking today is passion, but more defined, a passion for God, a deep desire to know God as He desires to be known.

“Oh Lord, give me a passion to be so close to You. Let me cling to You always.”

Chapter 2: What the Holy Spirit does not reveal to us is not worth knowing.

“This is hard, God. I want to know what the future holds for me, but I am not hearing from You. I remind myself You know the big picture of my life, but it doesn’t help my ruminations.”

Chapter 3: In evaluating the great advances and victories in the Christian church, we need to compare it to the New Testament pattern.

“Amen and Amen.”

Chapter 4 – Church problem – everything is programmed.

“So true Lord. I know for broadcasting, programs must be programmed, but I long for the days when we can be free to worship in our church without time restraints and just worship You until the Holy Spirit says to stop.”

Chapter 5 – You cannot reach the world by becoming like the world.

“I pray for me and my friends to not be like the world. I fail often. Let me see that as believers we are not of this world and accept that we may not quite fit in with some.”

Chapter 6: The average church . . . does not dare rise into high theology, because his poor backward sheep cannot follow him. It is hard to get people to think, but it is harder still to get them to thirst.

“Let our pastors and church leaders proclaim the Word of God without fear or trembling. Allow the Word of God to deeply infiltrate their lives, so only Your pure and righteous teaching may be preached. Let us understand church is for worshiping You, not for worldly entertainment.”

Chapter 7: What weakens us in evangelical circles is that we put a plus sign after Christ.

“Nothing can be added to You, God. I can’t add works, more Bible studies, more church work to add on to You. It is only a deeper walk with You that we need. Let us confess our sins and look to You for everything.”

Another Sentence from Chapter 7: Twenty minutes on your knees in silence before God will sometimes teach you more than you can learn even in church.

“This is so true, Jesus. When I am silent before You, You speak. Let my time with You be so much longer than just 20 minutes. I know I need so much more silence and solitude.”

Chapter 8: The first duty of every minister of the gospel is to bring God back to the church—not the intellectual God of the academics, not the palsy God of the gospelers, not the chairman of the board, but the God who reveals Himself in the Scriptures and who revealed Himself supremely in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.

“Amen. Lord, I pray for my ministers and mentors. Do not let them fall into such spiritual warfare that God isn’t preached in truth and power. Let me always keep in my mind that in all I do, I must be humble before You as I face the hard things in life.”

Chapter 9: Whatever in my life is unlike God and contrary to the holiness of God must be eliminated from my life.

“Man, I so need to remember this. I pray for elimination over and over and over. I desire it, but it is so hard when the same thoughts keep seeping through my mind. Heal me of all ungodly thoughts and teach me what triggers I have that leads me astray.”

Chapter 10: To know about God and to know God are two absolutely, different things.

“I want my friends–even my church friends to understand this.”

Chapter 11: God cannot be manipulated.

“So true. Try as we may, God cannot be manipulated. He knows what is best for us and that is the direction He pursues for us. I sometimes try to get MY desires met through prayer and persuasion, but in reality, He is the one in charge–not us.”

Chapter 12: It is impossible to separate the Old Testament from the New Testament. It takes the whole Bible to make the Word of God.

“I heard once that when we read the entire Bible, we open ourselves up to hear ALL God wants to tell us. But, if we only read part of the Bible or only the parts we like, it is like us telling the Lord, ‘We DON’T want to know too much about Him.’ Lord, keep me in Your Word using all the different and creative ways I have seen You do, both in the past and currently.”

Chapter 13: So, God takes us through many trials, and it is not so important that we be happy right now. He is thinking about our enjoyment forever.

“Amen! If I can only live in the light of wanting Heaven more than anything else. I need Your strength each day to do that. I am so weak in this area.”

Chapter 14: Your own thoughts are heard by Him just as loud as Your loudest shout because God is as near to You as Your nerves, as near to You as Your thoughts and Your soul.

Jesus, I know You hear my thoughts and my prayers, but I sometimes wonder (maybe a lot) why You are not giving me relief in the areas that concern me. Come Lord Jesus and answer me with solid and specific ideas. Please take away any thoughts or prayers that I pray that might not be honorable to You. And, I need You to obliterate any distractions that Satan throws at me. Please.”

Chapter 15: I believe that the most important verse in the Bible is “In the beginning.” The most astounding and powerful phrase of all Scripture is “Thus saith the Lord.”

“Thus saith the Lord” is everywhere in the Bible. Let me hear You clearly when You say that phrase to me. Convince me it is You speaking and not my imagination or wishful thinking.”

Chapter 16: [Prayer] is more than a monologue—it is a dialogue. I am afraid most Christians have not progressed to the dialogue aspect of their prayer life.

“Lord, I know that is true. It hurts when I realize how difficult it is to dialogue–both myself and others. But, I know when we dialogue, it is a precious time between You and me. I love listening to Your Word, to the thoughts I obtain in the quiet times. I love dialoguing with my friends, but dialoging with You is the best. Please, do not let me get so busy where I am tempted to give my time with You up to do something else.”

Chapter 17: God is good.

Yes, I love that I have recently discovered Nahum 1:7, where it says, “The LORD is good.”

Chapter 18: Too many these days are going about the country making contented Christians. This is one of the worst possible things that could be done in the church—make a content Christian. We should not want contentment but a thirst for hunger after God. As long as we are without the thirst and hunger, we will be content.

“At church, make convictions a reality for us. Let us continually be reminded of sin. Why? So we will continue to become aware of our sins and shortcomings. Convict us, so we move to remove them from our lives. Give us Your humility to bow down in pure love to honor You. I want Your desires to be my desires. I want to become more and more like You. I want transformation.  I want (I need) to be transformed daily into Your image. Please take away any sinful or unpure thoughts, so my mind can be clear to hear Your Word.

Moving On

If anything caught your attention through my chapter highlights or quotes, I would love for you to share your thoughts with me through the comment section.

Okay, I feel it coming on again–that “hooked on a feeling” song. My song this time is “Til He Comes” by the Imperials! I know I am aging myself, but music is music. And the topic of this song is highly profitable as well! Right? Check it out on YouTube or through this link.

If you are a YouTuber, click here to hear “Til He Comes” by the Imperials.

Love y’all.

Bible Verses:

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied (Matthew 5:6).

Brothers and sisters, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be infants, but in your thinking be mature (1 Corinthians 14:20).

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and remind you of all that I said to you (John 14:26).

God Bless.

greenenpastures.org

Prayer:

Jesus, I want to hunger and thirst for You — for Your righteousness. Every day that I wake up, Lord, create in me a new heart. A heart that desires You more than anything or anyone else. Give me Your strength, wisdom, discernment, and joy until You come again to take us home to be with You forever and ever. In Your Name, Amen.

Work Cited

Tozer, A.W. Delighting in God: True and absolute freedom is found only in the presence of God. Ada, MI: Bethany House, 2015.

Bible verses come from The New American Standard Bible (NASB). “You” and “Your” references referring to God have been capitalized for consistency.

Edited by E. Johnson.

Fun Fact

Wondering what the A.W. stands for in Tozer’s name? His full name is Aiden Wilson Tozer. He never liked his name, so he became identified with his initials.

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Books by Patti Greene

  • Awaken Me – Devotional Workbook
  • Anchor Me – Devotional Workbook
  • Answer Me – Devotional Workbook
  • Christian Caregiving

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