Welcome to Friends in Christ's interactive course, Adventure in Living through the Spirit. This course is presently being held at Greenbelt Middle
School. If you can attend these classes, you will benefit from the interaction among those who attend. If you are unable to attend in person, then this interactive web site will hopefully give you a sense of the course and the spiritual potential it can open for you.
If you have not already done so, please review the Introduction and Mind and Heart sections of the curriculum, and also read our piece on Using the Bible.
Reality is determined by how we perceive it. Yes, events happen, most over which we have no control. Yet, the meaning of events and the influence of events on our lives is determined, more often than not, by how we view them. The Bible is filled with praise and thanksgiving for all God's blessings. Practicing praise and thanksgiving opens us to seeing life as a blessing. Even adversity can reveal God's love.
The practice of thanking and praising God goes to the very heart of living as a child of God. Events happen in our lives. The crucial question for living in the Spirit is how do we understand or see these events. Can we truly see these events as blessings? As God's handicraft? Isn't such vision a gift of God? How do we practice to encourage or receive this gift? This is the challenge of spiritual formation.
Write a list below of all the persons, things or events in your life during the last two weeks for which you are thankful. Can you see these as gifts from God?
Read the Bible selections for this session:
Praising and thanking God are basic elements of the Biblical view of the world. They are both the result of God's blessing upon us and the means to see God's blessing around us. Seeing life as filled with God's glory and blessing has a profound effect on how we live. All of us have experienced times when we see a glass as half empty, feeling despair. At other times, we see the same glass as half full, feeling joy. We know that seeing the blessings in our lives opens us to new energy and creativity.
There is an imaginary story about King Saul and the young David which demonstrates this. King Saul and young David are on the battle field confronting the enemy Philistine army. Out steps the great Philistine warrior, Goliath, a mountain of a man. Saul gasps in horror. "How," he says, "can we ever defeat such as large adversary?" David smiles. "What a blessing from God," he says, "how can I not hit such a large target with my sling." Life is obviously in the eyes of the beholder.
Mary's song of praise in Luke 1:46-55 is one the New Testament's most beautiful distillations of the Gospel message. See the scene in your mind's eye. Here is Mary, a young girl betrothed to be married. An angel comes and tells her that she is to become pregnant by the Holy Spirit and that her son will be a holy child and grow into the king of Israel. Even with such good news in her heart, Mary is facing serious difficulties being pregnant and not yet married. In fulfilling this divine plan, she is facing severe hardships and vulnerability. She affirms, however, that she remains the Lord's servant. (Luke 1:38) From her mouth, then comes this beautiful song of praise and thanksgiving. In verses 46-49, Mary speaks personally. Acknowledging her lowly position, she still praises God and thanks him for all the great things he has done for her. Truly, Mary has the vision to see blessings even in possible adversity. For this she is blessed. In verses 50-55, Mary goes from her personal experience to explain the nature of the God of the Universe. He is merciful and keeps his promises. He lifts the lowly and feeds the hungry, while scattering the proud and sending away the rich and powerful. These are also Old Testament themes which can be found earlier in Hannah's song of prayer (1 Samuel 2:1-10). This is the model which Luke may have used with Mary's song. The importance of both songs is the incredible praise and thanksgiving from both lowly women opens both to producing and raising holy men. Such is the power of a vision of blessings.
Write below of a time when you were not feeling thankful concerning your life. What feelings did you have? What were the causes of your forgetfulness of praise and thanksgiving? How were the hindrances overcome?
Practice a daily time for praising God and thanking God for all life's blessings. How does this make you feel? Does this change your perspective on life? On others?
If you would like Bill Samuel and/or John Smallwood of the Friends in Christ Core Ministry Team to respond to the thoughts you have written above, please give us your name and email address (and what further information you choose) and submit it using the Submit button below. If not, we suggest you print it for your own use using the print function of your browser. (Our tests indicate you should not try to email it to yourself using the Send Page function of your browser, as you will get only the preprinted information, not what you've written.) If you choose not to send us what you've written, but would still like to be in touch with us, please communicate with us using our Feedback form.
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Thanks for participating in this interactive session. We hope you found it helpful.
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