"Big Band Praise!" by Lynne McCarthy
Observe: Praise God! The psalmist tells us how -- with exuberant joy. As we read or hear this Psalm, we must praise – each line of the song gives us a clue. Big band, for sure! What a wonderful ending for the Book of Psalms!
Interpret/Apply: We need to praise God as we look to Him who made us out of His love, for love – Who has created, protected, admonished, judged, forgiven, shown mercy, comforted, strengthened, held together, disciplined, walked with, saved, delighted in His creatures of dust. When we can get this into our heads and let this filter into our hearts, we learn the immensity of His love. And then, we praise.
So, dig out that rusty trumpet and restring that old cello bow and look for that flute and rebuild that drum kit and tune up those violins and dust off your dad’s old guitar and get those piano fingers going again and start up your dance moves for God -- our best audience! And let’s look for Psalms songs – some years ago we sang Psalms choruses with simple singable tunes that helped us, by repetition, remember Scripture. Psalms are meant to be sung, poems to hold in our memory. Let’s do it again!
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! That’s us, along with His Creation waiting to be free. Voices, clapping, gestures, instruments – every part of our body, every part of the Body, can only praise God for who He is, for how He has blessed or taught or admonished or protected or provided for us this year.
This is the end of the Book of Psalms and the last blog in our Psalms in a Year series. But it’s not the end, oh, nonono! Now, we read and reread Psalms throughout our lives, observing, applying, praying, singing God’s Word. God’s Word! Psalms are meant to be sung – these Hebrew poems resonate millennia later to speak of the human condition and of God’s faithfulness. Let’s praise God, however we can, for His provision of these glorious songs.
I offered choices of Psalm songs in my blogs this year – a variety of styles to enjoy, hear, sing, absorb. Today’s move from David Suchet’s reading in his measured tones, to formal choirs, to exuberant blasts from the BTC and Corner Room -- we hear this Psalm. One day we’ll let rip, too, as we praise God with everything we’ve got, together, at St Aidan’s – it may take a while to let go of our cultural stiffness but it’ll happen. We’re rehearsing for that great eternal praise session, together!
Pray: Praise befits You, great Lord God! We give You our praise with everything You have given to praise You, the best response we can make for Your constant goodness to us, Your faithfulness, Your mercy, Your love. As we praise, we declare we love You, Jesus, Lord and Saviour, Almighty Father, Holy Spirit, mysterious Trinity God, for all You have given us, for all You are. Amen! Alleluia! Praise the Lord!
David Suchet reads Psalm 150
Gloria Dei Cantores Psalm 150
Cambridge Singers, Royal Philharmonic (John Rutter) Psalm 150
Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir Psalm 150
The Corner Room Psalm 150
PRAISE THE LORD! by Trish Reimer
The last five psalms in the Bible begin and end with the words: “Praise the Lord!” and psalm 149 is one of them. Verses 1-4 talk of the praise of God’s people and verses 5-9 talk of the power of God’s people.
Interpretation and Application:
Why do we go to church? Is it to meet with others or is it to worship God? Is it to praise Him? Is it to learn more of Him? Yes, it is all of those things and the psalmist here exhorts us to gather together to sing a new song to the Lord. We are afforded the pleasure of true praise by making music and dancing, although Adam Clarke disagreed with most translations that the Hebrew word here translated dance (mahol) means a flute or musical pipe, not a dance. “I know no place in the Bible where machol and machalath mean dance of any kind; they constantly signify some kind of pipe.” Be that as it may, I still believe the Lord delights in us dancing before Him! Verse 4 states that the Lord delights in His people. I’ve often wondered how God can do that. I can’t really explain how this can be, but Charles Spurgeon summed it up by saying: “What is there in us in which the Lord can take pleasure? Nothing, unless He has put it there. If He sees any beauty in us, it must be the reflection of His own face. Yet still the text says so, and therefore it must be true: ‘The Lord taketh pleasure in His people.’” I don’t know about you, but that really encourages me. I don’t often think of me being the reflection of God’s face!
Now we move to verses 5-6 where God’s people are making ready for conflict. Our praise is not restricted to assembling together. We can praise God anywhere – even when we are in our beds. I know that I have shared before that I often don’t sleep very well. It is in those times when I am awake for hours that I have my most meaningful prayer time. I have spent a lot of that time praising the Lord! We have 2 weapons at our disposal – the high praise of God (indicating our allegiance and surrender to God in every victory) and a two-edged sword. This sword can indicate a practical weapon but also in a spiritual sense a reliance on God’s Word which is described as a two-edged sword in Rev. 19:15. Hebrews 4:12 also tell us that the Word is sharper than a two-edged sword and Ephesians 6:19 refers to the Word as the sword of the Spirit. I’m sure you’ve all heard the phrase: “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!” Well, Psalm 149:6 has something of that idea. As God’s people we should both praise and preach God’s Word (a sharp handling of the sword of the Spirit).
Finally, in verses 7-9 we see the victory of God’s people. The power of praise and the Word of God will ultimately see God’s work accomplished among the nations. Those who disobey will receive punishment whether they are royalty, nobility or the common people. No one will escape judgment. We as His people will have the honour of setting right the wrongs of this present age, even if only as an audience to the righteous judgments of God as long as we continue to praise and obey His Word.
The psalm ends as it began – with praise (or hallelujah). Let us be encouraged that we have victory through obedience to Him and His Word!
Father, we praise Your name! A lifetime of praise would not be adequate to express our love and thanks. Help us to continue to give you praise and share Your Word. Amen.
Psalm 149 (Jason Silver)
Blog on Psalm 148 by Rev. Susan Salo
A Hymn of Praise to God
In this Psalm all of creation and all peoples are bidden to praise the God of Israel. Imperative calls for God's praise ring out at in every verse, beginning with the heavenly realms and the cosmos, carrying on through the earthly creation, because at God's command they were created. (V.6)
Moving through the rest of the created order, the psalmist bids all peoples to join in the praise of God's name, "for his name alone is exalted; his splendor is above the earth and the heavens." (V.13)
God's name is his essence. The entire world is bidden to praise God. We might wonder what does this call, to praise the God of Israel, has to do with the rest of the people of the earth - but this relationship with God is part of his special identity in the world. He is worthy of universal praise and people everywhere may join to praise God's Messiah, Jesus. In turn, the Holy Spirit, working through the church is tasked to bring God's redemption to all the world.
An aside: (V. 13-14) These verses are included in the Jewish liturgy for returning the Torah to the Ark in synagogue worship. They proclaim that God alone is sublime and that he raises the "horn of power" (or strength) for his people Israel, therefore deserving of praise and adoration indeed.
THEREFORE: Let us join our voices to this hymn of praise - even when things aren't going the way we want. That, then, becomes a sacrifice of praise and worship and is even more precious to God who made you and who loves you.
Let us make time to praise God when things are going great, because it is during those times when we are prone to think, as Israel did, "I did this all by myself!" And the corollary, "I don't actually need God," because the next step is after that idolatry. We know that if we do not humble ourselves, God will do it and it will be painful (see Peter's denial of Jesus 3 times.)
Most of all, let us praise God because he is better than anything in all creation. "Oh Come Let Us Adore Him!"
PRAYER: Lord, in the good times and in the tough times we bring our offering of praise. You alone are holy and we worship you. Be with us in the coming year, to guide us and help us to live a life worthy of you, fully pleasing to you, bearing fruit in every good work. May our praise be to you as sweet smelling incense, an offering fit for our amazing God. Amen.
SONG: "Hallelujah Chorus" - Christmas Food Court Flash Mob
Praise the LORD! - by Richard Neufeld
Psalm 147 is the second of five psalms known as the Alleluia hymns, the last of which closes out the entire book of Psalms. These five hymns both start and end with the phrase Praise the LORD! and put a final exclamation point on this psalter which is called “praise.”
It is written in the style typical of a hymnal of praise; there are three stanzas, each of which begin with a call to praise followed by reasons for which we ought to give praise. This call to praise is repeated four times, once at the start of each stanza and a fourth time at the end:
The thing I love most about this psalm is the way it emphasizes His care; not only for the great celestial bodies that illumine the night sky, not only for the grandeur of the sky and seasons, but for you and for me, for the outcasts, for the broken-hearted, and even for the birds of the sky and beasts of the land. Read it again and notice His care for all things, large and small. Notice the contrast: “He covers the heavens with clouds … He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds; He determines the number of the stars - He gives to all of them their names … The Lord lifts up the humble, He casts the wicked to the ground.”
It is poetry like this, so rooted in the rich soil of history, by which the Holy Spirit can whisper peace to even the most fractious spirit, the most anxious heart. Read verse nine, “He gives to the beasts their food, and to the young ravens that cry.” Compare that to the words of our Lord Jesus in the Gospel of Luke 12:7, “Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
In a world where instant gratification is constantly pushed as the only sort of gratification, remember to take a step back and look at the big picture; God knows your coming in and your going out, He knows your every thought and sin and shame; He knows your plans, your fears, your motives, and your desires; He knows your future and your past, your present moments, your 4 AM thoughts, your darkest secrets – and He loves you! He knows and has numbered each and every hair on your head (even though the number of mine has, well, decreased significantly). The sooner I’m able to grasp that, the sooner I’m able to start living each day in the joy and comfort of knowing that the God who created all things, from galaxies to atoms, knows me, a lowly sinner who has clung to Him for dear life.
As this is my last blog for this year and for some time, let me encourage all of you still reading that you, yes you, are known and so, so loved by your creator. Even when you were at your worst, Christ died for you! So don’t hesitate – if the news that Jesus loves you feels like it has fallen flat, re-examine scripture and see what that really means. Don’t ever let that wonder fizzle out, for it is our joy and our strength. Our Father Almighty, the Ancient of Days, to whom we sing Holy, Holy, Holy has such tender love and care for you.
Your first priority as a Christian is to know God. Not out of mere duty and obligation, but from a starting place and overflow of joy, praise, and thanksgiving. When we learn to embody this reality, we will not be able to help but start and end each day with this simple phrase – Praise the LORD!
Lord God, thank you for these blogs and the ways in which you have used them. Thank you for everyone faithfully participating in this ministry of yours. We pray that all those who, at this stressful and lonely time of year, are in need of lifting up get a double dose of your presence, your comfort, your peace, and your strength. Thank you for knowing us and allowing us to know you. Thank you for the incredible gift of your Son and your Holy Spirit. Help us to make the joy of the Lord our strength and so steep ourselves in your presence that all those who see our good deeds and our love may give glory to you, our Father in heaven. Amen!
Song: How Majestic Is Your Name (Shane & Shane)
“Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord, my soul. Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God.”
Psalm 146: 1 & 5
As the book of Psalms concludes we are presented with Psalms of Hallelujah; of Praise. Psalm 146 begins with a simple call to worship. Our souls are to magnify God, to praise Him every day for all of our lives. The reason for this joy? God is simply to be trusted for who He is and what He does.
Before the reasons for this trust are explained we are counselled not to put our trust in fellow man. This dishonors God and disappoints us, humans cannot save (3); they die, they depart and their plans amount to naught (4).
God on the other hand is our help and hope. He is the creator of all things and is ever faithful, He: helps the oppressed; feeds the hungry; frees prisoners; gives sight to the blind; uplifts the bowed down; loves the righteous; watches over the alien, orphan and widow; and frustrates the wicked.
God is to be praised and is the source of true joy because He can be trusted; He provides happiness, help and hope.
Jesus announced His arrival, purpose and ministry in the synagogue in Nazareth (Luke 4: 14-21). He quoted from the prophet Isaiah (58: 6 & 61: 1-2); truths that we see here in this Psalm (7-9). Jesus fulfils and lives out the reasons for which we have hope and help which provide, in turn, true happiness. Spiritually, He can be trusted to set us free, give us sight, feed us daily, uplift us, watch over us and love us. He provides protection frustrating evil; this Psalm echoes Psalm 121 describing God as our creator (6) who we are to look to when trouble comes. Practical and material help are provided also through many sources including the Church, the Body of Christ. God is faithful!
This help and hope is also eternal as God reigns forever. So, focusing on God through Jesus Christ, enabled by His Holy Spirit, provides real happiness as our relationship with Him grows. As the Psalms at the end of the book focus on praise so may our hearts as we draw to the end of this year, inspired by God's help and Hope.
The Question of Application
In what do you place your trust; mortal man, material provision or the eternal majestic God Almighty? Focus on God and find genuine help, real hope and true happiness
God our creator and redeemer, inspire your people, in prosperity or adversity, to turn always to you, eternal source of life, health, and goodness; our help, hope and happiness. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
Jesus Christ, my Living Hope by Phil Wickham
Tell out my soul – ExaltHIM vdo
Everlasting Kingdom (By: Chris Barnes)
Text: Psalm 145
Verse 1-2: The psalmist opens by stating his determination to praise God daily, and enthusiastically forever. God is his King and thus deserves his worship. The focus here is on God’s name, which refers to his nature as well as the reputation garnered by his works.
Verses 3-7: It is beyond human ability to grasp God completely, but his people can know enough to pass down the accounts of his great acts from generation to generation. His past acts establish a tack record that builds up the confidence of his people.
Verse 8: Through his great acts, God reveals himself as gracious, compassionate, patient, and loving.
Verses 9-13: God’s kingdom is described as glorious and everlasting. God’s kingdom is not restricted to Israel but extends to the whole world.
Verses 14-21: The psalm celebrates God who keeps his promises and helps those who are vulnerable. The psalmist once again declares his commitment to praise God and then calls on all God’s creatures to join him.
INTERPRET: This is the last of the acrostic songs in the Psalter. The psalm is a hymn that extols God as King and as the One who provides for his vulnerable people. It draws on God’s great acts and celebrates his everlasting kingdom as the motivation for praise. All the earth is to praise the Lord who provides for his creatures.
In verses 5 and 6, there is an interplay between they in colon a and I in colon b, which refers to the previous generations informing the psalmist of God’s great acts and the psalmist responding with praise.
Christians using this prayer know that Jesus is the Messiah, the anointed King, whose great acts in the past are his death and resurrection. He has established God’s kingdom among us, and we look forward to his return to reign over all creation.
APPLICATION: Psalm 145 is a psalm in which David specifically gives five distinct characteristics of God, and they all begin with the letter "G." These characteristics include:
All these characteristics of the Everlasting King should give us peace in the present and give us extreme confidence for our future. They should shape our priorities and motivate us to serve and praise our King in everything that we do. God’s Kingdom is everlasting, and so is it’s King. Let every creature praise his holy name (Jesus), for ever and ever. Alleluia, Amen!
PRAYER: Dear Father, help me not to be in love with this present world. Enable me to live for the sake of your everlasting kingdom. Help me come to the defense of those who are attacked wrongly or who need defending for your sake. Stand by us, dear God, and give us the strength to live for you and to proclaim your word fully, as it deserves. Rescue us from the lion's mouth. Rescue us from every evil and save us for your heavenly kingdom. Be with our spirits. Grant abundant grace to us in every way. To you be the glory for ever and ever. Amen.
SONG: Everlasting God – Chris Tomlin
You Are My Rock
December 16th – Les Kovacs Psalm 144 of David
Observe: Psalm 144 is a reflection by David on his relationship with the Lord. Being a king and a warrior, David uses familiar, martial imagery throughout the psalm. As is consistent with David, he praises God for His blessings to him, whether as a beneficiary of God’s training or in protection and deliverance from his enemies.
David is amazed that God should pay any attention at all to human beings, whose lives are but a mere breath, or a fleeting shadow compared to the power and might of God. God, whose touch can smoke the mountains, flash with lightning, and deliver us from any calamity natural or otherwise.
In his joyous expression of praise, David will create new songs to the Lord, who, in His faithfulness will bless the people with prosperity and security. They will be His people.
Interpret: David acknowledges his complete dependence on God. He knows who it is that blessed him with protection, victory over enemies, and prosperity, and he gives all the honour and glory to God. David speaks of it here as a matter of his absolute trust in God, wherein he finds his comfort. He recognizes how insignificant humans are compared to God, and affirms His goodness and greatness. He praises God for the experiences he has had of His blessings and the encourages him to expect further mercies from the Lord. In the midst of his complaints concerning the power and treachery of his enemies, there is a holy exultation in his God: “I will sing a new song to you, my God; on the ten-stringed lyre I will make music to you.” Vs 9. But, David doesn’t take the Lord’s blessings for granted. He continues to pray for protection from the sword and from deceitful foreigners, and for added prosperity for his own people. He proclaims that the people who belong to the Lord are indeed blessed.
Application: As much as we can agree with David that God deserves all the praise, honour and glory that we can give Him for uncountable blessings and mercies He pours out on us, the most profound question David asks is found in Verse 3 of this psalm. “Lord, what are human beings that you care for them, mere mortals that you think of them?”
Human “society” has always been self-centered. Its in our nature to invest our energies in activities and relationships that benefit us. We see this clearly demonstrated in the natural world. In the wild, animals, particularly predators, are always weighing whether the energy they expend in the chase for prey is worth the potential return in maintaining their health. They may not consciously think about it, but they are always weighing “What’s in it for me?” That is also true for secular human society. When thinking about entering into a new activity or relationship, people often ask themselves how it will benefit them. Will this investment bring me more wealth? Will this activity bring me better health? Will this person fulfil my needs?
When we consider David’s question about why God should care about us, we find that these very human questions about “what is in it for me?” are meaningless to Him. There is absolutely nothing we can do, offer or say that will benefit God. There is nothing that we can do that can harm or help Him. There is nothing that we can give Him that wasn’t created by Him. There is no wisdom we can share with Him that isn’t already known to Him. Yet He provides for us, blesses us and pours out His mercies on us very single day.
The only explanation for God’s grace poured out on us is His immeasurable love. He created us to be His people out of love. He called us to be in a loving relationship with Him. Throughout history, He cared for, provided for, and disciplined His people in order to bring them back into that loving relationship. He gave His only begotten Son as sacrifice for our continuing rebellion and sin that we might remember His love and return to Him.
Blessed are we who call God our Lord!
Prayer: Thank you, Lord for faithfully pouring out your boundless love on your people. Thank you for being our refuge in times of trouble, for providing for all our needs with abundant grace, and for giving us Jesus Christ as the way to salvation. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.
Song: Psalm 144 – Jason Silver
"Your Unfailing Love" by Lynne McCarthy
Observe David cries out for mercy. The enemies of his life have drained him, beaten him down, crushed him, and he reveals his inner turmoil: Therefore my spirit faints within me; my heart withing me is appalled. (4)
He recalls earlier days and thinks deeply on them, when his God was close to him – or, he, man after God’s own heart, was close to God. Now, in a distant echo of Psalm 63:1 he cries out, My soul thirsts for you like a parched land (6b), David stretches out his hands in supplication borne of great weakness. Yet, as always, he finds his refuge in the Lord, whom he implores, cut off my enemies, and you will destroy all the adversaries of my soul, for I am your servant (12). And that is the crux.
Interpret This is the last of the seven Penitential Psalms of David.
No one living is righteous before You. (2) Not even David, the best of the kings of Israel. We are recalled to this in Romans 3:10-18, and yet we see that David, recognizing his own human weakness, thirsts for God. This thirst is like a gift, leading to living water, to God’s righteousness.
Enemies around him, troubled soul within, David is truly suffering. The cruelty and injustice of man is the backdrop of this pleading psalm. And yet, the love of his God constantly sustains him even in his grief and grievances.
Apply Difficulties can threaten to drag us down or make us want to run. When we cling to the fact that God is very much in charge, that He has always known, that He waits for the moment He’s ordained to bring all things to a blessed close, we are able to weather anything from minor irritants to major tragedies. It doesn’t mean instant wisdom or an easing out, or that we’ll be smiling as we pick our way through the fog of suffering and trial, but sudden surprise-showers of grace and peace clear the way.
Whether we have a God-shaped empty space deep within us, or a parched-land thirst, or a vague sense of distress, He may allow this to happen, so we are driven to seek more than temporary relief in distractions that gum up our minds and vision. As with David in these seven Psalms, we seek Him, because He is the only one who can fill that ordained space, quench that thirst, deal with our sins, and relieve the unease.
In seeking Him, we find Him. Our weedy cow path detours merge with His defined narrow way, and we walk in company with His saints – past, present, future – to complete our journey with Jesus to the end that is a beginning.
Ask Holy Lord, will you fill the emptiness within me and quench this thirst? Then, will you help me discern Your will? Where is your level path, Lord? Please show me….
Pray Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God. Let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground. Lord God, I am Your servant. Let me be content to serve You and those You put into my life, for I am Yours. Let me put aside all that blinds me to the wonderful outworking of Your plan, to see that Your Kingdom is indeed come, and I live in it!
Sing Ps 143
Sherri Youngward - Your Unfailing Love Ps 143:8-10
Shane and Shane - Revive Me
Blog on Psalm 142 by Rev. Kim Salo
David was cornered. He was in a cave, on the lam. Saul was after him with a force of 3000 men. (I Sam. 24) He is scared, exhausted, and alone.
The Psalm is a mixture of the kind of thoughts that go through a desperate mind, and desperate prayers to God. “I cry aloud…I lift up my voice…I pour out…I tell my trouble.” Then he prays to God, “It is you who watch over my way.” His path is laden with traps, he has no right hand man, he has “no refuge, no one cares.”
He tells God, “You are my refuge.” His final prayer asks, “Listen…rescue…set me free.” Then he will praise God, and he will be among the righteous, safe again.
Think about what makes us actually afraid. Loss of a job. Loss of a loved one. Loss of health. Rejection, poverty, severe illness.
People say trouble comes in threes, but I don’t believe that. Yet troubles rarely come alone. Beset on all sides, we can feel like the hounds of hell really are after us. Who do we turn to when we are alone and afraid?
Believers turn to God. We cry out, we pour out our troubles, we complain, we ask for help. Honest prayer is not just fine words. That can mask what is really going on. Think of how we confide in a real friend. We don’t hold back, do we?
So with God. If we have got to the point with the Lord where we can say, “You are my refuge,” then we can pour out our troubles, tell it like it really is, and then lean on God for help. “Rescue me…set me free…that I may praise your name…” And put me among friends again. The Psalms teach us how to pray this way. Are your prayers always “churchy,” or do you sometimes cry out from the center of your soul?
David knew the Lord that way and prayed that way. Countless others do, too. Jesus put himself not just our shoes, but in our very lives, in order to connect us to the Father, in the same way He is connected to the Father. By his Spirit, he takes our wordless groans and turns them into prayers.
By faith we know that even when we are alone and desperate, God hears, and can rescue us. When no one cares, God cares.
Pray: Lord, I need you. When I am in trouble, I need you. When I feel alone, I need you. When I feel hounded by people, I need you. Lord, you are my refuge. Rescue me, and I will praise you. Bring me back to a place of safety among friends. Thank you, Lord. Amen.
Song: “Lord, I need you.” - Matt Maher
WATCH YOUR MOUTH! by Trish Reimer
This is a psalm of David. He asked God to deal with his own sin before addressing the wicked men around him and/or who fought against him. It seems that David was more concerned about his own internal evil than he was about the evil around him. Verses 1-4 are a prayer for God’s acceptance and assistance while verses 5-10 entreat God to appear for rescue.
Interpretation and Application:
When we value God’s presence, our prayers become more fervent. Just as the daily sacrifices and burnt offerings were of old, so are our prayers. They are the offering up of our souls. In verse 3 David entreats the Lord to “set a guard over my mouth and keep watch over the door of my lips”. In other words, we need to watch our mouths! Although David’s prayer for this guard over the mouth is in order that we do not fall into the evil of the world or be drawn into it, it is also advice for other things as well. How often do we speak hastily or unwisely about things before thinking or praying about it? Our mouths get us in trouble a lot! I know that daily I wish I didn’t open my mouth and say things to my family or friends that I shouldn’t have and often I need to hear rebuke from God or other brothers and sisters in Christ in order to grow (verse 5). I need to take it kindly and to heart so that my prayers will become even more fervent. As long as we fix our eyes on the Lord, we will become numb to the snares and traps of the world and will be safe in the arms of Christ while the evildoers fall (verses 8-10). So let’s watch our mouths and nestle close to the Lord!
Lord, I often stumble and fall when I open my mouth. Set a guard over it and give me wisdom when I speak to glorify only You in everything I do. Keep me from falling into the world’s traps and snares and to fix my eyes only on You. Amen.
Psalm 141, “Like Burning Incense” - Tony Alonso
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.