Monday, 28 April 2008 07:12

Basics In True Christian Worhsip

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Coming now in our Nehemiah series to chapter 8, we meet with what you can call a great God-honoring worship service. After the city walls were rebuilt, a special platform with a pulpit is built by one of the gates, the so called Water Gate, with a large open area, in preparation for this special service that was to be held on the first day of the seventh month. In the books of Moses the seventh month in the religious calendar of the Jews was to be a most special month as can be noted also from Leviticus 23:23ff and Numbers 29:1ff. The seventh month beginning on the first day as a sacred rest day was to be a month of spiritual feasting and rededication to the Lord, and Nehemiah made sure this took place. Let us consider the first twelve verses of this chapter under the theme, A most powerful worship service we must not forget!

From this passage, let us learn together what makes for a really God-honoring, Spirit-blessed worship service. What is true worship of God all about, and what is a Christian worship service with power and impact all about? Surely this is a very relevant subject in our days when there is so much confusion and unbiblical viewpoints on this very important matter. In Nehemiah 8 we learn about a very faithful God-blessed and approved worship service. Notice with me four details given in this chapter involved with true worship of God.

Here is a powerful worship service we must not forget! What is involved is, for one, being eager for the Word of God. The people were eager to hear the Word of God and to be instructed by it. How does that come out? Well, we are told they gather together at one place, by the so called Water Gate, where presumably there was a big open field where a large crowd could easily come together. We dont read the people are forced to come, but they come of their own accord. They also ask Ezra, the priest and scribe, the main teacher of the Law or Word of God, you might say, to be sure to come with the Word of God and to teach it and preach it to them.

Notice too their great respect for Gods holy Word as shown in verse 5. We read there, And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, (for he was [standing] above all the people) and when he opened it, all the people stood up. Their standing up at that point was like saying, We view this as a very special event, coming in the presence of God and under His Word. You see, there was great reverence and respect for Gods holy Word. When Ezra prays too before proclaiming and explaining Gods Word to them, we are told in verse 6 how the people so prayed with him and showed such humble submission before Gods holy Word, lifting up their hands in praise to God for His Word and then bowing their heads with their faces to the ground in worship before the LORD.

Verse 3 also states how the whole congregation listened together, the ears of all the people were attentive unto the Book of the Law. Ezra had helpers too in explaining the Word to the people and we read in verse 7, as those helpers caused the people to understand the law and gave the sense of its message that the people stood in their place. This means they continued listening and being eager to hear all that was said and to learn Gods will for their lives. They were all ears to what God had to say and their posture also showed this receptiveness to Gods Word. The fact that they met too from early morning to midday, as verse 3 says, proves their eagerness for Gods Word.

You know what makes for a great worship service still today? When there is a spirit and show of eagerness to hear and learn from Gods Word. When there is a demonstration of humble submission before God and His Word, and a sense of glad privilege and reverent thankful respect to be granted again to come under the reading and proclamation of Gods Word in worship together, how that can so impact a worship service being a real blessing. How do you come to church? Is it with humble joyful anticipation and prayerful submissive expectation or do you come more only out of routine or because you feel forced to come or only because you want to leave a good impression on others? Isnt it true, if you are eager to be under Gods Word, mostly always you will so benefit also being under that precious Word in worship together?

In our Scripture passage you might say there is a spirit of revival and rededication to God taking place, and it shows in worship so to be prized and worship with God-glorifying impact. It is true, no doubt, that what helped promote this eagerness for Gods Word and such godly spiritual worship was the fact of God so blessing the people with their rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem. The rebuilding project takes place against great odds and is finished in no less than 52 days! It was a marvel and the people knew Gods good hand of blessing was with them and upon them, even also with the giving of the godly practical leader, Nehemiah, come to the citys help in time of great need.

But thinking of that, can you not say God still today provides many blessings and favors in our time, living today in the New Testament gospel age? Shouldnt we be so humbly thankful to God for His countless undeserved mercies to us as made known to us ultimately in Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen triumphant Saviour of sinners? Dont we live in the last days when the Spirit has been poured out to serve as Minister of salvation and Comforter of His people by the gospel of Jesus Christ worked in our hearts? Shouldnt there be every reason for a spirit of revival and renewal in our times? If you are not eager to come together in worship under Gods Word, and eager to hear and learn from Gods Word, is that not reason to be ashamed? How come too often people, maybe you included now, can be so eager for so many passing things of this world and its trivial pleasures and treasures, but you are not eager to come under the all-surpassing and everlasting Word of God, which is so full of endless promise and good for us? Is this not something to stop and consider? Are you as parents in the family showing eagerness for the worship services each Lords Day? As youth and children, do you look forward to coming to be under reading and preaching of Gods Word? Or do you complain about having to go to church?

Sadly, do you know what is happening in our times? Many church buildings, especially in the western world, are being remodeled into apartment buildings or into shopping malls or dance and bingo halls. That is happening in our times because people have no eagerness to hear Gods Word! Tragically also there are so called Christian churches where the pulpit is not central at all, but so much else takes place in the services, and Gods Word is hardly referred to, if at all! What is the relevance of the old Bible? Why do we need that? There are much better ways to spend my time than listening to Gods Word, they say and think. Are you living today that pulpits and platforms from which Gods Word is proclaimed may be raised up and built more and more, or are you living, that more and more such places are discounted and in fact, being demolished and not seen as being of any use any more?

In Nehemiahs day there was a most powerful worship service we must not forget, indeed, let us pray and work that such services continue in our day and down through the generations. But what a kind of service is that then that Nehemiah 8:1-12 tells us about? A service where for one, the people were eager for Gods Word! Are you eager to be under Gods Word? Dont you see a need to be eager for Gods Word, and so much reason to be so? How might you help promote eagerness to come under Gods Word in your family setting? Hardly will you experience a great worship service if there is not eagerness to come under Gods holy Word.

But notice a second detail from this most powerful worship service in Nehemiah 8 that we must not forget. It was a service too where the people were not only eager for Gods Word, but also exercised by Gods Word. What do I mean by that? Obviously, as the text relates, the people became convicted of their sins and sinfulness hearing the Word of God. Hearing Gods Word from the books of Moses, probably especially from the book of Deuteronomy, and being given clearly to understand the reading and meaning of the Law of God, the people saw how far short they fell from Gods

standards. Before His holy law and will, they knew, what sinful people we are. Woe be to us, so sinful and rebellious and wayward people as we are by nature. We read in verse 9 that the result of being under the Word was that the people began to weep and mourn for their sins and sinfulness. The people were exercised under Gods Word, and as with Peters preaching on the day of Pentecost, they were pricked in their hearts and cut to the heart, and they knew what we read in Psalm 130:3, If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?

In this service in Nehemiah 8, the Word penetrated the peoples minds and hearts as they were all ears to it, and had prayerfully looked forward to it, and were humbly submissive to it. How we need Gods Word to come with such penetrating and piercing convicting power today too! Are you exercised by Gods Word, in the sense that it leads you to examine your life before God and His holy unchanging standards? Are you too exposed to your sins and sinfulness under the light of Gods Word in a way that you become heartily sorry for your sins and are genuinely repentant of your sins and of your naturally wicked and depraved heart and life? Under the Word of God, when the Holy Spirit accompanies that Word as we are told in John 16:8, He reproves the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment. Isnt this so needed also in our times with so much corruption and evil? Shouldnt you be deeply bothered with the least sin against any one of Gods holy commandments? And what about the numberless sins in thought, word, and deed against all Gods commandments? Do you have any idea how guilty and defiled in sin you are, by nature? This is true about each one of us as fallen depraved sinners in ourselves. Gods Word will have us realize how great our sins and miseries are, left to ourselves. You cant be truly saved and not realize something of this reality.

We will continue this study next week about a powerful worship service where we are not only eager for the word and exercised under the word but also, as we shall see, encouraged through the word and enthusiastic for the word. Why not, if possible, read Nehemiah 8 before then, and may God bless to you the reading and preaching of His holy Word, making it a lamp to your feet and a light upon your path. Amen

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