Lesson 10

Worshiping the Lord

(Nehemiah 12, 1 Chronicles 25)
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Introduction: Worship styles! Want to start a fight? Just take a firm position on that issue. Some churches resolve the matter by using different worship styles at different services. Have a preference? Attend the service that reflects your views. In my old church, we had different types of music on different Sabbaths. That solution made people happy some of the time. My current church began with firm beliefs specifically about the style of worship because the founders believed it was critical to reaching nonbelievers. Their views on music are my views, so it has been an easy choice for me. The real issue is not my preference or yours, but rather what does the Bible teach us about music and worship? Let's plunge into our study and learn more!

  1. Worship and the Wall

    1. Read Nehemiah 12:27. What is the reason for this gathering? (To dedicate the wall of Jerusalem.)

      1. Would you call that worship? (To whom are they dedicating the wall? If they are dedicating it to God, then I would call it worship.)

      2. What is the overall tone of the dedication? (They "celebrate joyfully.")

        1. Does that reflect what is going on in your church during worship?

      3. What kind of music did they use? (Singing. The instruments mentioned are cymbals, harps and lyres. I think we understand cymbals and harps. A lyre appears to my uneducated eye as a cross between a guitar and a harp. It is a stringed instrument.)

      4. What was the theme of their music? (Thanksgiving!)

        1. Have you analyzed the music you sing at church?

        2. When I was growing up much of it seemed to be celebrating God's followers and not God. Is that a problem?

        3. Have you criticized worship music because it is simple and repeats the same phrase? If so, read Revelation 4:8 and explain the practices at headquarters.

    2. Read Nehemiah 12:28-29. Who sang? (People designated as musicians traveled to the dedication.)

      1. Is there a lesson in this for church worship?

    3. Let's skip down and read Nehemiah 12:43. What is the dominant them for this worship? (Rejoicing.)

      1. Is that the dominant theme for worship in your church?

      2. Is your worship more conducive to worshiping or sleeping?

      3. I recall visiting a church where the pastor preached so long and in such an uninteresting way that I literally fell asleep. I'm sure it was just for a very short period of time. But, when I awoke I looked around and saw that everyone in the church had also fallen asleep. When I mentioned this remarkable thing to my wife, she responded that we were praying, which was why everyone had their eyes closed. My question and her response struck us as being so funny that we were having a terrible time being quiet during the prayer.

    4. Look again at Nehemiah 12:43, the last part. Who else could not sleep during this worship service? (The neighbors! The Bible tells us the sound of rejoicing "could be heard far away.")

      1. Worship Organization

        1. Read Nehemiah 12:31 and Nehemiah 12:38-39. Consider what this would look like. What does this reflect? (Organization. Preparation. An eye for how things look. I'm sure this procession looked impressive.)

          1. How does your church rate when it comes to the organization of your worship? Is it put together on the spot? Does anyone pay any attention to how things look?

            1. Do you recall any examples of a worship that looked great and was well-organized?

            2. Do you recall any examples of a worship that looked bad and was disorganized?

            3. What is the reason for a disorganized, bad looking worship? (Worship services are disorganized when people fail to take the time to do things right. It reflects a lack of preparation and taking matters seriously.)

        2. Two weeks ago I preached in a small church that had a beautiful front of the sanctuary. You walked in and it looked very impressive. I recall another small church I visited where the front of the church had a prominent plumbing pipe sticking out of the wall that looked terrible. I suspect the members were so used to the pipe that they did not think anything about it. In the first church the members who built it were particular about the details. In the second church, they didn't care very much. Which one of these examples is more like your church?

        3. Read 1 Chronicles 25:1-2 and 1 Chronicles 25:6-7. Notice the repeated reference to both supervision and training. Should those who participate in the worship service at church be supervised and trained?

          1. I'm often asked to preach. With God's blessings and hard work on my part, I think the result brings glory to God. However, no one ever asks me to sing. Any idea why that is?

          2. When I'm teaching or preaching, I never try to sneak in a little singing. Any idea why that is?

          3. Should a church be less selective in choosing singers than choosing preachers? Should singers (or those praying, calling for the offering, or reading the scripture) try to sneak in a little preaching?

            1. Should a church have some hard rules against unrequested and unauthorized preaching? Or, is the unrequested unauthorized stuff a reflection of the leading of the Holy Spirit? (I never want to quench the Holy Spirit, but I think both supervision and training are important to excellence in worship.)

      2. Sacrifices and the Wall

        1. Re-read Nehemiah 12:43. What do you think the people (actually the priests) were doing when they "offered great sacrifices?" (They were sacrificing animals.)

          1. How is killing animals consistent with joy? (One commentary said that these sacrifices would be "thank offerings." The people are able to participate in eating these sacrifices. This as one big barbecue!)

        2. Read 1 John 1:7-9. What does this suggest about the followers of God?

          1. We previously mentioned the fact that the people were dedicating the wall. I suggested that it was a form of worship because they were dedicating it to God. It is possible that they were dedicating it to being a strong wall? A wall to defeat their enemies?

          2. Would it be more appropriate, given what we have studied so far, to conclude they were rejoicing over the safety of the completed wall?

          3. Why did they need to rebuild the wall? (There are two plausible reasons for the dedication. First, Jerusalem had fallen because God's people were unfaithful to Him. I think they wanted to purify everything, including the wall, to make it part of God's holy city. Second, the wall was a source of protection and a sign that they had overcome the opposition of their enemies. 1 John 1:7 tells us that being in a right relationship with God is our goal. That, and defeating your enemies, are two good reasons to rejoice with God.)

        3. Let's look at the two texts that bracket the one we just read. Read 1 John 1:6 and 1 John 1:10. What are the two extremes that we must avoid? (Living a life that does not reflect our fellowship with God. Claiming that we live a perfect life when we do not.)

          1. How do these extremes reflect poorly on the glory of God?

        4. Read Nehemiah 12:46. Should our lives reflect our songs? (Yes! Songs are one form of communication. Our lives should be about praise and thanksgiving to God!)

      3. Next week: Backslidden people.

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Lessons on Ezra and Nehemiah

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