A call to worship
Intro: A PARAMEDIC was asked on a local Dallas TV talk-show program: “What was your most unusual and challenging 911 call?”
.“Recently,” paramedic began, we got a call from that big white CHURCH on 11th and Walnut. A frantic usher was very concerned that during their WORSHIP service an elderly man PASSED out in a pew and appeared to be dead. The usher could find no PULSE and there was no noticeable BREATHING.”
.“What was so unusual and demanding about this particular call?” the interviewer asked.
.“Well,” the paramedic said, “we carried out four guys before we found the one who was dead.”
. The message this morning in about worship.
. We are back in Nehemiah this morning and we are going to see one of the most beautiful pictures of worship found in the Old Testament.
.Many people go to church every Sunday.
. Many go for their whole life and never truly experience the worship of God.
. In one of my textbooks I found this little saying about modern man and their worship this week.
. Modern man: “worships his work, works at his play, and plays at his worship”
. My prayer is that this is not so for us.
. As I said we are back in Nehemiah this morning and we turn our attention to what the Jewish people did after the walls were rebuilt.
. They had spent basically two months in intense labor, working around the clock to rebuild the walls.
. The wall is finished, but the real work has just begun. And God's real purpose for the wall is just beginning. Thank God His people in Jerusalem did not have a 'monument' mentality. They didn't see building the wall as the ultimate goal. They understood that what went on inside the walls was what really mattered. What will now happen inside was the reason the walls were built in the first place.
. Once the wall was finished the people wanted to hear from God. They wanted to worship the one who had been with them as they had built the walls. They began to worship and they had an old fashioned Revival meeting.
. You remember the old fashioned revival meetings that would start on Sunday morning and end up after midnight on Sunday night.
. This revival was based on the word. On scripture.
. Let’s read our text.
. Nehemiah 8:1-12
. 1all the people assembled with a unified purpose at the square just inside the Water Gate. They asked Ezra the scribe to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, which the LORD had given for Israel to obey.
2So on October 8 Ezra the priest brought the Book of the Law before the assembly, which included the men and women and all the children old enough to understand.
3He faced the square just inside the Water Gate from early morning until noon and read aloud to everyone who could understand. All the people listened closely to the Book of the Law.
4Ezra the scribe stood on a high wooden platform that had been made for the occasion. To his right stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah. To his left stood Pedaiah, Mishael, Malkijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam.
5Ezra stood on the platform in full view of all the people. When they saw him open the book, they all rose to their feet.
6Then Ezra praised the LORD, the great God, and all the people chanted, “Amen! Amen!” as they lifted their hands. Then they bowed down and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.
7The Levites—Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, and Pelaiah—then instructed the people in the Law while everyone remained in their places.
8They read from the Book of the Law of God and clearly explained the meaning of what was being read, helping the people understand each passage
9Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who were interpreting for the people said to them, “Don’t mourn or weep on such a day as this! For today is a sacred day before the LORD your God.” For the people had all been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.
10And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the LORD is your strength!”
11And the Levites, too, quieted the people, telling them, “Hush! Don’t weep! For this is a sacred day.”
12So the people went away to eat and drink at a festive meal, to share gifts of food, and to celebrate with great joy because they had heard God’s words and understood them.
. The Jewish people here are experiencing what I call true worship.
. We see many things in this scripture this morning modeling true worship but I want to focus on three of them this morning.
. The first thing we see here is that true worship involves a:
. Longing for God’s word.
. Look at verse 1 again.
1all the people assembled with a unified purpose at the square just inside the Water Gate. They asked Ezra the scribe to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, which the LORD had given for Israel to obey.
.The people gathered with one purpose in mind. They had a longing for God’s word.
. They longed to hear the book of the law of Moses. That was all they had at the time and they longed to hear from God through Hid word.
. True worship will always involve longing for God’s word.
. True worship will involve hearing from the one that we worship.
. Do you truly worship when you come to church.
.Do you long for God’s word to be read. Have you been longing for God’s word all week?
. A little boy brought his father the family Bible from the coffee table. "What is this daddy?" "It's the Bible, it's God's book." his dad replied. "Then should we give it back to Him since we don't use it?"
. Another lady wanted to impress the preacher when he dropped by for a visit. She said to her daughter, "Honey, go get the blessed book mama loves so much." She ran off and returned w/ the Sears catalog!
. One day after church a preacher saw one of his members leaving the church and they had left their bible on the pew. He called out to them and told them that they had left their bible. They said that it was ok; they wouldn’t need it till next Sunday.
. Worship is an everyday thing and in order to worship, there must be a hunger for God’s word.
. How can we say that we worship someone who desires to talk to us, who desires to commune with us but we don’t want to hear or read a word they say.
. The people longed to hear from God that day.
. Do you long to hear from God?
. These people didn’t have bibles like we do. They couldn’t set a time every day to listen and commune with God. They had to have someone read the scripture to them.
. They could have used that as an excuse.
. They could have said “I can’t read or I don’t have a copy so I just won’t worry about it.
. They didn’t do that though. They requested that Ezra bring out the book and read the scripture to them so they could worship their God.
. What’s our excuse?
. Christians must long for God’s word if they are to truly worship God.
. The next thing we see is that when the book was read, when scripture was read, they:
. Listened to Gods word.
. Look at verse 3&8 again.
. 3He faced the square just inside the Water Gate from early morning until noon and read aloud to everyone who could understand. All the people listened closely to the Book of the Law.
. 8They read from the Book of the Law of God and clearly explained the meaning of what was being read, helping the people understand each passage
. The people listened while the Levites, the priests read and explained to them what God had to say to them.
. They heard a sermon folks.
. Vs 3 said that they read from morning until around noon and the people listened closely to what was being read.
. After that, in verse 8, the preachers took over. They then to the people what the scriptures meant.
. The KJV translation has a beautiful description of this scene.
. 8So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.
. They gave the sense, the meaning.
. Folks, that’s expository preaching at its best.
. They took God’s word, read it and helped the people understand what it said.
. In order to understand though, you must be listening.
. In the comic strip, Calvin and Hobbes, we find in the first frame, Calvin is running around the house chasing Hobbes.
As we move to the second frame, we observe Calvin’s mom shouting: Calvin, quit charging around the house!!
Of course, in the third frame, the inevitable happens. We read, “Smash, bink, bonk, boom!”
As we come to the fourth frame, we find Calvin in the middle of a disaster of broken lamps and disheveled furniture with Mom yelling: WHAT DID I JUST TELL YOU?!?
And Calvin responds: Beats me, weren’t you listening either?
. I was always amazed at the listening abilities of my wife when our children were babies.
. We would be in bed or in another room and Pam would suddenly stop and say did you hear that or she would wake up suddenly in the middle of the night and declare that the baby was awake and it was my turn to take care of him.
. She could hear the slightest change in their breathing I believe.
. Why, because she was listening for them. It was important for her to listen out for them.
. There was a boy who took his girlfriend to a football game for the first time. After the game he asked his girlfriend how she liked the game.
“Oh, I really liked it,” she said, “but I just couldn’t understand why they were killing each other for 25 cents.”
"What on earth do you mean???"
“Well I saw them flip a coin and one team got it and then for the rest of the game all they kept screaming was, ‘Get the quarter back! Get the quarter back!’”
. Folks we must listen to God’s word as it is proclaimed and understand what it is God is saying to us.
. Donald Whitney writes about listening and understanding and applying God’s word in his book, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. He writes: (page 88)
.Since worship is focusing on God and responding to God, regardless of what else we are doing we are not worshiping if we are not thinking about God.
. You may be listening to a sermon, but without thinking of how God’s truth applies to your life and affects your relationship with Him, you aren’t worshipping.
. Could stay on this point for another hour this morning but I need to move on.
. True worship folks, involves listening to God’s word being preached or taught.
. The children of Israel listened to God’s word.
. Lastly we see that if we are to experience true worship we must:
. Let God speak to you through His word.
. Look at verse 9 again.
. 9Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who were interpreting for the people said to them, “Don’t mourn or weep on such a day as this! For today is a sacred day before the LORD your God.” For the people had all been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.
. The people had been listening to the word of God and they started weeping.
. The word convicted them of their sin.
. The word convicted them of their past.
. They had come back to Jerusalem after years in exile for their disobedience to God.
. Read back through Chronicles and see that they had been exiled for seventy years.
. Their sin had found them out and now they were listening to God’s word and the conviction of their sin had brought them into deep conviction and despair.
. The devil would have loved for them to stay in their despair.
. The devil wants to bring you down and keep you down.
. Look at verse 10 again.
. 10And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the LORD is your strength!”
. Nehemiah stepped in and said don’t be sad. God can cure your sadness.
. Yes you are convicted of your past and your sin but guess what.
.There is joy in knowing the Lord.
. The joy of the Lord is your strength.
.Knowing the Lord is your strength.
In true worship, we know where our strength and our joy come from.
. They come from the Lord.
. They come from knowing the Lord.
. There is no greater worship service than one where there is joy in the Lord.
. In order to have this joy, In order to worship, you must allow God to speak to you through His word.
. Let his word convict and then let His comfort and bring you Joy.
. Do you have joy because you know Him this morning?
. There is no greater joy on earth than knowing God has spoken to you through His word and you have responded in joy.
*** To my Christian brothers and sisters, thank you for taking the time to read this sermon. I ask that you take another second and score this for me. I am always open to feedback so that I can continue to grow in the proclamation of God’s word.
May God bless you as you continue to strive to walk worthy of His calling.
Sources: The Holy Bible, NLT
It’s Not About The Wall, Jerry Shirley; sermon central
Real Refreshments, Paul Decker; sermon central
Whitney, Donald; Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life,Nav Press, 1991: 88