Summary: Our Scripture today teaches much about worship. Worship is extremely important in life. What most people don’t understand is that everybody worships something. Worship is that which you hold most closely in the deepest recesses of your heart. And whatever
The city of Berlin, Germany will be forever known for its Wall. When the wall was still in existence, you could walk up and down in front of it and see shrines dedicated to those who were killed trying to escape from the oppression of the East to the freedom of the West. The Berlin wall gained fame as a wall that divided, but Jerusalem’s wall was one which united the people of Israel. Our Scripture today tells the story of the dedication of the wall around Jerusalem and how all of the people in Jerusalem and the surrounding villages were united in one voice and one spirit under one God. It describes a wonderful worship service which celebrated that the city had been rebuilt and repopulated.
Our Scripture today teaches much about worship. Worship is extremely important in life. What most people don’t understand is that everybody worships something. Worship is that which you hold most closely in the deepest recesses of your heart. And whatever you worship, you become. When you worship something it impacts every area of your life. That’s why worship is so important. Today, we’re going to be talking about five deliberate actions of worship.
First, worship is giving thanks. This is why whenever we gather for worship, the very first thing we do is give thanks and praise to God. The people of Israel had much to give thanks for because God had done so much for them. He had provided a Persian king who allowed them to return from captivity. He gave them safe journey to Israel. He provided the strength and fortitude to complete the wall. He protected them from the opposition which arose against the rebuilding of the wall. And finally, God rebuilt Jerusalem and re-inhabited it and the Temple. The people of Israel come to remember all that God has done in their lives and all he is continuing to do. The same is true for us as well. Worship is about giving thanks.
Max Lucado tells about living as an American in Brazil. One day, as he was walking along the street on his way to the University to teach a class, he felt a tug on his pants leg. Turning around, he saw a little boy about 5 or 6 years old with dark beady eyes and a dirty little face. The little boy looked up at him and said, "Bread, Sir." He was a little beggar boy and Lucado said, "There are always little beggar boys in the streets of Brazil. Usually I turn away from them because there are so many and you can’t feed them all. But there was something so compelling about this little boy that I couldn’t turn away. So, taking his hand, I said, `Come with me’ and I took him into a coffee shop." Max told the owner, "I’ll have a cup of coffee and give the boy a piece of pastry…whatever he wants." Since the coffee counter was at the other end of the store, Max walked on and got a cup of coffee, thinking the boy would get the bread and then run back out into the street and disappear, as most did. But this one didn’t. After he got his pastry, he went over to him and just stood there until Lucado felt his staring eyes. Lucado said, "I turned and looked at him. Standing up, his eyes just about hit my belt buckle. Then slowly his eyes came up until they met mine. The little boy, holding his pastry in one hand, said, ‘Thank you, sir. Thank you very much.’” Lucado said, "I was so touched by the boy’s thanks that I would have bought him the store. I sat there for another 30 minutes, late for my class, just thinking about a little beggar boy who came back and said, `Thank you.’" And that is why we come to worship. We come back to God to give thanks for all he has given us.
The second definitive act of worship is to dedicate. To dedicate is to set apart. Every city in the ancient world was dedicated to some God whether it be Apollo or Venus or some other. Whenever you approached a city, there greeting you was a monument or stature of that god thus proclaiming who owns this city. If you were Jewish, you were forbidden to make a statue of God so you would dedicate a city to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob which means everything within these walls is dedicated to God. That means every home in the city is dedicated to God and is God’s homes. Every family is God’s family. Every business within these walls is God’s business. And all of the people associated with that city are God’s people and dedicated to God. It also means that every area of our life and every part of our day is dedicated to God. A dedicated life leads to a holy lifestyle. If my life is dedicated to the Lord then my marriage is dedicated to God. If my life is dedicated to the Lord then my work belongs to God. If my life is dedicated to the Lord then my health is dedicated to God. If my life is dedicated to the Lord then my finances are dedicated to God. That can make all the difference in the world.