Summary: Worship should be a priority in our lives as we respond to God’s provisions.
Worship: foundation for life
As most of you know, when Sue and I go on vacation, we give serious thought to where we will worship on Sunday morning. If at all possible, we try to attend two worship services.
We did that last month in Colorado and the two services could not have been more different. The first one, at 8:00, was in a beautiful, brick facility, one we had attended once before. We remembered it because a large window in the sanctuary gave a wonderful view of the mountains. Unfortunately, a heavy rainstorm was in progress, so we couldn’t see much outside. Inside, the service was rather traditional, almost formal, following the bulletin carefully. Beautiful pipe organ music accompanied our singing from their hymnal. An elderly woman sang a solo. And the pastor spoke smoothly and fluently and, even-though he used many nice words, he said absolutely nothing. But the people were friendly – mostly to each other.
It was raining even harder when we got to the second place. This service was more informal and it was held in a rented, rustic building made from logs. The people were mostly young, many with kids, and the hymns were contemporary, projected on a screen, and accompanied by a small band. Several people gave spontaneous testimonies about what God was doing in their lives and the pastor seemed humble and very devout. And when he was done preaching, you knew what he had said. The people were friendly – to each other and to us.
We felt privileged to be a part of two congregations who had gathered to worship God. In both cases, their worship was an important part of their lives. They had made it a priority. Even heavy rain didn’t keep them away.
And now that we are back here, Sue and I thank God for the privilege of worshiping with you week after week. And the fact that you are here today means that you have made worshiping God a priority in your life.
The Bible has a lot to say about worship and we can only touch on it today. Worship can be defined as bringing pleasure to God. Ps. 147 says, “The Lord is pleased with those who worship him and trust his love.” Of course, gathering together on Sunday morning is not the only time we worship God. The Bible says to worship God continually. Worship is a foundation for life, whether you are young or old, and that includes worship both alone and with others.
Last Wednesday evening at Bible study, one woman confessed that last Sunday she did something she had never done before. She had stayed home and watched Christian programs on television instead of going to church. And, she said, “It wasn’t the same.” Hebrews 10:25 says, “Do not neglect meeting together, but encourage one another as you see the Day approaching.” God is pleased when we gather for worship. The Bible points out again and again how important worship is in the life of God’s people. Worship is a foundation for life.
We are made to worship; that is the way we are wired. If you don’t believe me, watch what happens in the football stadium in a week or two. Tens of thousands of people will be there to pay homage to their favorite team. Cheerleaders will coach the spectators in songs and chants. And they won’t mind if it goes into overtime. People will worship something; the only question is what. If we don’t worship God, something will take its place. We have a need to connect with God, because He is the one who made us.
In our scripture passage today, we get a glimpse of how important worshiping God is. Turn to Ezra 3 as we continue our journey through the Bible.
The year is 537 B.C. The place is Jerusalem. The Jews have just returned from a long captivity in Babylon. Some have been gone from their homeland for as long as 50-60 years. They were sent into captivity as part of God’s judgment on generations of disobedience. Now, at last, the first group of Jews is returning to their homeland. But everything has changed. The countryside is in the hands of their enemies. The city of Jerusalem looks like the pictures of Lebanon we have been seeing in the news.
The city walls have been torn down and buildings have been looted. And worst of all, the temple built by Solomon is gone. Utterly destroyed. The Babylonians had taken the gold, the silver, and everything else that was valuable. In the place where the temple used to stand, all they could see was rubble.
Still, as we learned last week, the fact that they had returned was a miracle. God had used an ungodly king to accomplish a godly purpose. Just as God had brought them out of Egypt with the permission of ungodly Pharaoh and under the leadership of Moses, God had made it possible for them to return home from Babylon. They knew God was in charge and their response was to honor, praise and worship him.