Blessed Builders: Time To Worship

Blessed Builders: Time To Worship

Introduction:
So we have arrived at Nehemiah 8.  Nehemiah arrived in to see Jerusalem in shambles.  The walls were broken down and busted.  Nehemiah sets out to rebuild.  He does.  Yes, Nehemiah with Gods’ help is successful but it comes with difficulty.  There are men who want to see Jerusalem in ruin.  Nehemiah had to contend with his own countryman and their conflicts.  Nehemiah, again with God’s help, sees the wall rebuilt and the city saved.  This all happens in the first 6 chapters of the book.  In Nehemiah 7 we see that the city is ready for inhabitants.  People come and they are ecstatic about what they find.  They discover a city that is beautifully restored and ready to return to prominence.  

Then we come to Nehemiah 8.  What happens in Nehemiah 8?  Nehemiah 8 chronicles one of the most organized corporate worship experiences in the Old Testament.    For good reason right?  The people have a lot to be thankful for.  The people have a lot to worship when it comes to what God has done for them and through them.  The people were preparing for the Feast of Booths.  The Feast of Booths is also called the Feast of the Tabernacle.  This symbolized many things but the main reason for the Feast is to remind the people that God was with them.  Dwelling with them forever.  God With Us. Remember, that wall symbolized God’s Presence, His Protection and His Provision.  

God was with the people.

God was for the people.

God would protect His people.  

It reminds me of the great verse, Romans 8:31.

Romans 8:31 NLT
What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?

Remember. Nehemiah’s Wall Symbolized God’s Presence, Protection and Provision!

Illustration: Glad He Is Done

I heard this story once.  I have no idea if it is true but it is funny.

Jim Dunn was serving as the pastor of the First Baptist Church, and his wife, Gladys, was very friendly and welcoming to people. 

One particular Sunday when the sermon seemed to go on forever, many in the congregation fell asleep. 

After the service, to be sociable, she walked up to a very sleepy looking gentleman. In an attempt to revive him from his stupor, she extended her hand in greeting, and said, "Hello, I’m Gladys Dunn." 

To which the gentleman replied, "You’re not the only one!"

Point:
Friends, I believe that God wants His worship to be insightful and exciting.  I believe that we should walk out of this place feeling exhilarated and ready to tackle the week in front of us.  I pray that when we leave we are prepared to share the Gospel and make disciples.  

After reading this text, I believe that we can learn a lot about what a real good Old Testament service looks like.  Perhaps we can discover some things about how we worship God.  Let’s read Nehemiah 8:1-12 together.

Scripture

Nehemiah 8:1-12 ESV
And all the people gathered as one man (the NLT translates “as one man” as all the people assembled with a unified purpose) into the square before the Water Gate (make sure that you highlight that the people were at the Water Gate. That is a significant point.). And they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses that the Lord had commanded Israel. 2 So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could understand what they heard, on the first day of the seventh month. 3 And he read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand. And the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law. 4 And Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden platform that they had made for the purpose. 

(The verse goes on to tell the names of those standing with Ezra.)

 5 And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was above all the people, and as he opened it all the people stood. 6 And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God, and all the people answered, “Amen, Amen,” lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground. 

7 (verse 7 then goes on and tells us a long list of individuals along with the Levites who were there to help the people understand the Law while the people remained in their places).

8 They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.

This Day Is Holy

9 And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law. 10 Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” 11 So the Levites calmed all the people, saying, “Be quiet, for this day is holy; do not be grieved.” 12 And all the people went their way to eat and drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them.

Let’s Examine Nehemiah’s Order of Worship 

I. The Assembly vs. 1
Nehemiah 8:1 ESV
And all the people gathered as one man (the NLT translates “as one man” as all the people assembled with a unified purpose) into the square before the Water Gate.

Point:

Let’s Look A Little Deeper At The…

A. People

There is power in large groups of people aren’t there.  Just recently we have seen both the negative and the positive impacts of large groups of people.  We have seen peaceful demonstrations and horrible tragedy born out of large groups of people.  There is power when people gather together.  

There is something very powerful about corporate worship.  For many of us, important spiritual decisions were made in our lives not in private but rather in large groups.  

I felt called to accept Jesus as my Savior and Lord in a large corporate worship service.
I felt called into ministry in a large corporate worship service.  

Yes, private worship is equally useful and powerful, but God enjoys it when people get together to praise His name.  

Point:
You see corporate worship acts like a megaphone or an amplifier.  This morning, Randy played his guitar.  In the right setting, his guitar is perfect.  In a small room or when he is by himself, his guitar is perfect.  However, in a setting like this, his guitar needs amplification.  So he plugs it in to our amplification system. He does this so that the music can be played with clarity and volume.  

Friends, that is exactly what corporate worship does for us.  Yes, private worship is perfect is some settings but God enjoys worship just as much as we do.  There are other times when together our worship is amplified to God, for God, and is projected with clarity and volume.  

So a worship service is when people assemble and gather.  

Point:

Let’s Look A Little Deeper At The…

A. People

B. Place

I also had you underline that the service took place at the Water Gate.  If you remember in Nehemiah 2, the Water Gate was broken.  This prevented fresh water from entering into the city.  No more.  The gate was fixed so now clean, clear, cold, refreshing water was flowing into the city once more.  

Friends, that’s why we gather together.  Eastern Shore Baptist Church should be the Water Gate of your life.  It is here that you are refreshed, renewed and reinvigorated.  

Point:

Let’s Look A Little Deeper At The…

A. People

B. Place

C. Purpose

Next, look at the purpose of the people.  Scripture tells us that they came as one man, another translation tells us that they came with the same purpose.  Wow, can you imagine an entire city with the same purpose?  I think that would be amazing.  

Friends, look at our city.  Are we one?  Look at our country?  Are we one?  I would say that our city, our state, our country is more divided today than ever before.  We have been promised by politicians and preachers that real change would come.  Change came alright through laws and programs but people stayed the same.  

Friends, if you want unity, if you want peace, if you want all people to be one with one another and be like one man, we do not need a program or another politician, we need Jesus.  

What made Jerusalem different was they all came to worship.  They came to lift their faces to God in humble submission to the King.  It was not about them, it was about Him. Friend, if you walk of out here and you comment on the music, the preaching, the singing, the building, you probably missed the point of what worship is.  

Worship is not about me or about you, it is about coming here with one purpose, shining the light of our worship on God and not ourselves.  

I pray that you will assemble right here at the Water Gate each week ready to worship Him!

Let’s Look A Little Deeper At The…

A. People

B. Place

C. Purpose

Psalm 95:6 ESV
Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!

Let’s Examine Nehemiah’s Order of Worship 

I. The Assembly vs. 1

II. The Account vs. 2-3
Nehemiah 8:2-3 ESV
2 So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could understand what they heard, on the first day of the seventh month. 3 And he read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand. And the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law.

Point:
So, people gathered together with one purpose.  The came to worship.  Now what sort of a worship service would it be if the Bible was never read?  Now we are a spoiled people.  The Bible is prominently read here every week.  The same thing occurred in Nehemiah 8.  

Let’s Look A Little Deeper At The…

A. The Preacher

Point:
A. The Preacher
Ezra was the high priest of Israel during the days of Nehemiah.  This is the same Ezra who has a book of the Old Testament named for him.  He wrote the book of course.  Like Nehemiah, he lived for a time in Babylon.  We know that the King of Persia sent him back to Israel to teach the people about the Law.  

Ezra is a qualified, prepared, called man of God.  I love the fact that Ezra was lifted high above the people.  Don’t misunderstand my meaning, it was not Ezra that was being lifted high, it was God’s Word that was being lifted high.  

Yes, Ezra was a great great man.  Ezra was a priest and prophet and certainly deserved to have the opportunity to preach and teach from God’s Word.  However, isn’t is great that anyone can open God’s Word and glean from it knowledge, wisdom and understanding.  The Bible has the ability to speak to so many people on so many different levels.  

Quote:
“Within the covers of the Bible are the answers for all the problems men face.” -Ronald Reagan

Let’s Look A Little Deeper At The…

A. The Preacher
B. The Proclamation

B. The Proclamation

So, Ezra lifts high God’s Word.  He chooses to read a particular piece of Scripture.  He chooses to read from the books of the Law.  The books of Moses.  What an interesting place to start.  I have often wondered why he did this.  

I think that the answer is pretty simple.  Without law, there is not justice.  Without law, there is no civilization.  Without law, there is no peace.  

For the believer, without the law, you have no definition of sin.  

Paul understood this when he commented on the value of the law.  The law pointed out sin, but was never mean to save us.  

Romans 7:12 NLT
7 Well then, am I suggesting that the law of God is sinful? Of course not! In fact, it was the law that showed me my sin. I would never have known that coveting is wrong if the law had not said, “You must not covet.” 8 But sin used this command to arouse all kinds of covetous desires within me! If there were no law, sin would not have that power. 9 At one time I lived without understanding the law. But when I learned the command not to covet, for instance, the power of sin came to life, 10 and I died. So I discovered that the law’s commands, which were supposed to bring life, brought spiritual death instead. 11 Sin took advantage of those commands and deceived me; it used the commands to kill me. 12 But still, the law itself is holy, and its commands are holy and right and good.

We also know that Jesus respected the law. Matthew 5:17 tells us that Jesus came to keep the law, not discard it.  

Jesus even tells his followers that if they love him, they will keep his commandments or God’s law in John 14:21. 

So, Ezra read the Law to provide for the people a foundation for their civilization but to also point out to them their need for a Savior.  

Let’s Look A Little Deeper At The…

A. The Preacher
B. The Proclamation
C. Their Patience 

 C. Their Patience 

Illustration: Listen Slowly
Writer Charles Swindoll once found himself with too many commitments in too few days. He got nervous and tense about it. "I was snapping at my wife and our children, choking down my food at mealtimes, and feeling irritated at those unexpected interruptions through the day," he recalled in his book Stress Fractures. "Before long, things around our home started reflecting the patter of my hurry-up style. It was become unbearable. 

"I distinctly remember after supper one evening, the words of our younger daughter, Colleen. She wanted to tell me something important that had happened to her at school that day. She began hurriedly, ’Daddy, I wanna tell you somethin’ and I’ll tell you really fast.’ "Suddenly realizing her frustration, I answered,’ Honey, you can tell me -- and you don’t have to tell me really fast. Say it slowly." "I’ll never forget her answer: ’Then listen slowly.’" 

Point:
So, Ezra read the book of the law from morning till mid-day.  It does not say that they had music, preaching or anything else.  Ezra read the book of the law half the day and the people stood and listened.  They did not talk or text, they listened.  They were focused.  They were like sponges who had never been dipped in water before.  

Boy things have sure changed haven’t they.  We, including me, get upset if the preacher is 10 minutes over because it pushes back our lunches.  

Friends, do you love God’s Word?  Do you hold it high?  Do you read it and reflect on it?  If we truly want our society to change, to become one, we must worship the one true God.  How do we know Him?  He is known through the reading and proclaiming of His Word.  

Romans 10:14 NLT
But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?

Perhaps if we have grown to impatient to stop long enough to hear God’s Word, maybe we are just doing to much. 

Let’s Examine Nehemiah’s Order of Worship 

I. The Assembly vs. 1

II. The Account vs. 2-3

III. The Adoration vs. 5-6
Nehemiah 8:5-6 ESV
5 And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was above all the people, and as he opened it all the people stood. 6 And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God, and all the people answered, “Amen, Amen,” lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground

Point:
So they gather, they read God’s Word, then worship breaks out.  Look at their posture.  They raise their hands.  Why?  Why do people do that?

When people raise their hands, it is a symbol of dependence.  The people were acknowledging their dependance on God for their grace, their gifts and their greatness. They knew they were nothing without God.  They needed him.  

Illustration:
I have 3 boys.  They are all different but they are all the same.  They are dependent on me and Angela to meet their needs.  It won’t always be that way, but that’s the way it is now.  When they were younger, not to long ago, they would walk up to me and their Mother and reach their arms up to us. It was then that we would reach down and pick them up.  

Friends, that’s why we raise our hands in worship.  It means that we are looking for God to pick us up because without Him, we are nothing.  

Also, when my kids raised their hands to me, it meant that they needed something.  Seeing the need, I would seek to meet the need.  Their hands worked as a funnel for my blessing.  The same for God.  We raise our hands to God because we need Him but it also acts as an agent of blessing.  When we raise our hands, we acknowledge that all blessing comes from God.  

Point:
One more thing.  They raised their hands then they worshipped with their faces to the ground?  Why?  Have you ever been in trouble?  Sure you have.  We all have.  As kids, when we were in trouble, we would look down at the ground.  We knew that we had dropped the ball.  

Friends, they worshipped with their faces down because they knew they were sinners in the presence of a Holy Perfect God.  

Do you see the symbolism in their worship?  Do you see their conviction? They allowed worship to change them, remake them and take them on a journey through blessing and forgiveness.  

I Peter 5: 6-7 ESV
 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

Quote: Mike Mobley
God cares for us. He is mighty. He calls us to humble ourselves under Him. Not because He is a controlling God that wants you to bow down to Him because you are nothing, but rather because He wants to exalt us and care for us. As we humble ourselves, that is when we truly worship Him. We’re trusting Him with what’s going on in our lives and believing He is the provider instead of ourselves.

Let’s Examine Nehemiah’s Order of Worship 

I. The Assembly vs. 1

II. The Account vs. 2-3

III. The Adoration vs. 5-6

IV. The Acts vs. 12
Nehemiah 12 ESV
And all the people went their way to eat and drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them.

Point:
For many churches today, that’s were the experience ends.  We come together, we read God’s Word, we worship and its over.  We offer little and we are surprised when we receive little.  A worship service that inspires little service.  No so with Nehemiah.  Following their conviction, Ezra encourages the people to act (13-15). They built temporary housing for feast and the spread the word to the surrounding communities.  Sounds like a great time of worship.  A service that compels service for the sake of expanding God’s Kingdom. 

Point:
So, what will you do today? Where will you go?  Who will you help? How will you serve?

How will today’s service inspire you to serve the body of Christ and grow the Kingdom of God.  

Why is that even important?  Why serve?  Well James tells us that we serve so that people can see Jesus in us.  We serve so that people will know that God loves them.  

I will remind you of Paul’s words captured in I Timothy 5:8.

I Timothy 5:8 ESV
If any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.

Illustration: Places To Serve
The Care Network:The CARE Network is a ministry of Eastern Shore Baptist Church based on connecting, encouraging, and connecting with adoptive, foster, and birth families.

Mission Monday’s

Sewing Servants

Tutoring

Basketball Camps

Prodisee Pantry

Arbor’s Bible Study in the Fall

Homebound and Rehabilitation Visitation

Satellite Food Distribution 

Develop A New Ministry


A Service That Doesn’t Compel Service Isn’t Much Of A Service! 

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