40 Days of Discipline


3 Comments

40 Days of Discipline:  Day 19 – Worship

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9, New International Version)

Theme:  The Local Church

Context:

It was wonderful to see how all the comments yesterday had a clear theme, God should be the focus of worship in the local church.  It seems such an obvious statement but easier said than done.  Yesterday, we saw the Levites leading in communal worship and we saw their attitude to worship.  Within the tribe of Levites there were priests who had special responsibility for worship in the tabernacle.  We will discuss the topic of priests today. 

Bible Passage:

Today’s passage is 1 Peter 2:9 (presented above).  In the passage, believers are identified as a royal priesthood and commensurate with that role is an expectation of declaration of praises to God. 

Question:

What does our identity as a royal priesthood mean to you as you reflect on worship in the local church?


5 Comments

40 Days of Discipline:  Day 18 – Worship

Standing on the stairs of the Levites were Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani and Kenani. They cried out with loud voices to the Lord their God. And the Levites—Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah and Pethahiah—said: “Stand up and praise the Lord your God, who is from everlasting to everlasting” “Blessed be your glorious name, and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise. You alone are the Lord. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you. (Nehemiah 9:4 – 6, New International Version)

Theme:  The Local Church

Context:

We continue our focus on the Discipline of Worship.  As we did for Bible Study, Prayer, and Fasting, we turn our attention to the Old Testament story of Nehemiah to glean lessons applicable to the local church. 

Bible Passage:

Today’s passage is Nehemiah 9:4 – 6 (presented above).  In the passage we get to see the Levites leading in worship. This occurred approximately 4 weeks after Ezra had read the book of the Law for hours to the assembly.

Question:

What lessons can the local church extract from the attitude of the Levites to worship? 


2 Comments

40 Days of Discipline:  Day 17 – Worship

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. (Acts 2:42, New International Version)

Theme:  The Local Church

Context:

It was such a blessing to see the supportive exchanges in the commentaries last Friday and Saturday.  Thanks to all who participated!  As we now turn our attention to the Discipline of Worship we will begin by considering questions about the role of worship in your local church. 

Before we consider the questions, it is worth remembering that worship (respect and adoration for God) is a whole-life activity.    

Primary Questions:

  1. Does your local church promote a comprehensive view of worship?
  2. Does your local church encourage participative worship (i.e., all members play their part)?
  3. Do your local church leaders model a life of worship?
  4. Does your local church guard against church services becoming predominantly entertainment events?

Optional Secondary Questions (if you have the time):

  1. Does your local church make worshipping at the Lord’s table (communion) a priority?
  2. Does your local church have a process for ensuring worship songs are biblical?

Your Feedback:

While you are not expected to share your answers to the questions above, we would still love to hear from you.  Based on your answers to the questions, what is your general observation about how local churches relate to worship?


6 Comments

40 Days of Discipline: Day 19 – Worship

1Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, to design artistic works, to work in gold, in silver, in bronze, in cutting jewels for setting, in carving wood, and to work in all manner of workmanship.  “And I, indeed I, have appointed with him Aholiab the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan; and I have put wisdom in the hearts of all the gifted artisans, that they may make all that I have commanded you: the tabernacle of meeting, the ark of the Testimony and the mercy seat that is on it, and all the furniture of the tabernacle— the table and its utensils, the pure gold lampstand with all its utensils, the altar of incense, the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils, and the laver and its base— 10 the garments of ministry, the holy garments for Aaron the priest and the garments of his sons, to minister as priests, 11 and the anointing oil and sweet incense for the holy place. According to all that I have commanded you they shall do.” (Exodus 31:1 – 11)

23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.  (Colossians 3:23 – 24)

Theme:  If not You, then Who?

In our discussion of worship over the last two days, we have focused on a broad definition of worship that includes our adoration of God through our work or service.  Your comments on the topic have been very helpful and inspiring.  In fact, I thought I might have to modify this post significantly because a few of the commentators yesterday anticipated the topic I want use to close our discussion on Worship.  The topic is excellence in worship. 

There are many Biblical passages that address the topic of excellence in worship.  Now, I will be one of the first to confess that sometimes when I read some of the Old Testament stories about the tabernacle and temple, I get bogged down in the detail.  However, I have found one perspective to be extremely helpful.  When I view the details as a window into the excellence of God, the passages and worship take on new meaning.  God’s standards are immeasurably high and it’s no wonder that the Biblical depictions of worship reflect exacting standards of excellence. 

To be clear, I am not suggesting that to worship God appropriately we must be perfect.  Instead, I am suggesting that the more we understand God’s holiness, the more we are drawn to pursue excellence in worship.

Please read the passages above and answer the questions below. 

Questions:

  • What do you think about excellence in worship? 
  • How do you actively pursue excellence?


10 Comments

40 Days of Discipline: Day 18 – Worship

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.  (Romans 12:1 – 2)

Theme:  If not You, then Who?

Since we have a bona fide Old Testament scholar in our group (Dr. Anthony Oliver), I feel emboldened to make a point about the Hebrew words for worship in the Old Testament.  If I get something wrong, Dr. Oliver can correct me 😊.  I hope you have been benefiting from his insightful comments along with the insightful comments of others.

The Hebrew word that’s often translated as worship in the Old Testament is shachah (pronounced shah-KHAH), which literally means to bow down before. However, there is another word for worship in the Old Testament, avodah (pronounced ah-vo-DAH).  Interestingly, avodah also means work and service.

In the view of some Biblical scholars, the multiple meanings of “avodah” emphasize the fact that we can worship God through our work/service.  Years ago, I developed a reminder to help me maintain perspective at work – “let your work be your worship but do not worship your work”.  It was a reminder to me that ultimately God is my boss and also a caution not to become a workaholic.  I believe this concept is consistent with the popular passage above from Romans 12 where we are urged by the Apostle Paul to worship God with all we have. 

Questions:

  • How do you assess success in worshiping God through your work/service?
  • While God’s opinion is ultimately what matters, are there any helpful cues that you get from those you interact with (Christians or non-Christians) that your work/service reflects worship of God?


8 Comments

40 Days of Discipline: Day 17 – Worship

Nadab and Abihu were two of Aaron’s sons, but they disobeyed the Lord by burning incense to him on a fire pan, when they were not supposed to.  Suddenly the Lord sent fiery flames and burned them to death.  Then Moses told Aaron that this was exactly what the Lord had meant when he said: “I demand respect from my priests, and I will be praised by everyone!”  Aaron was speechless.  (Leviticus 10:1 – 3)

23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”  (John 4:23 – 24)

Theme:  If not You, then Who?

Today, we begin a 3-day review of the Discipline of Worship.  First some brief context to set the scene for our deliberations and conversations.  In the Bible, we see examples of worship as personal and corporate acts of adoration (e.g., worship in the temple) as well as a broader lifestyle of adoration (e.g., the Romans 12:1 reference to offering our bodies as a living sacrifice as an act of proper worship).  Over the next 3 days, we will be using the broad definition. 

Do we focus enough on the adequacy of our worship of God?  This question is important because a clear understanding of God’s expectation for worship has important implications for how we carry out His marching orders.

There are many passages in the Bible that speak to the adequacy of worship, or lack thereof.  Just recall stories such as Cain and Abel, The Children of Israel and the golden calf, Michal’s mockery of her husband King David, and Ananias and Sapphira.  Clearly, thinking about the adequacy of our worship is a necessary pursuit.  So, in our passages for today we will look at an Old Testament example of the consequences of inappropriate worship and a New Testament declaration from Jesus of what constitutes appropriate worship. 

Please prayerfully read the passages and answer the following question.

Question

How do you practically translate worshipping in the Spirit and in truth into your daily life?


5 Comments

40 Days of Discipline: Day 19 – Worship

17Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.  19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights. (Habakkuk 3:17 – 19)

 

Today we conclude our reflections on the Discipline of Worship as we consider the theme A World in Need.

The world is in a never-ending search for happiness.  Some search for it in material things and some search for it by forsaking material things.  Some try to find it in pleasure, and some hope to find it by avoiding pleasure.  The methods people try are numerous and varied.  Our life experiences teach us that sustainable happiness can be very elusive – there is so much injustice and pain in the world – but the Bible teaches us that joy, peace and contentment are accessible to us through Jesus.  Today’s passage gives us some insight into how a life of worship produces joy.

Please prayerfully read the passage above and answer the question below.

 

Question

What impact could we have on the world if we are able to rejoice in the Lord (attitude of worship) regardless of circumstances?

 

 


7 Comments

40 Days of Discipline: Day 18 – Worship

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1 – 2)

 

For many years, worship for me was synonymous with the singing segment of a church service.  And, some of the church language I used helped to reinforce that view.  Terms such as “time for worship” (is there a time that is not for worship?), and “worship songs” (are some of the songs not worship songs?).  I know I am being a bit picky because the terms are probably fine in context.  However, you can see how we can develop a narrow view of worship if the broader Biblical view (lifestyle of submission to God) is not understood.  I am emphasizing this point because if worship is no more than an activity or experience, we will not materially impact a world in need.

Please prayerfully read the passage above and consider the questions below.

 

Question

In what ways do we practically offer our bodies as living sacrifices to perform true and proper worship?

 

 


12 Comments

40 Days of Discipline: Day 17 – Worship

22 The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods.  23 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully.  24 When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.  25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.  26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.  27 The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped.  28 But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”  29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas.  30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:22 – 30)

 

Today we begin our reflection on the Discipline of Worship as we consider the theme A World in Need.  Later this week we will consider the Discipline of Fellowship.

A. W. Tozer, a famous American pastor of the early 20th century is quoted as saying:

“The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion, and man’s spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God.  Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God.”

We might not automatically see a link between worship and a world in need but when we consider Biblical examples, the link becomes very evident.  The attitude we have towards worship directly impacts the way the world sees God through us.  The current situation with the Covid-19 pandemic provides an excellent example of a world in need.  In circumstances like this, how can the world see God through us?

Our passage today presents the dramatic story of Paul and Silas in prison.  I am struck by their attitude of worship in difficult circumstances and the impact on those around them.

Please prayerfully read the passage above and consider the question below.

 

Question

In challenging times, how can a life of worship positively impact the world?

 

 


11 Comments

40 Days of Discipline: Day 19 – Worship

21On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people.  22They shouted, “This is the voice of a god, not of a man.”  23Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died. (Acts 12:21 – 23)

 

We started our consideration of the discipline of worship this week with a reminder that God is passionate about His glory.  We will end our consideration with a sober warning.  God is jealous of His glory.

The kind of glory associated with worship should never be given to anything or anyone else but God. We should also be careful not to misappropriate God’s glory for ourselves.

Please read the passage above carefully and answer the following question.

 

Question:

How do you guard against misplaced worship?