We’ve been in a series going through the book of Nehemiah and we’ve been looking at how Nehemiah’s burden for something drove him to do something. We’ve paralleled this series with our life. We’ve talked about how to accomplish the change in our life we want to accomplish. How we can rebuild, restore, and renew different areas of our life.
Today we’re in chapter 12 and I’m not going to read the whole thing, because there’s a bunch of hard names, and I’m from Kentucky. I had a hard time with my name until the 3rd grade so I won’t do very well with a bunch of Hebrew names. While I was studying this over the last week, I literally called one of the guys Shamu and I’m like 80% sure that’s not right. So I’m not going to embarrass myself in front of all you lovely people and try to read em all. What I want to do is focus in on one verse that stood out to me.
The leaders of the Levites—Hashabiah, Sherebiah, and Jeshua son of Kadmiel, along with their relatives opposite them—gave praise and thanks, division by division, as David the man of God had prescribed.
Have you ever wondered why we worship?
Have you ever wondered if worship really has any benefit to life or is it just singing some catchy tunes that you may or may not like lead by a really good looking worship pastor? Is there anything worship does other than pleasing God? Yeah, I get it, I’m supposed to worship because God’s worthy and because it pleases Him to hear us worship Him, but is that all there is to it?
I’m just going to be honest with you…I have. But what I’ve found is, if that’s all there is to worship, it makes our worship circumstantial. If worship does nothing for us, the level of our worship would be based on what our current situation or circumstance calls for. If things are going well, I’m all in! Let’s do it! (oh yeah, happy day! love this song)
But if things aren’t really going well, if you’re in the middle of one of life’s challenges…It’s a different story.
“Man, I don’t wanna sing happy day ‘cause I ain’t happy. Sand gnats are out, my dog peed in the floor today, I’m crazy hungry, and I’ve got to go to stinkin’ wal-mart after this. There’s nothing happy about wal-mart. I ain’t singing ‘Happy Day’.” Every one of those are actual reasons I’ve given for not wanting to worship before.
Look at the reason why they started worshipping. Look at what verse 24 says.
“They gave praise and thanks...as David the man of God had prescribed.”
That tells us that worship has to have personal benefit to it. The reason you take a prescription the doctor give you is to help you get rid of sickness or maintain health. It’s an essential part of health. Often times it’s the only thing that helps.
I believe, what this verse is telling us is that worship is absolutely essential when it comes to joy in our life and victory over our challenges. I believe this verse is telling us that:
If we don’t let our circumstances impact our worship, our worship will impact our circumstances.
What I’m not going to do today is be the doctor that just tells you to take a prescription and not tell you why or how it’s going to help. Have you ever had a doctor do that? What happens? You leave there hearing that it may help but not really believing you need to take it, so you don’t.
I want to be the pharmacist who tells you what the prescription is, how it’s helping. Here’s what it’s doing for you and here’s what you’ll see happen when you do. Because I truly believe, as prescribed by David, worship is not only pleasing to God, but can dramatically impact whatever season of life or circumstance you find yourself in now and is absolutely crucial when it comes to maintaining joy, peace, and freedom in our life.
What is worship?
What is worship?
Have you ever been misunderstood?
I enjoy speaking other languages. I’m not good at it. Some of you remember me telling you about in France I tried asking for the check in French. Only to start the sentence in perfect French and end it in perfect Spanish. As I was learning to speak Spanish, I think we had just back from Miami or something and I was trying to impress my wife so I wanted to tell her I wanted to go to Five Guys and get a bacon cheeseburger, all in Spanish with no pause between words and a perfect accent. That was way to many words for that to happen so I figured I could just tell her I wanted Five Guys.
So I told her, “Quiero cinco hombres.” Then she just kinda looked at me and said, what’d you just say? So I told her again thinking she didn’t hear, “quiero cinco hombres”. So she just stared at me for a minute so I said it one more time, with a lot less confidence and a little slower. She told me, “I don’t think you’re saying what your trying to say.” So I asked, “Well, what am I saying?” She told me, “You just told me that you wanted five men.” “Yeah, no. That’s not what I meant. I just want a cheeseburger from Five Guys. How do you say that?” “…Five Guys.”
Cinco hombres does not translate to Five Guys. Five Guys does not translate to Spanish very well.
I believe the same kind of thing has happened with the word worship. Look at what Jesus says in .
But an hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. Yes, the Father wants such people to worship Him.
The word Jesus used for worship here, proskyneo, has not translated very well. When we think about worship, we think the songs that we sing, or maybe you’ve heard before that worship isn’t a song, it’s a lifestyle. But, do you know what that word means?
It literally translates, to prostrate oneself. That’s to lay down before. That’s the most common usage of the word worship in the New Testament. As a matter of fact, during my study this week, I found that the word rarely has anything to do with any type of vocal exercise. The use of the word worship in the Old Testament and New Testament typically means to: kneel before, bow down, to serve, to kneel down.
To kneel before a king in the Old Testament was a symbol of surrender and trust because you would be exposing your neck to the king. If the king wasn’t happy with you, they could say “off with your head.” So kneeling before a king is literally saying, I surrender and trust you with my future. I trust that what you have in store for me is good and not to bring me harm.
So this word proskyneo, is not a song that we sing, it’s referring to the posture of our heart.
The worship that God wants is a heart that is surrendered to Him and a spirit that trusts Him with it’s future.
Jesus is telling us here that true worship in the posture of your heart. A heart of surrender and trust. I love that Jesus says, “true worship”. The songs that we sing on Sunday mean and do nothing more than provide an emotional experience if we haven’t surrendered our heart to God.
How can we sing and declare things like “oh my God, He will not delay. My refuge and strength always. I will not fear, His promise is true. My God will come through always.” How can we sing that on Sunday and it have impact if we don’t live that Monday through Saturday.
It doesn’t mean we don’t make mistakes. What this means is that we truly trust God with our future and our hearts are surrendered to Him and His will because of who He is. This doesn’t mean we do everything perfectly. But if we can passionately pursue getting this right in our lives, it’s a game changer for every circumstance and challenge we face in our lives.
Think about it. If God is bigger than all of our problems and if God’s will is perfect and if we believe that God is leading us to a place of victory, why would we let our circumstances impact our surrender to His plan. We are literally letting our circumstances lead us away from the only thing that is more powerful than our circumstances.
Surrendering to God’s plan and will, worship, is giving me the next step I need to take to transform my current difficult situation.
If you’re anything like me, you have a tendency to need God’s help but not listen to His direction.
We want God to fix the situation but not do what He’s telling us to do to bring change to the situation. True worship, according to Jesus, has a posture of surrender and trust and that radically transforms what we’re facing.
But it’s not just worship, a surrendered heart that changes things. The prescription David mentioned was specifically for praise and thanksgiving.
Come, let us shout joyfully to the Lord, shout triumphantly to the rock of our salvation!
1 Come, let us shout joyfully to the Lord, shout triumphantly to the rock of our salvation! 2 Let us enter His presence with thanksgiving; let us shout triumphantly to Him in song.
Verse 1 is all about praising God. tells us that praising God includes everything from singing, playing instruments, dancing, resounding and clashing cymbals. It really paints this picture of unrestrained celebration. But it’s not only because of who God is. Look at verse 1, it says to shout joyfully and triumphantly! The only reason you would shout triumphantly is if you’ve won. Not winning, but won. Shouting joyfully is easy because you realize you’ve already won.
David shows us this well. In 2 Samuel he humiliated the queen.
In the Old Testament there was this thing called the Ark of the Covenant. (Ark of God) Inside the ark was the 10 commandments, manna that represented God’s provision in the dessert, and Aaron’s staff. The ark was the only real representation of the presence of God.
The ark was taken from the Israelites at one point and time and during King David’s reign, he managed to get it back. When the ark back into David’s presence, he started celebrating like crazy. He was shouting, and dancing like crazy. He was in such a celebration and dancing so hard that he didn’t even realized he had kinda flashed the people around him. (that’s the real reason we don’t dance in the baptist church....We don’t wanna see that) But the queen was humiliated and she came down and said to him, “what are you doing? Why are you acting like you have no sense? BTW’s you exposed yourself.”
David’s response to her is, “I don’t care.” “Super sorry about what the people saw, but you don’t understand. The presence of God is with me.” The ark represented victory. Once the presence of God was with David again, he didn’t have anything to worry about. Everything was going to be great and he in fact could ‘shout triumphantly’.
God cannot lose and when God is with me, I cannot lose. Suddenly, the circumstances David found himself in didn’t influence his praise. It was the presence and power of God and the fact that God was on his side. His entire focus wasn’t on the people around, what He looked like, or what people thought about him. His focus was on the God of victory and the fact that he had victory.
Do you realize that same God of victory is with you, always. The Holy Spirit, the God who created the heavens and the earth is constantly walking with you. Through every situation and every circumstance. And what praise does is turn our focus from what we going through to who is walking with us through it.
How does that change your circumstances? It gives you hope! Praise focuses our attention on a God who has never let us down and never leaving our side. Once you have hope, you’ll see yourself start to smile again, you’ll find yourself more energized and ready to move forward.
We’ve said it before, you always move in the direction of your most powerful thought. With your circumstances impacting your praise, you’ll move deeper into your circumstances. But with unrestrained praise impacting your circumstances you move towards a triumphant God. You can celebrate because you are literally in the presence of victory.
The last thing we see in
2 Let us enter His presence with thanksgiving; let us shout triumphantly to Him in song.
There’s two parts to this. Entering His presence with thanksgiving and then we see again, shouting triumphantly.
Entering His presence with thanksgiving is thanking God for what He has already done for you. Gratitude has an incredible impact on relationship. Gratitude doesn’t really change the other person as much as it changes you. Not only with God, but with everyone.
Are you struggling with your spouse? Are you at a place where you find yourself more bitter and angry than you are thankful. I can almost guarantee it’s because that’s what you see the most. The things they aren’t doing, or the things they’re doing wrong. If you take time to intentionally look for things they do and thank them for the those it will dramatically change your relationship. You’ll begin to find the joy you once had. I’m not saying they don’t have things they need to change or correct. You can still have those conversations, but they won’t impact the way they have been. Don’t hear what I’m saying right now and try to manipulate you spouse either.
“Well that preacher guy said the reason we’re not happy is because you aren’t thankful for me.” No. If that’s your mentality, you need more than just a little counselling. And you need to do the same thing. Begin to look at things you can be thankful for and show gratitude and thank your spouse. It changes things. If you’re struggling with your boss or a co-worker, maybe a friend, maybe your son or daughter. You could begin to thank them for the things they do right instead of telling them they owe you for you fulfilling your parental duties. Begin to thank them and watch what that does to and in them.
I’ve been at a place where I’ve been a little bitter toward God. I’ve forgotten what God has done for me. My relationship with God wasn’t where it needed to be. The remedy for all of those was giving thanks for the things He’s done. Placing His provision and blessings in the forefront of my mind always helps me grow in my relationship with Christ.
I think about the story of the 10 lepers.
Leprosy was a disgusting and highly contagious disease. So much so that if you had leprosy and you were walking through town you had to yell ‘unclean, unclean’ so people would know to increase the distance between you and them. 10 lepers heard about Jesus and what He was able to do and when they saw Him, they all kept they’re distance and asked for His mercy and help. So Jesus had mercy on the and told them to go toward the priest, which is what you would after you’ve already been healed. And on the way all 10 of them were miraculously healed. Up to this point all of them have had the same exact blessing, same exact proximity and experience with Jesus but there was only who was able to close that gap. There was only one that got closer to Jesus than the rest and it was the one who stopped to say thank you.
Do you want to grow in your relationship with Jesus? Do you want to experience Jesus like you never imagined possible?
Begin to thank Him for what He’s done in your life.
The second part of giving thanks brings up that assumed victory again.
I think about my puppies. I love letting them sleep with us at night because, well…I’m a christian. My wife…Well, we’re still praying for her.
She’ll let them sleep in our bed, but only for a few days after they’ve had a bath. So, the reason they don’t sleep in our bed all the time is cause I don’t give baths often enough. But, one of our dogs has caught on to the fact that after she gets a bath it’s gonna be a good night, cause she gets to sleep in the comfy bed and momma’s gonna be a tad uncomfortable for the next few nights. So after the bath she comes in and she’s stoked! She does what we call a squirrel run. She’ll hunker up in a ‘U’ shape and sprint through the entire house. So excited and when we go to lay down in bed at night. She’s the first one in our bedroom and she’s standing right at the edge of the bed… ‘is it time!?’ She’s anticipating me letting her on the bed. She’s actually doing a bit more than that, she’s expecting me to let her on the bed, just cause that’s always what’s happened and she can’t contain her excitement.
She’s excited because she got the bath, that’s a good thing and more good things are going to continue.
That’s the kind of thankful triumphant shouting that this Psalm is talking about. We thank God for the incredible things He’s done for us, and we can’t contain our excitement because we know the more good things are coming because that’s the kind of God He is. That’s the kind of Father He is. He’s the kind of Father that not only wants to, but delights in giving good things to His children.
I’m not talking about wishful thinking. I’m talking about faith filled living! When we see this kind of thanks being given. Not just thanking you for what you have done, but thanking you in advance for what you will do. When we see that, we see victory take place.
Jesus feeding the 5000. Jesus raising Lazarus from the grave. Gideon with 300 facing 3 armies. Jehosophat with 3 armies attacking him and his tribe.
Time and time again, when we see the kind of faith that is thanking God for the victory He’s going to provide, we see the circumstances begin to change and the victory is revealed because you’re in the presence of victory.
In your marriage, don’t only ask God to help but begin to thank healing your marriage Him because He’s bigger than your marriage problems and God wants your marriage to succeed.
Begin to thank Him for bringing victory into your financial situation. Begin to thank Him for being the victory you need in your addiction or in battling your depression. Thank Him for bringing victory at work and watch how your gratitude and faith filled living moves and stirs the heart of God. Watch and see the victory God has in store for you begin to play out.
Then the entire thing repeats itself.
You experience God and victory in your life and it build more trust and surrender in your life, which leads to more praise because of who He is and you experience God in more ways than you imagined possible so you thank Him and then you see the victory take place which builds more confidence in God.