July, August, September 2011

Want to learn more about Worship? Use these Bible Studies for personal devotion, group Bible studies, or teaching a church class. Below are links to the lessons in this 13-part series.

Lesson 1: Worship in Genesis: Two Classes of Worshipers (Genesis 4 & 22)
I've noticed a shift in culture as I've grown older. When I was growing up in rural Christian America, people were either Christians or rebels, and the rebels generally acknowledged it. The rebels did not claim to be good, they were what they were. These days all sorts of people claim to be "spiritual." People, who in the old days were simply rebels, now claim that they have a personal moral code that is superior to that set out in the Bible. Our lesson this week is about claiming a spirituality outside that sanctioned by God. Since we find this starting in Genesis, perhaps the "shift in culture" I previously mentioned, is merely a shift in my understanding. Let's jump into our study of the Bible and learn more!

Lesson 2: Worship and the Exodus: Understanding Who God Is (Exodus 3, 20 & 32, 1 Chronicles 15, 2 Samuel 6)
The Ten Commandments start out with the statement that we must have no other gods before our God. I've generally thought that idol worship (which was a big thing in the Bible), was idiotic. Why would anyone worship something that they made with their own hands? If the practice is idiotic, why is God so concerned about the practice? Why are fake gods addressed in His first commandment? Are the gods of the past nothing, or impostors? If Satan wanted to be like God, is it possible that fallen angels are the false gods of the past? (See Revelation 14:11.) If some false gods are not a piece of wood, but an intelligent being, would they try to keep us from properly worshiping God? Would they try to steal our worship? If so, this would explain why our God puts the issue up front. Let's dive into our Bible to see what it teaches us about true and false worship!

Lesson 3: The Sabbath and Worship (Genesis 1-2, Exodus 20, Colossians 1)
Imagine a terrible divorce involving children. The mother hates the father, feels like she is in competition with him, and wants to erase his memory from the minds of the children. What diabolical things could the mother do to hurt the father? The first thing would be to try to keep the father from seeing his children. Second, she could tell the children the father did not love them or even care about them. Third, she could suggest that he is not their father. The father's goals are just the reverse: to reinforce the fact that he is the father, that he loves and cares for his children, and that he regularly wants to see his children. Now consider the conflict between God and Satan. Isn't it logical that Satan would have the same goals as this mother? Satan wants us to believe that God does not love or care for us, God is not our Father, and we should not be concerned about meeting with God. Let's dive into our study of the Bible learn more about the specifics!

Lesson 4: Rejoicing Before the Lord: the Sanctuary and Worship (Exodus 25, Hebrews 10)
When I was in school, I spent a summer working for a small construction company. It was not a great job. The work was dangerous because the owners seemed uncertain about some fundamental rules, like gravity for example. One of the owners cut off a board that he was sitting on and fell eight feet onto a cement sidewalk. The owners were hardly alert to danger for their employees since they did not seem to notice matters involving their own safety. Another problem involved giving directions. One owner would quickly state what he wanted me to build, and when I did not understand, he would take his pencil and draw on the ground what passed for a picture. He would then announce that he had told me, and even drawn me a picture, and therefore I had plenty of instruction. Our God has drawn us a picture about His plan of salvation. Unlike the pictures drawn by my former boss, God's picture is full of details. Let's dive into our Bible to see what picture God drew for His people about salvation!

Lesson 5: Happy Are You, Israel! (Leviticus 9-10, Romans 8, 1 Samuel 15)
Last week we looked at the sanctuary built during the exodus of God's people from Egypt. From the sanctuary, and the original in heaven, we learned several lessons about God's desire to be with us and to save us from eternal death. This week we turn our attention to the beginning of the practices and procedures connected with the sanctuary to see what more we can learn about God's plan for us. Let's plunge into our study of the Bible!

Lesson 6: Worship and Song and Praise (Psalms 32 & 51, 2 Samuel 22)
When I was young, I used to wonder about the oddest things. For example, my parents told me that dogs see things only in black and white, they do not see in color. That made me wonder if I saw things just like other people? Could people see colors differently, and no one would know? These days, I wonder the same about worship. Do all Christians understand true worship? I recall in college the wonder and power of the singing in Pioneer Memorial Church. Get a couple of thousand people together, a pipe organ worth (I guess) hundreds of thousands of dollars, and Dr. Becker playing, and you could feel the power of praise! These days I feel it in much smaller groups with contemporary praise songs. King David felt it too, although we do not know exactly what kind of music he used. Let's jump into our study of the Bible and learn more about King David and his understanding about worshiping God!

Lesson 7: Worship in the Psalms (Psalms 19, 49 & 73)
Have you noticed that our recent worship studies are focused on our personal reasons for worshiping God? We worship Him because of what He has done for us! These personal reasons for worship bring tears of joy and gratitude to my eyes. But, are these personal reasons for worship "selfish?" After all, Satan told God that Job's worship was for selfish reasons. (Job 1:9-10.) What if you believe that God has let you down? What if life has not gone right, even though you think that you have been faithful? Let's plunge into our study of the Bible to explore worship beyond our personal reasons!

Lesson 8: Conformity, Compromise, and Crisis in Worship (1 Kings 11 & 19, Luke 16, 1 Corinthians 9, Romans 14)
Hillsdale University student David Wagner researched the history of the use of the pipe organ in church worship. Wagner reports that Thomas Brattle, a New England Puritan, died in 1713. He left his pipe organ to the church, but the church rejected the gift "believing it improper to use musical instruments in worship." Was the decision by the Puritan church a refusal to conform to the world, a determination not to compromise its worship of God? Apparently, in 1713 there was controversy over what kind of music constitutes proper worship! Three hundred years later, the same is true. Let's dive into our study of the Bible to find out what it means to "compromise" in worship!

Lesson 9: "Trust Not in Deceptive Words": The Prophets and Worship (Jeremiah 7, Isaiah 58, Micah 6)
Many years ago, I was in the Michigan area to meet with a group of teachers who had religious objections to supporting the teachers' union. Most of the teachers were very anxious to have me help them because they were convinced that it was displeasing to God to remain in a union which opposed Godly principles. One teacher was concerned about his obligations to God, but he was also concerned about his union-connected car insurance. He wanted to know whether, if he resigned from the union, he would be able to continue to insure his car through the union. When I told him, "No," non-members did not have the right to continue with union-sponsored insurance, he replied that it would be too expensive for him to raise a religious objection. As we left the meeting, I noticed that he was driving a brand new Cadillac. His faith could be valued by the amount he saved with union insurance. What about us? Does our faith make a difference in our life? Should it? Or, does righteousness by faith relieve us of such concerns? Let's dive into our study of the Bible and learn about faith that makes a difference!

Lesson 10: Worship: From Exile to Restoration (1 Kings 8, Ezekiel 8 & 9, Jeremiah 29)
Does it sometimes seem that God is not real? Or, if He is real, He is not very concerned about us? Or, if He is concerned, that He is falling down on the job for reasons we do not understand? When this happens, who do we blame? All the questions I just asked put the blame on God. Pinning blame is a complex issue that generally turns on the facts. But, we should always question our attitude if we blame God. Let's dive into the our study of the Bible to learn more about the exile of God's people, their attitude, and the attitude we should have towards God!

Lesson 11: In Spirit and in Truth (John 4)
Imagine being able to ask Jesus what He thought was the most important points of worship. Would that not be grand? Well, it turns out that we have exactly that already recorded in the Bible. Let's plunge right into our study of the Bible and find out more!

Lesson 12: Worship in the Early Church (Acts 1, 2, 17 & 18, 1 Corinthians 13)
How did the people who lived with Jesus worship? The early church was filled with people who had the opportunity to hear Jesus teach. Did they receive some special insight from our Lord? Can we import into our worship what they used in their worship? Let's dive into the Biblical account and see what we can learn!

Lesson 13: Worship in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 4, 13 & 14)
Revelation is an amazing book! Not only does it give us churches, aliens, creatures and battle, but it tells us of final victory. I don't know about you, but when I win something in life, I feel good. God gives me my victories, and this knowledge makes me feel like praising Him! Imagine how much praise we will feel when God gives us the ultimate victory over sin, death and sadness! Let's plunge into our Bible study to see how those in heaven enjoy this victory worship!

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