WorshipThat Never Ends

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(Psalms 15, 24, 134, Isaiah 53)
Lesson Number: 


Lesson 12

Worship That Never Ends

(Psalms 15, 24, 134, Isaiah 53)

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. If you normally receive this lesson by e-mail, but it is lost one week, you can find it by clicking on this link: http://www.GoBible.org. Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.

Introduction: Most congregations in the United States have one hundred members or less. That is true for my current church. While small churches have some advantages, a major disadvantage is in the area of worship. Several times in my life I have been in large groups singing praises to God. The power of so many voices is a wonderful experience which provides a feeling of great joy! This gives me a hint of what worship will be like in heaven. Is there any reason why small church worship lacks joy? I feel joy during worship in my small church. It is the power of many voices that is missing. Is anything else missing? Should we be careful not to confuse sound with faith? Let’s plunge into our study of Psalms to learn more about worship now and in heaven!

  1. Animated Praise
    1. Read Psalm 134:1. What does it mean that they are praising at night? (Activity was going on in the temple at night. Leviticus 6:9 refers to the offering burning at night and 1 Chronicles 9:33 tells us that singers were on duty in the temple at night. Psalms 134:1 refers to “all you servants,” so it refers to regular worshipers. I think the point is that these are diligent followers of God.)
    2. Read Psalm 134:2. It gives me joy to raise my hands while singing praises, but no one ever did that in church when I was growing up. Even when I was the Lay Pastor of my local church I received the complaint that we should not be getting “Pentecostal.” Do members raise their hands in praise in your church?
      1. Do you think that raising your hands is improper? Does it make you think of Nazi rallies?
    3. Read Psalm 63:4, Lamentations 3:41, Psalm 141:2, and 1 Timothy 2:8 on the topic of raising our hands when we praise or pray to God. How do you understand these texts? (There are several references in the Bible to raising our hands.)
    4. Read Psalm 134:2-3. Does this suggest that if we lift our hands to bless God that He will bless us back?
    5. In an interesting TED Talk on making confident presentations, the presenter said that before she walked on the stage she would lift both her hands in the air. (She looked like the letter “Y” when she did it.) That action, she asserted, gave her confidence. I did not think this benefit from raising hands was a coincidence - even thought she was not praising God. What do you think? (I believe that the God who created us “engineered” in us some automatic blessings. Raising your hands in prayer or praise is one of those engineered methods of creating confidence and trust.)
      1. In case you are wondering what kind of crazy idea that is, ask yourself why placebos in drug tests do so well? (Placebos contain no medicine, yet they often get very positive results. I suggest that God has engineered into us a faith response.)
    6. Read Psalm 98:4-8. Another aspect of worship that was frowned on when I was young was clapping in church and exuberant singing. Are only rivers allowed to clap?
      1. Should clapping in church only be allowed for God as opposed to a human?
      2. Did you notice that these verses use the term “noise” twice and mention the “roar” of the sea. Should these references to loud noises guide our thinking on worship, or is this part of the statement accidental or irrelevant to our praise? (The underlying Hebrew word for “noise” here means “split the ear.” I think this reference is relevant to our worship.)
    7. Read Psalm 149:3 and Psalm 150:3-6. Drums were another excluded instrument for worship in my church when I was young. What does this suggest about drums as part of our praise to God? (These texts include tambourines (a type of drum) and cymbals, which are a percussion instrument.)
      1. When you consider the statements about holding up hands in praise, ear-splitting noise in connection with praise, and the use of drums and cymbals for praise, what should we conclude? Can we say that this is a “cultural” choice and the Hebrews were a noisy, animated culture?
        1. Put this into another context. Some cultures show love by kissing, hugging, and excited statements. Other cultures show no physical affection. Do you think these different approaches affect the amount of the love? (I believe this has an impact on the level of love. I think very stilted worship causes us to miss important aspects of praise. But I also know that this is a hotly debated subject!)
  2. Those Accepted
    1. Read Psalm 15:1. What do you think is meant by “holy hill?” (This is an immediate reference to the temple in Jerusalem, but ultimately a reference to the New Jerusalem in the earth made new.)
    2. Read Psalm 15:2-5. Are you worthy to live in the New Jerusalem?
    3. Read Psalm 24:3-6. Notice two things about these verses. First, this describes those who enter (shall ascend the hill) and are able to stay (“shall stand”) in the New Jerusalem. Does this describe you?
      1. One of the criticisms of animated praise is that it reflects a congregation that is not serious about walking with God. Not serious about true worship. What do you think?
      2. Look at the timing of verse 5. It says those who qualify (see verse 4) “will receive ... righteousness from the God of his salvation.” This tells me that I must qualify for my righteousness by having clean hands and a pure heart. Do you agree that is what it says?
        1. Do you qualify?
        2. I read a comment about these texts that said, “this is not about earning God’s favor but avoiding the things that would separate us from God.” How I wish that were true. But that comment has no logical connection to what we just read. Other commentators cite these texts and conclude that being “clean” and “pure” is not possible, thus the verses do not mean what they say. What do you think?
    4. Read Jeremiah 17:9-10. Does this describe the condition of all hearts?
      1. If so, does this mean that we are all lost?
    5. Read Jeremiah 17:14. For what does Jeremiah seek? (Healing by God! His cure for his terribly unclean heart is God.)
    6. Read Isaiah 53:5-6. Think about the temple in Jerusalem. What allowed humans to be purified? (They would bring an animal sacrifice. The people did not claim perfection.)
      1. How does this text suggest that we can enter the New Jerusalem?
    7. Read Psalm 51:1-2 and Psalm 51:10. Who gives King David a clean heart?
    1. Read Colossians 2:13-14. Who gives us a clean heart?
    2. Let’s talk about this a minute. Psalms 15 and 24 say that we need to be perfect to enter into heaven. Isaiah 53, Psalm 51, and Colossians 2 tell us that God gives us that perfect heart. It is not about our works or our efforts to clean our heart. Why, then, do Psalms 15 and 24 say what they do?
    3. Read 2 Corinthians 3:18. How are we saved? (We are saved by grace alone. It is a gift of God.)
    4. Read 1 John 3:4-9. How would you put this teaching into your own words? At some point are we expected to stop sinning? (While we are saved by grace alone, God expects us to change. That change comes from the working of the Holy Spirit. This is where I would insert the sentiment from the quote about avoiding the things that would separate us from God. The teaching is not that we reach perfection or stop sinning due to our efforts. The point is that we must choose God and not Satan. We must live a life that avoids sin and abides in Jesus.)
      1. Given our examination of all of these texts following Psalms 15 and 24. What is the attitude of those who ascend to the New Jerusalem? (They credit God with their clean hearts and hands. Clean hearts and hands is the desire of their life. It is their goal.)
      2. How would the understanding that God gave you eternal life, you did not earn it, affect your praises to God? (If we think we are responsible, then our praise would naturally be muted. But if we believe that we have been given an eternal life that we did not deserve, that is something to be really excited about!)
    5. Friend, if you are saved by grace, but your desires are not aligned with God’s will, will you ask the Holy Spirit to aid you in changing your attitude? Why not do that right now?
  1. Next week: Wait on the Lord.