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Praising God in Zion

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
August 2, 2020 8:00 am

Praising God in Zion

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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August 2, 2020 8:00 am

Why is it that so little of the passionate worship that once characterized the people of God is seen in the church today? Why are we often mere uncommitted spectators, rather than true worshippers? Join Dr. James Boice as he ponders these questions and the state of modern worship from Psalm 134.

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The people of God had completed their worship we were leaving Jerusalem and on their way home with thoughts and memories of the beauty of that moment remained in their hearts as they went on their journey already. They were thinking of their return to the holy city.

Welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think of act biblically temple worship was a beautiful and sacred privilege in the lives of the Israelites.

Why is it that so little of that kind of passionate praises seen in us today. Why is it that so many Christians are committed to pleasing self rather than honoring God join Dr. Boyce is a study Psalm 134 and the sad state of worship in the modern church. I suppose it would be very unusual for anyone to obey part of a Christian congregation for very long without becoming acquainted with the first question of the Westminster shorter catechism in its answer is probably the most recited question and answer of any catechism in the Christian church and the question dollars and asked what is the chief end of man and the answer is this man's chief end is to glorify God and do enjoy him forever tells us that the chief end of man is to worship God. But do way.

That's the question we really want to ask today doing even really know what it means to worship God, let alone really do it. John Stott is Dir. emeritus of all souls Church, lying in place in London and he wrote some years ago. Christians believe that true worship is the highest and noblest activity at which man by the grace of God is capable at struggle, but Stott's statement also highlights what is also probably the greatest problem, namely, that very little true worship actually happens among God's people, at least in our day billions of believers. My judgment have forgotten what it really means to worship God now, that's an introduction to Psalm 134, last of the Psalms of Ascent because it is about worship.

Also, the highest point in the Psalms of Ascent that I want to begin by asking his question. Who are the servants who minister by night in God's temple and the answer is the priests of the Levites, not the people in general. First glance that seems strange because you would expect the people themselves to be talking about worshiping God.

But it's not strange when we reflect on the position that this Psalm occupies in the collection.

After understand that the people who have made their way up to Jerusalem for worship at one of these three annual feasts of now completed their pilgrimage and their returning home there. Leaving the temple and the worship and all of the splendid things that they enjoyed when they were there in Jerusalem. I won't be able to worship God in his temple again until the next journey is a as they leave the city. There encouraged to know that the priests will be there there staying behind as it were, to represent them at the temple and that the priest will be worshiping God there continually that's what it is. So it has been so it will be God always has his people who were worshiping him there have been sand. It's in the church when there have been very few worshipers are very sad times like our own. Learn the people of God hardly know what it is to worship. Nevertheless, God has his worshipers and they are continually worshiping him, Charles Haddon Spurgeon wrote when Mike settles down on the church.

The Lord has his watchers and holy one still guarding his truth, and these must not be discouraged, but must bless the Lord, even when the darkest hours draw on.

We remember, for example, that it's when they were in the dungeon having been beaten by many stripes and chains that Paul and Silas. Frank praises to God at night while they were singing praises to God in the hours of the night with the foundations of the prison were shaken and the doors flew open, was also true. During the dark ages as we call them when the monks there cloisters various hours of canonical worship round-the-clock praised God in the cloister and it's the same in our own time, God has his people were worshiping him even now. Are you one now I need to say that although God does have those who know him and know how to worship him and do worship and ours is nevertheless an age when that is very scarce. Why is it that so little of the worship that characterize the people of God in past ages is seen among us. I enter several reasons.

First of all, ours is a trivial age in the church has been deeply affected by this pervasive triviality.

Ours is not a great age for thinking our age has no heroes are age trivializes everything and it is also a technological age and the ultimate objective of our popular technology is entertainment you watch television watcher aware of how things are trivialized tile in the advertisements. For example, the greatest products of Western art, either visual art or musical art has been trivialized in order to sell things you think that you get people to buy more cars if somehow you have Mozart playing in the background or if toothpaste is being sold against the background of some great painting in the museum and sometimes even stranger.

The management carries over.

Even the religious things.

Ours is also secondly, a self absorbed man centered age and the church has become. Sadly, even trees humorously self centered worship means being concerned with God, and the attributes of God is knowing acknowledging and praising God for being who he is accomplishing what is accomplished, but you can't do that if all you are doing in churches thinking about yourself. We think something like a Copernican revolution in evangelical churches understanding of worship in our lifetime. In the past true worship may not have taken place all the time or even very often believes people knew what it was to great sections of the church.

The art of worship has been lost entirely and in its place is come that strange and foreign thing called the program.

This word is been borrowed from the stage and applied with sad wisdom of the type of public service which now passes for worship among us are Kent Hughes is the senior minister of the college church in Wheaton I think was exactly right when he wrote this, the unspoken but increasingly common assumption of today's Christendom is that worship is primarily for us to meet our needs. Such worship services or entertainment focused on the worshipers are uncommitted spectators were silently grading the performance of this prospective preaching becomes homiletics of consensus preaching the felt needs man's conscious agenda instead of God's such preaching is always topical, never textual, biblical information is minimized and the sermons are short and full of stories anything and everything that is suspected of making the marginal attender uncomfortable is removed from the service taken to the nth degree. This philosophy instills a tragic self-centeredness that is everything is judged by how it affects man this terribly corrupts one's theology. Let's write about a terribly corrupts our worship to because we cannot focus on God and his attributes praising them for them. If all we are really doing is thinking about ourselves how. Thirdly, our age is oblivious of God and the church is barely better to judge the so-called worship services tragedy here you see is not the Christians, at least in evangelical churches deny essential biblical doctrines like don't do that.

They're not heretics.

I believe them in some way, but the problem is that it doesn't seem to make any real difference in their lives. This is the burden of that very disturbing book that I referred to many times before by David Wells and title no place for truth or whatever happened to evangelical theology. This point is that American evangelicalism is either dead or dying as a religious force is not suggesting that it's dying as a sociological presence of this and lots of churches.

Many people in them. Large budgets, suggesting that it's dying as a religious force and the reason for that is that evangelicals are forgotten there theology there no longer characterized by truth as they were at one time in the past. They are simply drifting along with the surrounding culture and are mostly indistinguishable from it, which of course is exactly what George Gallup is been telling us for years and the Gallup polls when they deal with matters of religion. Symptoms are all there.

The decline is apparent.

What's the cause. Well, the answer is the inconsequential reality of truth in our lives or as well as expresses that the weightlessness of God in our experience, we don't reject God. It's just that he doesn't matter very much.

We live as if he were nonexistent. What that must mean in the final analysis is that we really don't know God at all. We don't know God. How can we possibly begin to worship him. I want to talk about a solution. How can we find a solution to this deplorable lack worship in the church today, especially in the evangelical church we can approach it in various ways. I've already suggested one of one of the problems is that we don't know God that's the point at which we have to begin. We have to come to know God and the only way we can come to know God is on the basis of the biblical revelation God has made himself known in Scripture.

If you want to know God after study the Bible so obvious place to start would be to shut off the television begin to read the Bible and study books about the Bible in order that you might know something that is not trivial.

Something that is weighty and makes a difference for eternity in your lives forever.

But now, having said that, I don't think that that's what comes to us from the soul stroganoff and we studied it extensively when we were studying Psalm 119 that's all about the need to study the Bible. If you don't know the Bible you don't know God you don't know God are not worshiping God and you're not worshiping God you're not fulfilling the chief and for which you were made. That's not what Psalm 144 is saying what comes to us from this law is the responsibility of the appointed ministers of God to worship God themselves and by doing so, to show God's people.

How worship him and to lead them and worship is the is no mistaking the fact that congregations learn from their ministers. Examples and label either worship well or field of worship based on the pattern they see.

I will people ever come to learn to praise God, if all they discover in churches, a minister who striving hard to be a standup comic. The people entertained with funny stories, whose chief goal in the service is to make people go away feeling good well what must ministers do reference to the Levites in the Psalm points us in the right direction and it's a sort of thing that were going to explore as we go on with the other Psalms. First of all, ministers must lead in prayer comes directly from the Psalm because that's what the words lift up your hands in the sanctuary. In verse to mean I was a characteristic posture for prayer in the ancient world and disproved by first Timothy 28 where Paul is writing to Timothy. He says I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer.

It's a meaningful gesture because it does by gestures, but actually to be happening in the mind and heart, namely that we are directing our thoughts and our minds up to God seeking whatever blessings or gifts may come from him mouth tightened scores of evangelical services across the country and even around the world. In the course of a normal year, and one thing I have noticed is the striking absence of prayer used to be a victim or pastoral prayers, significant prayers in the middle of the service. When ministers actually let the people in contemplating the attributes of God seeking his blessing, confessing sin, thanking him for salvation and then laying request before him but I find all of that disappearing in the churches today. I find it really only two times in the service where there is any prayer that is hardly significant one is at the beginning. I don't know why we begin that way and I have noticed even that is disappearing because quite often you have the entertainer. He sort of has the role of Ed McMahon on the Tonight Show walking out the warm up the audience and you don't even have much prayer.

Sometimes you have prayer there. Then there's always prayer when the offering is taken and I do understand that because it requires the supernatural power of God to get the stingy people together money to support the work of the church, but whatever happened to the pastoral prayers pastoral prayers are on. There's no adoration of God, no confession of sin. No thanks to God for what he has already abundantly given, and we need to make supplication in the service of Mrs. Jones is having an operation we need to pray for someplace really to pray for, except talking on the offering prayer, which I've seen done many many times. Many things rightly go on in church.

But what's happening if we are not praying or not worshiping God.

Certainly, we are actually focusing on ourselves and on our needs exclusively good ministers must lead the way in prayer and must teach the people how to direct their deepest thoughts to the Almighty, and secondly, ministers must read and teach the Bible. That's not set explicitly in Psalm 134. The reference to that Levites provides it because it was well understood that this was the Levites chief past they were to study the Bible and then they were to teach it to the people. We have a great example of that in Nehemiah after reassembling the fallen walls of Jerusalem. Nehemiah brought Ezra, who was a priest and a scribe that is a Levite of a large open square, before the Watergate to read from the book of the law from daybreak until noon in the hearing of all the people that is about six hours were told in the eighth chapter of Nehemiah is that all the people listened attentively to the book of the law, people lifted their hands in prayer saying a man, a man in a bond with their faces to the ground, after which were told. The Levites instructed the people in the law while the people were standing there on the text says they read from the book of the law making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people could understand what was being said wonderful picture of the duties of ministers to read the law to make it clear and to give the meeting today happening today of evangelical churches is very little Bible exposition even very little Bible reading and said sermons focus on what feels good to the people. If there is any Scripture reading. It all tends to be just one or two short verses before the sermon, and it's often only a pretext for the sermon what's happening and services are neither prayers were serious Bible exposition.

The car we use to say in prayer we speak to God and through the Bible, God speaks to us was going on. If we are not speaking to God and God is not having the opportunity to speak to us because we neglect the Bible. Whatever is happening. It's not worship today.

Ministers need to recover the priority of the apostles recall in six chapter of acts when they were confronted by all the difficulties that were emerging in a growing congregation, administrative matters, and so on how they responded.

They said it would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word in order to wait on tables therefore choose seven men among you, who are known to be full of the spirit of wisdom will turn this responsibility over to them and we will give ourselves to prayer and the ministry of the word be probably the single greatest factor in the revival of the evangelical church in our day of ministers we just determined to emulate the apostles at that point now number three.

Ministers must oversee the music about the music today in many churches.

This is turned over to a minister of music often has no biblical or theological training and who chooses the service music for its emotional impact on the people rather than for its value is an element of the genuine worship of God, not a function of the Levites should help us here is one of the responsibilities that was assigned to the Levites, was the direction and even the performance of the music was a task that had been given to them by David described in first Chronicles 25 they were to direct the music employing such instruments as symbols, liars and harps, and there were a lot of Levites doing that.

There were 288 to be exact in the time of David kind of music today hand. We don't know we don't know anything about the music itself, but we know something about the content was the content of the hymns that they were singing we know it very well because we have is what we've been studying.

It's the Psalms on wonderful content but edifying compositions out the days ministers probably can't perform the music. The least I can perform the music but I do have some responsibility for what actually goes on musically in the churches instead of what is biblically corrupt.

They need to say that what his son is biblically correct and service the proper function of directing the box the minds and the emotions of the people to God.

And finally, ministers must reverence God was make clear in every aspect of their lives in speech that I hold God in solemn regard and are never flippant or spiritual matters are concerned. Levites modeled this for us the way they served and guarded God's house prepared the flour and wine, the oil, the incense and spices for the Temple services my oversaw purification of these items. First Chronicles 2328 and 29. We need to recapture something of the reverence for God in his holiness in our day. Most ministers act and encourage the people to act as if God were there buddy kind of body down the street that you'd like to invite in with you to watch the Super Bowl and drink beer, eat peanuts and have a good time. Well I know Jesus associated with the common people. I wouldn't suggest for a moment that he refuse to watch the Super Bowl. Though he would probably refuse to watch it on Sunday but you say when people came face-to-face with Jesus in his day normal reaction was not to say all what a good guy. He is rather to say, as Peter did depart from the Lord. I'm a sinful man see you are the holy one of God that needs to be recaptured by the people of God and by the ministers of God, and I want will happen if we do take God seriously and worship irreverently as he needs to be worse. While answers are in the Psalms where an endless first two verses talk about the duty of the ministers. Lazarus has a great promise. May the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth bless you from Zion.

That's not a blessing.

That is just tacked on as it were, my little doxology thrown in at the end of the service.

It's intimately connected with what has gone before, which is very evident in the Hebrew, the not so much in the English because the same word that is translated praise in verses one and two is the word that is translated last in verse three.

So the ideas clear. It's as if we will praise God bless God as we should, then God will bless us.

As a matter of priorities priorities ordered right in your life and priorities for creatures made in the image of God concerning the worship of God, then the blessing which comes from God will follow what Jesus said. He said seek the Lord in his glory. First of all, and then all these other things will be added to you. The only truly ultimate goal of any Christian is to bless God and be blessed by him.

In other words, as I said at the beginning to glorify God as half of it and to enjoy him forever. That's the other half. So let's do it. Praise God from whom all blessings flow. People respond to that by saying a man father, we thank you that we had a chance to study something about worship through this Psalm, we would ask you to bless it to us not only as a result of our study in this hour but also as we go on from this point to study what it really is to worship you in the remainder of the Psalter. Granted, we might grow. We don't want to come merely to go through religious motions.

We want to grow as your people in the knowledge and the love of Jesus Christ our Savior, bring his name for listening to the Bible study our featuring the teaching of Dr. James Boyce of all the issues that tend to divide the church how we should worship is at the forefront.

Some fight to maintain a liturgical style while others believe our approach to worship must be contemporary to attract nonbelievers. What does God's word had to say on the subject. Find out in our free CD offer entitled giving praise to God by teacher and author Philip Aiken is free CD offer is our way of saying thanks for listening. Give us a call that 1-800-488-1888 will be happy to send you a copy of giving praise to God again. Our phone number is 1-800-488-1888. We are so thankful for our loyal listeners who have committed to come alongside the Bible study our with their prayers and financial support keeping Dr. Boyce's messages on the air and on the Internet you can make a contribution by visiting our website at the Bible study.

Our daughter work.

You can also call us directly at 1-800-488-1888, and our mailing address is 600 Eden Rd., Lancaster, PA 17601, and indeed we are grateful that you listen to the Bible study our as you reach out to us. Be sure to mention the call letters or dial position of the radio station your hearing or if you listen online and take note of the website address. Knowing how you connect with the Bible study our will help us serve you better by Mark Daniels. It's a sad contemporary trend that shows how far some modern churches have departed from the style of worship centered around God is all true Christian adoration should be joint.

Dr. James Boyce next time of the Bible study our as he continues his look at how worship has changed and offers instructions on the subject from Psalm 135 that's next time one Bible study our preparing you to think and act biblically man


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