050414, Worship, “Do We Have Barriers To It?” Matthew 26:30-45

Matthew 26:45, New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

45 Then He came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.

It was late Thursday night. Jesus and his disciples had just shared in the Passover Meal. Friday would soon be arriving, with The Day Of Preparation leading to the time when Jesus would be crucified. This horrible event would take place on Friday evening, before the beginning of the Sabbath (Friday evening at sunset). Jesus and the disciples had left the place of the Passover meal, which was an upper room of a house, which may have been the same place where the remaining eleven Apostles, and 109 other followers of Jesus went, stayed, and prayed, for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:1-15). Jesus and the disciples “sang a song,” (Mt 26:30). They went to the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:1-4), and continued to the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus told the disciples to pray. Jesus prayed, and then found the disciples sleeping, and said to them, “So, you men could not keep watch with me one hour?” (Mt 26:40) Jesus continued to pray, but found the disciples sleeping, again (Mt 26:43), and said to them again, “Are you still sleeping and resting?” (Mt 26:45).

Let’s consider our corporate worship. But, first of all, let us consider scriptural examples of worship.

Let’s consider the example of worship that was set by Ezra, the scribe-priest. We will only consider that aspect of worship, as we read the account that is written in the Book of Nehemiah.

Nehemiah 8:1-8, New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

8 1 all the people gathered together into the square before the Water Gate. They told the scribe Ezra to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the Lord had given to Israel. 2 Accordingly, the priest Ezra brought the law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could hear with understanding. This was on the first day of the seventh month. 3 He read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive to the book of the law. 4 The scribe Ezra stood on a wooden platform that had been made for the purpose; and beside him stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah on his right hand; and Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hash-baddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam on his left hand. 5 And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up. 6 Then Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God, and all the people answered, “Amen, Amen,” lifting up their hands. Then they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground. 7 Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, the Levites,[a] helped the people to understand the law, while the people remained in their places. 8 So they read from the book, from the law of God, with interpretation. They gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.

vs 1. All of the people gathered. vs 2. Ezra read the law to all who could understand his reading. vs 3. The reading lasted from early morning until midday; all who were there were “attentive.” vs 4. Other priests stood by Ezra, in support of him. vs 5. All of the people stood while Ezra read the law. vs 6. The people responded to Ezra’s reading (not a sermon) with voices of “Amen, Amen.” They lifted up their hands, they bowed their heads; they worshiped God with their faces to the ground. 7. Other priests helped the people to understand the law, “while the people remained in their places.” vs 8. The people understood the word that was read to them.

Let’s consider the example of King Solomon, that is written in the Book of Second Chronicles. Again, we will only consider the aspect of worship that is written in that text.

2 Chronicles 6:12-13, New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

12 Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly of Israel, and spread out his hands. 13 Solomon had made a bronze platform five cubits long, five cubits wide, and three cubits high, and had set it in the court; and he stood on it. Then he knelt on his knees in the presence of the whole assembly of Israel, and spread out his hands toward heaven.

vs 12. Solomon stood before his people and spread out his hands. vs 13. He knelt on his knees before his people, spread out his hands to God, and prayed to God.

Let’s consider our barriers to worship.

1. Do we gather, as a body of Christ, to hear the reading of God’s Holy Word? 2. Do we ensure that the teaching is appropriate to the ability of the people, who are present, to understand it? 3. Is the length of worship a problem for us? We must not fail to remember the children in the nursery, or the adults who are with the children. We must also make provisions for people who may have medical conditions. 4. Is the pastor supported by other pastors, deacons, and members of the church? 5. Does the congregation show reverence for the reading of God’s Word? 6. Is the church too prideful to show humility and reverence to God’s Word? 7. Do the pastors ensure that the teaching is appropriate for the ability of the people to understand it. Are the people reverent while God’s Word is being read? 8. Is there the result of the people understanding the Word of God? 9. Pastors, are you too prideful to stand before your congregations and spread out your hands, and kneel on your knees, and pray to God from that posture? 10. Now. Here is the question of the century. It will be a multiple choice. Church members, would you be: “not embarrassed, embarrassed, greatly embarrassed, or terribly embarrassed” if your pastor were to stand before you, and then spread out his hands, and kneel on his knees before you, and spread out his hands to God, and “pray to Almighty God,” for him to soften hardened hearts?

Now. Let’s consider the example of worship at the Brooklyn Tabernacle Church.

In the early 1970s Jim Cymbala took over the leadership of the struggling Brooklyn, New York church, which numbered less than twenty. He had no Seminary. Music Director, Carol Cymbala, had no formal music training. The church now has five weekly services, and a choir that numbers 280. Many of the members of the church are former Matthew 25:40 people, “the least of these,” (homeless, drug addicts, alcoholics, prostitutes – people who are close to my heart). It is easy to see the truth of Philippians 4:13 in the Brooklyn Tabernacle, “I can do all things through Christ, Who strengthens me.” We can also see the true life song at the Brooklyn Tabernacle, “red and yellow, black and white …. (you know the rest).” Now, for a mini concert of praise, please enjoy the inspired worship of The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.

Thou O Lord
Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

I Bless Your Name
Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

Worthy Is The Lamb
Brooklyn Taberacle Choir

Song Of Moses
Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

I Say Yes
Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

Philippians 3:10, “That I may know Him …”

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