READING: Nehemiah 12-13, Acts 4:23-37
“Jerusalem’s rejoicing was heard far away.”
It was time for the Hebrews to dedicate Jerusalem’s wall they had built under Nehemiah’s leadership. Moving in two different directions around the wall, and accompanied by Ezra and Nehemiah, the people gathered in the area of the Temple and celebrated. In fact, they celebrated magnificently: “Then the singers sang, with Jezrahiah as the leader. On that day they offered great sacrifices and rejoiced because God had given them great joy. The women and children also celebrated, and Jerusalem’s rejoicing was heard far away” (Neh. 12:42-43). Their hearts filled with joy at what God had allowed them to accomplish, and they offered sacrifices to Him in response. So loud were their rejoicings and thanksgivings that people heard them from a long distance.
I have often wondered whether the world hears the people of God rejoice when we gather to worship Him. Sometimes, I think we’re so afraid of our worshiping neighbor hearing us sing that there’s no way anyone else could hear us. Or, we who are more cognitively oriented in our faith worry so much about over-emotionalizing our worship that we fight hard to let our brain reign supreme. Anything that smacks of emotionalism is to be avoided, for feelings can betray us. Some of us are so equally concerned about being labeled as “Pentecostal” that we stifle any praise that might seem out of control. In the end, few people hear us sing God’s praises.
Yet, we have so many reasons to sing, and to sing loudly . . . not the least of which is the simple fact that many of us can gather freely with hundreds of other believers to worship God. When we spend 60-90 minutes in corporate worship, with our Bibles open and no threat on our lives, we have much cause to rejoice loudly. I can only imagine what that praise would sound like if oppressed, persecuted, threatened, but faithful believers from around the world gathered with us for such an opportunity. Even if all of us sang in our own languages, somehow the harmony of praise would sound sweet to God and His people.
And, my hunch is that our praise would be “heard far away.” Praise the Lord!
- Praise God loudly today in your private worship.
- Find another believer, and talk about the many reasons we have to praise God. Of course, praise Him as a result of that discussion.
PRAYER: “God, You are worthy of my praise. You guide me, deliver me, and strengthen me to accomplish Your will. Praise You!.”
TOMORROW’S READING: Esther 1-2, Acts 5:1-21