Matthew R. Perry

Do We Have a Reason to Celebrate? (Introduction)

In Church Life, Sermons on July 8, 2007 at 3:54 pm

Most everyone I know enjoys having a good time. Whether it be family reunions, 4th of July celebrations, special fellowships here at church, ball games, Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations, birthday parties. In fact, many go out of their way to look for a good time — sometimes looking for that good time in some rather suspect and, dare I say, all the wrong places!

It may be because of this that so many in certain denominations fail to see how our times of worship can be times of celebration. Many in these denominations stress certain aspects of worship. Some stress Psalm 29:2, which says, “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness” (ESV) which tells us to approach God with awe at his splendor and glory. Growing up, I remember our bulletins having at the top the verse from Habakkuk 2:20, “But the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.” Now, if you grew up with this verse being used as a reason to keep silent prior to our times of worship, I believe that this is a good principle, but I respectfully submit that this verse is in a different context. You see, Habakkuk was preaching against idol makers who were screaming at their creations to “Awake” and “Arise” and “teach!” but it could not. But God is on his throne, and we need say nothing to get him to awake and arise and teach — he needs no prompting from us!

Some denominations take it too far. I have heard of denominations who jump pews, handle snakes, laugh, even bark, and are even “slain in the Spirit!” They go the other direction and are, I believe, in excess and are out of control. As a result, we see these excesses and react against them. Even though the Bible says, “Shout for joy unto the Lord all the earth” (Psalm 100:1); even though the Bible says, “Sing praises to the LORD with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody” (Psalm 98:5, ESV); even though the Bible says, “Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy” (Psalm 47:1, ESV) — we shy away from this for fear of being seen as un-Baptist and too Charismatic.

When in reality, we should only be concerned about being Christian and biblical!

When concerning this, we come to this portion in the book of Nehemiah, we see a celebration taking place: God’s vision has come to fruition — the wall is built, the enemies subdued, and a party is taking place. When you consider how impossible this task seemed just seven month prior when Nehemiah first heard the news about the condition of Jerusalem and how the wall to the city was destroyed. But God did it. He stirred the king’s heart to give him safe passage and all the materials he needed; he stirred the people’s heart to get to work; he strengthened the people’s hearts even when enemies from the outside and inside came up; and now he is rousing the people’s hearts to celebrate.

Do we have reason to celebrate? Yes!

(Tomorrow: Celebrate! Celebrate! Dance to the Music!)

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