Thursday, January 22, 2015


Now at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought out the Levites in all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication with gladness, both with thanksgivings and singing, with cymbals and stringed instruments and harps.

I recall hearing Vance Havner say, “Most church services begin at eleven o’clock sharp and end at twelve o’clock dull.”  A little girl was visiting one of those dry, dead churches with her grandfather and said, “Grandpa, if you ever went to the fair, you’d never come back to this place.”  Are our worship services more like funerals or festivals?  If a lost person were to appear in a lot of church gatherings and look around at our sour faces and hear us sing like we are asleep, they might conclude that following Jesus is the most dreadful thing and leave saying, “I don’t need this!  I’ve got enough problems already!”  What they have witnessed, however, is a distortion of real Christianity.  The early church was marked by joy, “So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”  (Acts 2:46-47)  Is it any wonder that people were drawn to them?

There are times of contrition—when we ought to be broken over our sin.  There is a place to weep with those who weep—that is Biblical too.  But, having said that, the spirit of our gathering as God’s people is typically to be one of celebration.  There is much reason to rejoice—and we witness that in Nehemiah 12.  These Jews had been beaten down for so long.  They had now been set free from bondage.  Returning from captivity, the Lord had enabled them to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, reset the gates and reestablish their worship.  It had been done against much opposition, amid great poverty and difficulty, and was doubtless the work of God among them—so how could they help but praise Him?  Their glad “Hallelujahs” flowed from their grateful hearts!  The singing was exuberant and I have no doubt loud.  After all, they had clashing cymbals! 

Heaven will be a place where there is shouting and singing.  If you don’t like that sort of thing maybe you don’t want to go there.  There is another place to spend eternity where there is weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.  What do we convey about our destination in the expression on our faces that flows from the condition of our hearts?

Scripture says we are to give cheerfully, pray fervently, shout loudly and serve gladly.  If we aren’t excited about our faith, why would anybody else be?  I love the old hymn,

When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.  (John H. Sammis)

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