10: Worship from the Exile to the Restoration – Discussion Questions
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A TRUE STORY

A few weeks ago I saw a strange and brilliant display of color and watched for a minute or two as lovely pastel colors floated in perfect circles in a row across my vision. Most of my vision was blocked by the display except for a slice along the bottom portion.

I could just make out the lower part of the computer screen. I was keying an email to a niece who is a nurse at the time, so I added a brief description of what had happened and the words, “What should I do?”

“Call a doctor!” she wrote immediately. The the display turned dark and slowly faded away. I called the doctor, and soon afterwards I was undergoing an MRI. In the written report that followed I saw “loss,” “abnormal,” “severe,” “prominent” and similar words.

My doctor kidded me a bit about exercise and set me up to see him again in three months. At home I got on the Web and learned that brain cells never reproduce themselves. And I had already lost millions of them. I was sure I was on Death Row and begin informing people one by one, people I love the most like my brothers and my only surviving aunt, that I would die soon. I spent hours in prayer. I prayed to be healed by a miracle. Old hymns came to mind. I read Romans 8 over and over. I made arrangements to give my body to science.

Now I’ve learned that I had over-estimated the calamitous effects of microscopic blood vessels in my brain being blocked. I assumed my brain was being destroyed. Well, it was, but not to the extent that death was imminent.

Instead, my doctor says I should be good for another 5-25 years on top of the 70 I already have.

Would you say that the hours and hours I spent in prayer and contemplation were a form of worship?

What kind of worship benefits us most when we are sick? Frightened?

Do you think that some of God’s people in the desert worshipped God because they were terrified about judgments God might pour upon His disobedient people?

What is the only acceptable reason to worship God?

1. Apostasy step by step. Just as with heart disease, diabetes, and some forms of cancer, apostasy doesn’t usually appear in us all at once. Have you ever been to a museum and seen antique stones with carved images you can barely make out? How long has that stone been an antique? Has its message changed through time? Is the Adventist church aging and wearing out? Or is it growing fast and strong in the love of God? Some people are convinced that the Seventh-day Adventist church has apostasized, and that’s why Jesus hasn’t come yet. What do you think?

2. Rationalizing. Have you ever done something you knew was wrong but convinced yourself that it was okay just this once or that it might be wrong, but not very wrong, or that God always forgives, so why not let Him? What if you knew you’d be sentenced to life in prison if you refused to show respect to a pagan symbol? What if all you had to do to escape the sentence was to fall on your knees with your heart lifted in prayer to God while everyone else was worshipping the pagan god? Nobody would know what you were thinking. Wouldn’t that be okay? Isn’t your heart all that matters to God?

3. Worshipping the image. Follow this rationale: [Worshiping the image is keeping Sunday as if it is holy. I do not keep Sunday. Therefore I do not worship the image and will be saved.] How many examples of rationalization are in those statements? How do you think God feels when we try to put ourselves beyond reproach because we hold a certain belief to be true? What about people who believe in evolution as the explanation for life? I believe that God created everything that was made. Does my belief in Creation set me apart as one of God’s special children whom He will take to live with Him? If not, what is the spiritual reward of believing in creation by God and His infinite power?

4. Priorities. Why does God seem to be both angry and jealous when he scolds the Hebrew people for planting gardens and building houses while the temple of the Lord lies in decay and ruin? Does his stern message have any bearing on us today? Do you and I ever set our personal priorities ahead of the work God has for us to do where He has placed us? How does God feel when we make our choices for our own advancement first, and then consider God’s mission for us? What should we do when we observe in our midst a person we feel is not putting God first? Is correcting others my most important task as a Christian? Is it ever my task?

5. Conditional prophecies. Have you ever talked with a person who is upset about conditional prophecies in the Bible? “Conditional, conditional, conditional,” the person may sputter. “If the prophecy fails we just call it conditional and move along.” (Conditional: not to be completed until all requirements are met.) What would a Bible containing no conditional prophecies do to the concept of free will? What is more important to God—our ability to choose for ourselves?—or life free from sin due to our own determination? What does God promise us if we worship Him with an attitude of trust and obedience? Are you eager to meet the conditions?

6. Nehemiah. Was Nehemiah a man of sin? Then why did he say, “we” have disobeyed, “we” have not listened,” “we are covered with shame?” Shouldn’t he have said, “they (children of Israel) have disobeyed;” “they have not listened, but I have,” or “they are covered with shame?” Have you ever identified with sinners in the church like the prophet Nehemiah did? If we come close to sinners, aren’t we in danger of sinning along with them? What is Nehemiah’s final anguished plea to God (Nehemiah 9:19). Should you and I lift our hearts in a similar prayer to God? Why?

7. One God. Is there any danger that people in your church or your family would ever believe that there is more than one God? Have you ever heard a fellow member say, “We can worship any god we please?” Since we all agree that there is only one God, why does God warn us not to follow other gods? How big is the difference between worshipping pagan gods and admiring the costliest of possessions? Do you know a church member who is wealthy? Two to five million US dollars or more wealthy? Can we look at that member and “know” that he or she has more than one god? Is it possible for a member of ordinary means to place more value on earthly possessions than the wealthy member? How can we make sure there is only one God ruling our lives? Is it easy? Is it possible?

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10: Worship from the Exile to the Restoration – Discussion Questions — 5 Comments

  1. Yes, dear Joyce, I'm sure that the hours and hours you spend in contemplation and prayer were a form of worship, because worship is built on the foundation of our helplessness and God's all-sufficiency. I suspect you felt rather helpless when you pleaded with God.

    I am so glad that the prognosis is not as bleak as you first thought. Your mind still seems pretty sharp. ;) I will pray that the Lord will give you closer to the 25 rather than the 5 years of a clear mind that can point others to a view of our beautiful, loving Creator. :)

    I trust that others who read this will join me in this prayer.

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  2. Thank you Joyce may you grow healthier and lovelier as the years pass in Jesus.
    No. 1. Have we apostasized? The church as a whole or some members. Have we become "tired" of waiting and saying Jesus is coming soon? How do we keep this promise fresh in our minds and our childrens' minds? What is the difference in Noah"s time and ours? The only way is to remain close to Jesus build up the relationships daily, live, sleep, eat, dream Jesus as did Enoch. There will always be eliments of apostasy but keep praying for them. There is nothing here on earth that is worth losing Heaven over.
    No 2. Yes, and then hated myself for doing it over and over again, why? why? why? am I so weak and sinful.
    No 3. The spiritual reward is wonderful, then I wonder will we be strong enough to declare Jesus in hard times? do we get tested here until we can be strong enough?
    No 4. Whew! too close to the bone this one.
    No 5. We want to then fail, why, putting our trust in ourselves?.
    No 6, Yes we should and we must as we are all men of unclean lips, living in a sinful world, how I wish I had never sinned.
    No 7. Interesting and thought provoking.

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  3. Hi Joyce,
    I stumbled on this site this morning at 4:26am as I was wrestling with demons in my life. In fact, I woke up as I sensed in my thoughts that a dream I was having was evil and that evil was being done to me. I woke up and re-surrendered my heart to God. I once told God that whatever it takes I need him to ensure that I make it into the Kingdom of Heaven. That is also the prayer for my children and my husband. God is good and He is not willing that any of us should perish. So I came upon your story and found that you surrendered in prayer and supplication unto the Lord. This, God has revealed to me, is the only way to the heart of God. It is the only way to paralyze the occurrences in the spirit realm and gain the victory over sin and devil. I am glad God crushed the spirit of disease from you life. I trust him to do the same for me and my family. God bless you and remember to pray for me as I will pray for you. Pray that God will take away Autism from my sons' lives. Blessings to you my sister.

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  4. Hi everyone,
    In last week's lesson the author said something that troubled me; he wrote, "The church is for sinners." I do have a problem with this for the following reason(s):
    Whenever the apostles are referring to the brethen of the church they always refer to them as saints and not sinners "saved by grace." Read for example the salutations of all of the epistles. They are referred to as "saints", "the called of Jesus Christ", "them that are sactified in Christ", "the faithful in Christ Jesus" and so on. I am not saying that there are no sinners in the church; but rather it is a "place" where those who have renounced a life of sin go to perfect their characters in Christ to be fitted for heaven. When we say that the church is for sinners we are making it sound like it okay and no one should feel bad of sinning because we all do it. I am also not saying that church members will never sin (we do not have to, but if we do we have an advocate") but rather sin is not a part of their lifestyle; that life was given up when they turned to Jesus. Some people tend to think that because our bodies are sinful, that makes us sinners, but did not Jesus have the same body that we had? Rom 8:3 and Phil 2: 5 -..... God looks at the character because it is the only thing we have control over. God will change our bodies only after our chracters are changed. I could go on but I do not want to bore you all to death. Thanks. I would like to hear your thoughts on this matter?
    p.s. Look up the words sinner(s) righteous, saints etc. in the Bible

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    • Dear Scientist,

      I appreciate and concur with your concern. However, I feel that there are a couple of crucial points that need to be added to what you have said. One is the matter of the new birth. This mighty change, effected by the power of the Holy Spirit, is essential to the experience of those who wish to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. It turns us from sin to holiness, giving meaning to the salutations in the epistles, and commencing the process of true, Biblical sanctification. We must never overlook how useless and hopeless it is for the natural man (not born again) to attempt to renounce sin or live a holy life. The context of those salutations makes it abundantly clear that the new birth is God's doing, and not the result of the will of man.

      From the foregoing, it should become clear just how deeply and pervasively sin has infected and deranged humanity. It goes far deeper than merely having a body weakened by the sins of the race. Those who understand this can never suggest that Jesus was by any means a sharer in our natural depravity. Make light of sin, and you make light of the Gospel. Take sin seriously, and you know that Jesus had no such tendencies or propensities as those with which we are born. Such a suggestion would indeed be unmistakably blasphemous.

      That said, "amen" to your main point! Jesus welcomes sinners, and converts them into "saints." Once the process of sanctification has begun, only then does church membership make any sense at all.

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