“They stood where they were and read from the Book of the Law of the Lord their God for a quarter of the day, and spent another quarter in confession and in worshiping the Lord their God.” (Nehemiah 9:3)
We have good friends who are missionaries in South Africa. It is always great to hear from them, and I love learning the ways in which their culture and ours are the same, and ways they differ. One of the differences that stuck out immediately to me is their typical worship service. From what I understand, you don’t want to skip breakfast there, because it may be HOURS before the next meal!
You see, in their culture, worship services are a privilege to be enjoyed and savored. There seems to be a lack of urgency to “wrap things up” so people can continue with the rest of their day. Singing is prized; God’s Word is longed for; and fellowship is unrushed.
When I read of the account in Nehemiah during which the Israelites stood for hours while Scripture was read, followed by more hours spent in worship and confession, I was reminded of my friends in South Africa. I was also reminded that my heart on Sunday mornings may not always be right. I’m not advocating 6-hour services, but I do want my heart and priorities to be right with God when I arrive at His house each week. I want to be “all there” when I’m in His presence, not wishing the service away so that I can get on with the “important things” of the day like lunch or a football game on TV.
Lord, forgive us for rushing through our time with you. Bring our priorities in line with Yours. –Dave
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