Explore the Bible Study: Personal

3:53 PM

We are in the middle of growing season for most gardens. If I were to plant seeds in my garden, what would I expect them to produce? How would you respond if the seeds you planted didn’t produce what you expected them to produce? You will discover in the Explore the Bible Study: Personal, that God expects our worship to produce the right kind of fruit. If we claim to be followers of Christ, then the way we worship should impact the way we live.

While it is important that believers gather to worship, religious activity can never substitute for obedient living. The expressions of worship that God accepts are those that produce fruit beyond the corporate worship time. You will be challenged from Jeremiah 7:1-15 to consider how the way you live the other days of the week reflect the way you worship corporately.

In Jeremiah 7 God instructed Jeremiah to deliver God’s message to the people regarding true worship. True worship was to produce nothing less than right living.  Let's examine how God uses Jeremiah to reveal the true hearts of those who claim to be worshipping the Lord.

We must listen when God speaks through His messengers—Jeremiah 7:1-2

God instructed Jeremiah to “stand in the gate” of God’s house, the temple. He was to “call out this word” indicating that he was to proclaim God’s words loudly and publicly. 

What is the significance of God’s telling Jeremiah to deliver this message to the people as they were entering the gates of the temple to worship? What is the difference between simply hearing a person and listening to a person?

Because the message was proclaimed loudly, publicly, and at the gates leading to the temple, then Jeremiah’s audience included all of God’s people, not just the leaders. Everyone was to hear this message as they came to worship the Lord in the temple. God told Jeremiah to tell the people to “hear the word of the Lord” implying they were not just to stop and listen but to obey.

Imagine that, instead of greeters at each entrance to the church worship center, you had spiritual leaders like Jeremiah challenging you to listen to the Lord regarding how you worship. How would you respond? How would it help you remember why you came to church to worship the Lord?

Believers should listen to God’s message and His messengers, but we also must act on what He says. While we may not have messengers at the worship center entrances proclaiming God’s message, God will speak through His people, church leaders, the Bible, experiences, and through the work of the Holy Spirit to reveal to us when our actions aren’t aligning with our worship. When God does speak, we should listen.

But what if the words God delivers aren’t pleasant? What if He reveals areas in which we need to be corrected? How would we respond? Consider how you would respond if the words in Jeremiah 7:3-11 were stated regarding your worship and walk with the Lord.

God Will Reveal the Fruit of Corrupted Worship—Jeremiah 7:3-11

Notice the actions that described the corruption that was produced by the people’s worship?

  • Trusted in and chanted deceitful words (vs. 4-5 and v. 8). What was wrong with them chanting, “This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord”? Had the temple become an idol to them? How might the words we chant and the view we place on “coming to church” become an idol?
  • They oppressed others especially the most vulnerable (v. 6). How is the treatment of others, especially orphans and widows, a barometer of true worship of God?
  • They stole, murdered, committed adultery, swore falsely, worshipped Baal, and followed other gods (v. 9). How did they justify these actions in verse 10?
  • The house of God became a den of robbers (v. 11). “Den of robbers” highlights Judah’s spiritual failure. God had chosen to place His name on the temple so people could worship Him there. However, the people’s wickedness, even around the temple itself, had made it like a den of robbers. Centuries later, Jesus also accused religious leaders of turning God’s house into a den of robbers (Matthew 21:13).

Notice the forgiveness God was willing to give because of the special relationship they had with Him. God says twice in this passage to “Correct your ways and your actions, and I will allow you to live in this place.” The way the people lived did not match their professed faith, and God insisted that their behavior needed to change. The people’s situation was not hopeless, but they needed to repent and submit themselves to God’s commands once again.

Notice also the way God identifies Himself in this passage – “the Lord of Armies, the God of Israel” This was to further emphasize God’s control of heavenly forces and His sovereign power over all creation. God was speaking with the full force of His supreme authority indicating the travesty of the sins of His people.

God expressed frustration with His people. They would stand before me in this house. They rightly were worshiping at the place He had chosen to place His name. Nevertheless, He knew the corruption that filled their hearts and how they lived away from the temple.

What actions today might reveal believers are “worshipping” in the same manner while committing the same sins as the Israelites did? How can you prevent your worship from decaying as theirs did?

Believers must confront their sin instead of excusing it. The apostle Paul wrote that living under God’s grace does not mean we have license to live however we please (Rom. 6:1-2). While we might be able to “fake worship” every Sunday, God knows our hearts. The reality is, most people observing your worship know your heart as well if they interact with you during the week. Perhaps we should examine our hearts to make sure our fruit is aligning with the way we worship.

Sadly, no matter how clearly God laid out what He expected of the people, they continued refusing to listen to His prophet. They thought they could enjoy the blessings of their relationship with the Lord without accepting the expectations and responsibilities that came with it.

We Should Learn from the Past: God Will Not Allow Sin to Continue—Jeremiah 7:12-15

An ancient worship center, Shiloh lay well north of Jerusalem in the territory of Ephraim. In Canaan, Israel set the tabernacle at Shiloh (Joshua 18:1). Later, the priest, Eli, and his sons, Hophni and Phinehas, brought shame to Shiloh (1 Samuel 2:12-36), though the prophet Samuel also served there. Archaeological evidence suggests that after the Philistines defeated Israel and captured the ark of the covenant (1 Samuel 4:1-11), they destroyed Shiloh around 1050 BC. Though Shiloh had been Israel’s worship center, God destroyed it because of His people’s evil ways. He would do the same to Jerusalem. 

If God said to you, “I will banish you from my presence” because of your unrepentant heart, how would you respond? How do most people respond today?

God had given His people the law and other Scripture. He had sent prophets (2 Kings 17:13-14). He had called to them over and over, but they had chosen to ignore Him and His messengers and now they were going to pay the price for their unrepentant hearts.

The warnings given in God’s Word are there for our benefit. Situations may change over time, but His expectations for His people never do. God continues to call people today. He calls us through the Scriptures, but He also speaks through faithful pastors and Bible study leaders. He also works through the counsel of Christian friends. God has given us every opportunity to follow Him. But He also has given us a choice.

True Worship Produces Obedient and Godly Actions

Our lives are like seeds previously mentioned. If we profess Christ, then the fruit we produce should be reflective of one who is planted and well-watered through authentic worship and a clean heart. If that’s not the case, then God will not ignore our sin. He will not let us “fake it” for very long. If we can “fake it” then perhaps we should evaluate whether we truly have accepted Christ as Savior and make the vital decision to do so.

When someone questions if your worship practices are authentic or are producing fruit, how should you respond?

True worship produces obedient and godly actions. As you evaluate particular ways to worship God more fully this week, ask Him to help you identify ways that you can obey Him completely.

The downloadable teaching helps provide more details for this study, along with some tools you can use in guiding a group Bible study. 

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LifeWay Explore The Bible Resources

These teaching helps are intended to be used as a supplement to your study of Lifeway's Explore the Bible curriculum resources. Portions of this material are taken directly from content copyrighted to Lifeway Christian Resources Explore the Bible and is used with permission.  This material has not been reviewed by Lifeway Christian Resources. 

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