Sunday, September 23, 2012

True Worship

True Worship


But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.  God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” – John 4:23-24

For over 25 years of my life as a Christian I attended church on Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday nights.  The rest of the time I “wandered in the wilderness.”  What do I mean by that?  Well, just as the Israelites had to wander around in the wilderness for 40 years to work out the kinks in being obedient to what God wanted, tearing down their idols, stopping their complaining, and becoming true worshippers, I went through the same thing.  I can remember as a young adult a woman who I consider very strong in the faith telling me that I was “wandering in the wilderness” and at that time I didn’t even know my Bible well enough to know what she meant!  For Pete’s sake!  Nearly the entire book of Exodus is about it, and I hadn’t taken the time to read it to even understand.
Thousands of people will go to church today and be completely bored, fall asleep in the pews or chew gum and eat peppermints to stay awake.  Even more will just stay home because there’s no desire in them to go to church.  Yet God has said that church attendance is important (Hebrews 10:25).  It’s important not only for you to be a part of a group of Christians, but it’s important for them to have you there as well. 

There are tons of reasons people give for not going.  The scariest is “I don’t have time”.  Be careful, friend, how you tell the One who holds time in His hand that you don’t have time for Him. 
Then there are those that say “I feel like an outsider there.”  In the few times I’ve gone to a gym, I can tell you that at first I felt VERY uncomfortable.  It was different, I didn’t know how things worked there, what the routines were and I felt like an outsider.  But the more you go the more you enjoy it, and soon you desire going! 

Another reason I hear is “Church is boring”.  Well, maybe that’s because you’re doing it wrong!  Checking in and checking out just for the sake of going isn’t what God is after.  If you live this type of church life, brace yourself, God isn’t pleased.  You don’t get a gold star on your attendance sheet from God.  You don’t win the one year of perfect attendance award from Him.  And maybe you do go at Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day. Well, bless your heart! But God didn’t ask for that at all!  What God is looking for is people who will WORSHIP Him – not those who will show up.
John 4 tells the story of Jesus meeting the woman at the well.  She was a Samaritan woman, and Jesus being a Jew would normally have never spoken to her.  The Samaritans were a mixed breed, and the Jews looked down on them.  Of course, Jesus isn’t racist, and he talked to her.  He told her things no one else could have known but the Messiah.  And when she asked Him where she should worship, Jesus gave her instructions on not where– but HOW to worship.  I do believe that’s because He found true worship to be more important than where you worship. 

He told her “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”  Notice the word “spirit” in that verse is not capitalized.  If it were capitalized, it would be talking about the Holy Spirit.  Instead, with a lower case ‘s’, it is talking about our spirit, our inner being.
Worshipping God is not about lip service.  It’s not stand, sing three songs, say a prayer, sit, listen, stand, sing an invitation, say a prayer, go home.  That’s religion.  Jesus says in Matthew 15:8-9, “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in VAIN they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.”  Religion is in vain.  If this is your Sunday worship, you’re robbing God of the worship He deserves.

True worship must come from the heart.  True worship moves your spirit.  It may cause you to cry.  It may cause you to pray when no one else is praying.  It may lead you to the altar, or lead you directly to your knees.  It may even make you laugh, or shout!  True worship causes humbleness in the sight of God, and brings a joy that is simply not matched by anything else.
I go to a church where praise and worship is sung, and to me personally, singing these love songs to my Savior and my God are what moves me into worship.  You may be moved the same by Gospel Hymns, or Spirituals.  But who can sing “I’ll never know how much it cost, to see my sins upon that cross”, and not get a knot in their throat?  Who can sing “Jesus, lover of my soul, Jesus, you never let me go”, and not feel love to the Savior?  Who can sing “Worthy is the - lamb who was slain - Holy Holy is He” and not feel gratitude?  Who can sing “my chains are gone, I’ve been set free, My God My Savior has rescued me” and not be overcome with the joy of salvation bubbling up? 

But it’s not the song that is worship - it’s the spirit in you.  The song is just a way to get to that spot in your heart where you can worship Him.  If you’re going to church and not being moved – you’re not worshipping in the way God has asked you to.  Worship “in spirit and truth” and you won’t find church boring at all!
Today I hope you find yourself in true worship of the Almighty God, The Savior, and the Holy Spirit.  There is a sweet intimacy there that cannot be found through religion or anything else this world offers.  If you need to feel His love – worship.  Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.

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