John 3-4 (NLT link) 

Discover His heart: He is looking for those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth

It’s difficult to communicate with people when we’re not on the same page as them, so to speak.  Our focus may be different, perhaps our understanding of the thing we’re discussing is not the same or maybe attitude is an issue.  Regardless of the cause, we’re well aware when we lack agreement and harmony in a dialogue.  In John 4, Jesus gave some powerful advice to the Samaritan woman about successful communication with our Father

@ John 4
The Samaritan woman at the well approached her conversation with Jesus with many issues regarding her race, her lifestyle and her worship. Jesus introduced her to the Living Water and answered her question about the proper place to worship with a powerful key to communicating with God. “The time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship Him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.” (23-24)

Jesus put to rest the dialogue about where to worship and focused on how to worship.  It was a new time, gone were the old traditions and typical ways of Old Testament worship, and now was the time for true worship – His coming changed everything!

Through the acceptance of Jesus and His salvation, we are no longer confined to a certain place or tradition of worship, but we have access to Him anywhere, any time because He is a Spirit who is everywhere all the time.  But how do we worship Him in spirit and in truth?

True worship is not done out of obligation or tradition, but it is offered out of sincerity and a genuine desire to express love and adoration for God – this is truth.  Jesus spoke about this in Matthew 15:8 when He quoted Isaiah regarding the Pharisees, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”  Worship in truth comes from a heart so full of Him that there’s little room for anything else, when our lips express what is truly in our hearts.  At these moments of true worship we are not thinking in the back of our minds about the errands we need to run or the roast in the oven or the next appointment because our thoughts of Him have filled our hearts and minds.  It’s not as though we can fool Him.

“The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.” (Psalm 51:17)  My most genuine spirit worship comes when I worship Him for who He is in relationship to who I am not.  It’s difficult to worship Him for the immensity of His greatness and goodness when there’s even an ounce of pride in any great or good in me.  “Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the highest heavens.  You have done such wonderful things.  Who can compare with you, O God?” (Psalm 71:19)

When the magnitude of His greatness shakes me to my knees in humility and brokenness, my spirit, my inner man, can truly worship in spirit the God who is Spirit.  Same focus, same understanding, same attitude – on the same page, so to speak.

True worship is sincere, attentive, heart-felt and spirit-humbled communication with the Father that can take place anywhere and anytime because He is a Spirit who is everywhere all the time.  Because He has to look for it, apparently true worship isn’t something that flows easily from His children, “The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way,” (23)  Oh, that He will find in each one of us what He is looking for today! 

Moving Forward: I join with David, a true worshiper, and pray, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14) 

Tomorrow @ I Timothy 1-3

Nehemiah 10-13 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: His presence fills the lives of those who worship in purity

Through the years I’ve met dozens of individuals who desire to be a church worship leader, and many appear to be musically qualified.  And others?  Well, we’ve all heard a singer at one time or another whose exuberance was not matched by talent. Listening to them can be painful.  The responsibility of a worship leader is much more than ability, however, and the challenge is daunting to me.  Leading a congregation into the presence of God is not a role for the showman or exhibitionist.  The most successful worship leaders I know are almost invisible to the worshipers.

I was part of a worship team in a large church for many years. Our ministry and sound were good and our worship leaders were spirit-led and anointed.  The team always had prayer together before the services began, each of us surrendering ourselves to His purpose, but I vividly remember a particular admonition one Sunday from the worship leader.  He challenged us to purify our hearts and lives in the privacy of our homes before we ever entered the church on a Sunday morning for practice and warm up.  He asked us to take care of business with the Lord before we met collectively in prayer.  Our ministry, then, would not be stopped by any area where we had given access to the enemy nor would it be hindered by hurt feelings, a prideful spirit, etc.  In our reading today, Nehemiah required the same holiness from those who led worship, and then some. 

@ Nehemiah 12
After returning from Babylon, the Israelites rebuilt their Temple and now the Jerusalem walls had been restored. It was time for dedication, and Nehemiah planned a celebration for God’s people, “For the dedication of the new wall of Jerusalem, the Levites throughout the land were asked to come to Jerusalem to assist in the ceremonies. They were to take part in the joyous occasion with their songs of thanksgiving and with the music of cymbals, harps, and lyres. The singers were brought together from the region around Jerusalem and from the villages…” (27-28)

All the articles from the Temple had been returned to the Israelites, so the musical instruments were tuned, the singers gathered and the songs of praise and worship that had been passed down from David and Asaph were readied.

Not a note was sounded, however, until their lives and surroundings had been purified, “The priests and Levites first purified themselves; then they purified the people, the gates, and the wall.” (30)  My mind goes back to my worship leader who challenged us to ready our hearts for worship, to remove any obstacles before we attempted to enter the presence of our Holy God.  The priests purified their own hearts first and then the hearts of the people.

Any worship leader will tell you that sometimes it’s difficult to draw a congregation into worship, but I’ve noticed the atmosphere often changes when believers are first led in a prayer of consecration, giving them an opportunity to take care of business in preparation for worship. They “first purified themselves; then they purified the people, the gates and the wall.”

Some may say that we live in the grace of the New Testament and these old customs are passé, but let me just say that God is still Holy, sin is still sin, and they just don’t mix.  Through the anointed ministry of Nehemiah and the priests and the purified hearts of His people, the celebration and dedication of the wall was a great success.

“Many sacrifices were offered on that joyous day, for God had given the people cause for great joy. The women and children also participated in the celebration, and the joy of the people of Jerusalem could be heard far away.” (43) Let the purity of our worship resound throughout the earth to touch our world and may it reach the heavens! 

Moving Forward:  From a repentant heart I declare today, “You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11) 

Tomorrow @ Psalm 143-145