spirit_and_truthJonah is not the example of how to do ministry.  He’s an example of how not to do it.  He’s an example of exactly what’s happening in Israel.  The people are doing it their own way.  They’re rebelling against God, they’re rejecting Him, they’re running their own way.  And I know we would never do that?  “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it.  Prone to leave the God I love.”  We struggle with these things just like Israel.  They did not come back.  They did not return.  They did not repent.  And as I mentioned in a message previously, this caused confusion in Samaria all the way up to the time of Jesus.

In John 4, when Jesus was talking to the woman at the well, a Samaritan woman, what was her question?  19 The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain.’”  Do you realize what this means?  Jesus was at a spot in Samaria where that well was, where one of these golden calves most likely had been set up as a place of false worship.  This was known as a place to worship.  “‘Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.’ 21 Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. 23 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. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.’”  This is what Jesus says.

The confusion is here: She says, “We used to worship here.  Our fathers worshiped here.  But where are we supposed to worship?”  She said, “I perceive that You’re a prophet.  You’re pointing me to God, and this is moving me to worship.  Where do I go?  How do I worship,” is her question.  You realize that?  The woman at the well is not asking, “Help me with all my relationships.”  She’s not saying, “Help me not be a social outcast.”  She’s not saying, “Help me pay all my bills.”  She’s not saying, “Help me get a better job.”  She said, “I perceive that You are a prophet.  You are pointing me to God.”  And if we are pointed to God, what should be our heartfelt response?  A response of worship.  She says, “I want to worship.”  And she says, “How do I do that rightly?  How do I worship?”

How important a question is that?  Do you realize—it was shock to me to understand this—do you realize that there are times that our worship displeases God?  “But I’m coming to worship.  Surely God’s pleased with the fact that I show up and worship, right?  Sing the songs, but don’t mean it.  Pray prayers, tell everybody I’m fine—but don’t mean it.  Don’t even know what half those words are—when you all sing those old songs, ppshh.  What’s this song even say?”

Well, our worship can displease God.  We need to worship in Spirit and truth.  Exodus is clear, if you just take a look at the Ten Commandments.  If we worship anyone or anything other than God, according to His Word, that’s disobedience—worshiping God by doing something that we know He says not to do.  Israel was doing that.  He said, “Worship Me this way, not this way.”  So what did they do?  Not “this way.”  If you do that, that’s disobedience.  God is not pleased.

Worship that takes God’s name in vain—what does that mean?  That means we claim, “Lord, Lord,” but we don’t obey.  Worship that’s not holy; worship that’s not full of faith; worship that is full of hypocrisy; worship that is involving false doctrine, and lies, and deception; worship that is about self and serving self, and meeting “my needs”; worship that’s not separated from the world and holy to the Lord; worship that profanes.

What is it to worship in Spirit and truth?  Going down the list for you quickly.  This is where we’ll finish this morning.  When Jesus says, “Worship in Spirit and truth,” this is what He means.

Worship that’s worship in Spirit, Philippians 3 tells us, is worship that’s offered with no confidence in the flesh.  It’s not me depending on what I have to bring to God; it’s me being faithful for what God has given to me.

Revelation 4:10-11 tells us that worship in Spirit is focused wholly upon God with no thought of self.  Our focus is upon Him.

Psalm 95:6-7 says that worship in Spirit must be reverent.  Reverent, by the way, does not mean quiet.  It means “harmonious,” because you can reverently shout to the Lord.  You know, as much as the Psalmists tell us to do that, we really are a little too quiet in our worship.

Psalm 96:9 says that worship in Spirit must be characterized by fear and trembling.  You’re coming to worship God, and just understanding who He is calls us to fear and to tremble.  He is holy, holy, holy, and we cannot enter His presence, outside of coming through the blood of Christ.

Psalm 29:1-2, which will be our benediction this morning, tells us that worship indeed must be holy, to give to the Lord the glory due His name and to worship Him in the beauty of holiness.  Too much worship today is worldliness.  It’s working people’s emotions up, trying to get an emotional result.  Listen, true worship is going to be emotional, isn’t it?  We’re supposed to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.  That’s the whole person.  All of us is involved in worship.

Second Chronicles 20, verses 18 through 20, says that worship in Spirit must overflow with humility.  And humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.  Again, the focus is God, not me.  It is the two people praying in the temple: “God, I thank you that I’m not like all these other people, who can’t carry a tune in a bucket.”  No, it was the Publican: “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.”  It’s about the mercy and the grace of God.

Psalm 51:15-17 teaches us that worship in Spirit is worship with brokenness, with a contrite heart, expressing total dependence upon God.

Worship in truth—Revelation 14:7 teaches us that worship in truth gives honor to God.  It’s a matter of reverence of glory.  It expresses God’s worthiness.  It’s a description, it’s a true description of who He is and His greatness.

Psalm 45:11 teaches us that worship in truth is based in the truth; that we worship Him because He is our Lord.  And understand this—we don’t make Him Lord.  He is Lord.  If you make Him Lord, then you’re Lord.  He is Lord.  God has made Him Lord.  Do we worship Him as such?

Psalm 66:4 teaches us that worship in truth offers praise to His name; praising Him because of His character because of who He is, because of what He’s done.  We worship Him. We don’t worship His provision, we don’t worship His gifts, we don’t worship His creation.  We worship Him.  When God says, “Seek my face,” a professor of mine used to say, “Too often we seek God’s hands—gimme, gimme, gimme.”  Seek His face.  Seek to see Him, to know Him, to relate with Him, face-to-face.  One day we will have that opportunity.

Psalm 138 teaches us that worship in truth is worship in lowliness—having a proper opinion of ourselves.  This means that we come to worship, and we don’t think, “Eww, I know who that sermon was for.”  If that sermon’s for anybody, it’s for me.  You all get the benefit of the overflow.  It’s for us.  It’s not for everybody else.  Don’t think, “Oh, that’s a convicting point—I know somebody who needs to hear that.  Ooo, I’m going to send that link to somebody.  They need to hear that sermon.”  No, come with lowliness.

In Psalms 148, 149, and 150, David closes the Psalms teaching us that worship in truth is worship in ways of which God approves.  God tells us how to worship Him.  We need to be obedient to that.  So don’t think that worship is just a matter of gathering together with people singing songs, hearing a sermon.  If it’s not God-focused and if it’s not done according to the Scriptures, then God, we’re told in Amos chapter 5, hates it.  He despises false worship.  This was the problem with Israel.  They’re walking in disobedience, and it’s all rooted in how they have chosen to worship God.  And Hosea sums it up, “You have rejected the good.  You have rebelled against Me.  You have sown the wind and then will reap the whirlwind.  Israel has forgetting His Maker.”

This week, in your Christian life, don’t do what’s all too easy to do.  We will leave, and we will get ready to face the week, and we will be overwhelmed with the fact that tomorrow is Monday, and we’ll go back to work.  We’ll go back to whatever is going on, and we’ll get involved in our day-to-day routines, and something will happen—some emergency will pop up, somebody will need prayer—and then we’ll remember God.

No.  Don’t forget Him in the first place.  He is a part of every moment.  He is a part of every day.  He is there, not just so that we can pray and get things.  God is not a mobile ATM for whenever you have a spiritual need, okay?  He is there for a relationship.  If you are not relating to Him, communing with Him, praying without ceasing—that’s proof there that you can pray without your head bowed and your eyes closed.  I know, I know—“every head bowed…”  How do you pray when you drive?  “Pray without ceasing.”  What does that mean?  Open communion.  Be relating to Him.  Be reading His Word.  Be praying.  Be praising.  Be telling others!  Be encouraging others.  Be preaching to others.  Be salt and be light.  Be mindful of God.

People say, “Well, I don’t feel His presence.”  That doesn’t mean He’s not there!  How many times have people snuck up behind you, and they were ever-present, and you weren’t even aware, and suddenly, you were aware?  God is there.  It doesn’t matter if you feel Him or not.  He promises to never leave you or forsake you.  He’s there!  Walk with Him, talk with Him pray, live, be salt and light.  Use your gifts.  Help bear other people’s burdens.  Be mindful of the presence of God, because you’ve been given today to serve Him.  And here’s the good news—you have no guarantee of tomorrow.  So do it today.  Don’t forget God.  Israel did, and it destroyed the nation.

The first point to remember, to remember God, is to remember He is holy, and we owe Him worship and love and devotion, to declare His goodness and to love Him with all that we are.  That is no easy task.  I understand that.  But by grace, we are able.  He has worked a work so that now we can be pleasing to Him.  That’s the astonishing message of the gospel.  God has taken sinners out of an unholy world; He’s made us holy; He’s put us back in the unholy world so that we can be beacons of holiness in it, to show others how to be obedient, how to submit to the lordship of Christ, how to be salt and light, day-to-day.  This week, don’t forget God.  Remember Him, moment-by-moment.  Spend that time with Him, commune with Him, make conversations about Him, and if people don’t like that and if people get uncomfortable about that, if people think you’re crazy—News flash: We are crazy.  They know more about us than we probably know.

Spurgeon said this: “If people say bad things about me, I’m going to take it, and I’m going to be glad that’s all they know, because if they know the truth…”  Don’t worry about what other people think.  Worry about what God knows.  Don’t forget Him.  He’s there, but He’s there so that we can walk with Him.  Let’s walk with Him this week.