Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Monday, 1 November 21:
John 4:22-24 – “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Many people claim they believe in God and claim to be “spiritual.” However, dedicated, committed worship can be unspiritual and untrue. In today’s readings, Jesus speaks with a Samaritan woman. The Samaritans were Israelites who had intermarried with non-Israelites, developed their own theology, worshiped at Mount Gerizim vice the temple, and edited the five books of Moses to align with their own beliefs. Jesus explains this worship is unspiritual and untrue, despite the convictions of the Samaritans. So, what is true spiritual worship?
First, true spiritual worship must be directed towards God and God alone. The word “worship” comes from an Old English word which means “worth-ship.” Only God is worthy of our worship, and we must worship Him in a way that is worthy and acceptable to Him. Only through Jesus Christ can we truly worship —
- Psalm 18:3 — I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.
- Revelation 4:11 — “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”
- John 14:6 — Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
- Revelation 5:12 — “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”
- 1 John 4:2, 3 — By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.
- 1 John 4:15 — Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.
- Ephesians 4:1 — I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called….
- Matthew 10:38 — And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.
Second, true spiritual worship is inspired and enabled by the Holy Spirit, which is given only to those who are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Apart from the Holy Spirit, worship is merely a form of religion with no real power, empty ritual representing the imaginations of people who “worship what they do not know.”
- Jeremiah 2:13 — For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters,
and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.
- John 3:3 — Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
- Galatians 4:6 — And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”
- 1 John 4:13 — By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.
Third, true spiritual worship comes from a heart that genuinely loves the Lord. Worship is either displayed love for God or nothing at all. Religious activities which are not motivated by love for God are unacceptable offerings to the Lord –
- Hosea 6:6 — For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.
- Isaiah 29:13 — And the Lord said: “Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men….
- Matthew 6:21 — For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
- Romans 2:29 — But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.
- John 16:27 — …for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.
- 2 Corinthians 5:14 – For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died;
- 2 Corinthians 13:14 — The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
- Galatians 2:20 — I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Fourth, true spiritual worship is guided by, and in accordance with, correct doctrine. Those who truly love God will eagerly seek to know Him better and serve Him better through the revelation of His word. Many have a passion for Jesus which lacks true intimacy with Him because they don’t really know Him since they don’t listen to Him and learn from Him through His word. What a person truly feels about God will be revealed in how much that person values God’s word.
- Mark 7:7 — In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’
- John 17:3, 8, 14, 17 — And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent…. For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me…. I have given them your word…. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth….
- Colossians 3:16 — Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
- John 14:23 — Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
- John 8:31-32 — So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
- 1 Timothy 6:2-4 — Teach and urge these things. If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing.
- 2 John 1:9 — Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.
- 2 Timothy 3:16-17 — All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
Fifth, true spiritual worship is actively loving others. Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27) We demonstrate our love for God by loving others in tangible ways, through labors of love. We love the Lord, worship Him, and glorify Him when we translate His spiritual truths into tangible realities on earth for all to see. We proclaim the love of Christ as we demonstrate the love of Christ. As we love others in all we do, our lives become continuous acts of true spiritual worship —
- Romans 12:1 — I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
- 1 John 4:12 — No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
- 1 John 3:17 — But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?
- James 1:26-27 — If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
- 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 — If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
- 1 Peter 1:22-23 — “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.
- Galatians 5:22-26 — “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.”
Finally, true spiritual worship will be compelled to proclaim the Gospel to others – “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” Note, many Samaritans who had been worshipping what they did not know, were more responsive to Jesus than many Jews who claimed to know God – “The Father is seeking such people to worship Him… in spirit and truth.” The more you grow to know Jesus, the more you will love Him, and the more you love Him, the more His prayer will become your prayer — “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” (John 17:20-23)
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 1 November 21: Share the Gospel today with someone who worships what they don’t know.