Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Monday, 7 November 2022:
1 Kings 18:1 – After many days the word of the Lord came to Elijah, in the third year, saying, “Go, show yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain upon the earth.”
Elijah did not go anywhere on his own initiative but rather waited on direction from God. Jesus said that He operated the same way. Why do you do what you do? Notice that the word of the Lord came to Elijah, “after many days.” Until then, Elijah simply remained faithful to what he had already been told to do, without using God’s silence as an excuse to quit endeavoring. Are you willing to obey God’s clearly written word right where you are, doing what you normally do, without requiring some special revelation?
1 Kings 18:4 — Obadiah took a hundred prophets and hid them by fifties in a cave and fed them with bread and water.
Obadiah not only feared God, he also prepared for famine when no one else had. Therefore, he was able to care for God’s prophets. Faithful followers of Christ don’t hoard wealth or save for a future of unproductivity, but they do save so that they can provide for themselves and others during lean times or times of trouble. Are you saving up for retirement so you can finally relax? If so, your plan will ruin you.
1 Kings 18:17, 18 — When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is it you, you troubler of Israel?” And he answered, “I have not troubled Israel, but you have, and your father’s house, because you have abandoned the commandments of the LORD and followed the Baals.”
The unrepentant sinner becomes the enemy of both God and His servants, blaming them for the consequences of sin. Sinners will blame and despise God’s messenger. The messenger is an easy target. The word “martyr” is Greek for “witness.” Jesus experienced that persecution started within the “church” as his teachings threatened church tradition, church leadership, and the position of compromise the church had established with the State and secular society. Today the church is largely silent in the face of dramatic social deviation. Speak the truth boldly, and discover the Greek word for witness. In the midst of persecution, God’s servants must continue to proclaim truth. Are you willing to be hated by the world to proclaim God’s message? Christians are not the judge but rather the messenger of the Judge. Never hold back from speaking the truth in love thereby denying your life mission and purpose.
1 Kings 18:21 — And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” And the people did not answer him a word.
You must choose between fidelity to God or fidelity to the world. You cannot be faithful to both. If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice. Much like the people of this account, today, the Church remains largely silent in the midst of rapid social decay due to compromise. Following God is an all or nothing proposition. Jesus Himself said that He had no use for the lukewarm Christian. You cannot follow and not follow at the same time. You cannot partially obey and still be obedient. You cannot remain silent before the sins that God abhors and remain in a growing love relationship with Jesus.
1 Kings 18:27 — And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” Elijah did not show respect for false religions.
1 Kings 18:29 — No one answered; no one paid attention.
The world is full of passionate people who very sincerely believe lies to be true. No matter how much someone wants to believe a lie, the truth remains the truth. Jesus said he came to “testify to the truth.” We have been entrusted with the message of truth which challenges many sincerely held beliefs in the world.
1 Kings 18:37 — Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God.
God answers our prayers as we desire when what we desire is His will be done. Your prayer life is powerful when it is aligned to God’s will rather than simply your desires. God’s intent is always to bring glory to Himself. All that we desire should be to glorify God.
1 Kings 18:41 – And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink, for there is a sound of the rushing of rain.”
Success can distract you as you seek to follow God’s will. Elijah’s primary assignment was to announce when a drought would begin and end (1 Kings 17:1). God had told him to proclaim to King Ahab that the drought was an act of judgment upon a people who worshiped idols rather than God. In the middle of Elijah’s assignment, a spectacular thing happened. Elijah confronted the prophets of Baal and called fire down from heaven, putting hundreds of priests of Baal to death. This was one of the most awesome displays of God’s power recorded in Scripture. Elijah could easily have focused strictly on that event. Fire falling from heaven is much more spectacular than a rainstorm!
When something spectacular happens, we can easily be sidetracked. If Elijah lived today, he might have begun a “Calling Down Fire from Heaven” ministry! The dramatic is far more appealing to us than obedience to the mundane. Destroying hundreds of Baal’s prophets would appear to be a climactic victory for any prophet of God. Yet Elijah persisted in his assignment. He announced the coming rain. This had been his primary message, and he delivered it.
If you aren’t careful, you may become so distracted by the successes you experience that you never complete what God originally assigned you to do. Will your success today cause you to disobey tomorrow?
John 4:6 – Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.
Jesus knew what it was to be tired, hungry, and thirsty. Although when he felt these strong human desires, He did not sin by becoming self-centered, irritable, or blind to the needs of others. He stayed on mission and continued to serve God and draw others towards God.
John 4:7 – A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.”
Jesus asked for service not to take care of Himself but to create a relationship that would be used to serve others. Samaritans were despised by Jews, but Jesus knew no prejudice.
John 4:10 – Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”
Jesus identified Himself as “the Gift of God” who when served blesses far than one could imagine.
John 4:13, 14 – Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
Jesus satisfies the root of all needs by bringing people to the Source of Life. Jesus said, “I am the… Life.” If you have Jesus, you are satisfied beyond measure. If you feel dissatisfaction, it is a relationship and perspective problem.
John 4:18 – For you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband.
To reunite people with God, Jesus had to reveal to people the sins that separated them from God. He had to call them to repentance. God forgives sin, but He must be honored in obedience and faithfulness.
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)
“We are designed to worship God in spirit and in truth. As Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well, He sought to help her do this by imparting to her God’s living water (John 4:13-14).
Jesus sought out this woman personally to give her abundant life. In the same way the Father seeks an encounter with each of us that is real and personal. The Samaritan woman had heard about God; Jesus said true worship must be “face to face” with God. Worship is not religion or ritual; worship is an intimate and vital encounter with a Person. True worship includes the full recognition of who God is: Holy, Sovereign, Almighty, Loving, Merciful. This recognition brings about the realization of our own sinfulness.
True worship is life-changing! It creates within the worshiper’s heart a hatred for sin. True worship results in repentance, obedient submission, and a desire for holiness (Isa. 6:1-8). True worship generates a desire to show mercy and to express forgiveness. It includes a joyful acceptance of all that God has provided by His grace. True worship is not exclusive. Just as the Samaritan woman rushed off to tell others of her encounter with the Lord, so true worship will compel the worshiper to include others. As a result of this woman’s encounter with Jesus, many others from her village came to know Him as well. The one who has truly worshiped will have a sense of peace and a confident expectation of what God is about to do. True worship produces a transformed life, reflecting the One who has been worshiped.” (Henry T. Blackaby)
John 4:34 – Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.
“Throughout Jesus’ ministry, we see a marked difference between His priorities and the concerns of His disciples. The disciples were often preoccupied with how to meet their physical needs (Matt. 14:15-17; John 4:8; Luke 18:28). Jesus repeatedly assured them that the Father knew their needs and would provide (Luke 11:11-13). Jesus stressed that their priority was to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness”; the necessities of daily life would be provided (Matt. 6:33).
When Jesus spoke to the woman at the well, His disciples had gone into a nearby town to get food. While His disciples were seeking earthly nourishment, Jesus was giving this woman “living water” that would satisfy her soul for eternity. When they returned, the disciples urged Jesus to eat. He replied that His “food” was to do the will of His Father. Since their attention was on earthly matters, His disciples misunderstood His reply. Jesus’ very life came from obeying His Father. Because of Jesus’ obedience that day, the woman received eternal life. In her excitement, she brought many others to Jesus to hear for themselves, and many believed that He was indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world (John 4:39-42).
The apostle Paul understood what Jesus had been teaching His disciples. When Paul wrote to the believers in Rome, he stressed that ‘the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men’ (Rom. 14:17-18).
When Satan tempted Jesus to turn stones into bread, Jesus quoted the Scriptures, summarizing the focus of His life and ministry: ‘Know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord’ (Deut. 8:3).” (Henry T. Blackaby)
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 7 November 2022: Share the Gospel today with someone who worships what they don’t know.