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True Worship

Jerusalem is a city of religion. Christianity, Islam, and Judaism consider the city sacred. Pilgrims come from around the world to journey where Jesus, Mohammed, and Abraham walked. They seek spiritual experiences in religious locations.

While speaking with a Samaritan woman Jesus reveals genuine worship is not dependent on places or things. God actively seeks true worshippers, those willing to worship “in spirit and truth,” those with a sincere and honest approach to God. Are you a true worshiper?

worshipJohn 4:20

“So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim, where our ancestors worshiped?”

A holy mountain

The Samaritan woman tried to move the conversation away from her many husbands to an even more controversial topic: Which mountain is holy?

There was a bitter division between Jews and Samaritans over rival claims about the genuine place of worship, Jerusalem or Gerizim? Samaritans read only the Pentateuch, the first 5 books of the Old Testament — Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Within these books Mount Gerizim is given importance. Abraham and Jacob set up altars on the mountain and later, after Israel took possession of the land, it became the hillside of blessing.

Jews, however, included other Scripture that helped define Jerusalem as their holy place (2 Chron. 6:6, 7:12; Ps. 78:68).

John 4:21-24

Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. But 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.”

The nature of worship

Jesus did not wish to be drawn into the debate. Location does not matter. His concern is the nature of worship. Worship inaugurated by Jesus is not tied to any place considered sacred.

Worship is an issue of “spirit and truth.”

God is actively seeking true worshipers – those who maintain a complete sincerity in their approach to God. True worshipers do so in spirit, as defined by emotion, intellect and will. They also worship in truth, through their speech, actions, and thoughts. God is ceaselessly active as the life-giving Spirit and is worthy of all worship.

But how does one worship? In the sanctuary God has prepared, the arena of life, He makes a person’s whole life worship. Faith communities come together weekly to engage a person’s emotions, intellect and will, but worship of God extends far beyond this brief corporate encounter. Genuine worship is spiritual. It is not dependent on places and things. A person’s daily work, words, actions, thoughts…their whole life is worship.

John 4:25-26

The woman said, “I know the Messiah is coming—the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus told her, “I Am the Messiah!”

The Messiah revealed

The woman does not dispute Jesus’ comment and understands the Messiah will fulfill all that was spoken.

On this occasion Jesus admits being the Messiah. He safely uses the term in a region away from Jewish political circles. His confession is a beautiful invitation to “come unto Me.”

More than the Messiah

Jesus was more than a Jew or Samaritan could comprehend at the time.

He is the Answer to the undeniable sin problem.”

The challenge

Genuinely worship God in spirit and truth! Sincerely come to Him and dedicate your life to His will. He is worthy of worship.

What does being a true worshiper mean to you? Share your comments below.

Experiencing Jesus

Many decide to follow Jesus because they incorrectly think He will give them a trouble free life. They desire to experience life without pain. The abundant life Jesus promises does not mean no difficulties. Rather, Jesus becomes the rock people build their life upon. Without Him life is built on shifting sand.

Jesus wants you to know the real blessing of abiding in Him.

Photo: Valley where Jesus met the Samaritan woman

Photo: Valley where Jesus met the Samaritan woman

John 4:15

“Please, sir,” the woman said, “give me this water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again, and I won’t have to come here to get water.”

Personal Convenience

The woman took the words of Jesus literally, similar to Nicodemus taking the discussion about new birth literally.

The woman’s concern at this point was personal convenience. Wouldn’t it be nice to avoid frequent trips to a well and the regular hassle of drawing water?

Many want Jesus in their life as a matter of personal convenience. They hope Jesus will reduce the hassle of life, making inconvenience and trouble go away. This is not what Jesus offers.

John 4:16-18

“Go and get your husband,” Jesus told her. “I don’t have a husband,” the woman replied.

Jesus said, “You’re right! You don’t have a husband—for you have had five husbands, and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now. You certainly spoke the truth!”

Jesus confronts sin and offers wholeness

Jesus decides to bring the woman’s situation into the open. In only a few words she attempts to quickly stop the dangerous subject. Jesus’ reply is humbling, showing He knows all about her relational issues. Jesus cuts to the core of the problem.

Things left in the dark are not resolved until brought into the light.”

Jesus wants to see this woman fully restored, not possible until light is brought upon her unwholesome lifestyle choices.

John 4:19

“Sir,” the woman said, “you must be a prophet.”

The Messiah

Samaritans acknowledged no prophet after Moses other than one mentioned in Deuteronomy 18:18, “I will raise up a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites. I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell the people everything I command him.” This coming prophet was considered the Messiah. For the woman to speak of Jesus as a prophet was to assign him this special designation.

The challenge

Step into the light and seek God’s forgiveness. Desire to experience the full measure of divine grace. Come to Jesus – the Rock of Ages.

How has Jesus made Himself known to you? Share your comments below.

Eternal Satisfaction

After graduating from college, Shellie and I were married, I started my teaching career, and we moved into a one-bedroom apartment. We were on our own, with respectable work, a home, and cars to get around. We found some fulfillment in our work, but were yearning for something more. We knew Jesus promised an abundant life and we were convinced we had yet to experience “life to the full.”

In John chapter 4, Jesus meets a woman at a well and introduces her to life eternally.

To experience an eternally satisfying life, a person must encounter Christ.”

satisfaction

Photo credit: bartb_pt (cc)

John 4:4-8

He had to go through Samaria on the way. Eventually he came to the Samaritan village of Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime. Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.” He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food.

Obeying God

From a practical standpoint, Jesus did not have to pass through Samaria. Most Jews avoided travel through Samaria, but it seems Jesus had to travel this way in obedience to the Holy Spirit’s leadership.

Upon meeting the Samaritan woman at the well, Jesus makes a request in order to get connected with her. He establishes common ground, a need for water, to begin sharing the gospel with her.

John 4:9

The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?”

In need of water

The woman at the well recognized the vast difference between herself and Jesus, but He established a simple commonality – thirst. Jesus and the woman shared common human aspirations and needs.

John 4:10

Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”

Living water

Jesus quickly transitioned to spiritual matters, referring to the new life He gives, a life connected with the activity of the Spirit. He used the analogy of living water to raise interest and left the woman wanting to know more.

John 4:11-12

“But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water? And besides, do you think you’re greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well? How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his animals enjoyed?”

Greater than Jacob?

By all appearances, it seems the woman thinks there is nothing extraordinary about Jesus as He engages her in spiritual conversation.

John 4:13-14

Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”

Abundant life

The living water that Jesus gives will bring permanent satisfaction. A vigorous stream bursting forth into an abundant, everlasting life in the Spirit that motivates believers into action.

Life bringing forth more life.”

The challenge

Seek the abundant life only Jesus can bring. Everything else only temporarily satisfies, but Jesus brings permanent satisfaction.

How have you experienced an abundant life in Jesus? Share your comments below.

In God’s Time

After graduating from college, Shellie and I had a desire to teach overseas. We began exploring different opportunities but in the end took teaching jobs in the Chicago area. One of the things we learned following Jesus is to trust His timing. During Jesus’ ministry, He always waited for the right time.

time

Photo credit: ToniVC (cc)

John 4:1

Jesus knew the Pharisees had heard that he was baptizing and making more disciples than John.

Curious

The Pharisees had taken an interest in John the Baptist (John 1:19). Yet now Jesus was baptizing more than John. They became equally curious about Him.

John 4:2

(though Jesus himself didn’t baptize them—his disciples did).

Under God’s authority

Jesus himself did not do the baptizing but the disciples did under His authority. The value of baptism is not found in the baptizer but in the One whose name the rite is administered, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

John 4:3

So he left Judea and returned to Galilee.

The right time

Jesus withdrew from Judea and set out for Galilee before a confrontation could occur with religious leaders. The timing was not right.

God’s time

When it comes to the work of God, His will and His way is not only involved but also His time.”

According to God’s will and way Jesus would die on the cross. Just as important was the timing. Jesus needed time to train His disciples so they could carry on the work after His resurrection and ascension into heaven.

Leaving America

After teaching in Chicagoland a number of years, Shellie and I began working with an international school in Khartoum, Sudan. We trusted God’s timing and He led us to a great school that we were able to lead for a few years. Our experience in Africa changed us forever, moving us from a routine to radical life, dedicated to God’s glory among the nations.

In pursuing the will and way of God, trust in His timing as well.

The challenge

Pursue God’s will, way, and timing for everything. Allow Him to order your steps and make your path straight.

How has God’s timing made a difference in your life? Share your comments below.

God’s Wrath

Hinduism has many variations. Yet a common theme is the need to make offerings to appease the anger of the spirit world. Hindus practice a religion involving worship and sacrifice to prevent gods from being angry. John reveals unless a person chooses a meaningful relationship with the true God, they remain under divine wrath. The death of Jesus on the cross settles the issue. Have you put your trust in Him?

wrath

Photo credit: gleasonmj (cc)

John 3:31

He has come from above and is greater than anyone else. We are of the earth, and we speak of earthly things, but he has come from heaven and is greater than anyone else.

Above all

Jesus is above all, is absolutely preeminent. The message of John the Baptist is critical and timely but he and his assignment were only temporal.

John 3:32-33

He testifies about what he has seen and heard, but how few believe what he tells them! Anyone who accepts his testimony can affirm that God is true.

God is true

The world, as a whole, is not interested in the truth Jesus came to bring. Anyone willing to place their faith in Jesus accepts what God has said. Their eyes become open to the reality that God is true.

John 3:34-35

For he is sent by God. He speaks God’s words, for God gives him the Spirit without limit. The Father loves his Son and has put everything into his hands.

In God’s hands

To receive Jesus is to receive the words of God. God gave Jesus the gift of life. As a person comes to Him, they can receive the Spirit of life in bountiful measure and the assurance of everlasting life.

John 3:36

And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment.

A new life

When people put their trust in Jesus they enter new life.”

On the other hand, disobedience incurs wrath, divine judgment. God’s holy nature is actively against everything evil. Anyone who continues in unbelief and disobedience has nothing to look forward to other than judgment.

The challenge

The only way to avoid God’s wrath is surrendering your life to Jesus. Know that God is true, receive new life in Christ and ask Him to fill you with the fullness of the Spirit.

What are some practical ways you can trust God more? Share your comments below.