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The Kind of Worship God Desires, Part 5

Selected Scriptures June 01, 2008 90-358

Again, as always, our hearts are greatly encouraged in the testimonies that we hear from those who are confessing their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  And I was reminded, as I was listening again, of the text of Luke 15 where our Lord Himself talks about the joy of God in heaven when one sinner repents.  Heaven celebrates that glorious conversion, and so should we.  It is the supreme experience of the church to see the fruit of gospel effort here in the very life of the church.  What a great joy.  Makes these Sunday nights so special because of every testimony being so unique.

Well let’s open our Bibles again to a text that has become familiar to us over these Sunday nights, John chapter 4 verses 20 through 24.  This is a conversation between Jesus and a Samaritan woman.  And in this conversation it gets around to the subject of worship.

She says in verse 20, “Our fathers worshiped in this mountain,” referring to Mount Gerizim in Samaria where the Samaritans worshiped.  “You people...meaning the Jews...say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.”

She realizes that she needs to get right with God.  She needs to worship the true God in the true way.  Jesus has basically unmasked her sin, told her everything about her without knowing her.  She understands that He’s a prophet.  She wants to make things right with God.  She wants to become a true worshiper that God will accept.  And she asks the very basic question, “Where do I go to do this?  Is it in Mount Gerizim where Samaritans worship?  Or is it in Jerusalem where the Jews worship?” 

That gives our Lord the opportunity to give a very, very important answer.  Verse 21, “Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem shall you worship the Father.  You worship that which you do not know, we worship that which we know, for salvation is from the Jews.  But an hour is coming and now is when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.  God is spirit and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.’”

Jesus identifies here the elements of true worship.  And we have been looking at them over the last four messages.  We discussed the importance of worship and I laid out a list of things that are revealed in Scripture that indicate to us that worship is the number one priority.

We then moved from the priority of worship to the source of worship and we asked the question, “What produces a worshiper?  What is the origin of true worship?”  And we looked at this very text and saw the Father seeks true worshipers.  The Father seeks those who worship Him in spirit and truth, be His worshipers.  And we said then that true worship is a product of divine seeking and this is efficacious seeking, this is actual seeking that leads to regeneration, justification and conversion, so that worship is the product of conversion, it’s the product of salvation.

We then moved from the source of worship, being the seeking and saving work of God, to the object of worship, the object of worship.  And clearly this passage reveals that we are to worship the Father who is God, who is also a spirit.  And we talked about the fact that true worship is offered to God who is Father and who is spirit, and we delineated the elements of that, that are important to know.

Now that brings us tonight to a fourth, and then a fifth very important point out of this text.  Number four is the sphere of worship.  Or, if you will, the location of worship which is really what’s at the heart of this conversation.  Where do I worship?...is her question, where do I go?  Indicating that people associated worship with a place, for the location.  Be easy to understand that since the city of Jerusalem and the temple in Jerusalem were identified as the central place of worship in Judaism.  She would know that.  Since all over the pagan world pagans worshiped their gods in some kind of temple, where in most cases their God was represented in an idol, or their gods were represented in idols.  Worship was associated with places.

This is not strange for her to ask where, is it in this mountain or is it in Jerusalem that we worship?  Our Lord’s answer is very simple.  “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem shall you worship the Father.”  He is referring, of course, to the launching of the church.  And once the church is established, the temple is obsolete.  In fact, the obsolescence of the temple occurred at the death of Jesus Christ when the veil was rent from top to bottom and the Holy of Holies was thrown wide open for all to see.  It was the end of an era.  It was the end of the centrality of that place.

Now clearly the temple was not the confining place of worship.  It was simply a central place to which the nation was called to give its focus and its attention in ceremonies and sacrifices that would lead to lives of worship.  But God was always a spirit and God was always to be worshiped at all times in all places by those who were His.  The temple was not the only location of worship, it was the central location of worship.  You might say it was the place of the largest corporate expression of worship. 
But that was going to change.  There was coming an hour when the locale of worship would shift away from any single central place.  There is no central place in the church for worship.  The Roman Catholics would like us to believe there is, St.  Peter’s Cathedral in the Vatican City.  That is not the place.  In fact, in all honesty that’s the place where Satan is worshiped and not God.  There is no central temple.  There is no central building.  There’s a new kind of worship our Lord is saying and it has nothing to do with Gerizim and it has nothing to do with Jerusalem.  In fact, when the church is established in the book of Acts, the people simply gather every single day for fellowship, prayer, the breaking of bread and the instruction in the Apostles’ doctrine.  And they gather everywhere.  Yes, they gather in the temple and they gather in homes.  And they gather wherever they meet because worship is decentralized in the establishment of the New Covenant.  Every place becomes a sanctuary.  Every place becomes a place of worship.

Remember, it was always that way even in the Old Testament.  But the temple was the focal point, the place where there was the largest congregation of worshipers and the place and the only place where God determined sacrifices could be offered.  Once the final sacrifice was given by Christ, no more sacrifices ever needed to be offered again, and therefore the singular purpose of the temple which was sacrifice was eliminated.

And so, now the worship of God is decentralized.  And, in fact, it is so decentralized that every single believer is a temple.  You are the temple of God.  What do you not know, your body is the temple of the Spirit of God?  Do you not understand that you are literally a holy habitation of God.  You are a temple made up of living stones.  You are a spiritual house.  You are a holy priesthood offering up spiritual sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ.  You are a royal priesthood, the words of Peter.  Every believer becomes a temple.  Every believer becomes a priest.  There is no more temple.  There is no more elevated, isolated clergy or priestly tribe.  We are to worship the God who is spirit and the God who is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  That is to say, we are worshiping God and we are worshiping the Lord Jesus Christ all the time everywhere because God in Christ, God in Christ and the Spirit of Christ have taken up residence in our lives.

And the woman needed to know that.  And the Jews needed to know that.  And the pagan world needed to know that, the true God, an infinite omnipresent spirit, is available to be worshiped anyplace any time, or at all places at all times.  But again this is not new because even the Old Testament says, “God does not dwell in a temple made with hands.”  He is not limited to that, nor are those who worship Him.  He was worshiped before the temple was ever built.  He was worshiped before the tabernacle was ever constructed.

We don’t need altars anymore, the final sacrifice has been made.  We don’t need a place of sacrifice anymore.  One of the bizarre things that you see in Roman Catholic churches is an altar.  What is that?  A place where they can carry out a mock sacrifice of Christ in the Mass?  A church needs no altar.  A church needs no priesthood.  We are all priests.  We all offer spiritual sacrifices, not material ones.
And so, the location for worship is anywhere and everywhere.  And verse 23 adds to this, “An hour is coming and now is, it’s here, with the completion of the sacrifice of Christ, the ratification of the New Covenant, the beginning of the new era, the hour is coming and it’s here, true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth.”  In fact, He must be worshiped, verse 24 says, in spirit and truth.

It’s not a matter of location, it’s a matter of attitude.  And here are blessed Lord is anticipating His redeeming work in establishing the New Covenant.  It’s coming and it’s already there in His person.  As I said, at the death of the Lord, the veil in the temple was rent from the top to bottom.  Forty years later in 70 A.D., Jerusalem was destroyed.  The temple was destroyed and it’s never been rebuilt and the sacrifices came to a halt in that destruction, never to be established again because there is now a new form of worship.  There isn’t one central temple not in the world, not in a nation, not in a city.  We are all the temple and we all worship the God who dwells in us.  We are all priests.  We all offer spiritual sacrifices to God.

This is the beauty and this is the glory of the church.  We meet in this decentralized defused assemblies all over the world and no one of them is more important than the other.  No one of them is somehow a singular place where god dwells.  The illusion continued in Europe in the constitution of the Catholic Church which basically tried to perpetuate the sacramental system of Judaism, substituting great massive cathedrals for temples.  They were believed to be the places of transcendence and mystery where somehow God dwelt in unique ways.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

So, we have seen then the importance of the priority of worship.  We’ve seen the object of worship and the source of worship, which, of course, is the work of God in salvation.  We’ve seen the sphere of worship everywhere at all times, defused among all those who are true believers and in whom God dwells and is truly worshiped.

And that brings us to the fifth point and really the main point that I want to give to you, the nature of worship...the nature of worship.  And this, of course, is critical in the text and that’s why it’s repeated.  You are to worship in spirit and in truth, verse 23.  In fact, you must worship in spirit and in truth.  It’s not where you worship, it’s how you worship.  True worshipers worship this way.

Now to set that up, go back to verse 22 for a moment.  Jesus, speaking to the Samaritan woman, says, “You worship that which you do not know.  Your problem is you have spirit without truth.  Historians tell us that the worship of the Samaritans on Mount Gerizim was pretty frenetic.  You might say they were sort of first century Charismatics.  They could get really cranked up, highly emotional.  And our Lord says, “You worship that which you do not know.”  Your worship may be characterized by spirit and emotion, but it’s ignorant.  You have spirit without truth.  You have enthusiastic ignorance.

On the other hand, “We the Jews...verse 22...worship that which we know.” But the assumption is, we lack the spirit.  The Samaritans had spirit without truth, enthusiastic heresy.  The Jews had truth without spirit, barren orthodoxy.  One had heat without light, the other had light without heat.  You worship you know not what.  They were aggressive in their ignorance.
Their temple, by the way, on Mount Gerizim had been destroyed a long time before this.  It was destroyed 128 B.C.  But they still went to the temple remains and carried on their worship.  I don’t know exactly up to this very hour today but a few years ago there were still a few remaining vestiges of the ancient Samaritan religion, less than a hundred, I was told, still trudging up Mount Gerizim which is near the city of Nablus to carry on their worship.  But they didn’t know what they were worshiping.

Why?  Because the Samaritans, their form of religion, had rejected the whole Old Testament outside the Pentateuch.  The only part of the Old Testament they accepted was Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, the writings of Moses.  They rejected the prophets, the books of history and poetry.  So they were limited strictly to the Pentateuch, left all the rest out.  Somewhat understandable since so much of the rest related to the Jews.  And that’s why I say, they were enthusiastic in their ignorance, in their heresy.  They were sincere.  They were devout.  But they were ignorant.

There was, however, enough in the Pentateuch to tell them a few things.  Look at verse 25.  “The woman said to Him, ‘I know that Messiah is coming, He who is called Christ.  When that one comes, He will declare all things to us.’” Verse 29, she says, “Come see a man who told me all the things that I have done.  This is not the Christ, is it?”

The Samaritans had figured out even in the Pentateuch there are Messianic prophecies.  They had a little bit of knowledge.

On the other hand, let’s look at the Jews.  “We know what we worship.” Why?  “For salvation is of the Jews.”  What does that mean?  We know the truth because we are the possessors of divine revelation.  The whole revelation of God’s saving purpose in the world has been given to us.  All the writers of the Old Testament basically were Jews.  We have the truth.  We have the full revelation, but lack the spirit, coldly legalistic, coldly hypocritical.  Jesus exposes all of this in the Sermon on the Mount.  In fact, the leaders of Israel tended to be dour, condemning, judgmental, miserable, unhappy people who had no sympathy or compassion on anyone.  They had accurate revelation.  They had accurate information.  They had complete full knowledge but no heart.  That’s why they rejected their Messiah and even pressed to His murder.

In contrast to them, look at verse 39.  “From that city,” that Samaritan city of Sychar, “many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, ‘He told me all the things I have done.’  So when the Samaritans came to Him, they were asking Him to stay with them and He stayed there two days and many more believed because of His Word.”

All they needed, apparently, was the information.  They just needed the truth they had never heard.  The Samaritan and her village believed.  They needed the full balance of truth to go with their...with their sincerity.  And what our Lord is saying here is, you must have spirit, that is the subjective commitment to offer worship from the heart with all your might, but it must be related to the objective, truth.  That is how you must worship.  This is a mandate, according to verse 24.  It must put away all superficiality, all insincerity, all hypocrisy and it must put away all ignorance. 
The two enemies of genuine complete worship are Jerusalem and Gerizim, metaphorically speaking, a lack of passion, a lack of zeal, a lack of spirit, or a lack of truth.  I’m afraid these things are still with us today.  We have so much that is called worship, even within the great umbrella of evangelicalism, Christianity, so much of the worship that is borderline hysteria without knowledge, without understanding.  Al Martin wrote, “Men have worshiped with open Bibles and with the name of Christ and the Bible on their lips, while whole congregations have been held in the grip of barrenness and lifelessness and powerlessness where it has been weeks and months and years since hearts have been ravished with the sight of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, years since any hymn has been sung with abandonment, years since a tear has trickled down the face of a worshiper, years since a hallelujah flowed out of a bursting heart,” end quote.

This is the balance of worship.  It’s with all your heart and all your might and all your powers and all your emotion, anchored by truth. 

Now let’s look at these a little more closely.  Let’s talk about spirit, first of all.  This refers to the human spirit, the inner self, the inner man.  Worship is not a matter of a certain time, a certain place, certain words, certain architecture, a certain kind of demeanor, certain kind of clothes, a certain kind of formality routine or activity, it is a matter of the inner person.  And it’s always been that way.  Worship has always begun inside the worshiper.  It is an explosion from the inside through the physical faculties.

Listen to what the psalmist says in Psalm 51 verse 15, “O Lord, open my lips that my mouth may declare Thy praise.” That’s it.  That’s worshiping in spirit, “Open my mouth that it might declare Your praise.”

In the New Testament, Ephesians 4:23 indicates to us that if we’re going to worship God the way we ought to worship Him, we need to be renewed in the spirit of our minds.  And that’s talking not about the Holy Spirit but inside of us.  Worship needs to be a boiling over, a bubbling over.  Romans 1:9, “God is my witness,” writes Paul, “whom I worship with my spirit.”  Or in the language of Psalm 103, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is with me.  Bless His holy name, bless the Lord, O my soul.”  It is that which rises up from the inside.  It is that boiling over, that bubbling over of joy and exuberance and gratitude and honor and praise and adoration and wonder directed toward God.  It comes from God-centered thinking.  It comes from the contemplation of God.  In fact, the contemplation of God, or meditation on God, or meditation on Christ is the power that triggers worship.
And you see this again and again and again in the Psalms.  We could do this for many, many hour, just going through the Psalms.  God is our refuge, Psalm 46, and strength, a very present help in trouble, therefore we will not fear though the earth shall change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.  This is pure worship.

The psalmist has no fear of an earthquake, no fear of a Tsunami because God is our refuge and our strength.  Psalm 47, “O clap your hands, all peoples.  Shout to God with the voice of joy for the Lord Most High is to be feared, a great king over all the earth.  He subdues people under us and nations under our feet.  We have nothing to fear from the physical curse.  We have nothing to fear from enemy nations.  Our God is a refuge.  Our God is our strength.  Our God is a great King over all the earth who subdues all people under us and all nations under our feet.”  This is praise boiling over.

Psalm 77 is one that I think is rich in imagery.  We could start in Psalm 77 verse 6, “I will remember my song in the night.  I will meditate with my heart, my spirit ponders.”

There’s some trouble going on here...trouble.  Verse 2, “In the day of my trouble, I sought the Lord.”  How does he get out of trouble, do his circumstances change?  No, this is serious trouble.  So serious, in the night my hand was stretched out without weariness, my soul refused to be comforted.  When I remember God, then I am disturbed, when I sigh then my spirit grows faint.  Thou hast held my eyelids open, can’t sleep, full of anxiety, panic attack, I’m so troubled I can’t speak.  I’ve considered the days of old, the years of long ago.  What’s the remedy for this disturbance.  I will remember my song in the night.  I will meditate with my heart, my spirit ponders.”  What am I going to meditate about?  What am I going to ponder?  “Will the Lord reject forever?  Will He never be favorable again?  Has His loving kindness ceased forever?  Has His promise come to an end forever.  Has God forgotten to be gracious?  Has He in anger withdrawn His compassion?  Then I said, ‘It is my grief that the right hand of the Most High has changed.’”

He’s starting to reinvent God in his own mind.   God has rejected me.  God will not be favorable.  His loving kindness has been removed.  His promises have come to an end.  His grace has been withdrawn.  He is now angry, no compassion.  God has changed.  How do you get out of this?

Verse 11, “I shall remember the deeds of the Lord.  I will remember the wonders of old.  I will meditate on all Thy work and muse on thy deeds.  Thy way, O God, is holy.  What God is great like our God?  Thou art the God who workest wonders.  Thou hast made known Thy strength among the peoples.”  That’s history.  “Thou hast by Thy power redeemed Thy people,  the sons of Jacob and Joseph.  The waters saw Thee, O God, the waters saw Thee.  They were in anguish.  The deeps also trembled.  The clouds poured out water.  The skies gave forth a sound.  The arrows flashed here and there.  The sound of Thy thunder was in the whirlwind.  The lightnings lit up the world.  The earth trembled and shook.  Thy way was in the sea and Thy paths in the mighty waters and Thy footprints may not be known.  Thou didst lead Thy people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.”  He thinks back to the parting of the Red Sea.  What has he to fear?
And you can go through the Psalms yourself, recitation after recitation of the greatness of God and the greatness of God and the faithfulness of God becomes his comfort.  If you look at Psalm 86, for a moment, verse 5, again there is a need in verse 1, “I am afflicted and needy.” And so in verse 5 he starts to remember not what God has done but what God is.  “For Thou, Lord, art good and ready to forgive an abundant and loving kindness to all who call upon You.  Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer.  Give heed to the voice of my supplication.  In the day of my trouble, I shall call on Thee for Thou will answer me.  There is no one like Thee among the gods, O Lord, nor are there any works like Thine.  All nations whom Thou hast made shall come and worship before Thee, O Lord, for they shall glorify Thy name for Thou art great and doest wondrous deeds.  Thou alone art God.”

Then I love this.  “Teach me Thy way, O Lord.  I will walk in Thy truth.  Unite my heart to fear Thy name.  I will give thanks to Thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart and will glorify Thy name forever, for Thy loving kindness toward me is great for Thou hast delivered my soul from the grave.”

Praise comes from the inside.  But it comes, as you can see, with a contemplation of what is true about God, about who He is and what He has done.  This is worship in spirit and in truth, thoughts centered on God, thoughts centered on Christ, reciting all that God has done, all that Christ has done.  Understanding that truth informs worship.

As we were singing hymns earlier, they were reminding us of the cross, weren’t they?  They were reminding us of our salvation.  They were reminding us of the work that God has done in Christ on the cross to provide forgiveness and the hope of eternal life.  They were reminding us of the work of Christ.  But they were also filled with words like grace and love and mercy that rehearse for us again the nature of God.  It is in the musing on these things, it is in the contemplation of these things that praise rises out of us.  And so, if you have limited knowledge of God, your praise is limited by your ignorance.  And that’s what our Lord is meaning when He says to the woman, “You worship you know not what.  You’re boiling over offering praise to the God of the Pentateuch but you are so limited by your ignorance that your praise is not complete because your understanding is not complete.”

I told you a few weeks ago that one of the criticisms of our ministry here is that we limit people’s ability to worship because I take so much of the time to preach.  I don’t, frankly, know how you can truly worship unless you have something to worship about and that something has to be the truth.  I think what we have today in the name of worship is a whole lot of entertainment, music that’s fun, emotionally satisfying to sing and experience and hear and feel but lacking in real depth.  I don’t need too much going on in the music, personally, because the focus for me is on the words, it’s on the content.  O I think God has given us a great, great gift in making us musical and I do love music, all kinds of music, all kinds of beautiful music (laughter), all kinds of music that is music, (laughter), but I love nothing more than the most beautiful music sung with the most magnificent glorious God-honoring words.  That’s why I always say that God is my favorite lyricist.  I love to sing Scripture. 
People call it worship when its prolonged emotional salving(?) or emotional entertainment, or diversion.  It often falls short of being the real thing.

I enjoy the corporate worship.  I enjoy the music of corporate worship.  I even enjoy the music of solitude worship.  I’m such an inveterate worship that I even enjoy worshiping when I’m the singer and I’m the only singer because my soul takes flight.  I don’t think there’s a day in my life that goes by that I don’t sing hymns...not a day, because it has to come out, just has to come out.  Psalm 47:7 says, “Sing praises with understanding.” And the more you understand, the more you boil over with praise.  All true worship depends on truth.

I have the privilege, I’ve got the greatest job in the world, of going up in my little cubby hole where I study at home and opening up all my books and opening up the Bible and being isolated in that situation for hours and hours and days.  I do this every week.  You get a little of it on the Lord’s day, but a very little.  But all of that is joy producing for me.  All of that is a worship experience.  All of that for me is almost sometimes breath-taking. 

Now I’m not nearly as good at passing it on to you as God is at communicating it to me.  I try to capture somehow in words the stunning breath-taking realities of Scripture and share them with you.  But I always seem feeble in the effort.  But for me, the experience itself of discovery is what is breath-taking and I struggle to be able to convey the experience that I myself have regularly every week of my life.  I try to come on the Lord’s day in a service like this to spend one hour on the truth of God so that you can spend every hour in worship.  We want truth in your minds, truth in your soul that releases you to true worship.

What hinders true worship?  Not poor music, but ignorance...ignorance, you need to know the truth.  And the truth is what launches your worship.

We will soon come to Luke 24 and won’t that be a great day?  That’s the last chapter of Luke.  And you remember when the disciples were walking with Jesus on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24 and He disclosed Himself to them and He opened the Law and the Prophets and the holy writing, the whole Old Testament and interpreted it for them all the things concerning Him?  And they had been ignorant...they had been ignorant.  As far as they knew, He was dead.  They’re in a morose condition on the way to Emmaus.  They don’t know who He is until He reveals Himself to them.  But at first they don’t know.  He opens the Scripture to them and explains out of the whole Old Testament everything concerning Himself.  And what is their response?  They say this, “Did not our hearts burn within us when He opened to us the Scripture?”  It’s the fellowship of the burning heart that we want to produce in worship.  It is the fellowship of the burning heart, the enlightened mind sets the heart on fire and a heart on fire becomes a worshiping heart.

You know, the Bible is an inexhaustible source of truth.  Oh it isn’t that you’re going to find a new truth you never heard of before, it is that you’re going to see the glorious unfathomable infinite truths in new ways.  I can tell you, I don’t come across new doctrines in the Bible, but I come across new understandings of the great old truths every day of my life.  And all that does is enhance my praise and my worship.  I can say to you that I’m a part of the fellowship of burning hearts. 
A preview of the end of Luke.  This is the end, last statement, “They returned to Jerusalem with great joy and were continually in the temple praising God.”

I know for some people worship seems to be about them, about feeling good, having a good experience, a worship experience, they call it.  But true worship is not about us, it’s about God.  True worship is simply continuing to praise God with great joy.  This is our life, any place any time, and collectively on the Lord’s day when we gather here.

A final note.  When you come together with God’s people to worship collectively, how should you come?  Look at Hebrews 10 and I’ll close with this.  When you come to this corporate experience of worship, how should you come?  Hebrews 10 is talking about that because in verse 25 it talks about our assembling together and how we’re not to forsake that.  It talks about, verse 24, stimulating one another to love and good deeds in that corporate worship.  But how are we to come?  Verse 22, “Let us draw near,” that’s worship language.  “Let us draw near, come near to God.”  When we draw near to Him, James 4, He will...what?...draw near to us.  How do we come?

First, with a sincere heart, sincerity, undivided focus, a sincere heart.  Literally a true heart without hypocrisy, genuine, we’re coming to do what we long to do, what we love to do.  “In full assurance of faith.” Fidelity, first sincerity, second fidelity.  We come with sincerity and we come with fidelity.  That is to say we come faithful to the truth.  We are not divided in our desire to worship, nor are we divided in our loyalty to the truth. 

“Having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience.”  What is that?  That looks back at the cross and recognizes that the only reason we can come is because our hearts have been washed from evil, so we come in, let’s just call it humility, realizing that we’re not worthy to come.  The only way we can come is that we have been washed through the work of Christ on the cross. 

We come in sincerity with an undivided heart.  We come with fidelity in full assurance of the truth of the faith.  We come in humility, knowing that we don’t deserve to come and no merit of our own has gained us this access.  And we come with our bodies washed with pure water.  What’s that?  Purity, sin confessed, sin acknowledged, sin faced, dealt with, turned from, purified.

We come in sincerity.  We come in fidelity.  We come in humility.  We come in purity.  And when we come that way, we will have a true worship experience.  
To borrow the language of Jesus.  “Happy are the holy, for they shall see God.”  Every time you come to worship in this corporate worship and all the time, go through that four-fold examination of your own heart.  Do you come to worship with an undivided heart?  Not giving honor to anything else or anyone else, but solely to focus on the honor that belongs to the God who is Spirit and who is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Do you come to worship the Triune God, are you singularly set in your heart in undivided allegiance to that?  Do you come in full assurance of the faith, the content of the Christian gospel?  Do you come with loyalty and fidelity to the true gospel?  Do you come in humility, realizing you have no right to come but you have been washed by the work of Christ?  Do you come in purity, having dealt with the sins of your life, having been washed, as it were, with pure water?

This is the kind of worship that the Father seeks.  This is the kind of worship that the Father honors and that the Father blesses.  Let’s bow in prayer.

O come let us sing for joy to the Lord, let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation.  Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving.  Let us shout joyfully to Him with Psalms, for the Lord is a great God and a great King above all gods in whose hand are the depths of the earth.  Peaks of the mountains are His also.  The sea is His for it was He who made it and His hands formed the dry land.  Come, let us worship and bow down.  Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker, for He is our God and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand.

Our Father, it is in that confidence and in that truth that we desire to worship You.  We want to be those true worshipers.  May Your Spirit grant us that, for Your glory, we pray in the name of Your Son, our Lord Jesus.  Amen.


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