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Maria talked about hearing God and being in His presence – and led everyone in an exercise in hearing God speak. Click here to listen or download the sermon.
A reflection from our Praise and Worship service on 12th July 2015.
Worshiping in spirit and in truth is one of those phrases from the Bible that we hear a lot, but perhaps don’t always stop to consider what it really means. What does it mean to worship “in truth”?
The root of the Greek word used for “truth” here, carries the meaning of “with nothing hidden”, i.e. you’re seeing the real thing, without anything covered over, made pretty or concealed. So you could say that to worship God in truth, is to worship him with nothing of ourselves hidden, holding no part of ourselves back from Him. The context of the scripture where we find this makes sense of this definition, where the woman at the well whom Jesus is talking to, has just had the “secret” of her relationships revealed. (See John 4:1-24). Notice as well that knowing this, Jesus still offers her “living water”, receiving her as she is.
Sometimes what holds us back in worship is our own sense of inadequacy or awareness of our failings. Our natural tendency is to worship to our point of discomfort, but we can hesitate to face God with the fullness of who we are. There are some areas of our heart that we won’t explore, even with our Creator, who knows us inside out!
The good news is that there is a remedy for everything rotten or fearful that we see in ourselves. Jesus’ death on the cross is sufficient to redeem us from all our sins. By his blood, he has secured us entrance into God’s throne room to worship Him in spirit and in truth (see Hebrews 9:11-12 & Hebrews 10:19-22). There is no need to hide anything from Him, because the blood of Jesus speaks a “better word” (Heb 12:24) than the words of our fears.
So it doesn’t matter where we are at, what secrets we hide, what hurts we nurse. We can come to Him with them all, holding nothing back, and let Jesus’ blood speak redemption into our hearts. As we do this, we are set free to worship our Redeemer in in Spirit and in Truth.
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.John 4:23-24
Download parts 1, 2 & 3 of Maria’s sermon series here.
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During the week Virginia shared with me the following quotes which she had jotted down and stored in her bible. She couldn’t remember the source of the quotes.
Each statement had impacted her and we both agreed that it could be helpful for us to meditate on them:
“If we want our work to remain, all that we build must be built on Christ. Even the best of His servants is no substitute for Him.” John 15:4b “Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”
“Either idealism about church life or rejecting the church will lead us from the path of life.” The letters to the Churches in the book of revelation reminds us that there is no perfect church – each has its strengths and weaknesses. In Hebrews 10:25 we are warned: “let us not give up meeting together.” Let us ever have our ears attuned to what the Holy Spirit is saying to us.
“Gatherings that really lead to koinonia (deep fellowship and unity) will centre on the presence of the Lord.”
It is only the presence of the Lord that will bring about Transformation.
May we be a people rooted in Christ, committed to journeying together and hungering for His presence.
If the truth sets us free, then it’s safe to say that a lie holds us back. What we believe about the nature of God is of infinite importance.
In Wayne Cordeiro’s book, ‘The Irresistible Church’ he speaks of the trait of people hungering to know God. He recounts the story of a talent quest that had taken place in a small country church many years ago:
“Two performances stood out in people’s minds that evening; the first was a visitor from the city. He was a seasoned professional actor, well trained in the Shakespearean tradition. Stepping up front, he cleared his throat, and in a deep, resonant voice, the Twenty-third Psalm echoed throughout the chapel. The actor recited the classic psalm with sweeping gestures, masterful poise, and flattering eloquence. He concluded to the brisk applause of a thrilled audience.
The pastor let a moment pass as a brief afterglow ensued. Then the pastor nodded his head toward a farmer near the back door. “Joseph, would you be next?” the pastor said.
Fidgeting from side to side, he half mumbled, “Shucks, I don’t know much; but all I can think to do is quote the same psalm as this other man did. I’m not much one for reading, and it’s the only one I ever learned by heart. I’m afraid this other man beat me to it.”
“Well, share it again, then,” the pastor encouraged, and soon others were echoing the request.
The farmer was in his early sixties. Hard times had fallen on his life and little farm but he remained godly and soft-spoken, a man who never complained. Swallowing hard, he stammered and started with his own paraphrase. “The Lord is my Shepherd and ’cause of that one thing, I figure I have everything I need.” Detouring on a side route, he continued. Y’all know that my dear wife died six years ago. When my Helen passed, I didn’t think I could go on without her. But God never left me and He reminded me that I was gonna do just fine. He said He’d be there for the kids and me, and He was.”
The farmer paused to remember which verse he was on, then continued. “He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still streams. He restores my soul. He leads me…” The farmer paused as his thoughts were interrupted by yet another remembrance. “Y’all know that when the war broke out, my boys felt it right to join up. The day they left was the last day I saw them alive. I run the farm alone now…. But the Lord goes before me and prepares my table. I’m never truly alone. Not really. And when I don’t think I have much left, my cup always overflows.”
He concluded that Twenty-third Psalm: “Surely goodness and mercy will follow me and I look forward to dwelling in the house of the Lord, and I know it will be my home too, and my wife’s and my boys’…forever.”
Without anyone noticing, a profound silence had filled the room; the kind when a deep respect is the only response you can give. It’s the kind of silence when you don’t know what to do, so you don’t do anything at all. Joseph sat down, and no one moved. Then slowly, the professional actor made his way to the front again. Standing for a moment as if to find words appropriate enough to disturb the silence, he spoke: “I may know the Shepherd’s Psalm, but this man-” he pointed at the farmer- “he knows the Shepherd, and that makes all the difference.”
Knowing about God and knowing Him personally are galaxies apart.
One might bring notoriety or even fame, but the other brings depth.”
May we all hunger to know our God more deeply,
From time to time as a discussion starter someone might ask you: “How’s your week been?” Could anyone have a fuller week than Jesus’ last week leading up to His death on the cross?
It begins with His triumphant entry into Jerusalem. The crowds line the street, they wave palm branches, they cry out their “Hosannas,” they give Jesus a very royal welcome. A lesser individual could have been caught up in the adulation and been distracted from his calling, but not Jesus!
Next day, Jesus visits the Temple, is horrified at seeing how the Temple has been turned into a den of thieves instead of a house of prayer. He angrily upturns the tables and evicts the money lenders.
This does not go down well with the Religious Leaders, they question His authority. Their jealousy causes them to plot against Jesus.
Jesus has an intimate meal with the disciples, he breaks bread with them, drinks from a cup. He explains that He must die but the disciples don’t understand.
Jesus is aware that the disciples will let Him down badly but still He pours out love upon them, He washes their feet.
Jesus, knowing what is ahead of Him, agonises in the garden; “not my will, but your will be done!”
Before long, He is betrayed, arrested, there is a mock trial, He is sentenced to death, He is nailed to a cross. While on the cross He forgives His perpetrators, He extends grace to a convicted criminal, He feels separated from the Father as He bears the sin of the whole world upon Himself.
As He realises that He has fulfilled His calling upon the earth He says; “It is finished!” and breathes His last breath.
What a week! An amazing life that changed the course of history! And of course the forces of evil had once and for all been overcome! Thank you Jesus!
May we live in the fruit of what Jesus won for us through His death and resurrection.