In Spirit and in Truth

“But an hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. Yes, the Father wants such people to worship Him. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24, HCSB).

What comes to mind when you think about Christian worship? For many Christians the answer is the Sunday morning worship service. However, this display of public worship is only a small piece of true biblical worship. To worship God one needs to first ask the question how do I worship God according to His word?

The modern world is an extremely busy place for most Christians. The day to day schedule can be a frantic duty. It becomes very easy to become a great multitasker, and to develop the skill of allowing our mind to be in two places at once. While this skill may be useful at times, it can be disastrous for Christian worship.

When a Christian engages God in worship they must give themselves fully to God in both heart and thought. True worship requires the believer to understand that God is worthy of our worship and worshiping God is not done out of obligation but out of desire. When a Christian has a high view of God they are compelled to worship God because of his great majesty.

The book of John makes clear the teachings of Christ concerning right worship.  This right worship is done in spirit and truth. The Bible states “ Therefore I am informing you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus is cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:3).

To worship God one must rely on the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will focus the heart and mind of the believer allowing them to properly worship God.The second aspect is to worship God in truth. The source of truth is the Bible. In order to understand the right worship of God one must turn to scripture to receive instruction from God on what is true worship.

Worship is not something Christians just do for an hour on Sunday morning. True Christian worship is spirit filled and rooted in biblical truth. A Christian worships God by spending time with Him daily. This can be done in prayer, scripture study, devotions, and song. A Christian should first worship God, and make time for everything else second because nothing deserves our time and adoration more than God.

Loving Your Neighbor Through Prayer

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 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is: Love your neighbor as yourself.  There is no other command greater than these” (Mark 12:30-31, HCSB).[1]

The above passage of scripture calls all Christians to an all-consuming  love of God that requires all aspects of an individual’s being. The second calling in this passage, is to love others as a Christian loves themselves. Both of these callings are challenging. However, for this post the second call of loving a neighbor will be the primary focus.

Loving ones neighbor is a broad subject. A Christian can show a Christ like love for their neighbors through many avenues. However, the greatest resource a Christian can offer a fellow brother or sister is their prayers. Christians do well to pray for others in church and at home, especially when someone they know is facing a difficult time.  These types of prayers are wonderful and should be a part of every Christians prayer list, but praying for others should not be exclusive to times of difficulty.

Paul provides several examples in scripture for how and why to pray for others. Paul does not only pray for people when they are sick but at all times for various reasons. 2 Thessalonians provides such examples of the diversity of the prayers of Paul.

“And in view of this, we always pray for you that our God will consider you worthy of His calling, and will, by His power, fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith,  so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified by you, and you by Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 1:11-12)

“May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal encouragement and good hope by grace,  encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good work and word” (2 Thess. 3:2-5).

 “And that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful; He will strengthen and guard you from the evil one. We have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will do what we command. May the Lord direct your hearts to God’s love and Christ’s endurance” ( 2 Thess. 3:2-5)

The scholar D.A. Carson covers the topic of praying for others in chapter four of his book Praying with Paul: A Call to Spiritual Reformation. Carson provides many great insights on this subject but a particular point resonates. Carson states “our praying will be shaped by our profound desire to seek what is best for the people of God”.[2] If Christians truly love their neighbors then certainly this will be reflected in their prayer life. They will pray for others not only in times of illness or despair but at all times with a desire to see the best for their brothers and sisters achieved in their life.

[1] Unless otherwise noted, all biblical passages referenced are in the Holman Christian Standard Bible, (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2009).

[2] D.A. Carson, Praying with Paul: A Call to Spiritual Reformation, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2014), 55.

Bibliography

Carson, D.A. Praying with Paul: A Call to Spiritual Reformation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2014.

High View of God

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In the opening pages of his book Knowledge of the Holy, A.W. Tozer opens with a pressing proposition. According to Tozer many Christians fail to produce a high view of God. Instead they utilize a low concept of God that is completely unworthy of the heavenly Father. The problem of a low view of God is it effects every aspect of a Christian walk.

A Christian develops a low view of God when they construct their understanding of God from their own mind and experiences that are not based in scripture. God has revealed Himself to the world through His word. However, many Christians neglect reading scripture which in turn leaves them oblivious to the true nature of God.  This results in Christians practicing a form of idolatry.

The sin of idolatry is the worship of any other god or object outside of the true God as revealed in the Bible. Idolatry does not require bowing at an alter of a physical object. A Christian who builds God in their own image is guilty of idolatry because they have replaced the God of the Bible with one they have constructed. This in turn results in the adoration and worship of a god that is not based in scripture.

A Christian needs to seek after the true nature of God and ensure that a high view of God as found in scripture is at the foundation of their faith. A building is only as good as the foundation that it is positioned on and this is true of the Christian faith as well. A Christian who has a false belief about the true nature of God will discover every other aspect of their faith will be in error. A Christian who is devoted to a high view of God and seeks after His nature in the Bible will have a faith set on a true foundation and their relationship with God will prosper.

Psalm 104 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

Psalm 104

God the Creator

My soul, praise Yahweh! Lord my God, You are very great; You are clothed with majesty and splendor. He wraps Himself in light as if it were a robe, spreading out the sky like a canopy, laying the beams of His palace on the waters above, making the clouds His chariot, walking on the wings of the wind, and making the winds His messengers,[a] flames of fire His servants.

He established the earth on its foundations; it will never be shaken. You covered it with the deep as if it were a garment; the waters stood above the mountains. At Your rebuke the waters fled; at the sound of Your thunder they hurried away— mountains rose and valleys sank[b]— to the place You established for them. You set a boundary they cannot cross; they will never cover the earth again.

10 He causes the springs to gush into the valleys; they flow between the mountains. 11 They supply water for every wild beast; the wild donkeys quench their thirst. 12 The birds of the sky live beside the springs; they sing among the foliage. 13 He waters the mountains from His palace; the earth is satisfied by the fruit of Your labor.

14 He causes grass to grow for the livestock and provides crops for man to cultivate, producing food from the earth, 15 wine that makes man’s heart glad— making his face shine with oil— and bread that sustains man’s heart.

16 The trees of the Lord flourish,[c] the cedars of Lebanon that He planted. 17 There the birds make their nests; the stork makes its home in the pine trees. 18 The high mountains are for the wild goats; the cliffs are a refuge for hyraxes.

19 He made the moon to mark the[d] festivals;[e] the sun knows when to set. 20 You bring darkness, and it becomes night, when all the forest animals stir. 21 The young lions roar for their prey and seek their food from God. 22 The sun rises; they go back and lie down in their dens. 23 Man goes out to his work and to his labor until evening.

24 How countless are Your works, Lord! In wisdom You have made them all; the earth is full of Your creatures.[f] 25 Here is the sea, vast and wide, teeming with creatures beyond number— living things both large and small. 26 There the ships move about, and Leviathan, which You formed to play there.

27 All of them wait for You to give them their food at the right time. 28 When You give it to them, they gather it; when You open Your hand, they are satisfied with good things. 29 When You hide Your face, they are terrified; when You take away their breath, they die and return to the dust. 30 When You send Your breath,[g] they are created, and You renew the face of the earth.

31 May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in His works. 32 He looks at the earth, and it trembles; He touches the mountains, and they pour out smoke. 33 I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God while I live. 34 May my meditation be pleasing to Him; I will rejoice in the Lord. 35 May sinners vanish from the earth and wicked people be no more. My soul, praise Yahweh! Hallelujah!