‘But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”’ John 4:23-24
What does it mean to worship God in spirit and truth?
In spirit – because God is is spirit. He is omnipresent & omniscient. You need not be at Jerusalem or any specific place on earth in order to worship Him. You call out to Him in your spirit and He is right there. God is also not to be worshiped in any shape or form of an object. In fact, He specifically reminded us about this in the 2nd commandment – “You shall not make any image of God or bow down to it.” God is spirit. He is to be worshiped in spirit.
In truth – the truth as He has reviewed Himself in His word, the Bible. I was once acquainted with a follower of the cult group called the Moonies. I heard this friend pray – “my father, hallowed be your name“. Was he praying and addressing the same Father of my Lord Jesus Christ whom I believe? Obviously not! But what differentiated our prayers? It was the body of truth that we individually believed in. The body of truth that he held to was based on the teachings of Sun Myung Moon. This was totally different from the truths that I believed and understood from the bible. Hence, the body of truth that we believed in our spirit distinguished whom we were addressing our prayers to. And if the body of spiritual doctrines that you hold to is different from the essential ones in the bible, you are probably worshiping a different person altogether. This is a reminder to us that we should never belittle the importance of doctrines.
The bible teaches us that Jesus laid down His life for His sheep so that through Him, His redeemed people may approach God. If you believe this truth, your prayers are “directed” to the God of the Bible. It is this truth that distinguishes us as His children even as we obey Him to worship God in spirit and truth. May God help us worship Him in the way He prescribed.
“Then Samson called to the LORD, saying, “O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray! Strengthen me, I pray, just this once, O God, …”” Judges 16:28 NKJV
This was Samson’s prayer when he was humiliated by the Philistines. He had lost his eyes. He had lost his great strength. But in the depth of such helplessness, he prayed. Lo and behold, the LORD heard him. And the LORD answered his prayer! Here are 2 lessons I see amongst many in this verse:
Firstly, Jesus taught us to ask, even when it seems ridiculously “out of our mind” to do so. He told us the parable of the friend who came at midnight seeking for some food to entertain his visitor. It was simply unthinkable to make such a request. Yet, the request was granted because of the persistence of the one who asked.
The lesson for us is simply this: we may be brought to a humbled state due to our own folly and we feel “too embarrassed” to ask for God’s mercies. Yet, we ought to ask. Samson did just that and God answered his prayer.
Secondly, God’s grace is amazing & supernatural. God is not obligated to grant sinners any pardon or privilege. Unfortunately, many people only realise this when they are in circumstances similar to what Samson was experiencing. But God’s grace is amazing and supernatural. He did not need to answer Samson’s cry for help. Yet, He did.
This passage exists in the scriptures to help us appreciate the fact that God’s grace was extended to a sinner who called out for help. It was a sinner who ought to be ashamed of all the wrong he had done, all the misuse of gifts and privileges bestowed to him. And this prayer of a totally unworthy sinner was heard by a God who is gracious and merciful. And this God could extend His pardon to sinners was possible because He earned their pardon by His own Son’s death on the cross.
1 Kings 18:21
And Elijah came to all the people, and said, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people answered him not a word. (NKJV)
Elijah was speaking to the Israelites. They had the privilege of knowing the true God of heaven and earth. They had a God-given heritage of being the descendants of Abraham. Yet, they pursued idol worship. Why was idol worship so attractive to them? What did it offer that the people were willing to give their lives to it? Perhaps it provided a tangible view and association to the object of worship. But God, the Creator of the heavens & the earth tell us that we should “not make any image of God and bow down to it”. This is because God is Spirit. When Moses met God on Mt Sinai, he saw no form of God. We are therefore not to imagine or constrain God to be of a particular form.
In the new testament, we are taught that the Son of God (the 2nd person of the Holy Trinity) came in the form of a Man. While we know that He came in the form of a Man, we are not to imagine His face or features because these were not recorded for us. The only instruction we have is to worship God in Spirit & truth. In other words, the object of our worship is the truth He has reviewed about Himself in His word alone. Anything aside from that would be idolatry.
Who is your God today? It has to be the God reviewed to us in the Bible. Any other thing would constitute idolatry. And you can’t straddle between opinions or “sit on the fence”. The prophets of Baal learnt their lesson when they did not choose the God of the Bible. You will likewise perish unless you have the God of Elijah as your God. Seek Him today in the scriptures!
Questions for meditation:
1) If the God reviewed in the bible is real, how much do you know about Him? What actions are you taking to know more about Him?
What you can pray for:
1) Lord, please reveal yourself to me in your word. Help me understand it. Open my eyes to see great and wonderful things.
Josh 9:14 ” So the men took some of their provisions but did not ask counsel from the LORD.”
This verse gives us a solemn reminder of the consequences of taking actions without consulting God. The entire account in Joshua 9 also reminds us not to react negatively to single incidents. The story did end with Joshua 9. We need to trust God that He can work overall good out of seemingly negative incidents for us when we continue to obey Him relentlessly. And that we see in Joshua 10.
We read at the beginning of Josh 9 that a coalition of pagan nations gathered against Israel. This should have prompted Israel to be ever more diligent in prayer. But as it often happens, confidence from recent victory resulted in complacency. Josh 9:14 says that “…the men….did not ask counsel from the LORD.” The result? Israel was tricked into making a covenant with the Gibeonites. The consequences could have been very severe. V18b “..Then all the congregation murmured against the leaders.”
When we encounter similar issues in our lives, we must not be short-term minded in how we view the matter. The covenant with the Gibeonites resulted in Israel having to fight a war against a coalition of enemies that took the Gibeonites as “ransom”. But out of duty to keep their covenant, Joshua set out with the armies of Israel to defend the Gibeonites. Israel was effectively fighting a war that became theirs only because of an apparent “mistake” made earlier. But what resulted when they were faithful in keeping their covenant, was a resounding victory that effectively wiped out the enemy forces. It also resulted in an amazing miracle of the sun “standing still” so that Joshua had enough daylight to complete his mopping-up operation. All these were recorded for us in Joshua 10. We must not stop at Joshua 9.
Our God is a covenant keeping God. He promised in Gen 3:15 that the “…Seed of the woman will bruise the serpents’ head…”. Christ came and laid down His life for His people. In what appeared to be a loss for the Seed of the woman, our faithful covenant keeping God raised Jesus from the dead in a resounding victory over Satan and redeemed all His people effectually.
Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?” Job 1:8
It is interesting to see here that God was “proud” of His servant Job. He described him as “..a blameless & upright man, one who fears God & shuns evil..” Aren’t these virtues bestowed upon Job by the grace of God? Yet He attributes them to Job. This is the great mystery of God’s sovereignty versus man’s responsibility. Accept it, submit to it and praise God for it. It will keep us humbly dependent on Him.