We have every spiritual blessing.

2May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.
3All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. 4Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. 5God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. 6So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. Ephesians 1:3-6 NLT

The description of what God has done for us because we are united with Jesu Christ encourages me. He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing. He has loved us. He has chosen us. He has adopted us. He has poured out His grace on us.

Wow! Definitely this knowledge generates worship. Paul says, “So we praise God!”

Taping into the spiritual blessings we have in Christ begins with knowing they are there. We are not just drilling down to find water without knowing what is below the surface. We know that in the depths of getting to know Jesus there is grace and peace. When my heart is so uneasy within me, its time to drill down into Jesus by considering again, “Who is Jesus? and “Who I am in Him?”

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The truth about me & the truth about God. Authentic Worship, Part 3

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19The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23But 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. 24God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.” John 4:19-26

A Serious Question

Jesus affirms the seriousness of the Samaritan woman’s question even though she is deflecting attention from her soul condition. She brings up the worship wars regarding the geography of worship: Jerusalem or the high places of Samaria. But Jesus highlights a new reality emerging from the Jews: the Messiah has ushered in the age of true worship in which worshippers will worship God in spirit and truth.

Two Truths

First there is the truth about God. Jesus is The Truth and brings people into the Kingdom of God through His messianic work on the cross. He gives His people the Spirit of God and brings them into genuine communion with God. Later Jesus would say, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” John clarifies for the reader: “Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” See John 7:37-39

Second there is the truth about us. The Gospel almost simultaneously brings us into the reality of our sin and the reality of God’s grace. It may seem outrageous that we can regularly confess our neediness for God’s grace for the forgiveness of sin! But when we do confess we also then set our faith on him again for the grace to obey. That’s what happens in authentic worship. The Spirit of God gives us a new spirit and a new heart with a new “want to” for God. In the disciplines of worship, privately and corporately, the Holy Spirit renews our “want to” by showing us the glory of who Jesus is and the reality of His love for us. I’m not sure the Samaritan woman was yet sure of the incredible worth and place of utmost supremacy she would grant to Jesus, but I believe she was on the way.

Authentic Worship

As some of you know, the worship wars continue and likely will as we have have generational preferences and styles. However, authentic worship is not about how lively or calm the music; nor how dramatic the lights or the preaching. Authentic worship has to do with how engaged we are with truth and the Spirit in response to Jesus and the news of His Gospel. Even in our broken world, authentic worship is possible as we are lead by the Spirit to meet Jesus and delight in the Father’s great love for us.

“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.”

Awkward! This strange man knows me too. Authentic Worship, Part 2

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13Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”

16Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” 17The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” 19The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.”  John 4:13-20

To worship in truth is to enter into the truth about God and ourselves. The Samaritan woman likely came for water at Jacob’s well in the heat of the day because too many people in the village knew her story. Surely it was uncomfortable always being treated as an outsider by her own people.  Now this strange man knows the truth about her too.

It was uncomfortable. It was awkward.

Authentic worship before the living, seeing, God will have its moments of discomfort. Conviction of sin and the reality of our brokenness flowing from our independence from God provokes the ancient patters of hiding. So she changes the subject… anything to get the piercing eye of truth off of her. Ironically, she changes the topic to worship.

Just like us.

Watch for it. We can create a little space or we can totally avoid God by raising a debatable matter when the truth is out. But, unless we let the Spirit of God pierce our shiny self-justifying armour we will not enter into the depths of Jesus’ liberating Gospel: “Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

The discomfort could be the precursor to His joy in your heart.

Authentic Worship, Part 1

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1Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John 2(although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples), 3he left Judea and departed again for Galilee. 4And he had to pass through Samaria. 5So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.

7A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8(For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) 9The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) 10Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” John 4:1-10

Jesus did not have to go through Samaria because of geographic necessity. His compulsion to go through Samaria contradicted the prevailing pathways of his fellow Jews. Samaria was most often avoided by them. But not by Jesus.

“He had to pass through Samaria.”

Why?

In union with the Father and the Spirit Jesus was doing His Father’s work, seeking true worshippers.  He later says to this Samaritan women, “…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.” (Luke 4:23)

Jesus crossed cultural boundaries and conventions as The Seeker. Authentic worship begins with God’s initiative. God is seeking people who will worship Him in truth and spirit. He has crossed heaven and earth in order to get to you.

Transformative Worship

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1How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts! 2My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.

3Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God. 4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise!

Selah

5Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. 6As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools. 7They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion.

8 O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob!

Selah
9 Behold our shield, O God; look on the face of your anointed!

10For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. 11For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.

12 O Lord of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!

Psalm 84

Christian worship enters into the communion of God via the invitation and righteousness of Jesus Christ. Worship is a response to His grace. However, worship has a history and a future. We do not enter into the worship of God in a historical vacuum. Before the Temple, before the building of buildings, He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He met them in their journeying and in their tents.

When we rise to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, we acknowledge the delight of being with Him in sacred community spaces and the reality of His presence with us through the journey of our lives. This Psalm of the Sons of Korah recognizes both realities.

Sacred space framed by architecture
“How lovely is your dwelling place.”
“My soul longs for the courts of the Lord.”
“Even the sparrow finds a home… at your altars.”
“Better is one day in your courts”


The reality of journey with God
“Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion.”
“No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.”
If your worship is space dependent I fear your journey with Jesus will not be transformative. But if your worship of God resonates with a Spirit-fuelled delight in God, then I trust your journey with Jesus will yield transformation wherever you live, work, or play.