Who? do you worship?..

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans
Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome

From John 4:

19“Sir, I can see that you are a prophet,” the woman replied. 20“Our fathers worshipped on this mountain, but you people say that the place where one has to worship is in Yerushalayim (Jerusalem).” 21Yeshua (Jesus) said, “Lady, believe me, the time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Yerushalayim (Jerusalem). 22 You people don’t know what you are worshipping; we worship what we do know, because salvation comes from the Jews. 23But the time is coming — indeed, it’s here now — when the true worshippers will worship the Father spiritually and truly, for these are the kind of people the Father wants worshipping him. 24God is spirit; and worshippers must worship him spiritually and truly.”

From <https://www.bible.com/bible/1275/jhn.4>

*words in parentheses are English for the Hebrew added by this author.

Do worshipers know who they are worshiping? Jesus tells this woman, “you people don’t know what you are worshiping.” The argument was between Jew and Samaritan and was over where to worship.  Jesus pointed to a greater difference; the Samaritan did not know what they were worshiping; the Jew knew who they worshiped and salvation would come through the Jews.  He then threw the argument over place away by prophesying the coming time when neither would worship in either place.  Then, all that is left is who to worship — God — in spirit and in truth.  Jesus was the gate to this change.

Worshipers worship a god.  Who that god is trumps anything else.  Worship is directed at the entity being worshiped.  If the worship is by music using lyrics, what is heard in the words?  If by prayer, again, words are telling.  If by actions, where’s the focus?

True worship, spiritual worship doesn’t need a specific time or place.  When that worship is God ward, it is true.  When it is directed and focused on the Lord it is spiritual.  God inhabits the praises of His people.  He must be the total focus of worship.  Then he visits; then he comes, when the praise is raised to him alone.

“God is spirit; and worshipers must worship him spiritually and truly.”  – Jesus

Pray – O Lord, may You always be the focus, the recipient of all my worship!

Repent – I’m sorry for the thing we’ve made it.  I’m bringing it back to you.  I will not be  silenced.

Ask – May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord.

Yes – You alone are worthy of all my praise and honor.  It isn’t about me; it’s about thee!

Source: John 4 and Psalms 19:15

 

Creating Community…

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans
Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome

From John 1:

The next day having decided to leave for  Galilee, Yeshua found Philip and said, “Follow me!”  Philip was from Beit – Tzadah (Bethsaida), the town where Andrew and Kefa (Peter) lived.  Philip found Natan’el (Nathaniel) and told him, “We’ve found the one that Moshe(Moses) wrote about in the Torah (Scripture), also the Prophets – it’s Yeshua Ben-Yosef from Natzaret! (Nazareth)  Natan’el answered him, “Natzaret? Can any good come from there?”  “Come and see,” Philip said to him.  Yeshua saw Natan’el coming toward him and remarked about him, “Here’s a true son of Isra’el – nothing false in him!”  Natan’el said to him, “How do you know me?”  Yeshua answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”  Natan’el said, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Isra’el!”  Yeshua answered him, ” you believe all this just because I told you I saw you under the fig tree?  You will see greater things than that!”  Then he said to him, “Yes indeed, I tell you that you will see heaven opened and the angels of God going up and coming down on the Son of Man!”

 

There was an intimacy, a brotherhood in place before Jesus called the men who would be discipled by him. Physical birth created a camaraderie and bond between them .  They possessed a simplicity of character and a living force of forward-looking and thinking.  Their reactions to Christ are childlike; his persona drew them to him.

Today’s fellowship communities could use some of this childlike approach to brotherhood, sisterhood.  This group of Jesus and his disciples have the commonality of birth but also possess personalities that are very different.  The same is true of communities today.  These characteristics could lead to an intimacy born of the shared knowledge of Christ, not of the sameness of individualistic personalities.  The shared goals of the Kingdom could take priority over personal agendas.  These men put Christ first, their families adjusted accordingly, their jobs took backseat.

Perhaps there is a lack of understanding of how much members of a community need each other’s support and encouragement.  Absence for whatever reason leaves holes in the fabric of the community.  The bonds are weak and any who are seeking the support and solace of community are soon disappointed.  Today’s groups are a restless people, with little to no genuine commitment to community fellowship. Perhaps the fault of falling away from community worship is not ‘looking at people’ but lack of communal support and care.

When the general, corporate focus shifts to Christ and his teachings, bonds begin to form and the groups become cohesive.  These men are in the initial stages of community development but the shared aspects of physical birth and Christ are already creating cohesiveness.  Worship of Christ and Him alone, will create this bond.  As the worshipers are drawn into collective worship of God, rather than who they are, unity can form and division will lessen. Members begin to lose themselves in Christ and come together under Him.  Their differences are minimized as their focus leaves self and moves to God.

Pray – Lord, You are the Most High God, Creator of all and all are created with one purpose; to love and worship you.

Repent – I’m sorry for the way we’ve made worship about who we are rather than about who You are. It’s all about You, o Lord!  I repent for the multitudes of times I am subtly drawn away from You to who I am.

Ask – Bring us back to the heart of worship and that is to join David and others in their worship of You, God.  I don’t want ‘just another love song,’ I want the opportunity to rise in worship of who You are. Not to us, Adonai, not to us, but to Your name give glory, because of Your grace and truth.

Yes – Praise, Adonai, all you nations! Worship Him, all you peoples! For His grace has overwhelmed us, and Adonai’s truth continues forever.  You are my God, and I thank you.  Be exalted God, above heaven!  May Your glory be over all the earth.
Sources: Psalms and John.

God of order and peace…salvation

Ezekiel 41:5-12

Next, he measured the wall of the temple, six cubits. The width of each side chamber all around the temple was four cubits on every side. 6 The side chambers were in three stories, one above the other, thirty chambers in each story; they rested on ledges which were for the side chambers all around, that they might be supported, but not fastened to the wall of the temple. 7 As one went up from story to story, the side chambers became wider all around, because their supporting ledges in the wall of the temple ascended like steps; therefore the width of the structure increased as one went up from the lowest story to the highest by way of the middle one. 8 I also saw an elevation all around the temple; it was the foundation of the side chambers, a full rod, that is, six cubits high. 9 The thickness of the outer wall of the side chambers was five cubits, and so also the remaining terrace by the place of the side chambers of the temple. 10 And between it and the wall chambers was a width of twenty cubits all around the temple on every side. 11 The doors of the side chambers opened on the terrace, one door toward the north and another toward the south; and the width of the terrace was five cubits all around.

12 The building that faced the separating courtyard at its western end was seventy cubits wide; the wall of the building was five cubits thick all around, and its length ninety cubits.

Pasted from <http://www.blueletterbible.org/tools/printerFriendly.cfm?b=Eze&c=41&v=1&t=NKJVP>

This speaks of a God of order and not confusion; a God of balance;  a God of support.  This temple, not yet built of man’s hands stands in Ezekiel as a reminder that there is and always will be a place to worship; a place where God can inhabit the praises of His people.  It is said that  God does not have need of a temple, a physical place;

“…2Chronicles 2:6  But who is able to build Him a temple, since heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain Him? Who [am] I then, that I should build Him a temple, except to burn sacrifice before Him?…”

Humanity has built temples for several reasons among them the need to have a physical place dedicated and consecrated for worship, a place that has been built in honor of the name of God, a place built following the instructions of God for His purposes.

“…2Chronicles 2:4 Behold, I am building a temple for the name of the LORD my God, to dedicate [it] to Him, to burn before Him sweet incense, for the continual showbread, for the burnt offerings morning and evening, on the Sabbaths, on the New Moons, and on the set feasts of the LORD our God. This [is an ordinance] forever to Israel….”

“…Hebrews 9:1 and 2 Then indeed, even the first [covenant] had ordinances of divine service and the earthly sanctuary.
 – For a tabernacle was prepared: the first [part], in which [was] the lampstand, the table, and the showbread, which is called the sanctuary;…”

Many rooms, lots of space, all in order and having balance.  When our lives are out of balance and full of confusion we do not have peace.  Can we sense the peace of this place, a peace on the inside?

Moreover we have the present promise of a temple not made with hands:

“..Hebrews 9:11 – 14 But Christ came [as] High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation
 Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.
For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh,
how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?…”

Blessed be the name of the Lord…we are His temple, He resides within us and all because Christ went to the cross for us as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins!

One world, one God, one rule…

Ezekiel 37:24-28

“David My servant shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd; they shall also walk in My judgments and observe My statutes, and do them. 25 Then they shall dwell in the land that I have given to Jacob My servant, where your fathers dwelt; and they shall dwell there, they, their children, and their children’s children, forever; and My servant David shall be their prince forever. 26 Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them, and it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; I will establish them and multiply them, and I will set My sanctuary in their midst forevermore. 27 My tabernacle also shall be with them; indeed I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 28 The nations also will know that I, the LORD, sanctify Israel, when My sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.” ’

Pasted from <http://www.blueletterbible.org/tools/printerFriendly.cfm?b=Eze&c=37&t=nkjvp>

What can we learn of God?  He loves His people.  He will give them one king and one shepherd.  The shadow of unity is apparent.  He desires that they follow His laws and His decrees.  We can differentiate between God’s laws and man’s laws.  He wants His people to be in the place He gave them, forever.  He desires to live among them, loving them and being loved by them.  He would have a sanctuary among them, a place of peace, rest, and safety.  He wants them to know Him.  He wants to be their God and them to be His people.  He wants all to know that He is God.

When God speaks it is so.  We can so count on him and his word!  Jesus came from David’s lineage, son of God, to rule over his people in unity, love, and bringing peace and a new covenant.

“…David My servant shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd;…”

God’s word fulfilled.  Jesus quotes scripture and tells us that He is the good Shepherd, He knows His sheep and they know His voice.  Can we see the parallel?

“…John 10:14  I am the good shepherd, and know my [sheep], and am known of mine….”

The Spirit overrules the physical.  The Spirit has no limits. The physical is limited by time and space.  We exist in Christ, in spirit and so can soar over the confines of the physical.

“…John 4:23  But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him….”

He has brought us to a place he gives.  He has provided a sanctuary within each of us and lives among us.  We have him in common providing a unity the world cannot sustain.  O how He loves you and me…

May this song minister to us this day:

click and listen or sing!

O How He Loves You and Me!

Song title: Oh How He Loves You and Me lyrics
by Kurt Kaiser

Oh, how He loves you and me,
Oh, how He loves you and me.
He gave His life, what more could He give;
Oh, how He loves you, Oh, how He loves me,
Oh, how He loves you and me.

Jesus to Calv’ry did go,
His love for mankind to show.
What He did there brought hope from despair.
Oh, how He loves you, Oh, how He loves me,
Oh how He loves you and me.

Oh, how He loves you and me,
Oh, how He loves you and me.
He gave His life, what more could He give;
Oh, how He loves you, Oh, how He loves me,
Oh, how He loves you and me.

Song title: Oh How He Loves You and Me Chords
by Kurt Kaiser

Encouragement in fellowship

Acts 28:11-16

After three months we sailed in an Alexandrian ship whose figurehead was the Twin Brothers, which had wintered at the island. And landing at Syracuse, we stayed three days. From there we circled round and reached Rhegium. And after one day the south wind blew; and the next day we came to Puteoli, where we found brethren, and were invited to stay with them seven days. And so we went toward Rome. And from there, when the brethren heard about us, they came to meet us as far as Appii Forum and Three Inns. When Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage.

Now when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard; but Paul was permitted to dwell by himself with the soldier who guarded him.

“…When Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage.” Paul thanked God and was encouraged.  It is of vital benefit to each of us when we are encouraged by fellow believers.  The Lord has protected Paul all along the way and now provides the fellowship that builds us up.  It is good to remember that we come together in fellowship not just for our own personal spiritual blessing, but also to be an encouragement to those who lead and prepare as well as encouraging those who come to worship.  Our coming together feeds us all.  Not only do we receive from the Lord, we also receive from each other as he ministers to us through each of us.  We are created social beings.  We have a need for common fellowship, worshipping the Lord together.  It is good to be an encourager, the benefits fall on both the one receiving and the one giving.  Thank God for one another.

Where does the Holy One reside?

Acts 7:48-53

“However, the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands, as the prophet says:

‘Heaven is My throne,

And earth is My footstool.

What house will you build for Me? says the LORD,

Or what is the place of My rest?

Has My hand not made all these things?’

“You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it.”

 “…the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands, …” Stephen quotes from the Old Testament.  Elsewhere it says he “inhabits the praise of His people”  and Jesus said we would “worship in spirit and in truth.”  We are to always give the glory where it is due; to the Creator.  Stephen goes on with strong words, pointing out how every effort to reach out to His creation is rebuffed.  It is heard and seen everywhere today!  Nothing changed, mankind would rather glory in the creation of their hands and minds over the creation of God.  We are His children, made in His image and so we create as he does and did.  That does not give cause to worship our own creations and neglect giving glory to the one who gave us that ability.  He does not live in our houses made for Him by our hands. He does visit for He lives in our praises.  When we assemble to praise Him, He is there.  Let’s keep a right perspective, let’s give Him all the glory He is due and then we will find He is with us, “inhabiting our praises” as we worship “in spirit and in truth.”

Living words…

Acts 7:30-38

“And when forty years had passed, an Angel of the Lord  appeared to him in a flame of fire in a bush, in the wilderness of Mount Sinai. When Moses saw it, he marveled at the sight; and as he drew near to observe, the voice of the Lord came to him,  saying, ‘I am the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’  And Moses trembled and dared not look.  ‘Then the LORD said to him, “Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.  I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt; I have heard their groaning and have come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send you to Egypt.” ’

 “This Moses whom they rejected, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge?’  is the one God sent to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the Angel who appeared to him in the bush.  He brought them out, after he had shown wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red Sea, and in the wilderness forty years.

“This is that Moses who said to the children of Israel,  ‘The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear.’

“This is he who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the Angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers, the one who received the living oracles to give to us,

 Moses is now called by God to deliver his people from Egypt.  Now he moves in the power of God and there are signs and wonders verifying the presence of God.  This time there is no fear, this time there is success at carrying out the task given.  The power of God made all the difference.  Stephen says Moses received living words to pass on to us.  A promise of a savior, who will deliver from bondage and set people free to worship their God.  We have living words to share that can set people free from the bondage of their Egypt and give freedom to worship God in spirit and in truth.  “Him you shall hear.’ “- Moses  Are we listening?   Are we receiving? Are we sharing?