Worship in Spirit and Truth

Worship is the one main event in the life of a church. It happens every week, sometimes twice a week (for those with a Sunday evening service).

  1. It is the most attended event during the week.
  2. It is the largest gathering in the life of most any church.
  3. It is often the gateway event that brings people into the church, who hopefully will get connected to the Body of Christ that meets in this place.

When people outside the church think about “church,” they likely refer to the event that happens (generally) at 11:00 on any given Sunday morning.

But my question today is, “Do we really worship when we are gathered at King’s Grant Baptist Church at 8:30 or 11:00 on any given Sunday?” Perhaps we just show up out of habit, or to see our friends, or because parents make us attend. I used that word (attend) on purpose. How often do we simply attend (for whatever reason) and never really participate in worship.

By “participating,” I’m not talking about doing anything on the platform. I think is was Soren Kierkegaard who said that, during worship, the people are not the audience, and those on the stage are not the performers; but rather all those in attendance are the performers, those on the stage are the prompters, and the audience is God. We have an audience of ONE.

“For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24).

“God is spirit” means he is not a physical being limited to one place. He is present everywhere and he can be worshiped anywhere, at any time. I don’t advocate skipping “church,” like, since we can worship God anywhere, we can do it at home or on the beach instead of gathering together as a congregation. There is something about the community of faith getting together that brings strength and focus. My point is, it is not where we worship that counts, but how we worship. Perhaps evaluate what happens at church during a worship experience.

  1. Is your worship genuine and true?
  2. Do you have the Holy Spirit’s help to worship?
  3. How does the Holy Spirit help us worship?
  4. How does the Holy Spirit help YOU to worship?

The Holy Spirit does a lot of things in the life of the believer, so it is so important to allow the Spirit to take up residence in our lives:

  1. The Holy Spirit prays for us (Romans 8:26)
  2. Reminds us of and teaches us the words of Christ (John 14:26)
  3. Will guide us in all truth (John 16:13)
  4. Gives us special abilities (1 Corinthians 14:1)
  5. Produces fruit in our lives (Galatians 5:22)
  6. Tells us we are loved (Romans 5:5)

Let’s worship God in Spirit and in truth. We have an audience of ONE; let’s do everything we can to make our worship pleasing to HIM.

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Marks of Maturity in James

We are in the book of James, still chapter one, and we already looked at the first half of the first chapter. I thought I would give a brief outline and overview of where we are going.

James addresses what a mature Christian looks like:

  1. He is Patient in Testing (James 1)
    1. Trials on the Outside (James 1:1-12)
    2. Testing on the Inside (James 1:13-27)
      1. How to handle temptation (James 1:13-18)
      2. How to handle self-deception (James 1:19-27)
  2. He Practices the Truth (James 2)
    1. Faith and Love (James 2:1-13)
    2. Faith and Works (James 2:14-26)
  3. His has Power over his Tongue (James 3)
    1. Exhortation (James 3:1-2)
    2. Illustration (James 3:3-12)
    3. Application (James 3:13-18)
  4. He is a Peacemaker, not a Troublemaker (James 4)
    1. Three wars (James 4:1-3)
    2. Three enemies (James 4:4-7)
    3. Three admonitions (James 4:8-17)
  5. He is Prayerful in his Troubles (James 5)
    1. Economic troubles ((James 5:1-9)
    2. Physical troubles (James 5:10-16)
    3. National troubles (James 5:17-18)
    4. Church troubles (James 5:19-20)

So far we looked into turning trial into triumphs (James 1:2-12)

When “life gives you lemons” (the saying goes), “make lemonade,” but it is easier said than done. If we are going to turn trial into triumphs, James tells us we must obey four imperatives:

  1. Count (a joyful attitude – James 1:2) outlook determines outcome, and attitude determines action.
    1. Expect trials: James says when, not if (John 16:33, 1 Peter 4:12).
    2. Evaluate troubles: Put what is happening into perspective; joyful people live for the things that matter most (Hebrews 12:2).
    3. Embrace truth: our values determine our evaluations.
      1. If we value comfort over character, trials will bother us.
      2. If we live for the present, trials will make us bitter, not better.
  2. Know (an understanding mind – James 1:3) what do Christians know that make it easier to face trials?
    1. Faith is always tested: like with Abraham. For us, a tested faith means we are of the faith, born again.
    2. Testing works for us and not against us: a different word could be approval (1 Peter 1:7, Romans 8:28, 2 Corinthians 4:17).
    3. Trials rightly used helps us to mature: God wants to produce in us patience and endurance (Romans 5:3-4, Hebrews 6:12, 10:36, Romans 15:4).
  3. Let (a surrendered will – James 1:4, 9-12) God cannot build character without our cooperation; without our consent.
    1. Growth: don’t remain as little babies (1 John 2:12-14)
    2. Goals: there are three works involved in a complete Christian life.
      1. The work God does for us (the cross): salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9, John 3:16).
      2. The work God does in us: sanctification (Ephesians 2:10, Romans 8:29).
      3. The work of God through us: service. God must first work in us before he can work through us.
        1. God spent 25 years with Abraham before he had his promised son.
        2. God spent 13 years with Joseph in prison before he was exalted.
        3. Gos spent 40 years with Moses in the wilderness before he was ready to lead the people.
    3. Gravity: makes us all the same, we are all on a level playing field; we all fall at the same rate.
  4. Ask (a believing heart – James 1:5-8) the Bible has a lot to say about wisdom, here (James 1:5, 3:13-18) and Old Testament literature.
    1. What to ask for: wisdom. Why do we need wisdom more than asking for strength, deliverance or grace? So we will not waste the opportunities God has given us.
    2. How to ask for it: in faith. Be a single-minded person.
      1. Peter on the water (Matthew 14:22-33) faith and doubt.
      2. Paul to the Ephesian church (Ephesians 4:14)
    3. How to receive it:
      1. Growth in Christian character: the cross always comes before the crown.
      2. Growth in Christian love: it is the spiritual motivation behind all these imperatives. If we love God, we will have no problem with counting, knowing, letting or asking.
    4. Why we receive it: weaning. This adds one more word. Weaning is taken from Psalm 131:2. God can use trials to help us leave childish things.

It’s going to be a great few weeks. Wait a minute, did I say, “few” weeks?

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Lessons from Previous Failures

My class has begun studying the little book of Jude, which I like to call a “post card.”

Author: So who is the author? Jude identifies himself as a servant of Jesus Christ and the brother of James. The determination of his identity rests principally upon the process of elimination. The half brothers of Jesus are mentioned in Matthew 13:55 and Mark 6:3. Among those named are both James and Jude. James, the half brother of the Lord (different from both James the son of Zebedee and James the son of Alphaeus), rose to an important position in the church at Jerusalem. Jude, who was not as widely known as James, does not use an apostolic title. He simply identifies himself as the brother of the well-known James. The conclusion must be that this Jude is one of the Lord’s half brothers.

Purpose: There is no question about Jude’s purpose in writing this letter; he wanted to discuss their common salvation, but the threat of subversive teachers compelled him to write and encourage his readers “to contend earnestly for the faith” (Jude 1:3). So the entire post card is an assessment of false teachers and a strong warning to the readers. The false teachers reject Christ’s authority, but Jude stresses that Jesus is Lord, now and forever. Therefore, He is to be followed both in doctrine and deed.

It is great to talk about salvation and something positive, but occasionally a particular situation compels us to speak about a danger that God’s people need to understand. Delivering this message is not a pleasant task.

The faith delivered to the saints is the special revelation of God. Jude’s readers needed to struggle to maintain this faith free from corruption. Jude had two major concerns: that the readers would not be led astray by false teachers, and that they would instead take the initiative and contend for the faith. False teachers who advocated immorality and perverted true Christology had wormed their way into the church.

Jude denounces the immoral and apostate more strongly than any other New Testament writer.

Previous Failures (Jude 1:5–7)
The writer cited three examples of failure from the past to warn his readers of the danger involved in departing from God’s truth. Each one of these illustrations highlights a particular aspect of the false teachers’ error. It was a sin of rebellion, it was a proud departure from a position of superior privilege, and it involved immoral behavior. Jude give three examples:

  1. Jude’s first example was certain Israelites (Jude 1:5). After God redeemed Israel and liberated the nation from bondage in Egypt, the people failed to continue to believe God’s promises and to trust in His power (Numbers 14:11; Deuteronomy 1:32). God judged those who failed by destroying them in the wilderness. The Savior can also be the Destroyer.
  2. Jude’s second example was certain angels (Jude 1:6). A group of angels also did not remain in their privileged position near God but left that sphere and so incurred God’s wrath. These rebellious angels are now in bondage and await God’s judgment (see 2 Peter 2:4). These differ from Satan’s agents who are at work in the world today (demons) who have considerable freedom. The apostates in Jude’s day had also abandoned a position of great privilege and blessing, namely, the opportunity to serve and glorify God. God would also judge them severely because of their departure.
  3. Jude’s third example was certain pagans (Jude 1:7). This example shows God’s judgment on those who indulge in immorality and sexual perversion, which the false teachers of Jude’s day evidently felt free to practice. Apostasy starts with unbelief, leads to rebellion against God, and proceeds to immorality.

Spiritual Weapons and Warfare

We must remember that we cannot live the Christian life on our own and that the enemy will come at us with all he can to disable and distract the followers of Jesus. It is a spiritual battle that affects life in the real world. Stand strong and use your weapons.

Quotes:

Our authority comes out of who we are in Christ, and our capacity to intimidate the enemy comes out of our intimacy with God. — Graham Cooke

God judged it better to bring good out of evil than to permit no evil to exist. — St. Augustine of Hippo

Victory is the normal experience of a Christian; defeat should be the abnormal experience. — Watchman Nee

Wherever you are, be all there. Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God. — Jim Elliot

Top 10 Weapons of Spiritual Warfare:

  1. Self-control and vigilance: Be of sober spirit, be on the alert Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8).
  2. Obedience: For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. (2 Corinthians 10:3-4).
  3. Confidence and Perseverance: Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. (Hebrews 10:35-36).
  4. The Word of God: For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12).
  5. Justice: And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. (Revelation 19:11).
  6. Worship: Therefore urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2).
  7. Truth: Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, (Ephesians 6:14).
  8. Prayer: With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, (Ephesians 6:18).
  9. Faith: Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. (1 Corinthians 16:13).
  10. Love: “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, (Matthew 5:44).