John 4:19-24, NIV

19 "Sir," the woman said, "I can see that you are a prophet.
20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews
claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem."

21 Jesus declared, "Believe me, woman, a time is coming when
you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in
Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know;
we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.
23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true
worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for
they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is
spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth."


 

January 19, 2011
Suddenly Jesus becomes a prophet in her eyes. How else could
he know the secrets of her life? She had been comfortable
enough with this man talking about the well and living water,
but since he brought up the topic of her husband, she felt the
heat of the spotlight melting away her defenses.
Now he knows
everything about her. Things only God could know. As is 
typical
when a person realizes they are talking to a "religious", the
tone of 
conversation quickly changes. Vocabulary gets cleaned
up. So do the 
subject matter, innuendos and body language.

What better to talk about than worship! "Yes, man of God, tell
me this--which is the right mount upon which we should
worship God? This one or on Mt Zion in Jerusalem?" She was
off on a tangent, redirecting the conversation away from herself
and onto a universally controversial question. 
Jesus' answer is
both suprising and very interesting. It seems the hills and 
mountains are no more eternal than Jacob's well. Living water
is no more 
likely on either mountain than it is to be found in
the water jar she had just 
filled. Mountains rise and fall just like
nation states and entire civilizations. 
Only God is everlasting;
only God will outlast history.

Worship is not about place, nor anything physical. Just like 
living water, true worship has qualities that survive into eternity.
Our heavenly Father, who is both spirit and truth, seeks
(actively pursues) those who worship in spirit and truth!

I listen to Jesus' words and again, all I can think of is "Wow!"
The woman at the well felt the same way. She left her water
jar and went into town to tell everyone she has met the Messiah!


                                                                More journal entries


November 30, 2001
The woman had asked Jesus for his living water, without
knowing what she was asking for and probably without believing
Jesus had anything to give. Yet with God it's a fair exchange:
You give me your life (all of it), and I give you an ever flowing
spring of living water.

She didn't really believe Jesus was serious, until he demonstrated
his uniqueness in his next comments about her husbands. That
got her complete attention. Similar to the experience of
Nathanael, Jesus "saw" her before she entered the scene at the
well. She concluded he must have some connection to God, to
have known about her past without knowing her or even being
in this town before. So she called him a prophet.


October 11, 1982
In her mind, he's no longer a flirtatious, playful man at the well,
unbound by traditional social customs. Suddenly he's become
a man of God, a prophet. She doesn't know anything else to
call him. How else to categorize or label him. She never saw
him before this day, yet he knew details of her life. It must have
been more than the info Jesus had on her, because any man
could find out similar stuff about a woman by asking the right
people. After all, people love to gossip and talk about each
other. Probably everyone in town knew she had had many
husbands and was not currently married.

So it was more than Jesus' words that made her think "prophet".
And how did she feel about prophets? Straighten up, look sober.
How does one act in the presence of a prophet? Is it a blessing
or curse to be with a prophet? Well, she's going to take advantage
of the situation and starts right in with a question suitable for
a "holy man."


October 23, 1982
Two groups of people; both worshipping God but divided on
a basic question.
Sounds like the Unity study I'm currently
working on. Worship God in spirit and in truth. Not in a certain
place or way. God looks for those who worship him in spirit and
in truth. Too many times Christians have concentrated on the
place and the manner/form/ritual of worship, rather than
focusing on worshiping God the way he wants to be worshiped--
in spirit and in truth.

What does Jesus mean by spirit and truth? The Philips translation
used "reality" instead of truth. Is that in the sense of it being
"real"? Real worship, true worship (real, like the conversation
between the old Skin Horse and Rabbit in the nursery. "Real: it's
a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long,
long time not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you
become Real.").

Spirit has a small "s" so I guess that means my spirit which
reaches out (or in) to God's Spirit in worship--seeking oneness,
union with God because he is my Father, my Creator and I was
made in such a way that my spirit can only be complete when
united with his Spirit. My spirit with his Spirit; the reality of
my life with his Reality.

The thought that we all need God, comes from this lack of
completeness in ourselves. Our spirit comprises our longings,
our desires, hopes and dreams, possibilities for better than
we already are or already have experienced.

So when my spirit is lost and my direction in life confused,
it's because I have forgotten that "home" is where my Father is,
and I'm looking for completeness, for satisfaction, in places and
with people that do not satisfy me.

In essence, I'm saying--as I find unity with my Creator, I find
unity within myself. Then the question of where to worship is
no longer divisive. Disunity among believers comes from disunity
within our own lives. Disunity caused by a lack of personal unity
within myself because I have separated myself from God. For
me, unity with God comes through solitude which is the true
worship of the spirit.

Solitude is time alone with God when everything else gets
pushed to the periphery and God takes center stage. A time to
know God, to love and feel loved, a time to speak and to listen,
and simply enjoy being in our Father's presence.

Where should we worship? It's not where I am, but who I'm
with that counts.--that's as true in our relationship with God as
it is with friends. Help me test these words for truth and if these
words are your Word, help me share them with others.

 

October 25, 1982
We know and get it right; but you don't know and get it wrong.
A generalized put down of one group of people and a lifting up
of your own group. Stereotyping doesn't sound consistent with
Jesus. In no other recorded place does he tell the Jews or
anybody else that they get it right when they are worshiping.
Yet here in this passage he says the Jews worship what they
know. The problem of these Jews and with all of us which Jesus
pointed out many times is that they/we know, but don't do.
Remember his parable, The Good Samaritan; it wasn't the priest
and Levite who were real in that story, but the Samaritan. 

Jesus seems to be establishing a hierarchy or worship.  At the
bottom are the Samaritans who are ignorant of what they worship;
ignorant because they have not been taught properly.  Then
comes the Jews who know what they worship.  And now there is
coming a big change when the Father in heaven will seek until
he finds those who will worship him in spirit and in truth.


October 26, 1982
Father teach me the meaning of worship. How to worship God
in spirit and in truth/reality. Not time and place; not physical, not
bound by earthly limitations. All these are "nots", but what is it?

Free is often a word attached to Spirit; others are Holy, loving,
joyful, good, gentle, kind, mean, hateful, revengeful. Descriptive
of the essence of a person's life. That which pours forth from
within in a consistent manner. Not what we say but what we
actually do. Spirit of light and spirit of darkness. God is spirit; is
evil or the devil also spirit?

Temptations battle the spirit. The spirit wrestles with God.
There's a lot of activity for something invisible and difficult to
define or pinpoint.

Again, Father, teach me. You seek those who worship you in
spirit and in truth. I want to be included in their number. I want
you to be pleased with me.

I want my spirit to be a place of worship, a "home" for God. Like
the nomadic God of the Old Testament people who traveled
with the Israelites and made his home among them. Make my
spirit a worship center--not only in words that flow from my
pen and mount up and fly. But in reality, in truth. 


October 27, 1982
How real is my worship? Not very. I'm not very real myself. Find
it hard to worship in a group. Yet the best worship experiences
have been in groups. But it's rare. By worship, we often mean
feeling God's presence. Worship should be responding to that
presence in a way that pleases to God--with love, devotion,
praise and thanksgiving and service to others.  Maybe it's not
what we know but who we know--our Father-- that makes
worship authentic.

When we attend a service of worship, is it for real? Or just
something we do. If it's not real, we're just playing around and fooling/deceiving ourselves.

Worship is more than feeling, its knowing. Just like now I don't
feel close to God, but I know I am with God. As I sit here I'm not
playing, this is real. God is listening as I write, and I am listening
to God although not much seems to be coming through at
the moment.

Knowing is better than feeling. Knowing God is better than
feeling him. True worship is a gift from God. Also our gift to Him.

Jesus didn't tell the woman to go to Jerusalem or Mt Gerizim to
worship. Not where, but how, was his concern. Worship is not
a working up of the will or the emotions, although it seems to
be so. When there's a preacher with charisma, people get
turned on to worship, to the feeling of being in God's presence.
Their worship depends on the preacher, and that's not a good
thing. In contrast, living water as Jesus described it, creates
independence and strength. It's spring would continue to
bubble up even after Jesus was long gone.

Private worship (quiet time) prevents a person from depending
on someone else for their spiritual food. It's like being able to
grow your own, at least a substantial part of your diet. Then
others add to the variety and substance of our faith and experience. Corporate worship contributes to private worship, it's no substitute
for it. Sharing is also important; those who are full prime the
pump of those who are empty.

 

December 1, 2001
Because of this unnamed woman at the well, we get to hear this
discourse on worship. She wants to know the externals, the
"where" to worship. Jesus gets to the heart of worship--in spirit,
within.  There's that words again-- truth--this time associated
with authentic worship. In spirit, the human and divine abide
as one. In truth--no pretense, no deceit nor dishonesty.

Sometimes the feelings aren't there and it's a matter of the will
until the joy returns. But be honest about it. The highs and lows
are part of the same cycle.
With our sins (the woman with the
man not her husband and all of us with our own sins) we are
dirty before a holy God. The old-fashioned ritual of taking a bath
and getting cleaned up for worship parallels confession and 
forgiveness of sins. Jesus was not concerned about outward
cleanliness. 

He was very concerned about inner, heart, cleansing. We need
to choose to be holy because God is holy and in order for this
union to take place, holy meets holy. God can be no other.
Clean meets clean--maybe that's easier to take than holy.

I think truth in regards to worship may refer to purity.
100% facing toward God in purpose, direction and love, will
and heart together, undivided.


December 2, 2001
I pray that my Sunday morning shower will also indicate a
cleansing of my inner self in preparation for worship.

Jesus worshiped God in the mountains and on mountaintops.
So did Moses. Whether to worship on the mountain or in the
Temple? I would probably pick the mountain most days.

Jesus didn't claim either mountain as the proper place for worship. 
It is not a matter of correctness (who is right) but of truth. Truth is
something greater than knowing the correct answer. Truth
involves God's sons and daughters knowing their heavenly
Father and doing the right thing in his sight.

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