REVIVAL – LIVING WATER (4)
Pastor (Mrs) Silvia Lia Leigh preached a sermon titled Revival – Living water (4). Her main text was taken from the Books of John and Revelation 4 and 5. “Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. 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.” The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When He comes, He will tell us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.” (Jn 4:21-26)
“Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth.” Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!” And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: “Blessing and honor and glory and power Be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever!” Then the four living creatures said, “Amen!” And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever” (Rev 5:8-14)
We shall revisit the subject of Revival. We feel led to pray without ceasing for an extraordinary move of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, homes, in our church and for this land (Warri/ Effurun/ Nigeria). This time we shall seek God for the fullness of the Spirit, described as the Fountain of Living Waters. Our Lord teaches the Samaritan woman the meaning of true worship. We shall learn with her how to be filled with the Holy Spirit, how to worship God and how to participate in revival. Too many Christians are too easily satisfied. When they are saved an ‘amount’ of the Holy Spirit is given to them. This is because without the Holy Spirit you cannot be born again. After that, they are supposed to press on closer to God, to receive the fullness of God’s Spirit. Few do that! Revival is like ‘a fountain of Living Waters that springs up to everlasting life’. This fountain produces a peculiar water. It is the all-satisfying living water. The promise is that ‘you will never thirst again’. The word ‘never’ is categorical and definitive. Few believers press on until they arrive to that place of ‘never thirst again’. We should pay the price to experience the manifestation of this wonderful promise! The manifestation of revival is under the sovereign will of King Grace. The Living Water stands for true worship! May we please our Savior and God!
TRUE WORSHIP – WORTHY IS THE LAMB!!!
Worshipping God is the deepest and greatest spiritual activity of man before God. We are saved to worship God. Any man who says is a Christian but cannot worship God in spirit and in truth, is not saved. “I can safely say, on the authority of all that is revealed in the Word of God, that any man or woman on this earth who is bored and turned off by worship is not ready for heaven.” (A.W. Tozer). True worship is the eternal, heavenly, conscious, sacrificial expression of the love of man towards God. It is an equal mixture of Love for God and the Fear of God. It is total surrender before God, in perfect adoration and awe. True worship is not the same as prayer. Worship is more than a humble attitude towards God. During worship the believer does not make any request before God. He does not even give thanks for what God has done for him. He simply bows down and loves God because of who God is as a Person! Worship is always ‘vertical’, God centered. We worship God the Father and God the Son, the Lamb of God who died that we might live! The deepest cry of the worshipper is ‘Worthy is the Lamb!” (Rev 5:12)
The word ‘worship’ comes from an old English word spelled ‘worth-ship’. There is an intimate connection between worship and the worth of God. You see in heaven how the elders worship God declaring that He is Worthy to be worship (Rev 4:10, 11; 5:8-14). The more you see the worth, the greatness of God, the deeper shall be your worship. The meaning of the word ‘worthy’ is this: somebody deserving to be noticed, deserving respect, admiration, or support. To deserve it means to have earned something or be given something because of your actions or excellent moral qualities. Worth means great value, excellent character that deserves recognition. Men desire to honor a worthy person. God alone is worthy of all our love. Because we are born sinners, and enemies to God, we do not deserve salvation, respect, or any good gift. All these are ours just because of God’s Grace. We worship King Grace who alone is worthy as a Person to receive all worship! “You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created… Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!” (Rev 4:11; 5:12).
Worship is a command. We are commanded to show respect to people in authority because God put them there. We are to ‘pay’ them this respect, because of their office. It is a matter of ‘paying’ them. We owe them! How much more we are to pay the sacrifice of worship to God? “Pay to all what is due: tax to whom tax is due, customs to whom customs, respect to whom respect, honor to whom honor” (Rom 13:7, AMP).
In Hebrew and in Greek, the word ‘worship’ means to kneel, to bow down or prostrate before God, or another deity. This position of the body reflects the spirit inside the body. There is a humbling, a submission, an acknowledging to the supreme God. All singing and all praying is not always worship. Singing praises should lead to worship. The preaching of the Word should lead to worship. If not, these religious activities are in vain. The word ‘worship’ appears about 200 times in the Bible. Worship is a manifestation of deep love and admiration towards God. It is a point of total surrender and humility before God. In worship, the Fear of God and the Love of God are combined in a perfect mixture. Worship is the atmosphere of heaven. God seats on the throne and all other beings worship Him. Worship is more than a beautiful song. It is a spiritual deep work in the soul of man. As God’s will is done in heaven, so it must be done on earth. We need to understand how God wants us to worship Him. Other words in Hebrew connected with worship are ‘serving the Lord’. For example, God told Moses to tell Pharoah to let the Hebrew people go free from slavery. “Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh and tell him, ‘Thus says the Lord God of the Hebrews: “Let My people go, that they may serve Me” (Ex 9:1). The word translated ‘serve’ also means ‘worship’.
Biblical worship gives a visible expression to the relationship between God and His child. Worship is different than prayer. The worshipper does not make petitions, does not even give thanks for what God has done. During worship the believer gives himself to God, sacrificially and unconditionally. This is the unique holy pattern of true worship. God is seeking for true worshippers. God is looking for people who love and trust Him enough not to make so many demands. Like a millionaire who wants to marry a girl who loves him for himself and not for his money, God is looking for people who love Him because of who He is. There are few believers who truly worship God like this.
The Patriarchs worshipped God by raising altars. At that time there was no formal corporate worship. Later, God called Moses on the mountain and showed him the pattern of the tabernacle, the sacrifices, and the priesthood. This is how the official worship of Jehovah started. The people were given clear instructions how to worship God by bringing animals to the tabernacle to be sacrificed for their sins. They also brought the first fruits and other sacrifices to the tabernacle as a token of appreciation for God blessing the work of their hands. As you can see, worshipping God is a sacrifice. Worship comes from a grateful, humble, and generous heart. No fault finder, proud, or greedy person can worship God acceptably. During the times of judges, the worship of God was low. King Saul did not care about God. King David revived worship in Israel. Many of his psalms reflect his desire to worship God. His son Solomon built the Temple in Jerusalem. From that time, the corporate worship became established in Israel. The worship got corrupted by the religious leaders, but it continued until Babylon destroyed the Temple and carried the people into exile. According to the prophecy, seventy years later, God sent Ezra and Nehemiah from Babylon to rebuild the temple and the walls of Jerusalem. From that time, the synagogues appeared. The Jews gathered to study God’s Word and to worship Jehovah. After the Romans destroyed the temple and Jerusalem in 70AD only the synagogues were left for the Jews where they could worship God.
The tabernacle, the sacrifices, and the priesthood, all pointed to the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. After the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, there was no need for animal sacrifices. The worship pattern started to change. The Lord Jesus Christ is now the Great High Priest and Intercessor in heaven. There is no need for an earthly priest to help the believer worship God. The Lord did not give a particular pattern how we should worship God. The Holy Spirit leads each believer and each congregation on how to worship God. After Pentecost, the Christians still used the Temple in Jerusalem to worship God. Because of the persecution, they moved to private homes. The animal sacrifices in the temple were replaced by the Holy Communion. The Jewish Sabbath (Saturday) was replaced with the first day of the week (Sunday). The early believers decided to gather every Sunday to worship God. Preaching and teaching the Word of God were extremely important during the services. The believers were hungry for the Word of God. The unity of the Spirit was manifested by the people honoring the Word of God and their weekly gathering to worship God.
The first testing of the church involved worship. The Roman emperors believed that they descended from the gods and therefore, they should be worshipped by the people. This was not so much a religious exercise but a political one. The pagans under the Roman rule had no problem in worshipping Caesar. They worshipped many gods anyway, so one more makes no difference. The only people who refused to worship Caesar were the Christians. They refused to say: ‘Caesar is Lord’. They insisted that ‘Jesus is Lord’. Because of this, many Christians suffered and died for their faith.
This is a great picture of the early church. It is also the pattern for worship and revival. “Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (Ac 2:41-47). As you can see, the believers ‘continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine’. The Preaching of God’s Word has its foundation ‘in the apostles’ doctrine’. In other words, the only preaching that the Holy Spirit confirms and blesses, is the preaching of the true Gospel, Christ Crucified and Resurrected. The understanding of the true gospel leads to true worship. Worship relates to the teaching of truth. Deception and doctrinal error destroy the true worship of God.
To worship God in the way He desires it is the most important work we can do. The worship must be Biblical. There is an acceptable and an un-acceptable worship. We must study this extremely subject carefully. Worship must be done in the power of the Holy Spirit. He is the Spirit of Truth, and He glorifies the Lord Jesus Christ. To worship God in Truth it means to worship God according to the Word of God and not according to the traditions of men. Only the born-again believers can worship God acceptably. God does not accept the worship of the unbelievers.
On the Mount of Transfiguration, Peter wanted to ‘retain’ the atmosphere of worship. But he wanted to use natural means, by building three tabernacles. God corrected his wrong understanding of worship and simply commanded Peter to ‘listen to Jesus!’. The preaching of God’s Word in the power of the Holy Spirit must give voice to the Son of God. Here we are reminded of the responsibility and privilege of preaching and listening to the Word of God. True preaching must lead to worshipping God in a deeper way. If not, that ‘preaching’ has failed its purpose. “Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid” (Mt 17:4-6). This is the story on top of the Mount of Transfiguration. Peter suggested to build three tabernacles so that they can worship Our Lord, Moses, and Elijah. God told him to shut up. None is worthy or worship except the Lord Jesus Christ! We are commanded to ‘hear Him!’. Our Lord alone teaches the acceptable way of worship, and He alone is worthy to be worshipped.
Our Lord did not give us a particular pattern on how to worship God. But He attracted our attention to the danger of religious hypocrisy.
“Then the Pharisees and scribes asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashed hands?” He answered and said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ (Mk 7:5-7). The religious spirits lead people to worship God according to the commandments of men. The hypocrites are busy in worshipping God, but their worship is not acceptable to God. The Lord says that this man-made worship is ‘in vain’. It will not reach or touch the heart of God.
EXAMPLES OF TRUE WORSHIP
When God revealed His Grace and Glory to Moses, he bowed down and worshipped God. “Now the Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there and proclaimed the name of the Lord. And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.” So Moses made haste and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped” (Ex 34:5-8).
Joshua had an encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ. Immediately, he bowed down and worshiped Him. The Commander of the Army of the Lord. “And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, “Are You for us or for our adversaries?” So He said, “No, but as Commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, “What does my Lord say to His servant?” Then the Commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.” And Joshua did so” (Josh 5:13-15).
The devil attacked the righteous man Job. He lost his property and his children. In the midst of his pain, he fell to the ground and… he did not curse God… he did not complain to God… but, he worshipped God! This is a wonderful picture of the sacrifice of worship. “Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.” In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong” (Job 1:20-22)
David committed adultery and murder. His baby with Bathsheba died. Repentant, in pain, David did not accuse God, did not go to drink alcohol… but he went to the house of God, and he worshipped. “So, David arose from the ground, washed and anointed himself, and changed his clothes; and he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped. Then he went to his own house; and when he requested, they set food before him, and he ate” (2 Sam 12:20). This is another wonderful example how to offer a sacrifice of worship.
WORSHIP IS A COMMAND
In God’s Word we are commanded to worship God, our Maker, and our Shepherd. True worship humbles and softens the heart. Worship is a special act between man and God. During worship God speaks to you. The reaction to God’s word is submission and humility. Rebellion and pride are enemies to true worship. Worship leads to spiritual ‘rest’ and satisfaction. It is the drinking of the Living Water and never thirst again. You praise God for His wonderful acts He has done. You worship God just for who He is! God is good and He helps us in many ways. But God wants us to come before Him and bow down to worship Him just because He is God! If you ‘worship’ God and you are still worried about your life, it means that God has not accepted your worship. Because true worship leads to rest of mind, peace, and total satisfaction.
“Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. For He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture, And the sheep of His hand. Today, if you will hear His voice: “Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion, As in the day of trial in the wilderness, When your fathers tested Me; They tried Me, though they saw My work. For forty years I was grieved with that generation, And said, ‘It is a people who go astray in their hearts, And they do not know My ways.’ So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest.’ ” (Ps 95:6-11)
GOD IS JEALOUS OVER HIS WORSHIP
God is jealous over His Worship. Idolatry is competing with the true worship of God. In the past, men bowed before sticks and stones, thinking that these are gods. But now, the love of money is one of the greatest idols to many. ‘Greed is idolatry’ (Col 3:5). One of the Ten Commandments is to worship God alone and not any idol. Since the beginning of time, it is on record that God does not bless the idolaters.
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. “You shall have no other gods before Me. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments” (Ex 20:2-6). God commands His people not to worship (not to bow down) to idols. The children of men and women who worship idols, are born with a disadvantage. Only in Christ this curse is removed. Worship is powerful. You become like the object of your worship. You worship God, you become like Jesus! If you worship idols, you become like them: blind, hardened, and foolish (Ps 115:1-8).
Apostle Paul addressed the Greek philosophers confronting their useless idolatry. They trusted and worshipped the wisdom of men. Their poets were worshipped as gods. He said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things” (Ac 17:22-25). The Greeks were great philosophers and worshipped many gods. They even included a god whose name is ‘The Unknown God’. The unbelievers have a faint idea that their gods are not satisfying. That is why they leave a space for ‘an unknown God’. But we, the believers in Christ, know this God and we proclaim His Word: Jesus Christ crucified and resurrected!
THE DEVIL HATES OUR WORSHIP
The devil covets our worship. This is how he tempted our Lord in the wilderness. ‘Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ ” Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him” (Mt 4:8-11). Taking our Lord as our best example, we need to do spiritual warfare to protect the purity of the worship of God!