spirit

In Spirit and Truth

Confusion has prevailed since the beginning of civilization about who God is and what He desires of those who would trust in Him. The reason is simple. We all tend to have our own ideas based on our own reasoning, rituals, superstitions, traditions, and the influence and opinions of others. This includes people raised in churches and who read the Bible.

This confusion is illustrated in the story of a Samaritan woman who encountered Jesus at an ancient well. When Jesus—the Son of God—engages her in conversation, her confusion about spiritual things is evident.

When Jesus reveals what He knows about her, she responds with a challenge about religion. Jesus doesn’t mince any words. He tells her plainly, “You don’t know what you’re worshipping.” Sadly, this is just as true for many today as it was for this woman.

The woman dismisses what Jesus says by changing the subject. This is a common tactic when a conversation about spiritual truth goes beyond our understanding. But Jesus keeps the conversation centered on what is spiritually true, as seen in how the story unfolds.

Scripture

The woman told Jesus, “Sir, give me this water! Then I won’t get thirsty or have to come here to get water.” Jesus told her, “Go to your husband, and bring him here.”

The woman replied, “I don’t have a husband.” Jesus told her, “You’re right when you say that you don’t have a husband. You’ve had five husbands, and the man you have now isn’t your husband. You’ve told the truth.” [vss 15-18]

The woman said to Jesus, “I see that you’re a prophet! Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain. But you Jews say that people must worship in Jerusalem.”

Jesus told her, “Believe me. A time is coming when you Samaritans won’t be worshiping the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. You don’t know what you’re worshiping. We ⌊Jews⌋ know what we’re worshiping, because salvation comes from the Jews.  [vss 19-22]

Indeed, the time is coming, and it is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. The Father is looking for people like that to worship him. God is a spirit. Those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

The woman said to him, “I know that the Messiah is coming. When he comes, he will tell us everything.” (Messiah is the one called Christ.)

Jesus told her, “I am he, and I am speaking to you now.” [vss 23-26]

(John 4:15-26 GW)

Key phrase—

God is a spirit. Those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.

Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

  • What water does the Samaritan woman ask for and why does she want it?

  • What does Jesus tell the woman to do and how does this result in a religious discussion?

  • What does Jesus say about “true worshipers”? How are they to worship God and what do you think this means?

  • How does Jesus respond to the woman’s comment about the Messiah?

Reflection...

Discussions about religion are difficult for many reasons, especially when emotions are driven by opinions and ignorance that interfere with clear thinking. Terminology and traditions also contribute to confusion and fruitless debates that are more emotional than spiritual.

As Jesus speaks of spiritual things—living water—the woman is focused on what’s immediate and physical. This illustrates what Jesus says about God and worship. Worship is neither mystical nor religious, but spiritual. True worship is based in a personal relationship with God not a specific action.

When the woman dismisses what Jesus says to her about worship by speaking of the Messiah to come, Jesus reveals who He is to the woman. As the story continues, she appears to believe Him and what He says about God and true worshipers.

God is spirit—spiritual in nature, not human in origin. He’s eternal—self-existent and above and beyond the natural world. True worshipers—those whom God is seeking—worship Him in a spiritual way rather than with rituals and traditions. True worshipers also worship Him in truth—according to what is revealed by God in His written word, the Bible.

Taking it to heart...

Read through the Scripture text again as you consider and answer these questions

  • How does Jesus’ discernment about the woman’s marital status relate to what Jesus says about worshiping God?

  • What is Jesus referring to when He says, “…salvation comes from the Jews”?

  • Are you a “true worshiper” of God? If so, in what way have you learned to worship God “in spirit and truth?”

  • When Jesus tells this woman He is the Messiah, how does this reveal who is included as the true worshipers God seeks?

Personalize it...

Meditate On This— God is spirit and we need to worship Him in spirit and truth in ways that are genuinely spiritual, that reflect His true nature, and are in agreement with the truth He’s revealed about Himself in the Scriptures.

Prayer Focus— Practice times of quiet reflection before and after bringing your concerns, petitions, and intercessions to God in prayer. Ask God to help you understand how to worship in ways that please Him.

©2018—Word-Strong

A Better Country

Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent each election cycle with the hope of making our country better. But what is better? It depends on your point of view.

Too often, people settle for what seems better but it's not good enough. Better is a term of comparison. Better than what? It depends on what the comparison is.

Many people will accept the status quo and mediocrity because it's familiar and they're not willing to risk losing it for a possibility of gaining something better.

We won't risk losing what we have unless our hope for something better is stronger than our fear of loss. True faith—trust in God—enables us to see beyond the status quo and seek what God promises is better—much, much better, in fact, the best.

Scripture

Faith enabled Abraham to become a father, even though he was old and Sarah had never been able to have children. Abraham trusted that God would keep his promise. Abraham was as good as dead. Yet, from this man came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the grains of sand on the seashore.

All these people died having faith. They didn’t receive the things that God had promised them, but they saw these things coming in the distant future and rejoiced. They acknowledged that they were living as strangers with no permanent home on earth. [vss 11-13]

Those who say such things make it clear that they are looking for their own country. If they had been thinking about the country that they had left, they could have found a way to go back. Instead, these men were longing for a better country—a heavenly country. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God. He has prepared a city for them. [vss 14-16]

(Hebrews 11:11-16 GW) [Context– Hebrews 11]

Key phrase—

These men were longing for a better country—a heavenly country

Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

  • What are we told about Abraham and his faith? How did reality in his life seem to contradict God's promise to Him?

  • What promise did God make to Abraham and did it come to pass?

  • What is a seemingly contradictory statement made about Abraham and others before him?

  • What is the testimony of Abraham and Noah's faith according to these verses?

Reflection...

We Americans are free to complain about our country and have the freedom to bring change in it. But as believers, we have a better country to look forward to than any nation on this earth.

Are you longing for a better life on earth or a better country in this world? As Jesus said, "Wherever your heart is—what it longs for—is where your treasure is."

Faith isn't wishful thinking, like hoping to win the lottery. Faith is a confidence in God and all His promises. It is a hope based in our relationship with God that remains even when circumstances seem to contradict His promises.

True faith enables us to move forward when others turn back.

Make it personal...

Read through the Scripture text again as you consider and answer these questions

  • If these men didn't receive all that God promised, how and why did they continue to trust God?

  • In what way is this "better country" a fulfillment of what God promised to Abraham?

  • How are Abraham's and Noah's life testimonies of faith relevant for us today?

  • Are you longing for a "better country" and do you have assurance in your heart about that?

©2017—Word-Strong


Here's a free introduction for the book of Hebrews— Intro to studying Hebrews

A Sharper Edge

'm among the many millions who watched Star Wars when it came out in 1977. Although I'm not a fanatic fan, I was always intrigued with the lightsaber—the sword made of light—used by Luke Skywalker and others.

The first laser was developed in the mid-1950's, and medical applications of the laser developed for surgery began in the mid-1960's. It's been refined for delicate and difficult surgeries since then.

The medical use of lasers is almost like tiny lightsabers. This illustrates a spiritual truth, as well as one known in physics—the penetrating power of light.