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Offering of Thanksgiving

Offering of Thanksgiving

Here in the USA, we’re going to be celebrating our Thanksgiving holiday tomorrow.  Many people are spending today in preparation for it.  I want to take this post to give some inspiration as we look forward to it.

Leviticus 7:11-15 talks about the Jewish Law concerning the sacrifice of thanksgiving.  It was one of the voluntary fellowship offerings that they could bring to the Temple.  You may want to read that passage before continuing with this post.

It turns out that the Thanksgiving offering was a meal shared with the priests.  They brought their sacrifice; it was cooked, and then eaten at the Temple.

So in a way, their Thanksgiving was just like ours.  Did you know that a meal can be worship?

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

1 Corinthians 10:31

Eating together is a sign of fellowship.  When the Lord is involved, it’s a part of our worship.

This is something that we need to get back to in our present day.  I encourage you to make this a part of your celebration.  Make a point to mention this at your dinner table, “This meal is an act of worship.”

Why is that so important?  Eating involves fellowship.  In the Old Testament reference from Leviticus, the root of “fellowship” is the Hebrew word, Shalom.  It’s what we normally translate as peace.

However, it’s much more than that.  Shalom speaks of fullness of life, wholeness, prosperity, safety, and peace with God.  What we need to realize is that Thanksgiving is the celebration of God’s gift to us of shalom.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

John 10:10

That’s why Jesus came – so that we could enter into a covenant with Him.  The result is Shalom – fullness of life.  The Thanksgiving meal should celebrate what God has done for you.

Another aspect of the Thanksgiving Offering in the Old Testament was that this offering was not to provide union with God.  It was not used as a guilt offering.

This one simply acknowledged God’s presence.  We need to remember that Thanksgiving is joyfully sharing in God’s presence.

For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”

Matthew 18:20

It should celebrate the gift of joy and fellowship because we’re in the family of God.  The Thanksgiving holiday should be all the more joyful because God is with us.

It’s interesting to note that this sacrifice was always listed last in the Scripture.  Rabbis referred to it as the “concluding sacrifice.”  It’s usually the same with us.  We look back and say God has been faithful.

However, that’s not all there is.

He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God.”

Psalm 50:23

Thanksgiving is not only the final part of a blessing.  It’s also the first part of the next blessing. Make your Thanksgiving meal an act of worship this year.  Not by religious show, but with the attitude of worship.  This is a meal celebrating shalom…in God’s presence…finalizing God’s blessing…and preparing for the next.

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Dark Thinking

Dark Thinking

In my last post, I began looking at Paul’s view of society without Christ.  He also made the point that God’s character is seen through His creation.

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

Romans 1:20

As a believer who loves the outdoors, this verse excites me.  To see the beauty of a mountain vista, fall colors, lake, sky, and wind.  They all combine together to give a sense of awe and wonder.  All of Creation seems to cry out that it’s the work of someone vastly more intelligent and powerful than you or I.

But that’s not how it is for everybody.

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

Romans 1:21-23

This passage reminds us that not everyone credits God for His work.  There are those who see a vastly different picture.  As I said in my last post, evolution and chance are the gods of this world.  There are many people who overlook the obvious in order to avoid giving account of themselves to God.

The fact remains that God has revealed Himself in the context of His Creation.  This is why society does not seek understanding even though it’s the most important issue of life.

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

Romans 1:24-25

The problem is that understanding brings with it the desire to know God.  So, in order to deflect this knowledge, man has decided to worship creation rather than the Creator.

You may think that this section of Scripture is outdated.  People don’t worship images in the shape of humans or animals anymore.  But is that really the case?

We need to see the definition of the word, worship.  It means the act or feeling of adoration or homage.  It involves the giving of deference, respect or honor to someone or something.

Just because our modern idols are not statues of silver and gold doesn’t mean they don’t exist.  In our society, we worship athletes, entertainers, educators, politicians, and chefs to name a few.  We even have a popular show called American Idol

According to the verses above, this mindset causes us to walk in foolish and empty reasoning.  We end up worshiping things that are temporary and decaying.

Without Christ, we make a very foolish exchange.  We give up the glory of a powerful and eternal God for things that will never satisfy or last forever.

The worst part is that there are many Christians who are running after these same things.  They don’t understand that true satisfaction and fulfillment can only be found in the center of God’s will for them.

Make it your goal to seek the eternal.  Spend time getting to know the God of Creation through your relationship with Christ.

Question: What is the focus of worship in your life?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on November 2, 2020 in Creation, Spiritual Walk, Worship

 

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The Place of Worship

Worship is a word that we use a lot as Christians.  Do we really understand what it means?  We call church buildings “place of worship.”  But that’s not entirely correct.  Actually, there are many churches where there hasn’t been any real worship for years, yet they still call what they’re doing “worship services.”
In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church, the apostle is dealing with people who have lost sight of their spiritual identity.  They don’t really know who they are in Christ.  Consequently, their worship has become a set of rules.

Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?
1 Corinthians 3:16

The Bible is clear that for us, the temple is not a physical building.  We find this thought in more than one spot in the Word.  When we’re told that you are the temple, sometimes the you is singular and sometimes it’s plural.

Regardless of the tense that’s used, the meaning is clear.  Worship takes place in people.  It’s not about a special location.  It takes place in me or in us.

But what is this place of worship that we’re called to?  Throughout the book of Hebrews, the writer uses the term, draw near, only for worship.

But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God.  You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven.  You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
Hebrews 12:22-24

The true place of worship is around the throne of God; for He’s the only one worthy to be worshiped.  The Apostle John had a vision of the majesty of this place.

Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders.  They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads.  From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder.  Before the throne, seven lamps were blazing.  These are the seven spirits of God.  Also before the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.
Revelation 4:4-6

True worship takes place around the throne of God.  The fact is that when we worship, we’re transported, in the spirit, to God’s throne.  That’s because worship is a supernatural encounter with God.  It has nothing to do with our flesh, but everything to do with our spirit.

In talking to the woman at the well, Jesus spoke about this truth.

“God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”
John 4:24

When you pray in the spirit, you’re brought into the very presence of God.  Your spirit is there with others in God’s throne room.

That’s why it surprises me that there are those who simply ignore this awesome opportunity that we’ve been given.  We’re allowed instant access into the place of worship in the throne room of the Sovereign of the universe.  Take advantage of this great invitation that we’ve been given.

Question: How often do you worship in spirit?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2019 in Prayer in the Spirit, Revival, Spiritual Walk, Worship

 

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Four Common Worship Mistakes

Every weekend thousands of Christians around the world attend church.  They think that they’re worshipping God.  Unfortunately, in many cases, they’re doing just the opposite and God isn’t pleased with them.  Learn from their mistakes and offer true worship to the Lord.

I invite you to read the Gospel of Mark, chapter 7, verses 1 through 20, which is the basis for this post. Here are the four worship mistakes commonly made by modern Christians.

Making sure the outside is cleaned up, and not the inside (Verse 14-15).  Most people get all washed and looking their best for a church service.  That’s just normal.  You want to look nice when you’re around others.

It’s far easier to hide the dirt that can accumulate on the inside.  As we live in and interact with the world, we can pick up thoughts and attitudes without ever knowing it.  Over the course of time, they can lead us off track in our Christian walk.

We need to continue in the repentance and forgiveness that only comes from time spent in the presence of Christ.  That’s where our true beauty should come from – a life that’s kept clean before God.

Saying all the right words, but not living them (Verse 6).  You may not want to hear this, but in every service, churches are attended by many liars.  How can I say that?  Think about the songs we sing.

“Lord, you are more precious than silver…Nothing I desire compares with you.”

Then, during the rest of the service, we’re thinking about what’s for dinner.  We sing passionately about how we would do anything for God or how deeply we want to know Him.  Yet, once we leave the church, we don’t think twice about it until next week.

In many cases we act like the fact that we’re singing the words, automatically makes it true.  To live a life of worship, our lives need to line up with our “Sunday personas”.

Preferring to follow a set of rules rather than cultivating a relationship with God (Verse 7-8).  Sometimes we get the idea that just because we don’t murder, cheat, steal, or do drugs, then we’re okay.  We read the Bible and pray for our needs every day because that’s what a Christian is supposed to do.

What about simply spending time in God’s presence because He’s God?  The Father wants us to get to know Him personally.  He wants to speak to our hearts and enjoy our fellowship.

Being a Christian isn’t just a choice to do good things.  It’s a living relationship with a holy God.  Worship is not a chore to complete.  We are to become worshippers.

Giving money in the offering rather than giving yourself to the Lord.  This is one of the biggest mistakes that we can make.  Thinking that we own everything except what we willingly give to God.

God is the Creator of Heaven and earth.  It’s all His.  It’s my responsibility to acknowledge that fact.  I am His.  My greatest act of worship is to willingly give myself to Him.  Only Christ is worthy to receive an offering like that.

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.
John 4:23

Don’t waste your life being a superficial believer.  Enter into a lifestyle of worship.  True worship is not a matter of what you do on Sundays, but who you are all week long.

Questions: What’s your definition of worship?  What worship issues have you had to deal with in your walk with God?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2018 in Revival, Spiritual Walk, The Church, Worship

 

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Worship – The Place of Change

LightningI’ve been posting about the worship that takes place in the throne room of God. We enter that place as we pray in the spirit.

From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. Before the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God.
Revelation 4:5

Here is another picture of what happens before the throne of God. We need to understand that the term seven spirits of God could also be translated as the seven-fold spirit of God. I believe that’s referring to the Holy Spirit.

Also around the throne we see flashes of lightning. We see this happening throughout the Bible when God’s throne is mentioned. Lightning, loud noises, and thunder. But when you read Scripture there are only certain times when this happens.

We see this taking place when God changes something. In Revelation, chapter 8, we see the prayers of the saints offered like incense before God. Then, as they were being offered to God, the following takes place.

Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake.
Revelation 8:5

What was taking place in Heaven started happening on earth. That’s because worship is a place of change. It’s in His presence that our lives are changed.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
2 Corinthians 4:16

The Apostle Paul understood this. When he wrote this, Paul was talking about himself and his ministry team. He knew that in the place of worship there could be daily change happening.

Just think about it; we can come into God’s presence for daily renewal.

We try so hard to be good. We fail. Then we keep trying to be better. We need to learn the truth of that old chorus…

“I am changed in the presence of an awesome God.”

Enter into God’s throne room through prayer in the spirit. Everything we need is there. It’s in His awesome presence that we find unity, peace, and a changed life.

Question: How has your life been changed in God’s presence?

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© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
 

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Worship Calms the Storm

ReflectionIn my last post I talked about being transported before God’s throne as we worship Him. That’s a wonderful place to be. That’s why we should all be worshippers. Look at where the Spirit brings us to.

Also before the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.
Revelation 4:6

In the book of Revelation and throughout the Bible, the symbolism of the sea speaks of nations. These are the saints of all nationalities worshipping Christ before His throne. But this sea is as calm as glass.

That’s because the place of worship is a place of peace. James talked about the negative reality of this truth.

But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
James 1:6

Doubt and unbelief puts us in a troubled sea of confusion. That’s not God’s will for us. The Lord wants to calm our sea. How does that happen?

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Philippians 4:6

The word prayer in this verse literally means to draw near. When anxiety, worry, and confusion try to stir up our “ocean”; there’s only one remedy. We must take the time to draw near to God. The next verse tells us that the results are supernatural.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:7

This peace is ABOVE your understanding. When we come near to God in worship the things that should be causing anxiety melt away in God’s presence. I’m reminded of a chorus we used to sing many years ago.

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full on His wonderful face,
And the things on earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.”

That’s the place of worship. But we have to set aside the time for this. That’s usually our problem. We have plenty of time to wallow in confusion and doubt. But the very thing that will calm the storm just doesn’t fit into our schedule.

We need to get our priorities straight. I find that I’m much more productive when I’m operating in the peace of God. I think you will too.

Draw near to God with the things you’re anxious about. Let the place of worship bring peace to your storm.

Question: How has the Holy Spirit brought peace into your life in the past?

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©Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on November 30, 2016 in Faith, Prayer, Spiritual Walk, Worship

 

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Worship – The Spiritual Transporter

ThroneThe ability to worship Christ is one of the greatest gifts that we’ve been given. In the past I’ve talked about true worship. It takes place when we enter God’s presence. It doesn’t matter where we are on earth; it’s our position in the spirit that counts.

But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect…
Hebrews 12:22-23

When we begin to worship the Lord in Spirit and in truth, it’s like we’re being transported before His throne. As we enter into worship, we find that we’re a part of two groups.

First, we’re a part of the church of Jesus Christ on the earth.

For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how orderly you are and how firm your faith in Christ is.
Colossians 2:5

We find that it’s through worship that the body of Christ is brought into unity. That’s why Scripture calls it the unity of the spirit. When we pray in the spirit, we’re united with the Holy Spirit. Of course, if we’re united with God’s Spirit, then we are also united with each other.

But there’s another group that I find myself with when I worship. According to the above verse, I’m with the spirits of righteous men made perfect. I believe that it’s talking about those who have passed on and are now in the Lord’s presence.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Hebrews 12:1

We are worshipping with the saints on earth and in heaven.

Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads.
Revelation 4:4

When I come before God’s throne to worship Him, I’m together with believers from both the Old and New Testaments. It’s a mind-blowing thought – that I can enter the universal chorus of worship that surrounds the Lord’s throne.

Some people are just waiting for the day that they can be a part of this heavenly worship. Little do they know that they can enter it right now, wherever they are.

Take advantage of this great gift. Enter the Lord’s presence in spirit and truth. Allow yourself to be caught up in the unity that only comes from being with Him.

Question: How often do you set aside to worship Christ in the spirit?

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© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2016 in Prayer in the Spirit, Spiritual Walk, Worship

 

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Are You Thankful?

ThanksgivingHow thankful are you for all that God has done? Luke 17:11-19 has some interesting insights to help us answer that question.

In that portion of Scripture, a group of ten lepers went to Jesus for healing. He told them to go and show themselves to the priests. As they obeyed His command, they found they were healed along the way.

One former leper had a great response.

One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice.
Luke 17:15

The first thing he does is to come back to Jesus, yelling praises on the top of his lungs. He must have attracted a lot of attention, but he didn’t care. He wanted to praise God for what happened to him. That’s the first thing we see…

Thankful people live loud for the Lord. We must learn to have a lifestyle of praise. It’s time that God’s people come “out of the closet” with their thankfulness.

That’s because this is a normal response to the hand of God at work. It doesn’t mean that you have to yell all the time. But I am saying that God’s work should be abundantly evident in your life. But there was more…

He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him – and he was a Samaritan.
Luke 17:16

Next thing we see is this man throwing himself at Jesus’ feet. This is the position of worship.

Thankful people live a life of worship. Because we’re thankful – we worship. Worship acknowledges God for who He is. We’re simply grateful because He allows us to come before Him anytime we want, clothed in His righteousness.

But that verse also said that he thanked Jesus.

…always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 5:20

Are we to thank God for everything? The actual Greek says over everything. I need to thank God over everything I receive. (I don’t receive sickness, etc.)

Thankful people thank God over everything. We know the source of life and blessing. Of all people, we should be the ones who are constantly thanking God for the good things we see in our lives.

But there’s one more aspect of thankfulness that we need to look at. It comes from Jesus’ reaction to the healed man.

Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?”
Luke 17:17-18

This question gives us insight into the heart of God. We all want to be loved and appreciated. Where do you think that comes from? I’ll tell you – we were created in the image of God.

Thankful people are sought out by God. Thank offerings were not required by the Law of Moses. God wanted the hearts of the people to prompt them to be thankful. When we’re thankful it opens the door for a richer walk with the Lord.

This Thanksgiving, in spite of all the other activities you may be involved in, take the time to be truly thankful before God.

Question: What are some of the biggest things you are grateful for?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2016 in Prayer, Spiritual Walk, Worship

 

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Idolatry – Worship on my Terms

MirrorIn my last post I started talking about how we relate to God. It needs to be on His terms and not ours. In the book of Genesis, Cain learned that lesson the hard way and ended up angry and depressed.

That happens when we try to approach the Lord on our terms.

“After all, God should respond the way I want Him to no matter what the situation is.”

When this doesn’t work, we get upset. It’s just like what we read in the Psalms.

Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
Psalm 42:5-6a

The Sons of Korah ask a very insightful question in this Psalm. It literally asks why is there a war raging inside me? The answer was simple.

“Your hope is not in God.”

Cain wanted a relationship based upon his desires and not God’s. It’s what we do many times. In ministry and in life, we cut corners, show up late, and pursue our priorities over God’s. We portray the unspoken attitude that “this should be good enough for God.”

We think that we should be accepted by God simply because we performed some task for Him. Unfortunately, that will never happen. We want to work for God’s approval. Then we can boast about how good we are, and how much more we do than others. It’s all about us.

In fact, it should be all about the Lord and His work in us. That’s the crux of the conflict between Cain and Abel. As a result, Abel became an innocent victim of Cain’s desire to approach God on his own terms.

It was also the start of a new trend that has carried on through the ages. Mankind wanted a god who was there when, and only when, they needed him. They didn’t want him to mess with their lives the rest of the time. They wanted a god who would help bring rain when their crops were dying. Make a sacrifice for rain and that’s it – a rain-god.

Oh, yes, and when I want a child, I may need a fertility god. On and on it went throughout the generations. What Cain did was the start of idolatry – worship on my terms.

There was a king of Israel who learned this the hard way. Saul was told what God’s will was, but he decided to do things his way instead.

“For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has rejected you as king.”
1 Samuel 15:23

Why is arrogance like idolatry? It’s because by our arrogance we reject the known Word of God. We know what God has said, yet we do it our way and continue to expect His blessing on our lives. We say, “That should be good enough.”

This is one of the big problems of the modern American church. It seems so obvious to me when I compare our experience to that of the Book of Acts. The early church lived to do God’s will – all else was secondary.

Now our prayer is, “God use me, when my schedule is open. Maybe next Thursday at 3:00, if nothing else comes up.”

We need to make the will of God the highest priority in our lives. Then we can fit everything else in once we submit our whole schedule to the Lord.

Question: How often do you seek God’s leading when filling your schedule?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on November 11, 2016 in Revival, Spiritual Walk, Worship

 

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Worship in Spirit and Truth

DoveIn this post I’m continuing to talk about the encounter between the woman at the well and Jesus. He told her that He could give her living water. She replied that she wanted it so that she wouldn’t have to keep coming back to this well.

He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”
“I have no husband,” she replied.
Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”
John 4:16-18

We usually miss what’s happening here because we live in a different culture. To us, having five husbands means that you must have low morals. In that culture it probably meant that she couldn’t bear children.

When each new husband realized that she couldn’t produce an heir, she was sent away. She was also under the stigma that if you can’t bear children, then you’re under a curse from God.

Jesus was showing her that God knew everything about her, and he loved her anyway. She was still a candidate for a blessing.

The woman was floored by that thought. It’s one thing to say, “I’m going to bless you”, if you don’t know me. But to know everything about me and still love me enough to bless me; that’s overwhelming…let’s change the subject.

“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
Jesus declared, “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 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. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”
John 4:19-24

This is the key to what John wants to teach us by this encounter. The highest relationship with God is accomplished only in the spirit. The Lord is talking about being baptized in the spirit and continuing the relationship by praying in the spirit.

The natural is alright – but the highest and best is accomplished in the spirit. You can’t worship in spirit and truth simply using your flesh and your soul. As a matter of fact, you can sing, clap and dance without even thinking about it – it’s automatic sometimes. There are other times that I can think deeply about what I’m praying for. Those things are good and acceptable.

But the truth is that God desires a relationship with your spirit.

The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
Then Jesus declared, “I who speak to you am he.”
John 4:25-26

Christ then reveals Himself to her. In this discussion we see God’s heart for us. He wants us to relate to Himself on a level that’s deeper than our minds can fathom. He wants us to communicate in the spirit. That’s why prayer in the spirit is so important. Don’t neglect this great gift.

Question: How often do you spend time praying in the spirit?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 

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