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By Andy Zoppelt

Our paradigm influences what we read in scripture. In America we are inundated by worship teams, instrumentals, worship leaders, choirs, concerts, Christian rock concerts, electronics and the delivering of professionally sounding Christian oriented music. All this must skillfully lead us, the audience, into an experience that is perceived as worship. But most worship on those levels tend to have personal taste and personal gratifications in mind, but is this biblical worship?

Example: if I prefer contemporary music, I don't get "moved" by old traditional music (of course there are exceptions) and vise versa. Therefore what is worship?

Jesus' statement concerning worship in John chapter 4 is often misunderstood because we fail to examine our experience with a real in-depth and critical examination of the heart of worship in the spirit. For centuries our old religious practices of worship has gone unchallenged.

"The woman said to Him (Jesus), 'Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers (Northern Kingdom) worshiped on this mountain (Samaria), and you Jews (Southern Kingdom) say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.' 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." (John 4:19-24, NKJV)

These words were spoken to the woman at the well, a Samaritan. The Samaritans were hated by the Jews. When Solomon died, the ten tribes broke away from Judah and Benjamin and made Samaria their capital. When the Northern Kingdom (Israel) separated themselves from the Southern Kingdom (Judah), this division forced them to face a dilemma: where to worship? The temple (located on a mount) located in Jerusalem, was given by God as "the" place of worship. Since division always presents a dilemma, Israel was forced to find their "own mountain" to worship, so they chose Samaria, some 33 miles north of Jerusalem.

The Samaritan woman was conjuring up the old dispute of the true place to worship. Jesus, clearly pointed, not to a place of worship, but the heart of worship. It was not a place, a method, but something that could only be accomplished in the Spirit.

Our acceptance of division and the dividing the body of Christ into denominations has produced the same question today, "Where do you go to church or worship." From that question we then begin to describe the characteristics of the "place or mount" we worship. The characteristics of our worship through our many divisions often focuses on: pastors, programs, worship services, etc.. As long as everything "seems" spiritual and the pastor preaches out of the bible and people are "receiving" Christ, we feel everything is ok. But dear saint, can it be said of us today, that we "worship what we do not know." Have we really traced the roots of our worship? The mode of our worship?

Because we see worship as words mixed with preferable music during a meeting in a building called church, we are flawed in seeing it as Jesus intended it. Our worship normally starts out with a few peppy songs to get us moving and then a few slow worship songs to get us into the "mood" for the preaching. Do you honestly think this is what Jesus had in mind? Can that which is inherently wrong produce that which is truth?

The Greek word for worship is proskuneo, and is made up of a preposition "Pros" meaning "towards" or "to," and the verb "kuneo" meaning "to kiss" (or a dog licking his master). Worship means "to kiss to the Father."

The Father is seeking people to kiss him in love and devotion in the Spirit. In contrast to true worship, we have false worship, a worship based on parroting songs without the songs themselves have any real fulfillment in our lives and spirit. We don't sing from the heart, but the song book or some projected words on a screen.

"These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me.

And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments (or teachings) of men." (Matt 15:8-9, NKJV)

Jesus says "in vain they worship Me." Interesting that Jesus says they did worship, but it was a mouth and lip worship and not heart and spirit. Therefore to worship in the Spirit, is to worship with a heart toward God… a life lived in adoration to the Father and in truth. When we walk in truth, we cannot accept the traditions of men. Isn't it always true, that what starts out as pure and holy ends up gravitating toward the traditions set up by men?

"And what agreement has the temple of God (church) with idols (traditions of men)? For you are (not the building) the temple of the living God. As God has said: 'I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people. Therefore Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the LORD Almighty." 2 Cor 6:16-18, NKJV

We are meant to be the temple, not some building with seats arranged for our demise and silence. We are to worship with our lives in the Spirit to one another. Our worship is expressed in a common bond of love and building up one another. In Hebrews we see this kind of worship with Jesus in our midst singing among us.

"For both He who sanctifies (Jesus) and those who are being sanctified (saints) are all of one, for which reason (because we are one) He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying: 'I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly (church) I will sing praise to You (He is our true worship leader.)' And again: 'I (the Father) will put My trust in Him (Jesus).' And again: 'Here am I and the children whom God has given Me.'" (Heb 2:11-13, NKJV)

Are you convinced that what Jesus was seeking is what we see today? Are we so caught up with the momentum and standards of tradition that we are unable to see "true" worship coming from "true worshipers"?

Our english word worship comes from weorthscipe or worth- ship. The noun suffix, "ship" denotes a condition or quality. It is someone or some group embodying a quality or state. Friendship is the condition and quality of friends. Fellowship is the quality and condition of fellows in a relationship.

Worship is made up of saints who give "worth" to the Father. Worth-ship cannot be designated by some time before preaching, it must embody a person or group of people who put worth in their relationship with the Father. Jesus said that we cannot serve two masters. We cannot give worth to two masters, we cannot mouth one thing and live another thing. I cannot give worth to God with my lips on Sunday for one half hour and then give my eyes and ears to TV the rest of the week. What business do we have going to movies and spending our money on things that are a part of this world? I cannot live a life based on "my" taste and desires and claim with my lips that I give the Father worth in song.

"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it." (Matt 13:45-46, NKJV)

If God means anything to us at all, He must therefore mean everything to us. When we love someone, it is our highest joy to keep our hearts pure in that relationship.

"Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His (Jesus') seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.' (1 John 3:9, NKJV)

When we give worth and excuses to sin, how can we say we have given worth to the Father? Worth-ship is the value of the saints to the Father in their heart and is expressed corporately when they come together to kiss the Father. When we don't have an abiding relationship with the Father in purity and holiness, we must develop a worship separate from the Spirit…. Tradition. The fruit and the gifts of the Spirit within the body of Christ are the consequence of true worship. If we live our live with a little prayer scattered here and there and a little bible reading scattered here and there, this means nothing if we do not acknowledge Him in all we do.

Our forms and traditions have replaced the power of the expression of His Spirit. Since we do not have the Spirit in Truth, we must settle for an emotional substitute based on preference and taste. It troubles me to hear that we must come up with Christian Rock to please and win the young people. Rather than falling on our faces in repentance and seeking His face, we submit to more earthly ways and means. How long will we go on without His power? God is seeking "true worth-shippers."

All of what we see today is the product of man's doctrine and teaching. We have the "sinners prayer" instead of repentance. Water baptism without the bringing forth fruit worthy of repentance. Communion without the recognition of the unity of the body and a full meal together in fellowship. Church being the building instead of body ministry. Government being an official office instead of servants leading each individual. Church growth instead of church holiness. We have been so addicted to the traditions of men, we cannot see the truth. Only men driven by hunger, brokenness and truth, will search the scripture to see if these things are true.

Is Jesus more important than being on time for lunch that we must speed or run red lights? Is Jesus more important than our sin? Is Jesus more important than our taste and desires? Is Jesus more important than our agendas of being in control? Is He more important than our trials, our pain, our enemies, our money, our business, our wants, and friends and family? What values fill our heart will fill our worship. The best music and the greatest words will never cover up the lukewarm heart. How many times I have heard someone say, "Did we really hear the words we were singing?"

There is such a lack of real worth put in our relationship with the Father, we are unaware of His worth and the result it should possess. We say we would die for Him, why can't we live for Him? Why do we experience so much lethargy, indifference, anger, impatience, unforgiveness, backbiting, divorce, adultery, the list is a mile long.

We say, "Wasn't that a good worship service?" But how can we have a good worship service without good worshippers in Spirit and truth?

"But (keep) seek (ing) first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." (Matt 6:32-33, NKJV)

"Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love." (Rev 2:4, NKJV)

A man who puts value in his marriage will never cheat on his wife and kids. But a man focused on his needs and freedoms, will at some time find reason to be unfaithful, even if it is looking with lust after other women. The heart is the measure of a man's value in life, either he serves God on occasions and does his own thing the majority of times, or he sells all that he has and takes up his cross and follows Jesus. True repentance ends the life of self and is therefore in a place to bring forth fruit to be baptized.

Are you just singing religious songs on Sunday or are you giving the Father the worth that He deserves… for He is worthy of all praise…24x7.

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