We are looking at the 5% life, 5% life. What’s this all about? There’s a whole writeup in the February newsletter. You can get on the way out of the door today if you haven’t already read it, but last weekend, pastor Steve Lettuce in looking at the first of the 5%, the 1% of your day, investing 1% of your day in God time. That’s 15 minutes. As a starting 0.1% of being in God’s word and being in prayer with him, and it can affect the 99% of the rest of your day. Today, we’re looking at 1% of your week, 1% of your week in gather time, being gathered together with God’s people and how that kind of a rhythm can affect the 99% of the rest of your week as we gather for worship. People in our culture, everyone worships, they worship something. Even in gatherings. They may not call it worship, but nonetheless, it’s a form of worship, for example, in just one week, but 45 miles west of here from where we are right now, over 63,000 people will gather for worship. At State Farm Stadium and millions more will dial in online or on TV to watch the Super Bowl. Yes, A gathering of worship. Now think about it. Everyone, even those who watch online or on television, we all see the same game. But those who are actually present at the physical game, they’ve got a vastly different experience of it, don’t they? I mean, being physically present at a game with thousands of other fans is just qualitative, better than watching the game at home. Convenient as that might be. So too with. Christian worship, it’s one thing to watch it online or on tv, and there’s a lot of good, uh, experiences that you can have that way. And we even make our online services available for people here, and we want that to be available for those who can’t be here. But I gotta tell you, being here with you, it’s such a joy. It’s like a family reunion. In fact. It is. We’re the family of God and when we come together, it’s a family reunion. And wouldn’t it be something if your experience of, of gather time, worship time, week in and week out, what if you looked forward to it the same way that you might look forward to going to the Super Bowl? Wow. I mean the Super Bowl, those of you know who know me, I, you cut me and I bleed purple for the Vikings. And I gotta say if the Vikings ever made it to the Super Bowl, Hun, we’d have to maybe talk about a second mortgage. I don’t know. It’s just it Now, what if you wanted to go to church that bad? What if I did?
Oh, friends. What we are part of at worship is infinitely more valuable than a game. And so we’re gonna look today, we’re gonna unpack the, the, the, the value of being here together for worship. You know, it can be as exciting for you here at Victory as it can be at at at a Super Bowl. I mean, okay, we may not have, as you know, many cheers or shouting or jumping up and down that goes on at a game. You don’t, you don’t really hear a lot loud hallelujahs even break out here or amens. But, um, if you listen carefully, you might, I mean, we’re kind of a congregation with some people from a German or Scandinavian background. I’m Scandinavian background, and here’s the way that we shout. Hallelujah. Have you heard this? It goes like this. It’s that inner breath. You just kind of go, yeah. I mean, it may not look like anything’s going on, on the surface, but inside they’re exploding in worship of God. And be that as it may Christian worship, it can capture your heart and your soul and your spirit, your entire being. It can lift your heart, it can lead you to exclamations of praise and worship, and it can bring joy and purpose and direction and meaning to your life if you will let it better than even a Super Bowl. Oh yeah. And so today we’re gonna unpack the value of Gathered worship, and we’re gonna use Psalm 95 that Anne read for us just a bit earlier, and we’re gonna use outta John four, uh, conversation between Jesus and the woman at the well talking about worshiping God in spirit. And in truth, I’m gonna use Spirit and Truth as a rubric to really kinda unpack worship described in Psalm 95.
So if you have your Bibles, turn with me to John chapter four. We’re gonna pick up at first 19 if you’ve got your devices, or you can just listen along or read along on the screens. John four, beginning at verse 19. Sir, the woman said, this is to Jesus. I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem. Woman, Jesus replied, believe me, 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 the spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the father seeks. God is spirit and his worshipers must worship him in the spirit and in truth. The woman said, I know that Messiah called Christ as coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us. Then Jesus declared I the one speaking to you. I am He the word of the Lord. Let’s pray. A Father in heaven as you have sent the son. Lord Jesus, as you willingly came, as the sent one, the anointed one, the Christ, the Messiah. Reveal yourself to us as we gather and worship now, and may we worship you in spirit and in truth, holy Spirit, we need you to do your work in our lives to see that happen, and may it be so to the glory of Jesus in whose name I pray. Amen.
Well, dear friends, grace to you and peace from God, our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. Jesus. And this Samaritan woman, also known as the woman at the well, they’re talking about gathered worship and you know you can, I think the woman she brings up, Differences. A the, uh, in worship, it’s kind of a theological smokescreen, I think, to distract from what Jesus had just been saying, penetrating in prophetic words about her lifestyle. If you can read about it, read in John chapter four later today. So she brings up differences in worship between the Samaritan people and the Jewish people. But Jesus doesn’t take the bait. Instead, he broadens and actually deepens the discussion to get at the heart of authentic worship, worshiping God in spirit and in truth, worshiping God in spirit. Christians have read this passage in John four, and I’ve wondered, you know that word spirit, is it a capital S? Or a lowercase Ss a capital. Ss, you know, meaning the Holy Spirit or lowercase meaning in our spirits. And my studies on this have really revealed that it could be either, and it’s probably both. I mean, capital SS Holy Spirit. We need the work of the Holy Spirit in us for us to worship God at all to even come to know him. And we know those, you’ve gone through confirmation, eth this tickles a few memories, the work of the Holy Spirit, the third article of the Creed, that the Holy Spirit calls you through the gospel. We need the Holy Spirit to work in us, to create faith. We’re dead in our sins and and have dead hearts, hearts of stone that the Bible says we need to have God remove and give us a heart of flesh. The Holy Spirit calls us through the gospel. He enlightens us with his gifts. He sanctifies us, and then he gathers us as his people. So to worship God, it’s a work of the Holy Spirit, no doubt. But a case can also be made for a lowercase s. One of the mainstay translation helps Strong’s, concordance includes, uh, this definition of that lowercase ss meaning. The rational spirit. This is quote, the power by which the human being feels, thinks, and decides.
In other words, worshiping God and spirit, it engages your entire being, your emotions, thoughts, your decisions, and your actions. First it enclo. It includes your physical being. You can’t read Psalm 95 and get away from the, the physical calisthenics, sort of involved in Christian worship. Come let us sing for joy. Let us shout aloud. Let us come before him. Extole him. Let us kneel before the godder maker let us bow down before him. Worship engages us physically right now. I mean, here at Victory, we don’t bow down during the service and I, I’m not sure if there’s a theological reason. There’s probably another one I think we’d all be willing to, to bow down. It’s the getting up that’s maybe the challenge a bit more for some of us. But you know what, in your hearts you can bow down and kneel. We’re gonna talk about that in just a, a little bit more. It includes your physical being. It engages your body. It also engages your emotions. We are blessed with wonderful musical worship here at Victory. Are we not music? It’s the language of the heart. It just sings what your whole self wants to express. You know, you can take a hymn book, you can take a a favorite praise song, you can read the lyrics, and they’re gonna have meaning. But singing the song itself, it’s just so much better, isn’t it? And it’s exponentially augmented when you sing with others, even in parts or at least hearing parts with all kinds of instruments. The Psalms are full of ex expectations to bring all kinds of worship and new songs to the Lord. Music it. It can engage your heart and your emotions when you sing together. Worship can engage your heart. When you pray together, confess together, hear God’s word together sometimes. Have you sensed it? Sometimes there can be a hush that falls over us as God’s spirit is doing something at work with all of us together as his people. God’s word, whether spoken or sung or prayed, it can change your life. Faith comes by hearing. It can actually create Christian faith and sustain it affecting your entire being, your body, your emotions, your heart, but it also engages your mind and will, which brings us to the second part of our rubric, worshiping God in Spirit and then worshiping God in truth. As Psalm 95 verse six says, come let us bow down and worship. Let us kneel before the Lord our God, our maker, and we can, you know, have fun talking about kneeling and getting back up. But you know what? Christian worship needs to engage your will, and by doing so, we need to come ready to submit our will to God’s truth.
Gathered worship. It’s a time when we as God’s people submit our own will and our minds to the truth of God’s will. As we consider what God is saying, we ponder it, take it home, meditate on it, consider its ramifications for our lives, and then once we see those, we can do nothing better but to submit our own will to gods. When you pray, your will be done. It means subsuming your will to his. Do you mean that gathered, gathered time gathered Christian worship? It’s a time when your own will can become aligned to the will and mind of God, spirit and in truth. You know there’s another unique dynamic about Christian worship. Have you ever noticed that? Here we it. Our worship services are mostly in the plural form. Even David, whom this Psalm 95 is commonly ascribed to, he doesn’t write, come let me sing for joy. Come let me kneel before God. Let me worship and think about it in the Lord’s Prayer, which we get to sing together later on today. It’s gonna be grand. But in the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus taught his disciples to pray. Our Father, give us, forgive us, lead us, deliver us. How about the hymn? We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing. How about in our confession that we just sat out loud together and did? We poor sinners, confess to you. And then we hear these words of forgiveness as God’s people, almighty God has had mercy on us, has given his only son to die for us and for Christ’s sake, forgives us all our. Sins, you know, substitute the single pronoun, the single first person pronoun, my father, forgive me, deliver me in the Lord’s Prayer. It makes it more personal. Absolutely. But that’s something you can use in your God time. The 15 or minutes more a day that you spend in prayer with God gathered time. On the other hand, it, there’s a special dynamic to it when you. Gather with other of God’s people and you even hear them praying to God, connecting with you and you with them. Something dramatic can happen as you get caught up in worshiping Jesus as you worship him with other believers. There’s this, this communal, plural dynamic to our worship. There’s also something totally counter-cultural that we, that you, that we do here every. Service and that is confession. Think about it, public out loud admission that you’re a mess and you can’t help it, and you need help from the outside. I mean, who in our culture wants to do that? You know, our culture wants to either deny sin or ignore it or, um, Rationalize it, um, normalize it, never admit to it.
And that’s what we do here as Christians in gather time. We admit out loud publicly that, that we’ve got a pro, we have a problem with sin. And think about your own life. When is any other time during your week that you out loud in the hearing of someone else, says I was wrong. I’m sorry you were right now. Okay. That’s kind of a joke for husbands and wives, you know what I mean? But do we do that to God as we should? I was wrong. I’m sorry. You are right. God is true. Friends, what we do here in corporate worship, you need, we all need, we all need to get the over a week’s time sin barnacles kind of gather on us, so we need to be cleansed. And how does that happen? It comes from confessing our sin at we’re all we’re doing is agreeing with what God says about us in his word. But then on that good confession, on the heels of that comes these marvelous words of grace and of forgiveness. That because of Jesus Christ, those sins are removed from us as far as east is from the West. We’re cleansed, we’re clean, we’re his. That’s what goes on in our confession. It’s, it’s marvelous. That’s what we make. Confession part of our liturgy. Liturgy doesn’t have to be dead. What we say and pray here week after week doesn’t have to become so familiar that it becomes meaningless. Friends, what you are engaging in, Is life changing and faith sustaining every weekend. That’s why gathered worship is so important. Think about this communal nature of what goes on and the cleansing. We are about to come to the Lord’s table just a few minutes, and we do that together as God’s people to remember Jesus’ broken body and shed blood given for you. Personally, yes, but we come together to his table to partake. And I mean, just think about it, what, what meals? If you think of a, a, a memory of a meaningful time over food, I’ll bet you it wasn’t alone. I bet it really wasn’t. Going through a drive through the fast food rest, you know, place. I’ll bet you meaningful memories of around food have to do with gathering with family. I. With friends, a special occasion, and dear people in Christ, that’s what we do in communion. We gather for a meal to come and dine together at the Lord’s table. Remembering his sacrifice and receiving the benefits of Christ’s salvation, and it’s actually a foretaste of heaven. The night in which he was betrayed, Jesus said to his disciples as they’re about to have Passover and the first communion, he says, I have eagerly desired to share this meal together with you because I will not do it again until I enter into my kingdom.
And friends, you are gonna be with Jesus. When he dines again and he invites all of God’s people to come, this is a foretaste to come. There’s something so grand and marvelous. So how do we bring this idea of gathered worship and what it is and what it can be home for you and for us to today? You know, people have said to me, well Todd, I don’t need to go to church to be a Christian. And they are correct. You are not a Christian by going to church. You’re a Christian simply through faith alone in Christ’s salvation alone. But I will say this, if gather time isn’t a regular practice of your Christian faith, you know, I think you’ll be at best inconsistent and maybe at worst, a hypocrite. That there is no strong faith when you’re a lone ranger Christian. There’s something, we need one another. There’s a whole nother teaching that could be done on this, on how we are there to encourage one another, but when we come together and gathered worship, something dynamic happens as God is present among us as his people. So does your gather time, your worship time, does it fire you up, or do you kind of come out of either a sense of routine and you don’t really seem to get much out of it or doesn’t really change you, in case that might be a situation that you’re familiar with? There’s a warning at the end of Psalm 95. Did you notice how it really kind of ended, you know, On a tough note. God is angry with this generation, and they will never, and in his anger he said, he made a vow. They’ll never enter my rest. And then we’d say, and may God add his blessing to this reading of his holy word. You know, it’s kinda like, whoa, that’s a tough message to hear. Did you hear that? Well in there, there’s a warning for us and there’s actually a hidden invitation. The warning comes this way. Do not harden your hearts. And I think sometimes we can let liturgy become routine and our hearts get hardened or we can just be dull and there’s no place for the word to penetrate and take root. So we are warned, do not harden your hearts. It’s referring in the Psalm 95 to an historic event for Israel where they, they tested God at, at MEbA and Masa and, and tested him and they had the, a whole generation to pass away before they could enter the promised land. So it’s a warning, but there’s also an invitation. So do not harden your heart well, how do you not let your heart? Be hardened. Well, it’s that you prepare it. That’s the invitation. How do you bring a message on gathered time home for you? It’s, I guess, I suppose if there’s one thing I want you to get out of this message, it would be this, prepare your heart each week to let gathered worship, strengthen your Christian faith.
Prepare your heart when you came in through the doors, enters gates with Thanksgiving or into the, across the threshold here to the worship center. Wouldn’t it be something if you came in, you know, not rushing in trying to find your place? The chair at the end with the armrest, that’s where I’d choose. Front row has the best seat foot room, by the way. It’s not, but. Do you rush in and kind of do your duty and then head out looking for where we’re gonna go eat? Um, what if instead you came in preparing yourself saying, Lord, what do you have for me today? I wanna leave all of my stuff outside, all the burdens I’m carrying. I wanna, if I bring them, I wanna lay ’em at your feet and, and give them to you so that you might fill me with your word. As I worship you in spirit and in truth, align my will to yours and seek your guidance, direction, and protection in my life. Friends, if you did that, every single worship service could be a dynamite for you, a life changer. It’ll strengthen you. It’ll help answer questions you’re searching for. You know, in some ways weekly worship, it’s kinda like the meals. Your mom or your dad, I’ll just use Mom typically prepared for you. You may not remember every single meal that she prepared, but there are some that you do, and that’s the same way at worship. You’re not gonna remember every service that you go to. There are some that you might, but here’s the deal with your mom’s food and spiritual food. Here at Victory, you are gonna be well-nourished. Whether you remember the meal or not, prepare your heart, and in that way it doesn’t become hardened. Instead, it becomes open where you can then fully engage and be fully engaged by God’s spirit through his word, in your body, in your heart, in your mind, in your will, in your actions, in your life. And here’s the invitation. Be part of something bigger. And there’s nothing bigger than being a part of God’s family, and that’s what a worship gathering is. In our confession, we say to all who believe in Christ, he gives the power to become children of God. Doesn’t say a child, it’s children. So you, as you trust in Christ, you’re a part of a family. And this is the family gathering and we’re looking towards something far bigger, but also to give us help and sustenance now day to day, don’t settle for what the world says is worth worshiping or investing your life in. Let it be God and His kingdom and his goodness and salvation. Knowing that you are part of that, which is of utmost value more than anything, the N F L or your golf game, or a even a relationship, as important as they are, there’s no more important relationship than that you have with Christ. Jesus called to the Gospel of Christ, gathered by His Holy Spirit, worshiping him and letting it change your day-to-day living. And so set your expectations when you come here, week in and week out, or wherever you worship, preparing your entire being to engage and be engaged with the worship and know that God will do a work in you and he is faithful to do it, and you’ll see a change in your life.
Let’s pray. Father in heaven, we need your work in our heart, your your word of truth to change us. We need you Holy Spirit, to see that happen, to help us engage even in worship that can change our life, our thoughts and feelings, and our entire being as we ascribe ultimate worth to Christ Jesus, who alone is worthy of all our praise and worship. So receive it now this day. And each week in our lives as we gather together as your people in your name, Jesus, in which I pray. Amen.