"MELODY IN YOUR HEART"
Our Lord during His earthly ministry was traveling from Judea and heading for Galilee . This was a journey that He and many others made often. As this journey was a south to north endeavor, you could not traverse this distance without going through the region of Samaria (John 4:1-6).
The Samaritans at the time of the Lord were a despised people by the Jews. This goes all the way back to the return of the captives from Babylon . A few of the poorest people were left behind when the 10 northern tribes were taken into Assyrian captivity. After many years the Babylonians assumed control over Assyria and their captives. In addition, they would destroy Jerusalem and take captive the remaining inhabitants of Judah and Benjamin. Finally after 70 years of captivity, Cyrus, king of Persia , which now controlled the interests of Babylon , allowed the captives to return home.
At the return to Judea , the captives began the long and grueling task of rebuilding. In addition, there would be a call for ethnic purity in order to cleanse themselves from pagan influences (see: Ezra 9-10). The inhabitants of Samaria did not heed this call to purity and remained intermingled with the foreign peoples. Thus, they were expelled from Jerusalem and temple worship of God.
By the time of the Lord coming to this world, the relationship between the Jews and the Samaritans had truly deteriorated into a bitter and hated one.
Now as the Lord traveled through Samaria , He would come to Jacob's well outside the city of Sychar and come into contact with a woman of Samaria . Two things are going to be recognized by the Samaritan woman as unusual when Jesus would ask her for a drink; first, is that he is speaking to a Samaritan and second, is that he is speaking to a woman! Neither, was the practice of the day by the Jews traveling through their territory.
As the conversation developed, she would become convinced that He was a prophet (John 4:7-19). This would sponsor her to make a statement to the Lord, note:
John 4:20 “Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.”
The Lord's response to this statement is at the heart of the introduction of this lesson, note:
John 4:21-24 “Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem , worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. 23 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. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
First, the Lord is speaking of a coming time (“the hour is coming”), so we know then that He is speaking of a time after the present order of worship to God is no longer in affect. The fact that He says “hour”, shows that it is near. He is making known the time when Messianic rule begins and the kingdom worship begins.
Second, the Lord teaches that location is no longer going to be a factor in the worship of God.
Third, the Lord teaches that during this coming hour, worship to God will be in spirit and truth.
Although this statement was written in Greek, the English word that we use for the Greek, ‘ Proskuneo ' which means to pay homage or reverence (worship); comes from the root word “ Worth-ship ”. This root word denotes a worthiness of special honor. This is the very concept of worship; to pay homage, reverence, and to honor God because of His worthiness.
The concept of worship as the Lord would describe to this woman is directional! He is seeking such to worship Him! It is from us to God that worship is offered. This is a lost concept in the Christian world today. The common practice of today is to go to worship strictly for “what's in it for me!!!”
In our text, Jesus describes that “true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth”! By this statement, Jesus indicates that there is a difference between worshipers. He taught this same thing in the Sermon on the Mount, note:
Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.”
Since worship is to pay homage and reverence to a worthy source and true worshipers do this in spirit and truth, we learn some very valuable lessons.
First, is that God is looking only for those who worship Him His way, or according to what pleases Him and not us!
Did that really sink in? How many times do we hear or even say, “I like to go to this church because ‘I' like this, or ‘I' like that”.
This statement by the Lord is what it means to worship Him in truth, or as Jesus said, “he who does the will of My Father in heaven”. Genuine worship is only genuine if it is according to what God has revealed as acceptable to Him!
Second , is that God wants us to worship Him in spirit. The translators have this correct! It is not capitalized because it is talking about our spirit. How do we worship God in our spirit? Did you ever consider that late at night, when you are by yourself, and you pray without saying a word, knowing that God knows everything you are saying, that you are actually practicing communicating with God in the spirit. This is what Jesus is speaking of; the inward disposition, emotion, and realization that you are presenting yourself to your God. Hoping, in all hope, that your are pleasing Him!
Third, is that Jesus said those who worship God “must” worship Him this way. This indicates that it is not up for discussion or negotiation, but is absolutely necessary!
All this to say that worship is established by revelation of scripture and in order to be acceptable to God, it must be practiced as He has indicated. This would be emphasized by the Apostle Paul, note:
Romans 12:1-2 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
Now, let's consider what we have learned in application to our worship services. Particularly in singing!
Remember, in spirit and truth!
So, what has God revealed concerning what He wants and what pleases Him?
Ephesians 5:19-20 “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”
Colossians 3:16-17 “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”
First, the Apostle Paul, being a Jew of Jews (Philippians 3:5), knew exactly what the word “psalms” meant (noun). That is why he used the specific action word, “singing” (verb) to describe how Christians were to practice using psalms.
These instructions provide truth, so that we can genuinely worship God in this grace, His way!
Second, the only instrument we are to use is our hearts. Not the blood pumps within our chests, but our minds after the same fashion as we use it when we pray. We express our joy, when we sing songs about salvation in Christ Jesus. We express or sorrow while singing the songs about the suffering of the Christ of God on our behalf, etc… This is how we worship God in spirit, in this grace.
Third, we also learn that in this instruction, like all instruction to Christians, it is universally applicable. That is, every single Christian can worship God in this fashion, as everyone can create melody in their hearts. God is not a respecter of persons (Acts 10:3; Romans 2:11; Galatians 2:6; Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 3:25). Everyone can present themselves as holy sacrifices to God in this fashion, universally!
Remember, we are seeking to become living sacrifices, holy (set apart), acceptable to God. That means that we are not seeking what we like when we worship, but simply what pleases God. This means in many cases that we definitely have to transform our minds!
So, when we are singing and the words of these hymns and spiritual songs are leaving our lips, let's make sure that the melody of our hearts are heard by God and come before Him as a sweat smelling aroma!
YOUR HEART IS THE ONLY INSTRUMENT GOD WANTS !!!