Worship: An Attitude Of Gratitude
by: Lonnie Lane
Most of us are aware of the verse that says, “True worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers” (John 4:23). The verse brings up two obvious questions: What does He mean by truth and how do you relate to God “in spirit?”
Perhaps this issue is elementary for some of you, but for others it may untangle a few theological knots you’ve struggled with. Relating to God in spirit, meaning by or through the Holy Spirit, is one of those “you had to be there” situations. If you haven’t experienced it, it remains a mystery. Even as a Spirit filled believer, it remained a mystery to me for several years, when I had no one to explain it to me. And I thought I was the only one who didn’t get it so I was afraid to ask. Not wanting any of you to have this same dilemma, we are dealing with it here.
It would seem from the verse that unless people are seeking to relate to God by His Spirit they cannot be true worshippers. Well, the only way you can have access to the Holy Spirit is to know God through the Yeshua. I know this is ‘Relating to God 101.’ But I have found that, because few churches actually “disciple” new believers, many are confused for years about how the whole thing works, and even about God Himself, let alone how to worship. Yeshua said, “Truly, truly,” (I guess He really meant it – He used two “truly’s” which in Hebrew means to greatly emphasize its meaning, so pay attention to what He’s saying), “unless one is born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God” (John 3:3). He’s saying that without being born again we cannot “see” (perceive, understand or experientially access) anything of the Kingdom of God. The reason is that “a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised” A natural man is a man without the indwelling Spirit of God. But once you put your trust in Yeshua, amazing as it is, you become as “the temple of God and… the Spirit of God dwells in you” (1 Corinthians 3:16).
Yeshua’s preaching was always of the Kingdom in which alone truth is found. He said, “For this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice” (John 18:37). You would have thought He would say it the other way around. That hearing His voice, they would then know the truth. But He seems to be saying that you cannot “hear” (grasp) what He’s saying until you are “of the truth” which means being born again. Here’s why:
We are born again when we believe the truth that Yeshua’s death was payment for our sins, so we turn away from our sins, and we yield to Him as Lord of our lives, entering into a whole new way of life with God. At that time, we become united with God and the Spirit of God comes and in-dwells our spirits: “The one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him” (1 Corinthians 6:17). We find we are now aware of and responsive to God as if we just started life all over again, this time with God. When we accepted Yeshua’s payment for our sins, we accepted His payment of a debt we were unable to pay and now we are free of the debt. The debt of sin that separated us from God is paid in full by Messiah Yeshua so that we are no longer separated from God. And we begin a new relationship with Him and our spirits are now united with God’s Spirit.
God’s Spirit isn’t separate from Father God, nor is His Spirit a separate God-Person for God is one: “The LORD is our God, the LORD is one” (Deuteronomy 6:4). There aren’t three Gods, but one God who manifests Himself in various ways. It is the Spirit of God who invisibly works to bring us into what the Son, Yeshua, by His obedience to the will and purpose of the Father, purchased for us. So you can see three aspects of God’s character and nature at work here: the Father’s will and purpose, Yeshua’s obedience even unto His death; and the work of the Spirit to make it a reality in our lives. When we are born again we are released from the guilt of sin and the imprisonment it brings to our souls and our bodies. The freedom from sin and guilt that Yeshua bought for us with His blood is made real to us by His Spirit, who works to make His Lordship real to us in many ways. As the Holy Spirit is really the Spirit of Yeshua, and the Spirit of the Father, the Spirit is Lord as much as the Father and Yeshua are Lord: “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Corinthians 3:17). So His presence in our lives is God’s presence in our lives.
To look at it from a human perspective, consider that you and I are one person, yet we have a body, a soul and a spirit, with each part of us functioning in its own way to make one whole and integrated individual. In a similar way, God is the same God whether we are observing Him as Father, Son or Spirit. And since there are no boundaries in God, sometimes we can observe all three at the same time: “After being baptized, Yeshua came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased’” (Matthew 3:16, 17). Note: The Spirit of God came “as” a dove; He is a Spirit, not a “bird.”
Not everything that is called “spiritual” is of God. We may seek to know God with our souls, but unless we are born again by the Spirit of God, we are only operating in the soul realm - on soulish things - which are not truly of God. Therefore, we do not qualify as worshiping God in spirit and in truth. Anything that denies or replaces Yeshua’s work on the cross as the only way to salvation, or adds anything or any person as intermediaries, such as dead saints or Mary, for instance, is false and unbiblical. Many religious and all cultish practices are derived from the soul realm and not from the Spirit of God. They are not of the spirit, including if our bodies are so that we are ‘doing’ something physical we think is necessary to come to God. Our souls can also be influenced by demonic sources, which cannot be of the truth. So we are not able to connect with God but remain in soulishness, unable to enjoy the wonderful pleasure of worshipping God or being in His presence. New Age practices and philosophy, to give an example, are not truth and miss knowing God because it is based on false concepts of God and of the unity it proposes. Indeed, there is no true worship of a higher being if you think you are part of the higher being. That would be self-worship and we call that narcissism, even if it includes other self-worshippers.
To look at it from above, Father God is located in a place in heaven, upon a great majestic throne. God the Father and God the Son share the throne in the highest heaven. And even more interesting, the Bible never says there are two thrones. It appears as if the throne is always spoken of as one throne, not two, as in, “the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Revelation 22:3). Circling around the throne are myriads of angels, cherubim, seraphim, and saints who have gone on to heaven who sing His praises and bask in the immeasurable pleasure of His presence in perfect love. John describes what he saw when God took him to heaven this way: “And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands. Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing” (Revelation 5:11, 12)
That folks, is our destiny if we are born again. Never let anything ‘down here’ derail you from that destination. But God is also here with us. He is omnipresent – as in present everywhere – so through His Holy Spirit, God interacts with creation everywhere creation is! This includes the intimate affairs of each person. The Son, on one level, was an historic Person who was also a manifestation of God on the earth. But who remains Lord of our lives in very intimate and immediate ways, while seated in heaven at “the right hand of God,” which is a metaphor for sharing equal authority of God. When we hear God’s voice or feel His presence, or sense His leading us, it is work of the Holy Spirit to us who is administering Yeshua’s Lordship in our lives, reminding us of His words to us, and empowering us to carry out the will of God the Father.
Once we are born again the Bible begins to make sense to us where it did not before. We become aware that there is a realm in which God operates and has affect on our lives and that this new spiritual realm is not the same as the earthly realm. As His word becomes more real to us and we begin to value what it says more, we become Kingdom thinkers, and little by little, we become more like Yeshua as we think more Biblically. The more we come to know God, the more we realize His goodness, the more we are moved to worship. It’s the Spirit of God that does all that work in us. In time, we learn to walk by the Spirit, knowing when He is speaking to us, or nudging us to do or not do something. We learn to feel His presence at certain times, like when we’re worshipping or when we’re ministering His love to someone in some way. That love compassion we feel for someone else is a manifestation of the Spirit of God. Or sometimes we are aware of His presence just because our thoughts turn to Him and He responds to us. That just made me smile just thinking about those times.
In fact, I have found that when I turn my thoughts to God in the midst of a busy day or busy thoughts, I can feel my body instantly relax, as if He is saying, “I’m here. Just trust in Me and let me give you My peace.” Yes, Lord!! Yeshua called the Holy Spirit “The Comforter”. His presence is comforting, to be sure. But the Spirit also makes Yeshua real to us, so that we can experience His presence, and not just know of Him as the God-Man who once lived on earth and is now in heaven. “When the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceeds from the Father, he shall testify of me” (John 15:26). Nothing is more comforting in this life than the presence of the Lord. Sometimes it’s just sweet, sometimes it’s powerful. Sometimes He just makes us aware of something that will set us free.
It continually amazes me that, with all that goes on in the universe, not just events but the maintaining of all that comprises the universe, both microscopically (the teeny) and macroscopically (the huge), God cares about insignificant little us, and goes to the trouble to make us aware of His presence in the most minute matters of our spiritual, emotional and physical lives. We talk so easily about how the Lord leads us, corrects us, lets us know what He wants or doesn’t in our lives, what we need to be saying or doing in a situation – all so very specifically involved with us – and as close as a whisper in our ear. And yet, He is the Almighty God, the Creator and Lord of the universes (plural). He is so big and so powerful and is responsible for having created and now maintaining all the universal complexities that exist. Give a moment’s thought to how much we know scientifically that the people in the Bible at any given time were entirely unaware of but which we take for granted. Consider what we know of medicine and the functions of our bodies, or astronomy to measure the suns and planets, or of molecular biology, or time warps, or electromagnetic fields, or microbes, germs, viruses, mitochondria…the list goes on and on. And yet, He is so personally tender with us and so attentive to our needs and so committed to our specific individual spiritual growth and our wellbeing spiritually, emotionally, and physically. The more we realize of Him and His character and nature and how much our lives are influenced by His attentiveness or greatness, we find ourselves with a great deal of gratitude and thankfulness. The Creator of the universe has drawn us to Himself and allowed us to come to know Him personally! He talks to us and hears what we say to Him with a listening ear. He is just so awesome, as in awe inspiring, isn’t He? Awe, incidentally, means wonder, fear, reverence, astonishment, amazement, stupefaction, veneration, respect, admiration, shock, and worship. All that applies, doesn’t it? The more we know of Him, the more we are awed by Him, the more worship becomes a spontaneous response to Him.
Worship, by the way, does not have to mean singing to Him, although heaven appears to be permeated with songs of worship, myriads of angels and persons singing so that it all blends together in one glorious harmonious symphony. That’s what people who have been there tell us. Worship can be the thoughts in your heart or whatever you do just because you love and appreciate Him. For all my writing, teaching and ‘wordsmithing,’ some of my most treasured worship times are just being silent before Him and thinking about Him, or meditating with Him on a verse to see into the depths of it beyond the apparent words, or listening for what He might want to tell me. I love being quiet with the Lord when He quiets my soul in His presence. That too is worship.
On the other hand, if we offer our ‘works’ of worship as an obligation, or a ritual we think we’re supposed to do without much thought of honoring God but rather out of fear of NOT doing it, or we do it so automatically that it is a ritual rather than a meaningful exchange between us and the Lord, then whatever we’re doing isn’t received by God as worship. Worship is a love response, or a longing for more connection with Him which is also out of love. Worship is a response to His goodness and holiness, to Who He is as Omnipotent (all powerful) Savior, Omniscient (all knowing) Lord and Omnipresent (all present) Helper. Even if we don’t have any feelings or desire to praise Him, the very thought that you exist because He created you, because of all that has come into your life as good and all that lies before you for eternity, these are reasons enough to worship Him. Gratefulness goes a long way into worship.
Try spontaneously singing your gratefulness to Him and see if the Holy Spirit doesn’t give you wings to take it to a higher level. Even to just plain live that way, blessing God as naturally as breathing, and as glorious acknowledging Him, who is brighter than the light of the sun. I don’t mean you have to be speaking “glory” all day, but your thoughts turn to God and your heart warms just knowing He’s there with you. So you send Him a loving smile and some thanksgiving and tell Him you love Him. That too is worship. Tithing, by the way, is also an act of worship. Joyfully giving to Him in thanksgiving for all He gives to you. Or offerings can be worship when your heart rejoices as you give to someone to bless them. God who is the Ultimate Giver will respond to your generous heart by allowing you to feel His joy over your giving. The giver really is more blessed than the receiver when you do it from a heart that loves the Lord.
One of the words that is used continually in heavenly worship is “worthy,” such as, “Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created” (Revelation 4:11). The word Worthy in Greek has to do with the virtues and qualities of our precious Yeshua that resulted in Him being the one time sacrifice for the sins of all human beings ever to live on the earth, including you. But it is possible to have the words of this verse or any verse, be just words to us? Something we know as we know the alphabet or the words to a song and yet have little impact on our spirits? At least not to the level that it evokes awe and worship from us, or even gratitude that He has allowed us to know Him and all His wondrous ways. Perhaps taking time and allowing the Spirit of God to make verses such as this real to us, so that it sinks down into our hearts, will bring an awe to our souls and praise to our lips.
To appreciate the cleansing blood of Yeshua is to carry a sense of His holiness and of wanting to be clean before Him. I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that the church on the whole, as the representatives of Messiah to the world today, is not looking too holy for the most part. Although there does seem to be a cloud the size of a fist in the skies of revival that give hope of a ground swell of repentance and hearts that are crying out to God for His mercy. Perhaps it needs to start with appreciation for who He is and what He’s done for us. Perhaps we need to be more in touch with His love for us. As we are more and more aware of His love for us, we will more and more love Him in return, because, “we love, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). It may be worship is the key to unlock that revival in our own lives we all desire, as well as in our country.
“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13). Amen.
Reprint of this article is permitted as long as you use the following; Use by permission by Messianic Vision, www.sidroth.org, 2011.
For Lonnie's other articles, check out our Exclusive Articles and Resources, especially the section on One New Man. Lonnie Lane comes from a family of four generations of Jewish believers, being the first one saved in 1975. Lonnie has been in church leadership for many years, and has planted two “one new man” house fellowships, one in Philadelphia suburbs and the other in Jacksonville, Florida, where she now lives near 6 of her 8 grandchildren. Lonnie is the author of “Because They Never Asked” and numerous articles on this website. She has been the Producer of Messianic Vision's radio and TV shows and the International Prayer Co-Coordinator for Messianic Vision's intercessors. Click Here to order Lonnie's book, "Because They Never Asked."
For Lonnie's other articles, check out our Exclusive Articles and Resources, especially the section on One New Man.
Lonnie Lane comes from a family of four generations of Jewish believers, being the first one saved in 1975. Lonnie has been in church leadership for many years, and has planted two “one new man” house fellowships, one in Philadelphia suburbs and the other in Jacksonville, Florida, where she now lives near 6 of her 8 grandchildren. Lonnie is the author of “Because They Never Asked” and numerous articles on this website. She has been the Producer of Messianic Vision's radio and TV shows and the International Prayer Co-Coordinator for Messianic Vision's intercessors. Click Here to order Lonnie's book, "Because They Never Asked."
Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible Copyright ©1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, Calif. All rights reserved. Used by permission.