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Undivided Worship
by Damon Andrews, worship pastor on January 26th, 2013

There is a poignant story about worship in the Old Testament.  The people of Samaria (Israelites) had been taken into captivity by Assyria, leaving their towns empty.  The king of Assyria decided to send people from several other countries to resettle in these towns to replace the Israelites.  After a short time, he received this report, “The people you deported and resettled in the towns of Samaria do not know what the god of that country requires.  He has sent lions among them, which are killing them off, because the people do not know what he requires.”  In response, the king sent one of the Israelite priests back to Samaria to teach the people there “how to worship the Lord.” They assumed that God was not pleased simply because they were not following the right procedure or form.  “If we learn how to ‘do it right’”, they thought, then God would be pleased.

But there was still a problem.  The people learned how to worship the Lord, but they also continued to worship their own false gods.  Their hearts were divided.  You see, the fundamental issue was not a question of form.  The problem was that their hearts were not fully devoted to the one true God.  The story concludes with this sad epitaph: “Even while these people were worshiping the Lord, they were serving their idols.  To this day their children and grandchildren continue to do as their fathers did.”

Fast forward 750 years to another story.  While Jesus was traveling though Samaria he stopped at Jacob’s well and had a conversation with a Samaritan woman.  After some profound interaction in which Jesus confronted sin in her life, the woman made a statement which implied a question about worship.  She said “Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

She had made the same wrong assumption as her ancestors.  She assumed that God would be pleased if she learned to “do it right” by worshiping in the right place.  Jesus answered, “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.  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.”  Jesus’ answer pointed out her mistaken emphasis on questions of form (Where should we worship?, When should we worship?, How should we worship?) and revealed the truly important question, for the Samaritan woman, and for us as well, “Is your heart fully devoted to the one true God?”
Discussion Questions
In what ways can our hearts be divided? What are examples for us of idols that might keep our hearts from being fully devoted to the one true God?
What are some questions of form that we sometimes mistakenly believe are important to pleasing God?

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Keith Tooley - January 28th, 2013 at 8:02 AM

We get so wrapped up in our own lives and the things we feel we want and need to do, that we don't make time each day, and throughout the day, to worship God. Our schedules, or busyness, trump our praise to God. As for form, where and when we worship God is irrelevant if our relationship with Him is top priority. When we are one with God, our praise and worship of Him is unceasing - all day every day as we get and experience glimpses of His glory.
Karen Melles - February 4th, 2013 at 3:44 PM
Thank you for your post.
My life needs to be an act of worship. If I think worship begins and ends in the worship service then I am mistaken and my heart is divided. Everything I do, say, and think should be an act of worship. I certainly am tempted to have idols in my life but I have to submit them daily to my LORD. I cannot and will not resist them in my own strength. I agree with Keith, I have to make the choice to spend time in God's presence daily...and throughout the day.
I do want to mention worship on Sunday mornings - I love corporate worship. I don't believe God has called us to worship corporately because He needs it but because He enjoys our praise and knows we need it. I sing my heart out most Sunday mornings, I raise my arms in praise and try to forget that there is anyone else in the room! I must say... I am a terrible singer, I have no sense of rhythm and I cannot hold a tune but that is okay - I know, without doubt, that God is listening to my heart not my voice. And, He knows that the desire of my heart is to worship Him in spirit and in truth.
Thank you for your leadership.
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