Thanksgiving, Praise and Worship
By Iverna Tompkins
Transcribed by Jane Vaughn
There was a very unlikely discourse taking place, recorded in Chapter 4 of John’s Gospel. It was unlikely in many ways. It was unlikely socially because we find a Jewish man speaking to a Samaritan woman.
It was unlikely spiritually because it was a totally unequal thing – it was not a fellowship of equals as when two ministers get together and speak heart-to-heart about the things of God. When two like-minded people get together and share spiritually it’s one thing – but this was a very mis-matched conversation taking place.
It was unlikely physically because it was two people just sitting at a public well – out in the desert, unshielded from the heat of the day.
And it was unlikely in subject material because, instead of it being a casual conversation like: “Where are you from? What do you do?” or “What are you doing today?” the whole subject was – worship.
You know this story, don’t you? The unlikely part of it ceases being unlikely and becomes likely when the woman begins to speak, because as Jesus, the man, the Jew (in representation here) begins to talk to her, His very presence reveals her to herself. Now, please pause long enough to get that.
My goal in this message is to take from you a mis-conception about “a worship service” – and to show to you “service” as worship.
You know the story related here in the Gospel: the disciples left Jesus to go on a little shopping trip, and He seemingly just happens to sit down at the well of Samaria. A nameless woman comes to draw water and the conversation begins. It was not just by happenstance - it’s a miracle.
As the pastor said, just moments ago, “God is not a respecter of persons. He loves everyone the same.” We know that truth in our minds because the Scripture says so (2Chron.19:7; Rom.2:11; Eph.6:9), but we don’t really know it. We think certain people, when they worship – or lead worship – or encourage worship – have a greater anointing and bring more stimulus from us than others. We think certain songs are more important than others.
We have such a mis-understanding of worship as it really is that I felt it would be good to take this time and remind you – or, if you don’t know it already, to inform you – that worship – is the key to understanding the Bible. You see, the main thought of the Word of God is worship.
God wanted sons – to worship Him (Ex.20:3; Dt.6:13; Mt.4:10). So – does that describe God as an ego-maniac? Sitting up there and with His great authority saying, “I created you – worship Me – or I’ll throw you back out!” Or, does that mean that God sits on His throne and looks down at us and says: “I’ll see whether they behave themselves and then maybe I’ll take their worship.” Or, does it mean that God is somehow vacant inside without worship from those He created? You see, those are subtle thoughts that we don’t usually articulate. We don’t express them but they are there somewhere in our minds.
Sometimes, I’ve been in worship services where it’s been suggested by a leader: “There’s a part of God that needs our worship…” that “if we don’t worship Him….” Here’s the Truth to that idea: God doesn’t need anything! It is just a huge privilege for us to be able to worship Him!
Then, why? What was going on in Him that He says, “I must create these that will worship”? Think about it before I give you the answer. Are you ready for it yet? Because without worship, there cannot be blessings!
Blessing is the promise: “If you be willing and obedient, ye shall have everything. You’ll have the good of the land – you’ll eat the fruit of the land – you will be fruitful – you can ask the Father anything in My Name…” Obedience cannot be separated from worship.
Now, all the way through this conversation, Jesus is just, it seems, haphazard. But He is bringing her into understanding. What He has done is – thrown out a hook, she took a bite, and now He’s reeling in this lady. What she wants, however, is to start the usual argument of people – as to where they should worship (Jn.4:19ff). “I grew up a Catholic – and I believe we should worship there.” “I grew up Pentecostal, and I believe we should worship there.” “I grew up a Baptist, and I believe we should worship there.”
“Our people say…” (vs.20) – she’s already in the argument. She says to Jesus, “You know, you Jews say that you’re going to worship only in Jerusalem, and we Samaritans say we’re going to worship on this mountain…. Now what I want to know is, You say You’re the expert on worship, where, precisely and exactly, is the accurate, the right place to worship?”
I listen to people saying the same thing today only in different words. Today it goes like this: “How long should we worship?” “How long should a worship service be?” The answer? A lifetime!
“Do you think we should use the hymnals?” Only if the leader says, “Open your hymnal to page 22.” “Do you think it’s right to use overheads (or Power Point) for the words?” Only if you want me to sing them! :-)
We get caught up in the most ridiculous things and then we’re incapable of responding to the Father as we were created to do – because we have mindsets.
We walk into the church – some of you were angry for twenty minutes today because it was cold in here. “Seems like they could warm it up if they want us to come here. Where’s all the money go, anyway?” :-) If we have a broken furnace or something – you need to pray for someone to come in and fix it. I mean, it’s our responsibility – it’s our church. This building does not belong to the Board alone.
Others of you were angry because you looked around and saw Pastor Mary sitting here but Pastor Mike is missing. “Oh, fine! If they’d only have told us he was going to be gone!” Or, someone sits where we normally do and we’re troubled over that: “Well, that’s it!” :-) “I hate sitting in the back!” We get so upset over these little things.
Pick a reason, but all of a sudden worship is eliminated from our minds – “We will not worship!” But will you be surprised when I tell you that you are worshipping right then? All you’ve done is switch the object of worship – from Him – to you! An uncomfortable thought, isn’t it?
The woman in John 4 says, “Exactly where should we worship? I want to do it the right way, and I don’t know whether I dare do this or this or this – and if I could find a church that I knew was right on!”
Jesus says this: “The time is coming – in fact, it has already come – when what you’re called will not matter.” You might as well quit singing, “I’m a Methodist till I die” because it doesn’t matter anymore. There’s coming a time when what you’re called will not matter and where you go to worship will not matter either. Jesus said, “It’s who you are and the way you live that counts before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth.” “They that worship Him…” finish it for me: “… must worship Him in spirit and in truth” (cf. Jn.4:21-24).
Now, what we like to think of that as meaning – and it doesn’t – is that the Spirit will do the worshipping for us or in us. And if He doesn’t worship. . . “Hey! It’s not my fault. I was here, freezing!” :-)
Jesus said, “Let Me tell you, it doesn’t matter who you are, what your nationality is. It doesn’t matter if you’re female and I’m male and I’m talking to you. It doesn’t matter. If you really knew Who you were talking to, you could enter into worship right here! But you’ve got such a mindset – that certain things are going to happen…”
Now, I’m going to say a few things that may offend you – otherwise, it wouldn’t be me now would it? :-)
I’ve heard so many of the recent prophetic utterances and I just say, “Amen!” to all of them. On the email, I get them sent to me; my inbox is just stuffed! And we have to rhyme them now, you know – “No more leaven – 2-0-0-7.” And “Let’s get ready for heaven in 2-0-0-7.” And :-) I’m saying “9-10-11, I missed 7.” :-)
Do you know that if we do not keep our focus – on Him – the enemy will not shut down the prophetic words – he simply will make them our worship image. Are you okay? And what is important to us becomes: “So-and-so said such-and-such.” I think it’s time for us to come back and worship the Lord! “And Him only shalt thou serve” (Mt.4:10; Dt.10:20).
“I am the Lord thy God and thou shalt have – No other gods!” (Ex.20:2,3, emphasis added). Oh, that’s so easy for us here in this country. We don’t carve little images and look at them while meditating or praying. But you see, we still have many gods! Our minds are filled with many gods! Only many of our “gods” are God’s called ones. Selah.
By worshipping them, we pull them down – because God cannot allow them to be the focal point of the worship of His people. He cannot – and He will not. I don’t have to enlarge on that if you know anything that’s going on in the Body of Christ, even today. You’re smart enough to figure it out. And it is an old problem – it has happened in the past – when we’ve elevated the vessel God used.
Worship isn’t something we come to church and “do” for 20-30-40-50 minutes. (Oh, the miracle of that.) The reason it goes on so long sometimes is because it takes four songs for us to say, “Oh, yep. Yes. You’re worthy – worrrr-thee.” What would happen if we would walk into this place – as worshippers!? Having been worshippers all week long! In our homes, on our jobs, every place we’ve been – and then come together. I mean, it would be Dy – no – mite! :-)
They wouldn’t have to strike the first musical cord because we would be worshipping as we came into the building together. It wouldn’t be the usual commands from the platform: “Alright, everyone find someone near you and shake hands with them.” I hardly leave the pew I’m on, so I shake hands with the same people about four times. :-) “Just find someone you don’t know… find three or four.” “Do I know you? God bless you – God bless you – and God bless you, too. Is that three? Four?” And I like that guy back there because his hands are always warm – so I always bless him! :-) But we wouldn’t have to be told to do that. Just to look at another worshipper’s face would be a blessing – if we were so full of God!
Go to Part 2. . .