Today’s selected reading continues in the Old Testament poetic book of the Psalms, which is a collection and compilation of prayers, petitions and praise contained within psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. More specifically, today’s passage is found in chapters one-hundred and seven through one-hundred and nine of this Old Testament book. O GIVE THANKS UNTO THE LORD! FOR HE IS GOOD! FOR HIS MERCY ENDURETH FOR EVER! LET THE REDEEMED OF THE LORD SAY SO, WHOM HE HATH REDEEMED FROM THE HAND OF THE ENEMY, AND GATHERED THEM OUT OF THE LANDS, FROM THE EAST, AND FROM THE WEST, FROM THE NORTH, AND FROM THE SOUTH! HAVE YOU SETTLED IN YOUR HEART THAT THE LORD IS GOOD? When you come to this particular passage of Scripture you will come to a declaration that is found on more than one occasion within the Old Testament book of the Psalms—and not only within the Old Testament book of the Psalms, but also within Scripture itself. As you begin reading the one-hundred and seventh chapter of the book of Psalms you experience a wonderful and powerful invitation to give thanks unto the LORD—and not only give thanks unto the LORD, but to give thanks unto the LORD for a very specific reason. I can’t help but be absolutely gripped and captivated by the words which are found within the opening verse of this particular psalm, for within it we find an invitation, as well as instruction to the reader to give thanks unto the LORD. What I absolutely love about this passage of Scripture is that not only does the psalmist instruct the reader to give thanks unto the LORD, but they instruct and invite the reader to give thanks unto the LORD for something that has absolutely nothing to do with them. If you read these words you will find the invitation given by the psalmist to give thanks unto the LORD, however, you will find the reason for this giving thanks having absolutely nothing to do with the reader, nor even the psalmist themselves, but rather because of who the LORD is. Pause for a moment and think about that, for if you truly take the time to think about this reality you will come face to face with the reality that the thanks you offer and the thanks you present before and unto the LORD has absolutely nothing to do with you, nor even what the LORD has done for you within your life. We have been taught, and we tend to think that we give thanks because of the what the LORD has done for us, and we make the central theme of our thanks us ourselves rather than the LORD our God.
THE CENTRAL FOCUS OF THANKS! YOU ARE NOT THE CENTRAL THEME OF THANKS! YOU ARE NOT THE CENTRAL FOCUS OF THANKS! I sit here this morning thinking about and consider the words which are written within this passage and I can’t help but be absolutely captivated with the fact that the psalmist instructs and invites the reader and audience to give thanks unto the LORD, but mentions absolutely nothing about the reader or audience, nor even what the LORD has done for them. It is absolutely necessary that we understand this reality, for if and when we do it will dramatically alter our perception of thanks—and not only our perception of thanks, but how we come before the LORD with our thanksgiving. If we are being honest with ourselves—and even with the LORD our God—we tend to give thanks unto the LORD solely based on what He has done for us within and throughout our lives. The degree and measure of our thanks is more often than not based solely on what the LORD has done for us, and the more the LORD has done for us the greater our thanks truly is. We dare not be deceived, or even naïve to think that this reality is not true, and that it has no application within our lives. We would be incredibly deceived if we think that more often than not the thanks we bring before the LORD is more about what He has done for us, and less about who He is. Stop for a minute and think about that, and consider it in relation to your own life, for how much of your thanks before the LORD is directly linked to what He has done rather than who He is? How much of the thanks you bring before the LORD is directly related to and based upon what you feel the LORD has done within your life and for you on a personal and individual level? Conversely, how much of your lack of thanks is more about what you feel the LORD hasn’t done for you, and has absolutely nothing to do with who He is, His character and His nature? As you read the words which are found within this psalm you will find the psalmist inviting the reader and audience to give thanks unto the LORD, but upon their giving of thanks they are initially not to even consider themselves, nor even what the LORD may or may not have done for them. The psalmist in this passage of Scripture invites the reader and audience to give thanks unto the LORD, and to do so because of who He is. In order to express this even more, I feel the need to incorporate the words which A.W. Tozer wrote in his masterful work entitled “The Knowledge of the Holy.” Consider if you will the following words which are found in the preface of this wonderful and beautiful work written by this late saint and scholar of the living God:
“The church has surrendered her once lofty concept of God and has substituted for it one so low, so ignoble, as to be utterly unworthy of thinking, worshipping men. This she has done not deliberately, but little by little and without her knowledge; and her very unawareness only make her situation all the more t tragic. The low view of God entertained almost universally among Christians is the cause of a hunger lesser evils everywhere among us. A whole new philosophy of the Christian life has resulted from this one basic error in our religious thinking. With our loss of the sense of majesty has come the further loss of our religious awe and consciousness of the divine presence. We have lost our spirit of worship and our ability to withdraw inwardly to meet God in adoring silence. Modern Christianity is simply not productions the king of Christian who can appreciate or experience the life in the Spirit. The words, ‘Be still and know that I am God,’ mean next to nothing to the self-confident, bustling worshipper in this middle period of the twentieth century. This loss of the concept of majesty has come just when the forces of religion are making dramatic gains and the churches are more prosperous than at any time within the past several hundred years. But the alarming thing is that our giants are mostly externally and our losses wholly internal; and since it is the quality of our religion that is affected by internal conditions, it may be that our supposed gains are but losses spread over a wider filed. The only way to recoup our spiritual losses is to go back to the cause of them and make such corrections as the truth warrants. The decline of the knowledge of the holy has brought on our troubles. A rediscovery of the majesty of God will go a long way toward curing them. It is impossible to keep our moral practices sound and our inward attitudes right while our idea of God is erroneous or inadequate. If we would bring back spiritual power to our lives, we must begin to think of God more nearly as He is” (The Knowledge of the Holy, A.W. Tozer).
If you transition to the first chapter of Tozer’s masterful work entitled “The Knowledge of the Holy” you will encounter the following excerpt and words which further confirm our opinion and our view about the living God. Before we return to the words which are found within the one-hundred and seven thy chapter of the Old Testament book of the Psalms I would invite you to consider the following words which are found within the first and opening chapter of this book, for I feel Tozer’s words help set the stage and framework for a reality we must recognize and realize within our own hearts and souls. Consider if you will the following words which are found within the first chapter of this work aptly and properly titled “Why We Must Think Rightly About God:”
“O Lord God Almighty, not the God of the philosophers and the wise but the God of the prophets and apostles; and better than all, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, may I express thee unclamped? They that know thee not may call upon thee as other than thou art, and so worship not thee but a creature of their own fancy; therefore enlighten our minds that we may know thee as thou art, so that we may perfectly love thee and worthily praise thee. In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion, and man’s spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God. Worship is pure or base as the worshipper entertains high or low thoughts of God. For this reason the gravest question before the church is always God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like. We tend but a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God. This is true not only of the individual Christian, but of the company of Christians that composes the Church. Always the most revealing thing about the church is her idea of God, just as her most significant message is what she says about Him or leaves unsaid, for her silence is often more eloquent than her speech. She can never escape the self-disclosure of her witness concerning God. Were we able to extract from any man a complete answer to the question, ‘What comes into your mind when you think about God?’ we might predict with certainty the spiritual future of that man. Were we able to know exactly what our most influential religious leaders think of God today, we might be able with some precision to foretell where the Church will stand tomorrow. Without doubt, the mightiest thought the mind can entertain is the thought of God, and the weightiest word in any language is its word for God. Thought and speech are God’s gifts to creatures made in His image; these are intimately associated with Him and impossible apart from Him. It is highly significant that the first word was the Word: ‘And the Word was with God, and the Word was God.’ We may speak because God spoke. In Him word and idea are indivisible” (The Knowledge of the Holy, A.W. Tozer).
Upon reading these words which were written by the late A.W. Tozer we can deduce and conclude that what we think about the LORD our God is perhaps the single greatest and most necessary truth and reality within our lives. Tozer believed that what we think about the LORD our God can and will dramatically alter and change every aspect of our lives, and I absolutely and completely agree with this sentiment. There is not a doubt in my mind that what we think about God—the truth we hold concerning Him—can entirely and altogether make or break us as individuals. Please note that I do not merely speak about this from a physical and natural perspective, but from a spiritual perspective as well. Please note that when I speak of the truth we hold within our hearts concerning the LORD our God can impact and affect every area of our lives. We must realize and understand that what we think about God and the truth we hold about God within our hearts directly impacts and affects every area of our lives, and has the potential to make or break us. We would like to think that the most fundamental reality and core truth within our lives has nothing to do with our view and our perception of God, and yet we must realized and recognize that either we trust in God and believe that He is trustworthy, or we do not. We must realize that we are either willing to place our trust and confidence in the living God, or we are not. There is no middle ground, and there is no grey area with this, for it is either black or white. You as a saint, you as a servant of the most High God must determine and conclusively conclude within your heart and soul that you trust the LORD your God, or you do not. What we think about the living and eternal God is the essential and basis for our entire walk and relationship with Him, and even the basis of our faith as a whole. The author of the epistle which was written unto the Hebrews expressed this reality in a profound way when they wrote about the necessity and importance of faith, and how faith is directly linked to our view and perception of the living and eternal God. Consider if you will the words which are written and recorded in the eleventh chapter of the New Testament epistle written unto the Hebrews beginning to read with and from the first verse:
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report. Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear” (Hebrews 11:1-3).
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a reward er of them that diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).
The words which we find within these two sections of the eleventh chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews bring us face to face with the reality that faith not only touches those things which are hoped for, but faith also touches those things which aren’t seen. It is through faith that we understand the worlds were famed by the word of God, and without faith it is impossible to please the LORD. Those who come to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarded of those who diligently seek Him. This reality is at the very core of the opening verses of the Old Testament book of Genesis, as well as the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John, for faith is the key that unlocks our trust and confidence in the LORD our God, and in His Son Jesus the Christ. Faith directly impacts and affects the truth we hold about Jesus the Christ, as well as the living and eternal God, for if faith is absent within your heart and spirit you cannot truly understand—much less believe and place your trust and confidence in the words found in these two passages of Scripture. The one deals specifically and directly with the truth about the living and eternal God, while the other deals specifically and directly with the truth about the living and eternal Christ. With this being said, consider if you will the words which are found in the opening verses of both of these books found within the sacred canon of Scripture:
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day” (Genesis 1:1-5).
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In Him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not” (John 1:1-5).
With both of these passages we not only encounter the eternal nature of both the eternal God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we also encounter the eternal nature of Jesus Christ Himself. Both of these passages bring us face to face with the eternal and divine nature of God the Father of our LORD Jesus Christ, as well as the eternal and divine nature of Jesus who is the Christ. It is necessary for us to truly understand this, for when we think about our spiritual journey and walk with the LORD we must firmly settle within our hearts the truth of who the eternal God is, as well as the truth of who Jesus the Christ is. It is through the eternal Spirit that we can address Jesus Christ as Lord, for no man but by the Spirit can acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord and call Him such. There is this divine unity that exists within the triune Godhead, and as a direct result of this unity we must not only settle within our hearts the truth of who God is, but we must also worship Him in this truth. Remember the words which Jesus the Christ spoke unto the woman of Samaria at the well, for during that encounter He emphatically declared that those who worship the eternal God must worship Him in spirit and in truth. I feel the need to pause here and highlight and underscore this reality of worshipping God in truth, for I am convinced that there are a number of men and women who seem to have a good grasp and handle on what it looks like, and what it means to worship the eternal God in spirit, however, more often than not they neglect the element of truth that is also found in worship. The question you might be asking and wondering is what I mean when I say that we must worship God in truth, and that is an entirely valid question and point. As I sit here today I am absolutely and completely convinced that when we think and speak about worshipping the eternal and living God, we must recognize and understand that we must worship in truth—the truth of who He is, and the truth that is found within the divine and eternal Word. We must acknowledge the fact that the only way to truly understand the truth of who the eternal God is, and the only way we can truly understand the truth of who His eternal Son is is to spend time within and studying the divine Word of God. If you wish to truly worship God in spirit and in truth, you must obtain and find that truth in the divine Word of God. The living and eternal God has revealed Him to us—not only through the divine Word of God, but also through the person of Jesus the Christ. Consider if you will the words which are found in the opening verses of the first chapter of the New Testament epistle written unto the Hebrews:
“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His Lowry, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; being made so much better than the angels, as He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said He at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee?” (Hebrews 1:1-5).
With the words which were written and recorded in the New Testament gospel of John we must also consider the words which the apostle John wrote and recorded in the opening chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative of the life of Jesus the Christ. Consider the following words which were written in the first chapter of this gospel beginning to read with and from the sixth verse:
“There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through Him might bee live. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received, to them gave he power to b come the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. John bare witness of Him, and cried, saying, This was He of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for He was before me. And of His fullness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the Law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him” (John 1:6-18).
With the words found within this passage of Scripture we encounter the awesome truth that the eternal God is made known and made manifest unto us through the person of Jesus the Christ—a reality which is further confirmed through the words the author of the epistle of Hebrews wrote. John declared that no man hath seen God at any time, save the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father. The author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews wrote and declared that God has spoken unto us in these Last Days through the person of His Son who has revealed and made Him known unto us. It was unto the woman at the well in Samaria that Jesus declared concerning God how the true worshippers must worship God in spirit and in truth. Perhaps the question I feel compelled to ask you who are reading these words is where do you get your truth about God? Where have you received your truth about the living and eternal God? Have you received your truth from the opinions and views of men, or have you received your truth from the divine Word of the living God? Have you received your truth about God from the person and presence of Jesus the Christ? Has the eternal Son revealed the Father unto you, as He made known and declared the Father unto you? The truth you say you have and the truth you hold to concerning the living and eternal God who is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ—is that truth found in things other than the divine word of God, and outside of the person of the eternal Son of the living God? Does your truth about God come from spending time in His presence, as He revealed and makes Himself known unto you? You might know that the time has come for the true worshippers of God to worship Him in spirit and in truth, and yet the question I have for you is what truth about God do you bring in your worship of Him? When you come into the sanctuary, and when you come into the house of the LORD, what truth do you hold in your heart concerning the eternal God? When you open your mouth to sing the songs which the lead worshipper and worship team present you with, do you sing your truth about God, or do you sing the truth of others about God? Oh, I sit here today and I can’t help but fear that more often than not there are those in the house of the LORD who sing the truth others have and the truth which others have held concerning the living God.
WHAT IS YOUR TRUTH ABOUT GOD? We must not ignore nor attempt to shirk this underlying and all important question, for when we think about our worship of the true and living God we must ask ourselves what our truth about Him truly is. What’s more, is we must ask whether or not there is even truth in our heart, and truth in our spirit concerning who the living and eternal God truly is. When you come into the house of the LORD and you engage yourself in the worship that begins once the instruments start playing and the singers s tart singing, are you singing your own truth about God, or are you singing the truth which others have found and experienced within their own hearts and lives? When was the last time you entered into the house of the LORD and sang your truth about God? When was the last time you sang what you truly believed about God rather than what others have said they believe, and that which others have said they hold to concerning the living God? When you come and appear before the living and eternal God in worship in His holy sanctuary, what is the core truth that is found within your heart, within your spirit, within your soul? What’s more, is when you attempt to worship the living God—do you worship Him with your intellect in your mind, or do you worship Him with your spirit? When you worship the eternal God—do you worship Him with opinions and views about Him, or do you worship Him based on truth you have learned and truth you have experienced having spent time in His presence, and having spent time in His divine Word? With this in mind, I feel it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention—first and foremost to the Shamah which is found in the sixth chapter of the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy, as well as the dialogue that took place between Jesus and His disciples, and ultimately with Jesus and Peter. I invite you to turn and direct your attention to the words which found in the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew, for it helps further highlight and underscore this awesome and incredible reality of not only worshipping in spirit, but also worshipping in truth. Consider the following words which are found within these two passages of Scripture:
“Now these are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which the LORD your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go to possess it: that thou mightest fear the LORD thy God, to keep all His statutes and his commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy song’s son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged. Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe to do it; that it may be well with thee, and that ye may increase mightily, as the LORD God of thy fathers hath promised thee, in the land that floweth with milk and honey. Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: and thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might” (Deuteronomy 6:1-5).
‘When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. HE saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Then charged He his disciples that they should tell no man that He was Jesus the Christ” (Matthew 16:13-20).
These passages must be read and considered together, for these passages reveal an incredibly powerful truth concerning our worship of the living and eternal God—specifically, worshipping the Father in spirit and in truth. As you read the words which Moses the servant of the LORD spoke unto the children of Israel you will find him declaring unto them that the LORD their God was one LORD, and that those who love Him must love Him with all their heart, with all their soul, and with all their strength. This particular reality points to the reality that when and as we love the LORD our God, we must not only love Him within the very depth and core of our being, but we must also love Him with all our strength. Please do not miss the awesome and incredible importance of this reality, for to do so would be to miss the absolutely wonderful reality that when we worship the LORD, we must worship the LORD from this same place. We cannot, we must not, and dare not think that we can separate worship from loving the LORD our God, and we cannot think that we can love the LORD our God without our whole heart, without our entire soul, and without all our strength. When we speak of worshipping the living and eternal God we must understand and acknowledge the fact that we must worship Him in spirit—we must worship Him within the very depths of our being. You will notice that in the book of Deuteronomy Moses did not instruct the children of Israel to love the LORD their God with their mind, for the mind and mental assent can never be found in our worship, our affection and our love for the LORD. It’s something to think about and consider that you don’t find the instruction to love the LORD our God with all our mind, for mental assent has never been and will never be enough. Even when we speak of worshipping the LORD in Spirit and in truth we must recognize and understand that the truth we hold about God, and the truth we access when we worship Him must be more than simply that which we hold within our minds. When we speak of worshipping God in spirit and in truth we speak of worshipping God in that inner and secret place of our beings, and worshipping Him according to truth concerning Him—truth that is found within His word. Remember that Jesus separated and distinguished the flesh and the spirit in the garden when He declared that the spirit was truly willing, but the flesh was weak. It was the spirit that would be utilized in prayer, and it was the spirit that would dominate and control Peter, James and John, and not their flesh. Their flesh was weak and unwilling, while their spirit was indeed willing. It was that spirit which Jesus spoke unto His disciples about that must be used when we worship the Father.
The narrative that is found in the encounter and exchanged between Jesus and His disciples at Caesarea Philippi must also be understood, for this brings us face to face with the reality of truth. Jesus asked the disciples very pointedly and very candidly whom they said that He the Son of man was, and Simon responded by declaring that He was the Christ, the Son of the living God. In response to Simon’s declaration, Jesus declared and proclaimed unto him that flesh and blood did not reveal that truth unto him, but rather His Father who was in heaven. Pause for a moment and consider that reality of the Father revealing unto Simon also called Peter that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God, for within those words we find the Father revealing Jesus the Christ just as much as the eternal Son reveals and makes known the eternal Father. With these words Jesus declared unto Simon we find that it was His Father in heaven who revealed unto Him that He was the Christ, and that He was the Son of God—a reality that would also be expressed shortly after this when Peter, James and John were brought up atop a mountain and Jesus was transfigured before them and appeared speaking with Moses and Elijah. It was there atop that mountain the disciples heard a voice from heaven declaring that this was His beloved Son in whom he was well pleased, and that they should hear and listen to Him. The disciples weren’t at the Jordan River when Jesus heard the voice from heaven—the same voice that spoke atop the mountain—and when that voice declared that He was His beloved Son in whom He was well pleased. This reality is truly remarkable when you take the time to think about and consider it, for it is with these words where we discover the revelation and declaration of the Father that Jesus was indeed His Son in whom He was well pleased. The question I can’t help but ask is how the Father revealed unto Simon that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God. At what point did the eternal Father reveal and make known unto Simon that Jesus was indeed the Christ, and that He was the Son of God? Jesus acknowledged the fact that His Father in heaven revealed and made known this reality unto Him, and this truth within the heart and soul of Peter would allow him to make such a declaration. It’s important that we recognize and understand this, for the truth we hold about the Father is made known unto us by the Son, and the truth we hold about the Son is made known to us by the Father.
When we think about and speak about the reality of worshipping the Father in spirit and in truth we must recognize the awesome reality that we worship Him in spirit within the depths of our being, and that we worship Him in the truth we hold about Him within the depths of our heart, and within the depths of our soul. The question I feel compelled to ask you who are reading these words is what truth do you currently hold about the living and eternal God within your heart and soul? What’s m ore, is that I can’t help but ask whether or not the truth you hold about God is based solely on the opinions of men, or whether it has been divinely revealed to you. You will notice that Jesus first asked the disciples whom men said that He the Son of man was, but then He made it personal and asked them whom they believed Him to be. Please don’t miss and lose sight of this absolutely tremendous reality, for to miss this reality is to miss something very important concerning the truth we hold in our hearts about the living and eternal God. It is incredibly easy to give the opinions and views others have about the living God, and it is easy to take the opinions others make about God and make them our own, yet it is something altogether and entirely different to get our truth about the eternal God from his divine Word, and through the person and presence of His divine Son. Jesus heard the opinions and views which the disciples spoke unto Him, and yet after He had heard those opinions He would ask them what they thought and what they believed. This is something that is absolutely and completely necessary when we think about our worshipping the eternal God in spirit and in truth, for the truth we have and the truth we hold to must not merely be truth that is based on the opinions of others, but it must be a truth which we have obtained through reading and studying the divine word of God. The truth we hold about the living and eternal God must be rooted and grounded in the person and presence of Jesus the Christ, as Jesus the Christ reveals and makes known unto us the person and presence of the eternal God. We can indeed worship the living and eternal God in spirit and in truth, and yet the truth we use to worship the living God must come directly from the divine Word of God, and even the words which Jesus Christ Himself spoke. You will recall that Jesus declared that His words were not only life, but His words were also truth, and they were spirit. What’s more, is that Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit and described Him as “the Spirit of truth,” and as the one who would guide them into all truth. This concept of worshipping God in spirit and in truth must have at the very heart and core of it the eternal Spirit who guides us into all truth, and the words of Jesus which are truth in and of themselves. If we are going to worship the eternal God in truth we must recognize the fact that the Spirit is as much a part of our worship as the Son, for the Spirit is the Spirit of truth who also guides us into all truth.
The more I think about this reality of worshiping the Father in spirit and in truth, the more I can’t help but find it directly linked to the words which we find in the Old Testament book of the Psalms. If you turn and direct your attention back to the one-hundred and seventh chapter of this poetic book you will find the psalmist inviting their reader and their audience to give thanks unto the LORD for He is good, and because His mercy endures forever. We dare not and must not miss this all important truth, for when we think about and consider our giving thanks to the LORD we must recognize that we give thanks because of who He is. I spoke about our thinking and believing that we give thanks to the LORD because of what He has somehow done for us within our lives, and yet the truth of the matter is that this simply is not and ought not be the case. We give thanks to the LORD because of who He is, and because of the truth we know concerning Him—namely, that He is good, and that His mercy endures forever. As I sit here this afternoon I have to ask whether or not you truly believe that the LORD is good. It’s easy to read a passage like this and to see the invitation to give thanks to the LORD, and to see the underlying reason and purpose for giving thanks as being the goodness of the LORD, however, the question you and I must ask is whether or not we truly believe the LORD is good. Permit me to ask you personally whether you believe the LORD is good. Please note that I am not asking if you believe the LORD is good to you, or if the LORD has been good to you. What I am asking is whether or not you believe within the depths of your heart and soul that the LORD is good. Do you believe and are you confident in the fact that the living and eternal God is indeed good? What’s more, is do you believe that you can put your trust and your confidence in the goodness of the LORD within your life? Do you believe—based on what you have read within the divine Word of God—that the LORD your God is truly and is indeed good? Do you believe that the LORD truly is good—even in the midst of what we are presently experiencing in our world today? One of the most troublesome and problematic times to truly trust in and speak of the goodness of the LORD is during times of suffering, during times of affliction, during times of feeling overwhelmed, during times of feeling as though the world is caving in all around us. As you look at and examine everything that is taking place within our world today—perhaps everything that is taking place within your life—can you truly say without a doubt that the LORD is good? Oh dear reader, we must come to the place within our heart and our soul where we not only believe that the LORD is good, but can also without a doubt declare that the LORD is good.
The words and language that is found within the opening verse of this psalm not only invites and instructs us to give thanks to the LORD because He is good, but because His mercy endures forever. Within this passage we find the goodness of the LORD and the mercy of the LORD directly linked and connected—a reality which I would say we must understand and recognize that the goodness of the LORD and the mercy of the LORD are in fact directly and intrinsically linked together and cannot be separated from each other. In order to understand this even further it is necessary that you turn and direct your attention to the words which are found in the thirty-fourth chapter of the Old Testament book of Exodus. If you read this particular passage—and quite honestly the latter portion of the preceding chapter—you will find Moses asking the LORD to show him His glory. In the thirty-third chapter of the Old Testament book of Exodus you will find Moses asking the LORD to show him His glory, while in the thirty-fourth chapter of the same book you will find the LORD actually revealing Himself unto Moses, and doing so in a manner and way in which we would not readily expect. With this mind, consider if you will the words which are found in the latter portion of the thirty-third chapter, as well as the opening portion of the thirty-fourth chapter:
“…And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory. And He said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy. And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live. And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: and it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a Clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by: and I will take away mind hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen” (Exodus 33:18-23).
“And the LORD said unto Moses, hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest. And be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning unto mount Sinai, and present thyself there to me in the top of the mount. And no man shall come up with thee, neither let any man be seen throughout all the mount; neither let the flocks nor herds feed before that mount. And he hewed two tables of stone like unto the first; and Moses rose up early in the morning, and went up unto mount Sinai, as the LORD had commanded him, and took in his hand the two tables of stone. And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with Him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. And the LORD passed by before Him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation. And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped. And he said, If now I have found grace in thy sight, O LORD, let my Lord, I pray thee, go among us; for it is a stiff-necked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for thine inheritance. And He said, Behold I make a covenant: before all thy people will I do marvels, such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation: and all the people among which thou art shall see the work of the LORD: for it is a terrible thing that I will do with thee. Observe thou that which I command thee this day: behold, I drive out before thee the Amorite, and the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, and the Hittite, and the Jebusite. Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee: but ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves: for thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God: lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after other gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice; and thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters to a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods. Thou shalt make thee no molten gods” (Exodus 34:1-17).
The words which you find written and recorded within this passage are absolutely astounding when you take the time to truly consider what is contained therein, for when Moses asked for the LORD to show him His glory, the LORD responded to him with a profound declaration. After hearing Moses’ petition and request that He show him His glory, the first words out of the mouth of the LORD is that he would make all His goodness pass before him, and would be gracious to those whom He would be gracious, and would show mercy on those whom He would show mercy. We dare not miss and lose sight of the words found within this passage, for in response to Moses’ plea to see the glory of the LORD, the LORD responded by declaring that He would make all His goodness pass before Him. Please highlight and underscore this within your heart and mind, for the words which we find here in this passage bring us face to face with the fact that the glory of the LORD and the goodness of the LORD are intrinsically linked and connected. Moses asked for the LORD to show him his glory, and the LORD responded by speaking of His goodness. The question I have to ask is whether or not the glory of the LORD is indeed wrapped up, bound and contained within His goodness. Is the glory of the LORD wrapped up and bound in his divine nature, and His divine character? When we ask the LORD through prayer and worship to show us His glory, are we really asking the LORD to show us His goodness—to show us that he is a gracious and merciful God? As you read the narrative of the LORD passing before Moses you will find that when He passed before him, He proclaimed unto him that the LROD was merciful, was gracious, was longsuffering, was abundant in goodness and truth, and that He kept mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin. Upon reading these words you will find once more the goodness of the LORD directly linked to the mercy and grace of the LORD, and these distinct realities are linked to the divine glory of the LORD. I can’t help but think to myself when reading these words that the glory of the LORD must be understood in the truth that He is gracious, that He is merciful, and that He is longsuffering and forgives iniquity. When Moses asked the LORD to show him His glory, that which Moses received and experienced is the LORD revealing His divine nature and character before and unto Him. The LORd invited Moses up to a place near Him in the mount, and that he was to stand upon a rock. When the glory of the LORD passed by, the LORD would cover Moses with His hand, and at the last possible moment He would remove His hand and allow Moses to see His back parts.
Perhaps one of the most remarkable realities about the words we find in the narrative of Moses is that when he asked to see the glory of the LORD, the LORD immediately spoke of His goodness—and not only His goodness, but also His mercy and grace. We cannot afford to miss and lose sight of this beautiful reality, for when we ask the LORD to see His glory, and when we speak of the glory of the LORD, that which we are speaking about is His goodness—and not only His goodness, but also our willingness to express and declare that He is good. When you read the words found in the opening verse of the one-hundred and seventh chapter of the book of the Psalms you will find the psalmist inviting the reader and audience to give thanks unto the LORD, and to give thanks because the LORD is good, and because His mercy endures forever. Please pay close and careful attention to this, for the psalmist invited their reader to give thanks to the LORD not for what the LORD has done for them, but because of who the LORD is. Permit me to stop right here and ask you when the last time was you gave thanks to the LORD simply because He is good. When was the last time you were completely and utterly overwhelmed with the goodness of the LORD? When was the last time you were completely immersed and saturated with the divine nature and character of the living God? When was the last time you asked for the LORD to show you His glory, and when He showed you His glory, He showed you His divine nature and character? When was the last time you stopped to simply think upon who God is—who God is, and not what God has done? Please note that I do not think, nor do I feel there is anything wrong with thinking about what the LORD has done—whether it’s what He has done in your life, or whether it’s what He’s done in the lives of others. Even when and even as you read the words found within the psalms you will find that they invited the reader and audience to consider the goodness of the LORD in direct relation to what He did in times past. What I so love about this particular psalm is that when you come to the fifteenth verse you will find the psalmist again speaking of the goodness of the LORD, and asking that men would praise the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men. It is here with these words, and here in this verse that the psalmist directly links and connects the goodness of the LORD to His wonderful works. Thus by linking the goodness of the LORD to the wonderful works He performed to the children of men the psalmist does in fact acknowledge the awesome reality that the goodness of the LORD is also linked to his works, to His deeds and to His acts. The underlying danger and problem we face is when we focus solely on the goodness of the LORD in relation to his acts and His works rather than who he is as the eternal and living God.
I have to admit that the more I read the words found within this psalm the more I can’t help but be absolutely and completely captivated with the reality that when we give thanks to the LORD—while it is absolutely true that we should give thanks to God for what he has done, we must also recognize and understand that we give thanks to the living God for who He is. We must never allow what the LORD has done to far outweigh and far supersede who He is, and when we speak about giving thanks to the living and eternal God we must recognize and remember that we give thanks to the living God because of who He is—who He is as the eternal God, and who He is within our own hearts and lives. The psalmist invited the reader and audience to give thanks to the LORD, and to give thanks to the LORD because He is good, and because His mercy endures forever. Later on in the psalm you will find the psalmist crying out that men would praise the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men. The psalmist invited the reader and audience to be reminded of the goodness of the LORD, and to not only give thanks for the goodness of the LORD, but also to praise the LORD for His goodness. Time and time again within this psalm you will find the author calling for men to praise the LORD for His goodness, and with this in mind I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the Philippian congregation, as well as to Timothy his spiritual son in the faith. Consider if you will the words which are found in the fourth chapter of the epistle written unto the Philippian congregation, as well as the words which are found in the second chapter of the first epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy:
“Rejoice in the LORD always: and again, I say Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The LORD is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any vituperative, and if there b e any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you” (Philippians 4:4-9).
“I will therefore that man pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting” (1 Timothy 2:8).
As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I feel absolutely compelled to once more call and draw your attention to the nature, to the character, and to the person of the living and eternal God. When speaking unto the Samaritan woman at the well outside of Sychar Jesus emphatically declared unto her that the Father seeks worshipers who will worship Him in spirit and in truth. This reality of worshipping God in spirit and in truth must be carefully understood in that we must be incredibly mindful of the truth we hold within our hearts concerning who the LORD our God truly is. I am convinced that when we worship the LORD we must worship Him with more than the words which others have written about Him, and with more than the words which others have sung before and unto Him. I do believe there is a place for some of the songs which we sing within our houses of worship, but I can’t help but wonder how much of what we are singing in the house of the LORD is the truth we hold to within our lives, and is the truth we actually believe within our hearts. When you enter into the sanctuary of the living God and attempt to worship before Him in his presence, do you truly worship God in truth? Do you truly worship the living God according to the truth that is found within your heart and the truth which you believe based on the revelation that is found within His word, and the revelation that is found in the revelation of and through His Son? The Father is indeed looking for those who worship Him in spirit and in truth, and we must be incredibly careful and mindful of the truth we hold within our hearts concerning the LORD, and we must be absolutely careful when we think about how we come before and worship the LORD, for truth is just as important as spirit is when we worship. We tend to think that spirit is the only way we are to come before and worship the LORD, and that we are to worship the LORD in spirit—within the very depths of our soul, within the depths of our heart, and with our emotions. The truth of the matter is that I fear that more often than not we are driven by our emotions when worship and there is a serious lack of truth in our worship. I do not feel it is any coincidence that Jesus emphatically declared that the Father was seeking those who would worship Him in spirit and in truth, for the Father is seeking those who will know and understand who He is, and will worship Him based on that knowledge. The Father is looking for those who will spend time in His Word and spend time In His presence getting to know Him personally, deeply and intimately, and when they come into the sanctuary to worship Him they do more than simply sing the opinions and views of others. Oh how I am absolutely and completely convinced that the Father is looking for those who like Simon will declare who He is based on a personal revelation which they received from the eternal God, and from the eternal Christ. When we come into the sanctuary of the living God we must truly and completely worship Him based on the truth we have within the very depths of our spirit, and the very depths of our heart as we sing before the LORD and worship Him because of who He is and because we like Peter received a divine revelation that fuels our worship before the throne of the living God.