Sermon series: Life after Failure

  1. True Worship - John 4

  2. Gideon's Guidelines for Greatness - Judges 6-8

  3. Sermon: Carry the Glory - 1 Chron., 2 Sam.

  4. Unified in Purpose - Acts 4

Scriptures: John 4:16-39


What do you purchase as a gift for the person who has everything? Perhaps you have faced that dilemma and walked with frustration through stores hoping to find a special gift that communicates your love and meets a need in the life of the one receiving the gift.

Apply this situation to our attempts to offer God a gift He desires. God knows all things and possesses all the treasures of heaven and earth. He does not need anything. But, there is one commodity that God longs to receive from His followers. God desires for His children to freely, boldly, and passionately worship Him in spirit and truth. John 4 reveals that almighty God possesses an unceasing desire for true worshipers.

I. Reject strongholds (John 4:19-20)

As this insightful conversation develops between Jesus and an immoral Samaritan woman, we learn about strongholds or obstacles that often prevent individuals and churches from experiencing true worship. She struggles with the penetrating issues raised by Jesus by hiding behind the barriers of places and programs.

Many Christians have settled for cheap imitations of true worship. Some relegate worship to a particular event or building. Often, worship is considered to be the music in a corporate service that is followed by the preaching. An entire style of music has been labeled "praise and worship" in an attempt to distinguish music from traditional hymns.

While music is an integral part of worshiping God, we should note that Jesus does not mention singing. When the apostle Paul spoke of Christ-honoring worship in Romans 12:1, he challenged believers to become living sacrifices. True worship rejects the strongholds that prevent followers of Christ from responding to God with heart, soul, mind, and strength in loving recognition of God's glory and love.

II. Recognize the Savior (John 4:26)

After Jesus exposes the false assumptions of worship, He guides the Samaritan woman into an amazing recognition of His glory and His mission to save people from their sins. True worship erupts in the soul of one who understands that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away sin. He is the living water that cleanses and quenches the deepest thirst of one's soul. Using water as the metaphor for eternal life, Jesus opens her eyes to see Him as the promised Messiah and Savior.

III. Repent of sin (4:16-18)

Another principle of true worship surfaces in Jesus' instruction for the woman to "Go tell your husband" (v.17). The Lord Jesus, who knows all things, did not assume that she was married. Jesus guides her to confess and repent of sin. Our sinfulness becomes grossly obvious upon the recognition of Christ's holiness. Once this woman recognized Jesus, she humbly acknowledges her sinful past. The prophet Isaiah had a similar experience. When he saw the Lord high and lifted up, he fell down in confession of personal and national sin (Is. 6:5).

IV. Request with supplication (4:10)

True worship also includes calling upon the Lord to meet our needs. In verse ten, Jesus challenges the woman and all future worshipers with the words "you should have asked." The Bible says in James 4:2 that we often miss God's blessing because we fail to ask for God's help. Revelation 5:8 describes the prayers of the saints as sweet smelling sacrifice. Christ-honoring worship must provide an opportunity to call upon the Lord through prayer

V. Relay the story (4:39)

Prayer leads to the final principle of true worship revealed. This woman left her water pot and returned to the village to tell others how to receive eternal life. Verse 39 reveals that many believed because of her testimony. The Christian community has debated whether worship or evangelism is the greater priority for a church.

We see a beautiful balance in this woman's worship of Jesus Christ. True worship brings lost people to Jesus! The apostle Paul described an accurate picture of true worship in Romans 15:15-16 where he identified his preaching the gospel to win Gentiles as an acceptable offering to the Lord. We must be careful not to separate or debate the significant interdependence of worship and evangelism for true worship.


When Jesus speaks to us about living water and true worship, He invites us to explore the depths of His love through worship. May we never limit the Lord Jesus to a set time, place, or activity. The great hymn, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, captures the essence of true worship with the words, "Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all." God is seeking true worshipers. He longs for you to worship Him in spirit and truth. Would you present your gift of worship to Him today?

Dr. Steve Andrews is senior pastor Alabaster Baptist Church, Alabaster, Alabama. He and his wife Karen have four children. He holds a Doctor of Ministry degree from Luther Rice Seminary, a Master of Divinity from Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the University of Georgia.