Joshua 24:14 Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the Lord.

Psalm 51:6 Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.

Psalm 145:18 The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth.

Proverbs 26:23 Burning lips and a wicked heart are like a potsherd covered with silver dross.

Matthew 15:8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.

9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

John 4:23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.

24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.


MEMORY VERSE: My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. —I John 3:18


CENTRAL THOUGHT: The worship that is pleasing to the Lord and which brings Him near to the worshipper is that done in honesty and sincerity and in accordance with revealed truth. Vain worship is that which is done in word only, but not with the whole heart.




Joshua 24:14 “Sincerity”: without defect; blameless; complete; with integrity; entirely in accord with truth and fact. “In truth”: firmness; faithfulness; reliableness.

Proverbs 26:23 “Burning lips”: The American Standard Version reads, “Fervent lips and a wicked heart are like an earthen vessel overlaid with silver dross.”




Joshua was now one hundred and ten years old. Just before he died, he gathered Israel’s leaders together and reminded them of what God had commanded them. He gave them these most important commands: serve the Lord in sincerity and truth and put away false gods. The people made a covenant that day which Joshua recorded, and set up a memorial of stone under the oak tree.

Did the people keep their covenant? As soon as Joshua’s generation was gone, they “turned quickly out of the way”. Their sordid record during the time of the judges proves just how terrible the curses God placed on their idolatry could be.

At last God raised up a leader who was after His own heart who united Israel once again under the worship of the true God. The land was filled with peace and prosperity. David, extolling the greatness of the Lord in Psalm 145, describes how such a mighty God is not far off but near to them who call upon Him in TRUTH! In the Psalm 52 confession of his great sin, he acknowledged that God desires truth in the secret, inward part of man.

In the passage from Proverbs, one can just “see” a piece of common pottery covered with cheap silver paint sitting next to a piece of genuine silver, polished to a bright sheen. It reminds me of a piano I once had, that I called “The Hypocrite.” It was beautiful on the outside—gracefully curving Queen Anne legs and ornate music stand—but its sound made you shudder. Playing it was almost painful to one who really loved good music. This is how I believe God feels when someone prays or praises with a deceitful, wicked heart.

Jesus pointedly told the Pharisees that’s what they were doing. They had established a most awful tradition and taught it as God’s law when it was actually breaking God’s commandment! “Your worship is vain,” He said, quoting from Isaiah 29:13, “Because you honor me with only your lips.” What God wants is our heart—our whole heart.

Jesus, as He talked with the Samaritan woman at the well, shared that God was seeking for worshippers to worship Him in spirit—inwardly with their whole heart—and in truth—in accordance with Divinely revealed knowledge and truth.

When the apostle John talked to the early church about giving, which is a part of our worship, he said, “It’s not with your heart unless your deeds match what your mouth says.”

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck




  1. Last Message: How did Joshua tell the Israelites to serve the Lord?
  2. A God Who is Near: What kind of worship brings us close to God?
  3. A Word Picture: What is this passage portraying? (Proverbs 26:23)
  4. Look it Up: What commandment were the Pharisees breaking by their tradition? What was at the heart of this wicked tradition?
  5. In Truth: Is it enough to just be sincere? Are there requirements for true worship? What does God really desire in our inward parts?
  6. It’s Just Words: How are “fervent lips and a cold, wicked heart” explained in the passage in I John 3?



We have seen in earlier lessons where the Israelites promised time and time again that they would worship the Lord, but then quickly backslid into idolatry and gross wickedness. God longed for a people who would not just pay Him lip service, but have a daily life that blessed and praised and honored Him!

If I say “Praise the Lord” in the worship service and lift my hands in an “Amen, this song is true” gesture, do I carry it out at home? When the box of pins drops all over the rug or the toddler comes in out of the mud onto a freshly mopped floor, what comes out of my mouth? It’s truly a sacrifice to offer up thanksgiving at a time like that, right?

It’s easy to say, “I love you, Lord” when my loved ones are alive and safe, but what if I have said “Good bye” for the last time? Oh, it means so much when in my heart I cherish the Lord and draw near to Him as the tears are falling!

Turn the small acts of every day into worship. Seek Him for the ability and strength to do the littlest task. Praise Him out loud for every good gift. Thank Him in the middle of every difficulty. Obey every small whisper He gives you. Trust Him constantly in the heat of temptation to keep you from sinning against Him. And when it’s time to meet together with His people for worship, yearn after HIs presence, sing with all your might, praise Him with your voice, and yield to His dealings with fervency of spirit.

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck



My Dad’s voice yet echoes through the years with these remembered words of my youth: “Just be yourself, Julie. You don’t have to try to be like anybody else, just be yourself.”

We get good at hiding sometimes, though. Because we don’t always want other people to see or know what is going on inside of us, we turn our lips up in a practiced smile and put on our metaphorical sunglasses. While we are not obligated to show the world every single thought and emotion inside of us, God is different. He yearns for such a close relationship with us that He wants us to keep it real with Him.

How do we, in a practical way then, stay real with God? Bro. Clifford Wilson once spoke these words: “Never be afraid to tell God anything. At all.” It can be kind of intimidating or humbling, however, to tell a Holy God the ugliness of an attitude we are fighting, confessing an uncomely temptation, or admitting we have utterly failed in some way. At times, it is easier to self-justify, ignore, brush over, or hide from these things, all the while maintaining our profession of faith.

The other morning, Satan seemed to rise right up with me to start the day and waged war against me. The more I thought about a certain situation the more disquieted I felt. I drove over to a lake where I walk often. As I walked, I began pouring out the “not so beautiful” emotions raging in my heart. Once again, God amazed me. Rather than feeling condemnation, I felt a peace and quietness flow over me and Satan had to leave. When Wednesday night came around, I didn’t have to pay trite lip service or pray an uninspired prayer. Why? Because God had met me at the altar of honesty and my worship was given with genuine thankfulness.

—Sis. Julie Elwell