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Archive for December, 2013

Come Meet Jesus

Scripture

John 4:39-42

39 From that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all the things that I have done.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to Jesus, they were asking Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. 41 Many more believed because of His word; 42 and they were saying to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.

Observation

Our goal in testifying about our encounter with Jesus is to lead others to encounter Him.

Application

There is no substitute for experiencing something personally over just hearing about it or seeing it from a distance. This past summer I had the opportunity to travel with some friends to London, Paris and Switzerland. It truly was a trip of a lifetime. I had many highlight experiences on that vacation, but one was attending a church service in Westminster Abbey. I’ve heard of it and seen it on tv, but to actually sit in a pew myself to drink in the beauty was completely different. I was able to listen with my own ears the enchanting sounds of the choir voices echoing off the vaulted ceiling of the thousand year old structure. It felt like a small taste of heaven on earth. Some people are good at describing things with words. They can paint a picture and make you feel like you are standing there. But even with the greatest skill, words and still pictures or no match for hearing with your own ears and seeing with your own eyes.

If a great cathedral can’t really be captured with words and cameras, how much greater is the disparity when talking about meeting the God of the universe? How much more there is to explore when considering our Lord has a mind, will and emotions. Our own experiences of Him should be what fuels us to speak so that others will be curious to come and see for themselves. And if they are curious, where will they find him? To be sure, the Lord can be found in the things He has created. The heavens declare the glory of God. But there is a special revelation of Him. The testimony of the Word made flesh is recorded under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in the pages of the Bible. These are not mere words on a page. This is the revelation of the mind, will and emotions of the Lord. How precious is the word of God. The word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword.

Prayer

Father, our desire is for others to meet you and see you for themselves. As we leave today for Quito, we ask you to magnify your great name through this team. Give us many opportunities to speak of you and show by our actions what you’re like. Today we are trusting that you have many people in the city of Quito. Your Word accomplishes what you send it to do. Be pleased to bring people to yourself to taste and see that you are good.

 

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Working Together

Scripture

John 4:36-38

36 “Already he who reaps is receiving wages and is gathering fruit for life eternal; so that he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. 37 “For in this case the saying is true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 “I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored and you have entered into their labor.”

Observation

Entering others’ labor to witness about Jesus as Messiah increases joy.

Application

In the last post I said that Jesus, when saying, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.” he meant that doing the will of His Father was what energized him. He said, “Look up! The fields are white for harvest!”. I do think the harvest, Jesus is referring to is the spiritual harvest of human souls who will be worshipers. The parable of the wheat and tares comes to mind. The wheat represents those with saving faith: true worshipers. The tares represents those who have not willingly bowed their knee to the True King: those gathered for hell. Jesus came to seek and save the lost. But now, Jesus specifically says that we participate in this great harvest of souls as a community project. One sows and another reaps.

Sowing is hard work. A lot of times, the ground is hard. You’ve got to do a lot of work to even have a place to drop the seed in. It would be easy to think that if someone reaped what they did not sow, the sower would be resentful, not joyful.  Jesus says the sower and reaper rejoice together. The explanation then is the produce is for the owner of the field, not the laborers. God is the owner of the field and is worthy of true worshipers. There is joy in that. The worshipers have been plucked from the fire to worship the King, and there is joy in that.

At the end of the last college football season, I received a pair of Cotton Bowl tickets to see my Aggies play. I would have had great joy to watch the game on tv with my hubby and watch Johnny Manziel destroy the Sooners. But there was a joy inexpressable to go to the game and stand and yell my guts out next to people who also loved them. I love that God has made this life of the great commission a community project. We will go to Ecuador and enter into others’ labor. That will bring us and them great joy. We see the same truth. Joy is multiplied when people see the same truth. God is worthy of worshipers.

Prayer

Father, thank you that you let us work alongside others to bring glory to your great name. May we each encourage the other to press on for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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Food

Scripture

John 4:31-35

Meanwhile the disciples were urging Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” But He said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” So the disciples were saying to one another, “No one brought Him anything to eat, did he?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work. “Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest.

Observation

Being about the work of the Father gives life sustaining energy

Application

It is interesting reading verses in context and not pulled out in isolation. If I were to hear verse 35 out of context, what comes to mind is the urgency to give the gospel to a ready people. “The fields are white for harvest”. In other words, it sounds like Jesus is saying, “Give the gospel because people are ready to be converted”, like the woman at the well. And because we do know that is a Biblical truth, we don’t even question that that is Jesus’ meaning in THIS passage. But the context here is that Jesus and the disciples are talking about food. They urge him to eat. Why? Because he’s human and needs food for his health and to have the energy to keep moving. Bodies are designed to need food. God gives us such great physical illustrations for the spiritual life. The energy food provides runs out and we need to take in more. Jesus equates doing the will of God with food. In other words, doing the will of God is the nourishment you need for your spiritual life to flourish. Let me say it another way: Doing God’s work is for YOUR benefit, not because He needs your help.

Have you ever felt spiritual burnout? This passage should make us wonder how all this fits together. If Jesus is saying that doing the work of God gives energy, then spiritual burnout makes no sense. But, I know from experience that it happens. What’s going on? Well, too often we are doing what WE think is the will of God and it isn’t…at least it isn’t for us in that moment. To be sure, sharing the gospel is the will of God. Helping the needy is the will of God. Working hard is the will of God. Rest is also the will of God in its time. The overarching “will of God” that puts everything in place is that we are to glorify Him. Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. As long as our aim is that God be seen as magnificent…and I would submit that proper rest magnifies the truth that God doesn’t need me to run the universe, then even rest glorifies God.

Prayer

Father, thank you that you have wired the universe to operate in such a way that when I obey You, I am nourished. Your ways are so perfect that you can help others and help me, all the while glorifying yourself, if I will obey. Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!  For Who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor?  Or Who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to Him again? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

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Leaving the Waterpot

Scripture

John 4:27-30, 39

27 At this point His disciples came, and they were amazed that He had been speaking with a woman, yet no one said, “What do You seek?” or, “Why do You speak with her?” 28 So the woman left her waterpot, and went into the city and said to the men, 29 “Come, see a man who told me all the things that I have done; this is not the Christ, is it?” 30 They went out of the city, and were coming to Him.

39 From that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all the things that I have done.”

Observation

Jesus speaking to us compels us to speak about Him

Application

The imagery in this passage is great. I love how God uses physical things in a true story to represent the spiritual realities as well. The disgraced woman with no standing with anyone, leaves her waterpot to go tell all those same people who see her as disgraced, the man she has encountered. The waterpot represents the way she met her thirst. One of the ways she met her thirst for love and acceptance was through illicit relationships with men. She doesn’t need the “waterpot” anymore because Jesus’ presence in her has become a spring of water inside her. She is able to slake her thirst anytime. And now she has no fear of the people who see her as disgraced. If the one to whom she should feel disgrace from has accepted her, then why would this woman fear man anymore?

Speaking to other’s about Jesus… I often feel condemned in this area. I know I don’t speak about Christ as much as I should. Should..Ought to.. Those words have their place in talking about our response to Christ. We do have an obligation. There is scripture to support that thought. Romans 8:12-13 comes to mind. “So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh  — for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. Obligation means an act or course of action to which a person is morally or legally bound; a duty or commitment. Imagine if someone commented to me about all the ways i should fulfill my duties as a wife. If their counsel was to remind me that I was legally and morally responsible to do those things, anyone would see the deficiency in that counsel. In a relationship, do you honor someone when you only speak about duty and obligation towards them? Could that ever be described as worship? Remember, He saves us to be true worshipers. 

If we find in us a weakness to be silent about Him, the correct action is to go back to Him and have Him speak to us. When we are reminded who He is who speaks to us, and when we remember who we are, sinners graciously and freely accepted, we will be compelled to speak.

Prayer

Father, speak to us. Remind us who you are and who we are. We desire for others to know your magnificent character and your abundant mercy.

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And Now Is

Scripture

John 4:22-26

You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.23 “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. 24 “God is spirit , and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.

Observation

Jesus saves us for worship

Application

I love it when people speak plainly. I am a “get to the point” kind of person. My hubby will often start telling a story and it seems to me he will take way too long to get to the main point. I start getting antsy when he does this. I am ready for the point of the story. Jesus has said the phrase “An hour is coming” twice…but then this second time, he adds “and now is”. Whoa… Now is… It’s time for Him to reveal himself. All of human history is culminating in this one man, Jesus.

“I who speak to you am He”. He is the Messiah; the Word made flesh. He is the One spoken of in Genesis. “He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.” Jesus can’t be anymore direct than this.

Jesus is the Messiah. But, there is more He reveals. If you want to ever ask a clarifying question of someone and what they believe about Jesus, ask them why He saves us. Jesus gives the answer. The Father is seeking worshipers. How are rebels turned into worshipers? Something new has to be born. He told Nicodemus he must be born again. The first born of all creation was born on this day we celebrate. The Son of God, begotten of the Father, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father; By whom all things were made. Who for us men, and for our salvation, came down and was incarnate and was made man; Wow…when you really see…you worship. You have become a true worshiper.

Prayer

Father, thank you seems a little weak… but it is all I have. Gratitude. Overflowing gratitude for Jesus. You didn’t have to send Him for me, but I thank you that it was your good pleasure to give me the kingdom and transform me into a true worshiper.

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The Coming Hour

Scripture

John 4:19-21

The woman said to Him, “Sir , I perceive that You are a prophet. 20 “Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her,”Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 

Observation

Everyone has an appointed judgment hour.

Application

The elephant in the room…judgment hour. How often I am scared to go there with people. Jesus is not because He knows the stakes and He knows that all whom the Father gives him will come to him. Jesus says in John 10:27-28, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.”  Jesus looks into this woman’s future apart from saving belief, and sees judgment that leads to eternal separation. There is NO place she will worship the Father apart from a spiritual rebirth (living water). Religion has never cut it. There is nothing you can do right on this earth to worship the Father. It’s stunning really…and offensive to people. There is NO way to please the Father by my own doing. For thirty years I thought that I really wasn’t that bad and I thought I was a Christian. I had NO idea that my definition of “being a good person” was fatally different than God’s. I have a friend of the family right now who lies in a hospice bed marking hours until she meets God face to face. She is not without some hope. The question is whether or not it is true Hope. She has spent her life being religious. Maybe she really has tasted the living water. It is possible. But I have enough doubt that there is no reason I shouldn’t tell her about the good news one more time.

Prayer

Father, as long as we have breath, we have an opportunity to turn in repentance and faith. Remind us that we live among a people with false hope. Give us courage today to speak of the One Blessed True Hope.

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Call Your Husband

Scripture

John 4:15-18

15 The woman said* to Him, “Sir , give me this water, so I will not be thirsty nor come all the way here to draw.” 16 He said* to her, “Go, call your husband and come here.” 17 The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said* to her, “You have correctly said, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly.”

Observation

Jesus doesn’t ignore sin

Application

Do you ever get overwhelmed with the brokenness in our world? i have looked at the news this morning and two things came before me. The first was the death of Claire Davis, the 17 year old high school senior in Colorado, shot last week in the school shooting. The second was the death of Ronnie Smith, the young husband and father, shot while running in the streets of Libya. I read those news stories and grieve for a moment, but two families have been rocked beyond all comprehension. Both deaths were incredibly senseless and evil beyond words. I am horrified when I see manifestations of evil like that, but I am strangely comfortable with the sin that remains in me. I have to see that the taproot that expressed itself in those horrific crimes is the same taproot for every sin, no matter how small I think it is. Sin is awful. Sin hurts people and dishonors God. There are two outcomes of sin: either a person bears the wrath of God for eternity in hell or Jesus’ takes your place, bearing the wrath of God for you. Those two outcomes tell you what God thinks about sin. We are often like the woman. We want what Jesus promises because it sounds like it will meet our needs and make our life better.  But if we are unwilling to deal with our sin, He will expose that duplicitous heart. He fully knows how awful sin is, even if we are blind to it. It’s His kindness to lead her to repentance. He will do the same for you. Is there any sin in your life you are holding onto? Be honest with God. Talk to Him. Lay it down. It’s not worth it. “Go, call your husband and come here”.

Prayer

Father, thank you that my sin does not put you off. Thank you for sending Jesus to take my punishment and bear Your wrath. Thank you for your Holy Spirit who lives inside me who puts to death the sin that still remains. Give me courage to walk in obedience to you for your great name’s sake.

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