John 4 Trust and Insight

For the Jews first, then dscn5635Samaria, and then to the ends of the earth. This command was part of the final standing orders left with His followers which still stands today. Yet here in the first selected information about Jesus, we see he already lived out this pattern of order. He went first to the leaders, to the religious hub. His first sign to them that were watching him so closely  is water to wine at a Jewish wedding ceremony in Cana of Galilee. After cleaning house in the temple in Jerusalem, and doing and teaching many there, he goes to Samaria and is well received and teaches there. Then He returns to Cana where the second sign is given. This one is a healing for the benefit of a foreigner.

He did these things in front of his own hometown folk. They had high and perhaps selfish expectations. Jesus did not seem to have high expectations. When the official came to Him, he asked for the presence of Jesus thinking it was required for healing. But all that was required was for Jesus to say so.

What does Jesus say? It is so. And we are given explicit proof that convinced this official that it was not by chance nor coincidence but by the declaration Jesus made that his son was healed. So he believed and his entire household also believed. Imagine the change there!

dscn0889The needed miracle led to the salvation of this family. Jesus knew what it would take for “you people” to believe. He met the need and they believed. That example is for me also.

  • What needs hold people back from believing?
  • How can I be impactful in meeting a need so salvation can come?
  • Is it a word of encouragement?
  • Is it a gift of my time?
  • My money?
  • A letter of intercession?
  • What power do I have to meet another’s need?

Jesus did not seek out this person, rather He was sought by them. Who comes to me seeking help?  Why me? What have I to offer? Why did they come to me? What is the underlying need and how can I meet that?

Lord, make me wise and discerning to know what the real needs are of those who come to me asking for help. Guide me to respond with what will help them and lead them to trust in You. It was not a trip that was required of You, your entire day did not need to be reordered for him. You need only to say the word and the man left, not even convinced but with hope. Yes, You had healed, but he did not know, he had the hope and left to see. He faced a journey, but his answer came before he even got home. Do I come to Jesus as this man did? Trusting enough in His spoken declaration to return and see?

John 4 Sharing Jesus

The woman was valued enough by the men that to them, she was believable. I don’t understand that, but I appreciate it. They came to Jesus because they believed her. Was it her confession and her change reflected in her countenance plus the ability to confess that drew them as well?  The men felt the weight of their own sin and were drawn to Jesus because of her testimony, her word. They came. Jesus met with them and their dscn3134-e1498929851852hearts were also changed. Many more believed. That is not all. But those who chose him, they were given the choice. They were able to have Jesus stay with them for two days. Two days with the Savior, their lives would never be the same. I wonder what the legacy of that town, those men and women, is today.

She shared, she led, the men came, they believed, they studied. Am I sharing Jesus? Jesus as the Savior of the world? Not just for Americans, not just for men, not just for the Jew, not just for this or that race, not for just the ones who go to church, not just for the rich, not just for the poor, but for all.

Lord let me listen deeply and draw from your living, pure, abundant, flowing waters of Your Spirit and Truth. May today be a day of sharing truth and testimony about You as the One Who Reconciles our deepest longings.

John 4 Working Within One’s Gift

Jesus had been physically exhausted upon their arrival in town. His men had gone for food. In the meantime, He had ministered to this woman and the men of the town. Jesus was energized not by the physical food brought by his men, which he no longer seemed to need, rather He was nourished by the food of accomplishing the work , doing His Fathers will.

When I do His will, and accomplish His work, he will nourish me and provide me with the physical needs I have to accomplish it.

dscn2630Hear we have Jesus, reaping souls for His kingdom to come at a time before He has even gone to the cross. The reaper gathers fruit that the sowers work started. The reaper joins the labor force that planted and tilled. He gathers the fruit. Jesus sowed hope into the woman at the well, and then He reaped a town-full.

  • What work am I doing for His harvest?
  • Am I tilling soil? Am I planting seeds of hope?
  • Am I reaping the ripe harvest?
  • Am I on my knees praying?
  • Do I love as He loved which is my act of evangelism?

John 4 How to Do My Part

Am I worshiping  The Holy Spirit in Spirit and in Truth? Jesus revealed Himself first to the religious leader who sought truth, Nicodemus and now he for the second time reveals Himself to the Samaritan woman. His next reveal is to the ends of the earth, just as we are commissioned at his ascension. Jesus’s disciples return to the well and find Him talking to ‘this’ woman. dscn4537They “marvel” at seeing Him talking to such a person. Yet they did not question it, they instead accept it as a new lesson, a moment such as we might have when we are confronted with His example and respond with the amazed thought, “you mean in this too Lord? Wow, I never would have guessed!” What better way did Jesus have to reach a hearing to the sinners in need in this town, than through the woman who they all knew so well? What better voice of hope than the one of their mutual use? They came, believing something must be true, not sure of what, but knowing that if SHE of all people, had hope, there was hope for them also. It was the authority of Jesus that changed their hearts. Jesus met one strategic God-ordained opportunity and the town was reached.

  • Do I seek Jesus as these Samaritans did?
  • Do I accept His forgiveness to the depth of sin in the crevasses of my soul and memories?

Let me turn my all to Him consistently trusting His love and mercy to forgive and set me free for His purpose in my small part to bring all mankind to the saving knowledge of Jesus. The greatest thing I can do is to bring others into His presence where He works in their hearts. Jesus saves. I serve him. All praise glory and honor to my king!

John 4 Lessons From, For, To Sinners and The Broken Ones

2013-10-23-15-42-01-e1498736521469When a Jewish prophet shows up in her small town, recognizes her own deep spiritual need, what is the first question that comes to the mind of this hurting woman, kept under by her culture and by His? She asks about the worship of God. At her heart, is a heart wanting to worship God in the right way, to honor Him in the midst of a difficult life. She is not only an outcast in her little town, but her little town is an outcast from their Jewish cousins who tell them they do not worship in the right place. They do not go to the right church. You live with judgment from other worshipers who say that you are doing it wrong. You don’t ask this question if it does not burn in your heart to honor God properly. Jesus saw into her heart and she opened up to Him with this question. Why?   I don’t understand! Why?

Jesus reached across culture and time and puts us all to account. Where is the proper place to worship? What is the right church to attend? It’s not where but how! God, The Father, is worship-able in two ways together, in spirit and in truth. Worshipers are sought after by The Father. He seeks those who will honor Him in truth and in the spirit.

And she jumps to a new question, a truth question, about the coming Messiah. And to a foreign woman, a sinful woman, a town prostitute and kept woman, Jesus speaks truth directly, clearly, with no parables, no shrouding nor softening, but in declaratory language…”I am He”. “I, who speak to you, am He”. “I, The Creator, The Savior of all mankind, The face of God Himself,  I who forgives sinners and makes all things new, I Am He !”

Jesus, waited for her question to come. Waited DSC_0255for her to speak her heart to him, before He revealed Himself to her. For the first time in John’s book, this was the first moment Jesus spoke about who He is so clearly. Not to his own hometown, nor His own capital city, nor the religious leader, but to a Samaritan woman. Two loaded adjectives, “Samaritan” and “woman”.

Jesus also walked the example we are to walk, revealing Himself, first to the Jews, then to the Samaritans, then to the ends of the earth. By reaching the least of these, Jesus reached a city, a nation, the World. He did not go to the leaders, to the rich, but to those whose hearts were most needy and ready to receive Him.

  • Where do I go with the message of the Spirit and of truth?
  • Am I walking and living by the spirit and by truth?
  • Am I focused on Jesus, on The FATHER, and do I worship Him in and with my spirit and aware of truth?
  • Am I focused on my sinfulness contrasted to His holiness thus humble in my questions to Him with a heart of praise?
  • A heart to obey?
  • A heart to spread joy?

Lessons from- to- for a prostitute;

from , to, for an abused woman;

from, to and for a sinner.

John 4 How Jesus Speaks the Truth in Love

2015-07-18-13-27-09This next passage brings a change in perspective. There has been a progression in how the woman is thinking about Jesus. First she sees Him simply as a Jew who has broken one of His cultural traditions by both being there and speaking to her, even requesting help from her. This got her attention.

Second she calls Him Lord, showing respect to Him (this out of place Jew, who is without resources to meet His own need yet alone to provide whatever living water is). Third, she calls Him Lord who might make her life a little easier, by not going to this well for her daily water supply. Perhaps this is a challenge; she is open to having a better life, not happy with her current one but stuck in it.

Now, she calls Him prophet. Lord. Her opinion is greatly elevated. Why? Because He spoke truth to her in love about her life. She asked Him for His water provision, perhaps only partly hoping it was possible, or with only a ‘back of the heart’ wishful feeling and a reserved request, sliver of hope attitude.

Yet that is all the opening Jesus needs and now He confronts her with truth. The door norwaylake-imscracked open and His light, rushes in like a gust of wind blowing the door wide open in the light of Truth! A command. Go, call your husband, and come here. She can go, but she cannot lie about her life, not at this level and not to this ‘man?’. So she speaks truth back to truth. No husband. She admits it. What rush of shame did she feel as she may be thinking that what He has to offer her cannot be given to her, a woman who is so lowly used by men in her town? But Jesus does not condemn her. Now He instead commends her because she has indeed admitted her sin, she has spoken truthfully. And Jesus lets her know that He knows the entire truth about her, she has had 5 husbands, (this must be a euphemism) and the man she is now with she is not in a proper relationship status; not married but living together or kept by him.

How can he know theses things? He must be a prophet, and so she tells Him that…

Lord, Prophet, Jesus. You see inside hearts and minds. You test our willingness to admit our sin and trust You with truth about ourselves. You ask us for help, then you offer us more than we can imagine knowing that we are undeserving. I admit to you now, those things in my life that I am ashamed of, that you know about already. I do not even know my own neediness sometimes Lord. Yet I desire Your life-giving water, I too am thirsty in the midst of the world and situations in my life that trap me. Release me Lord with the truth. Blow open the hidden doors of my heart with your gently, warm life giving truth. Let me stand in your presence accepted and washed clean.

John 4 Water of Life

How does Jesus respond to the question of an ignorant woman?  Respectfully, lovingly, generously, graciously. No condemnation, no shame. Rather with the offer of the gift of life, real life, eternal life. He has a water to offer her, which she cannot see. A water greater than the water she now depends on to survive in this not so nice life of hers. There is a new water; one 2013-10-23-15-42-28that brings a change to her from the inside, not the outside. She wants this! This speaks to the thirstiness of her heart. Jesus casts a vision of hope eternal. He stirs a longing in her heart to action. Deep in every person is that longing for rescue from this life. It is THE story waiting to be told into each heart. Jesus knows she is thirsty for this and He offers to her living water. Does she even now fully understand what he is offering? Of course not. Her world is so full of daily care and survival, the message is not fully understood , yet Jesus is tilling the soil and planting the seed. For now, her reaction and most visible desire is to avoid the painful and shameful but necessary trips to the well. Jesus is not done with her yet. He has brought forth into the light the pain she suffers from sin. She has spoken her need, to not have a thirst that makes her come to this place of confrontation and shame.

  • Do I seek to inspire a longing for truth?
  • Do I love like Jesus loved this cultural outcast?
  • Am I gracious, generous and respectful as He is?

Lord, help me be like you today!

John 4 It Is OK to Ask

Jesus has just offered living water to a Samaritan woman. She does not comprehend. How could she? Instead, she observes carefully, a trait her situation in life has trained 2014-06-28-14-05-56her well in. The man is a Jew. He is alone. He is thirsty. He is passing through (odd as usually they take the long way around to avoid us) He has nothing to draw water out of the well with. It’s a deep and historic well. He is clearly a learned man and must know its history? It’s the only one around. Where is He going to get any other water around here? What living water is He talking about?

  • Do I look at my circumstances, seeing only the facts of the world and thus remain clueless as to how Jesus will provide for me, or that he is even able?
  • Do I doubt because I cannot see or understand?

Then go ahead and be like this woman, it IS OK to ask! Where?  How?  Do I look at Jesus and see only His humanity and not His power?

  • The woman questions His intent. You’re asking me?  v9
  • The woman questions His resources. Where is your cup? v11.
  • She questions his authority. You aren’t greater than our father? v12.

And that OK. That is how questions get answered. He answers in love and power and always to our deepest need whether we know what it is to even ask for. His love gives to us first.

Ask.

John 4 Dignity of Choice

 

She responds to Jesus who has asked her to give him something. Asked her. Asked for something from her. Recognized in her, a woman, scorned by her own and His own,  He recognized value. She had something to give to him! The idea had never entered her mind before! This is a racially tense circumstance. Jesus has initiated contact with her and it is not to dismiss or abuse her. He was asking her to do him a favor. dsc_0416She was used to being considered less than others, to being ordered around and abused. Yet in one simple request, she is elevated to the ability to make a choice. Then she is told about an even better choice she has. Jesus, in asking something from her, had given her the opportunity to wonder. To ponder. To ask ‘how’ and ‘why’. To express shock and surprise. He gave her room to feel and the dignity and value to seek truth. Jesus knew. He knew who and what she was. He knew the place where He stood,  this well, with the history of  the area surrounding Him. Jesus approached a woman who looked at Him considering him by His dress, as one who will think he is better than her, and perhaps, in her own situation, she felt the same way about herself-an outcast among outcasts. Victimized and abused. No place to turn. Then grace appears and asks her to give to Him.

  • Am I listening today for what God is asking of me to give to Him?
  • No matter how little I may think of myself, there is something of value that I have to give to Him. Am I willing to listen and learn?

When I am in need, I often am only focused on my need. Jesus shows me that when I am needy, I am useful for sharing truth and love of the gospel. I have never enjoyed neediness, sickness, trials and tribulations. I don’t like asking for help because I don’t want to burden others with my needs. It somehow seems wrong to me. I was taught not to impose myself on others. Yet here, I see Jesus, with His body in need and He goes and asks for help. If we go to a person in a time of need and ask for help, we too could be opening a door to offer spiritual help to them! Thus, my physical needs can be opportunity for spiritual blessings.

2011-08-21 22.09.18

 

Sidenote.2015-02-11-13-13-59-e1497827978264

Side note: Stumbling block or stepping-stone? You decide!

I have passed this way before, confronted with this, oft times, very large puddle. Today I saw this and my first thought was “what is that? A stumbling block? But then a young woman walking up the steps reached that spot and without hesitation put her foot squarely in the center of that big block and continued on her way up the stairs without any risk of watery shoes. No! It’s a stepping stone, it just depends on how you look at it.

 

So what things do I find in my life that can be either a stumbling block or a stepping-stone? It’s in my power to choose how I will look at each and every opportunity. What will it be for you?