Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Morning Hour

John 4

13,14: "Those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again ... It becomes a fresh bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life."

15: The woman at the well replied, perhaps with a bit of sarcasm, "Give me this water! Then I'll never be thirsty again, and I won't have to come here to get water."
Had she decided to play along with this stranger and his outlandish claims? Did she say, in effect, "I'm always up for a freebie! At least it'll save me a daily chore."

16: "Go and get your husband." Jesus told her.
Whoa. Time for Jesus to cut through her banter with a most-sobering question. I bet her face about slid clear off her head! As he did with this woman, the Lord has a way of lovingly confronting us with SERIOUS in the middle of our foolishness. Out of his extreme love for us he will being up subjects we'd rather be kept in that very back closet. The Light penetrates the blackest darekness. The Word is always ready to execute life-saving surgery. Heb 4:12

17: "I don't have a husband," the woman replied.
Surely she must have wondered why this talkative Jew jumped from water to her personal life! Why on earth did he bring that up? Well, she'd put a stop to that, pronto. To unstop the ears and eyes of our hearts, Jesus has to sometimes administer shock treatment. Painful, but effective.

"You're right! You don't have a husband - for you have had five husbands, and you aren't even married to the man you're living with now. You certainly spoke the truth!"
Speaking the truth in love! He wasn't waiting for an opportunity to grind her into the dirt. He was not gleefully waiting to pounce on her sordid life and exclaim, "GOTCHA!"
He was shining the light on her gigantic need for spiritual healing. He wanted to clear the darkness from her soul. Don't you think she was probably squirming, as my mom used to say, "Like a worm in hot ashes."?
The Samaritan woman wriggled away from admitting she might have a teeny problem, and turned quickly to Jewish/Samaritan theology. How convenient it is to lather up on doctrine rather than fess up about our darkness!

Jesus isn't done with her yet.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Morning Hour

This is my favorite way of studying God’s word: letting the Lord speak to me as I pay close attention to each verse.

John 4 - Jesus and the woman at the well

10: “Jesus replied, ‘If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.’ ”

11: “But sir …”
So typical of we human beings! Jesus says something – presents a wonderful, though often inconvenient and/or uncomfortable way of living or speaking, and we respond (respectfully!), “But sir ….”

“You don’t have …”
We tend to laud God as all-powerful when encouraging another to put her complete trust in his awesome abilities. But do we look at him doubtfully when it’s our turn and say, “You don’t have a bucket or a rope”? (I just can’t see how you can do that, Lord.)

“This well is very deep …”
In today’s reasoning: “Lord, this problem is extremely complicated. This conflict is so tangled up – and Lord, you know how terribly he treated me! So I know you’ll forgive me, Lord, I’m sure, for being skeptical of handling this your way; I just don’t see how it’ll work out for the good.”

“Where would you get this living water?”
In today’s reasoning: “I can’t SEE any evidence of such a thing as you’re claiming – I can’t imagine how such a miraculous way of life could be possible. Sounds like a bunch of hocus-pocus to me. A fountain of life is just a myth.”

12: “And, besides, do you think you’re greater than Jacob … who gave us this well?”
Translated in today’s language: “I’m going to go with what I can taste, see and feel! I’m going to trust in what I KNOW! Why does Jesus think he knows better than the way my parents taught me to live?”

“How can you offer better water than he (Jacob) and his animals enjoyed?”
Our translation: “I think I’ll stick with the visible. At least I know I’ll have my physical needs satisfied until I die – how can anything be better than that?!”

But Jesus isn’t done with this dear, unseeing woman … Praise his holy name!!!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Evening Hour

Have you ever been really, really thirsty? Well, I’ve never been stranded in the desert with no water, so I can’t imagine that kind of thirst, but I have experienced the longing for ice-cold water that results from working in the yard in 95 degree weather. I can’t get to the faucet or water bottle in the frig fast enough. I even tremble a little anticipating that first gulp. That clear liquid is so delightful, I contemplate pouring it over my head once I've quenched that awful dryness within. Although feeling sated, I continue to savor sips, thanking heaven for the blessing of H2O.

Tomorrow it will happen again if I get out in the heat and weed, or plant some flowers, or mow. It won’t be long before I gotta go for the life-giving wet stuff – water.

What would it feel like to never be thirsty again? Physically I don’t expect to know that. But spiritually? We all can! In John 4:13-14 Jesus revealed to a sinful woman drawing water that,“Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”

What a promise! A sweet, pure source of life for right now, and forevermore! I want to crave and savor this fountain above anything else in my life.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Morning Hour

When I used to read John 3 I immediately would jump to verse 5, “born of water and the Spirit” because that’s where I’d heard most everyone else camp in that chapter. That’s because we who were members of the Church of Christ were duty-bound to teach heretics that Jesus did not mean human birth by the phrase, “born of water.” He definitely is referring to baptism, period. All else paled when compared with the task of opening those unseeing eyes.

I will not discuss or debate any interpretation of that phrase anymore. To do so draws the life from the wondrous truths encircling that statement! As far as I’m concerned, it does not matter whether the Lord meant human birth or immersion in water. What needs to take center stage in our minds and spirits is the fact that the Holy Spirit of God births us into the Kingdom of God, which is beyond explanation!! That miracle defies our ability to take it apart and put each piece into a neat cubicle!

The Spirit births us into spiritual life in the Kingdom of eternal life through no works of our own – but by our bowing the knee to belief in Jesus Christ. God loves us so very much that he eagerly makes us his own beloved children through this only Son, Immanuel. The Lord does not judge us; he surrounds us with light evermore.

Praise God and our beloved Savior for this unspeakable gift.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Morning Hour

“Jesus went to Jerusalem. In the Temple area he saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; he also saw dealers at tables exchanging foreign money. Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers’ coins over the floor, and turned over their tables … he told them, ‘Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!’ ” (John 2:13-16)

“You are not your own, you are bought with a price. Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body” (1 Cor. 6:19-20).

Just as those selling animals and birds for sacrifices, and others who were exchanging foreign money for local currency should never have presumed to set up shop in the Temple, neither should we allow anything or anyone to occupy the holy place within us where the Holy Spirit dwells. It sounds as if having cattle, sheep, and doves available for purchase by the worshipers was necessary and good. That wasn’t the problem; Jesus became incensed when they were allowed to encroach on the holy ground reserved for a Mighty God.

Our bodies are to be reserved as temples for God’s Presence, the Spirit. Satan enjoys trying to slip things under the door, so to speak, that don’t belong in that space! And too often we cooperate beautifully.

Certain activities are also necessary in this age. We have to engage in buying and selling, maintaining, and many other earth-bound doings. God desires that we rest and recreate our physical, emotional and mental selves. Investing in and caring for our families is a noble desire. It’s only if and when we transfer these endeavors from “outside” our temples to within the Holy Spirit’s domain that Jesus objects. They become man-made idols, crowding the temple with trouble and seriously polluting the holy place.

Put a sign on the door of your temple – read it every day – “Reserved exclusively for the Holy Spirit of God.”

Friday, November 2, 2012

Afternoon Hour

Instead of trying to explain in detail just why he wanted Nathanael to meet this new friend of his, Phillip briefly told Nathanael what he had recently come to believe about this fellow. Nathanael was having none of it: “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” he asked. Phillip merely said, “Come and see for yourself.”

Each of us, like this Israelite, has to arrive at his or her own personal belief about the Lord – borrowed faith, like any other borrowed object, needs to be returned to its rightful owner. Only when I chuck the fake out of my life can I pursue my own convictions concerning the Son of God.

Nathanael consented to meet this man called Jesus, and as soon as he had an eye full and an ear full of him, he formed his own opinion, which was: “You are the Son of God – the King of Israel!”

Actually this is a picture of how we should introduce another to Jesus. Love the Lord and the lost enough to testify about our own faith when able to do so, and invite that person to look more closely at this Jesus. Not everyone will “Come and see for yourself.” Nothing we can do about refusals – can’t force living water down anyone’s throat. However, we can pray for those refusing hearts to be opened, and continue inviting anyone who will listen to “Come and see.”