Text: Romans 12:1-2
Description: This past Sunday we had the privilege of hearing from Pastor Kevin Flowers of Refuge Ministries Center located in Edgewater Park, NJ. Below is the full audio recording to his sermon titled “Peace Personified”. I pray that as you listen, that those places in your heart that feel void of peace would become places of surrender and that you would allow God to redefine peace as He pulls you closer to Himself.
Text: John 4:10-16
Description: We have seen that Jesus’ conversation with this Samaritan woman confronted the culture and disrupted her understanding. Jesus, by His action of sitting down and asking this woman for a drink, revealed that the divides of prejudice were unjust, ungodly and unacceptable; that there was no race that was superior or inferior, that the incarnate God, the very One in whose image we were all made, would not keep Himself, His love or even His conversation from anyone, of any race for any reason. Jesus didn’t just talk to her or at her, to use the language of John, He “used together” with her, He asked to drink from her cup. When Jesus asked this woman for a drink, He wasn’t just confronting the culture, He was also disrupting her understanding. This woman had only one experience in her life, Jews don’t use together with Samaritans. It’s not that she understood it or even agreed with it, but she had lived it, it was the only thing she had ever lived and so she assumed and believed this was the only way she or anyone else would ever live. Our culture affects our understanding and our beliefs far more than we realize or admit. Jesus is not merely trying to confront the culture around us, He desires to disrupt the understanding within us. There are things that we have all learned and believed that are more cultural than Scriptural, more our understanding than God’s character. This means that all of us have places in our thinking, believing and living that are out of God’s order. God creates conversation so that He can begin the work of restoring order, first in us and then through us. This morning I pray that we will not recoil at the idea of possibly being wrong, but that we will see that true redemption happens within the safety of conversation, where confrontation and disruption lead to the restoration of God’s order in our lives.
Text: John 4:10-14
Description: Arguments are battles of will, they are competitions of right and wrong, they are an effort to prove ourselves, our point or our positions while conversations are a determined exercise to not just be heard but to also hear. All you need for an argument is an opinion and a voice, but a conversation requires a determination to listen, a willingness to understand and a desire to learn. Arguments are about me, conversations focus on us. Jesus was a teacher, He moved about from village to village and town to town preaching the kingdom of heaven and making God the Father known. Mark 1:22 says “The people were amazed at His teaching, because He taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law.” This was not a statement against the scribes and the Pharisees. What the people were saying was that Jesus taught as if He was the originator of the knowledge not as someone who had been taught well or learned much. They were amazed because Jesus embodied what He was teaching, it flowed from His character not just intellect, He didn’t simply know His stuff, He was the stuff He was teaching. As amazing and authoritative as Jesus teaching was, it was His conversations that were life-changing. The woman in our text, this unnamed Samaritan woman that Jesus “had to” journey through Samaria to meet at the well of Jacob, she had a conversation with Jesus that caused her to go and tell everyone that she had carefully avoided prior to that conversation, that she may have met the Messiah. Teaching tends to touch our heads but when teaching leads to conversation that is what often moves our hearts. This morning we are going to move into the conversation of Jesus and the Samaritan woman, to look at Jesus’ words and how He carefully and kindly prepared her heart to discover His identity, His character and His love. Today I pray that we will see that for Jesus to truly confront the culture He must disrupt our understanding, we have been far more affected and influenced than we realize and so the first step in bringing redemption is to restore order, to turn right-side up what has been upside down for far too long.
Text: John 4:4-10
Description: Jesus’ meeting this woman at the well was not a happy accident or amazing coincidence, it was the providence of God. Jesus was preaching and teaching, adding new followers and watching as His disciples baptized them when suddenly, with little warning and even less explanation it was announced not just that Jesus was going to go from Judea to Galilee but that He had to go through Samaria. Jesus didn’t run into this woman on His way to His next assignment from the Father, the Father sent Jesus to this woman. It is as if God, in all His mercy, kindness and compassion decided that this woman had gone to the well of Jacob in fear and shame for the last time. This time, when she went alone to the well she would not just find Jesus or just be found by Him, she would discover that she was known and loved and that as hard as she had worked to be alone, God had worked harder to sit with her in her loneliness. This story matters because it’s not just how Jesus treated this woman it’s how He treats all of us, this is the character of God. He doesn’t just save, He seeks; if you have been saved it is because you were sought after and if you have not yet surrendered to salvation you are right now being sought after, it’s not simply what Jesus did, it is who God is and it is what He continues to do. As breath-taking as these truths should be there is more, this is not only what’s been done for us it is what God desires to now do through us. The steps of the righteous are ordered by God, they are ordered exactly like Jesus’ were, to seek, to save, to love and give mercy. Today I pray that we will take our few verses and see that Jesus causes encounter, creates conversation and confronts culture.
Text: John 4:4-9
The life of Jesus teaches us the character of God, because every action and word of Jesus was ordered and breathed by our Father in heaven. Jesus was not making decisions, establishing a ministry or even looking for happiness, Jesus was always following the leadership of His Father. This morning we are going to move just a few more words into our passage from the fact that Jesus had to go through Samaria because that was how the Father was leading Him to the reality that Jesus was tired, even worn out, from following the path the Father had established. We all get tired. Even Jesus, being full of grace and truth, driven by the Holy Spirit and loved by the Father was at times, exhausted from the journey. Today my prayer is that we will all see that being tired does not mean that we are somehow on the wrong path, that something needs to change or that we are operating in our own strength but that expending ourselves in the will of God for the glory of God is a large part of our calling. I pray that we will see through Jesus’ example that there is a significant difference between being tired and being weary and that those who are truly weary are in desperate need of someone who will tire themselves on their behalf. Jesus, by the leadership of His Father, exhausted Himself for the sake of one woman who had become overcome by the weariness of life. He’s done the same for each of us so that we will do the same for those around us.
Text: Ephesians 1:16-23
Description: In our walk with the Lord, many things cloud our thinking. Mental and physical blocks clutter our Spiritual cognition. For this reason we must remember Hebrews 12:1 The Race of Faith "12 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us."
Text: Genesis 22:1-14
Description: For many of us, this is a very familiar passage. Over the years, this passage has both drawn me in and terrified me. Since January, I’ve been wrestling on and off with this passage and I believe strongly that God wants to speak something into my heart through it. I believe this morning that he wants to do that for all of us together.
Text: John 4:1-4
Description: You can learn a lot about who someone is by watching how they interact with others. The Gospel of John is largely the revelation of Jesus’ identity and character through the stories of His interaction with the people around Him. John begins by saying, Jesus is indeed God. The gospel begins with these words, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John’s divinely ordained task was not to prove Jesus’ divinity but to reveal to everyone that would be willing to listen to and read these stories what God is truly made of, what He’s like, who He is in heart, mind and character. I don’t know if we realize it but on some level, in some way we have all been wrong about God. We have been lied to constantly by Satan, the world around us and the fear and anxiety within us and while we may not have believed every lie we have been influenced by many of the arguments. . This morning I want us to take a very simple verse and allow it to show us the heart of God through the life of Jesus. I pray that in the time we have together that we will discover that God is not who we thought He was, He’s greater, kinder, more patient and more gentle than we could have ever imagined, but even more than that, He’s not afraid of difficult places or put off by difficult people because while God does not sow seeds of difficulty He is willing and able to reap some of His greatest harvests from the most difficult fields.
Text: Esther 4:12-14
Description: On the wall, next to my bed I have a sign that the Kulynych's had made for my birthday and it says this “You were born to blaze new trails. Pioneer great adventures. Reclaim new territory. Take daring risks. You were born to tell an original story. Be God strong and foolishly courageous. Let faith not fear be your compass. Truth not lies be your guide. Always remember to give God room to prove Himself. You were born for such a time as this.” And there have been many moments when I have just stopped in front of this sign and read it over and over to myself, reminding myself of its message, but really reminding myself of all the promises God has spoken to my heart, all the ways I have experienced Him so far, and who He has called me to be. And these are not always moments of great joy that I find myself stopped by this sign, but moments of doubt, fear, or worry. Moments when I know that God wants me to keep going forward and I know His promises for the outcome, but I cannot see the path. Moments when it seems like all the other voices are saying “go back” or “stay still”, but that voice of God is still saying “go”. And then I get to the words “for such a time as this” and in a moment, those fears, doubts, and worries no longer seem so loud. And that is where we find ourselves this morning, with this verse in Esther, and I pray that this morning that we would all be reminded of who our God is and how He has and is positioning us.
Text: John 3:31-36
Description: Clarity is a constant issue for us. We strive to have clear minds, clear views and clear understanding. We are all vying for a clear path, the absence of obstacles, the opportunity to clearly see what lies ahead of us and how we should go about getting to where we desire to be. The problem is, we don’t see clearly. I Corinthians 13:12 says “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.” Just a few verses earlier Paul had written, “For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes the partial will be done away.” The point that Paul was making is that now, here on earth, our clearest vision is still a bit foggy, our most confident knowledge is still somewhat elementary and even our most Spirit-led prophesy is still mixed with our human understanding. When John the Baptist’s disciples returned to him with a complaint about the crowds running to Jesus and away from them he immediately knew that the only way to minister to their disappointment of unmet expectations was to provide them with a bit more clarity about who he was, who Jesus was and who they were meant to be. I believe that most of us need the same thing most of the time. We often look for a change of circumstances, an answer to a question or a way to solve a problem but in reality, mostly, if we just had a bit more clarity about God’s character, our condition and God’s desire for the people around us, it might not answer all of our questions but it would calm many of our fears and soothe most of our disappointments.