Text: John 4:43-54
Description: Have you ever felt like there was something in your way? An obstacle that was keeping you from getting to where you wanted to go or becoming what you wanted to be? Sometimes we are fully aware of the thing in the way and feel like we spend our lives crashing into it just to see if it will budge. Sometimes we are avoiding the thing in the way and we spend all our energy trying to get around it, not wanting to have to address that issue and hoping that we can get to where we need to be without having to deal with our obstacle. At other times, we can’t see the obstacle, we aren’t aware of what it is or where it is but we can feel that we need to move, we just don’t know how. These obstacles range from comical to heart-wrenching, from foolish to overwhelming, from real to perceived. An obstacle is anything that is in the way of where we need to go and what we need to be. Some of us sit here today and we face real obstacles, hindrances to the path that we believe that God has created us for and set us on. We might be identifying our obstacles as education, finances, health, grief, bad decisions of our past, incompatibility of our spouse, disengagement of our children, brokenness created or caused by others or even God’s work in our lives being different than we thought, hoped or prayed that it would be. Those are all real things and I don’t want to discount any of them, but what if the true obstacles, the actual things keeping us from knowing who God is, trusting what God says and going where God goes, are all wrapped up inside of us and not somehow binding us from the outside? What if the greatest test of our faith is the shattering of our expectations? What if the honor that God desires is found more in surrender to His heart than commitment to His work? What if we, what we want, what we think, what we believe and what we always have thought, are the obstacle? I pray today that we will move with Jesus from Samaria to Galilee and that we will let Him continue to search our hearts, offend our senses and possibly even rebuke our expectations so that He can teach us how to honor Him and build in us faith that doesn’t just believe but faith that obeys and follows Him.
Text: John 4:27-42
Description: Have you ever been afraid that you were going to miss it? I get calls from people every week that just want some assurance that they have not missed it, are not missing it or won’t miss it. For some reason, we have come to believe that the movements, intentions and desires of God are easy to overlook, that they flash for a moment so only those who are always paying attention get to see them or are so difficult to decipher that you could be staring at God’s will and not know it. David said, “The LORD is my Shepherd”. The job of the shepherd is to lead the sheep not to teach them how to get to the next pasture on their own, he watches closely to protect the flock from enemies that try to sneak in and to find and return members of the flock that wander away. It is not up to the sheep to figure out the way, that’s the shepherd’s job. The sheep are only supposed keep their eyes on the shepherd, follow him closely and listen to him carefully. The shepherd is not trying to raise up sheep that don’t need him, he’s working to raise up sheep that trust him, that depend upon him, that follow him and that know that he loves them and will lay down his life for them. This morning we are going to again contrast the woman at the well and the disciples, a woman who met Jesus and immediately left all she had to share His heart with others and a group of men who met Jesus and often pushed for Him to lead them where they wanted to go. Today I will contend that none of us will miss God’s will because He will always carefully and patiently make it known, but some of us will reject God’s will because we have not yet let go of our expectations of Him, His kingdom, ourselves or even the church. I pray that the Holy Spirit will remind us of the words and character of Jesus and show us that there is a significant difference between being unable to determine God’s will and being unwilling to walk in it.
Text: John 4:27-32
Description: Have you ever been afraid to ask a question? We’ve all heard the saying “there are no dumb questions” and yet, we are often afraid to ask. Sometimes we believe that we should already know, sometimes we are sure that everyone else knows, sometimes we just hope that we will figure it out before we have to ask. For some reason, we are quick to give answers but slow to ask questions. In today’s passage, we get to see the stark difference between two different people, the woman at the well who asked questions freely and the disciples who held their questions in. One person had her life changed and heart opened while the other group tried to simply keep things moving and lead Jesus to their assumed and desired destination. Questions create opportunity for change, they present a humility that is willing to learn and they create an atmosphere for transformation. Not every question has an answer but I believe that every question deserves discussion, every question can lead to conversation and largely it is conversation that opens our hearts and minds to redemption. The Scriptures are filled with people who were not afraid to ask questions and when they asked they didn’t simply get answers, they were introduced to the depths of God’s loving character. Whether it was Moses asking who he should tell the Israelites sent him, David asking God, ‘How Long’, Job asking questions out of the depths of his grief and pain, John the Baptist asking simply if Jesus was “the One” or the woman at the well asking how it was that Jesus, a Jew, asked for water from her, a Samaritan woman, each person that was willing to ask a question had an encounter with God. Today I don’t know if we will discover answers but I pray that we will surrender to not just the need for questions but the freedom to ask our questions. I pray that we will come to believe that God’s presence is not only a safe place for those who are sure but it is also the refuge for all those who are ready and willing to begin asking.
Text: John 4:19-26
Description: The voice of God has tremendous power. The creation account in Genesis 1 teaches us that “God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light.” Everything God made was made by His voice, He spoke and things that did not previously exist suddenly existed. And on the final day of creation, God did not simply speak man into existence, He had a conversation. The Father, the Son and the Spirit together, said “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness”. The creation of man wasn’t as simple as the creation of all the other things. God expressed His purpose and plan for man in the conversation that led to His creation, “let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” The Godhead discussed our creation, planned our creation and expressed purpose for our creation. We were created in, from and for conversation. Fast forward from Genesis 1 to John 4. Jesus had to go through Samaria, weary Himself to the point of thirst so that He could sit down at a well and have a conversation with a woman that was more weary in her spirit than He was in His body. Jesus’ request for water was an invitation to conversation but how did it turn into a teaching on worship? In one conversation Jesus confronted the culture of racial prejudice, disrupted this woman’s thinking about herself and others, revisited her rejection and offered her uncompromised acceptance—what does any of it have to do with worship? We hear the word worship and we immediately think of music, of the songs we sing together on Sunday’s and privately in our homes and cars. We think of worship as our experience with and response to the presence of God. Depending upon our background we can think of worship in many different forms but for us the definition and idea of worship has become our musical response to what God has done and our request for Him to do more. This morning as we close out this passage of Scripture I pray that we will see that everything that Jesus talked to this woman about is intertwined in worship. For her to be free to worship in Spirit and in truth, the culture of racial inequality would have to be exposed and dealt with, her incomplete understanding about herself, others around her and God’s nature and character would have to be disrupted and transformed, her rejection that had largely formed her identity would have to be revisited and her complete acceptance by God would have to be embraced. I pray that we will begin to see that worship is not when we sing to get God to move, it’s when we hear God speak and we lower our defenses and fears and we join Him in the conversation that we were created from and created for.
Text: John 4:19-26
Description: How does a request for water turn into a revelation of the Messiah? How does confronting culture become healing rejection? How does disrupting understanding open the door for establishing worship? How does Jesus lead an outcast of her community to become a trusted voice for eternity? Jesus told Zacchaeus that the Son of Man came to seek and save that which is lost. Seeking is all about knowledge and timing, knowledge of that which you seek and the proper timing of when what is being sought after can rightly be found. Jesus didn’t just happen to be thirsty when a woman with a water jug showed up, Jesus had to go through Samaria because the Father was drawing this woman to Jesus at the same time that He was sending Jesus to this woman. God is not just aware of what we go through, He is acquainted with our grief, He is in the midst of our trials and close at hand in our suffering. He is not watching over us He is walking with us, He is seeking not to find out where we are, but searching for the moments in which He can show us who He is and that He is now and has always been near. Today we get to see all the rejection of this woman’s life converge upon all the acceptance of God the Father. In a matter of minutes, she went from the object of her towns gossip to the first person entrusted with heaven’s greatest news. She went to the well a misfit and left a missionary, she came broken and left bold. This morning I pray that we will learn with the woman at the well that each of us has been created for worship and that we will discover that true worship begins with the revelation that we have always been wanted and then, it culminates when we become witnesses to the others that our Father wants.
Text: John 4:15-26
Description: Last week we saw how Jesus met the woman, at the well, in her brokenness. He was not there to expose her sins, but to reveal the broken places of her heart so that He could bring healing. He wanted her to know that her story mattered to Him. He wanted this woman, who had faced constant rejection, to know that she was known and loved by Him. That mattered to Him. Jesus knew her heart and when He told her to “go get your husband” He was not saying I need you to acknowledge how sinful you are; He was saying I need you to know how gracious I desire to be. When Jesus calls her out, He is calling out her brokenness, not her sinfulness. John 3:16 shows us God’s character and what we find out is that Jesus was not sent because of our sinfulness, but because of God’s great love which means that when Jesus came, He do not come to point out our sin, but to reveal God’s love. There is a difference. To see your sin and not know God’s love is to be condemned. To see God’s love and in it recognize our sin, is to have an opportunity for redemption. It is not about getting people to see their sin so that they can then see God, but about people seeing God and then recognizing their sin. Jesus came to this woman and told her to go get her husband, not to harm her, but to show her grace and mercy. He had a conversation with her so that she could come to know Him and know that she could trust Him with her story, her heart. This morning I pray that we would see that God cares about our stories, not just about our circumstances. And that we would see that our job is to reveal how good God is, not how wrong men are. We have a God who seeks after us. We are trying to get people to embrace God, when He is trying to embrace them. He seeks us out in the midst of everything. Circumstances do not change His character. God only reveals what He wants to heal and we cannot be redeemed unless we deal with what is hidden.
Text: John 4:10-26
Description: Last Sunday Kevin Flowers said, “Peace is a place where there is no confusion.” I’ve thought about that statement a lot this week. I think most of us want peace to be a place where there is no opposition, no dysfunction, no disagreement and no difficulty, but what if peace has more to do with what’s going on in us than what’s going on around us? What if peace’s presence or absence in our lives has nothing to do with our spouse, our children, our job, our debt, our health, our government or our culture, what if peace is completely centered on the condition of our heart and our confidence in the commitment of our Father? “Peace is a place where there is no confusion.” Today we are going to see that the conversation between Jesus and the woman at the well took a turn after He had promised that “whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” Up until that moment this woman had asked questions and made objections to everything Jesus had said. And then the conversation changed. In these next verses, we get to see why Jesus “had to” go through Samaria. He heard her questions and endured her objections, but now He was going to show her that He knew her heart and He was going to show her His. The purpose of conversation is not simply to hear and be heard, it is to connect, to go deeper than the surface, to open our hearts and to receive the heart of another. Jesus made Himself vulnerable to her so that she could learn that it was safe to become vulnerable to Him. This morning I pray that we will hear Jesus’ heart and that we will freely trust Him with ours, that we will discover along with the woman at the well, that the pathway to peace often requires that God lead us to revisit our pain, not to remind us of where we’ve gone wrong but to deliver us from the confusion that has been caused by rejection.
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.