Jesus And The Woman At The Well

 

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Hi everyone. This is a talk I’m giving at my church this week. I hope it blesses you!
The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

John 4:25-26

Do you like to be surprised? Some people I know think being surprised is fun – it livens up their day. But others react differently. They get flustered or even upset at unexpected moments, even if they are meant to be positive.

Now when we think of surprises, we usually picture a birthday party, right? Or an anniversary party. Or maybe a visit from someone we didn’t expect. We open the door and…there they are! Well, how about surprise worship moments?

You know, it’s important to set aside time each day to connect with God. Quiet time spent reading His Word, praying or even creating art brings Him glory and blesses our spirits. But occasionally God shows up at a time or in a way we didn’t plan for.  

It can happen in the middle of the most normal day. Like the afternoon I started a load of laundry and ended up kneeling by my washer on the basement floor. I was listening to the song “Breathe”, and the truth of how much I needed Jesus hit me hard. I cried out my thanks to Him. That was a worship moment I did not know was coming, and I’m glad I didn’t miss it.

So how do you handle unexpected “God” moments? Do you recognize them when they happen? And if so, do you respond with worship?

I think of the Samaritan woman Jesus met at the well in John Chapter 4. She probably started out her morning like so many others before it. She knew her place, and had a routine. She went to the well at mid-day to fetch water just like always. But this day, she had a uncommon brush with the Lord that changed her and her village forever.

When she arrived at the well, she saw a man sitting there – that was unusual. Then He asked her for a drink – that was unheard of, and she reminded Him of that fact. “I am a Samaritan and you are a Jew.” But, amazingly enough, He stayed. The discussion they had was full of twists. This man knew things about her life, like how she’d been living with a man, and the 5 husbands she’d had before that. And maybe strangest of all: this man revealed Himself as the Messiah, the Christ!

How did she react to this unexpected encounter with the Divine? Did she get flustered or annoyed with the interruption to her day? Well, verses 28 and 29 tell us, “…leaving her water jar, the woman went back to town and said to the people ‘Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did.”  And she added, maybe with a touch of awe in her voice, “Could this be the Messiah?’

I see this woman as an example of how to be open to worship moments, however and whenever they come. I’d like to think her desire to proclaim and even evangelize about what she’d seen was a reflection of her unique personality and gifts. Her response of worship impacted not only her own faith, but that of a whole community.

I have to be honest, I’m not always gracious when my schedule is disrupted. I need to be reminded that God’s ways aren’t mine – they are better. When He reveals Himself to me, it’s a precious gift. I want to respond quickly with a heart of worship.
So I’ll ask once more – do you like surprises? I hope so. Because God may be planning to show up in the middle of your day sometime soon.

God Helps Us Do Everything!

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I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”           Phil 4:13

I was meditating on this verse today. It’s one of my favorites, because of the promise Paul states for himself, and for all of us as believers. Sounds funny, but it brought to mind my trip to the laundromat a couple of mornings ago.

You see, we’ve had some major issues with the water pipe out of our house, leaving us unable to use our bathroom and washer. So for the last couple of weeks we’ve been roughing it. While carrying the bucket outside to dump or washing my hair from water in a pot, I jokingly call myself a Pioneer Woman. Anyway, our laundry has been piling up, and it was time to take care of it.

So there I was, watching the clothes spin in the dryer, and suddenly a feeling of relief washed over me. I hadn’t realized how much I’d been dreading the trip over to the laundromat until it was almost over. Folding the warm clothes, I felt a sense of accomplishment, and gratitude for the location so near my house.

How does this connect with the verse from Philippians for me? It occurred to me that the reason I love the promise so much is because it applies to my life every day. The “him” Paul mentions is Christ – the one who provides strength for us to do “all this.” I used to assume that meant the big stuff like medical emergencies, unexpected job losses, or cherished dreams falling apart. And it does.

But by the time I headed home with my basket, I saw how Christ had equipped me to make that little run. From nudging me away from my coffee to helping me organize what laundry to take, He guided my steps. Even more, His touch turned my attitude around. Instead of grumbling, I ended up thankful.

The truth is that Christ is with us for everything – the biggest and smallest of tasks. The question is, do we call on Him to help us with all of it?

 

New Things? Where?

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See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”                                                                Isaiah 4:19

I remember reading passages like this as a young Christian and getting so excited. I would think, “God’s going to do something new and great in my lfe!”. Then I would start looking for the opportunity that was surely coming. As days went by without anything starting, though, I’d grow confused, and honestly a bit miffed. And a verse that started out as a promise became a disappointment.

I thought nothing was happening, but that was wrong. You see, I took those verses to mean something was going to change outwardly for me – in other words, my circumstances. I looked for a job or ministry or relationship improvement to arise, because that’s what I wanted from God. When nothing developed, I went on to assume God had given me a “no’’.

I don’t know when I made the turn, but at some point it dawned on me – or rather God revealed to me – that He might be planning to make an inward kind of change in me. At first I didn’t like the idea. I wanted God to give me something to do. But the more I studied scripture, the more I learned of His greatest desire. It became clear He was concerned with making His way into the wilderness of my heart, making a way for streams of His living water to flow.

Practically speaking, God knew I was full of pride, self-seeking and stubbornness. He knew the work that needed doing inside, and how much I would resist it. But He couldn’t use me as I was, because the faultiness within would show itself in what came out of me. The inner renewal had to come before new callings could be given.

How about you – are you willing to accept the quiet new things God wants to do within? Remember this: those kinds of changes are the beginning of an exciting new mission He will send you out to do.

 

Do You Want A New Coat?

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“…you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him…”

Colossians 3:9-10

When I read these words I always picture someone taking off an old coat and replacing it with a bright and clean new one. I’m sure that is what Paul wanted us to imagine. It sounds like a great trade, and an easy task. So why do I still walk around wearing my worn-out coat?

  • It’s comfortable. Notice I didn’t say warm, or pretty, or right for me. But that’s how it is with our old ways, isn’t it? I’ll speak for myself and say that my bad habits are deeply ingrained. My stinky attitudes have become familiar friends.

I know it’s time to get rid of that old coat. If I’m honest it doesn’t really fit quite right anymore, and I feel kind of drab in it. But what’s left of my worldly thinking wonders if I could just get the thing dry cleaned instead of trading it in for a whole new model.

  • I’m sentimental. My closet has clothes in it that I don’t intend to wear again. They are outdated, or tired-looking or not my style these days. Keeping them is silly, really, but the idea of throwing them out or passing them on leaves me feeling unsettled.

Change can be scary, but it’s usually for the better, at least in the end. But my old self wants to cling to the past, to hold onto what I already understand rather than step into the unknown that lies ahead.

Sorry to carry the metaphor so far, but it really speaks to me.

How about you – have you taken off your old coat yet and handed it over? Or are you choosing to keep the familiar garment even it’s not the best choice for you?

New Things

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See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.                                                                                                 Isaiah 65:17

 

This verse is full of hope and promise, and now is a perfect season to explore it. So let’s dive in:

See…”

Realizing the truth that God has a plan is comforting in itself. But just think – not only is He in control, He is generous to share His plan with us. And it gets even better: we can actually be a part of the work.

“…I will create…”

Our Lord is amazingly creative. He loves both making new things and making things new. Do you see the difference? That means we can always find signs of His hand in and around us. It’s important for our spiritual health to take the time to look for His handiwork.

The former things…”

God is giving us a glimpse of the world to come, a bigger picture. Meanwhile, we are still living in this world – one full of care and even hardships. But in God’s view, those situations that cause us such pain are temporary. That can be hard to believe in the midst of struggle, but one day we’ll all be able to look back with clearer vision.

“…will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.”

This isn’t the only place in scripture where God promises to forget. Hebrews 10 says it’s our shortcomings that God will “remember no more.” He has the power to remove and separate us from our sins. Why show us such mercy and grace? Quite simply because He loves us.

This year, I want to spend more time soaking in scriptures like this. They keep my focus less on any of my current troubles and more on my powerful and wonderful God. I can’t think of a better way to start 2017.