From the BlogSubscribe Now

Experiencing Jesus

Many decide to follow Jesus because they incorrectly think He will give them a trouble free life. They desire to experience life without pain. The abundant life Jesus promises does not mean no difficulties. Rather, Jesus becomes the rock people build their life upon. Without Him life is built on shifting sand.

Jesus wants you to know the real blessing of abiding in Him.

Photo: Valley where Jesus met the Samaritan woman

Photo: Valley where Jesus met the Samaritan woman

John 4:15

“Please, sir,” the woman said, “give me this water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again, and I won’t have to come here to get water.”

Personal Convenience

The woman took the words of Jesus literally, similar to Nicodemus taking the discussion about new birth literally.

The woman’s concern at this point was personal convenience. Wouldn’t it be nice to avoid frequent trips to a well and the regular hassle of drawing water?

Many want Jesus in their life as a matter of personal convenience. They hope Jesus will reduce the hassle of life, making inconvenience and trouble go away. This is not what Jesus offers.

John 4:16-18

“Go and get your husband,” Jesus told her. “I don’t have a husband,” the woman replied.

Jesus said, “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!”

Jesus confronts sin and offers wholeness

Jesus decides to bring the woman’s situation into the open. In only a few words she attempts to quickly stop the dangerous subject. Jesus’ reply is humbling, showing He knows all about her relational issues. Jesus cuts to the core of the problem.

Things left in the dark are not resolved until brought into the light.”

Jesus wants to see this woman fully restored, not possible until light is brought upon her unwholesome lifestyle choices.

John 4:19

“Sir,” the woman said, “you must be a prophet.”

The Messiah

Samaritans acknowledged no prophet after Moses other than one mentioned in Deuteronomy 18:18, “I will raise up a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites. I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell the people everything I command him.” This coming prophet was considered the Messiah. For the woman to speak of Jesus as a prophet was to assign him this special designation.

The challenge

Step into the light and seek God’s forgiveness. Desire to experience the full measure of divine grace. Come to Jesus – the Rock of Ages.

How has Jesus made Himself known to you? Share your comments below.

Exalting Jesus

We live in a world that pushes the pursuit of greatness. Everyone is to take all of their ability and skill and maximize their potential. Become glorious– wealthy, healthy and wise. Be capable, competent, strong, secure, and independent. It often ends with self-worship – idolatry.  The whole goal of life can turns into getting your own glory, setting up your own fame, and chasing your own reputation. Some Christian theology goes right along with this world based idea, saying, “Love Jesus, he’ll make you rich, he’ll make you happy, he’ll make you brilliant, he’ll make you powerful, he’ll make you victorious.”

John the Baptist had a very different viewpoint. His desire was for Jesus to increase and for himself to decrease. Are you exalting Jesus with your life?

jesus

Photo credit: Speedboat (cc)

John 3:22-24

After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he remained there with them and was baptizing. John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because water was plentiful there, and people were coming and being baptized (for John had not yet been put in prison).

Working together

Between the baptism of Jesus and the arrest of John the two cousins ministered side-by-side for a brief period. Jesus’ disciples were baptizing people along with John’s disciples, both preaching repentance of sins.

John 3:25-26

Now a discussion arose between some of John’s disciples and a Jew over purification. And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.”

Competing ministries

John’s disciples brought a complaint to John regarding the success of Jesus. Human nature is often competitive, even when advancing the Kingdom of God.

John 3:27-28

John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’”

What God gives

John did what God gave him to do. As the forerunner he could do no more. John let his followers know people were flocking to Jesus because God willed it. John did not come to intrude on the place of the Messiah.

John 3:29-30

“The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease.”

A friend’s joy

John introduced the bride (the church) to the bridegroom (Jesus). John’s joy was complete in knowing Jesus ministered alongside him in the desert. His desire was for Jesus to continually increase, while he, the servant, decreased.

Making Jesus famous

Followers of Jesus are not in competition with one another. They work in cooperation in order for lost people to become introduced to the Savior.

The goal of every believer should be decreasing so Jesus might increase, in their lives and throughout the world.”

The challenge

Cooperate with others! Work together to see Jesus become famous. Put Him first in your life and encourage others to do the same.

What can you do to increase God’s work in your life? Share your comments below.

Follow Me

Online is a comical picture of Jesus sitting on a park bench talking with a young man. The caption reads, “No, I’m not talking about Twitter. I literally want you to follow me.”

follow me

Are you simply skimming the words of Jesus, like a twitter feed, or are you purposely pursuing Him?

Following Jesus

The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Come, follow me.”  Philip was from Bethsaida, Andrew and Peter’s hometown. (John 1:43-44)
Jesus took the initiative to ask Philip. Nothing is said of Him asking Andrew or the others. He went out of His way to enlist Philip into the “band of brothers.”

Philip the evangelist

Philip went to look for Nathanael and told him, “We have found the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about! His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth.”  (John 1:45)
Philip acts like a torch setting another torch on fire. Experiencing Jesus causes people to tell others about Him.

Come and see

“Nazareth!” exclaimed Nathanael. “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” “Come and see for yourself,” Philip replied.  (John 1:46)
Nathanael’s hometown is Cana, located near Nazareth. Their proximity may have pitted a rivalry. Philip simply replied, “Come and see,” not arguing but inviting.

Divine insight

As they approached, Jesus said, “Now here is a genuine son of Israel—a man of complete integrity.” “How do you know about me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus replied, “I could see you under the fig tree before Philip found you.” (John 1:47-48)
Jesus salutes Nathanael as being straightforward, someone spending time in prayer.

The fig tree is a symbol of home, with it’s shade frequently used as a place of prayer and mediation. Nathanael possibly had an extraordinary experience with God in the privacy of his home.

King Jesus

Then Nathanael exclaimed, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God—the King of Israel!”  (John 1: 49)
Jesus had a special insight about Nathanael. In return he expresses awe in meeting the Rabbi, the Son of God and divine King.The royalty of Jesus is important, even though it is veiled by his lowly life and death. By declaring Him King, Nathanael submits himself to Jesus.

The stairway

Jesus asked him, “Do you believe this just because I told you I had seen you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” Then he said, “I tell you the truth, you will all see heaven open and the angels of God going up and down on the Son of Man, the one who is the stairway between heaven and earth.” (John 1:50-51)

The phrase “I tell you the truth” gives substance to the rest of His statement. Jesus is revealing His link between heaven and earth.

He is the means by which the reality of heaven is brought to earth, making possible a relationship with God.”

Jesus

In this chapter Jesus is given several titles: the Logos (the Word) (v.1), God (v.1), the Light of men (v.4), the true Light (v.9), the only begotten from the Father (v.14), a greater than John the Baptist (vv.15, 26-27, 30), Jesus Christ (v.17), the Lord (v.23), the Lamb of God (vv.29, 36), he that baptizes with the Holy Spirit (v.33), God’s Chosen One (v.34), the Son of God (v.49), Rabbi (v.38, 49), and the King of Israel (v.49). John paints a glorious picture of Jesus.

The challenge

Jesus knows you and invites you to come to Him. Tell others to join you and experience more of heaven on earth.

Who could you invite to experience Jesus? Share your comments below.

Building Roads

During college I came home each summer to find work. One year I was hired by the city public works department. One job involved repairing roads. The crew left early in the morning and looked for streets needing patch-work. We were especially busy before the Independence Day celebration, knowing the parade-route needed perfect conditions.

John the Baptist was a road builder for Jesus. He went before Him, preparing the roadway for His message.

road

Photo credit: World Bank Photo Collection (cc)

Who are you?

This was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders sent priests and Temple assistants from Jerusalem to ask John, “Who are you?” (John 1:19)
An official delegation from the Temple asks John to reveal his identity. He was a puzzle. He did not conform. The officials wanted to know more about him. His unusual success required explanation.

Messianic expectations

He came right out and said, “I am not the Messiah.” (John 1:20)
John understood there were Messianic speculations in the air, but he denies being him. The Baptist continually claims a subordinate position.

Bearing witness

“Well then, who are you?” they asked. “Are you Elijah?” “No,” he replied. “Are you the Prophet we are expecting?” “No.” “Then who are you? We need an answer for those who sent us. What do you have to say about yourself?” (John 1:21-22)
John’s answers are short and direct. Did he dislike talking about himself? He came to bear witness about another.

The voice

John replied in the words of the prophet Isaiah: “I am a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Clear the way for the Lord’s coming!’ ” (John 1:23)
Clearing the way refers to preparing a road for the king through open and uneven territory. The highway needed to be smooth. John is a “roadbuilder” for One greater than he, someone coming to bring a fuller revelation.

John is a voice while Jesus is the Word. John’s function was to point people to Jesus.”

In need of cleansing

Then the Pharisees who had been sent asked him, “If you aren’t the Messiah or Elijah or the Prophet, what right do you have to baptize?” (John 1:24-25)
Baptism was a ceremonial removal of worldly pollutants. In John’s case the practice was applied to Jews. Religious authorities were willing to accept that Gentiles were defiled and needed cleansing, but putting Jews in the same category was shameful. John preached repentance for Jews as well as Gentiles.

Not worthy

John told them, “I baptize with water, but right here in the crowd is someone you do not recognize. Though his ministry follows mine, I’m not even worthy to be his slave and untie the straps of his sandal.” (John 1:26-27)
John is clear that his baptism is not an end in itself. The purpose was pointing people to the Messiah. Of whom he was not worthy to remove His sandals.

Removing footwear was a slave’s responsibility, something disciples were not expected to perform. Disciples did numerous small services for their Rabbi in lieu of payment. A rabbinic saying declared, “Every service which a slave performs for his master shall a disciple do for his teacher except the loosing of his sandal-thong.” John selected the very task considered menial for disciples, and thought himself unworthy to perform it.

The place of John’s ministry

This encounter took place in Bethany, an area east of the Jordan River, where John was baptizing. (John 1:28)

The challenge

Humbly serve as a “roadbuilder” for Jesus. Make a way for Him to come into the lives of those around you by your life and witness. Everyone needs a clear roadway to Jesus.

In what ways are you building a roadway to Jesus? Share your comments below.

Prison Guard or Walmart Greeter

How are we to handle the message of Jesus?

Photo credit: groovehouse (Creative Commons)

Photo credit: groovehouse (Creative Commons)

My kids are suckers for stickers. Our 2-year old daughter can get high fevers. After being poked and proded during a visit to the doctor she loudly exclaimed, “Where’s my sticker?” The doctor laughed and happily gave her a sheet of them.

Whenever we visit a Walmart, we are warmly greeted and my two kids usually are offered yellow, smiley-face stickers. The greeters seem to have an endless supply of them and are happy to give them away.

Which one are you?

On the flip side are prison guards. Their job is very different from a Walmart greeter. They hold the keys to security doors and keep people in and others out.

Recently Bob Goff (@bobgoff) tweeted,

Some of Jesus’ guards turned into followers; His followers don’t need to turn into guards. Everyone’s invited.”

Compassionate or Angry

His tweet reminded me of a message I heard on the Prodigal Son. The speaker gave a vivid example of two different gatekeepers. When the prodigal son turned down the road to come back to his father’s house the gospel of Luke records, “And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him” (Luke 15:20).

The prodigal’s brother is also part of the story.  He was angry about his brother’s celebrated return. Had he not been in the field when his brother returned, would he have guarded the doorway to the house? Would he have held the keys to the door, keeping those he wanted inside and keeping others out?

What kind of a believer are you? Are you a Walmart greeter, happily portraying love to everyone you meet? Do you show love and compassion to those considered undeserving? Or would you rather be a guard, holding keys to a life-changing message and choosing who gets to hear?

The challenge

Jesus invites everyone. The Good News is for “whosoever will.” Let the love of Jesus permeate every fiber of your being so that others want what you have, membership in God’s family.

In what ways have you been attracted to Jesus by the way you witnessed other people living? How have you been handling the message of Jesus?