Sometimes it only takes one

John 4

It takes a person to save a village

“28 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” 30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him.

31 Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.”

32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”

33 Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?”

34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. 35 Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. 36 Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. 37 Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. 38 I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”’

Sometimes it only takes one person in a village who has met Jesus and been changed by him to awaken the rest of the folks living around them to their need of a savior. There is only one. Jesus is the savior of the world.

“Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers.

42 They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”’

Jesus is the savior of the world.

He knows everything about me and still died to pay for my sin, our sins. Who will I tell ?

(Originally posted 2/25/2016)

Warranty Repair

John 4

Warranty repair

“7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.[a])

10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”

13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

17 “I have no husband,” she replied.

Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”’

Mary’s car is under warranty. If it breaks the company will fix it. There are conditions to the warranty. Every 3 thousand miles or 3 months whichever comes first we are supposed to change the oil. I missed one. I may have missed 2. Mary doesn’t drive much so the months and Miles don’t line up. 27000 miles requiring 9 changes but we’ve owned it for 36 months which means we should have had 12 oil changes. Oops. How do I fix that? If I now change the oil 3 extra times are we good? Are we back on track?

Jesus met a woman. She had voided the warranty on her life. The warranty was sketchy at best. She was a Samaritan woman. A shirttail relative of Gods people. Gods people had a warranty of sorts, God would take care of them. At some point God was going to send the ultimate claims adjuster/repairman, the messiah and he would make all things right.

This lady, if you can call her that, and I think Jesus did treat her as a lady-so yeah, lady, had voided her warranty. 5 husbands and now sleeping with a man not her own. Warranty broken. But she was a charmer, she had charmed her way into and out of 5 marriages. But her charm was wearing off a little. She had a man but he was not so smitten as to seal the deal.

When she met Jesus she met a man who was impervious to her charm and yet knew how completely she had voided her warranty. She was exposed.

“21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”’

When she met this man Jesus who was impervious to her charms she also met the God who knew her whole story and yet……loved her and had come to this very spot on this very day to reveal himself as the claims adjuster/repairman that she had hoped existed but was sure she was unworthy of meeting. Certainly unworthy of being helped by.

The thing is, all of us, every one from the best to the worst, have voided our warranties. We are all without hope, unless there is a messiah, a claims adjuster/ repairman who can rescue us.

“Romans 3:23

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”

Jesus was her only hope. Jesus is our only hope.

Repent and believe is our only course.

(Originally posted 2/24/2016)

John 3

Save the world: step 1

Announce the new thing coming.

John the Baptist was a key player in announcing Jesus arrival. He brought awareness of sin. And then he was arrested and beheaded.

While he was alive, He continued to tell his followers that he only came to announce the coming of the Christ.

“To this John replied, “A person can receive only what is given them from heaven. 28 You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him.’ 29 The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. 30 He must become greater; I must become less.”

31 The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. 33 Whoever has accepted it has certified that God is truthful. 34 For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God[i] gives the Spirit without limit. 35 The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.”

Like John. My job is to announce that one has come from heaven bringing with him forgiveness for sin. All we have to do is repent, turn away from our sin, and believe that Jesus death pays for our sin and we will be forgiven.

Romans chapter 10 says this. “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile —the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Romans 10:9-13 – NIV

It wasn’t about John.

It isn’t about me.

Jesus. What will we do with him today? Believe and receive and be saved?

(Originally posted 2/23/2016)

3 bags

Allegories are usually wasted on me. I read Watership Downs in high school and thought it was a story about rabbits. In my early 20s I read a Christian allegory, I think it was Pilgrims Progress but I’m not certain. In the story the characters were on a journey to the celestial city. Each evening they would walk down to the river and some of them would put rocks in their back packs. They would purposely add to their own burden. It didn’t make sense to me or to the main character in the story. Little did I know that at the end of the journey those rocks were revealed to be prayers for other people. Sometimes we shoulder the burden for others as we walk our journey.

That idea got stuck in my head.

Yesterday I was on one of my daily walks and I have a plan to beautify the path I walk. I have some flower seeds that I plan to plant along the way. They are wild flowers so they won’t require water. I envisioned myself like Johnny Appleseed walking down the path and tossing out the seeds from a seed pouch slung over my shoulder.

Then I remembered Jesus story about the farmer who cast his seed and the seed was the word of God. I realized that that was my real mission in life, to spread Gods word.

But I knew that wasn’t all of it. Gods word needs to be shared in context or it doesn’t make sense. The context needs to be in an actively loving and forgiving and serving life. So I boiled that down to grace and mercy, AKA, forgiveness. That’s how I arrived at what I shared below here. I hope it makes sense.

I could see myself on life’s journey with 3 bags over my shoulders. Each bag carrying an essential element to the Christian life.

3 bags. Seed, salve and supplication.

As Christians We each start out the day with 3 bags over our shoulder.

Each morning two are full and one is empty.

Salve: One full one is forgiveness. Our job is to Empty it. His mercies are new every morning. We are forgiven our sins as long as we forgive the sins of others.

“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Seed: One full one is Gods word, we are to share it.

“But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”’

This bag we can fill up ourselves. The Holy Spirit can bring seed to us but as we mature we will become more actively involved in filling our own bag. If we don’t become active we won’t mature.

“12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!”

Supplication: The empty one we are to fill. It is for the needs and concerns of others. We fill it while walking through life meeting people and asking the age old question; how can I pray for you?

We empty it each night as we pray. ( or throughout the day), for our needs and the needs of others.

The Holy Spirit can at any time fill these bags. He kinda has a mind to do that. He will Give us extra forgiveness, give us the perfect seed to plant in someone’s heart, show us a need that only God can meet in some ones life. We may wake up in the middle of the night with a burden that we couldn’t know on our own.

As a followers of Jesus our lives can be different than those around us and we can have an attractive quality about us. We will be full of God’s mercy and grace. We will know God’s word and be applying it to our lives and be able to share it, not as a weapon but as a tool of mercy and grace, a splint for brokenness or a bandage for woundedness or a light for those in darkness, a cup of cold water for the thirsty, and our lives can be lived out, caring about the needs of others, sharing their burdens by praying with them and for them.

It’s a morning, a new day, i have 3 bags. 2 full and one empty. What will I do with them?

Behavior vs belonging

John 3

Behavior vs belonging

Did this ever happen to you? As a kid You invite a friend to join you for a day of family fun. Then this friend out shines you in every way in front of your parents. They are more helpful, more courteous, more polite. By the end of the day you can’t stand your friend anymore and you are pretty sure that your parents are looking into trading kids. But then the friend goes back to his house and you go back to live with your parents. You are still their kid.

Good works don’t earn us salvation like behaving for our parents doesn’t make us more of their child. The good behaving neighbor kid didn’t earn his way into our family through their good behavior. Our bad behavior didn’t make us lose our last name. Birth makes us a child of our parents. Being “born again” makes us a child of God.

New birth makes us a child of God. Our good works please him but they won’t make us part of his family.

“Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.[a]”

4 “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”

5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit[b]gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You[c] must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”’

God wants us in his family.

“‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.”‘

When I sin as a Christian, what do I do?

The same man that wrote the Gospel of John also wrote this in one of his letters: 1John 2

“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”

If we are born again we belong to God, we are part of his family. Our behavior won’t change our family status. If we’ve sinned we need to confess it, admit it and get it cleansed by the blood of Jesus. It’s his death that washes away our sin. We need to Stay clean, but if we stumble, we get back up and get cleaned up. Then we get on with sharing About this amazing God who forgives sin.

Just in case you missed it

Repent

Posted1/09/2020

Our culture defines repentance like this: feel or express sincere regret or remorse about one’s wrongdoing or sin.

Biblical repentance goes further:

“The repentance (metanoia) called for throughout the Bible is a summons to a personal, absolute and ultimate unconditional surrender to God as Sovereign. Though it includes sorrow and regret, it is more than that. … In repenting, one makes a complete change of direction (180° turn) toward God.”

I grew up a Lutheran, in our house we were not C&E Lutherans, where we occasionally attended, like on Christmas and Easter. No, my mom had some kind of built in radar and if the church doors opened, our family would be in attendance. Yes we would be late, but we would be there.

Lutherans have a liturgical service, and as part of that liturgy, we sang a lot. There were so many words and little songs. I was not an avid bible reader in those days. I didn’t realize that most of the words and the little songs were excerpts from the Bible. All the words drove me crazy as a kid but now I realize what we were doing, actually singing and reciting the Bible, as I have matured I now appreciate the hymnal writing and the writers and kind of miss the liturgical nature of the service.

My own personal bible reading recently took me to 1 John. As I read it I recognized it as part of the liturgy that I recited as a kid. Parts of Chapter 1&2 are part of the order of service.

“This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts. My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.”

1 John 1:5-2:2 -NLT

In Jesus, there is forgiveness for sin, but we need to confess our sins.

When we were raising our kids and they did something wrong we would make them say that they were Sorry. In addition to saying sorry we would often have them tell us what they did that was wrong. They had to confess. They to verbalize what they had done wrong, what rule they had broken, or how they violated boundaries or hurt someone else. In this way they had to think about what they had done.

We recently had an opportunity to visit a Presbyterian Church and participated in their Sunday worship service. Part of their order of service was a printed confession that we read together as a congregation. I thought it was good. I will quote it here and hope that whoever wrote it gets the credit due them.

“Father, you have revealed your will to us. It is clear. No other gods. No idols. No misuses of your name. We are to worship weekly and honor our parents. There is to be no killing and what we do with our bodies must come under your intentions for sexuality. We are forbidden to steal and speak falsely about our neighbors. And internally our hearts are not to covet what others possess. Such commandments reveal our absolute need of Jesus Christ. Forgive us for ignoring your word and our failure to take your commandments seriously. We humbly repent and ask you to forgive us through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Hear us in your mercy as we pray the prayer that Jesus taught us.”

Then we corporately prayed the Lord’s Prayer.

I thought this was a very good way to remind us of what Gods standard is and then how we have failed to measure up. The confession is a condensed walk through the 10 commandments. We can forget where we fall short if we don’t use the measuring stick that God said is the standard. Jesus is our ruler both in that he is our King and he is the standard we measure ourselves against. The Ten Commandments are not a whacking stick to punish us when we fail, but a guide to live by and beacon to bring us back to Jesus for forgiveness when we fail.

“If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us… but if we confess our sins God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness…”

I can be prideful at times when I consider my avoidance of sin, not stealing, or lying or killing or cheating on my spouse, but Jesus took it even deeper when he said that if we hate someone we have killed them in our hearts, or if we look lustfully at another person, then we have already thought about the act and are guilty. God looks at and knows our hearts so even if we have clean hands, our hearts can be dirty.

In Psalm 51 we get to read a confession from a man who had an adulterous relationship, got the woman pregnant, then had her husband killed so he could cover it up. He thought he had gotten away with it but he was confronted by a friend.

This how the man, king David responded.

“Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”

Psalm 51:4-7,10-12 NIV

I remembered this verse in part because it was a part of the liturgy that I recited every Sunday for most of my childhood and adolescence. Another part of remembered this verse because of the heartbreaking story that unfolds as I read through the Old Testament.

We all sin. We all break the rules in one way or another. The rules are not there to shame us but to guide us and bring us back, through confession and repentance, to a relationship with our loving Heavenly Father who sent his son Jesus to die to pay for all of our mistakes and failures, our sin.

So I say to myself, as well as to you who are reading this, repent and confess and be restored. Our God loves us and wants us to come home to him.

The Good Shepherd

The first mission of the apostles in Matthew 10 (apostle means one who is sent) is to the lost sheep of Israel, to the Jews, the lost Jewish people. Later on Jesus will broaden the scope to include all people.

“5 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. 6 Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. 7 As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy,[a] drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.

9 “Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts— 10 no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep. 11 Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. 12 As you enter the home, give it your greeting. 13 If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. 14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. 15 Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.

16 “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. 17 Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. 18 On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”

Shepherds of that time had it rough. There weren’t fences for pastures. Sheep would stray. Sheep who stray are easier targets for wolves to kill and destroy.

We have an enemy. He is actively seeking out those who stray. “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

In the wild it’s the weak and the straying that get picked off. This entire world is wild.

Message to the sheep in the flock: Huddle up sheep. Huddle and and cuddle and stay close to the shepherd. Protect each other and follow the shepherd.

Message to the shepherds: Gather the strays. If we see a stray, so does our enemy. He wants to destroy them. Who will get there first?

Jesus is THE good shepherd. He is calling for us to come to him and be safe.

“11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”’

Jesus is the good shepherd who has laid down his life for us his sheep. I want to learn to follow his voice and stay close.

Jesus please don’t let me stray. As when he taught us to pray. “Lead us not into temptation and deliver us from the evil one”

(Originally posted 2/21/2017)