God’s Need – A further look into John 4

John 4 begins with Jesus NEEDING to go through Samaria (v. 4). Now that it’s clear that God has a need, let’s move on to what God needs and how He gets it.

In my post God Milk? I talk more about what God needs. God needs us to believe into Him! It hurts Him when we don’t believe. This is why Jesus goes way out of His way to visit a woman at a well in Samaria. She eventually believes into Him and brings the entire city to believe as well.

In this post I want to look at the way Jesus visits this woman.

Their dialogue begins in verse 7 and ends in verse 27. It contains about 20 sentences. I timed myself reading this dialogue in under 2 minutes. I’ve always thought that’s how long Jesus must have spent with her. He must have done a Jedi mind trick on her…right?

Then I came to verse 29

Come, see a man who told me all that I have done. Is this not the Christ?

The word “all” jumped out at me. To talk about everything that has happened in a woman’s life (especially this woman) is going to take more than 2 minutes. If I had to guess, I’m thinking this conversation took at least a few hours. When’s the last time you talked to someone about all their problems for a few hours?

What makes this even more impressive is that Jesus was thirsty from His 30 mile hike to get there. This is why He begins the conversation asking for a drink. As we find out after the conversation, He was also hungry. His disciples were shocked that instead of eating He was talking…to a woman. So they “urged Him, saying, Rabbi, eat” (v. 31).

Jesus responded that He already ate :)

What was the woman thinking? She knows that Jesus has been travelling and sees that Jesus is thirsty. She knows that drinking is a basic human need. It must have fascinated her that Jesus never ever dropped down the bucket to take a drink…that entire time!

Conclusion:

The woman saw that Jesus had a greater need than eating and drinking. In addition to seeing how much Jesus knew about her, she must have been impressed with how much He loved her! If we would spend a few hours to visit someone and real talk with them, maybe miss a meal because we were so concerned about them, they will be satisfied, we will be satisfied, and God will be satisfied.

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A Special Thanks To The Gideons

blue-gideon-bible1Each year hundreds of thousands of members of The Gideons International labor together in 196 countries with the goal of putting the word of God in people’s hands and hearts. Last year alone, 84,632,342 Bibles were handed out. That’s approximately 1.5 million Bibles every week. Currently, The Gideons are on the verge of passing out their two billionth Bible!

A good number of The Gideons are working this very moment on thousands of college campuses. One man they met as a college student was my father. He got a Bible but didn’t start reading it until the struggles came.

He started reading Matthew. He got to the passage in chapter 6 where Jesus says to look at the birds, so he did. He was comforted knowing that our heavenly Father takes care of them. How much more important are we? Don’t be anxious for tomorrow he read, but he still was. It was then that he handed his life over to Jesus Christ and felt an overwhelming sense of peace flood over him. He then went on to read

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you – Matthew 6:33

Upon reading this passage he started seeking for others that he could seek God’s kingdom with. Just like Matthew says in the next chapter, seek and you will find, so he did. He found a group of Christian students on campus and the church.

http://www.christianstudentsoncampus.com/

http://www.churchinaustin.org/

Another man who was helping the Gideons pass out Bibles during those years was my Grandfather in law, Robert Pratt (Grand Daddy). I appreciate men like him and owe my life to them. If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be here. I aspire to be like him and share God’s word for the rest of my life.

gideon bible

My wife and I recently inherited a Bible with the Gideon cover on it from her grandparents (next to it are two of my Gideon Bibles). Inside were some notes that were taken by his wife, Ann Pratt.

 

 

The first note is the 7 A’s to being filled with the Holy Spirit:

Aspire – Comes to the Hungry
Acknowledge – That we’re empty and impotent
Abandon – Turn loose anything of which the Spirit convicts you
Abdicate – Get off the throne
Ask – John 16:34, Acts 4:31
Appropriate – God says, we believe
Act – Move on and out

Another note contains some C’s:

Clarify – Aspiration, Acknowledgement
Cleanse –
1. Must confess every sin w/ utter & absolute honesty to God
2. Must be clean with every person
Claim – Deut. 12:7

Lastly, my favorite note has some P’s:

Justification – I have been saved from the Penalty of sin
Sanctification – I am being saved from the Power of sin
Glorification – I will be saved from the Presence of sin

I really like this note because it goes further than most people’s definition of salvation – being saved from hell. If that was it then what’s the point of pursuing Christ today? Why not just pursue a career and family and the list goes on…This is the reason many people, especially young people, are off track to the final stage of salvation, glorification.

I got saved when I was 5. I’ve had many ups and downs since then. There was a lot (and still is) that I need to be saved from. I need to be saved right now! The constant presence of the internet provides us with a constant need to be saved, and a way! I can blog about Jesus!

Another great way to be saved is to call on the name of the Lord. If you need to be saved right now then call on the name of the Lord Jesus!

“Lord Jesus!”

For whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. – Romans 10:13

Related Links:

http://blog.gideons.org/2013/08/record-setting-year-moves-the-gideons-international-closer-to-two-billion-scriptures/

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The First Man And The First City

Ever since man was kicked out of the Garden of Eden (which means pleasure) and lost God’s presence, he has attempted to invent ways to replace what he lost. In Genesis chapter 4, Cain killed his brother Abel then proceeded to build a city and produce a culture without God. Cain’s descendants began to provide for themselves by raising cattle and making tents to live in. They protected themselves by forging weapons. Finally, they entertained themselves by inventing musical instruments.

satan’s strategies

When satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness, he did so in these three ways. He told Jesus to turn the stones into bread for His provision. He told Jesus to jump off the temple and a legion of angels would protect Him. Finally, he offered Jesus the whole world and all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. Jesus didn’t take it. He overcame Satan’s temptation and now it’s our turn.

Thousands of years later, not much has changed. The difference is that we have a lot more ways to provide for ourselves, protect ourselves and please ourselves.

Here are a few numbers I found that show what we are buying/consuming/ being consumed by.

In one year, the automotive industry makes $1.5 Tril, the fast food industry makes $142 Bil, the music industry makes $40 Bil, the fashion industry makes $47 Bil, the film industry makes $65 Bil, the video game industry makes $41.9 Bil and the Defense Department spends $663.8 Bil.

The following link shows what percent of our paycheck goes where.

http://www.visualeconomics.com/how-the-average-us-consumer-spends-their-paycheck/
paycheck

The Bad News

The bad news is our jobs consume us and have become a huge distraction from God. People are spending more time at work to make more money, for what? We work so much so we can please ourselves with so many things we think can satisfy us. Even if we get everything we want, we still worry about protecting it. This is why we have home security systems, car insurance, health insurance, life insurance… I even have cell phone insurance. In the past, my cell phone has been a huge distraction from God. Even before iphones it was easy to veg out and play snake for hours, trying to beat your friend’s high score. Now, phones can browse the internet. We all know how much time is lost there.

I want to use my phone and use the internet to redeem the time (Ephesians 5:16) . If you do too, start reading the Bible on your phone and text your friends what you read. The Bible is more important than all of the other things we spend our time doing and best of all, it’s free! Check out the free Recovery Version Study Bible.

http://recoveryversion.org

This version is given away free by Bibles For America.

http://www.bfa.org

You can also download the Bible for your phone with the Youversion App.

http://www.youversion.com

 

The Good News

The good news is God wants to be our Provision, Protection, and Pleasure. We can see this in the Bible. Psalm 34 is a good chapter that shows us God is our provision. Psalm 34:8 says ‘Taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.’ Psalm 34:10 says ‘The young lions hunger and starve, But those who seek the Lord will not lack any good thing.’

God is our protection in Psalm 61:3, ‘For you are a refuge to me, A strong tower before the enemy.’ Also good is Proverbs 18:10 ‘The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous man runs into it and is safe.’ That’s awesome! We can run into a strong tower by calling on the Lord’s name. Our running equals our calling. “LORD JESUS!!! The very next verse, Proverbs 18:11 says, ‘The rich man’s substance is his strong city and like a high wall in his own imagination. Before destruction the heart of man is haughty.’ “LORD JESUS!!!” God is our pleasure in Psalm 43:4 ‘I will go to the altar of God, To God my exceeding joy; and I will praise you with the harp, O God, my God.’ Finally, Romans 5:11 says “We also joy in God’ (KJV).

I hope I helped you redeem some time today. To redeem some more time, please add to this. I know there are many more verses to include.

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Priscilla and Aquila

aquila_priscillaIn Acts 18 there is a married couple named Priscilla and Aquila. They worked together and ministered the word of God together.

Where did they work?

They travelled around working with the Apostle Paul (Acts18:18) with their hands (Acts 20:34). They supported themselves by making tents.

expoundingAlthough the Bible doesn’t talk much about their trade, it does talk about their ministry.

Who did they minister to?

One man they ministered to was Apollos. He was eloquent, powerful in the scriptures, instructed in the way of the Lord, fervent in spirit, and he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus. He also spoke boldly in the Synagogue.

As good as this sounds, something was missing. Apollos only knew about the baptism of John.

What happens next is very impressive. Apollos humbles himself and acknowledges that he doesn’t know everything and that there is something that this husband and wife have that he doesn’t. I respect this most about Apollos. Not many big shot preachers are willing to humble themselves like Apollos and listen to what others have to say. Especially to a man and a woman who made tents for a living.

How did they minister?

According to the Greek in Acts 18:26, it is believed that Priscilla and Aquila brought Apollos into their home first and fed him, then they talked. The Greek word proslambano translated “to take to oneself” also implies to “use food, friendship, and hospitality.” This probably had something to do with opening Apollos’ heart to hear the way of God expounded more accurately (Acts 18:26). Had they pulled him aside at the podium or back stage it might not have gone over too well. Point is, a lot can happen in a home! With food and friends!

What did they minister?

They ministered the way of God. Since Apollos only knew the baptism of John, Priscilla and Aquila probably touched on topics like the Body of Christ since that is what we are baptized into, not just the baptism of John.

What’s wrong with the baptism of John?

John’s baptism was a call to repent and prepare a way for the Lord Jesus. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s just missing something. Many Christians today have been saved and baptized but they’re still missing something, and they know it. They need “the Way” that Priscilla and Aquila were preaching and living. This “Way” was what the Apostle Paul was preaching and living. This “Way” is what every genuine believer has followed. They were even persecuted for following “the Way” (Acts 9:2, 19:9, 23).

Notice how the word “Way” is capitalized in the Bible. It must be important!

What is “the Way?”

The Way – Denoting the Lord’s full salvation in God’s New Testament economy. It is the way God dispenses Himself into the believers through Christ’s redemption and the Spirit’s anointing; it is the way the believers partake of God and enjoy God; it is the way the believers worship God in their spirit by enjoying Him and follow the persecuted Jesus by being one with Him; and it is the way the believers are brought into the church and built up into the Body of Christ to bear the testimony of Jesus – Acts 9:2 Footnote 1

What is “full salvation”?

Full salvation” means that there is more to being saved than repenting from sin and accepting Christ Jesus as Lord and savior. This is where many Christians stop. This is why many Christians stop growing and remain “infants” (1 Cor. 3:1). “God’s full salvation” includes the judicial aspect of repenting and the organic aspect of growing.

What is God’s dispensing?

God’s dispensing” means God is feeding us with the pure milk of the word so we can grow (1 Peter 2:2). This is the organic aspect of salvation. John the Baptist and Apollos preached about the judicial aspect of salvation. They probably condemned people of their sin and charged them to repent. Priscilla and Aquila nourished Apollos with food (both physical and spiritual). There is a big difference here! Organic salvation is more than having knowledge of the Bible in our mind (which John and Apollos had). It means we have a spirit that needs to be fed. Jesus is our food! We need to eat HIM! (John 6:57).

In conclusion, there are many Apollos today. There are also some Priscillas and Aquilas. To find a home like Priscilla’s and Aquila’s full of friends, food, and fellowship, check out this link:

http://eachonehas.com/find-us/

Related Blogs:

http://lifeandbuilding.com/2012/04/30/reflecting-on-my-experience-with-christians-on-campus/#more-1700

http://achristianoncampus.wordpress.com/2011/07/04/life-as-a-christian-on-campus/

http://achristianoncampus.wordpress.com/2013/05/22/guest-testimony-finding-the-way/

http://www.simplykatherine.com/2011/07/christians-on-campus-part-5.html

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The First Supper

josephLast Lord’s day we went to a going away dinner for my friend, Joseph Newman. When the waiter brought us bread to eat Joseph looked at me and asked for some wine. What he was really asking for was something to nourish him spiritually. I shared with him about the first supper.

Many people are familiar with the last supper. This is recorded in Matthew 26, Mark 14, and Luke 22.  The day before Jesus went to be crucified, He broke bread with His disciples and drank wine. He said it symbolized His body being broken and His blood being poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. Then He says, “Do this in remembrance of Me.”

Every week, this is what we do on the Lord’s day. We eat unleavened bread and drink wine. This has been a very special time for me to remember the Lord and all He’s done. He’s given Himself for us. What a supply of joy and peace when we give ourselves back to Him!

Last Lord’s day, a brother uplifted my view of the Lord’s supper. He shared about the first supper. The first mention of bread and wine being served is in Genesis chapter 14. Abraham was in a fierce battle in an attempt to free his nephew Lot from captivity. The problem was that he had to fight against 4 kings to get him back. These kings had cities full of  soldiers compared to Abraham’s 318 men. So how did they pull out the win?

While Abraham and his men were fighting, there was someone interceding for them. This was Melchizedek, a type of Christ as the kingly priest. How else could Abraham have defeated so many armies? What a victory!

Not only did Melchizedek pray for Abraham, he came out to meet him and brought out bread and wine to supply him. This was also to celebrate God’s victory!

Christ’s death on the cross is a victory! Jesus Christ conquered satan! We were all slaves but Christ has set us free! This is why we come together to be supplied and to praise Him for His victory. This is what will bring Jesus out to meet us.

I was having a not so victorious day this week then I get a call from my friend Gustavo. He is shouting Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! Again, I didn’t feel victorious but that doesn’t matter. The victory is won! Praise the Lord for that! I joined in the praise. At the end of our talk, Gustavo encouraged me to preach the Lord’s victory. So here it is. I would like to encourage you to preach Jesus Christ’s victory too :)

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The Garden Of Your Heart

This is a guest post by Yiuman Szeto.

gardenIn 1 Corinthians 3, the Apostle Paul pointed out that the church, the believers, is actually God’s cultivated land and God’s building. Cultivated land denotes a field that has been worked on for raising crops. If the church is God’s cultivated land, what is God growing in the church?

According to the divine revelation, what is being grown in the believers is simply Christ Himself (Col. 1:27-28). This marvelous Person is the embodiment of the Triune God (Col. 2:9). The Trinity is alluded in the same chapter as “gold, silver, and precious stones,” symbols for each of the Trinity, in the order of the Father, Son, and Spirit, in their virtues and attributes, as the yieldings of God’s cultivation. This means that God is causing Himself to grow in the Church.

In consideration on the matter of the believers being God’s cultivated land, I am beginning to realize humanity’s potential as a vast fertile land in growing possibilities and futures. Inside each person’s heart is a cradle of ideas and dreams that are growing and coming to fruition (just ask Mister Rogers). Even the modernity of this age and the advancement of today’s technologies have had their beginnings in the hearts of men. Our society is forged from the dreams of those who dare to dream and ideas of those who create. Everything begins in man’s heart.

The Gardener of our Hearts

Every cultivated land has an owner, and every garden has a gardener. In this sense, who is the gardener of our hearts? The first few answers popped into my head are: teachers, parents, mentors, friends, and self. Going back to 1 Corinthians 3, Paul pointed out that the believers are a garden that belongs to God. Though it is the apostles that sow and water, the gardener of the believers is actually God himself. The fact that the ownership of our hearts, the soil, belongs to God is full of conviction.

While as an unbeliever, I would have the right to grow whatever ideas I wanted and wished. Now as a believer, I am beginning to realize that I need to hand over my “land” to God. Thus, I would pray in this way: “Lord, make Your home in my heart today.” Through this prayer, I hope that God would have a free reign in growing whatever He desires in me.

The Guardian of our Hearts

A human heart does not expand without limits. Therefore, we only have a limited amount of space for God to grow within us. In our experiences, it is easy for something else to come in to occupy our hearts and stunts God’s own growth and development within us. This is why we need to guard our hearts. The secret of guarding our hearts is in Philippians 4:6-7:

In nothing be anxious, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; And the peace of God, which surpasses every man’s understanding, will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.

The Fruits of our Hearts

Let me progress further on another point: As believers, God is growing in us as a living person. This is intrinsically different from all other ideas and dreams, because they are non-living entities.

Unbelievers may look at Christians and not see things this way. They may think that the differences between us and them is that our ideas and dreams are just Christian in theme. Yet, it is our knowledge and experiences that tell us what we have is not doctrines, concepts, ideas, and dreams. Rather, we have Christ, a living person, who lives inside of us, grows within us, stands with us, supplies us, straightens us, perfects us, and enlivens us to live Him.

The relationship between us and the Christ who is within us is a co-dependent relationship. There is an definite of mutuality there. As a person, Christ processes His own set of considerations, concerns, and determinations. This Person listens to us, speaks to us, and directs us. These are qualities ideas and dreams do not process, because they are not real living persons, but just simply our own creative imaginative thoughts (our understanding of the doctrine, our own theology, can also fall into this category, especially when, instead of supporting, it frustrates the growth of this living One).

Furthermore, when Christ grows in us, we become one with Him and our living becomes a corporate living with Him. This was the Apostle Paul’s experience revealed in Galatians 2:20:

I am crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

In light of the second metaphor of the church being God’s building, as Christ is growing in us, He is also changing us in a fundamental way. This is transformation (2 Cor. 3:18). The issues of transformation are the “gold, silver, and precious stones,” which are also the building materials for God’s building. In other words, the Christ that grows in us is the building materials of God’s building.

What a contrast: While the unbelievers are growing in themselves ideas and dreams that are contributing to the world in this age, God is growing in the believers an eternal building that will last for eternity! What a marvelous revelation!

Inspirations: 1 Corinthians 3, Practical Points Concerning Blending Chapters 4 & 5.

Photo Credit: David and Nicole’s Vegetable Garden

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A Faithful Witness

The following is a guest post by Yiuman Szeto.

The word “witness” in Greek can also be translated “martyr.” In this thought, the weighty conception behind the word is pronounced. Imagine an experience to be so convincing that it even defies the desire to live, and enables one to forfeit life itself. To the witness, it is not merely a real and provoking event that took place, but an experience so potent that changed the fibers of his being. To such a person, to deny this change is to deny his very existence.

I am reminded of Stephen, who was the first martyr recorded in the book of Acts, and along with this definition of “witness” in consideration, I recalled this one verse:

Acts 6:15 – his face was like the face of an angel.

This verse means that Stephen’s expression was heavenly, indicated by its reference to an angel, a heavenly creature. For a person to be heavenly means that he is experiencing resurrection (1 Cor. 15:47). We know that Christ himself is resurrection (John 11:25). This is why in the entire account of Stephen’s martyrdom, there is a sense that Christ was being extolled in Stephen. Being fully immersed in the Lord’s inward and tender affections, Stephen’s weighty and powerful words were filled with divine sentiments. Even with his last breath, he guilelessly asked forgiveness on behalf of those who was in the act of murdering him, just as the Lord had done on the cross.

We do not know how Stephen came to be as he was and how he obtained such an admirable testimony. Yet, we must not think that this change was instantaneous. The Bible never revealed anything more of Stephen besides his appointment as a deacon. His history being unwritten may be the very intention of our hidden God, who treasures our secret accounts with him and keeps it a secret (Col. 3:3; Rev. 2:17). It may also be true that there was not anything outward to disclose. Nevertheless, it is implicitly concludable that Stephen’s martyrdom, the finality of his testimony of the resurrected Christ, is simply the maturity of the faith which was instilled into him through all the years of countless hidden experiences of the Lord Spirit in his “day by day” pursuit in the renewal process of his inner man (2 Cor. 3:18, 4:16). This is the undeniable experience of divine change.

ghost orchid 2In relation to Stephen’s hidden history, I have in mind a rare flower known as the Ghost Orchid (Epipogium aphyllum), a near extinct plant that burrows underground and surfaces only to blossom. The orchid’s most unique characteristic is its required symbiotic relationship with particular fungi for survival (the plant lacks the ability to photosynthesize). To me, Stephen’s hidden years with the Lord are similar to the plant’s time underground and its symbiotic relationship. Furthermore, just as it is out of such a relationship that the plant can blossom into such an exquisite flower, Stephen’s years of absorbing the Lord as his source of nutritious supply eventually produced into him such a powerful and impacting testimony.

At the end of the course, Stephen, a man on the earth, became a reproduction of the heavenly Christ. Stephen spoke in truth and was full of the Holy Spirit; while his accusers lied, slandered him of blasphemy, and tried him according to their hypocritical law keeping. As they picked up their stones to terminate his life according to the law of ordinance, Stephen interceded for them according to the law of life. Everything this man said and did was a replication of the Lord Jesus. There was nothing natural nor Judaic about Stephen, but rather, the only sense we get from the record was that he was heavenly. Toward such a precious person, Jesus stood with concern over him in his last tumultuous moment as an encouragement for him to finish in triumph. The Lord had produced a faithful witness who completed his course.

Inspiration: Life-Study of Acts Message 21, Crystallization-Study of Acts Message 1

 

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