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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The power of invitation

We are a society in constant transition and busyness. Pick up the kids by five, soccer practice by five-thirty, dinner in the minivan on the way home, you get the picture. In this place of constant transition, people need a place of refuge they can go to and just be themselves.

In Jesus day it was the well in the center of town.

We find the following events in John 4:6, Jacob's well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime. Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, "Please give me a drink." He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food.
Jesus is at a Samaritan well, alone, tired, thirsty and weary, seeking some solace from the noonday sun.

Here is the Samaritan woman, the woman with no name, getting water at noon. Pay attention to the time. Noon, who gets water at noon? At noon, I can guarantee their will not be any people to run into, no icy stares to turn away from.
The well is the local office water cooler in today’s society.

“What did you do this weekend?”
"Did you hear about Julie’s kid getting in trouble with the police this weekend?”
“Did you see what Don’s secretary was wearing today?”

But the woman, with no name I might add, is alone and that’s how she prefers it. She has purposely sought out a time when no one would be there to see her getting water, when no one would be able to talk with her. No sideways glances, no off-handed remarks.

“Is she here!”
“Isn’t she on her third marriage?”
“How many men has she shacked up with?”

Like a master fisherman, casting out his line, waiting patiently for a strike, is Jesus… “Please give me a drink.” The lady is surprised; no one has talked openly with her in quite awhile; especially at the well. Plus, this stranger doesn’t even have a bucket to get water with. Jesus and the woman continue to talk, she opens up to his questions and answers truthfully. Jesus tells the woman that He is in fact the Messiah and the woman is amazed. Amazed so much that she leaves her water jar by the well and goes back into the village. Not only does she go back to the village, but she goes back and tells everyone what Jesus has told her.

This woman that hid from the crowds due to her embarrassment is now Jesus’ messenger of hope. And more people come to Jesus, after listening to the woman, to see Jesus for themselves. Not only do they listen to Jesus, but they entrust their lives to Him.

This story closes out with Jesus telling His disciples about the harvest.

John 4:35, “Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.”

The harvest is ready!

Jesus isn’t talking about plants; He is talking about souls, about people. About people that are waiting to hear a word about Jesus, about who He is, from you. Don’t overlook the opportunities that arise in your life when you hear the Holy Spirit tugging on your heart to tell the cashier at Wal-Mart that Jesus loves her and has a plan for her life.

Like the story of Jesus in the fourth chapter of John, those moments may not come at the most opportune moment. They hardly ever do. When your children are tugging at you, when the cell phone is ringing, may be your biggest and most important opportunity to tell someone about Jesus.

Please do, it will change a life!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Jesus and a whip!

Matthew 21:12; Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves.
This is the beginning of the last week of Jesus on earth; pay attention, these are the final acts and words that Jesus is about to accomplish and say. As Jesus enters the outer courts of the temple he finds disarray, greed, and stealing. He finds robbers, in cahoots with the priests of God, robbing the people by charging visitors to Jerusalem high prices for “approved” sacrificial animals and currency exchange at high, exuberant prices.
Here, the gentle, loving lamb we have come to know becomes a roaring lion! Overturning tables of the greedy robbers and their chairs; yes, even their chairs. That part is easy to miss, I’ve always envisioned Jesus just overturning the tables but he overturned their seats as well; seats that people, perhaps in authority, were sitting in. Can you imagine sitting in one of those seats as Jesus yells in your ear that you are desecrating God’s temple as He forcibly and suddenly seizes your chairs rear legs and pulls the chair out from under you as you go crashing to the ground. In John’s description of the event, Jesus makes a whip beforehand and uses it as He clears out the court. Jesus is serious about sacrifice to the Father. Jesus is serious about prayer. The outer temple courts were the designated place for people to pray before entering the temple. Giving, sacrifice, and prayer are so important to God that He makes an example out of the priests and the money-changers that are robbing His people. Visitors are being taking advantage of and Jesus will not allow his church leaders to continue robbing the people. When Jesus removes the priests and the robbers from their tables He gets to the real business of God; healing the people. Blind eyes are restored and the lame are healed to walk again.
Jesus knows about sacrifice, it’s no question why it so dear to his heart. This is the last week of Jesus’ life on earth.