Light in a Dark World

Light in a Dark World

Life & Light Community Church

Message from 7/23/2022

Life & Light Community Church began in the early months of 2020. What began as an opportunity for me, my wife and step-kids to continue to worship together, has now evolved into a ministry that has expanded to include close friends, family, and those who are simply hungry for the word of God. You can find us on Facebook, so please, feel free to reach out and join us.

“Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world,”

                                                                      Philippians 2:14–15 (NASB95)

It seems we live in a time when everyone has something to be grumbling about or is disputing something. No one ever seems to be happy anymore. Granted, there are times when the grumbling and disputing are justified, but those seem to be the exception now instead of the rule. It seems everyone wants to “have their cake and eat it too.” We want high wages with a light workload. We want nice cars with no payment plan. We want nice clothes at cheap prices. But the biggest thing we want is for everyone to agree with our point of view and not argue with us because we won’t see their perspective.

Paul addresses the conflict in the church at Philippi where the body of Christ seems to be at odds with each other. There is grumbling and disputing within the body, just as there is in the world around the church. Paul calls the church to humility and unity so they might be Light in a Dark World, living as innocent and blameless children of God, so they might combat the evil found in this world.

Paul urges the church at Philippi to do all things without grumbling and disputing. By doing this they are Light in a Dark World, blameless and innocent children of God, living in contrast to a crooked and perverse world.

As Christ followers, we do what has to be done without complaining. We are Light in a Dark World, contrasting the evil in this world with the goodness of God the Father.

In this message we seek to answer the question, “How is the Christ follower to be Light in a Dark World?”

The Christ follower is Light in a Dark world, contrasting the evil of this world with the goodness of God then Father.

1). The Christ follower is Light in a Dark World when they do what needs to be done without complaining.

The world is full of those who are grumbling and disputing, while the body of Christ is to be filled with peace and unity.

The church at Philippi has become a fractured body, living at odds with fellow members of the body. The conduct in this church is not up to par with what Christ wants from His body, and Paul is reminding them they are a witness to the world around them. Their conduct, then, must be worthy of the gospel of Christ and this calls for humility and unity. The call is to do all things without grumbling or disputing. “Grumbling” comes from a Greek word that means muttering, murmuring, or complaining. It is a secret debate among people of displeasure or complaining. This is against those in the body of Christ that arises out of selfishness.

“Disputing” in the Greek means an inward reasoning, an opinion, or an argument. However, this Greek word suggests separation from other reasoning, opinions, and arguments. The end result is separation within the body of Christ, not the unity that Christ seeks. Finally, the Greek word used for “without” means apart from. In other words, Paul says to do all things apart from the complaining and arguments you find in the world. The body of Christ is to be unity and at peace, an exact contrast to the world around them filled with grumbling and disputing.

It is interesting to note here, that Paul as a Pharisee, is well versed in the Scriptures. He uses the Greek language very well to bring to mind the grumbling of the Israelites as they wandered in the desert. In fact, in the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Greek word used by Paul is the same word used for the grumbling of the Israelites. Paul has two things in mind here. First, the church at Philippi, though Gentiles, are now members of the family of God. As such, they are to be mindful of their relationship with God the Father. This will lead to Paul’s comment about working out their own salvation. Secondly, Paul reminds the church that in grumbling against one another, they are, in essence, grumbling against God. Paul believes that the believing community found in Philippi is part of the new people of God, and they now stand in continuity with Israel of the Scriptures and should learn from the example found in Scripture.

As Christ followers today we have an excellent opportunity to reflect the mercy, grace, and love of God found in Christ Jesus. We have been called, by the Father, into fellowship with His Son. We belong to the body of Christ where each member plays an important role. Each Christ follower must live, work, and serve within their respective roles. But what is most important about serving in our roles is that we do it without grumbling and without disputing. We serve because our love for Christ, and those in the body of Christ, overrides any sense of entitlement we might have. We love because He first loved us, but we also serve because He came to serve others and has left us the example of servant leadership.

We do what has to be done with a unity and peace that is not seen in the world. We do not argue amongst the body, we have open and honest conversations. Complaining, arguing, and creating an atmosphere of separation should not be found in the Christ follower, and certainly not within the body of Christ. While it is true that there will always be “troublemakers” within the body, it is also true that the body does not have to simply accept the “troublemaker.” Far too many Christ followers have simply adopted the slogan, “Oh, that’s just so and so. We have learned to ignore him or her.”

This is a major problem in the church in this country. We do not know how to gently correct a Christ follower in love, so we simply do not do it, we “simply ignore them.” We do an injustice to anyone who claims the name of Christ and does not act like they are a new creation in Christ, and then do not hold them accountable. Is it any wonder the world thinks the church is filled with hypocrites? As a new creation the old person has gone away, ceases to exist, and the new person, the new creation in Christ has come. This includes humility and peace with others.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

What are you grumbling and disputing about within the body of Christ? If you are not, what are you doing to keep within the body?

How are you helping promote humility and peace within the body of Christ? If not, why?

Are you living to your full potential as a new creation in Christ? If not, what steps can you take to change this?

The Christ follower is Light in a Dark world, contrasting the evil of this world with the goodness of God then Father.

2). The Christ follower is Light in a Dark World when they are above reproach.

We live among a crooked and perverse generation as blameless and innocent children of God.

After the call to humility and peace within the body, Paul tells us why we are to be living as Light in a Dark World – to prove ourselves as blameless and innocent children of God. To be blameless is to be without blame from any source. The world cannot point their finger at the Christ follower who is blameless and accuse them of practicing evil as the world does. To be innocent is to be unmixed, that is, the absence of foreign material. In the case of the Christ follower, this foreign material is the evil so prevalent in the world. Specifically, grumbling and disputing as those in the world complain and argue amongst themselves.

The witness of the Christ follower is to be so powerful no one is able to say they are to blame or have been corrupted by the world system. This means the Christ follower must not think or act as those in the world. Our thinking is to be like the mind of Christ, fixed on the things of heaven and the Kingdom of God. Our action as to be loving and serving other, putting their needs above our own. We are to be wholly different than what is seen in the world. The Greek word for “prove” means to come into being, to happen, or to become. At one time, the Christ follower lived as the world, having the same mindset as the world. To prove we are innocent children of God is to become something we were not, we are coming into being an innocent child of God, by our thinking and actions make this come into being.

We prove we are innocent children of God so that the Christ follower will be above reproach. To be above reproach is to be without blemish and without blame. Once again, the Christ follower’s way of thinking and way of acting are to be a contrast to the dark world in which we live. We are to be innocent and blameless as a contrast to the crooked and perverse world in which we live. The Greek word for “crooked” is the same word where we get our word scoliosis, meaning curved or winding. In our context within the passage, it means morally crooked and perverse.

Perverse is understood as to distort, mis-interrupt, corrupt or twist. The worlds way of thinking and acting are morally crooked, distorted, corrupt and twisted. This is the generation in which we live, the world in which we are called to be light, the world where Christ once came, lived among, and died to save. And yet nothing surprises the Father or the Son. This is the very reason the Holy Spirit was sent to be a guide for those who call on the name of Christ. Left on our own, we too would likely fall prey to the enemy and fall into the ways of thinking and acting like the world.

As Christ followers we are to be a contrast to the world – a very visible contrast to the world. Our way of thinking and acting is to be so different they shine as light in this dark world. Like the moth drawn to your porch light, those in the world should be drawn to you – to your way of thinking and acting – because they are so vastly different from the everyday norm of the world. Obviously, this will not be easy, but it is what we are called to do and to be. We are called to be different – set apart – from the rest of the world. We are called to be light – innocent, blameless, pure, and holy – in a world running after sinful thinking and ways of acting.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

Can you stand before the world as a blameless and innocent child of God? If not, what steps must you take to correct this?

How are you struggling against falling into the worlds way of thinking and acting? If you are not, what steps have you taken to fight this?

How are you a light shining in this dark world? If you are not, what steps must you take to become light to the world?

The Christ follower is Light in a Dark world, contrasting the evil of this world with the goodness of God then Father.

As a Christ follower, we must all be willing to step out in faith, even though the challenge may seem overwhelming, and shine as light in a world growing ever darker. Now is the time to fully trust in Christ for the right words to speak at the right time. Trust in the Holy Spirit to guide you in gentleness any time you must rebuke someone for the sin in their life. Trust that God has started a good work in you that is not yet finished but grows stronger each day – a work to become more like His Son, Jesus Christ. This is our challenge; this is our calling. Difficult to say the least, but we do not face it alone or in our own strength – we have the power of God at our disposal.

We do all thing to the glory of God through Christ our Lord,

Amen and amen.

Next Week: 1 John 4:1-3

Living the Set Apart Life

Living the Set Apart Life

Life & Light Community Church

Message from 7/16/2022

Life & Light Community Church began in the early months of 2020. What began as an opportunity for me, my wife and step-kids to continue to worship together, has now evolved into a ministry that has expanded to include close friends, family, and those who are simply hungry for the word of God. You can find us on Facebook, so please, feel free to reach out and join us.

“Therefore, I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

                                                                               Romans 12:1–2 (NASB95)

Now, more than ever, the world is seeking to conform the minds of people to a single point of view. If you do not fully agree with this point of view, you are dismissed, canceled, and called intolerant. Those who think for themselves are being singled out more and more, and if you are a Christ follower, well, the anger, bitterness, and wrath of the world are unloaded in an unending stream that gets more and more violent each passing day.

Life is difficult for everyone, no exceptions to that rule! But let’s face it, as Christ followers we have the added difficulty of seeing things through the lens of Scripture. Christ followers are called to be Living the Set Apart Life as an example to the world around us. This has become much more difficult the past several years. As Christ followers we are to have the Bible as our final and full authority, we are to live our lives according to the commandments of God and the example of Jesus Christ.

Paul urges the church at Rome to present their bodies as living and holy sacrifices. He warns them not to be conformed to this world, but to renew their minds and urges them to be Living the Set Apart Life, changing the way they think and act, allowing them to prove the will of God – that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

As Christ followers, we are to offer our bodies as living and holy sacrifices. We are to be Living the Set Apart Life, changing our way of thinking and acting, through a mind that has been renewed, allowing us to discern what God calls good, acceptable, and perfect.

In this message, we seek to understand how the Christ follower is Living the Set Apart life.

The Christ follower is Living the Set Apart Life when they understand the will of God through a transformed mind, changing the way they think and act.

1). The Christ follower is Living the Set Apart Life as a living and holy sacrifice.

The entire body of the Christ follower is used in our spiritual service of worship.

By now most Christ followers know that, whenever they see a “therefore’ in the Scriptures, it is time to pay close attention. In our case, “therefore” finds its foundation in all that has been written before chapter 12 – chapters 1-11. Paul urges Christ followers to present their bodies as slaves to God (6:13), in obedience and righteousness (6:19), and Paul warns against self-centered use of the body, without the rule of a mind controlled by the Holy Spirit (1:24; 6:6 & 12; 7:24; 8:13). Now Paul shows how the Christ follower can choose in their minds to present their bodies for the service of the greater body – the body of Christ. When the Christ follower offers their body as a sacrifice, they are imitating Christ, whose death Paul has presented as a bloody sacrifice (3:25;5:9; 8:3).

Paul describes the sacrifice of the Christ follower as living, holy, and acceptable. The Old Testament sacrifices were made with inanimate objects, such as crops, or slain animals. In contrast, the Christ follower offers their body while living as they embrace the death of Christ while still living. The Christ followers sacrifice is holy, that is sacred and set apart to God. As Christ followers, we are set apart for God. Our sacrifice is to be acceptable, that is, “so as to please” God. The Christ follower is to make their sacrifice to please God alone. While the Old Testament sacrifices were made with physical objects, with the death of Christ, the Christ follower is no longer required to make a physical offering, our offerings are to be in the spiritual realm.

In John chapter 4, Jesus tells the Samaritan woman at the well a time has now come when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. The word Paul uses for spiritual means reasonable or rational. The sacrifice of the Christ follower is to be intelligent in contrast to those offerings made in ritual and through compulsion. This is the Christ followers divine service or divine worship. When we worship the Father in spirit and truth, we are offering Him divine worship.

Paul says we are to offer our bodies as the sacrifice. The word Paul uses indicates the entire body is included in this act of worship. That means, not only are we the hands and feet of Christ to those in the world, now we are to use our hands and feet in service to the Father in our sacrifice. Obviously, Paul also has the mind in view here as well. We must be intelligent in our worship of the Father, with minds fixed on Him and who He is and what He has done to be the only One worthy of our worship. Our minds must be properly prepared to focus on and worship the Father alone.

In addition, we keep our eyes fixed on the Father during our worship. We must not come into worship with eyes that wander, looking around the sanctuary or checking to see how others worship or if they are noticing how we worship. We must also guard against coming to worship with eyes that are drowsy or sleepy from lack of sleep or staying out too late the night before. Clear, well rested eyes can focus on the Father and what He has done for you the past week and where He is leading you in the week ahead.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

Are you coming to worship with the full intent of giving your entire body as a sacrifice to the Father?

How often do you find your eyes wandering or feeling sleepy during worship? How can you correct this? How do you fight against this?

How are you preparing your mind for worship? If not, why?

The Christ follower is Living the Set Apart Life when they understand the will of God through a transformed mind, changing the way they think and act.

2). The Christ follower is Living the Set Apart Life because they are able to discern the will of God.

This can only happen through a mind that has been transformed.

Paul now switches from our divine worship of God to how we get to this divine worship we offer God. Paul first warns us about being conformed to this world and the worlds way of thinking and acting. The Greek word used for “conformed” means to assume a certain form; to fashion or shape one thing like another. This world is temporary, changeable, and unstable, as Christ followers, we are to be conformed to the mind of Christ, thus our minds are complete or durable, not merely a form or outline. The mind of Christ is stable, unchanging, and permanent. It never wavers for it is the mind of the Father.

When this happens, we are transformed, the Christ follower undergoes a complete change which will find expression in the character and conduct of the Christ follower. Here we begin to take on the genuine resemblance of Christ – we begin to become Christlike. This is not the superficial resemblance the world is seeking when we become conformed to the world, but a genuine resemblance, or likeness of Christ Jesus. What Paul is really saying here is, “Do not be squeezed into the mold of this world.” The renewing of our minds is the means to being transformed.

In chapter 1 verse 28, Paul tells us what will, and is, happening to those who reject God; “And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper…” The passage goes on to describe the rest of what happens, but we need to concentrate on verse 28, you can read the rest of the passage on your own. A depraved mind is one that is not standing to the test, it has been rejected. This is the mind that has fully rejected God and does not seek His will or to understand the will of God.

Paul tells us we must “renew” our minds. The Greek word used here means the adjustment of the moral and spiritual vision and thinking to align with the mind of God. The purpose of this “renewing” is to “prove” the will of God. The Greek word Paul used means to examine, to test. As Christ followers, we are to understand and agree with what God wants of us, with a view of putting it into practice. This can only happen if we “prove” the will of God – test it, examine it, to understand it and agree with it. Let’s face it, the enemy’s attack starts with the mind to influence, first our thinking and then our actions. We must use the weapons at our disposal to fight every attack sent by the enemy – beginning with the renewal of our minds.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

How is your mind “like the mind of Christ” right now? If not, why?

How is the enemy attacking your mind to “squeeze you into the mold of this world?” If he is not, what are you doing to combat this?

How are you “renewing” your mind daily? If you are not, what is stopping you?

The Christ follower is Living the Set Apart Life when they understand the will of God through a transformed mind, changing the way they think and act.

How do we “renew” our minds? We read and study the word of God. There are any number of good Bible reading formats to help you read your Bible more. There are also helpful word studies, topical studies, and book studies available to the Christ follower today. Use whatever fits your schedule and level of comfort, but by all means, find a way to get into the word more!

We learn to apply the word of God to our lives. Any good study you find will give you examples to help you apply the word in practical ways. Do not overthink what you are learning or trying to apply. Remember, as a Christ follower, you have the Holy Spirit to help you apply the word! We pray and ask God for strength, wisdom, and discernment. We meditate on the word and what we hear God saying to us. These last two points go hand in hand. When we pray, we should be listening carefully to what God is saying through His Spirit, then we must take time to meditate on what we are hearing. Meditating will allow us to discern if what we are truly hearing is from God or a false word from the enemy.

All of this is done to change wrong ideas that lead to wrong actions. As Christ followers, we are to transform – to adjust or change – the way we think about everything. This means we change our way of thinking in accordance with the newness of life we have been given in Christ. This is a lifelong journey, a lifelong process, by which our way of thinking and acting becomes more like God wants us to think and act – more like Christ.

We do all things for the glory of God through Christ our Lord.

Amen and amen.

Next week: Philippians 2:14-16

Hearing the Son of God

Hearing the Son of God

Life & Light Community Church

Message from 7/9/2022

Life & Light Community Church began in the early months of 2020. What began as an opportunity for me, my wife and step-kids to continue to worship together, has now evolved into a ministry that has expanded to include close friends, family, and those who are simply hungry for the word of God. You can find us on Facebook, so please, feel free to reach out and join us.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment. I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. If I alone testify about Myself, My testimony is not true. There is another who testifies of Me, and I know that the testimony which He gives about Me is true.”

                                                                                 John 5:25–32 (NASB95)

Who among us did get just a little bit irritated at a certain cell phone provider who continually beat our ear drums with one simple question? “Can you hear me now?” was the tag line throughout the commercial as the spokesperson walked around his neighborhood, city, state, and eventually the entire country…or at least it seemed that way. I guess it got the point across because here we are, how many years later and we still remember that burning question – “Can you hear me now?”

We have come to a time in history when we can hear another voice asking the same question, “Can you hear me now?” There is a big difference between the voices asking this question, however. The television commercial was asked by a spokesperson, an actor being paid to ask a question that would be seared into the minds of people obsessed with cell phones. The second voice asking this question has much more authority in the lives of people…all people, not just those looking for a new cell phone. Today, if you listen carefully, you should be Hearing the Son of God asking, “Can you hear me now?” for we are quickly approaching the time of His return, when He will have the power of life and judgment as the King of the Universe.

Jesus continues to respond to the charges of the Pharisees by explaining that one day even the dead will hear His voice. Because He has the power and authority to give life and to judge justly, Hearing the Son of God, some will be resurrected to life, while others will be resurrected to judgment. The Son does not seek His own will but the will of the One who sent Him.

Yeshua, the Son of God, will one day speak and even the dead will hear His voice. As the Son of God, He gives life and judges justly. Hearing the Son of God will determine the future of all people – some to eternal life, some to eternal judgment. As the Son of God, Yeshua does not do whatever He wants, He does only the will of the Father, the One who sent Him.

In this message we seek to answer the question, “Why is Hearing the Son of God is important for all people?”

Hearing the Son of God is important for all people because the Son does the will of the Father who sent Him.

1). Hearing the Son of God is important for all people because the Son has the power to give life and the power to judge justly.

The Son has the power of life or death; to judge justly or to pardon.

Jesus continues to address the charges of the Pharisees of being a Sabbath breaker and a blasphemer. There is an interesting structure used by John in his writing in verses 19-30. It is called a chiasm. This ancient literary design is used to help the interpreter clearly see where the unit begins and where it ends. In verses 19-24 Jesus talks about the Son doing what He sees the Father doing, Father and Son give life to the dead, Father gives all judgment to the Son, and they will hear and believe. Now in verses 25-30 we see Jesus talking about they will hear and live, Father made Son the source of life, all will rise from the dead, and the Son judges like the Father. The same points in reverse order.

Hearing the Son of God is to live. Last week we learned that to hear the words of Yeshua and to believe the One who sent Him is to have eternal life. We have moved from death into life. In verse 25 we hear that the dead are included in this hearing. The Father GAVE life to the Son, so the Son HAS life in Him. This is a continuation of the theme John started back in chapter one, “In Him was life…” We also learned that this life is the Light of all people, meaning that everyone has some light within them, everyone carries something of Yeshua within themselves. Every person carries some light. The Father has made the Son the Source of life.

This includes the Son being the source of judgment, repeating the statement of verses 22-23. The Father GAVE authority to the Son, so the Son HAS authority to judge justly. How does the Son judge justly? Because He does not seek His own will but the will of the One who sent Him…the Father. Here Jesus is repeating what He said in verse 19, “I am doing whatever the Father does.” Jesus states that He can do nothing of His own initiative, it must first be seen in the Father before the Son will do it, whether it is healing, giving life, or judging, He must first know it is the Fathers will.

There is something else here we must see and understand. The power to give life comes to Yeshua as the Son of God, while the power to judge comes to Jesus as the Son of Man. Why the distinction? As the Son of God, Yeshua, is uniquely qualified to talk about heaven, reveal the Father and has been given the authority of the Father. He alone can speak and act for the Father, for He alone has come forth from the Father. As the Son of Man, Jesus is the perfect representation of all we, as human beings, are meant to be. He is One who is qualified to stand before the Father to speak to all He has faced in His humanity, the One who has experienced all things human.

Hearing the Son of God can, and does, impact all people. For the most part, there are two reactions to the name of Jesus. Either He is readily accepted and acknowledged as the Son of God, the Son of Man, and the Messiah or Savior of the world, or the mere mention of the name Jesus will cause great division and derision. At the mention of His name, people are either filled with love, devotion, and acceptance, or they are filled with anger, bitterness, and hatred.

This really should not surprise us, for we see it throughout the Scriptures, we can see it in our country today, and we know in the days to come it will grow worse as we near the time of His return. With the chaos and division in our country today, it takes an ear that is bent to hear the still small voice of the One calling us in love and eternal life. While it may appear that evil has the upper hand, any student of the Scriptures knows this is but the beginning of what must come. We are called to persevere as we await His return. We have not been promised this would be easy, that we would be well liked, or that the world would simply leave us alone. In fact, we are told that if the world first hated Jesus, then we can count of them hating those who say they belong to Him.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

Are you hearing the voice of Jesus calling out to you? If not, what might be causing the disconnect? If so, what are you hearing?

How has Yeshua, as the Son of God, given you life in recent days?

How is Jesus, as the Son of Man, representing you before the Father?

Hearing the Son of God is important for all people because the Son does the will of the Father who sent Him.

2). Hearing the Son of God is important for all people because who you hear will determine your future.

You will either hear the One who calls you in love to eternal life, or the one who calls you in deception to eternal judgment.

People will hear one of two voices calling out to them in our world. They will either hear the voice of Yeshua, the Son of God, calling out to them in love. Or they will hear the voice of Satan, the enemy, calling out to them in deception. There is no other option, there is no fence sitting, there is only one of two choices to make. To say you hear neither voice is to say you hear the voice of the enemy, for he would prefer all people to say they hear no one calling them. With a voice of indifference, people can feel free to live and make choices that please the most important person in our lives – self.

To hear the voice of Satan is to make the choice to commit evil deeds and live a life of evil. Oh, make no mistake, people do not believe they are making a choice to live an evil life. No, they are choosing to please themselves and in so doing, they commit evil deeds. Though we do not like to hear it, the choice to live an evil life is commonplace in our country. People choose to live together rather than get married. Gods’ ideal is for man and woman to live together in marriage, forsaking all others to be committed to one another. People prefer to have “casual sex” outside of marriage, rather than be “tied down” in a committed relationship. This is fornication…again, outside of Gods’ ideal.  

Conversely, to hear the voice of the Son of God is to live a life committed to good deeds. No, this is not earning our place in heaven. Rather, this is doing the right thing when it needs to be done because of your love for the Father and the Son. You feel compelled to love others because you have first been loved by Father and Son. You give your life for others because Jesus, the Son of Man, first gave His life for you. You are willing to be obedient to the commands of the Son because you have first seen Him being obedient to the commands of the Father. These choices and the voice a person chooses to hear, will determine the future of that person.

If they choose to hear the voice of the one calling them in deception, they will be deceived. This deception tells them they are in control, and they are making all the choices. The voice says to please yourself and live your best life now. To hear the voice of the One calling out in love is to make the choice to love others before self and to give of yourself freely and fully. The first voice is calling a person to evil deeds, while the second voice is calling people to good deeds. With the power to give life and to judge justly, Jesus will call all people to life again one day. Those who did good deeds to eternal life and those who did evil deeds to eternal judgment.

These two choices have always been around, from the very beginning back in the Garden of Eden to this very day. We still have only two choices. For the Christ follower it is imperative we hear the voice of the Son of God. The issue is fighting through the chaos and all the other distractions seeking to gain your attention. We know from the example of Elijah we must be still and listen intently to hear the still small voice of God. He will not howl over the chaos but wait for you to quiet your heart and your mind before He makes His presence felt. Oh, sure, there will be those times you get the cold slap across the face, but those will be the exception, not the rule.

The enemy is still the prowling lion, looking for someone to destroy, as he walks among people. He is not particular who they are or what they do, he simply wants to devour as many as possible before the return of Messiah. We must learn to hear the voice of Jesus in all our circumstances. We can hear His voice in the Scriptures. He can and does talk to us through His word, for He has already said that those who hear His words will have eternal life. We can also hear the voice of the Savior through other Christ followers as we meet together. We can communicate with Jesus through our prayers and devotional times. We can hear the voice of Jesus calling out through music, through our pain and suffering, and through our joy and the blessings poured out upon us.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

How are you hearing the voice of Messiah today? Music, prayer, other Christ followers?

How is the enemy trying to deceive you today?

How are you fighting the voice of indifference?

Hearing the Son of God is important for all people because the Son does the will of the Father who sent Him.

Hearing the Son of God is no easy task today. We have so many things that are vying for our attention. We have numerous screens that are screaming at us from several different directions. We have family obligations. There are always household chores to be done. There are children to consider and their busy schedules. There are meals to prepare, there are emails to be answered, there are phone calls to make, there are bills to be paid and in the background of this, there are two voices calling out to us. We must learn to turn-off the chaos and silence the voices that seek to deceive us and lead us away from the Savior.

We must be in the word, we must be in prayer, we must continue to meet for worship, we must be still and stop striving. I know, easier said than done. But take a lesson from Elijah and let yourself stop. Let God wash over you through His word, through your prayer time, through His people. We simply cannot do this in our strength or on our own energy. We will fail. We will find ourselves in the middle of burnout and before we know it, the enemy has sucker punched us right in the gut.

With the mission trip and vacations, we will not be meeting together as the full group until August 6. I will be posting a shorter message, but during this time I challenge you to listen for the voice of the Son of God. What is He saying to YOU? How are you hearing Him? Through music, prayer, His word, or other Christ followers? Use the Soul Care Sessions to help you focus your soul, your heart, your mind on the One who is calling you in love. When we return together on the 6th, I would like to know how you faired in this challenge. Keep notes if you must but learn to discern the still small voice of God through the chaos of the world and the distractions of the enemy.

We do all things for the glory of God, through Christ our Lord,

Amen and amen.

Next Week: Romans 12:1-2

Like Father, Like Son

Like Father, Like Son

Life & Light Community Church

Message from 7/2/2022

Life & Light Community Church began in the early months of 2020. What began as an opportunity for me, my wife and step-kids to continue to worship together, has now evolved into a ministry that has expanded to include close friends, family, and those who are simply hungry for the word of God. You can find us on Facebook, so please, feel free to reach out and join us.

“Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and the Father will show Him greater works than these, so that you will marvel. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes. For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” 

                                                                                  John 5:19–24 (NASB95)

Growing up in the 70’s, whenever I hear the words Like Father, Like Son, I always remember the old anti-smoking television commercial of a father and a son spending the day together and the son doing everything the father does…including reaching for a cigarette when the pair stopped to rest in the park. I also like to watch This Old House, which also began in the 70’s. Not too many years ago This Old House began a spin-off show called Ask This Old House, a show where the stars of the show travel around the country answering viewers questions and helping with common household repairs.

Recently the show did an episode where the stars talked about those who influenced their lives and careers the most. To a person, each member of the show named their father as the biggest influence in their lives and careers. Each member followed in their father’s footsteps, including working with their fathers on the job. In effect, they imitated their fathers and used those skills to launch their careers and develop new skills and talents. To become successful they simply did what they saw their father doing. And this is exactly what we find happening in our passage this morning. Like Father, Like Son, Jesus is doing whatever He sees His Father doing, only this brings Him persecution before it will bring Him success.

Jesus answered the charge of breaking the Sabbath by explaining He is doing whatever He sees the Father doing. Like Father, Like Son, He has the power to give life and the power to judge. Those who honor Him, honor the Father, and those who hear the words of Jesus, believing Him who sent Jesus, move from death into life.

As Christ followers, we too must be doing whatever we see the Father and the Son doing – even if it means breaking the Sabbath. We point the way to the One who has the power of life and the power to judge. Like Father, Like Son, we honor the Son to honor the Father; having heard the words of Jesus and having believed He is the Son of God, we have moved from death to life.

In this message we seek to understand how the Christ follower is also Like Father, Like Son.

Like Farther, Like Son the words and actions of the Christ follower can help – or hinder – moving people from death to life.

1). Like Father Like Son, the Christ follower must be doing whatever we see the Father and the Son doing.

This might mean breaking the Sabbath because our love for people is more important than keeping the Sabbath.

After healing the man who been ill for thirty-eight years, the Pharisees bring charges against Jesus of breaking the Sabbath and being a blasphemer because He has made Himself equal to God. Our passage this morning is the beginning of the answer given by Yeshua that will last the remainder of chapter 5. In plain language, Jesus says “Look, I cannot do anything on My own. Whatever I see the Father doing, I do them Myself. I am only doing what I see My Father doing.” So, what exactly is Jesus doing? He is doing exactly what He came to do…reveal the Father to people…everyone including these Pharisees. In the end, Yeshua will reveal all things about the Father, but in particular, we see Jesus revealing the Father’s mercy, the Father’s grace, and the Father’s love.

This began back in chapter 1 of John’s gospel account where he says that “grace and truth have been realized” in Jesus. In verse 18 John tells us that Jesus, the only begotten, has explained God. This explanation of the Father begins with the rest of chapter one. We find Yeshua, the Son of God being revealed as the Lamb of God, the cure for sin; we see how the Father draws even the most skeptical of people to Him and into fellowship with His Son. We see how the Father rewards those who step out in faith to trust Him when He intervened at the wedding in Cana; we see how the Father cares about worship in His house at the cleansing of the Temple, the clearing of the money collectors and merchants from the Court of the Gentiles, the only place they are allowed to worship the Father.

In chapter three we see the care and concern the Father has for those who diligently seek Him, regardless of their current position or status, in the conversation with Nicodemus. At the end of chapter three we see how the Father works to reveal things to those He has called by the bold testimony of John the Baptist. In the Samaritan woman we see the compassion of the Father for those who are hurting in ways we cannot see; we find how the Father rewards the obedience of those who trust His spoken words. In chapter five, we see how the Father seeks to bring people to wholeness in the man who had been ill for thirty-eight years. And in our current passage, we see how the Father rewards those who are utterly dependent upon Him.

It is through the example of the Son doing what the Father is doing that the disciples learn from Jesus to do as He is doing. Though they are slow to learn at time, they do indeed learn from Jesus. A prime example of this is chapter four when the people of Samaria come out to meet Jesus. Jesus has told the disciples they are about to enter into someone else’s work. Part of this work is the work of the Father that the Son has seen Him doing and has Himself done with the Samaritan woman at the well. Remember, Jesus was compelled to walk through Samaria…because His Father was already walking there, working to draw people to Himself.

As Christ followers, we must be willing to do whatever we see the Father and the Son doing. This would include doing those things that take out of our comfort zones and make us feel a little bit uncomfortable. We just might even find ourselves with dirty hands at the end of the day! Throughout the Scriptures we see both the Father and the Son having compassion on people as if they were sheep without a shepherd. We too must have that same compassion for those who are lost and searching for a shepherd. We also see both the Father and Son offering unconditional love throughout the Scriptures. In fact, the greatest act of love is found in the Father giving His only Son to be crucified that we might have eternal life. We must have this same kind of love for the lost in our world.

We also find the Father and Son communicating at all times. Jesus spends much time in prayer, communicating with His Father. He prayed before selecting His disciples. He prayed before feeding the two large crowds. He prays before and after sending His disciples out into the world. He prays after a lengthy day of dealing with the large crowds that follow Him. Throughout the New Testament we hear Jesus saying He heard something from His Father. He also talks about how the Father reveals things to Him. And here we read that the Father loves the Son and is showing Him (Jesus) all He (the Father) is doing. Communication between Father and Son is at a premium. We must have this same commitment to communication with the Father and His Son, our Lord.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

When was the last time you “saw” the Father and the Son doing something and started doing this same thing?

How are you showing others the mercy, grace, and love of God found in Christ?

How is your communication with the Father and His Son, our Lord?

Like Farther, Like Son the words and actions of the Christ follower can help – or hinder – moving people from death to life.

2). Like Father, Like Son the words of the Christ follower have the power to bring life or cast someone into judgment.

A word of encouragement can bring life to a lifeless soul, but a harsh word spoken carelessly might, unintentionally, sent cast shadows of judgment.

Because of His absolute dependence on the Father we see Yeshua given the ability to do all things the Father is doing. The Psalms tell us that God alone judges. Daniel and Jeremiah tell us the Messiah will have authority to judge. In John we see Jesus claiming and demonstrating His authority to judge. Isaiah tells us God alone heals. Isaiah also tells us the Messiah will have the power to heal. In John we see Jesus demonstrating His power to heal. In Genesis, Deuteronomy, 1 Samuel, and 2 Kings, we find that God alone gives life. Isaiah tells us that the Messiah has power to give life. In John we see Jesus claiming and demonstrating His power to give life.

In fact, Jesus has stated plainly that He CANNOT do anything on His own.  Notice that Jesus did not say He WOULD NOT but rather that He cannot do something the Father is not doing. Unless He has seen the Father doing something He cannot do it Himself. Think about the implications for what we have seen in John alone. Jesus turned water to wine meaning He saw the Father doing this exact same thing. Jesus cleansed the Temple of merchants meaning Jesus saw the Father doing this same thing. Jesus showed compassion, mercy, healed, gave life, and is in the process of judging all because He has seen the Father doing the same things.

Everything the Son does is meant to bring honor to the Father. Yeshua does not step outside of His Fathers influence, protection, or instructions. He will only do what the Father has shown Him or made known to Him. He honors the Father that others might also honor the Father, either directly or through honoring the Son, Yeshua. Every healing is meant to honor the Father. Every life returned to someone is meant to honor the Father. Every rebuke, command and teaching are meant to honor the Father. Through honoring the Father comes judgment.

Jesus states that those who hear His words and believe One who sent Him will have eternal life. But it is the second part that should truly capture our attention…those who hear and believe do not enter into judgment but pass from life to death. Jesus clearly has the power over life and death and now He has added the power to judge or to keep someone from judgment. There can be absolutely no doubt that the Father and Son are equal, sharing the same power to give life and to judge. The Son has been sent by the Father as His representative, equal in power and able to speak with authority for the Father.

In John chapter 5 we see the Son doing as the Father is doing…judging, healing, and giving life. We too can and must be willing to do all of this in gentleness and love. It is a mistaken thought that we are NOT to judge. This is not at all what the Scriptures teach us. The Scriptures say we are not to judge HYPOCRITICALLY. What this means is we do not judge someone’s sin while at the same time keeping the same sin hidden from others. We also cannot and must not judge someone’s heart or motives, this task is best left to the Lord. We must also be aware of how we speak to others for our words can judge, bring life and healing, or tear a person down, even if it is done unintentionally.

We forget the power of the spoken word. How many times have you been having a day that could go either way…good or bad, and then someone pops off a comment that completely sends your day in a tailspin? Or how many horrible days have been turned around by a simple word of encouragement from someone who had no clue you were having a bad day? One word cast shadows of judgment while the other word brought life to a hopeless day. What parent hasn’t snapped at their child and then felt the overwhelming guilt for speaking without thinking? How many people can you think of that have spoken kindly to you and influenced your day, week, month, or even your career? We must never forget the power of our words.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

How are your words bringing life and healing to others? Or are they casting shadows of judgment?

What do you hear the Father and/or the Son speaking to you?

Can you think of someone close to you that needs to hear an encouraging word today?

Like Farther, Like Son the words and actions of the Christ follower can help – or hinder – moving people from death to life.

Doing what we “see” the Father and the Son doing is never going to be easy, but it is what we are called to do. We have been set apart for the holy purposes of a holy God. At times, that will mean, we will be moved beyond where we are comfortable, and we will need to get our hands dirty at other times. But in doing what we see the Father and Son doing will come great reward. Imagine how the disciples must have felt when they looked up to see the people of Samaria coming out to meet Jesus. Imagine the work they must have put in as they kept coming and coming. Jesus made a point of telling them they were going to reap where they did not sow. They took part in that great soul harvest of the Samaritan people. We are called to take part of the soul harvest in our sphere of influence.

We are also kept from judgment as long as we continue to hear the words of Jesus and believe the One who sent Jesus. We have moved from death into life, walking in the Light of Christ Jesus. Now it is our responsibility to show this same love to others who do not know Jesus. Yes, this is a scary prospect, and the work is not going to be easy. But we have an advantage, the promised Holy Spirit, sent to help us remember the teachings and commands of Jesus, to walk with us through everything we face and to bring us the right words at the right time, in even the most difficult of situations.

This will not be easy, nor should we expect it to be easy. But the rewards far outweigh any suffering or persecution we might suffer. Time is growing short so keep your eyes open and your ears tuned for the Father and Son will surely be showing us where they are working and how we can work beside them in the coming day, weeks and months.

We do all things for the glory of God through Christ our Lord,

Amen and amen.

Next week: John 5:25-32

An Unlawful Healing

An Unlawful Healing

Home Church Service 6/25/2022

Life & Light Community Church began in the early months of 2020. What began as an opportunity for me, my wife and step-kids to continue to worship together, has now evolved into a ministry that has expanded to include close friends, family and those who are simply hungry for the word of God. You can find us on Facebook, so please, feel free to reach out and join us.

When our small group meets for worship, we like to discuss what we are learning, in the moment. Sometimes that happens right after the message and at other times we will address something during the message. These messages are designed to be interactive, discussing what we are learning right after I have addressed each point of the message. You will find the questions at the end of each section. In most formats they will appear in bold. Use these questions as a guide to meditate on the points being discussed. Allow the Holy Spirit to search your heart and above all, be honest with yourself and the Holy Spirit. After all, He knows any way!

“After these things there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem by the sheep gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew Bethesda, having five porticoes. In these lay a multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, and withered, waiting for the moving of the waters; for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was made well from whatever disease with which he was afflicted. A man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, “Do you wish to get well?” The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, pick up your pallet and walk.” Immediately the man became well, and picked up his pallet and began to walk. Now it was the Sabbath on that day.

So the Jews were saying to the man who was cured, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not permissible for you to carry your pallet.” But he answered them, “He who made me well was the one who said to me, ‘Pick up your pallet and walk.’” They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Pick up your pallet and walk’?” But the man who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had slipped away while there was a crowd in that place. Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “Behold, you have become well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you.” The man went away, and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. For this reason the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because He was doing these things on the Sabbath. But He answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.” For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.”  

                                                                                    John 5:1–18 (NASB95)

Being a diabetic, I am always aware of new research and findings in how to deal with or manage diabetes. For many years it was the “company line” that diabetes was not reversable once a diabetic, you were thought to be a diabetic for life. Those diagnosed as diabetic were immediately put on drugs to “control” the symptoms and keep the glucose, or blood sugar, in the body at manageable numbers. In addition, patients were told to avoid carbs and lose weight. As research began to come out, many would jump to the latest and greatest diet or “wonder pill” to cure their diabetes and allow them to return to a normal life. As you might have guessed, most of those “wonder pills” simply did not work.

Finally, research is available that proves diabetes can be reversed. This is not good news for the big pharmacy companies, and in many cases, the doctors that prescribe the drugs to control diabetes. The simple fact is the American diet has caused this dreaded disease to spread throughout our country and a reversal of our bad choices when eating will help reverse this disease. Like the Pharisees in our passage today, the big pharmacy companies will find this to be An Unlawful Healing, taking away the power of big pharma and ruin their reputations and make their position of power tenuous at best.

Jesus attends a feast of the Jews in Jerusalem, while there He walks among the afflicted at the pool of Bethesda. Here, He meets a man who has been ill for thirty-eight years. When asked if he wants to get well, the man offers a complaint as an excuse. Jesus performs An Unlawful Healing, commanding the man to get up, pick up his pallet, and walk. When questioned the man points to Jesus who claims to be working just as His Father is working, causing the Jews to seek to kill Him for breaking the Sabbath and making Himself equal to God.

As Christ followers, we too may find ourselves among the afflicted and find ourselves facing the question, “Do you want to get well?” We may deflect the question or find ourselves making an excuse not to move or seek healing, thinking ourselves unworthy of such a healing. At times our pride will get in the way of the healing touch of Yeshua, fearing that we cause Him to perform An Unlawful Healing, yet Yeshua wants to work in us just as the Father is working in us.

In this message we seek to answer the question, “What is the impact of An Unlawful Healing on the faith of the Christ follower?”

An Unlawful Healing shows the care and concern of Yeshua for those who call Him Lord.

1). An Unlawful Healing will refute any excuse the Christ follower might be able to make.

We must be willing to move beyond our own preconceived ideas about healing and the power of Yeshua to perform healings.

We find Yeshua walking among the afflicted at the pool near the sheep gate called Bethesda. Until recently it was thought this pool did not exist or that the gospel account of John might have been completely inaccurate. Now, however, both pools mentioned in John’s account have been discovered, making John’s account reliable and confirming the accuracy of the biblical writers. There is also evidence to prove that this pool was situated within the walls of Jerusalem and found not far from the Temple and the Temple cleansing pools used by the priests during their time of priestly duty. Further evidence points to this pool being associated with the Greco-Roman god Asclepius – the god of well-being and health.

The daughters of this god were Hygeia and Panacea, you can hear in their Greek names our modern words hygiene and panacea, key concepts associated with modern medicine. Snakes were also a key characteristic of Asclepius and his healing pools. Even today, modern medicine uses the snake wrapped around a pole as its symbol. Yes, this symbol dates back to the time of Jesus! The pool at Bethesda was likely part of the Greek culture being brought into Jerusalem, along with other Roman projects such as the Roman theater and the bathhouse. This would mean that the pool of Bethesda was not a Jewish site, but a Greek site associated with Asclepius.

The name Bethesda means “house of mercy” in Hebrew. This pool was thought to be fed by a natural spring but the discovery of the pool, and its location, makes it more likely the pool was fed by pipes. Priests associated with the pool would open the upper pipes and allow water to enter the pool through the lower pipes, thus stirring the waters of the pool. In the NASB the last part of verse three and all of verse four are in parentheses, indicating that this portion of Scripture is not found in the earliest and best manuscripts of the Scriptures. It is likely that a scribe unfamiliar with Asclepius but very familiar with the Jewish preoccupation with angels has added this portion of Scripture to add clarity for the reader.

Jesus finds a man at the pool who has been ill for thirty-eight years, hoping to find a way into the pool when the waters are stirred up. As Jesus approaches him and finally addresses him with a question, “Do you wish to get well?” the man can only make an excuse for not being healed. For someone who has come with the hope of being healed, this man’s answer is anything but hopeful. We find a man who has been in the context of a deeply religious environment – a Greek religion – he is a man with a deep personal need, in a place filled with human suffering, without any hope. The man deflects the question without ever truly answering the question put before him, “Do you wish to get well?”

I want to make this perfectly clear, what I am about to share comes from my personal experience during my time in ministry. I am aware that this may not be the experience of others and not everyone will feel or believe what I am about to share. I have found that most people who call themselves Christians have a limited or narrow understanding of healing. The belief that I have found to be common among these people is healing means to be cured, to be living, active, and fully recovered from what ailed them. Anything less is a reflection on the person’s life, beliefs, or a general lack of faith in that person. If healing does not come as they understand healing, then their prayers and time spent praying have been for nothing, or Jesus is unable to heal this person for some unknown reason – a part of God’s plan we do not need to know.

The man at the pool made the excuse that he had no one to help him into the pool, we make excuses that the person did not have enough faith, or it is part of God’s plan and we don’t need to know that plan. Others think that Jesus could not heal that person, or perhaps His power was limited in some way because of the disease. Again, these are things I have experienced during my time in ministry. It is sad to think the people of God have such a limited knowledge and experience of God’s power in their lives that they truly believe Yeshua, the King of the Universe, cannot heal someone or His power is somehow limited.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

How are you experiencing the power of Jesus in your life?

What excuses have you made when Jesus tries to work in your life?

Do you find yourself doubting the power of Jesus? If so, how?

2). An Unlawful Healing is meant to draw us into a deeper faith and away from fear and doubt.

We must remember when God works in us, He leaves us with a warning so that nothing worse will happen to us, moving us away from fear, doubt, and superstition.

Despite the man’s excuse, Yeshua heals the man with a simple command, “Get up, pick up your pallet and walk.” That seem pretty clear to me, but then again, I thought the question was straight forward, “Do you wish to get well?” how much clearer could that be? I mentioned earlier that there are two pools mentioned in John’s account. This pool at Bethesda and the pool at Siloam. This healing is different from the healing of the blind man at Siloam. Here, Jesus does not command the man to go and wash in the pool, He simply commands the man to get up. In the healing of the blind man, He commands the man to go to the pool of Siloam and wash himself. The difference? The pool of Bethesda is a pagan place while the pool of Siloam is associated with the Jerusalem Temple.

There is something else happening here that we need to be aware of. Remember I told you how important the Old Testament is to John and his gospel account, especially the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. What we see here is yet another echo of Genesis. John begins his gospel account with the familiar words, “In the beginning.” When we read those words in Genesis, we are told that God began to create and He created through His spoken word, the Word, of course, being Yeshua, Jesus. Through the spoken words of Jesus order is brought out of chaos and the heavens and the earth are created. Jesus is walking in a place of human suffering, there is sickness – the symbol of human chaos – and through the spoken word of Jesus order is brought out of chaos and the man is healed. Why is this important? Because the Royal Son of Israel’s God has come into a pagan place and healed a Judean man without any magic spells or formulas, He did it by simply telling the man to get up and walk. Jesus healed this man just like Israel’s God created the universe, through His spoken word.  

Jesus finds the man in the Temple and tells the man to see that he does not sin anymore that nothing worse will happen to him. We can say we have no idea what this sin might be, but if we keep within our context, it appears Jesus is warning this man, a Jew, not to give in to adulterous involvement in Greek religious worship. It appears these words have something to do with where Jesus found him. The next action taken by this man is to run to the Jewish religious authorities and report that it was Jesus who had healed him and told him to carry his pallet. Could it be this man is upset at the rebuke of Yeshua about his Greek worship habits, which truly amount to idol worship?

Now, you and I know this is An Unlawful Healing because Yeshua healed the man on the Sabbath, something that is strictly forbidden by the religious elite in Jerusalem. But the Greek word that is used for “breaking” the Sabbath can be translated a different way; it can also be translated as “setting the Sabbath free.” But there is something more here than simply breaking the Sabbath. In the ancient mind, to worship a divinity and honoring a divinity were NOT the same thing. Jesus has gone into the Greek temple and performed a healing where the god Asclepius was worshiped, or at least honored, by many in Judah who went there for healing. What has happened is that Yeshua has declared His redeeming and healing Kingship over Israel by physically healing one of the lost sheep of Israel, demonstrating His full authority over sickness, and putting to shame the false claims of pagan worshipers and those among God’s people who had joined their beliefs in silence that condones the behavior.

This man was steeped in idol worship and superstition. He turned from the God he claimed to love and served. He missed the visitation of the One who holds the universe in the palm of His hand, the King of the Universe, the One who holds all things together. The very presence of Jesus, His teachings, and His signs were spelling trouble for the Jerusalem Temple elite. They simply are not ready for this type of Messiah among them or the people they hold within their power. So, the make-up false accusations against Him, claim He is a blasphemer, and ignore the sins of the people, all to quiet the words of the Son of God.

We face these same things in our world today. People turn from the God they claim to love and serve only to run to have their palms read, or get a card reading, or turn to astrology and horoscopes. People deny the claim that Yeshua has on their lives, especially those in the church. Far too many are rejecting the commands of Jesus, they remove the hard sayings of Jesus but readily accept the “soft touch” gospel that waters down those things they do not fully accept. When this happens, we limit the power of Yeshua, we limit Him to His humanity, making Him like us so we do not have to obey those things we disagree with. Our doubts, our fears, and even our superstitions drive us away from the One we are to be drawn closer to, to grow deeper in faith, love, and service.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

How are you limiting Jesus in your life today? If not, how are you keeping yourself from limiting Him?

How is the enemy planting doubt and fear in you today?

Where do you need a “healing” today?

An Unlawful Healing shows the care and concern of Yeshua for those who call Him Lord.

With this healing, the Judean Jews authority, their popularity, and their community influence are threatened to the core by this unprecedented challenge issued by Jesus. We find this happens often in life. Any time a pioneer in any field takes a strong lead over others in the field, the challenged and threatened establishment attempts to launch an attack against the challenger’s character. In our faith, this happens almost every day. Somewhere, someone is trying to refute the validity of our faith, the Bible, the existence of God, that Jesus is the only way to heaven, or that Jesus or the Father has power to change people, the world, and remove our sin.

When we doubt, we open the door for the enemy to plant further seeds of doubt. He then begins to twist the Scriptures to water those seeds, so they grow and take root. In some way, we have all experienced the power of Jesus in our lives. It may be a healing, it might be in protection, it might be in the removal of people or things that cause us to drift from Him. Everything that comes our way is meant to test us, to help us grow in faith, trust, and devotion to the God we serve. They serve to remove any excuses we might be able to make, excuses that try to explain away what has happened as a natural occurrence. Granted, in some cases, that may be exactly what it is, a natural occurrence used by God. The point is, we have no more excuses. We have been called and drawn by the Father to His Son. He has brought us into the family of God through His spoken word in our lives.

God works in us to draw us closer to Him, to help develop the hunger that only He can satisfy. He wants us to leave our fears and our doubts behind and depend upon Him fully for all our needs. Continually He is calling order out of chaos in the lives of those who call Him Lord and Savior. Yeshua has the power to refute the false claims of pagan idols and false gods. He has the power to rebuke those who love Him so nothing worse might happen to them. He has the power to work in us just as the Father is working in us. He is the King of the Universe, and He alone holds all things together. There are no more excuses to be had or made. Now is the time to be bold in your witness, bold in your faithfulness, bold in your declaration that evil has no place in your life, bold in the declaration that sin has no hold on you, bold in the claim that you stand in the victory of Jesus over sickness, death, the grave, sin and the enemy.

We do all things for the glory of God through Christ our Lord,

Amen and amen.

Next week: John 5:19-24

The Great Power of Yeshua

I apologize for the last post. This past weekend was the annual Jazz Fest in my hometown. My wife and I took a much-needed break for the weekend and enjoyed the perfect weather for Jazz in the park!

The Great Power of Yeshua

Home Church Service 6/18/2022

Life & Light Community Church began in the early months of 2020. What began as an opportunity for me, my wife and step-kids to continue to worship together, has now evolved into a ministry that has expanded to include close friends, family and those who are simply hungry for the word of God. You can find us on Facebook, so please, feel free to reach out and join us.

When our small group meets for worship, we like to discuss what we are learning, in the moment. Sometimes that happens right after the message and at other times we will address something during the message. These messages are designed to be interactive, discussing what we are learning right after I have addressed each point of the message. You will find the questions at the end of each section. In most formats they will appear in bold. Use these questions as a guide to meditate on the points being discussed. Allow the Holy Spirit to search your heart and above all, be honest with yourself and the Holy Spirit. After all, He knows any way!

“Therefore He came again to Cana of Galilee where He had made the water wine. And there was a royal official whose son was sick at Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to Him and was imploring Him to come down and heal his son; for he was at the point of death. So Jesus said to him, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe.” The royal official said to Him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your son lives.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and started off. As he was now going down, his slaves met him, saying that his son was living. So he inquired of them the hour when he began to get better. Then they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” So the father knew that it was at that hour in which Jesus said to him, “Your son lives”; and he himself believed and his whole household. This is again a second sign that Jesus performed when He had come out of Judea into Galilee.

                                                                                 John 4:46–54 (NASB95)

The end of John chapter 4 brings us “full-circle” with what began in chapter 2 of John – the beginning of the public ministry of Yeshua. It is in chapter 2 where we find Yeshua and His disciples at a wedding in Cana. We find that Mary, the mother of Yeshua is also at the wedding but in some sort of formal capacity. It is Mary who comes to Yeshua with the news that the wedding couple has run out of wine, a disaster of epic proportions, if indeed, it is made known. Leaving the servants with instructions to do whatever Yeshua says, Mary turns and leaves the matter in the hands of her son, trusting He will do the right thing. Yeshua not only provides the needed wine, He provides the best wine of the wedding.

Now, at the end of chapter 4, after our study of the Samaritan woman at the well, we once again find Yeshua returning to walk in Galilee, and eventually into Cana where, John reminds us, Yeshua turned water into wine. Yeshua has prophesied that a prophet has no honor in his own country, so Yeshua avoids walking in Judea and instead returns to Cana where He will meet a royal official who will see The Great Power of Yeshua in the second signed performed in Cana.

Jesus returns to Cana where He meets a royal official, a man with power over the people. His son is near death as he asked Jesus to come down and heal his son. In a display of The Great Power of Yeshua, Jesus tells the man to go, for his son will live. The royal official receives confirmation when his slaves meet him as he returns home, the healing taking place at the exact hour Jesus spoke the words. The man and his household believed because of the second sign performed in Cana.

Yeshua meets a royal official while in Cana. The son of this man is dying as the father seeks healing from Yeshua. While the royal official has power over people, in a display of The Great Power of Yeshua, Yeshua proves He has power over life and death, healing the official’s son. When he received word his son lives, the man and his household believe at this, the second sign performed in Cana.

In this message we seek to answer the question, “What is the importance of The Great Power of Yeshua?”

The Great Power of Yeshua has power over life and death – and to turn unbelief into belief!

1). The Great Power of Yeshua brings healing in our most desperate hour.

Desperate times call for desperate measures – especially when a loved one is involved.

When Yeshua enters Cana, He is met by a man that John describes as a “royal official.” He has come from Capernaum where his son is sick and near the point of death. Knowing this royal official is from Capernaum helps us identify several other things about him. Being from Capernaum means he is likely a part of the court of Herod Antipas. He has a position that affords him some power over the people of his district and has most likely accumulated some wealth, including slaves as we see in verse 51, and he has a family as indicated by the son who is sick and near the point of death. None of this is a stretch of the imagination but a simple observance of the evidence within the text.

This royal official comes seeking Yeshua, because there are simply some things, he cannot do no matter his status or wealth. He comes seeking healing for his sick son because he has no power over disease or illness. He comes seeking healing for his son because he has no power over the imminent death of his son. He comes seeking healing because his money cannot buy a cure for his son. He comes seeking healing because his money cannot and will not save the life of his son. He comes seeking healing because his status as a royal official does not make his family immune from disease, illness, or death. He comes seeking healing because his status cannot and will not save his sons life. This is a desperate father ready to take desperate measures.

Yeshua will speak two short sentences, comprised of sixteen words, that will turn this royal official’s life upside down! Yeshua first speaks a rebuke. “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe.” But this does not deter the man, a father who is desperate to save the life of his son. In our English translation it looks as if the man is simply making his request again, but in reality, the man is begging Yeshua to come to the aid of his son. Verse 47 indicates the man was “imploring” Yeshua to come down and save his son. However, this is much more than an urgent request, though there is certainly some urgency in the request itself. This father, this desperate father, needs action now!

This man comes seeking Yeshua because he knows Yeshua has the power to save his sons life! In fact, Yeshua has power over all things! The next four words spoken by Yeshua change everything, “Go; your son lives.” Yeshua did not pray for the man or his son, He simply commanded the man to go. Yeshua never claimed to heal the son, He simply said your son lives. In that very moment, when Yeshua spoke the words, Yeshua proved He has power over illness. The fever left the son the moment He spoke. Yeshua proved He has power over life and death. A son near death now lives. Yeshua proves He has the power to heal, not just heal, but heal through His spoken word. The fever is gone, completely and absolutely gone, the son lives, and the slaves of this official are witnesses to the healing. The spoken word of Yeshua brings results.

As Christ followers today, we are facing a time of unprecedented inflationary growth, illnesses of all kinds, shortages of everything including food, a rapidly increasing cost of living where everything is costing more – food, rent, gas, medications, utilities, and the list goes on and on. Many people are nearing a state, or may have already entered a state, of desperation. We are quickly coming to a time when people will need to choose between paying rent or buying groceries; they may have to consider choosing to put gas in their vehicle to go to work or consider leaving that work to find something closer to home; some will need to choose between groceries and medication. Desperate times indeed require desperate measures.

And yet, as students of the Scriptures, we should not be surprised by any of this, for the word of God warns us these things must come, they must take place. As Christ followers, we know the power of Yeshua in our lives, we have seen how He can turn a life upside down and turn it around. We have seen how He can and does provide for those who call Him Lord, though we may not understand how it happens, we have learned to trust Him in all things. Still, even though we love and trust Yeshua, we still have needs He is ready and willing to meet, if we but come to Him and ask. These times are not meant to drive us to desperate measures, they are meant to make us desperate to know to know more and more of Yeshua and His great power!

Questions for discussion/reflection:

Are you desperate for Yeshua only when things go wrong or get tough?

When was the last time a personal matter drove you to desperation? Did you seek Yeshua during this time? If so, how? If not, why?

Do you see a desperation to see others come to Yeshua? If so, what are you doing about it? If not, why?

The Great Power of Yeshua has power over life and death – and to turn unbelief into belief!

2). The Great Power of Yeshua brings obedience and faith when we simply believe.

We walk by faith, not sight – so we must first believe before we can see!

Two sentences and sixteen words that bring obedience, healing, and faith. Those sentences and those words began with a rebuke for misplaced faith. Remember, we are in Cana where Yeshua turned water to wine and began His earthly ministry. People from the area were present at the feast in Jerusalem and saw what Yeshua did there. They are ready to accept Yeshua as a miracle worker and this royal official seems to be in the same camp. But this rebuke caused this man to double down on his request – he begged Yeshua to come down and heal his son. This is a man who had no hope, or at least very little, when he arrived in Cana. Hearing that Yeshua had arrived must have bolstered his hope to some degree. He seeks healing for his son, a desperate measure for a man desperate to save his son.

The first word following the rebuke was a command – go, basically telling the man to return home. Had Yeshua stopped there, I can only imagine how this father might have felt. His only chance at saving his son gone – he was simply told to return. The father came on his own, seeking the One he knew could help his son and the first words he hears are a rebuke followed by the command to go! But it is the final three words that capture the man’s attention the most – “your son lives.” With these three simple words a healing has occurred, a son lives! John tells us the man believed the words spoken by Yeshua and started off. Can you imagine the effort this father must have made NOT to ask Yeshua if He really meant his son would live?

Two sentences, sixteen words that brought obedience, healing, and faith. The father heard the rebuke of Yeshua but continued to seek help for his ailing son. It would have been easy at this point to simply give up and get out of the way. This royal official had power, he had money, he had status, he could have sought another solution to his issue. Instead, he begged Yeshua to come down and save his son. Yeshua spoke again, “Go; your son lives,” and he believed. The man did not ask for another sign, he believed the words spoken to him by Yeshua. This royal official had heard of Yeshua, he had some form of faith and at least a bit of trust in Yeshua, for he does not hesitate – he believed. What did he believe? John tells us, “The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him…”

All it took was the word spoken by Yeshua and the man believed. He believed Yeshua had the power to speak the word of healing to save the life of his son. He believed that Yeshua had the power over illness and disease. He believed that Yeshua had power over life and death. He believed his son would live. The man started off according to John. He did not question anything but simply turned and started for home. He obeyed the command of Yeshua to go. Where was he going…home, of course, it was time to return and see that his son was indeed alive. On his return trip he meets his salves who confirm his son is alive, the fever left his son the very moment Yeshua spoke the word to this desperate father. He believed and his faith in Yeshua spills over into his entire household, and they too come to faith in Yeshua.

As Christ followers, we have been through much in our journey of faith. We have struggled far more often than we would like to admit. But each struggle has led to a victory and strengthening of faith. Each struggle had burned a few more worldly habits from our flesh to be replaced, hopefully, with a few more Christlike attributes. We have faced our share of desperate times, and I am certain there will be more in the future, but we have done so with faith and trust in the One who has called us and continues to work in each of us as we grow and mature into Christlikeness. 

Though we share some common experiences in our journey of faith, those journeys are still unique to each of us. No two walks of faith are identical. Each of us has come to know Yeshua in a unique way to our personal lives and experiences. He has called us in a fashion that made sense to each of our individual lives. But this we know and share, we believe because we are obedient and have faith, faith in The Great Power of Yeshua to face and defeat anything the enemy might bring against us; faith that informs us and matures us into Christlikeness; faith that deepens with each passing trial, temptation, and test.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

Do you hear Yeshua as He speaks to your need?

Are you being obedient to what you hear? If so, how? If not, why?

Do others see your faith as life changing? If so, how? If not, why?

The Great Power of Yeshua has power over life and death – and to turn unbelief into belief!

You would think, that for the Christ follower today, having faith in Yeshua would be an easy thing. Huh! Not so. We live in an age where everything from our work life, the activities of our children, church activities, cultural and societal opinions pull and twist our faith, questioning the sanity of people who have “blind faith.” It seems our faith is assaulted from all angles and from all sides every moment of the day. Something or someone is vying for our attention, telling us we are silly for believing in someone or something we cannot see. Some days it is all we can do to make it through the day with our faith tattered but intact.

But here’s the thing, our faith is NOT a “blind faith.” True faith, the faith of the Christ follower today, is an informed faith. We are never called to walk by sight, neither are we called to walk blindly. In fact, we are told to test the spirits to see if they are from God. We are told to “see that you are not misled.” We are told to seek wisdom and knowledge. We are told the Father would send us a Helper, and indeed He has, in the form of the Holy Spirit, to guide us into all truth. We are told we will never be forsaken or left alone. We are told that Yeshua will be with us always, even to the end of days! That sounds nothing like a “blind faith” to me.

We live in challenging times to say the least, but we also have The Great Power of Yeshua, power over illness and disease; power over life and death; power to heal; power that raised Yeshua from the grave, and power that turns unbelief into belief. We are not alone, no matter how bad things may appear, Yeshua is with us, His Holy Spirit is here to help us, to lead us into all truth, to remind us of the teachings and commands of Yeshua. We must move from unbelief to belief; we must exercise our faith and strengthen it by reading the Word of God; we exercise our faith by continuing in prayer at all times and for all things; depend upon the Holy Spirit to lead, guide and direct us to the truth of Yeshua. We must have full faith, an informed faith that comes from knowing and trusting Yeshua, the Son of God, our Lord and Savior of the world.

We do all things for the glory of God through Christ our Lord,

Amen and amen.

Next week: John 5:1-17

Contrasting Faith

Contrasting Faith

Home Church Service 6/11/2022

Life & Light Community Church began in the early months of 2020. What began as an opportunity for me, my wife and step-kids to continue to worship together, has now evolved into a ministry that has expanded to include close friends, family and those who are simply hungry for the word of God. You can find us on Facebook, so please, feel free to reach out and join us.

When our small group meets for worship, we like to discuss what we are learning, in the moment. Sometimes that happens right after the message and at other times we will address something during the message. These messages are designed to be interactive, discussing what we are learning right after I have addressed each point of the message. You will find the questions at the end of each section. In most formats they will appear in bold. Use these questions as a guide to meditate on the points being discussed. Allow the Holy Spirit to search your heart and above all, be honest with yourself and the Holy Spirit. After all, He knows any way!

“From that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all the things that I have done.” So when the Samaritans came to Jesus, they were asking Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. Many more believed because of His word; and they were saying to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world. After the two days He went forth from there into Galilee. For Jesus Himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country. So when He came to Galilee, the Galileans received Him, having seen all the things that He did in Jerusalem at the feast; for they themselves also went to the feast.”

                                                                                 John 4:39–45 (NASB95)

We have come to the final portion of the conversation with the woman at the well. Throughout this conversation we have been seeing some things in a new light. We found that this woman had a Thirst for Truth as we began our study of John 4. Next, we find Yeshua and this woman breaking through boundaries that have separated Jews and Samaritans for far too long in the discussion of True Worship of the Father. We saw a move of the Spirit as the woman returns to her village and tells everyone about the man who “told me everything I have done.” Quite amazingly, we find both Yeshua and this woman Doing God’s Work as the people respond to her testimony and come seeking Yeshua.

That brings us to this morning’s passage and the contrast we find in this portion of Scripture. Contrasting Faith is on display as are two people groups. Both groups accept Yeshua but for two very different reasons. One group has come to believe in Yeshua because of what they have heard, and one group has received Yeshua because of what they have seen. As we dive deeper into this passage, we will find there are several stages to faith. We will find several more as we continue to study the gospel account of John, but for today, we will focus on faith by hearing and faith by sight.

Contrasting Faith can be seen between the Samaritan people and the Galileans. The Samaritans believed because of what they heard from the woman who testified about Jesus, and then what they heard themselves after asking Jesus to stay with them longer. The Galileans believed because of what they saw Him do at the feast in Jerusalem.

Contrasting Faith can be seen in those who believe because of what they have heard – first from another and then for themselves – and those who believe because of what they have seen. Those who have heard will seek Yeshua to learn more, while those who have seen will wait for the next flesh-pleasing event.

In this message we seek to understand how Contrasting Faith is seen in those around us.

Contrasting Faith can be seen in those who hunger for more and those who are content waiting for the next flesh-pleasing event.

1). We can recognize Contrasting Faith by the hunger for more in those who have faith by hearing.

Hearing from others is not enough – their hunger drives them to hear for themselves!

Last week, in a move of the Holy Spirit, the Samaritan woman, leaving her waterpot behind, returned to her village to tell others about the man she believed to be the Messiah. We see the results in the first verse of this passage, “From that city many of the Samaritan people believed in Him…” John also goes on to tell us why those people believed, “…because of the word of the woman who testified…” John is pointing out that the required response of anyone who would have an encounter with Yeshua is to “believe in Him.”

In this passage we see that the people first hear about Yeshua through the testimony of the woman at the well. She leaves her waterpot and returns to begin telling people about the man who, “told me all the things that I have done.” Her excitement, her boldness, and the honesty of her testimony have caused the people to take notice, in fact, many have already believed simply because of what she said. But we also find that these same people were coming out to Yeshua, and they asked Him to stay with them longer. These people had a hunger that began developing when they became convinced that Yeshua was indeed the Messiah. Naturally they wanted more.

Thus far, there have been four steps to the development of faith by hearing in the Samaritan people. First, they heard the testimony of the woman. Second, they believed because of what she said. Third, they began to seek out Yeshua for themselves. And fourth, they came to Yeshua and asked Him to stay longer. Next, we find that many more believed because if His word. So, the people have moved from believing because of what the woman said to believing because of what they have heard for themselves, the words of Yeshua. The final step is the Samaritan people professed that Yeshua was the Savior of the world.

This is the response that John is declaring – faith by hearing. There is a response required when a person meets Yeshua and that is to believe. It is a given that a person must be ready to meet Yeshua, but John has shown us that a simple testimony of the woman was enough to capture the curiosity of the people. At some point a person’s mind must stop doubting, their will must submit to the will of God, and their emotions must set aside their fear. Their personal experiences must not be allowed to say that Yeshua cannot and is not enough. We will see this pattern again and again in John’s gospel account. The contrasting faiths of faith by hearing and faith by sight bump heads throughout John.

Most of us have experienced this same type of pattern in our experience of coming to Yeshua. Someone has spoken to you about the good news of God’s love for you found in Yeshua. At some point, you put aside your doubts, your will, your emotions, and your fear. Something has broken through and suddenly you had a hunger for more. That hunger led you to seek more of Yeshua until you began to believe because of what you heard for yourself. Finally, you made the profession that Yeshua is the Savior of the world. I would guess, that for most of us, we didn’t even realize it was happening while in the process of discovery and coming to a profession of faith.

Most Christ followers become a “deer in the headlights” when someone mentions giving a testimony. It is a scary thing to stand before people and become transparent when giving your testimony. But it does not have to be such a scary thing. Many forget that we do not simply have good news, it is the greatest news ever told. It simply needs to be told through your STORY, the story of your life in Yeshua. Your story of struggles, defeats, victories, and in the end, coming to Yeshua. When you tell someone your story, you are planting a seed of faith. The person hearing your story may not be ready that day, but you never know how God will use your personal experiences in another’s life.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

Do you remember the person, in your life, who first told you the good news of Yeshua?

How might your story connect with others who share your experiences?

How has God been using your hearing of His word impacted your faith? Either recently or in the near past.

Do you sense God calling you to share your story with someone today?

Contrasting Faith can be seen in those who hunger for more and those who are content waiting for the next flesh-pleasing event.

2). We can recognize Contrasting Faith, by the willingness to wait for the next big event, in those who have faith by what they have seen.

This faith seeks only to please the flesh – it is continually seeking the “mountaintop experience.”

By way of contrast, John now shifts to Yeshua entering back into Galilee, where Yeshua has already prophesied that a prophet will have no honor in his own country. Two testimonies, two different results. We saw the first testimony in our first point, and we now learn of a second testimony coming from Yeshua Himself. The testimony is not quite what we want to hear as He enters His own country and heads to His hometown. In stating that a prophet has no honor in his own country, Yeshua is saying He and His disciples will likely face some sort of persecution. We learned in chapter one that Yeshua is a Judea Jew and we certainly find that while in Jerusalem, Yeshua does not have much honor to speak of, rather we see plenty of persecution coming from the Judean Jewish leaders.

Thus, we find Yeshua entering Galilee where He will be received as a miracle worker but not the Messiah. How do we know this? Because John tells us the people received Yeshua “having seen all the things He did in Jerusalem at the feast.” The last feast recorded in John is the Passover Feast of chapter two where Yeshua flips the tables of the merchants and money changers and chases them from the Temple. We also learn of His encounter with the Pharisees after cleansing the Temple…again a sign of the persecution He has warned the disciples they would face. We do not know how much time has passed but it cannot be much as what Yeshua did at the feast is still fresh in the minds of the Galileans.

These things are so fresh in the minds of the people they are willing to receive Him, but only based on what they have seen. Before getting too much deeper into the contrasting faiths here, there is another contrast we see here. The people of Samaria and the Galileans are much more receptive to Yeshua than that of the people of Judea. While in Jerusalem, Yeshua faces back lash in some form or another. In Samaria, a people who are supposed to hate all Jews, freely and openly come to Yeshua, and profess He is the Savior of the world. And even though their faith might be by sight at the moment, the Galileans gladly rejoice and receive Yeshua as He enters Galilee.

Why does John hold that sight-based faith is inferior to faith by hearing? First, we need to understand that sight-based faith is not wrong, it is not evil, in and of itself. The problem comes when we remain in a sight-based faith. Those who remain in a sight-based faith quickly fall away when things do not “look like they should.” Many times, sight-based faith relies on material goods or signs to be effective. If the signs or goods are not produced, people tend to fall away looking for the next preacher or prophet. It is absolutely fine to begin with a sight-based faith as long as you do not become dependent upon signs to grow in faith. In fact, when we think about the Samaritan woman and her testimony, people must certainly have seen, as well as heard, a difference in this woman as she gave her testimony.

In our lives, there will be people who knew us before we came to Yeshua and then saw us after coming to Yeshua. They will have a foundation for sight faith because of their personal knowledge of us both before and after. We must not discount a person who has a sight-based faith, but it is our responsibility to, at least, try to help that person grow into a deeper faith by what they hear. Again, this simply comes by sharing our story with them when they are receptive and open to a spiritual discussion. We do not need to force anything on anyone, we simply make the offer and wait for the appropriate time.

One other aspect of the sight-based faith we must be aware of, it is a faith that seeks to please the flesh. This is faith that looks for the “mountaintop experience.” This is the continual “Christian high” of attending concerts, conferences, revival services, and in general, any Christian event that promises to provide the “high” that is needed to feel like their faith is alive. The danger here should be obvious, there is no foundation when times get tough. And again, there is nothing wrong with any of these events in and of themselves, it is our response to them and how we view them that can produce issues of faith.

We must strike a balance in our faith and not rely too heavily on one particular part of faith, such a sight. I would also venture to say that most of us have had some sort of sight-based faith at some point. I returned to faith by what I saw in a pastor. I saw that he had what I was searching for and so I began my search at his church…which eventually led to my entrance into ministry. Sight-based faith is a starting point, not the end of the journey.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

Can you think of a time when you received persecution where you thought you might receive a warm welcome?

Can you think of someone who has a sight-based faith that might be ready to move deeper into faith? If so, how might you be able to help them?

What is hampering your faith from growing today, regardless of your stage of faith?

Contrasting Faith can be seen in those who hunger for more and those who are content waiting for the next flesh-pleasing event.

What does this mean for us? How do we apply this portion of the conversation with the woman at the well to our lives? Looking back over the entire conversation, we must first be willing to take some risks. I am not talking about risk that endangers your life. I am talking about risk that makes us uncomfortable, forcing us out of our comfort zone. This must include the willingness to share your story with those you meet. Now, that doesn’t mean you “beat them over the head” with Yeshua or the Bible. We simply need to be willing to talk to people and allow the conversation to lead us.

Secondly, we must be patient with people. Not everyone grows at the same pace or in the same way. It will take some longer than others to move into a deeper faith. That does not mean, however, that we simply allow someone to flounder in their faith. No, we must be willing to walk with others through the stages of growth, because, in the end, this will also aid our own spiritual growth. Thirdly, even though we must be patient, we must also be willing to challenge people. Small steps are best when first beginning. For example, if you know someone who would like to read more of the Bible but does not have the motivation – provide them with a Bible reading chart and offer to read with them. Simple, small steps but addressing a need for growth.

Fourth, be willing to stay a little longer wherever a person might be in their faith journey. Many times, people are just looking for someone to walk with them through their struggles with life and faith. You do not need to provide all the answers, just be available to help them find the answers. Finally, above everything already mentioned is prayer. Prayer must bathe everything we do as Christ followers. Prayer will prepare the hearts of people, make the path you are traveling smoother, and allow you to have peace as you walk along the path of faith with others.

We do all things for the glory of God through Christ our Lord,

Amen and amen.

Next week: John 4: 46-54

Doing God’s Work

Doing God’s Work

Home Church Service 6/3/2022

Life & Light Community Church began in the early months of 2020. What began as an opportunity for me, my wife and step-kids to continue to worship together, has now evolved into a ministry that has expanded to include close friends, family and those who are simply hungry for the word of God. You can find us on Facebook, so please, feel free to reach out and join us.

When our small group meets for worship, we like to discuss what we are learning, in the moment. Sometimes that happens right after the message and at other times we will address something during the message. These messages are designed to be interactive, discussing what we are learning right after I have addressed each point of the message. You will find the questions at the end of each section. In most formats they will appear in bold. Use these questions as a guide to meditate on the points being discussed. Allow the Holy Spirit to search your heart and above all, be honest with yourself and the Holy Spirit. After all, He knows any way!

“At this point His disciples came, and they were amazed that He had been speaking with a woman, yet no one said, “What do You seek?” or, “Why do You speak with her?” So the woman left her waterpot, and went into the city and said to the men, “Come, see a man who told me all the things that I have done; this is not the Christ, is it?” They went out of the city, and were coming to Him. Meanwhile the disciples were urging Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” But He said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” So the disciples were saying to one another, “No one brought Him anything to eat, did he?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work. “Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest. “Already he who reaps is receiving wages and is gathering fruit for life eternal; so that he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. “For in this case the saying is true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ “I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored and you have entered into their labor.”

                                                                                                                              John 4:27–38 (NASB95)

It is appropriate that we come to a passage like this today. Today is the day we celebrate Pentecost. The original day was celebrated at Mt. Sinai when God gave the Israelites the Ten Utterances, or Ten Commandments as we know them. In the New Testament we know this day as the coming, or giving, of the Holy Spirit. What we see in this passage this morning, is in the end, a massive movement of the Holy Spirit. In fact, one could make an argument that the conversation between Yeshua and the Samaritan woman is a movement of the Holy Spirit. What we have seen thus far is evidence of the involvement of the Holy Spirit in the mission of Yeshua to bring unity to the Jewish people and, in the end, the world.

While it is true that the Holy Spirit had not been given to Christ followers at this point, it is also true that the Holy Spirit can be seen working with Yeshua to bring the unity God has sent His Son to bring. For some unknown reason this Samaritan woman comes to the well at an odd time. But as we look closely at her words, questions, and comments, we find someone who has a Thirst for Truth. Even when it appears she has changed the subject, a deeper look reveals she is breaking traditional boundaries between the Jews and Samaritans as she seeks True Worship of the Father. In our passage this morning, Yeshua finally reveals why He felt compelled to travel through Samaria, and we are witness to the effect of this conversation on the Samaritan woman. In the end, both Yeshua and the Samaritan woman are Doing God’s Work.

The disciples return, amazed that Jesus is talking to a woman who quickly leaves to return to her hometown. There she tells the men about the man she has met who might be the Christ. The disciples are trying to get Jesus to eat but He has food they know nothing about – His food is Doing God’s Work. Jesus encouraged the disciples to lift their eyes to the fields, for they are about to reap a harvest for which they have not labored.

As Christ followers, sometimes, we too are amazed at how Yeshua works, at times choosing the most unlikely person to turn things upside down. While we are, at times, sidetracked by everyday needs, Yeshua reminds us to keep our eyes up, for there is more to our lives than our ordinary everyday needs. In fact, in Doing God’s Work at times, we will be allowed to enjoy the rewards from the hard work of others.

In this message we seek to understand how Doing God’s Work impacts the life of the Christ follower.

Doing God’s Work will impact the life of a Christ follower by helping to keep our eyes up and looking beyond the status quo.

1). We must first understand that Doing God’s Work will impact the life of the Christ follower through an unlikely person.

The most unlikely may, in fact, be the perfect fit for the work that needs to be done – it may even be you!

In our passage today, we find the disciples have now return to where Yeshua had been resting only to find Him talking to a woman, but not just any woman – a Samaritan woman. John tells us the disciples do not say a word, though they had questions running through their minds, until after the Samaritan woman has left to return to her village. We will look at the disciples again in just a bit but for now, we are going to focus on the Samaritan woman as she returns to her hometown.

As we read through this text, we find that the woman was in such a hurry to return to the village that she left her waterpot where she placed it on her arrival at the well. Why in the world would someone walk such a distance to gather water and then not gather water and to top it off, leave the waterpots behind when she left?!The short answer is, in her excitement to tell others about Yeshua she ran off to the village without a moments delay. The traditional interpretation of this story would have us believe she has had a “come-to-Jesus” moment and she return home to share this with others.

However, we have been learning that part of the mission for Yeshua is to bring unity to the Jewish people, meaning the northern tribes and the southern tribes are to be united under the Messiah. It is the Father’s will that His people become one, and live and worship together as a united people under the Messiah. So, yes, in a sense, this Samaritan woman has had a “come-to-Jesus” moment but not in the way we have always been taught. The conversation between Yeshua and this Samaritan woman are breaking traditional boundaries between the Jews and the Samaritans. For a Jew to talk to a Samaritan was unheard of, but for a Jewish man to speak to a Samaritan woman was of the most unlikely events imaginable!

But this is the very point of this portion of the passage. The Samaritan woman is the last person anyone would expect to come with the news of the Messiah having arrived. She returns to her village and immediately we read she “said to the men.” Remember, this is a patriarchal society, meaning the men are the heads of the house as well as forming the leadership of the village and nation. So, naturally, she runs to the leadership to make known she has found someone who just might be the Messiah. Again, the woman uses herself as the example, this man, “told me all the things that I have done.” Turns out this woman, this Samaritan woman, was the perfect fit for the work that needed to be done. This is the most unlikely person to break the news of the coming Messiah, and in the most unlikely of locations, but she is the perfect fit for doing just that!

But it is not unlike God to use the most unlikely of people to accomplish His desires. It begins with Noah living in an area that sees little rainfall being instructed to build an ark. Then we find Moses, a man who is tending the sheep of his father-in-law. He is a known stutterer and a murderer. But God uses Moses to free His people from 400+ years of slavery in Egypt. God used David, the youngest son and in the fields with his father’s flock when God called him, to be the greatest King of Israel. In the New Testament we find Peter, a fisherman called to follow the Messiah. Peter – impetuous, hot-tempered Peter will become one of the pillars of the early church. And what about Matthew? A tax collector of all things! Worse than the lowest of sinners, and yet God calls Him to follow the Messiah and help spread the good news of the Kingdom of God.

This is just the short list, there have been others to be sure. And I am certain that if we sat long enough and thought hard enough, we could find a list of people from our own history that have made such an impact as well. And what of this group right here? Who is to say that each of us might one day soon be that “most unlikely person” that God uses to turn things upside down? In fact, if we think about it, there has been someone in your life that turn things upside down. Perhaps they were the most unlikely in your story…or maybe not. The point is this, God can and will, use people, even the most unlikely of people, to accomplish His will. That person doesn’t even have to be a Christ follower for God to use them.

This is the power of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps you have heard, or even said, the phrase, “God does not call the equipped, He equips the called.” Well, this is the perfect example of sending the “most unlikely person,” to do a job that seems nearly impossible. Even God’s Son came as a lowly carpenter, ill-equipped in the eyes of humans, to teach and reveal the truth of God the Father. God will use the weak, the foolish, and the most unlikely to turn the wise of man inside out and upside down.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

Can you identify, when someone who might have been the “most unlikely” person, made an impact in your life?

How do the stories of those who are “most unlikely” impact your faith?

How might God use you as the “most unlikely” to turn things upside down?

How do you sense the Holy Spirit empowering you for a job that seems nearly impossible?

Doing God’s Work will impact the life of a Christ follower by helping to keep our eyes up and looking beyond the status quo.

2). Secondly, we must understand that Doing God’s Work will impact the life of a Christ follower when we enjoy the rewards of the hard work done by others.

We will enter into the labor of others that those who sow and those who reap, may rejoice together.

Finally, in the last half of this passage, we find out the reason Yeshua had to travel through Samaria. Remember, we looked at the Greek word for “had” and it carries the sense of being compelled. Well, we will find out why He felt compelled in the conversation Yeshua has with His disciples. When we return to the disciples, we find them trying to convince Yeshua to eat something. That was, after all, the reason they went into a nearby village, to find food. But Yeshua makes a statement that thoroughly confuses the disciples. “I have food to eat that you do not know about” rocks the disciples “back on their heels” so to speak. You can just hear the confusion in their question.

“No one brought Him anything to eat, did he?” Here is an interesting point we did not address earlier, perhaps not all of the disciples left to go find food. We simple assume that all the disciples have gone together to look for food because the word is in the plural, but that does not mean that ALL of the disciples left together, it simply means more than one, several. The question is framed in such a way that none of the disciples thought for a moment that Yeshua would take food from a Samaritan, thus the question seems to indicate that perhaps some of the disciples remained behind.

The answer Yeshua provides answers the question of why He had to travel through Samaria. “My food is to do the work of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.” Yeshua had to travel through Samaria because it was the will of God, the One who sent Him, to bring unity to the Jewish people. Yeshua is the King of Israel; thus, it is His mission to bring the Northern tribes and the Southern tribes together again, in unity under the Messiah. The issue we find with the disciples is a common issue, that of being caught up in everyday needs. In this case it is food since they have been traveling for some time and it is already noon and time to eat. We can easily understand the need for food as well, it is, after all, a daily need for us.

The point here, is that Yeshua has come to Samaria to do the will of the Father – He is Doing God’s Work! To add emphasis to why He has come to Samaria, Yeshua turns to the subject of the coming harvest. In human terms, the harvest of crops is yet four months away. However, Yeshua is speaking of a spiritual harvest that is about to happen, an event in which the disciples have invested no labor. Throughout this conversation with the disciples, Yeshua moves between the earthly and the spiritual. The disciples suffer from earthly, natural hunger; they speak of earthly, natural food while Yeshua speaks of spiritual food. The disciples and farmers like them, speak of earthly natural harvest, while Yeshua is pointing to a great spiritual harvest about to come. It is hard earthly, natural work to harvest crops and others have already performed the spiritual work for the spiritual harvest that is coming now.

This is not meant to bash or belittle the disciples. We have the same needs today; we need food and water to sustain our physical life. Likewise, we need the living water that only Yeshua can provide and the spiritual food that comes from doing the work that God has prepared for us. Our spiritual food also comes through the word of God, through prayer, praise, and worship. The disciples are going to be front and center to a great soul harvest that others have worked to prepare. Yeshua, the Samaritan woman, the prophets and the Torah, all speak to the Samaritan people and have prepared them for the coming of Messiah. And now they are coming out to Yeshua, the One they will identify as the Savior of the world.

We are also similar to the Samaritan people; someone told us about the Messiah, we had to know for ourselves, and we came to Yeshua. We experienced the need for the living water provided by Yeshua, we had a hunger that only the word of God could satisfy. We asked questions, we read and studied, and finally, we too made a decision that Yeshua is the Savior of the world. And now it is time for us to be like the Samaritan woman. We need to be available, willing to listen to what Yeshua and the Father would have us doing. We need to be willing to step up and tell others about the good news of the One we know as the Savior of the world. We need to be willing to walk with others until they too find Messiah. 

We too will feel compelled to do something, go somewhere, or say something to a certain person. We must learn to be discerning when we feel so compelled. Many times, it will be the Holy Spirit giving you the nudge you need to act, move, or speak at the appropriate time. But we must be able to discern when we are acting on our own desires as well. Trust the Holy Spirit, if it is He who compels you, it will not easily stop and will certainly not disappear.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

Is God calling you to “travel” somewhere you might normally avoid, to do His will?

How do you identify with the Samaritan woman?

Are you keeping yourself available to God? If so, how? If not, what is holding you back?

What is the Holy Spirit compelling you to do today?

Doing God’s Work will impact the life of a Christ follower by helping to keep our eyes up and looking beyond the status quo.

As Christ followers, we know our lives were never meant to be easy. We have come to expect difficulty, attacks, harsh treatment, and even hate in some cases. But we have also come to realize the many benefits we have available to us in Yeshua, the Savior of the world. While we might not have all the material riches in the world, each of us have, at some point, been through times of financial struggle. And we have all learned that through it all, God met our needs in ways we never could have imagined. We have faced sickness, the death of a loved one, employment issues, strife in our relationships, and yet, through it all, we had the undying sense that Yeshua was with us the entire time.

We are also aware that there will be difficult times ahead. Yeshua has told us He would never leave us nor forsake us. He will never leave us as orphans, but rather, He will be with us, waking beside us or carrying us, when need be, but He will always be with us. As difficult as it is, we need not worry about our daily needs, for the Father already knows what those needs are and when we will need them. And true to His form, those things will arrive just as we need them. We may not be able to understand how they got there but they will be there just when we need them.

Yeshua challenged the disciples to think beyond the status quo. For them it meant looking beyond the things that separated the Jews and the Samaritans to see a group of spiritually hungry and thirsty people, ready for a soul harvest coming from an unexpected place and at an unexpected time. Doing God’s Work means we must be prepared to see beyond our status quo, beyond our comfort zones and see those we think “most unlikely” as those who are the most hungry and thirsty for God’s word and the good news of Yeshua, the Savior of the world.

I challenge you, in the coming days, weeks, and months to keep your eyes up, looking beyond the status quo, to those around you who might be the “most unlikely” and in the greatest need of Yeshua. We can never tell where we might be or what we might be doing, when Yeshua sends us someone or a group of someone’s who are indeed hungry and thirsty for the living water and the bread of life, the One we know as Yeshua, the Savior of the world. On this Day of Pentecost, learn to trust the Holy Spirit IN all things, IN all ways, and FOR all things.

We do all things for the glory of God through Christ our Lord,

Amen and amen.

Next week: John:  4:39-45

True Worship of the Father

True Worship of the Father

Home Church Service 5/28/2022

Life & Light Community Church began in the early months of 2020. What began as an opportunity for me, my wife and step-kids to continue to worship together, has now evolved into a ministry that has expanded to include close friends, family and those who are simply hungry for the word of God. You can find us on Facebook, so please, feel free to reach out and join us.

When our small group meets for worship, we like to discuss what we are learning, in the moment. Sometimes that happens right after the message and at other times we will address something during the message. These messages are designed to be interactive, discussing what we are learning right after I have addressed each point of the message. You will find the questions at the end of each section. In most formats they will appear in bold. Use these questions as a guide to meditate on the points being discussed. Allow the Holy Spirit to search your heart and above all, be honest with yourself and the Holy Spirit. After all, He knows any way!

“Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”

                                                                                  John 4:21–26 (NASB95)

We return to our study of John chapter 4 and the conversation between Yeshua and the Samaritan woman. In our first message on this chapter, Thirst for Truth, we learned that things are not always what they appear to be, in fact, the traditional teaching on chapter 4 may be completely off base! We assume that this woman comes to the well at the hottest part of the day to avoid the judgmental glances and whispers of the other women gathered at the well to collect water. We also assume she has some sort of sexual sin in her past because she is living with a man not her husband, after having five pervious failed marriages. However, there is truly nothing in the text that leads us to believe this is true. Perhaps this woman’s routine has been upset by some unforeseen event and she is just now able to get her water for the day. It is also possible that the previous five marriages did not fail but, perhaps, the husbands died, or they committed the act of adultery. The point is, we have “Westernized” this story to fit into some sort of spiritual category, when in fact we have misinterpreted what is happing in the text.

Which brings us to our next section of this passage when the conversation turns to the subject of worship. It is at this point in the traditional interpretation where we assume the woman is changing the subject to avoid the condemnation that must surely be coming. Instead, let us look at the alternative interpretation of this passage. Having spent time with Yeshua, the woman now feels comfortable enough to break tradition and climb over the wall of forbidden associations. Remember, last week we learned that the Samaritans are part of the remnant God has kept for Himself from the ten lost tribes of Israel, the Northern King tribes. Thus, the Samaritans and the Jews share a view of worship that differs in location. Yeshua is about to set the record straight and show that it is not the place that matter but the manner in which True Worship of the Father must take place.

Jesus tells the Samaritan woman True Worship of the Father will not happen on a mountain or in Jerusalem, but the time has now come to worship in spirit and in truth. The woman claims the Messiah is coming to declare all things, but Jesus declares He is the coming Messiah.

Yeshua, the Christ, speaks with authority when He declares that the place of worship does not matter, but rather, the manner has now changed. True Worship of the Father must be done in spirit and in truth, for these are the people God wants as His worshipers.

In this message we seek to answer the question, “What is True Worship of the Father?”

True Worship of the Father is not about the place of worship, but rather the manner of worship. 

1). We must first understand that True Worship of the Father means we worship God from the core of who we are.

To worship God in spirit is to have a soul connected to God.

Let me begin by asking a question. What does it mean to worship God in spirit? Worship comes from the old English word worth-ship meaning that we ascribe or declare that something or someone is worthy of our worship. The Greek word for “worship’ implies an attitude of reverence. Worship then is a life response to the worthiness of its object. When we worship God, we do so in response to who He is and what He has done. Our attitudes and actions reflect that we believe the character and conduct of God to be worthy of praise and adoration.

Worship can be expressed through corporate prayer, teaching, and prayer, but worship can also be expressed in our daily lives through music, prayer, Scripture reading, acts of kindness, gratitude, and love for others. Worship in spirit and in truth happen together, at the same time. Our spirit is the core of who we are – the center of our choices, our will, and emotions. This is where our soul lives! So, to worship God in spirit means we must worship God from a soul that is connected to God, for this is where the soul lives and to whom our soul belongs.

The Samaritan Jews are Mt. Gerizim-centered Israelites in their understanding of the Torah, while the Jews were Mt. Zion-centered in their interpretation of the same Scriptures, admittedly, with occasional variations. The question of where to worship may seem insignificant to the Christian today who states, “Jesus is in MY life as a PERSONAL Lord and Savior,” the emphasis on the individual. But let’s face it, when the Samaritan woman brings up the issue of worship of the Father, it will have tremendous and far-reaching impact on the entire world. For so long, Christians have been taught that Christianity is a personal relationship with Jesus, and yes, that is true, but it is NOT the main thrust of the gospel message! God sent His Son, Yeshua, into the world to save the entire world. Not all will accept this invitation, but the intent is not on just the individual alone, it has far greater reach than that of one person.

Yeshua flips the script here by introducing a third mountain into the discussion. The Samaritan woman must now look beyond the choice of Mt. Gerizim or Mt. Zion to a third mountain, The Mountain of Spirit and Truth. We must go back to chapter one when Yeshua first meets Nathanael and mentions the dream of Jacob when he saw angels ascending and descending on the land where he slept. Yeshua tells Nathanael that he will soon see the angels ascending and descending on the Son of Man, the center of earthly worship will be relocated from earthly Jerusalem to the spiritual Jerusalem – worship will be concentrated on Yeshua Himself!

What does this mean for Christ followers today? It means we must first come with a soul that is connected to the God we worship. We have been learning in our Soul Care sessions that our soul lives with God, it was meant to rest, live, and remain connected to God. So, we come with a heart set and focused on God. Our heart cannot be divided between the cares of the world, our fleshly cravings and desires and a soul that NEEDS to be in the presence of the One it was created to live for. Our focus must be fully and only on God and who He is and what He has done. He alone is the reason we are here, for what He has done and who He is in each of our lives as individuals and as a corporate body of Christ followers. He is the One we come to worship, praise, and offer our thanks to each week.

So, who is God? We begin each service with a greeting of grace and peace, for God is the One in whom grace is given freely and we find peace that goes beyond our understanding. We include a reading from the Psalms as a reminder of who God is, the One who called us from darkness into the Light of His Son, Yeshua. Our worship music is centered on Christ and what He has done for each of us individually, from the way He chased with His reckless love to the way He moves mountains to find us, and finally, how He died on the cross to bring us eternal life. We conclude each of our two teaching times during our message with questions designed to help us remember who God is and what He has done and is doing in our lives. We begin our prayer for communion with the words, “Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe…” as a reminder that He alone has sovereign control over all things, including our lives. And we end each service with a blessing from the Father.

Questions for reflection/discussion:

In preparing for worship, how do you prepare your soul, making certain it is connected to God, for worship?

Our gathering together each week for worship is important for our daily lives, how do you include worship in your daily life as an individual?

Who is God to you today? What has He done to remind you He alone is God?

True Worship of the Father is not about the place of worship, but rather the manner of worship.

2). Secondly, we must understand that True Worship of the Father means we worship in response to who God is.

To worship in truth is to worship God regardless of our circumstances.

Let me begin again by asking a question. What does it mean to worship God in truth? Truth is the real thing, not the shadows or copies of the real thing, or the empty rituals and formalities of outward ceremonial activities. So, worshiping in truth means we worship based on truth. This includes who God is and what He has done. It also includes the truth of our circumstances. We worship God in good times and bad – for truth may, in fact, be our hurt.

What is the truth of who God is? From the Scriptures we know that God is infinite, He is without termination, He has no end. He is eternal, free from the succession of time – all things past, present, and future are all equally vivid to God. He is omniscient, meaning God knows all actual and possible things. He is omnipresent, God is everywhere. God is omnipotent, meaning God is all powerful. God is justice, meaning moral equity, He is not a “respecter of persons.” God is love, the highest standard of love for all relationships, He is the highest good of displaying His will. God is holiness – set apart and pure. God is truth, meaning agreement to and consistent with all that is represented by God Himself.

What is the truth of what God does? God creates – “In the beginning God created…” We are the highest and most prized of His creations, for we bear His image! God sustains, He did not set the world spinning and then fade into the background. He is active and present in all things and in the lives of all people. God forgives, in fact, He sent His Son in the greatest act of forgiveness known to all people. He is the Giver of Life – the Father gives life and has given to the Son to give life to whom He chooses. He is the Author and Perfecter of our faith; the Shepherd who cares for the flock; the Protector and Guide of all who call Him Father, Lord, and Savior. 

What does this mean for the Christ follower today? First, we worship God regardless of our circumstances. We were never promised this would be an easy life. In fact, several times Yeshua warns those who would follow Him that they would find trouble in this world. After all, if they hated Him, why would we think they would not hate us?! Our surroundings should not impact our worship of the One who has created us, sustains us, loves us, teaches us justice, calls us to holiness and purity. God is the rock on which we build our lives to sustain us through the storms of life, not remove us from them.

Secondly, we must keep our eyes fixed on God the Father and Yeshua, the Son. We must be ready to move when we are directed to move, act when we are called to act; we must be prepared to do what the Father is doing, and we can only be ready to do so if our eyes are fixed on Him! Thirdly, we must be aware of the everyday presence of God. If we truly believe that God is everywhere, we should be able to see Him even in the most mundane of events throughout our day. We must keep our eyes clear to see the everyday miracles of God, done for our benefit and His glory. Finally, we must be able to look back and remember what God has done for us in the past while not losing sight of what God is doing in our present. It is easy to see God in the good things of our lives, but we must never forget that the truth of God may be found in our hurt. In all things, God has a plan for those who love Him and trust Him.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

Where is God truth for you today?

What is the truth of who God is for you today?

What is the truth of what God has done for you today?

True Worship of the Father is not about the place of worship, but rather the manner of worship.

To worship God in spirit and in truth is to declare that God is worthy of our reverence. Worship in spirit and in truth is worship that corresponds to the nature of God – it takes place in the sphere in which God lives. No, not an “out of body” experience, but worship that is so rich and in tune with the object of worship, that your worship impacts the worship in heaven. How are you declaring that God is worthy of your reverence today? Is your worship impacting heaven?

We worship God based on the truth of who He is, the truth of what God does, and the truth of what is happening in our world. We worship God in spirit from our soul because the soul is with God, inclined towards God; we worship in submission to God. We worship God with attitudes, actions and words that declare God is worthy of our worship. Is God your truth in a world that is filled with chaos and uncertainty? Is your soul reaching for God today?

Worship in spirit and in truth comes from a soul that is connected God; it is worship activities that, not only reach God, but brings the real offering that pleases God. May we all be so in tune with God the Father, that our souls are found connected and resting in the One who brings peace, life and love.

We do all things for the glory of God through Christ our Lord,

Amen.

Next Week: John 4:27-38

Thirst for Truth

Thirst for Truth

Home Church Service 5/14/2022

Life & Light Community Church began in the early months of 2020. What began as an opportunity for me, my wife and step-kids to continue to worship together, has now evolved into a ministry that has expanded to include close friends, family and those who are simply hungry for the word of God. You can find us on Facebook, so please, feel free to reach out and join us.

When our small group meets for worship, we like to discuss what we are learning, in the moment. Sometimes that happens right after the message and at other times we will address something during the message. These messages are designed to be interactive, discussing what we are learning right after I have addressed each point of the message. You will find the questions at the end of each section. In most formats they will appear in bold. Use these questions as a guide to meditate on the points being discussed. Allow the Holy Spirit to search your heart and above all, be honest with yourself and the Holy Spirit. After all, He knows any way!

“Therefore when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John (although Jesus Himself was not baptizing, but His disciples were), He left Judea and went away again into Galilee. And He had to pass through Samaria. So He came to a city of Samaria called Sychar, near the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph; and Jacob’s well was there. So Jesus, being wearied from His journey, was sitting thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour.

There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. Therefore the Samaritan woman said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” She said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water? You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself and his sons and his cattle?”

Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty nor come all the way here to draw.” He said to her, “Go, call your husband and come here.” The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You have correctly said, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly.” The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. “Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” 

                                                                                    John 4:1–20 (NASB95)

Let’s do a quick review before digging into our passage this morning. Chapter 1 of John might be considered the Chapter of Introductions. We are introduced to the Word who was with God and was God. We are told in Him was life and this life was the Light of all people. He is the True Light. Next, we meet John the Baptist who came as a witness to the true Light. We are then introduced to the Word who became flesh to live among us. A reintroduction of John the Baptist comes as “the voice of one crying in the wilderness,” alluding to the ministry of the Baptist in preparing the way of the Lord. The Baptist then introduces us to the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. The rest of chapter one is filled with the introduction of the disciples – Andrew; John, the author; Simon, the brother of Andrew; Philip, and finally Nathanael.

Chapter 2 is much shorter, and John gets straight to the point – Yeshua is the Son of God. We see the first miracle of Yeshua turning water into wine, at a wedding in Cana, where His mother Mary is involved in some capacity. Next, we find Yeshua in Jerusalem as the Passover nears. We find Him driving out merchants who are selling animals necessary for sacrifice. Yeshua is upset that this is taking place inside the Temple in the Court of the Gentiles, the only place Gentiles can worship God. Yeshua is not happy with anything that cheapens the worship experience.

Chapter 3 revolves around the conversation with Nicodemus, a teacher of Israel and a Pharisee, and likely a member of the Sanhedrin. The conversation with Nicodemus is interesting on one hand, and very confusing on the other. Nicodemus stumbles over the statement made by Yeshua that he must be “born again” to enter the kingdom of God. The chapter ends with a short conversation between the Baptist and his disciples about Yeshua and His disciples baptizing more than John. John plainly tells his disciples that Yeshua must increase, and the Baptist must decrease. These are the final words we hear from the Baptist in John’s gospel account.

That brings us to our passage this morning and the woman at the well. This is a story that has been told time and again, but this time, as we take a look from the Jewish perspective, we find something a little different. The woman at the well isn’t what she appears to be, rather, like many of us, she is one who has a Thirst for Truth.

Jesus and the disciples left Judea to journey into Samaria. They arrived at the plot of ground Jacob gave to his son Joseph and where Jacob’s Well was found. As Jesus was resting near the well, a Samaritan woman came to gather water. A request for a drink of water turned into a conversation about a divided past with a woman who had a Thirst for Truth.

Yeshua and the disciples begin the Fathers mission by traveling through Samaria. Yeshua arrives at Jacob’s Well where He has a divine appointment with a Samaritan woman who is facing some difficult issues. Here she will earn what is required of those who have a Thirst for Truth.

In this message we seek to answer the question, “What is required of those who have a Thirst for Truth?”

Those who have a Thirst for Truth will be required to go beyond what they thought was possible.

1). Those who have a Thirst for Truth will be required to draw from a deep well.

This deep well can only be found in Yeshua and leads to living water.

I would say it is safe to say that most of us are familiar with the story of the woman at the well, I would further venture to say that most of us have heard the story in much the same way. Traditionally, it is assumed that this woman is a woman of poor reputation. She has come at the hottest part of the day to avoid the other women of the village and not have to deal with the glances and whispers as she draws her water. It is assumed she has fallen into some sort of sexual sin because she has had five husbands and is currently living with a man not her husband. Sound about right so far?

She meets Jesus who asks for a drink of water and the conversation suddenly turns spiritual. Jesus then nails her to the cross by telling her all about her sin – five husbands and a boyfriend she is currently living with. Suddenly this godless woman has her “come to Jesus moment” and runs to tell the entire village about the man she has met. What is even more astounding is this woman with such a poor reputation is able to convince the entire village to come out and meet Jesus. Because of her the people begin to believe and Jesus spends two more days in Samaritan village. Sounds very spiritual and “Christian,” doesn’t it?

However, in a closer look at the text we find many issues with these theories. First, noon is not the hottest part of the day. The sixth hour of the Jewish day is noon since the day begins at 6:00 am. Second, there is no indication that this encounter took place in the summertime. If it did not, then the weather is of no consequence. Third, we have no idea why this woman came at the hour she did. Perhaps this is an unusual event for her. How many of us have had to change our routine because something more pressing came up? Fourth, the text gives us no clue as to why she has had five husbands and why she is living with one who is not her husband. Finally, assuming that Jesus turned this conversation spiritual to “nail her to the cross” is out of character for the Jesus John portrays in his gospel account.

What I am about to say I can freely say, because I am a part of the system that teaches pastors to think this way. The above version of this story is the “Westernized” version. You see in this country the seminary system teaches us to look for the “spiritual aspect” of any story we read in the Bible. The spiritual aspect here is the woman had sexual sin and Jesus can cleanse her and give her forgiveness for that sin. Which is, obviously true, but there is no indication within the text that points to this particular sin. This is why understanding the Jewish background of the Bible is so important. The Bible is a Jewish document written by Jewish men.

Let’s take a look at what is really happening here. First, there is a divine appointment here that MUST be kept. The Greek word for “had” indicates that Yeshua felt pressed and compelled to go into Samaria; there is an urgency involved here that we miss in the English translation. This is the Fathers mission and Yeshua is being sent as His representative. But why Samaria? The Jews and the Samaritans do not get along at all! The Samaritan Jews are the remnant of the tribe of the Northern Kingdom. Not all of the Jews in the Northern Kingdom went into captivity in Assyria. God the Father has sent His Son to bring unity among the diversity that exists in the world. It is the Fathers wish that ALL would come to salvation, not just a single particular, country.

Second, there is a deep well to draw from here. The well is Jacob’s Well and it is found on the plot of land given to his son, Joseph. This is another important and key fact that John inserts for us as a silent witness. In Joshua 24 we read of the place where the bones of Joseph are buried, and wouldn’t you know it – Yeshua has come to that very spot knowing the importance of this place to the Samaritan people. But the well this woman is really going to be drawing from is Yeshua Himself. Only Yeshua can provide water that will forever quench the thirst of those who drink it.

Finally, there is a deep need here. This woman needs water for everything. Cooking, cleaning, washing, drinking – absolutely everything she will do the remainder of her day would call for the use of water in some form. So, she heads to the well given to them by Jacob…a deep well, with clean, fresh cool water. But there is a deeper need still. The need deep within this woman. She assumes her need is for water alone, but she truly needs the living water that Yeshua offers, for this water is the only water that leads to eternal life.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

How many “divine appointments” have you missed with Yeshua? Or with people sent to you by God?

How is Yeshua your “deep well” from which to draw?

Have you allowed Yeshua to address your deepest need?

Those who have a Thirst for Truth will be required to go beyond what they thought was possible.

2). Those who have a Thirst for Truth will be required to face a time of dealing with difficult issues.

This will lead to a time of greater thirst, deeper discovery and a time of confession.

Something out of the ordinary has forced this woman to leave her normal routine and travel to gather water at an unusual time of day for her. She arrives at the well to draw water and is immediately addressed by a Jewish man sitting near the well resting. To be addressed by a Jew would be enough to startle her but for a Jewish man to ask a Samaritan woman for a drink was unheard of in the days of Yeshua. Remember, the Jews had nothing to do with Samaritans, as John tells us, and they were considered unclean by the Jews, for they worshiped in unacceptable ways and to an unacceptable God.

I would also venture to say that there were other things weighing on the mind of this woman. Whatever had caused her to leave the routine she normally followed had to be the first thing on her mind. Since she is out of her routine she is probably behind on her daily chores and tasks that need to be done. Perhaps she is behind on food preparation as well. But I sense something deeper still going on and this divine appointment is just getting started and has only touched the surface of her issues.

As Yeshua talks about the living water He can provide, this woman suddenly discovers a greater thirst! She wants the water that will quench her thirst so she will never be thirsty again. “Sir, give me this water…” She thinks He will be able to cure a common human experience…the experience of being thirsty. But Jesus is truly talking about the thirst to be whole once again. This woman is hurting, and Yeshua knows all about it. This is the greater discovery she is about to make.

Yeshua tells her to call her husband – not in an effort to expose her sin but because she is a woman, and he is man; He is Jewish, and she is Samaritan; Yeshua should not be talking to her without the presence of her husband. She had to be stunned when Yeshua said, “You have correctly said, I have no husband.” Yeshua is a stranger. She is only able to tell He is Jewish by the clothes He wears and the accent of His speech. She has never met this man in her life, and here He is telling her she has had five husbands and is living with a man not her husband. This is the greater discovery she makes – Yeshua knows all about her. He knows her past; He knows her future; He knows her hurt and pain.  

Now she is about to make a greater confession. First, I want you to take notice that nowhere does Yeshua condemn this woman for her past. This is another clue that perhaps we have this story wrong. Yeshua simply tells her she has answered correctly. If you read this closely, there is a touch of empathy for this woman in the words of Jesus. There is no harsh tone, no words of condemnation; no scolding or wagging of the finger; there is no punishment, there is absolutely nothing here that would make us think she is the sinful one we have made her out to be!

The confession, besides the dark history of her past? “Sir, I perceive you are a prophet.” No longer is this stranger just a Jew. Suddenly He is a prophet able to tell her everything about her past. More importantly, she begins to talk to Yeshua as a prophet. There is no sarcasm, no harshness or ridicule in the tone of her voice, that is, if we do not look at the story in light of her checkered past. The statement she makes is almost in the form of a question, as if she is trying to convince herself it is true. Again, in the “Westernized version” of this story it is easy to see the negative in her response and the response of Yeshua to come. We need to look beyond the obvious from our point of view and insert ourselves into the story through the Jewish point of view. This man is a prophet, and she intends to get some answers.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

What greater thirst have you developed that only Yeshua can quench?

Is there a greater discovery that Yeshua is leading you into today?

What greater confession has developed for you in your walk with Yeshua?

Those who have a Thirst for Truth will be required to go beyond what they thought was possible.

I did a short review before our message to see where we have been. Now I want to give you an overview of where we are going in the coming months. Chapters 3, 4, & 5 revolve around conversations with individuals. Chapter 3 we find conversations with Nicodemus and John the Baptist. Chapter 4 finds the woman at the well and a royal official. Chapter 5 is an invalid who has been ill for 38 years and Yeshua as He answers the Pharisees.

If we look closely at each of these conversations, it is clear there is a contrast with each conversation and each conversation seems to represent a different portion of society. Nicodemus represents the religious elite of Israel; John the Baptist is representative of those who truly seek the God of Israel. The woman at the well is representative of the religious outcast of Israel; the royal official represents the ruling class or royalty of Israel, while the invalid represents the ill, diseased, and poor of Israel. Yeshua is the common factor among these groups. He is the one God has sent to bring unity among people, beginning with the nation of Israel.

Returning to our story of the woman at the well. What if we looked at her through a different lens, the lens of compassion, for example? Or empathy? If she has indeed been thrown out of her normal routine, then coming to the well at noon is perfectly understandable. But what of the fact that she is living with a man not her husband? Perhaps the previous marriage ended when the husband died. Perhaps it was the husband who had fallen into sexual sin. In ancient Israel only the husband could initiate divorce proceedings. Perhaps she has made arrangements to live with a family member, an uncle perhaps? Or maybe she had to make other arrangements to live with a family friend to simply survive each and every day. Whatever the case may be, we should not be in a hurry to simple slap the first “spiritual context” on the entire story and put our spin on it. And let’s not forget about depression. Depression was a very real thing even in Jesus’ day.

Yeshua is weary from traveling. He could have easily said, “I am so tired. I just need a break.” But He did not. He took the time to talk and to listen. If you read this account closely there are no harsh words or words of condemnation. He simply put Himself in a position to talk with her and let her ask questions or make the comments she felt necessary, to lead the conversation where He could to the greatest good. This Samaritan woman came to the well for a rather simple task, but she will go away with a greater thirst, a greater discovery, a greater confession while finding a deeper well from which to draw from to answer her deeper needs.

Let me encourage you to look for those divine appointment with God and those sent by God. We all have them but at times we are so busy we miss them. In missing them we may never know the blessing we might have received, or we might have given to another. In everything we face, Yeshua is our deeper well from which we are to draw from. No matter how thirsty we are when we come to the well, there is ample water, living water, to quench any and every thirst we have. The same is true for our deeper needs. We all have them, and we all fear them to a degree. It does not matter what that need might be – financial, health, work, emotional, spiritual – whatever your deeper need might be, Yeshua is the only one who can meet that need.

But there is a warning here that must be heard. When we draw from the deeper well of Yeshua, we are certain to find our thirst quenched but we will also find we will develop a greater thirst. A simple drink from Yeshua will never be enough. You see the more of Yeshua you get the more of Yeshua you will want. Not a bad problem to have but still, you will develop a greater thirst! You will also be in for greater discoveries. About yourself, about Yeshua, about the Father, and about the world in which we live and serve Yeshua. Finally, there will be a greater confession to be made. This may include something personal you have not confessed to Yeshua, but it will absolutely include a greater confession about Yeshua, the Father, and your walk with them. Do not fear any of these things, in fact, embrace them, for Yeshua is with you and He has sent His Holy Spirit to walk with us and guide us daily.

We do all things for the glory of God, through Christ our Lord,

Amen and amen.

In two weeks: John 4:21-26