Monthly Archives: August 2015

Today’s Scripture – August 15, 2015

John 4:39-42 (NIV):  Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.”  So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days.  And because of his words many more became believers. They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”

The woman’s words to her family, friends, and neighbors resonated in their hearts.  The woman was convinced that Jesus really was a prophet, and might even be the Messiah Himself.  So they went with the woman to the well, where they found Jesus surrounded by a group of stunned disciples.

The Jews considered the Samaritans so far away from God that they held out little hope for them ever to be saved.  But now the disciples saw what Jesus had told them was coming:  a crop ripe for the harvest!  God Himself had done the work of preparing, planting, watering and growing.  Now it was up to Jesus and His followers to do the work of harvesting.

Jesus stayed with the Samaritans for two days, something that would have raised eyebrows among His fellow Jews.  But in those two days Jesus and His followers really did bring in the harvest.  The people of Sychar began by believing the testimony of the woman.  But as they listened to Jesus’ own words, they began to develop a first-hand faith.  Their own experience with Jesus convinced them that He was not only a prophet, but the Messiah Himself, the Savior of the world.

Also note that Jesus didn’t have to do mighty miracles among the Samaritans to persuade them.  Because of His WORDS many more became believers.  Jesus’ words resonated so deeply in the hearts of the people, told them what they could immediately recognize as true, that they turned wholly to Him, much like the temple guards that disobeyed their commands and didn’t arrest Jesus, because “No one ever spoke the way this man does.” (John 7:46 NIV)  It was what they heard that persuaded them of who Jesus really was.

Father, over and over again we can see You at work in the lives and hearts of the people around us, drawing them, preparing the soil of their hearts for the seed of the gospel, and then giving us the words to say that will bring new life to those hearts.  Help us, Lord, to never fall into the trap of trying to be too clever, of trying to program things too strongly, or trying to force things to happen in our way.  Instead, help us to work with You where You are working; to have eyes that truly see where the harvest is ripe, and then to speak clearly Your words into those lives, so that we can be powerful and effective workers in Your field.  Amen.

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Today’s Scripture – August 11, 2015

John 4:35-38 (NIV):  “Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’?  I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields!  They are ripe for harvest.  Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together.  Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true.  I sent you to reap what you have not worked for.  Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”

The time when people say, “Four months more and then the harvest” is when they are sowing the crops.  They are doing the hard, often backbreaking work of tilling the soil, and planting and watering the seed.  But they know that, ultimately, the work will be worth it because the harvest will come, and they encourage themselves with that thought.

But Jesus is looking at the Samaritan people, a group that the Jews regarded as completely lost, beyond the reach of salvation, and He is seeing that the work of tilling and sowing and watering has already been accomplished by the subtle working of the Holy Spirit in preparation for this day.  Not all of the seed “took,” of course.  But in many of these Samaritan hearts a rich harvest was already ripe, ready for the harvest time that had now come.

If Jesus had simply told the disciples to go and evangelize those Samaritans, they would have taken an entirely different path.  They would have seen the work ahead as backbreaking, if not impossible.  They would have gone reluctantly, cowed at the prospect of how much work it would take to bring these pagan people into the kingdom.  They would completely miss the “ripe” souls, because they would see themselves only as clearers, plowers and planters at this stage of the game.

But Jesus was opening their eyes to what He could already see, what He already knew:  God had already been at work in these hearts.  Even though the Samaritan religion was corrupt, it was a corrupt form of Judaism.  These people had the law, and they had the forms of the sacrificial system that God had given through Moses.  And through the corrupted form of God’s truth He had been working to clear the soil of these Samaritan hearts.  Though God’s voice was muted because of the twisting of the traditions they had received, He was still using those traditions to plant seeds of repentance and expectation of the coming Messiah.  And even though the people sought a caricature of the True God, He turned that hunger into rich moisture that caused the seeds of expectation to spring up into an abundant crop, ready to be harvested.

The harvest was now ready, and it was walking toward the disciples at that very moment.  The hard work had already been done by God Himself, and now the celebration time was close at hand, when the crop for eternal life would be gathered in.

Father, all too often we see ourselves as the first workers in the field, and the prospect of all of the hard work to be done can intimidate us away from even starting.  How much different it would be if we would simply follow Your lead to those in whose hearts Your Spirit has already been working!  How much different it would be if we would allow You to open our eyes to the people in whom a crop for eternal life is already growing, ready to be harvested.  I know that there is a place and a time for clearing, and plowing, and planting, and watering, and we need to be doing that work with You as well.  But, Lord, how many crops have we let rot in the field because we had no eyes to see where You had already been at work, growing and ripening the souls for harvest!  Lord, help us to see that the harvest is already plentiful (Matthew 9:38).  Help us to understand that WE are the harvesters for eternal life for which we are instructed to pray.  And help us to be faithful and diligent in this work of bringing in the harvest.  Amen.

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Today’s Scripture – August 10, 2015

John 4:31-34 (NIV):  Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?” “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.”

Jesus had sent the disciples into the Samaritan town to buy some food, and they had done so.  Now the food had been prepared and laid out, but Jesus’ mind was not focused on eating, or on any needs that His physical body might have.

Jesus knew where the woman had gone.  He knew that, even at that moment, she was urging her family members, her friends, her neighbors, to “Come and see.” (verse 29)  He could see in His heart the growing crowd that was headed His way, hungry not just for the truth that He could teach, but for the Truth that He was.

But His disciples couldn’t see any of that.  All they could see was that Jesus wasn’t eating the food that they had laid out.  They knew that He had to be as hungry as they were.  He had eaten the same meager breakfast that they had, had walked the same long miles.  So they urged Him to eat something.

But Jesus only smiled at them and said, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.””  This made the disciples wonder where He had gotten food out here by the well.  Had someone brought it to Him?  Did He have a secret stash in His travel bag?  How could He have possibly gotten food while they were gone?

These disciples didn’t understand that Jesus wasn’t talking about physical food, but about the deep spiritual nourishment that comes directly from the hand of God.  Even in that pagan place, Jesus had found the work that His Father had called Him to do, and he was doing it.  He had planted a gospel seed in the good, prepared soil of the Samaritan woman’s heart, and it had almost instantly grown to full fruition.  Even now, as he was talking with his disciples outside the town, the woman was spreading seeds into heart after heart inside the town.  Soon the crowd would come, the harvest would be gathered, and Samaritan souls would come pouring into the kingdom of God.

This was food to Jesus’ soul; food so rich and satisfying that it completely overwhelmed any physical hunger He might have had.  He was seeing life spring up among dead souls, and that fed Him at the deepest, most significant level imaginable.

Father, today it seems that, even in the church, the “needs” of the body, the desires of the flesh, so easily overwhelm the soul.  We focus our lives on food, clothing, shelter, recreation, amusement, and security, leaving our souls unattended, or on starvation rations, until our physical and emotional needs are met.  But Jesus’ focus was always on the spiritual.  He showed us how to “Seek first (God’s) kingdom and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33), and leave the meeting of our physical needs in Your hands.  Of course when He did that, He knew that many of the things that we tend to chase after so hard in our lives today would be found to be far less important that we usually think they are.  Even so-called necessities like food could easily be put on the back burner when Your presence and power were saturating His life.  Father, help us to shift our focus away from our overwhelming pursuit of things that meet our physical and emotional needs.  Help us instead, like Jesus, to seek first Your kingdom and your righteousness.  Amen.

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Today’s Scripture – August 9, 2015

John 4:27-30 (NIV):  Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?” Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?”  They came out of the town and made their way toward him.

The disciples returned with the food that they had brought from the town (cf. v8), only to find Jesus sitting by the well, and talking to a Samaritan woman.  This went against every societal norm that they knew, but they knew Jesus well enough to understand that He was not simply passing the time of day with her.  He had to have some reason for talking with her so intensely.  So they said nothing, and just began to lay out the food that they had brought.

The woman, on the other hand, took this opportunity to run back to town and tell the people about who she had found.  She left her water jar (the reason she had gone to the well in the first place) sitting by the well, her physical thirst subsumed by a new and deeper thirst to know this Messiah better, and to bring others to know Him, too.

Jesus had astounded her on several levels.  He had shamelessly broken down the societal barriers between them with a word.  He had spoken things that at first seemed so strange, but which at the same time had warmed her heart.  He seemed to know every inner recess of her heart.  And, on top of it all, He claimed straight out to be the long-awaited Messiah.

Her invitation to the people of her town was short and to the point:  “Come.”  Come and see a man who was able to tell me everything I ever did.  Come see a man who now seems to be so much more than just a man.  Come and see this man that I believe could actually be the Messiah!

The woman’s message was so compelling, her experience so genuine, and her passion so urgent, that the people left their homes, their businesses, their hobbies, whatever they were doing, to go and see this man.  As the people began to move toward the town gate, toward the well, those in the crowd called to still others:  “She says that the Messiah has come!  He’s at the well!”  And the numbers grew at every step.  Was it true?  They would go and see.

Lord, sometimes, in our long experience of You we forget how amazing You are, how compelling Your presence is, and all of the miracles that You have done in our hearts.  We try to memorize scripts or use programs to tell people about You, when all we really need to do is to share with them, with all of the passion those miracles deserve, “Come and meet the One who has completely changed my life!  Come see the One who found me in the dark and brought me into the light!  Come meet the man who is God in the flesh, the Messiah, the One your heart is longing for!”  Amen.

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