I’m Dying

Bible Study verses:  John 12:24-25  (NIV & The Message bible)

john12-24
King James Version

New International Version –

[24]  “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.  [25] The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”

The MESSAGE –

24-25  “Listen carefully:  Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat.  But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over.  In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys life.  But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.

THE SEED PRINCIPLE –

“If you keep the SEED out of the ground, all you have is the SEED.  But when that SEED is planted and then it grows…end of story.  Bury it and it rises.”  [“Are You Dead Yet?” by Michael Walker]

Sounds a lot like RESURRECTION to me!

1 Corinthians 15:36-37 (NIV):

1 Corinthians 15:36
1 Corinthians 15:36

“What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed…”

DEATH CAN PRODUCE LIFE!

JESUS knows at this point this is His last week on earth.  He knows He is going to be betrayed, beaten, crucified and will die by weeks end.

Since JESUS knows this will be His final week through His preaching, teaching and example, JESUS decides He will take His disciples into some deeper water; make them dive into the deep end of the pool.

JESUS presents not ONE, not TWO, but THREE examples of a Dichotomy for us all as Disciples, followers of Christ Jesus to examine.  So lets all ‘jump in the pool.’

So what is a “DICHOTOMY”?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary,  [4] : something with seemingly contradictory qualities; a paradox (synonym) is a statement or proposition that seems self-contradictory or absurd but in reality expresses the truth.

In verses 24-26, Jesus shares three important principles of “dichotomy’s” pertaining to our lives.

John 12:24 (AMP):

I assure you, most solemnly I tell you. Unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains [just one grain; it never becomes more but lives] by itself alone. But if it dies, it produces many others and yields a rich harvest.

THE FIRST DICHOTOMY is introduced to the crowd.

DEATH can produce LIFE!

Jesus is trying to let the listeners know that His time is short; He is not going to be the type of Messiah they were expecting.

In the following verses of John chapter 12, verses 27-34, Jesus speaks of His impending departure and when you drop down to verse 34, the crowd seems obviously confused.

“We have learned from the Law that the Christ is to remain forever; how then can You say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up on the cross’?”

The DICHOTOMY presented in this verse is the FACT that DEATH CAN PRODUCE LIFE.

JESUS uses the example of a grain of wheat.  For it to produce fruit, it has to be put in the ground–then has to DIE in order for it to produce visible fruit.

In context, Jesus is speaking of Himself; how His impending DEATH and subsequent resurrection will be a fruitful event for ALL who will follow Him.

Jesus must DIE giving His life to bring LIFE to us today.

  • When a SEED dies, it produces fruit.  
  • LIFE comes by DEATH.

This principle is true not only in nature but also true spiritually.  When you take a moment and meditate on Jesus’ words, it is directed to our spiritual life.

We must DIE in Christ in order for us to become FRUITFUL spiritually.

Certain changes occur when seed is planted underground.

  • The HARD dry shell softens.

the_seed_by_paweljoncaWhen we are separated from God because of our sin, we need to be born again. The old self (the ‘outer hard shell’) needs to DIE.

Romans 6:5-7 (NIV):

If we have been united with Him like this in death, we will certainly also be united with Him in His resurrection.  For we know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin–because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.

This is spoken in context of one who has been BAPTIZED in to Christ Jesus.

When we are immersed into Christ, our old body of SIN is crucified and DEATH frees us from SIN.

The apostle Paul struggled with this principle in his life as many do today as well.

Philippians 1:20-25 (NIV):

[20] I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. [21] For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. [22] If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! [23] I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; [24] but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. [25] Convinced of this, I know I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith,…

PAUL was well aware that the end of his physical life was not the end of his existence,  He also knew that he was here on earth for a purpose.

Our life isn’t about getting through it as shortly or quickly as possible, it is about savoring every moment along the way, making sure that we maximize our life for Christ.

VERSE 25 is our next Paradox –

“In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is, destroys life.  But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal”  (The Message).

We have a tendency to think that if we hold on to something really tight we’ll not lose our grip or… that we will do better by holding on tightly.  We do this with our possessions at times, and our relationships.  We can hold on so tight…that we smother the other person, even driving them off.

Jesus tells the crowd that whoever loves their life will lose it.  Now that sounds a bit awkward at first reading. 

This phrase reflects the ‘hard coating of the seed’ and denotes someone who lives only to serve themselves.

Jesus is not telling us not to enjoy life, but He is calling us to a high calling.  Think about that for a moment.  The one who loves his life is the one who only lives to serve themselves.  The presented issues here is…

  • WHO IS FIRST IN MY LIFE?
  • WHAT IS MY PRIORITY?

Your priorities reveal who you really love.  When we live for self, we risk the danger of losing the very thing we are trying to hold on to.

When we LOVE SELF more than we LOVE GOD, we will come up very short in the end.

LOVE is SACRIFICIAL–

Many people look at the word SACRIFICE as being a four-letter word.  When you look at the other end of the bible verse (v. 25), you see Jesus speaking of hating (King James Version) their life and how that will gain them life.

When you LOVE God and willing to lose your life, then the things of this world are hated in contrast to the things of God.  JESUS doesn’t mean we are to HATE our life, but rather OUR LOVE for God is so great…our LOVE of life pales in comparison!

This VERSE is a play on the Greek term psyche, which refers to the essence of a human’s personality or life force (Matthew 10:39; 16:25).   [see FOOTNOTE [i].]

Once someone TRUSTS CHRIST, they are given a NEW Life.  And this NEW LIFE is a gift from God for service, not for personal use.

BELIEVERS are STEWARDS of this new life.

We are freed from slavery to sin and to become SERVANTS of God.

“If any person wills to come after Me, let him deny himself [disown himself, forget, lose sight of himself and his own interests, refuse and give up himself] and take up his cross daily and follow Me…”  (Luke 9:23 AMP).

PAUL goes even deeper.

“I have been crucified with Christ [in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me; and the life I now live in the body I live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me  (Galatians 2:20 AMP).

THIS LEADS RIGHT INTO VERSE 26 –

John 12:26 The MESSAGE:

“If any of you wants to serve me. Then you’ll be where I am, ready to serve at a moments notice. The Father will honor and reward anyone who serves me.”

Being a SERVANT in this life gives you the highest honor.

The DICHOTOMY is this:  When you look around, it seems those who are being served have made it in this world.  Who doesn’t want an entourage around them to take care of all their needs.  Those are the folks who seem to get the highest honor.  In this life that may be true.

But in ETERNITY…

JESUS is telling us the one who will be honored is the one who serves.  

Look at Matthew 23:11-12:

[11] “The greatest among you will be your servant.  [12] For whoever exalts himself will be humbles, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted”  (NIV Bible).

John 12:26 gives us some insight on how we can tell if we LOVE self more than Jesus.

JESUS equates SERVING Him with following Him with our words, and our physical bodies in continuance.  Jesus’ words in verse 26 speaks to our ongoing RELATIONSHIP that leads us to follow!

We FOLLOW Jesus by serving Him, and by SERVING…we maintain our relationship with Him.

The issue of SERVING comes down to our commitment, love and priorities.  When these line up we are in good shape.

When we live for SELF, we are living with an empty existence which eventually leads you to a dead-end! 

dead end sign

THE PARADOXES OF LIFE

JESUS shares the Paradoxes with us, now we have to decide what to do with them.

IGNORE them or EMBRACE them.

In verses 35-36, Jesus is calling the crowd gathered to BELIEVE in Him:

[35] “You will have the Light only a little while longer.  Walk while you have the Light [keep on living by it], so that darkness may not overtake and overcome you. He who walks about in the dark does not know where he goes [he is drifting].  

[36] While you have the Light, BELIEVE in the Light [have faith in it, hold to it, rely on it]. that you may become sons of the Light and be filled with Light…” (AMP).

WILL YOU ANSWER THE CALL?

 

 


FOOTNOTES & CREDITS –

Footnote [i]:  Bible Hub/Strong’s Concordance #5590, ‘psuche’; psyche.

Commentary:  Tony Abram Abundant Life Crusades 11 Jan. 1996 notes on “CORN”

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations as noted:  NIV- New International Version; AMP – Amplified bible; MESSAGE – the Message Bible; KJV – King James Version 

 

The “Salt Covenant”; Are Believers Missing Something?

I thought I would re-blog this from years past. My pastor and his wife just concluded their message and testimony on relationship in marriage.

The WORD Detective

SALT FLATS; Something is missing here!

“Every cereal offering you shall season with salt [symbol of preservation]; neither shall you allow the SALT OF THE COVENANT of your God to be lacking…with all your offerings you shall offer salt”  (Leviticus 2:13)

“For everyone shall be salted with fire.  SALT IS GOOD (beneficial), but if salt has lost its saltiness, how will you restore [the saltiness to] it?  Have salt within yourselves, and be at peace and live in harmony with one another”  (Mark 9:49, 50).

HOW THE INVESTIGATION BEGINS

I have been asked by some people how I come up with the ideas that I blog about.  To answer that I’ll give the example I used in this subject title.

When I was studying and investigating Scripture and historical evidence in my blog, “The Tabernacle; Jesus and the Cross“, I came upon the four words “salt of the covenant” in

View original post 1,129 more words

Living In A Dangerous Spiritual State

John 8:47 (Amplified Bible):

“Whoever is of God listens to God.  [Those who belong to God hear the words of God.]  This is the reason that you do not listen [to those words, to Me]; because you do not belong to God and are not of God or in harmony with Him.”

"I can't hear you"
“I can’t hear you”

I once was sitting in room of a hospital, waiting for the results of the physical stress test I had taken.  A nurse came into the waiting room and sat down next to me, taking my pulse and blood pressure to add to my chart.  She asked me,

“Are you nervous waiting for the test results Mr. Thompson?”

“No,” I answered.  “I’ve been praying about the results, as well as others, and He simply told me to leave the results to Him.”

My answer appeared to raise her curiosity.

“You hear from God?  Actual words?  I never hear words from God and I’ve been a Christian all my life.”

“A Godly heritage can be a powerful influence but never guarantees righteousness.”  [Dr. Dennis Davidson – Mid-America Baptist Seminary]

THE GOSPEL OF JOHN, CHAPTER 8  –

The Crowd, the scribes and Pharisees…

“Early in the morning, He [Jesus] came back into the temple [court], and the people came to Him in crowds. He sat down and was teaching them”  (8:2).

There is a back and forth questioning and answering at church on this day between Jesus, the ‘Jews’, the (“They’s”), I want to focus on before examining verse 47 in detail.

Who were the Jews represented in John Chapter 8?  (verses 30-31)

I love when I am in biblical study, to read various bible translations for comparison.  After doing so, I immediately go to the Interlinear Bible which is keyed to the Greek and Hebrew text using Strong’s Concordance.

John 8:30-31 (Authorized King James Version – AKJV):

[30] As he spake these words, many believed on him.  [31] Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;”

“in him” OR… “on him”?

They were ‘Jews’ which believed, and they continued to be so while they were believing.

Now the word ‘Jew’ in this Gospel always indicates adversaries to Christ Jesus. and as for these persons, we begin to see how superficial and unreliable their bond was to the Lord Jesus.

Over the remaining verses, these same ‘believing’ Jews took up stones to stone Him. They believed “on Him,” as some Bible translations claim, while others read believed “in Him.”   One of my favorite ‘go to’ when studying Scripture is the Interlinear Bible; the bible is keyed to the Greek and Hebrew text using Strong’s Concordance.

John 8:30 Interlinear Bible:

These things  of his speaking  many believed  ON (Strong 1519 [e] )  him.

I’m only pointing this out as one point of view to the narrative in John 8.  Of course there were those who believed IN Jesus as the Son of the living God.  It was the “inconsistency” that comes into play here, and today as well.

INCONSISTENCY TAKES HOLD – “Abraham is our father” (verses 39-41)

The gathered Jews were taking claim to a lineage to ABRAHAM and their ticket to heaven.  In reality… they were honoring themselves, not Abraham.

Jesus wanted them to see that they could be his descendants, yet lack his spirit.  Was not ABRAHAM our father JUSTIFIED by works when he had offered Isaac his son on the altar?

James 2:21-22:  

[21] Was not our forefather Abraham [shown to be] justified (made acceptable to God) by [his] works when he brought to the altar as an offering his [own] son Isaac?

[22] You see that [his] faith was cooperative with his works, and [his] faith was completed and reached its supreme expression [when he implemented it] by [good] works. 

Matthew 3:8-9:

[8] Bring forth fruit that is consistent with repentance  [let your lives prove your change of heart];  [9] And do not presume to say to yourselves,  We have Abraham for our forefather; for I tell you, God is able to raise up descendants for Abraham from these stones.

MAKING FALSE CLAIMS – “We have one Father, even God”  (verses 41-43)

In writing up her resume for a full-time job, an applicant described her summer job as ‘purchasing’, being responsible for accuracy of the daily cash transactions, maintaining the morale, alertness and well-being of the entire office staff.  Actually–she went to Starbucks for the coffee.

Then the Lord said,  Forasmuch as this people draw near Me with their mouth and honor Me with their lips but remove their hearts and minds far from Me, and their fear and reverence for Me are a commandment of men that is learned by repetition [without any thought as to the meaning]”  (Isaiah 29:13 AMP).

There is a way which seems right to a man and appears straight before him, but at the end of it is the way of death  (Proverbs 14:12).

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven”  (Matthew 7:21 NIV).

THE COMPROMISING EVIDENCE REVEALED (verses 43-47)

Unfortunately the world Christian has lost a great deal of significance over the centuries and no longer means “one who has turned from sin, the old way of living, trusted Jesus Christ, received salvation by Grace.

Many people who have never been born again consider themselves ‘Christians,’ simply because they say they are not ‘pagans’.  After all, they belong to a local church, attend services semi-regularly, and even occasionally… give to the work of the Church!

180-degrees-angle_318-59071But it takes Repentance from sin–a demonstrative change in direction–a 180 degree turn.

It takes FAITH in Christ Jesus, who died for our sins on the Cross and rose again to give us eternal life (Warren Wiersbe).

And already the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire  (Matthew 3:10).

The wind blows where it wills; and though you hear its sound, yet you neither know where it comes from nor where it is going. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit  (John 3:8).

“A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due Me” says the LORD Almighty. “It is you, O priests, who show contempt for My name”  (Malachi 1:6 NIV).

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient”  (Ephesians 2:1-2 NIV).

Because the “they’s” were not truly God’s children, they could not understand God’s Message as John 8:43 indicates:

Why do you not understand what I say?

It is because you are unable to hear what I am saying. 

[You cannot bear to listen to My message; your

ears are shut to My teaching.]

The ‘religious’ become so wrapped up in their own way of thinking, they couldn’t understand the Truth.  The Jews were unable to understand because they refused to listen receptively to Jesus [selective hearing].

Satan, “the father of lies and all that is false” (8:44), used their stubbornness, pride, and pre-conceived notions to keep them from believing “IN” Jesus.  Do you know anyone like that?

It is no surprise to know, Satan too is a ‘fisher of men.’  And the bait is whatever will lure stock-photo-businessman-takes-the-bait-to-the-hook-275973842us to take the hook of sin.

It usually appeals to a natural desire–such as our need for intimacy or success or security.  He uses legitimate needs to hide his real intent, which is to get us to disobey God’s Word.  He knows that to entice us to take the bait; he has to hide the hook.  And he’ll make it look as appealing as he can.

Being Prepared –

Don’t be surprised, when sometimes you wonder if God exists.  Filled with questions that you feel at times like an unbeliever.

As followers of Christ, we are in conflict with God’s enemy, the devil, the father of lies.  We wrestle against him and “the rulers of the darkness of this age”  (Ephesians 6:12).

Two of the pieces of armor God has provided for us when we are attacked by DOUBT are “TRUTH” and “the shield of FAITH” (Eph. 6:14-16).

As we then soak our minds with God’s Word, our FAITH will be strengthened.  The best protection against Satan’s lies is to know God’s TRUTH.

Good communication involves more than ‘good speaking’ qualities; it requires ‘good listening.’

So why were  “THEY”  such poor listeners?

It wasn’t because Jesus failed to communicate the message, but because they didn’t want to hear the truth–because it made them face up to their need to change.  It is hard to tune into heaven’s message if our lives are full of earthly static.

Jesus intentionally challenged His listeners to test Him (verse 46):

“Who of you convicts Me of wrongdoing or finds Me guilty of sin? Then if I speak truth, why do you not believe Me?”

Jesus welcomed those who wanted to question His claims and character as long as they were willing to follow through on what they discovered.

Jesus’ challenge is clear to the two most frequent reasons that people miss when meeting Him:

  • they never accept His challenge to test Him, or
  • they test Him but are not willing to believe what they discover

In verse 47, Jesus answers His own question as to why the “they’s” couldn’t believe:  “He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear then, because you are not of God.”

Jesus was speaking to those who thought they followed God.  They had a notion that they were of course, Children of God, but never yielded to Him in depth of allegiance that is the core of real belief.  It is a dangerous spiritual state.

TRUTH is an abstract concept and difficult for some people to know and appreciate.  So many people today get so involved in the fallen world system that they no longer recognize God’s truth (John 18:38).  God’s truth is a foreign language they cannot understand.

A RELIGION or A RELATIONSHIP?

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well  (1 John 5:1 NIV).

Do you want a load to weigh you down or a love to lift you up?

Do you want impossible rules that do no good or an impeccable relationship that does the impossible?

Do you want a religion that leads to nowhere but eternal death, or a relationship that leads to eternal life?

Your answers will determine your ability to hear the truth in your choices that you make.

ARE YOU LISTENING?

 


CREDITS:

Photo Credits: Google Search Images.

Commentaries:  John 8:47 Commentaries: “He who is of God hears…” – Bible Hub.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible except where noted in the text.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A GUIDE For Witnessing In A Christ-like Manner

you will be my witnessesIn my reading of Scripture every morning, my set-aside devotional time, there’s one book in the New Testament that refreshes my spirit over and over again.  It was the first book of the Bible I read through after I was “born again” in 1972.  The book, The Gospel Of John.  

Many truths set forth in John’s gospel have made a great impact on my Christian life.  First and foremost, there is no greater honor than to be a part of God’s work of telling others about Jesus.  So this is where I want to begin; sharing from my own experiences and giving a beginning guide to today’s oft forgotten term… Witnessing to others about Jesus Christ.

We hear from pastor’s sermons at least once a year from a familiar passage in Acts 1:8  “and you shall be My witnesses…”  Now if we take that verse to heart, seriously, maybe we need to reevaluate our preparedness to obey Christ’s command.

WHAT IS A WITNESS?

WITNESS Definitions:  Merriam Webster;  [2] One that gives evidence;  [5] public affirmation by word or example.

The word WITNESS we are most familiar with comes to us from the legal sphere, derived from the root meaning “to bear in mind,” “to be careful.”  Thus a witness in the field of law is one who has the knowledge of something by recollection and experience and who can tell about it accurately.

Biblically speaking, A WITNESS is born when one is born again, that is, when you experience the POWER of God in your own personal death, burial and resurrection. In that sense, Christian Witnessing is not optional, nor is it mandatory.  It is inevitable.

When I first had knowledge of what a witness was, and internalizing Jesus’ message in Acts 1:8 of being “witnesses” in the community, this next little tidbit was added to my spirit: 

The word MARTYR: “comes from the Greek word for “witness”.  Early Christians were often put to death for the “witness” of Christ Jesus.

Boy, after having that scary thought placed in my mind, I needed some real motivation if… I was going to be a witness for Jesus.  But where was that motivation going to come from?

A GUIDE to Being A WITNESS:

8984030392_bfbfa33a52_b

In John chapter four, JESUS is passing through Samaria.  He comes to Jacob’s well, tired from His journey and He sits down (John 4:6).

Now the disciples have gone into a nearby town Sychar, to buy food (John 4:5, 8).  The Bible says it was about the sixth hour which most likely be around noon.

LUNCH TIME!

In my last job before retiring, I was required to be at my desk by 6 AM.  So by the time lunch time rolled around, I needed to get away from the office, where I could sit down, get a bite to eat, and relax.  Many times, several of my co-workers would show up at the same place.  I didn’t invite them to come.  They just showed up!

In this portion of Scripture, we see Jesus’ human side and see that He is tired and evidently hungry, just like when we get tired and hungry.

Notice how Jesus uses a common physical thirst to cause the lady at the well to ask questions about deeper eternal matters.

I was intrigued once more to focus on their discussion.  Remember, they are total strangers to one another–not co-workers, not BFF’s, but strangers.

STEP #1.  Jesus arouses the woman’s curiosity with a promise; the quenching a natural spiritual thirst common to all mankind.  That spiritual thirst which people try to satisfy through giving into the flesh, drinking in the world’s views and Satan’s lies.  Sadly, only a few drink of the Living Water offered by the Lord.

John 4:13-14:

[13] Jesus answer her, “All who drink of this water will be thirsty again.  

THE PROMISE…

[14] But whoever takes a drink of the water that I will give him shall never, no never, be thirsty any more.  But the water that I will give him shall become a spring of water welling up (flowing, bubbling)  [continually]  within him unto (into, for) eternal life.”

By Divine Appointment – A Personal Story

Working for a large company for over fifteen years, starting as a truck driver and working myself up through the ranks to Branch Manager, in February, 1985, the company was sold, and my services were no longer needed.  I was to be replaced by new management.  Although I was given a decent severance pay package, my self-worth was definitely damaged in the process.

Two weeks later, I received a phone call from an old business associate, who had heard through the grapevine reasons for my termination.  He asked the question–“Would I be interested in taking a job out-of-state?”  “That depends,” I answered.  “Where is ‘out-of-state’?”  HAWAII.  So, two days later, I found myself sitting in front of the president of large Hawaiian Wholesale Plumbing Company on the island of Oahu.

The next several months was a time in my life I have reflected on in detail for years. For my stay was for a brief time.  At the time, A Divine Appointment wasn’t even a thought. But God had set His plan in motion long before I had a clue.

After accepting the new job, part of my negotiated package was housing and a company vehicle to use until my family and automobile arrived from the mainland.  Since the president’s daughter and son-in-law lived nearby and also worked at the same office, I carpooled with the young man…for over two months.  Our conversation varied during the heavy commute, from family to music choices (the car radio was always active), to Hawaiian lifestyle compared to mainland lifestyle.  Then one day he asked, “I’ve noticed you go to church every Sunday.  What church do you attend?”  The opportunity at the well was there and I took it!

I answered his question with a question; asking him his religious background and did he have a personal relationship with JESUS; a few weeks later led him to Christ.

Hawaii wasn’t the place for my family and I to live, and I returned to the mainland; unemployed to employment…and back to unemployment… all with three month’s time.

WHY?  God had a DIVINE APPOINTMENT in mind and I had the privilege to be a part of.  It wasn’t until I returned to my original starting point did I fully understand the details in my going.

Divine Providence brings always amazing things and Jesus doesn’t want you to miss the opportunities He gives you.

Three simple truths we can hold on to here as laid down by Jesus to help all Christians in their daily witness.  For after all, when we leave our front door in the morning, we don’t go out witnessing; we witness as we go.  It may be today, next week, next month or off and on through out the calendar year.  But know this: God wants to use you.

So how can we follow the simple example of Christ with confidence that Jesus is going to use us?

The FIRST THING I noticed that Jesus did was to make a connection.

The woman who lived a sinful life came out to get water and He makes the connection with her.

You have family members, friends and co-workers just like this lady and you need to be making connections.  Jesus made the connection in being obedient to His Father who was sending Him to Galilee.

All Divine Appointments that are set up for you come about as you are obedient to the Lord’s call on your life.  

Divine Providence brings all glorious things into existence.  Jesus doesn’t want you to miss the opportunities He gives you.

Is there someone in your workplace that you want to reach for Christ?  Is there a neighbor, a family member you’ve been praying for?  Ask the Lord for a connection.

Jesus had a need for water and the lady had a way of getting water from a well that was very deep.  The depth is around 70 feet to the water line with a depth of about 105 feet (Harper’s Bible Dictionary, Jacob’s Well).

The point being Jesus, being a man, had a NEED that could not be met without her help.

We all have some needs that we cannot meet and there is someone who is bound by sin who can help you meet that need.

This is a wonderful opportunity to make a connection. It may be an answer to a question about work, home repairs, a physical task you cannot do on your own.

Make a connection with someone who would be shocked that you even noticed them let alone asked them for help.

The lady at the well asks,  “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?”  (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans) – (John 4:9)

A Little History About Samaritans –

Samaria is right about center of Israel.  When Israel fell to the Assyrians, Samaria was theacts_1_8_1 place where the poorest were left behind.  They intermarried with other races and brought in a false priest.  Add to that, they began false worship and twisted Scripture while rejecting everything in the Old Testament except the first five books of the Bible (2 Kings 17).

There are many PREJUDICES that keep people from hearing the gospel message of Jesus.

PREJUDICES of the people who are living in sin.  They convince themselves that obedient Christians don’t want to associate with them or care about their needs, problems or concerns.

Jesus’ lifestyle was to be out among sinners, ministering to the sick, the needy, meeting practical and spiritual needs to all who would accept what God was doing through Him.

“Must needs”  (John 4:4)

After looking at different bible translations, I like the KJV version the best:  “And he must needs pass through Samaria.”

Interesting TRUTH can be found here that the Holy Spirit wants us to grasp in our efforts to fulfill our part in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20).

“Must needs” in application means it was a necessity, a compulsion and Jesus’ destiny to go through Samaria for the sake of His mission.

There are THREE ROUTES Jesus could have taken.  But Jesus had to go through Samaria to lay down a foundational work of the gospel, because it was His Father’s will for Him (John 4:34).

THE SECOND TRUTH the Holy Spirit wants us to get hold of:  Jesus drew attention for temporary satisfaction to eternal fulfillment.

The core of Jesus’ mission at the well as defined in John 4:10 and 13 is to move the lady from what she does know to what she does not know.  He does this in stimulating her curiosity resulting in her asking a question about Him (John 4:12).  She wants to know who this man at the well is:

“Are You greater than and superior to our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well and who used to drink from it himself, and his sons and his cattle also?”

Through Jesus’ example, our goal is to get people from thinking and talking about what they know and talking about and asking they about what they don’t know.

How can we guide the conversation in our connections to talk about what they don’t know?  

One example, when people begin to talk about the problems their family is having, move them to ask about a Christian family that had the same problem, maybe your own family, but do not have them now.  

Point how Jesus did a work in their lives.  Remember the goal here is to be walking in obedience to the Lord.  The focus is to be speaking to people you connect with.  

Let the Lord lead you to the Divine Appointment; to a heart that is prepared to receive what the Lord has for them at that time on their life.

An important note to remember in witnessing to others: Jesus pointed the women’s attention to what matters in eternity.  There is a contrast to what will satisfy PHYSICAL Thirst (water drawn from a well by labor) and to SPIRITUAL Water that will bubble from the inside given by Jesus.

In this incident at Jacob’s Well, the Samaritan lady makes a request, “…Sir, give me this water so I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water!” (John 4:15).

This lady typifies many of the people we come across daily in our witnessing.  Because they are bound by SIN, they are so slow to respond to the things of God.

Like the lady at the well, many HEAR the gospel message, yet still want the things of God for all the wrong reasons.  In other words, she and those like her, still need a purifying of the heart.

People who are carnal in their thinking and not yet surrendered to the Lord (Matthew Henry Commentary).

In John chapter four, we see that Jesus had to break the barrier that kept her from understanding.

The TRUTH that must be presented to all, including Christianity is FIRST,  the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ and all that He is.

The SECOND is the revelation on oneself.

It begins with the realization that LIFE lived without Him being Savior and Lord will not do; that one must be enlightened by the Holy Spirit that he is in great need of GRACE & MERCY of God.  Use your own testimony of how God’s Grace & Mercy made things new in your life.

The THIRD TRUTH I discovered is that the Lord wants us to grab hold of and pass on to others the importance:  What is a TRUE WORSHIPER?

Jesus said,  “You [Samaritans] do not know what you are worshiping [you worship what you do not comprehend]. We do know what we are worshiping [we worship what we have knowledge of and understand], for [after all] salvation comes from [among] the Jews.  A time will come, however, indeed it is already here, when the true (genuine) worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth (reality); for the Father is seeking just such people as these as His worshipers.  God is a Spirit (a spiritual Being) and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth (reality).”  (John 4:22-24 AMP).

Most of the people we come in contact with are like the Samaritans in a sense who have chosen a partial knowledge of God’s Word.  They, like the Samaritans, have selective worship.  They choose which portion of Scripture they like and disregard the rest.

No one can worship in spirit and truth without an honest heart, seeking God’s will through the whole council of the written Word.

That doesn’t mean that a worshiper has to know ALL of God’s Word, but they must have a heart desire in seeking the Lord’s will and a willingness to live out what has already been revealed to them.

Those who want to WITNESS as Jesus did must point out the Lord is looking for the worshipers who approach God through his spirit, to attain a closeness and intimacy with God–a new relationship.

TRUE WORSHIP is when the spirit, the immortal and invisible part of oneself, speaks to and meets God, who is immortal and invisible (William Barclay).

This study in John chapter four is but a GUIDE towards your making connections in your community.  Simply use what you have already been given and He will make the way for you to WITNESS for Jesus.

God has a DIVINE APPOINTMENT for you to keep–be ready and willing to keep it!!

 


CREDITS:

Photos & Map – Google image search.

The New Testament Meaning of “Witness” [Founders – by Ernest Reisinger]

Bible translations as noted in the text.

 

 

 

The Fullness of the Fruit

I remember in my teen years, my folks planting a lemon tree at the back of their property, next to a fence bordering an alley.  This wasn’t an ordinary lemon tree, this was a MEYER LEMON tree.  A cross between a regular lemon and a mandarin orange.  In my opinion, the tastiest lemon ever!

IMG_0834

Now this tree was a special tree to our family, for it bore fruit almost year round.  It wasn’t suppose to, but it did!  It always seemed filled with bright, round yellow lemons.  So much so that it seemed many of the tree’s branches were on the verge of snapping under the weight of the fruit.

Philippians 1:9-11 (NIV):

[9] And this is my prayer; that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight,  [10] so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ,  [11] filled with the FRUIT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS  that comes through Jesus Christ–to the glory and praise of God.  [ I capitalized “fruit of righteousness,”  only for illustration]  

This letter of the apostle Paul to the church at Philippi, a church that he established, is a letter of thanks for their GIFT.  Also, it is a letter of encouragement, to stand firm in the faith, to exhort them in humility and unity.

This particular church was a special delight to Paul.  He had developed a bond of love and mutual confidence with this church unequaled elsewhere.  Consequently this is the most personal of Paul’s letters not written to individuals.

“And this I pray” (vs. 9), his prayer for this church comes to a crescendo in verse 11:  

May you be “filled with the fruit of righteousness…”

The word “FILLED” (pleroo – Grk.) means “filled to all fullness.”  Sort of like the Thompson family Meyer Lemon tree.

Paul is seeking spiritual fruit for the true believers at this church; he earnestly PRAYS for them to be “filled to all fullness”, and the “fullness of fruit” only comes “through Jesus Christ”.  

John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible, he says “none but a good tree can bring forth good fruit, so none but a tree of righteousness can bear fruits of righteousness.”

It is only as Christians abide in Jesus, allowing Christ (John 15:4-5) to live His resurrected life through us (Galatians 2:20) can we be fruitful and glorify God.

So how do we, the CHURCH bring forth SPIRITUAL FRUIT?

stock-photo-blooming-almond-trees-in-the-garden-259285685Well, returning to my ‘love of gardening’ roots…before FRUIT can appear on a tree, it must BLOSSOM FIRST.  Following the natural progression of a fruit bearing tree, not only does the tree blossom first–then leafs out in the Spring–then the FRUIT follows.

In my study this past week, I discovered that believers in Christ are called “oaks [trees] of righteousness [lofty, strong, and magnificent, distinguished for uprightness, justice, and right standing with God], the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.” (Isaiah 61:3, AMP)

By nature, we are barren; not one good blossom growing on us; but when by FAITH, grafted into Christ Jesus (like the lemon tree ingrafted to the mandarin orange tree), then we are able grow and bear fruit.

Here’s a good word to add to your vocabulary: Plagiarism; meaning the belief that original sin do not taint human nature and that mortal will is still capable of choosing good and evil without special divine will”  [See footnote [i] ].

In other words, we have sufficiency of ourselves that brings forth good fruit; but what’s wrong with this claim?  Doesn’t the ROOT contribute to the branches?  Is not Christ’s precise FULLNESS what we receive?

“For out of His FULLNESS (abundance) we have all received [all had a share and we were all supplied with] one grace after another and spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing and even favor upon favor and gift [heaped] upon gift”  (John 1:16 AMP).

JESUS then is that ROOT which shoots up that sap of grace, His branches.  THAT’S US CHURCH!

IT’S HIS GRACE!

“I have come into my garden, my sister, my bride; I have gathered my myrrh with my spice…”  (Song of Songs 5:1 – NIV).

Christ doesn’t say, “your myrrh,” but “My myrrh.”  If Christians are to bear FRUIT, we are indebted to Christ Jesus for it; it’s His myrrh.

And in Hosea 14:8:  “…I am like a green fir or cypress tree; with Me is the fruit found [which is to nourish you].”

“None but a good tree can bring forth good fruit, so none but a tree of righteousness can bear fruits of righteousness”  [Found in John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible].

What is that FRUIT which a sincere Christian brings to the table?

fresh-fruit-plate

I love the fresh fruit that’s available during the Summer months.  They’re fresh, juicy, and beautiful to look at.

And like the plate of Summer Fruit, what we as followers of Jesus should bring to the table year round, should demonstrate the quality of the fruit as well:

  • Inward FRUIT
  • Outward FRUIT
  • Kindly FRUIT
  • Seasonable FRUIT

Bringing forth the Inward FRUITGalatians 5:22-23:

“The FRUIT of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness, faithfulness,   Gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence)…”

The FRUIT listed is sweet and mellow, growing under the Son of righteousness.

Outward FRUIT – Proverbs 15:4:

“A gentle tongue is a tree of life…”

A Christian who is full to the brim with righteousness brings to the table the FRUIT of good speech.  

He also brings forth the FRUIT of Good Works (Colossians 1:10):

“…bearing fruit in every good work and steadily growing and increasing in and by the knowledge of God…”

God will say on the Last Day, “…you show me your [alleged] faith apart from any [good] works [if you can] and I by [good] works [of obedience] will show you my faith”  (James 2:18).

Kindly FRUIT – Psalm 1:3:

“…ready to bring forth its fruit in its season”

That is, one brings forth that FRUIT which is proper for one to bear.

PROPER FRUIT means when we, as Christians, are living holy in our callings and relationships.  As an example, in a JUDGE, Justice is the kindly fruit:  Deuteronomy 16:19 says,

“You shall not misinterpret or misapply judgment; you shall not be partial, or take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and perverts the words of the righteous.”

PROPER FRUIT ON THE TABLE:

…in a pastor, ZEAL (Acts 17:16).

…in a parent, INSTRUCTION (Deut. 4:10).

…in a child, OBEDIENCE (Ephesians 6:1).

…in a husband, LOVE (Ephesians 5:25).

…in the wife, SUBMISSION (Ephesians 5:22).

Lastly, SINCERITY brings Seasonable FRUIT

Psalm 1:3 says, “bring forth its fruit in its season”;

Ecclesiastes 3:11 says that “everything is beautiful in His time”.

ecclesiastes-3-11

 There is a great amount of discernment that comes in to play in the right timing of a thing.  Consider that the seasonableness of a thing, puts a value on it.

For an example, our COMFORTING others must be seasonable.  

Proverbs 15:13 says,  “A glad heart makes a cheerful countenance, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is broken.

When the spirit is broken, a word of comfort spoken in season is putting it in joint again.  

The words that we can say in season in comfort. or sometimes, just being there with someone in time of brokenness to comfort them with a hug, without speaking any words, can be of great value.

Job’s friends pretended to comfort him–but instead of pouring oil into the wound, they poured vinegar.

“Pleasant words are as a honeycomb, sweet to the soul.”

Let all the trees of righteousness bring forth seasonable fruit.  

  • In prosperity, be thankful.  
  • In adversity, be patient.  “To everything there is a season.”

 Consider that the seasonableness of a thing, puts a value and preciousness on it.

In summary, RIGHTEOUSNESS doesn’t come from our good works, but is credited to us according to our FAITH.

The same is true for the Fruits of Righteousness.  

By FAITH we must earnestly seek to complete the GOOD WORK God has already prepared for us; but the FRUIT of our labor comes through Jesus–only by His strength do we have strength.  

Only through Jesus will we have the power to run the race set before us with endurance; and only Jesus can produce fruit in our lives. Only Jesus can bring forth increase.  By our own power we can do nothing.

Jesus said,  “If you live in Me and My words remain in you and continue to live in your hearts, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you.  When you bear much fruit, My Father is honored and glorified, and you show and prove yourselves to be true followers of Mine”  (John 15:7-8).

Living a consistent lifestyle in Christ and His words abiding in us, in order to produce perfect knowledge and discernment, gives us the foundation to build upon.

So our purpose is to be a man or woman who God can use to bear FRUIT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS that God can be glorified.

“RIGHTEOUSNESS is the action and positive result from a sound relationship between God and men” (Quote by John Harvey, pastor of Life Quest Church).

We have God’s Promise–if we love God’s Word and do these things. we will succeed and will bear fruit.

 


Credits & Footnotes:

Footnote [i] : Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Photo Credits:  Google Image Search and Photo Pin.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible, except where noted.

Commentaries used for in this study:  Howdy Partner! (Philippians 1:1-11) by Keith Krell @ Bible.org;  John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible – Philippians 1:11 @ BibleStudyTools.com