Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Miracles (John 4:46-54)

Today's scripture: John 4:46-54

Jesus performed miracle after miracle while He walked the earth. He turned water to wine. He made the blind to see and the lame to walk. He healed lepers. He brought people from the brink of death. He even defeated death itself.

Many followed because of the "signs and wonders" He performed. Yet, His purpose in coming to earth really had nothing to do with these miracles. No, His purpose in coming to earth wasn't to heal bodies. It was to heal hearts; it was to change lives.

Those are the real miracles.

It's the same today. Yes, Jesus can still perform miracles—and He does. I've known people whose cancer should have killed them, and yet they live. I've read stories of people who should be in wheelchairs, and yet they walk.

But I find the stories of changed lives so much more compelling. Drug addicts or alcoholics that are fully clean. Families that have been restored. Rebels that have found peace. Those truly are the real miracles.

Jesus still performs miracles, and people still come to Him because of the miracles they see. You are a walking miracle because Jesus has changed your life. Tell the story of your changed life, and people will believe in Him because of the "signs and wonders" He's done in and through you.

Tell the story of the miracle Jesus has done in your life. It doesn't have to be about being blind and now seeing or overcoming a terminal disease. It can be as simple as your having been lost ... and now you've been found.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Tell Your Story (John 4:39-45)

Today's scripture: John 4:39-45

A few days ago, we looked at Jesus' interaction with the Samaritan woman. After a brief interlude, we come back to the end of her story. After talking with Jesus and hearing about the living water, she immediately went back to the town and told everyone about Jesus. At first, the many of the people believed in Jesus just because of what the woman told them. They believed in Him because of her testimony.

Then, people came out of the city and spent time with Jesus, listening to Him speak, and many more believed in Jesus because of what He spoke. They "believed because of His word."

It's the same today. Some people will come to faith because of the testimonies of those who have had personal experiences with Jesus. Others will come to faith because of their own.

Jesus can and will reveal Himself to the sincerely seeking heart. If someone is looking for truth, Jesus will help her find that truth. I've heard stories of people who had never heard the name of Jesus, but when someone shared His name, they've said, "I know Him."

Other times, though, Jesus will reveal Himself through us. Through our stories. I've been privileged to share my story of God's redemption many times, and sometimes I've been even more privileged to see Jesus touch someone's heart after she's heard my story.

Share your story. Let others know how Jesus has changed your life. And pray that He will reveal Himself to any seeking heart. Either way, people will believe and lives will be redeemed.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

White with Harvest (John 4:31-39)

Today's scripture: John 4:31-39

"... lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white with harvest."

We live in unprecedented times. The accessibility of information is lightning-fast, and we can retrieve data about anything from pretty much everywhere. While this can be helpful and even educational, it can also be confusing, even detrimental.

Anyone can post information on the internet. It takes very little effort these days to create a website or to post on sites, such as Wikipedia. How can we be certain the information we're reading is accurate? As I tell my students, it's our responsibility to make sure what we're accessing is authoritative.

One very good thing about this easy access to information, though, is how many wonderful sites are available that deal with truth and share the gospel message. Many people are seeking truth, and they're trying to find it. They're going to organizations like RZIM, In Touch, or Harvest Ministries, and they're finding biblically-based truth.

These people are ready for the harvest. But many need more than just a website; they need to talk with people who can help them understand what it means to have faith in Christ. They need people who can "reap" what others may already have sown.

We who follow Christ are all laborers for the gospel. Each of us has a responsibility to share the good news of salvation with those who are part of the "white harvest." We also need to help seekers understand the difference between information that is supported by biblical truth and that which is propagated by those with a non-biblical agenda.

Yes, the harvest is ready for reaping, and we must be prepared to labor as God wills.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Samaritan Woman (John 4:1-30)

Today's scripture: John 4:1-30

The Samaritan woman. This is a very familiar story to most of us, so much so that we sometimes skim through it, thinking we've heard it all. Perhaps we're doing it a disservice, though. Perhaps we should take a few moments and read it carefully.

Before you read on, I encourage you to read it again (in fact, read it in a couple of different versions, just to get a new bead on the story).

Now, picture the scene. Imagine yourself to be this woman. You are a Samaritan, a half-breed, shunned by the Jewish people. Yet, here's this Jew, who not only does not shun you, but actually engages you in conversation.

How would you feel? Just to be acknowledged?

Then think about the details. You're drawing water in the heat of the day. Why? Most of the women have either drawn water in the cool of the morning or will come back when the sun begins to set. Why are you there now?

Because you feel shame. You've been divorced five times and are now living with a sixth man. The only reason you've been divorced so many times is because five men have rejected you. Only men could request a decree of divorce.

How does that make you feel? Unworthy. In fact, worthless. The women of the village call you horrid names. The men treat you as a joke.

Yet, here you are, drawing water and this Jew begins to ask you questions. In fact, the conversation itself feels surreal. He offers a living water. At first, you think this means you'll never have to walk to the well again. You'll never have to feel the eyes of ridicule or hear the whispers of scorn.

But then this Man, this Jew, throws a curve, asking to meet your husband. You could lie, but for some reason, you don't want to. Not to this Man. So you hedge. "I'm not married," you say. And He calls you on it. He knows not only that you've been married five times, but that you're not married to your current lover. He knows you.

You had already sensed that He was not a normal Man. And then He reveals Himself to be the Messiah.

And you know He's telling the truth.

You have met the Messiah, the Savior.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Confess and Believe (John 3:31-36)

Today's scripture: John 3:31-36

In so many ways, the gospel is so simple. If we believe in the Son, we will have eternal life. Jesus came to earth to proclaim the truth we read about a couple of days ago: God loved us so very much, He sent His Son, part of the triune God, to earth to pay the penalty for our sins. When we accept the "free gift," we are graciously forgiven for our sin and mercifully given the assurance of eternal life.

Yet we've made this simple truth so complicated. We've made it more about how many good things we do. Too many seem to think that as long as the good outweighs the bad, we'll make it to heaven. But by whose standards? What defines good? And who balances the weight?

There's no way for us to determine good versus bad or how much good is done versus how much bad. We're not going to have to stand before God and justify what we did and how we deserve to be in heaven. No. As long as we have accepted Jesus as our Savior and have confessed our sins, we will enter God's kingdom.

Of course, what we do to serve God will factor into our eternal award, but I don't have time to get into that today. What matters is that we believe in Jesus. But not just believe because the Bible tells us that even the demons believe and shudder (James 2:19). We need to surrender our lives to God, willing to serve Him however He chooses. We need to strive to live to please Him in all we do, say, and think. We need to immerse ourselves in His word and spend time communing with Him in prayer.

We have the very testimony of Christ. We have His life story available. And we know the simple gospel message: confess our sins and believe—truly believe—on Him and we will be saved (Romans 10:9). We will spend eternity with Him.