Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Keep Your Appointments

Most people regularly make and keep appointments as a part of daily living. Those appointments include doctor appointments, haircut appointments, lunch appointments, soccer practice, work, school, etc. For some people, appointments are honored diligently. Others consider them as mere suggestions.
The story of the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s Well (John 4:1-10) is about divine appointments. Let’s examine the story and make three applications.
A quick cultural lesson is necessary to understand the twists and turns of the story. The woman was a Samaritan. There was much animosity between Samaritans and Hebrews during Jesus’ day. The Samaritan people had a both a Hebrew AND a non-Hebrew heritage.

God’s plan for the Hebrew people included maintaining a pure faith in Him. To accomplish that, He instructed the Hebrews to marry only those that had the same religion (Judaism) or other Hebrews. The instruction was not about race, but rather about maintaining an uncompromised faith in Him. Because of circumstances, the Samaritans had intermarried with others of different religions. This opened the door for idolatry and religious compromise. That compromise was at the heart of the dispute between the Samaritans and the Hebrews.

Hebrew religious leaders, because of the animosity, would seldom travel through the land associated with the Samaritans. In fact, on many occasions, they would travel around the borders of Samaria to avoid the Samaritan people.

Jesus did not honor such practices. The story tells us that on His way from Judea to Galilee, Jesus traveled through Samaria purposefully. At a place called Jacob’s Well, Jesus held a conversation with a Samaritan woman that led to her experiencing saving faith. From this story, we discover three applications.

1) Jesus arranges divine appointments (4:1-6). A divine appointment is a supernaturally arranged meeting of people for the purpose of one speaking truth into the life of another to meet a unique spiritual need. That need may be spiritual transformation, spiritual encouragement, spiritual direction, or some other spiritual need. Jesus chose to travel through Samaria on that day, stop at Jacob’s Well at 6 pm, and send his disciples into Sychar to purchase food so that He could have a life-changing conversation with a Samaritan woman. It was an appointment He was determined to keep.

Today, Jesus causes Christians to cross paths with others, daily, so that we too can speak truth into their lives. Those are divine appointments. They can occur at any time and anywhere. Be constantly ready to speak truth into the lives of other people.

2) Jesus goes to great lengths to reach ALL people (4:6-10). When comparing Jesus to the Samaritan Woman, several differences emerge. He was male and she was female. He was holy. She was a “down-and-outer.” He was a Hebrew. She was a Samaritan. Yet, Jesus went to great lengths to reach this woman with the gospel. Modern disciples must imitate Jesus and go to great lengths to reach ALL people. It doesn’t matter if others look like us, talk like us, or have similar cultures, modern disciples must reach ALL people with the gospel.

3) Jesus is at work in the lives of people, even though we may not recognize it (4:15-24). Because we do not know what God is doing in the lives of people around us, we must intentionally speak gospel truth to all with whom we cross paths. From her responses, this woman was unhappy with her life (4:15) and was struggling with spiritual questions (4:19-24). Jesus knew that and kept a divine appointment with her. To most people, she was simply a Samaritan woman drawing water from a well. To Jesus, He saw her heart and knew she was searching for answers.

God is at work around us constantly. From a human perspective, we can’t always see it. Therefore, we should intentionally speak gospel truth into people’s lives and trust that God will use it to bring life-change.

So what? In response to this story and the practical applications, modern believers should do two things. 1) At the beginning of your day, ask God to give you a divine appointment(s). 2) Ask Him to help you recognize and respond properly to those divine appointments. Remember, keep your appointments.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Just Say “I Do”

Weddings are a big deal in American society. According to TheKnot.com’s 10th Annual Real Weddings Study of 13,000 couples, the average cost of a wedding in 2016 was $ 35,329.00. In Manhattan, the average cost is $78, 464. For a real bargain, a couple can have a wedding for a meager $ 19,522.00 in Arkansas. The point? Weddings are a big deal today.

Weddings were a big deal in Jesus’ day as well. Certain social and legal obligations surrounded the wedding events among the Hebrew people.

Jesus attended a wedding in the small town of Cana during his first few days of public ministry. There, Jesus performed his first miracle. Remember, the goal of a miracle is belief.

A crisis occurred at the wedding described in John 2:1-12. The groom’s family ran out of refreshments. That was a huge social faux pas. Jesus’ mother, Mary, turned to Jesus and asked Him to fix the problem. Jesus instructed the servants at the wedding to fill several clay jars with water and then present a cup of “water” to the one in charge of food and drink at the wedding. Jesus had transformed the water into wine. Judging from the head steward’s reaction, it was pure and not watered down.

Three practical life-principles emerge from this story.

1) To see Jesus work in your life, do whatever He says. Mary told the servant to “do whatever He says.” As a result, the power of Jesus was demonstrated as he changed the very molecular structure of the water. To see Jesus work in your life, you must do what he says. Obey Him.

2) Jesus can bring joy to any situation. Wine, in its various forms, was symbolic of joy. Amid a crisis, Jesus restored joy to the ceremony. Whether you are experiencing difficult situations, devastating circumstance, or a disastrous event, submit it to Jesus and ask Him to bring joy to it. Today, why don’t you choose JOY?

3) Jesus involves Himself to influence our faith. Jesus involves Himself in our lives through providence and through divine intervention. Whether His involvement is the supernatural arrangement of circumstance and events to accomplish His will or direct intervention, Jesus always desires to stretch and grow your belief.

The point? Just say “I Do” to Jesus! When Jesus is involved, things change.