The Harvest

John 4 36

John 4

Hi everyone!

I hope you were able to find another person to discuss some of yesterday’s questions and got to think deeper about our passage.  Let’s get started on today!

Thought #1 – Vs. 1-25: Like most of the gospel stories, you are probably pretty familiar with this passage of Jesus revealing himself for the first time to a Samaritan woman.  There are a few things that go in this story that are worth taking note of: women usually did not get water at the hottest part of the day, and the fact that a Samaritan woman was there, plus the fact that we see she had multiple relationships that may not have been approved of most likely means she was an outcast within her community.  Beyond that, she was a she.  As a man in the culture at that time, Jesus really wasn’t expected to have a conversation with her.  The significance of this is that Jesus told her that he was the Messiah first, despite her social status.  This represents how Jesus came for all people, not just the Jews and not just those who were already considered righteous.  He came for the outcasts like this woman and gave them an equal opportunity at what he is providing.  I think it’s important to note here that the woman believed that a Messiah was coming and recognized his importance (vs. 25) before experiencing Jesus.  The first step is knowing, and then experiencing.  People won’t be able to experience God’s power, or at least not recognize that it is from God, if they don’t first know.  Our job as believers is to make sure people know about God’s power, not make them experience it.

Thought #2 – Vs. 34-38: The fields are ripe for harvest!!  Jesus is telling his disciples to get out there and go get it!  He’s already done the hard work; the salvation is ripe for the pickin’ (because that’s definitely something that people say…).  BUT, we still must go out and pick the field, friends.  It’s already there, ready to go, ready to bless us, but without that process of accepting it, it doesn’t do anything for us.  A lot of you have probably already “picked the field” for yourself.  You’ve accepted that free gift and that’s amazing!!  But you also have the opportunity to share that gift with others.  Remember, our job is to simply share and make sure people know about this endless field we have to pick from.  Our job isn’t to force people to take this gift, but to show them how we genuinely love and appreciate it!  Who do you see in your life that needs a guide to this field full of salvation?  Are you going to share with them the endless gift you’ve also received?

Thought #3 – Vs. 39-53: People believe and come to know Christ when he is shared with them.  Without hearing of him first, the many Samaritans that became believers would not have let Jesus into their homes to speak to them (vs. 41).  Without first hearing of Jesus’ miracle, the royal official never would have asked him to heal his son, which ultimately led to an entire household of believers (vs. 53).  If these people had not first heard about who Jesus was and what he could do, they never would have had the opportunity to experience him the way they did.  We have to first share Christ before people can truly experience him.  Those who have already experienced him have a duty to continue to spread their own experiences with Christ so that others may have the same opportunities.  The Samaritan woman was not of high standing, yet she was able to share her experience with Christ and because of that brought many more Samaritans to believe as well.  The royal official was in a place of high standing and shared his experience with Christ and because of that brought many more people to believe.  You can be in any position and still spread the message of Christ successfully.  Remember, how can people truly experience Christ if they don’t first know about him?

When I read through this chapter and even when first writing up this devotional I was not expecting it to turn into a message about spreading the gospel.  But the more I spent on this, the more this idea continued to come to me… so at some point I decided that maybe I was supposed to share it! Hopefully this is what you needed to hear or be reminded of today, even if you didn’t realize it either!

Have a good rest of your day!

~Sarah

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Another Kind of Healing – When Pigs Fly

Mark 5:1-19

(But no one is stopping you from reading the whole chapter)

How many of you have ever seen a scary movie? I don’t recommend them. Being scared is not fun, but sometimes we can’t help being scared. Today we’re going to talk about something scary, but fear not! This devotion has a happy ending.

In this segment of Mark, we see Jesus healing another man, but this time, he is casting out demons. This wasn’t an ordinary casting out of demons either. This man that Jesus encountered had an unclean spirit that consisted of thousands of demons (5:9).  The man had been so out of his right mind that he was cast out of normal society and forced to live in a cave where people had tried to chain him up, but not even chains could hold this man down. He would scream and cut himself day and night (5:5). This man is clearly not okay. Yet Jesus still let the man seek him out.

Notice how Jesus is being approached by a man that can literally break chains, but he doesn’t seem to be worried. That is exactly how we should feel knowing that we have the God of Jesus on our side, too. The demons in this man fear Jesus and respect his authority. It says in verse 13 that Jesus “gave them permission.” They obey Jesus! Now the next part of the story is a little weird, but it is very important. The demons went into a herd of pigs and subsequently flew off a cliff. Okay, maybe they didn’t fly, but it’s still an odd thing for pigs to do.

This story is a little different from the story of the blind man that we looked at yesterday. The man who was healed in this story didn’t have a physical impairment; he was healed of a sickness of the mind. These kinds of sicknesses can be even scarier than the kind that affect us physically. One such mental sickness that has become very prominent lately is depression. I know firsthand just how many people suffer from depression these days, especially teenagers, so I want to share with you the story of when I saw pigs fly.

When I was younger, I had a close friend who suffered from severe depression and harmed herself in ways like the man that Jesus healed. Many times we think that self-harm is unique to our generation but this story really says otherwise. This was a really painful experience for me just by knowing that my friend was going through this. I urged my friend to talk to a trusted adult and to see a doctor because I knew that I was not qualified to counsel on this subject. However, there was one way that I was able to help. I offered my prayers. Prayer became a constant for me in this period of my life. I wanted nothing more than to see my friend freed of this demon, her depression. One day, I wanted to pray with my friend, so we went out to a park and sat together praying for hours. I remember my prayer: “God, I know that you have the power to cast out demons. Cast out this demon.” After repeating this many times, my friend looked up and I could see a difference in her eyes. Pigs flew, and her depression has never bothered her since then.

I don’t know whether an actual demon was involved in this story, but depression certainly acts like a demon, taking over your thoughts and actions. Whatever the cause of depression may be, our God is bigger and more powerful and there isn’t anything in this world that disobeys His command.

Don’t forget the ending of the story in Mark. After the man was healed, he wanted to follow Jesus, but he was turned down. Jesus told the man to go back to his family and testify to them. This is just like what we saw in John yesterday. After you are healed, Jesus wants you to make sure that the people you know can see that you really were healed.

Tomorrow I am going to go into the role that modern medicine plays into the healing that we can receive from God.
-Nathaniel Johnson

 

When Sickness is an Opportunity

john 9 3

John 9

There is so much information in this chapter that could make good devotions that it’s almost hard to focus just on the healing! In this chapter, we get to follow the story of a man born without sight. It goes like this: the man is blind, Jesus restores his sight, the man testifies about the healing he received, the man is cast out by the Pharisees and the man is accepted by Jesus.

First, the man is blind. It might be easier to focus on the spiritual blindness that Jesus talks about in verse 41, but I really want to focus on the physical blindness of this man. The most important thing to note in this passage is that Jesus says “neither this man nor his parents sinned” (9:3). Jesus doesn’t mean that the man has never sinned, but he does mean that the man did nothing to deserve his blindness. I firmly believe that this applies to us as well. Whenever we get sick, whenever we know someone who gets cancer or becomes paralyzed, this is not a punishment from God. We didn’t do anything to earn our ailments. That is just the world that we live in; people get sick. But in the same way that sin exists so that God can show us grace (Romans 5:21), sickness is an opportunity for God to show his power. Yet that still doesn’t make sickness a good thing (Romans 6). In fact, sickness is terrible.

Once we have accepted that sickness is not our fault, we need to seek healing. This can mean many things, but I want to start by telling a story. A pastor that I know has been visiting hospitals and praying for the sick for many years. On one visit, he was with a woman who had lost her sight as a side effect of another sickness. He prayed with her and asked that God restore her sight. She remained blind. He prayed for her again yet she remained blind. The woman asked him to pray one more time. He did. She still couldn’t see. As he left, and he didn’t learn this until a time later, the woman saw his back as he walked out of the doorway. God had restored her eyesight.

I tell you this because I see a command in John 6. After the man is healed, he tells everyone that he knows how he was healed by Jesus. In the same way, I think we have a responsibility to share about the healing that God brings about in our own lives. How can God’s works be displayed (6:3) if we don’t talk about them with everyone we meet?

Don’t forget that after the man testifies, he is rejected by some of the religious community. It can be hard to believe someone when they claim a miracle has happened, especially when we don’t experience it ourselves. I think we could all use a little more faith in our lives sometimes. Don’t let blindness come in between you and the great works of God.

The fact that the man is accepted by Jesus afterwards just points a good ending to the story. The man had already received the sight that he had been missing his whole life; it would be such a shame if he lost his faith immediately afterward because of the disbelief of the religious community.

 

Here are your main takeaways:

Sickness isn’t earned.

Prayer is powerful even today.

Tell everyone of the healing that you experience.

Have faith in your God’s works.

Know that Jesus is there to accept you when you are turned away because of your faith.

 

-Nathaniel Johnson

 

The Big Sea Adventure

Acts 27

acts 27 20

I love this chapter! It reads like an exciting adventure novel full of rising suspense, anxious expectation, unfortunate loss, and desperate hope. Now I don’t know a lot about sailing, but it sounds like as soon as they board the Alexandrian ship things don’t go so well. In verse seven we see that they had to sail slowly for a “good many days and with difficulty.”  They arrive at Cnidus with difficulty and then they arrive at Fair Havens with difficulty. This voyage is a lot harder than it should have been and they have lost a lot of time. Verse nine clues us in on the time of year it is by saying “the voyage was now dangerous, since even the fast was already over.” Matthew Henry’s commentary says that it was now late September. They knew they would need to stop soon for the winter because it wasn’t a good time to sail anymore. And Paul warned them to stop, but they weren’t listening to a prisoner’s advice at this time. The captain wanted to get around to a better location for spending the winter.

Isn’t this nice plot development? There is some nice character development, too. Let’s consider the nameless centurion for just a minute. He was in charge of the prisoners and he had already previously “treated Paul with consideration and allowed him to go to his friends and receive care.” Sure, he didn’t listen to Paul’s warning that they should stop travelling, but it seems reasonable to think that the centurion knows a fair amount about Paul. He probably went to the hearing Paul had with Agrippa. He saw the faith, love, and determination of a prisoner unlike any other prisoner he had ever been in charge of I would wager.

The storms get worse. The despair rises and Paul speaks up to assure everyone that God will save them, but not the ship. He tells them to be courageous. Soon, it looks like land is approaching and, while this is good news, a new threat is upon them. Can they safely make it to land? Some try to jump ship and this time it seems like the centurion listens to Paul when he says the men must remain in the ship in order for everyone to be saved.

We are approaching the climax of the story and Paul tells the men to eat and strengthen themselves. He encourages them and thanks God in front of all of them during a time of intense uncertainty. When day breaks will they see land? Will they be able to get to it? The next day finds the ship stuck and being torn apart by forceful waves. The soldiers think they need to kill the prisoners so they don’t go free. This seems like a reasonable plan, but the centurion steps up to protect Paul. What a climax! The ship is tearing to pieces, death is perilously near, and everyone must jump overboard. And the story ends just the way I love for a good story to end; with a happy ending! All 276 on the ship “were brought safely to land.” Was it all just physical salvation? Is there a future salvation for some who witnessed firsthand the power of God? Here is where the reader must speculate and come up with his/her own assumptions.

-Melissa New

Flawed – Intro by Lacey Dunn

Ro3

Happy Monday everyone! Today, you are getting two awesome posts from Lacey Dunn!

Sometimes, we don’t know why God uses characters in the Bible. But, when we look at the people’s lives in the Bible, as well as our own, we can recognize how God can work in the flawed lives of everyone to make them into something beautiful and glorifying to him. Check out Lacey’s introduction in the video below:

 

The memory verse for this week is Romans 3:23-24.

For our email followers, click through this link to view the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DxaNnsSsNlI&feature=youtu.be