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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Reflecting on John 3

John 3

John 3 17 (1)

Hi there!

Today’s chapter could take an entire week of devotionals if you ask me!  I highly recommend having a Bible in front of you when going through today’s post.  Because of how much I found within this chapter we are going to have a slightly different format today… I am going to give the verse and then give the reflection question without too much of my own words to add to it.  Take today to really pause and think about your own thoughts instead of just mine, and I will do my best to take a backseat and be more of a guide than a driver.

 

 

Vs 3-8: How does this idea of being born again through baptism play into your life?  If baptism is a decision you have already made, are you still reflecting that “rebirth” in your life?  If you have not made that commitment, how do Jesus’ words impact your expectations for salvation?

Vs. 11-12: Do you fall into the category of those who hear of the amazing things God can do, and yet still do not believe that He can do them?  Do you think you’re missing out on some of the things God has because you don’t accept the “basic” or “earthly” teaching?

Vs. 16: We all know this verse well, but take a few moments longer to stop and think about what it means without just speeding through it.  It’s a popular verse for a reason!  What meaning does it hold for you?

Vs. 17-18: According to these verses, think about the purpose for Jesus in the world.  How can you take and apply that into your own life and relationships?  Does this change how you want to interact with the people that you are surrounded by?

Vs. 19-21: Are there any things in your life you are leaving in the dark?  Why?  What does it mean for you to be vulnerable and seen plainly in the sight of God?  How does that make you feel when reflecting on your own life?

Vs. 26-30:  John very easily could have taken a lot more credit and gained a large following for himself here.  How does his response of becoming less so that Jesus can become greater and sacrificing his own personal status relate to your life?  Is giving God the credit or putting other people’s missions/needs ahead of your own something that comes naturally?  We can all guess what the answer here should be, but it’s much harder to act on that and make a change in our own life.

Vs. 33-34: The “it” here is referring to Jesus’ testimony.  Now that we are in the time post-resurrection, do you feel people, believers specifically, still struggle to accept the truths that Jesus preached?  Go beyond just what Jesus preached about the Kingdom, and think about what he has said about who God is, or what He has done, etc… If people do not accept Jesus’ testimony, what does that mean about their relationship with God?

Vs. 36: This verse is very similar to verse 18, so clearly the message is important!  When an author repeats an idea it usually means to take special note of it.  Why would the author repeat an idea like this?  Is it a theme you see extending beyond just the book of John?  How do you feel your life reflects the truths in this verse?

I hope some of these questions made you think a little bit longer today!  I encourage you to discuss these ideas with others and get their perspective on it as well.  If you can’t find anyone… I’d be happy to share some of the answers and ideas I have floating around in my head.  In my opinion, these kinds of things are always better when you have the opportunity to talk with another believer!

Have a fantastic rest of your day!

~Sarah

 

Thankful for this Current Age

Romans Chapter 10 

 

Building off of the previous chapter, Paul again laments that his brethren have missed their Messiah.

 

But by God’s grace, knowing that His own chosen people would reject His son, He made the saving power of Christ’s sacrifice available to everyone, Jew and Gentile alike.

 

The Jews were full of knowledge, and knew all there was to know about the appearance of their Savior, but they still missed it.  Let that be a lesson to us all, to not be so stubborn and arrogant as to miss truths, whether they be large or small.

 

Another big shift at this time, beyond salvation becoming available to Gentiles, was the idea that righteousness with God was not going to be obtained by works, by keeping the law.  Instead, it is now attainable by confessing with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believing in your heart that God raised him from the dead.  Through these things you will be saved.

 

In verse 10, Paul says “For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.”  How seemingly simple that is, compared with the copious laws and rituals the Jews had to observe to obtain the same outcome.

 

I am so thankful for both of these changes.  We take them for granted today, but for thousands of years, things were quite different.  In fact, for the majority of history, God was the God of his chosen people Israel only, who were under the law, with no access to Christ.

 

To say that Jesus Christ is Lord seems so easy to us today.  But at this time, for a Jew to say this meant that they fully accepted that Jesus was the son of God, which was a very big step for them.  Likewise, for a Gentile to proclaim Jesus as Lord meant that they were putting the Lordship of Christ over whatever Emperor they were under.   As we know, this was a dangerous public statement to make in those times, for Jew and Gentile alike.

 

greg 3

Never take your position in history for granted.  I am thankful for many things based on our current technology, such as automobiles, air conditioning, modern medicine and indoor toilets.  But I am most thankful that we are living in an age where we have access to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

 

Greg Landry

Jesus and Paul, Paralleled

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Acts 23

The Apostle Paul was no stranger to persecution. He saw it from both sides. He was at times the persecutor and the persecuted. While he was a zealous Pharisee in Jerusalem, he targeted Jews who joined the sect of followers of Jesus called the Way. When he became a follower himself and preached the Gospel throughout Asia Minor and Macedonia, he was imprisoned multiple times and warned by friends not to return to Jerusalem, because if he did, he would likely be killed. Yet in chapter 23, we see Paul is not only in Jerusalem but in the custody of the Romans, facing the Sanhedrin.

About a quarter century earlier, another Jewish preacher stood in front of the same group of religious leaders. The name of that preacher was Jesus, and it was because of him that Paul found himself in an identical position. Like Paul, Jesus had also returned to Jerusalem that final time knowing it could mean death. And both times, each was the target of a treacherous plot. But neither Paul nor Jesus were moved from their mission because of this threat. They were both willing to die for the cause.
But there are several important differences between Paul and Jesus during their final days in the Jewish Holy City. Unlike Paul, Jesus put up no defense while in front of the Sanhedrin and Roman rulers. The prophecy in Isaiah 53:7 puts it this way: “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” Paul, on the other hand, started his remarks to the Sanhedrin by stating that he has lived his life with a clear conscience. Then, after inadvertently insulting the High Priest, he cleverly changed the subject from himself to a disagreement between the Pharisees and Sadducees. The ensuing bruhaha allowed Paul to get out of there without facing any penalties.
The following night Paul was told by the Lord that he would not die in Jerusalem but would make it to Rome to testify there also. Despite the fears of his friends, Jerusalem would not be the end of the road for Paul. And this is the other difference between Paul and Jesus. Because Jesus would not defend himself when he had the opportunity, the intimate Passover meal he shared with his twelve disciples would be their last together; the following day he was beaten and crucified.
Paul and Jesus both went to Jerusalem to save lives. The latter accomplished this goal by taking on the sins of the world and offering his life as a sacrifice for all. The former did this by telling any who would listen about that sacrifice and how to receive the salvation offered as a result of it.
Usually, I would say that we should follow the example of Christ. But when it comes to facing charges that are unfounded, we should look to Paul as the model. Yes, Paul was willing to die for what he believed in, but he didn’t intend to because of false accusations. Paul defended himself so he could advance the Gospel; Jesus didn’t so he could guarantee it. We must be willing to die for the cause of the Kingdom, yet always seeking to put ourselves in the best position to champion it.
-Joel Fletcher

Be a Berean

ACTS 17

acts 17 11

In Acts 17 we see three very different cities and their different responses to the Gospel.

Thessalonica hears the word and some Jews and a lot of Greeks believed.  But other Jews did not like how Christianity changed their culture. They liked the status quo and therefore used their influence to stir up trouble for Paul and got him kicked out of the city.  Similar to the rich young ruler there are some people that are very happy with life as it is and just cannot accept the changes required to follow Christ and will fight it tooth and nail to hold on to their old lives.  We cannot hesitate and look back when we follow Christ.

 

Berea is very different.  The Jews there hesitated when they heard Paul’s message, but they studied the scriptures and saw that Jesus did indeed fulfill the prophecies and they believed.  It is very important that we seek out truth and question things that we hear and compare them to scripture. There are too many people in the world today that hold a certain belief just because their pastor or their denomination told them so.  Those people might be right and might have a lot of wisdom and knowledge to pass on, but at the end of the day I am the one that is responsible for my own salvation and I need to know that what I believe is the truth. Deep study is a great way to make your faith your own.

 

Lastly there was Athens, which had been a hub of culture and ideas for hundreds of years and had idols of many different gods from many different cultures.  The Athenians knew that God was out there, but they were searching for him in all the wrong places. There are many people around us today that similarly feel a need for something more in their lives, but instead of finding the one true God they fill that void with idols.  Those idols come in many different forms such as jobs, significant others, money, or belongings. Even though the Athenians were searching in all the wrong places at least they were searching and were therefore open to listening to Paul’s message. I think that Athenian culture is one of the most similar cultures from Bible times to our culture today, and I think that God is likely similarly unhappy at the number of idols that we have placed in our lives.

 

So, to conclude, I would encourage you to let go of your old life, study the scriptures and make them your own, and remove the idols from your life.  If we can do these things then we can consider ourselves to be of noble character like the Bereans.

-Chris Mattison

Listen and Obey

Acts 10

acts 10 34 35

“Do not call anything unclean that God has made pure.”
In Acts 10 Peter went up to his roof and closed his eyes, and God opened them with this vision. For those of us who do not come from a Jewish heritage, this is one of the most important stories in the Bible.  In this story, the disciples come to realize that salvation through Christ is available to everybody everywhere, not only to the Jewish people.   And God has given to us part of the job of spreading His good news.  That can be a frightening challenge but remember that He will first do the hard part Himself. In these verses God prepared Cornelius’ heart to be ready to hear the news before He had him talk with Peter; and He is preparing the hearts of people in your life to hear the gospel from you.  Maybe it is your school friend whom you study with, your brother who has grown steadily away from the church, or your coworker you’ve been working alongside for years.  Nobody is “out-of-bounds” – the Lord wants a relationship with each of His children.
“The Lord is patient, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9 Father, please open my eyes today and reveal the people in my life who You have prepared to hear the gospel.
“…if we want God and are ready to do as he says, the door is open.”  Acts 10:35 (Message) Most of us agree we want God.  But are we ready to do as He says?  In this chapter of Acts, Cornelius, a Gentile, is told by God in a vision to send for Peter – a foreigner – a Jew.  God gives no reason; Cornelius asks no questions – he just does it.  And then waits.    And when Peter comes, Cornelius invites him in and waits again, “ready to listen to whatever the Master put in your heart to tell us.”  Do we trust God enough to simply do what he asks and then wait for Him to reveal what it means?  We are a generation of questioners, of action. I’ve always been full of questions and NOT good about waiting.  How hard it is for me to just listen to God without questioning and then wait – wait for God to reveal His plans, Himself.  But the times I manage to do this; when I usually ignore my natural instincts to do things my way, to “make it happen.” But the times I actually listen to that voice in my heart that says, “wait and listen for God’s direction”, those times are ALWAYS better.    Father God, thank you for knowing what’s best for us.  Help us to learn to wait and listen for your Word. This week, try to quiet your heart so you can hear what your Father is saying. And then do it!
-Andy Cisneros

Don’t Give Up on Them

Matthew 20

for the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard.

In Matthew 20:1-16, Jesus gives a very interesting parable about a landowner who hired some people to work on his land. He hired one man early in the morning, one at 9:00 am, one at 12:00 pm, one at 3:00 pm, and another at 5:00 pm. At the end of the day, all of them received a day’s wage, which they had all agreed to. Understandably, the one who was hired first was upset that he received the same pay as the person who started at 5:00 pm. The landowner simply told him that he agreed to work for that day’s wage and wasn’t being unfair.

 

This parable is talking about people’s salvation. There are some people who have been saved for many, many years; they have dedicated their life to Jesus, served in the Church for years, and made many disciples through their lifetime. Then there are people who come to faith at the very end of their lives, sometimes repenting on their deathbeds. However, in the eyes of God, both those people have the same reward waiting for them: life in the Kingdom of God.

 

There are at least two things we should learn from this parable. The first is that it does not matter when someone comes to salvation; we should rejoice that they came to faith at all! We shouldn’t view them differently than we view someone who has served for years in the church. Everyone who accepts Jesus has received the same salvation, according to Romans 10:9-10. We need to be happy for that individual, not jealous or bitter towards them.

 

The second lesson we learn here is that we should never give up on people. As long as there is still breath in their lungs, we have a shot at blessing them with the gospel. Just because a friend or family member that you know has rejected the gospel right now, doesn’t mean that they will never accept it. There is always an opportunity for their salvation in God’s eyes. Our job is simply to try and plant a seed in their life, and allow God to cause the growth (1 Corinthians 3:5-6). So do not give up on that person you have been working with, no matter how hopeless the situation may seem; you do not know what God could be doing in their hearts.

 

-Talon Paul