How can we experience God’s life-giving Word? Part 3

“Jesus said to him, ‘Go your way; your son lives.’ So the man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he went his way.” John 4:50

The third way we can experience the life-giving word is THROUGH TRUSTING CHRIST’S PROMISE (John 4:49-50). Tears were probably flowing down his cheeks when the nobleman said – “Sir, come down before my child dies!” (John 4:49). This dad thought Jesus only had the power to heal before his son died and from a close distance. He knew Jesus had the power to help him. How could He withhold it? The next words were more shocking than the first.

“Jesus said to him, ‘Go your way; your son lives’” (John 4:50),  meaning “he will not die now.” “My son lives?” the nobleman thought. Then recovery was guaranteed. What a wonderful promise. It sounded too good and gracious to be true. Could he believe it? Yes – yes, he could. He had no proof, nothing visible to rely upon, just the Word of Jesus. That was all he had. But there was absolute, unwavering authority in that word.

Are you able to take Christ at His Word even though your situation seems impossible? Jesus’ Word is not limited by distance or the condition of the recipient. That’s why we can pray for people who are thousands of miles away from us. Maybe your health doesn’t permit you to go prayer walking around your neighborhood. It doesn’t matter. Christ’s Word is not limited by distance. Nor is Jesus’ Word limited by the condition of the recipient. The nobleman’s son was near death. No doubt, the nobleman could afford the best doctors but they could not cure his son. He probably called the priests but they couldn’t help him. He probably tried every possible means to save his son but without success. He was broken. His only hope was in Jesus.

But death is no match for Christ. No matter how bad your situation is, Christ can overcome it with His life-giving Word. He can give life to a dead marriage… relationship… job… or church. He can overcome a bad habit or attitude. Don’t let circumstances or the condition of your life keep you from asking for His help. He promises to provide if you will only ask Him. Jesus said, “If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.” (John 14:14). If you pray for what He wants and what glorifies Him, He will do it.

Prayer: Jesus help.

How can we experience God’s life-giving Word? Part 2

“Then Jesus said to him, ‘Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe.’” John 4:48

Another way we can experience God’s life-giving Word is THROUGH TRUSTING CHRIST’S POWER (John 4:43-48). “Now after the two days He departed from there and went to Galilee. For Jesus Himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country. So when He came to Galilee, the Galileans received Him.” (John 4:43-45a). Christ wasn’t born in Galilee, but He was raised there in Nazareth and now made His home in the lakeside town of Capernaum in Galilee. So, He was somewhat surprised by the hospitality of the Galileans. He never received any honor in His own country. He was trained at home as a carpenter with no formal theological education. He had received very little recognition as a qualified Rabbi; much less a prophet of God. But now these Galileans were very receptive to Him. Why?

“…Having seen all the things He did in Jerusalem at the feast; for they also had gone to the feast.” (John 4:45b). They had witnessed the power of Christ through the miracles He had performed at the Passover in Jerusalem. They welcomed Jesus as the Miracle-Worker. But He was more than that – He was the Messiah-God, the Savior of the world, whose Word could create an inexhaustible well of life in every heart that believed in Him (John 4:10-14). The Samaritans learned this by listening to Him talk. But the Galileans (Jews) had to see miracles first before they could trust in Him.

“So Jesus came again to Cana of Galilee where He had made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman whose son was sick at Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to Him and implored Him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death.” (John 4:46-47). There was a lot of talk about Jesus in Cana of Galilee because of the spectacular miracle whereby “He made water wine.”(John 2:1-11). And a certain royal official heard about Jesus’ miracles, and so he approached Christ after traveling eighteen miles from his home in Capernaum. His son was desperately sick. He was afraid that his son would die at any moment, so he begged Jesus to make the eighteen miles journey to heal his son.

But look at Jesus’ response. “Then Jesus said to him, ‘Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe.’” (John 4:48). This seems harsh at first, doesn’t it? The “you” (idēte) is plural. He’s talking to a group of people, not just the nobleman. The Galileans were unlike the Samaritans. They needed to see a miracle before they would believe Jesus’ Word. In Sychar, Jesus’ Word had been enough. But in Galilee, the Jews could not believe in Christ without miracles (cf. I Corinthians 1:22-23).

There are people like that all around the world. It is not enough for them to hear the Word of God.They need to see the power of God. And the greatest display of God’s power is a changed life. God calls all believers to live a life that honors Him. But you know what? It’s impossible for you to live the Christian life in and of yourself. You can’t do it in your own strength. But the good news is that God doesn’t expect you to. Instead, He wants to live through you. Only through Christ’s power can we love our enemies… forgive… practice self-control…. and be a positive witness. Only through His power can we find hope and healing.

Prayer: Lord God, there are many people around the world like the Galileans who need to see Your power before they believe in Jesus alone for eternal life. But there are also people like the Samaritans who only need Your Word to believe in Christ alone for salvation. Please use Your word and my actions to influence non-Christians to come to faith in Jesus alone. I cannot live a God-honoring life in my own strength, Lord. I need You to live Your life through me so others will be drawn to Christ in me. Thank You for hearing my prayer. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

A Look into the Future – Part 5 (Video)

This is the fifth in a series of videos about the future as recorded in the last book of the Bible, the book of Revelation. This video focuses on the 1000-year reign of Jesus Christ on the earth.

The Revelation Art is used by permission of Pat Marvenko Smith, copyright 1992. To order art prints visit her “Revelation Illustrated” site, http://www.revelationillustrated.com. Millennial Kingdom pictures are used by permission of GoodSalt at www.goodsalt.com. The music and video scene in this video is used with permission from the producers of the video entitled “The Free Gift.”

How can we experience God’s life-giving Word? Part 1

“And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, ‘He told me all that I ever did.’” John 4:39

I believe more than ever that the church in America and around the world, needs to come back to the sufficiency of God’s Word. What we need more than anything as a church is the Word of God. Not words about God’s Word, not man-made rules and regulations, but the Word of God Itself. God’s Word imparts life to those who receive it. When we gather on Sunday mornings, it is to hear from God, not from the pastor or anyone else. We need a word from the Lord. How can we experience His life-giving Word?

THROUGH THE TESTIMONY OF CHRIST’S PEOPLE (John 4:39-42). As the sun was setting and darkness began to set in, Jesus’ conversations at the well with the Samaritan woman had predictable results. The villagers of Sychar were coming out to Jesus and His disciples – to hear from Jesus Himself. They had an intense interest in what Jesus had to say. These people were unlike any Jews the disciples had ever seen. There were no miracles performed in Sychar. All the Samaritans needed to convince them was the Word of God. After all Jesus’ Word is what convinced the Samaritan woman at the well.

“And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, ‘He told me all that I ever did.’” (John 4:39). Many Samaritans believed in Christ for salvation because of the testimony of the woman at the well. This perfect Stranger knew all about her life – five failed marriages, and now she is living with a man who was not even her husband. Yet Jesus still loved and accepted her. She needed no miracle. His Word was enough as He told her about her life and true worship, so she trusted Him for the gift of eternal life.

The villagers were equally impressed with His Word to her. Some waited to believe until they heard from Christ first hand. So, they went out to Him. “So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days.” (John 4:40). The villagers had an intense interest in Jesus. They clung to every word that came out of His mouth. During those two days at Sychar they probably questioned Him and listened. He answered the questions they asked and did not ask – as He was able to read their hearts.

“And many more believed because of His own word.” (John 4:41). Jesus reaped more rapidly than the woman did. And the villagers were unkind to her. “Then they said to the woman, ‘Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.’” (John 4:42). They had no respect for her immoral lifestyle, so they didn’t want her to think she had led them to the greatest discovery of their lives. So those who had believed Jesus’ Word through her testimony and those who had just now believed after hearing Jesus personally, were united in their attitude toward her. Their words stung, but not too bad. After all, her heart was too full of joy having received the gift of eternal life, to brood over their rejection. Besides, it was Jesus’ Word that had convinced the villagers, not hers. It was Christ’s Word that had produced new life in them, not hers.

These new Samaritan believers now believe that Jesus “is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.” John wants his readers to know that the Samaritans, who were regarded as spiritual outcasts by the Jews, were the first to call Jesus “Savior” in the gospel of John. Although Jesus initially came to save “His people [Jews] from their sins” (Matthew 1:21), He is also the “Savior” for the Samaritans and all Gentiles in addition to the Jews. This designation, “Savior of the world” does not mean everyone will be saved, but that the entire world is savable because of the sufficient sacrifice of Christ on the cross (cf. John 1:29; 12:32; 19:30; I Timothy 2:6; I John 2:2). Of course, only those who believe in Him will receive His gift of salvation and eternal life (John 3:15-16, 36; Acts 16:31).

When sharing your testimony with non-Christians, be sure to include Bible verses so God’s Word can give life to them. Your words and mine are not what give life to unbelievers. It is God’s Word that imparts eternal life. Unfortunately, when I hear testimonies of Christians today, many of them do not include any Scriptures. They emphasize their own experience, but say nothing about God’s Word. We have got to come back to the life-giving Word of God. The Samaritan woman told the villagers what Christ said to her, and we must tell non-Christians what Christ has said to us in His Word. Then and only then, can they receive the life that only God’s Word can impart.

Prayer: Lord Almighty, forgive me for sharing my experiences with lost people more than Your Word. I realize now, that only Your Word can impart eternal life to those who believe in You. Only Your Word can transform a person’s life from the inside out. Thank You for entrusting me with Your Word so I may share it with a lost world. Please prepare the lost to hear and believe Your gospel message through the convicting work of the Holy Spirit (John 16:7-11). In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Living life as a partnership in the ministry

“For in this the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors.” John 4:37-38

People who want to lose weight often need the support and encouragement of other people, correct? That’s why we have Weight Watchers in the USA. Jesus teaches His disciples the importance of working together in the field of evangelism. He said, “For in this the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors.” (John 4:37-38).

In the New Testament times, the reaper didn’t usually sow the seed. While one man might sow an entire field throwing seed into the air, it would take many people to reap that field once the crop was ripe. Now the disciples were about to reap what Jesus and the Samaritan woman had sown in the hearts of the people of Sychar (John 4:1-30).The disciples now saw the crowd from Sychar with the Samaritan woman leading them. They probably realized that Jesus’ conversation with her was responsible for their coming. The disciples now knew what would happen. They would forget about supper and talk to these villagers just as Jesus had done with this woman.

They remembered His words, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.” (John 4:34). Jesus and the woman had sown and now they too could do the will of God and lead these people to believe in Christ alone for His gift of everlasting life. The disciples’ efforts would be well repaid. Heaven would be a richer place for them if they now made a small sacrifice for the will of God (John 4:36).

Evangelism is a partnership ministry. We need sowers and reapers to evangelize our communities and beyond. Evangelism is to be done by all believers, not just the leaders of a church or those with the gift of evangelism. In fact, you cannot be a disciple of Jesus Christ if you are not evangelizing people, because Jesus said, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19). If you are not fishing for men or women, boys or girls, with the gospel, then you are not following Christ. Make your life count for eternity. Follow Jesus and He will equip and empower you to reach people with His gospel of grace.

Prayer: Lord of the Harvest, thank You that I am not alone when it comes to reaching people with Your gospel message. You have provided sowers and reapers to evangelize the world. Together, we can reach the world for Your glory. Please help me to ignore the lies of the enemy which tell me I am all alone and isolated from my brothers and sisters in Christ. The truth is I am never alone. You, Lord, are always with me and You have provided brothers and sisters in Christ all around me. They also are sowing the seed of Your Word in the hearts of unbelievers and  other believers are reaping belief in those hearts. Thank You for our partnership in the gospel. Together, the possibilities are endless. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Living life with an eternal perspective

“And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together.” John 4:36

How many times do we go on a diet, lose some weight, and then put that weight right back on? It happens a lot, doesn’t it? But with God’s diet plan, the results are eternal, not temporal. Jesus said to His disciples, “And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together.” (John 4:36). Jesus says that “he who reaps receives wages” or rewards for his labor. The word “wages” (misthos) is commonly used for rewards in the New Testament (cf. Matthew 5:12; 10:41; Mark 9:41; Luke 6:23, 35; I Corinthians 3:8, 14; 2 John 1:8; Revelation 22:12). The work of evangelism reaps eternal rewards regardless of whether you sow or reap.

The good seed of Jesus’ word had already brought forth fruit in the heart of the Samaritan woman (John 4:1-26). And now, the seed of her words to the villagers was about to bear even more fruit (John 4:28-30). This mass of people from Sychar were approaching Jesus and His disciples, ready to be harvested into God’s barn (John 4:30-41).

Some of us are involved in sowing the Word of God in a non-Christian’s heart. We pray for them and live the Christian life in front of them to prepare them to believe in Christ. But then another Christian comes along and does the reaping when they share the gospel with them and they believe in Christ alone for eternal life. Both are equally important. “Eternal life” in this verse refers to the spiritual harvest. Eternal life is like a big, spacious barn, where people who believe in Christ alone are gathered, like grain, for eternal preservation. The “fruit” refers to the new believers that have been won to Christ.

Part of our reward when we get to heaven is seeing the people there that we helped win to Christ (cf. I Thessalonians 2:19-20). Think about this. As you follow Christ as His disciple, you will have more opportunities to sow and reap for eternity. You may be a sower by praying for the unsaved, getting together with them for Starbuck’s coffee, inviting them to an evangelistic service, or giving financially to an evangelistic ministry. You may be a reaper by sharing the gospel with the lost and seeing them believe in Christ alone for salvation. Either way, when you get to heaven, those people who come to Christ, may come up to you in heaven and thank you for having a part in helping them come to faith in Christ.

A child may come up to you and say, thank you for praying for me to come to Children’s Church, because I came and heard the gospel and got saved. Someone else may thank you for working in the nursery while they sat in the worship center and heard the gospel without distraction. Others may thank you for the music or the food that motivated them to come and hear about Jesus. Everything that you do for the Lord here on earth can make a difference in someone’s life for eternity. And God will reward you for this.

From 1996-2000, there was a TV show called Early Edition. The main character, Gary Hobson, is startled to open his door one day to find a cat sitting on a newspaper, a newspaper that has a publishing date of the next day. It wasn’t today’s newspaper, it was tomorrow’s newspaper distributed today. Every single day, Gary Hobson would receive the newspaper for the next day. So the TV show was called Early Edition because he received tomorrow’s news today. The point of the show was Gary trying to save people from the tragedy that was going to happen tomorrow because he received news about it today. So every day he was rescuing people and changing the destinies of people because he had received the Early Edition.

God has given us the Early Edition in Bible Prophecy. He is telling us today about what is going to happen tomorrow, so we can change the destiny of our tomorrow and the tomorrows of other people today. The tragedy is for us to receive the Early Edition and keep it to ourselves. God has given us the Early Edition about the world we live in, so we can influence its direction by how we choose to live today. You cannot know someone’s house is going to burn down tomorrow and then keep silent about it today.

God has told us that people who do not believe in Jesus Christ will spend eternity burning in the Lake of Fire (John 3:36b; Revelation 20:15). He has also told us that we will be rewarded at the Judgment Seat of Christ for the things we did for Jesus in this life, including sowing and reaping in evangelism (John 4:36-38; cf. Matthew 16:27; Romans 14:10-12; I Corinthians 3:8-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelations 22:12). God wants us to have this eternal perspective because it will influence the decisions we make today.

Prayer: Father God, thank You so much for telling me what is going to happen in the future so I may change the destiny of my tomorrow and the tomorrows of other people today. I am so excited to know that You will reward me in the future for what I do for You today. The rewards I receive from You on earth will enable me to bring more honor and glory to You throughout eternity. Please show me how I may sow and reap the seed of Your Word in the lives of non-Christians today. Thank You for all the Christians who are also doing this today. Please give boldness, wisdom, and favor with others so Your gospel message may spread around this world and reap an incredible harvest before it is too late. In Jesus’ matchless name I pray. Amen.

Living life with a godly passion

“Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!” John 4:35

When Jesus sat down at the well, He was tired and hungry, but this opportunity to give living water to a thirsty soul made Him forget His weariness and hunger (John 4:1-26). The disciples come back and tell Him He ought to be thinking about food as they urge Him to eat (John 4:31).

But Jesus switched from talking about physical food to spiritual food – doing God’s will (John 4:32-34). We are to be concerned with the will of God. We are to be concerned with the salvation of the lost. Can we see the passion of Jesus’ heart? Are we more concerned about physical needs than spiritual? Are we praying only for the physical needs of our church members or are we concentrating on the spiritual needs of those inside and outside of the church?

We are to be PASSIONATE not just because this is God’s will for us. Jesus explains further, “Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’?” (John 4:35a). Jesus’ reference to “four months” was probably an agricultural proverb referring to the approximate time between seedtime and harvest. His point was that between the spiritual task of sowing the gospel and reaping belief, the intervening time may be much shorter as was the case in the present circumstance. The disciples needed spiritual vision. 

Jesus said, “Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!” (John 4:35b). Jesus saw a field of grain with rapidly ripening ears (“already white for harvest”) moving in the evening breeze. But He also saw another movement – a large group of “customarily white-clothed men of Sychar” moving rapidly toward them. Instead of the disciples being preoccupied with physical needs, they were to “look at the fields… already white for harvest.” The good seed of Jesus’ word had already brought forth fruit in the heart of a sinful woman. And now, the seed of her words to the villagers was about to bear even more fruit. This mass of people from Sychar were approaching Jesus and His disciples, ready to be harvested into God’s barn.

Do you sense the urgency in Jesus’ words?! “Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!” How urgent is this harvest? Ask the over 347,000 people (at the time of writing this article) in the world who have lost their lives due to COVID-19. If they could speak from their graves they would tell you how they wish they had sought after Jesus before they contracted this virus. It is too late for them now. Can you imagine that in the last few months thousands and thousands of people may have perished without Jesus?

Approximately 150,000 people die in the world each day. If current surveys are correct, and 13.1% are born-again Christians, that leaves 130,350 going to hell in the world each day. Picture this in your mind, would you? You are driving down main street and you look out the window and see the entire population being dragged down into hell by demons, some fighting and screaming about being faithful church members and some going willingly because they think there is a party waiting for them. Can you see how urgent it is that we share the gospel with the lost?

How many times have we missed the harvest because we have not been watching the fields? Jesus is saying that the fields are ready to harvest. Be ready to reap the harvest. Focus on the field. Don’t be so preoccupied with physical needs that you miss opportunities to reach others with the gospel of grace.

Prayer: Precious Lord of the harvest, help me to see the ripening harvest fields of people in the world today. They may be my neighbors, co-workers, family, friends, acquaintances, people on Facebook or Twitter who are ready to hear and believe Your gospel. Thank You for those who have sown the seed of Your Word in their lives. Please help me to see this harvest as You do – people whom You love and want to save forever from the fires of hell. Use me my Lord and my God to introduce these prepared people to You, the only One who can give them everlasting life the moment they believe in You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.