Digging The Word
"I rejoice in your word like one who discovers a great treasure." - PSALM 119:162

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Awesome Outcomes

Does your faith have a positive effect on others?

John 4:43-52  At the end of the two days, Jesus went on to Galilee.  44  He Himself had said that a prophet is not honored in his own hometown.  45  Yet the Galileans welcomed Him, for they had been in Jerusalem at the Passover celebration and had seen everything He did there.

46  As He traveled through Galilee, He came to Cana, where He had turned the water into wine. There was a government official in nearby Capernaum whose son was very sick.  47  When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and begged Jesus to come to Capernaum to heal his son, who was about to die.

48  Jesus asked, "Will you never believe in Me unless you see miraculous signs and wonders?"  49  The official pleaded, "Lord, please come now before my little boy dies."

50  Then Jesus told him, "Go back home. Your son will live!" And the man believed what Jesus said and started home.

51  While the man was on his way, some of his servants met him with the news that his son was alive and well.  52  He asked them when the boy had begun to get better, and they replied, "Yesterday afternoon at one o'clock his fever suddenly disappeared!" 53  Then the father realized that that was the very time Jesus had told him, "Your son will live." And he and his entire household believed in Jesus.

Jesus doesn't stay in one place for very long. He didn't waste his time with people that did not react in faith but he didn't stay too long with people that did demonstrate faith. He could have stayed and enjoyed the popularity that he had in Samaria but after a couple of days he moved on.

After the warm welcome that Jesus had among people that were not considered Jewish he went back toward his homeland but once again he didn't encounter people of faith. We don't even get a picture of what his ministry was on that day but we know that they didn't respond.

Time to move on, time to reveal God's love to somebody else, somebody that the Jews would despise. The royal official of Herod's court could be a Gentile or he could have been a Jew that had taken a job working for the government, either way the man was probably despised and rejected.

The official left his home in Capernaum to search for Jesus in Cana. This must have been a last ditch effort to save his son. This guy probably had enough money and the social network to give him access to the best doctors of the day but none of that did any good.

The man seems to have faith that Jesus can heal his son but he doesn't know about Jesus timetable. The verb tense that John uses indicates that he was repeatedly begging Jesus to come to his home and heal his son.

He tries to rush Jesus because he thinks that he needs to get Jesus back to his house. He thought that the travel time could make the difference between life and death for his son. Jesus settles the man's fear by telling him that it is finished, the healing has taken place, Jesus tells him that his son will live. He isn't going to die but does that mean that he is fully healed?

One commentator pointed out to me that the man was traveling home, which was only a day long journey, yet he wasn't home yet when the servants met him the next day. It seems that he really did have extreme faith, it looks like he didn't run home with any anxiousness, I am pretty sure that I would have run home to be sure that my son was okay.

My Faith Affects Others

2 Thessalonians 1:3-4  Dear brothers and sisters, we can't help but thank God for you, because your faith is flourishing and your love for one another is growing. We proudly tell God's other churches about your endurance and faithfulness in all the persecutions and hardships you are suffering.

Most of our prayer time is focused on getting rid of the stuff that makes us uncomfortable and we fail to realize that the uncomfortable stuff is usually the stuff that God is using for our benefit. What if it isn't for our benefit but for the good of somebody in our life? We usually don't consider that the stuff that we don't like is the stuff that God loves to use.

This family and their servants were greatly upset at the thought of losing this boy. The father probably spent a lot of money to see the best doctors in Capernaum. His mom probably cried herself to sleep every night. Somebody probably stayed up with the boy all night. Surely they must have begged some "god" to heal the boy.

These were the worst of times but they were the best of times. Through all of the tears, the grief and the stress a greater good came. The father met Jesus and his reaction to Jesus had an effect on his entire household.

The father believed that Jesus could come to his house and heal his son but Jesus increased his faith and gave him a better understanding of himself so that the man could believe that Jesus could heal him without being there.

Does your faith have an effect on others? Does your faith have a positive effect on others?

All of us have faith that affects others but most of us don't have faith that has a positive effect on others. Too many times we don't put our faith into practice, we beg God to remove the difficulty, we freak out that life isn't going right. This kind of reaction has a negative effect on the people around you that need to grow in faith. They need to see how big your faith is and that you put it to good use.

I need to display faith in every situation because there are people all around me that are watching to see if my faith is good enough to get me through the tough stuff that life throws at me. If my faith fails it can have an effect on many more people than I realize.

Thank you Lord for faith, thank you for the effect that it has had on my household. What a blessing to see that my faith has been contagious and has been passed on to my children. Help me to be strong in faith so that the people around me will see that you are sufficient for every need.
Living In High Definition (focusonthefamily.com)

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Kingdom Work

Jesus focused on his father's business.

John 4:31-38  Meanwhile, the disciples were urging Jesus, "Rabbi, eat something."

32 But Jesus replied, "I have a kind of food you know nothing about."  33  "Did someone bring Him food while we were gone?" the disciples asked each other.

34  Then Jesus explained: "My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent Me, and from finishing His work.  35  You know the saying, 'Four months between planting and harvest.'

But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest.  36  The harvesters are paid good wages, and the fruit they harvest is people brought to eternal life. What joy awaits both the planter and the harvester alike!

37  You know the saying, 'One plants and another harvests.' And it's true.  38  I sent you to harvest where you didn't plant; others had already done the work, and now you will get to gather the harvest."

When Jesus came to the well to meet with the Samaritan woman, he was hungry and weary, it was lunch time and it was a hot day, while his disciples were away getting food he could of found a place to take a nap but instead he was still busy doing his Father's work.

Just like a lot of son's did in that culture, Jesus was in the same line of work as his father, the family business or their trade was usually passed down to the next generation. Seeking to save souls was their work and they were both diligent and very focused to accomplish it.

Jesus would go to great lengths to promote his father's business and he wasn't afraid to miss a meal to go after a "business opportunity." For most of us our main goal in life is to avoid fatigue and to seek out food. We are very focused on our own needs instead of the needs of others and the needs that we focus on are usually our temporary needs. God and his son Jesus are always focused on the ultimate end of bringing glory to God.

Luke 7:34  The Son of Man, on the other hand, feasts and drinks, and you say, 'He's a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and other sinners!'

It is interesting that later on Jesus would be wrongly accused of being focused on his earthly desires. The one that left the riches of heaven was accused of being greedy for the comforts of earth, what a slanderous remark for them to make about the Messiah, he wasn't on our planet to have a party with the humans. I am sure that there were enjoyable moments while he was here on earth, there must have been some fun, but overall he didn't gain any pleasure here to makeup for what he lost up there.

What's Important To You?

1 Peter 2:21  For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in His steps.
Sometimes you get to harvest where you never expected to. The seed that Jesus planted in the heart of this Samaritan woman was already developed and it was already producing a crop. Usually after the seed is planted there is time to sit back and relax and wait but not with the seed that Jesus planted. The harvest is ready and if you don't work now you may lose some of the crop.

How encouraging it is to see a crop so quickly after you have done the work of sowing seeds. Few workers get to see their reward so soon and many never see any harvest after a lifetime of labor for the Lord.

Colossians 3:2  Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.

Just like the disciples, I need to focus on the eternal and develop a harvest mindset. I can easily focus on my temporary needs and forget the eternal needs of the people that need Jesus. Sometimes I focus on lunch, maybe comfort, or maybe the desire to be accepted but Jesus was willing to suffer for the work of the kingdom.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Celebrate The Messiah

Are you excited about Jesus?

John 4:26-30, 39-42  Then Jesus told her, "I AM the Messiah!"

27  Just then His disciples came back. They were shocked to find Him talking to a woman, but none of them had the nerve to ask, "What do You want with her?" or "Why are You talking to her?"

28  The woman left her water jar beside the well and ran back to the village, telling everyone,  29  "Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could He possibly be the Messiah?"  30  So the people came streaming from the village to see Him.

39  Many Samaritans from the village believed in Jesus because the woman had said, "He told me everything I ever did!"  40  When they came out to see Him, they begged Him to stay in their village. So He stayed for two days,  41  long enough for many more to hear His message and believe.

42 Then they said to the woman, "Now we believe, not just because of what you told us, but because we have heard Him ourselves. Now we know that He is indeed the Savior of the world."

None of this makes any sense. A Jewish rabbi speaks to a Samaritan, worse yet a woman, and even worse than that she was a woman with a very bad reputation. Jews hate Samaritans, so why did Jesus need to go there? Why didn't Jesus stop somewhere for food along the way instead of sending his disciples off to get the food and bring it back to him? (John 4:4-9, 8:48)

The woman didn't think that it made any sense, she wondered why in the world this guy was talking to her, and when the disciples returned they wondered the same thing. Chances are that they had passed this woman as they were going to buy their lunch. Perhaps they took a wide path around her; surely, they did not speak to her. Now they come back to find Jesus speaking to her

It all made perfect sense to Jesus. He had a divine appointment to spend some time with her, unlike Nicodemus who went looking to talk to Jesus, she didn't know anything about Jesus. So Jesus went looking for her.

In her excitement she took off without her water pot. She didn't want to be slowed down by a pot that she had just filled with water. She was still going to need physical water but she could haul that thing home later. She wanted to get back to the village to tell everybody that she knew about the Messiah.

As she runs into town she tells them that she met a special man that knew all about her. I wonder if some of them were scared when they heard that. No doubt that some of her ex boyfriend's were there and they were probably concerned that their secret was out.

In her excitement she could have forced her opinion of Jesus upon them but instead she asked them "Is not this the Christ?" It was up to them to decide what to do next. The excitement that the woman had was contagious, everybody in town was running out to the well to see the man that might be the Messiah.

Isn't it amazing that this is the first group of people to get excited about Jesus? Well there was the religious leaders, they got excited when Jesus was making a scene in the temple but thats not the same. (John 2:13-25)

The last time that somebody was this excited about Jesus, for the right reason, he was just a little baby. So far the people that accepted Jesus for who he really is were some lowly shepherds and some wisemen from the east.Somebody finally takes notice and has the proper reaction to the Messiah.

The woman was way ahead of Nicodemus, she didn't have an education in religious studies and she had a far worse background than his. She didn't have the benefit of seeing Jesus perform a miracle like the servants at the wedding where he changed the water into wine. She probably never heard John the Baptist preach. All that she had was one conversation with Jesus on a hot day.

John 8:56  "Your father Abraham rejoiced as he looked forward to My coming. He saw it and was glad."

Father Abraham looked forward to the day of the Messiah as many other good Jews did but God's people lost their focus. They had rebelled against him and ignored his prophets for so long their hearts had grown cold. The gods of the world were good enough for them. They said they believed the Messiah was coming but they were not excited about it anymore.

That sounds too much like us! Many churches today are just as indifferent and lacking in passion as the Laodiceans of Revelations chapter three. Many people today are saved and sour, there is a good chance that they are not saved. How can you be so sour if your eternal destiny has truly been changed and you have escaped such a tragic ending?

Luke 15:32  "We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!"

Salvation and celebration go together! In Luke chapter fifteen Jesus tells three stories of something that was lost which became found. In all three stories Jesus tells us how much joy there is over the lost not being lost anymore. It is time to party, it is time to dance and sing for joy, we should be ready to celebrate when somebody meets the Messiah and their relationship with God is fixed. We should have immeasurable joy for the difference you make in our own life.

1 Peter 1:6  "So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while."

The New Testament believers would be shocked to see how mediocre we are about Jesus. They would be shocked at how much our worship is consumed with self. True salvation is exciting, it offers me new life, I become a fruitful person, and it changed the eternal destination that I deserved.

My joy will be challenged by Satan. While I live on this broken planet I will experience temporary setbacks, times when my joy will wane, but the source of my joy is much greater than the circumstances that I have to deal with. My overall state should still be joyful because I am on the winning side!

Forgive me Lord for being a lot less excited about you than I should be. Help me to comprehend the difference that knowing you makes in my life and help me to appreciate it more.
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