1 Jesus knew the Pharisees had heard that he was baptizing and making more disciples than John 2 (though Jesus himself didn’t baptize them—his disciples did). 3 So he left Judea and returned to Galilee. 4 He had to go through Samaria on the way. 5 Eventually he came to the Samaritan village of Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime. 7 Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.”8 He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food. 9 The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?”—John 4:1-9 (NLT)
Jesus didn’t need this woman or anyone else to draw the water for Him. He needed a point of contact with her, so He asked her for water. She, being a Samaritan was definitely surprised that a Jewish stranger would speak to her at all. But Jesus knows how to reach each one of us. Although she was totally unaware of it at the time, Jesus had a plan for her. He “needed” her to evangelize a whole town. Isn’t it strange that His disciples were already in town, why couldn’t they evangelize the town? Because Jesus had a plan for this woman to be His witness for this town. When God calls us to witness to someone, do we ask “why”? There are hundreds of churches with pastors and teachers, why can’t they do the witnessing? Because God loves us and He has a plan for each of us to be a part of His work here on earth. Jesus doesn’t “need” us anymore than He needed this woman, but His plan includes each of us. Don’t cripple the Church body by refusing to do your part.
1 So get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech. 2 Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, 3 now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness. 4 You are coming to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God’s temple. He was rejected by people, but he was chosen by God for great honor. 5 And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God.—1 Peter 2: 1-5 (NLT)
Just as we needed our milk as physical babies, we need pure milk as spiritual babies. We need to become well grounded in the basics of Christianity so that we can stand against temptations to go back into the lifestyle that we lived as sinners. We are new creatures in Christ Jesus and we need to learn a new language and a new way of walking. Faith comes by hearing, so we need to hear the Word everyday. Just as our children learn to read by reading out loud to us, we need to practice reading a few verses out loud every day. Tell God every day that you love Him and want to be obedient to Him. Just as hungry babies cry out for their nourishment, there are times in our lives when we need to cry out to God for guidance from His Word. As we study, meditate, and grow, we will be able to take our place as building blocks in God’s body, the Church. We are his holy priests and should daily offer ourselves as living sacrifices that please God. 12 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him–Romans 12:1 (NLT)
Once we have made progress on “the milk” of the Word, we can move on to solid food. 14 Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.–Hebrews 5:14 (NLT)
5 Listen, my dear brothers and sisters! Didn’t God choose poor people in the world to become rich in faith and to receive the kingdom that he promised to those who love him? 6 Yet, you show no respect to poor people. Don’t rich people oppress you and drag you into court? 7 Don’t they curse the good name of Jesus, the name that was used to bless you? 8 You are doing right if you obey this law from the highest authority: “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” 9 If you favor one person over another, you’re sinning, and this law convicts you of being disobedient.–James 2:5-9 (GW)
We are all familiar with the commandment that Jesus called the second most important commandment. We believe it, but how do we walk that out in our everyday lives? How do we show the world around us that we love Jesus and that we love them? Of course, we can see those in need physically, financially and materially. We should always fulfill those needs as much as we possibly can. But what about those with spiritual needs? If our neighbor had a deadly disease and we had the cure, would we withhold it? Yet, there are those in our families, our circle of friends, and in our neighborhood, who have a deadly disease called sin. 15 Your desire grows inside you until it results in sin. Then the sin grows bigger and bigger and finally ends in death–James 1:15 (ERV)
We have the cure for that disease, why don’t we share it with everyone who has not accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior? Remember, we were once infected with that disease and someone shared the cure with us. “Go and do likewise”.
7 Faith led Noah to listen when God warned him about the things in the future that he could not see. He obeyed God and built a ship to save his family. Through faith Noah condemned the world and received God’s approval that comes through faith. 8 Faith led Abraham to obey when God called him to go to a place that he would receive as an inheritance. Abraham left his own country without knowing where he was going. 9 Faith led Abraham to live as a foreigner in the country that God had promised him. He lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who received the same promise from God.10 Abraham was waiting for the city that God had designed and built, the city with permanent foundations.-Hebrews 11:7-11 (GW)
God spoke to Noah and told him to build an ark for his family because God was going to send a flood on the earth to destroy it completely. At this time, the earth was watered with dew from the ground, There had never been a rain, nevertheless, Noah obeyed God and built the ark. Because Noah was faithful to be obedient, he, his family and the animals were saved to renew the earth after the flood. Abram was 75 years old and had no idea where Canaan was when God told him to leave his home in Haran and go to a land that God had promised him. Abram was renamed Abraham which means “the father of many”. Although Abraham made many mistakes, he always returned to his trust and faith in God. Because of his faithfulness, he was able to purchase a burial plot in the land of Canaan and years later, Moses, then Joshua, led the children of Israel to the Promised Land.
11 But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have confessed so well before many witnesses. 13 And I charge you before God, who gives life to all, and before Christ Jesus, who gave a good testimony before Pontius Pilate, 14 that you obey this command without wavering. Then no one can find fault with you from now until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. 15 For at just the right time Christ will be revealed from heaven by the blessed and only almighty God, the King of all kings and Lord of all lords.—1 Timothy 6:11-15 (NLT)
We are to “reject every kind of evil” (1 Thess. 5:22). In Matt 5:6, we are reminded “to hunger and thirst after righteousness and we will be filled”. Every day, there is spiritual warfare being waged around us. We must fight the good fight and stay committed to obeying Jesus Christ and His commands to us. We must continue this fight until we are called home to be with Jesus or until He returns to take us home with Him. If we remain steadfast in the faith, Jesus has a home waiting for us that is so magnificent and wonderful that the human mind cannot even imagine what it will be like. No matter how hard the struggle here on earth, heaven will, indeed, be more than worth it all.
1 Never speak harshly to an older man, but appeal to him respectfully as you would to your own father. Talk to younger men as you would to your own brothers. 2 Treat older women as you would your mother, and treat younger women with all purity as you would your own sisters. 3 Take care of any widow who has no one else to care for her. 4 But if she has children or grandchildren, their first responsibility is to show godliness at home and repay their parents by taking care of them. This is something that pleases God. 5 Now a true widow, a woman who is truly alone in this world, has placed her hope in God. She prays night and day, asking God for his help.–1 Timothy 5:1-5 (NLT)
If we all followed these instructions, our world would be a much better and happier place. We need to treat everyone with respect and love, particularly those that are older and/or less fortunate than we are. If each of us practiced this and handed down a tradition of helping to our children, God would be much more pleased with our lifestyles. Jesus said that not feeding the hungry, not clothing the naked, not giving drink to the thirsty, not visiting the sick and in prison, was the same as not doing it for Him. 45 “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’–Mathew 25:45 (NLT)
The only way that we can show love and kindness to Jesus is to show love and kindness to those around us.
6 And now, dear brothers and sisters, we give you this command in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ: Stay away from all believers who live idle lives and don’t follow the tradition they received from us. 7 For you know that you ought to imitate us. We were not idle when we were with you. 8 We never accepted food from anyone without paying for it. We worked hard day and night so we would not be a burden to any of you. 9 We certainly had the right to ask you to feed us, but we wanted to give you an example to follow.10 Even while we were with you, we gave you this command: “Those unwilling to work will not get to eat.” 11 Yet we hear that some of you are living idle lives, refusing to work and meddling in other people’s business. 12 We command such people and urge them in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and work to earn their own living. 13 As for the rest of you, dear brothers and sisters, never get tired of doing good.–2 Thess. 3:6-13 (NLT)
Paul warns the new converts about idle minds and idle hands. We should show others the love of Jesus Christ by being a good example to them. Paul worked as a tentmaker to buy his own food. He admonishes us to always be a help and not a burden to those around us. We should encourage each other in doing good deeds and helping unbelievers. If there are those among us who are unable to work either permanently or temporarily, we need to help provide their needs. Jesus tell us that when we do this for others here on earth, it is the same as doing it for Him. We should always be working for our Lord and Savior. James tells us:: 17 Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.-James 4:17 (NKJV)
When we see a need, we need to meet that need to the best of our ability. Doing good works here on earth is how we lay up rewards in heaven.
20 You died with Christ and were made free from the powers that influence this world. So why do you act as if you still belong to the world? I mean, why do you follow rules like these: 21 “Don’t eat this,” “Don’t taste that,” “Don’t touch that”? 22 These rules are talking about earthly things that are gone after they are used. They are only human commands and teachings. 23 These rules may seem to be wise as part of a made-up religion in which people pretend to be humble and punish their bodies. But they don’t help people stop doing the evil that the sinful self wants to do.–Colossians 2:20-23 (ETRV)
Jesus came to set us free from the captivity of our sins. When we spiritually died with Christ and we were raised up again, we were set free from the powers of this world. Our lifestyles should reflect that death and resurrection. We should live our lives free from old laws and traditions. As Jesus instructed Peter in Acts 11: 9 The voice spoke again from heaven, ‘Do not consider anything unclean that God has declared clean.” But we must never let our liberty be a stumbling block to outsiders or those that are weaker. We should use our liberty in Jesus to attract others to Him. We are to be filled with the Spirit of the Living God and led by His directions. Only the love of God and His Spirit abiding in us can stop us from doing the evil things that the flesh continues to want to do. We should be Spirit-fed and Spirit-led. Will we be accused of trying to be little “Jesuses”? Probably so, but is there anyone better for us to attempt to mimic than our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ?
1 Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? 2 Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. 3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.–Phil. 2:1-4 (NLT)
As Christians, we find encouragement, comfort, love, and fellowship when we meet together on a regular basis. God instructs us to do this in Hebrews 10: 24 Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. 25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. (NLT)
Most of us have heard the example of taking one red-hot ember from the fireplace and placing it by itself. It quickly loses its glow and turns from red to gray to black. But, if you take the ember and place it back in the fireplace with the other embers, it quickly begins to glow and becomes red-hot again. We are like that ember, we need to be with other Christians so that we don’t lose our glow and our passion for Jesus. The more we stay together and study together, the more likely we are to agree quickly and wholeheartedly with God and with each other. Be humble and always look out for others. Think of others as being better than yourself. If we do this, we will be of one mind and we will please our Lord and Savior. Jesus sent His disciples out 2 by 2, that is our example when we go out to witness. Then we come back to the fireplace (your study group) to be reheated so that we can go out again.
1. Jesus called the twelve apostles together and gave them power and authority over every demon and power and authority to cure diseases. 2 He sent them to spread the message about the kingdom of God and to cure the sick. 3 He told them, “Don’t take anything along on the trip. Don’t take a walking stick, traveling bag, any food, money, or a change of clothes. 4 When you go into a home, stay there until you’re ready to leave. 5 If people don’t welcome you, leave that city, and shake its dust off your feet as a warning to them.” 6 The apostles went from village to village, told the Good News, and cured the sick everywhere.–Luke 9:1-6 (God’s Word Translation)
The apostles spent somewhere between 2 and 3 years walking with Jesus. They learned about the Kingdom of God from His words and His actions. Over and over, they were amazed at the miracles He performed. And John tells us that if all the miracles that Jesus performed had been written down in books, the whole world would not be able to contain them. Wouldn’t it be great to have been an apostle with Jesus at that time? Maybe, maybe not. Re-read verses 3 and 4. Would we really jump at the chance to follow those instructions? I think most of us would not want to leave our comfort zones and go on such a mission. Salvation is free and simple. but walking out the whole plan is tough. “Lay down your life, take up your cross and follow me.” Do you hear the call?