God

Encouragement verses Compliments

Here’s some great suggestions on how to take a compliment and how to be encouraging to those around you!

God, please show me something today...

I want to address a couple issues: How do we humbly handle compliments?  Is there a difference between compliments and encouragement?  I’ll start with the second question and as I answer the second, I’ll have already answered the first.  

Encouragement: Affirms who you are in Christ!  Compliments: Affirms what you do or what you have.  Who you are in Christ is changeless.  What you do and what you have changes.  Sometimes you do well, other times you don’t.  Sometimes you have a lot of money, that money can go down the tube with the falling economy.  

Here are some examples of compliments:

  1. You “have” a nice car 
  2. You “have” a good brain
  3. You “did” a good job leading worship
  4. You “have” the best sermon illustrations
  5. You are funny (which really means- you “have” humor)
  6. You “have” a real prophetic gift
  7. You “know” the Bible really well (which really…

View original post 1,798 more words

Advertisements

Hi, My Name is Amber, and I’m a Recovering Sinner.

I know this may seem strange for some people, but there are times were I find myself addicted to my past. Unable to let go of the sins that God has already forgiven me for; running back to my vomit, and I don’t know why I expect anything to feel different than the last time. Has anyone else felt this way? Like no matter how deeply I know I’m forgiven, I keep looking back to that time and reliving the hurt? God gave me a word about that and I thought I’d share it here with you this morning.

For me, I’m going to have to look at myself like I’m in a recovery program. Almost like a rehab for Christians who have a hard time letting go of the past. So I’m going to slightly adapt the Twelve Step Program to work for the Recovering Sinner: Sinner’s Anonymous.

1. We admit we were powerless over sin—that our lives had become unmanageable.

I will admit that only God has the power over sin, and that my life is a mess when I try to do His job…

2. Come to believe that God can restore us to sanity.

I will to stop doubting that God can and will do a miracle in my life.

3. Make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God.

I chose to turn over all of my past, good and bad, to God. Trusting Him with my life and my well being.

4. Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

I will take stock of all the junk I keep picking back up and hold it up to His revealing light.

5. Admit to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

I will finally confess that I have a hard time forgiving myself of my past and I will find someone I can call on to help me to remember that I’m a forgiven child of God.

6. Be entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

I will be open and cooperate with God as He heals my heart.

7. Humbly ask Him to remove our shortcomings.

I will acknowledge that I am flesh and ask God to remove the thing that is in me that causes me to doubt His forgiveness.

8. Make a list of all persons we have harmed, and become willing to make amends to them all.

I will make a list of all the people my repeated doubt has hurt and apologize, as well as try to make things right.

9. Make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

I will be aware of anytime my doubt hurts someone and immediately apologize and try to make things right.

10. Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.

I will continue to be aware of my feelings and doubts, asking God to forgive me as soon as I do.

11. Seek through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understand Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

I will continually seek God’s will for my life and the power to carry out His will through prayer and meditation on His Word.

12. Have had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we try to carry this message to sinners, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

I will grow closer to God and Jesus through this process and reach others with His message of hope for the lost, and I will continue to practice these steps throughout my walk.

I have to believe that I’m not the only one who feels this way, so if you’re struggling with this too, know that you’re not alone. Reach out and quit trying to do this by yourself. That’s what the kingdom is all about, a support system. Lean on other strong Christians so you can grow strong enough to be leaned on one day…
x,
Amber

“8 Keys to Knowing God’s Will For Your Life” by Chris Russell

When I was a young man, I seemed to continually wrestle with knowing God’s will for my life. I wanted more than anything to follow His plan. Interestingly, now that I’m “old” (currently 47 years old), I still wrestle with doing His will in my life. I have come to learn that this is not just something that a young person does early in life; it is a lifelong pursuit in order to stay in the exact center of His plan.

So, then, how can we know God’s plan for our lives? Over the past twenty-five years that I have been in ministry, I have discovered eight vital keys to knowing God’s will. Here they are:

1) Walk with God.

For starters, if you are interested in knowing God’s plan for your life, then you must learn to walk with God. You need to develop a relationship with Him. Christianity is all about relationship rather than just religion.

And so you must cultivate your relationship with God. You must seek to know Him and not just seek to know about Him.

You will cultivate that relationship best by spending time in His Word, taking time for prayer, and taking every opportunity you can to be involved in church and small group Bible study opportunities. When you seek these disciplines in your life, God will begin the first steps to revealing His plan to you.

Proverbs 3:5-6

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

2) Surrender your will to God’s.

Many times when we say we are seeking God’s will, what we are really wanting to say to God is this: “OK, God, here’s what I’m planning to do. Now I need you to rubber stamp this, all right?” I must tell you that this is not really effective in finding His true will.

Before God will begin to reveal His will to you, you must be committed to doing whatever it is that He desires for you to do. God will likely be slow to show you His plan if He knows you will likely not do that plan anyway.

Romans 12:1-2

1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Jesus was willing to die for us, so shouldn’t we be willing to live for Him? When we surrender to Him, that is when He really begins to direct our steps.

3) Obey what you already know to be God’s Will.

Many people seem to want to know what God’s plan is for their lives, but they overlook the fact that 98% of His will is already delineated carefully through His Word. God is very clear about many, many aspects of His will. For instance, it is clearly His plan that we abstain from sexual immorality (1 Thessalonians 4:3).

If we do not obey the things that God has shown us clearly to be His will, why would we think He would reveal any further information regarding His plan for our lives? Obedience is an important first step.

4) Seek godly input.

One key component to finding God’s will is to seek the input of godly advisors in your life. If you don’t currently have 3-4 godly mentors, then I would highly recommend that you seek them out right away.

Think of it this way: you should understand that you are basically a composite of the five people you spend the most time with. So, then, it is vital that you choose those five people well. If you choose to surround yourself with godly advisors, they will be instrumental in helping you discern God’s plan for your life. But if you surround yourself with people who are far from God, your hope of finding His best for your life will be greatly diminished.

Proverbs 11:14

Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.

The church is designed to help you greatly with this. I would encourage you to be in church every single time the doors are opened. The more you involve yourself with a community of believers, the greater your chances will be of finding godly men and women who can help you discern God’s will.

5) Pay attention to how God has wired you.

God has created you to fulfill a specific role in this world. There is no one else who can achieve completely what God has purposely created you to do.

The Apostle Peter gives us this admonition:

1 Peter 4:10

As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

God has gifted every one of us to perform a special mission for which we alone were created. How amazing is that? Wow!

So, when you seek to discover God’s will for your life, pay attention to how He has gifted you. His plan for you will always be directly related to the gifts that He has bestowed upon you. The great news is that you will automatically be good at whatever it is that He has called you to do!

6) Listen to God’s Spirit.

I experienced a major turning point in my own prayer life when I learned simply to shut up while I was praying. That may sound odd to you, and it seemed odd to me at first.

You see, I used to do all the talking when I prayed to God. But then, several years ago, I read Bill Hybel’s book, Too Busy Not to Pray. That book completely changed the way I approached God through prayer. Since reading that book, I have added a significant component to my prayer life: listening. I take time to listen to what God might have to say to me.

Practically, the way I go about this is to bring a notepad with me when I sit down to pray. Then I write at the top of several pages things like the following:

  • “What is the next step in my career?”
  • “What is the next step in my ministry?”
  • “What is the next step for my family?”
  • “What is the next step for my marriage?”
  • “What is the next step in my education?”
  • “What is the next step in my finances?”

During my prayer time, I meditate on questions such as the above. Often, God will start flooding my heart with ideas and information regarding one or more of those questions. I write as fast as I can as He speaks to my heart. What a glorious experience that is to sense His Spirit on me, guiding my thoughts and words.

Through experiences like this, He has shown me many times with great clarity what His will is for my life. I long for those experiences when He speaks to me like that. Those times are truly life changing.

John 10:27

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.

7) Listen to your heart.

In addition to listening to the Spirit, I also recommend listening to your heart. To understand my point here, consider the following passage:

Psalms 37:4-5

4 Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. (NKJV)

I love this passage, because it shows me that, when I am walking with the Lord, He will actually let me do many really cool things that I actually love to do! When you are close to Him, He actually begins to shape your desires so that you desire the things that He has already called you to do.

So then, His plan actually becomes a super-exciting adventure. I always have the most fun in life when I am doing God’s will. And that is because He shapes my “wanter” to want to do the things for which He has actually created me.

8) Take a look at your circumstances.

God often clearly demonstrates His plan for our lives by lining up circumstances in obvious ways. And He also shows us what His will is NOT for us to do in that same way. It is not His will for you to take the job that is not offered to you. If you are 5’ 6” tall and weigh 125 lbs., it is not likely that God has created you to play professional football.

Over the years, I have discovered that God is pretty good at opening and closing doors. He even did that for the Apostle Paul and his enterouge in Acts. Take a look at this passage:

Acts 16:6-10

6 Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia.

7 After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them.

8 So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas.

9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.”

10 Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them.

So, even Paul had to face closed doors in his ministry. God often uses closed doors to show us clearly what He does NOT want us to do. And He also uses open doors at times to show us what He DOES want us to do. Of course, this does not mean that every open door is definitely God’s plan, but it does help to give you some basic direction.

A Closing Thought:

The next time you begin to ponder God’s plan for your life, I would encourage you to mull over the above eight keys. Use these principles to help you to hone in on His plan. And when you seek His will earnestly, you will find it!

“Becoming The Best Me For Christ!” by A. Miller

On my journey through discovering God’s plan for my career, I’ve always maintained that His Will is perfect and no matter what I think or want, I will follow His direction.  When I started down the road to my future career, my end goal was simple.  Make a better life for my family and to take care of my Grandmother when the time came for in-home care.  That lead me to getting my Patient Care Technician certificate last spring.  The thought of going back to school put me way out of my comfort zone, and when I learned that there would be rotations in the Emergency Department… well lets just say God and I had quite a lot of conversations about guidance and faith.  But as usual, God knew what He was doing, and I was hooked on Emergency Medicine ever since.  I have since gotten my Emergency Medical Technician certificate for both the state of Ohio and my national registry card.  I volunteer for my local fire department and will be getting my volunteer fire card later this fall.

With all that said, I knew from my talks with God that my scholarly journey wasn’t over.  So, once again, I headed out of my comfort zone and into the collegiate lifestyle.  I didn’t know at first which path to choose, whether it be getting my Nursing degree or something along those lines, but through it all I knew from past experiences that God wouldn’t lead me astray.

I began my university life at a popular online college, even going as far as taking my basic courses.  But something kept nagging at me, a feeling that this wasn’t where God wanted me to be.  So I began talking with the school about switching my major and the process stalled.  That’s when God’s mighty hand moved in a undeniable way.  I got a call from Ohio Christian University, my first pick but at the time I never heard back from them.  The adviser said that all of my paperwork was in order and I could start within the month if I was still interested.  Of course I was, because now there was a program available that wasn’t before: a BA in Healthcare IT.  This degree would combine my two skills, computers and taking care of people.

Praise God for His faithfulness and His wondrous plans for my life!  I look forward to all the things He has planned for my future!

“God Seeks People to Worship Him in Spirit and Truth” by John Piper

16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” 17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”  John 4:16-26

 

If people are spiritually asleep, you have to shock them, startle them, scandalize them, if you want them to hear what you say. Jesus was especially good at this. When he wants to teach us something about worship, he uses a whore. “Go call your husband!” “I don’t have a husband.” “That’s right. But you’ve had five, and the man you sleep with now is not your husband.” She was shocked. We’re shocked. But Jesus simply sits there on the edge of the well with his hands folded, looking at the woman with razors in his eyes ready to teach us about worship.

Worship and Real Life

The first thing we learn is that worship has to do with real life. It is not a mythical interlude in a week of reality. Worship has to do with adultery and hunger and racial conflict. Jesus is bone-weary from the journey, hot, sweaty, thirsty—and he decides: “Yes, even now, just now I will seek someone to worship God—a harlot, a Samaritan adulteress. I will show my disciples the worship that my Father seeks and how he seeks it in the midst of real life from the least worthy. She is a Samaritan. She is a woman. She is a harlot. Yes, I will even show them a thing or two about how to make true worshipers out of the white harvest of harlots in Samaria.”

Jewish and Samaritan Animosity

Let’s go back to the beginning, John 4:4–6. “Jesus had to pass through Samaria on his way to Galilee. So he came to a city of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there and so Jesus, wearied as he was with his journey, sat down beside the well. It was about noon.” Before we meet this woman who comes to the well, recall who Samaritans were. They were the remnant of the northern Jewish kingdom who had intermarried with foreigners after the chiefs and nobles had been carried into exile in 729 BC. They had once built a separate worship place on their own Mt. Gerizim and they rejected all of the Old Testament except their version of the first five books of Moses. The animosity toward Jews was centuries old.

Raising the Levels of Amazement

Jesus walks right into this hostility, sits down, and asks for a drink (v. 7). The woman at the well is amazed that Jesus would speak to her. “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” Instead of answering her directly, Jesus shifts the focus of her amazement up a level. He says (in v. 10), “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” Jesus says that the really amazing thing is she is not asking him for water. He calls it living water and he calls it the “gift of God.”

But the woman doesn’t rise very high. Her background has not made her a prime candidate for spiritual insight. She was more like the three guys behind Karsten and Benjamin and me at the Twins game on Thursday who kept saying how full of beer they were and arguing endlessly like five year olds about whether Eisenreich should have tagged up on third base. She was simply enslaved to the flesh. Her spirit was dead. She simply says (vv. 11–12), “How can you give me water when you don’t have a bucket? And if you want me to drink water that doesn’t come from Jacob’s well, then you must think you’re greater than Jacob. Well, if this water was good enough for Jacob, it’s good enough for me.” She’s not on Jesus’ wavelength yet at all.

So Jesus again lifts the level of amazement (vv. 13–14): “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The amazing thing is not just that I can give you water without a bucket, but that the water I give takes away thirst forever and, even better than that, it will turn you into a spring that brings eternal life to yourself and others.

Living, Thirst-Quenching Water and a Fountain of Life

What did Jesus mean? Proverbs 13:14 says, “The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life.” Perhaps, then, Jesus meant that the wisdom he gives satisfies the soul and turns a person into a fountain of life. Perhaps the water is his teaching. But the closest parallel to verse 14 is John 7:37–39, “Jesus stood up and proclaimed, ‘If anyone thirst, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.’ Now this he said about the Spirit which those who believed in him were to receive.” Just likeJohn 4:14, this passage speaks of a drinking in and a flowing out. But here John makes plain that Jesus is speaking about the Holy Spirit. It’s the presence of God’s Spirit in your life that takes away your frustrated soul-thirst forever and turns you into a person who overflows with life for others instead of sucking up other people’s life like sandy soil.

But probably both these answers are true—that Jesus’ teaching satisfies your thirst and makes you a fountain of life, and that the Holy Spirit satisfies your thirst and makes you a fountain of life. Jesus kept the Word and Spirit together. For example, in John 14:26 he says, “The Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said.” The work of the Spirit of Christ is to make the Word of Christ clear and satisfying to the soul. When we come to Christ to drink, what we drink is truth—but not dead, powerless facts. The Spirit and the Word unite to slake our thirst and make us a fountain of life. (See 1 Thessalonians 1:52:13.) The word of promise and the power of the Spirit are the living water offered to the Samaritan harlot.

I hope this encourages you as much as it does me. Sometimes I feel so dead and so sinful that I don’t see how I can be of any use to the church any more. But up till now God has always come to me at those times and graciously shown me something like this—the hope that a worldly, sensually-minded, unspiritual harlot from Samaria can become—not just saved (which would be wonderful enough)—but a fountain of life. She can be used to give life. And I take heart that if I just turn from my sin and keep drinking at the well of Jesus’ words, I may still be of some use to this congregation. And so can you if you just drink deep at the right well.

Deadened Senses and Open Wounds

I think that’s what Jesus wanted her to see. But harlots and beer-bellied baseball fans have hardened their spiritual senses so deeply they can’t taste what Jesus means. So she says (in v. 15), “Sir, give me this water that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.” Beware of giving up on people too soon. This woman seems hopelessly carnal. She can’t see beyond her physical senses. But Jesus aims to make her a worshiper of God in spirit and truth.

So now he touches the most sensitive, vulnerable spot in her life—”Go call your husband.” The quickest way to the heart is through a wound.

Why does Jesus strip open this woman’s inner life like this? Because he had said in John 3:20, “Everyone who does evil hates the light and does not come to the light lest his deeds should be exposed.” Concealed sin keeps us from seeing the light of Christ. Sin is like spiritual leprosy. It deadens your senses so you rip your soul to shreds and don’t even feel it. But Christ has set his sights on this woman’s conversion. So he lays bare her spiritual leprosy. “You’ve had five husbands and the man you’re sleeping with now is not your husband.”

Evasive Irrationality

Now watch the universal reflex of a person trying to avoid conviction. She has to admit in v. 19 that Jesus has extraordinary insight (“You’re a prophet!”), but instead of dealing with her guilt, she tries to suck Jesus into an academic controversy: “O, so you’re a prophet, well, where do you stand on the issue of where people ought to worship?” Verse 20: “Our fathers worshiped on this mountain; and you [Jews] say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” A trapped animal will chew his own leg off. A trapped sinner will mangle his own mind and rip up the rules of logic and discourse. “Why, yes, as long as we’re speaking about my five husbands and my adultery, what is your stance on the issue of where people should worship?” Brothers and sisters, that kind of double-talk and evasive, verbal footwork is very common. And texts like this incline me to think that wherever I hear it, someone is hiding something. If your conscience is clean, reason can hold sway; if it’s not, you will be instinctively irrational.

The “How” and “Whom” of Worship

It’s interesting, though. Jesus never goes back to the issue of adultery. It was a thrust against the sealed door of her heart. But now his foot is in and he is willing to take the very issue she raised and use it to finish his saving work. She raised the issue of where people ought to worship. Jesus responds by saying, “That controversy can’t compare in importance to how you worship and whom you worship.” How and whom are vastly more important than where.

Engaging the Heart 

Verse 21 turns her attention from where to how: “Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.”‘ In other words, it is not the location that makes an act of worship authentic. Worship is not merely an external act that you can accomplish by going to a place. Jesus said in another place (Matthew 15:8): “This people honors me with their lips but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me.” Worship is first and foremost an experience of the heart. Prayer without heart is vain. Songs without heart are vain. Confession and creeds and liturgies and sermons that don’t come from the heart are empty and worthless in God’s eyes. So Jesus says to the woman: Don’t get hung up on irrelevant controversies. How you worship is vastly more important than where.

Knowing the True God

Then verse 22 introduces the question of whom you worship. “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.” When all our efforts to be gentle and sensitive and respectful of another person’s religion are done, the time eventually comes when you have to say: Biblical worship is true worship and yours is false. That will often be thrown back in your face as a statement of arrogance. But it isn’t. If there is truth, and you have bowed humbly before it, then to try to persuade another person to bow with you is not arrogance. It is love. The Samaritans rejected all the Old Testament except for their version of the books of Moses. Their knowledge of God was deficient and so their worship was deficient. And to tell them so was as loving as telling a person with lung cancer to stop smoking.

Heart and Head in True Worship

So in verses 21 and 22 Jesus directs the woman’s attention away from the external question “where” to the internal question “how” and the theological question “whom.” Worship must be vital and real from within and it must be based on a true perception of God. Now verse 23 sums this up with the key phrase “in spirit and truth”: “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth.” The two words, spirit and truth, correspond to the how and the whom of worship. Worshiping in spirit is the opposite of worshiping in mere external ways. It’s the opposite of formalism and traditionalism. Worshiping in truth is the opposite of worship based on an inadequate view of God.

Together the words “spirit and truth” mean that real worship comes from the spirit within and is based on true views of God. Worship must have heart and worship must have head. Worship must engage your emotions and worship must engage your thought. Truth without emotion produces dead orthodoxy and a church full of unspiritual fighters. Emotion without truth produces empty frenzy and cultivates flaky people who reject the discipline of rigorous thought. True worship comes from people who are deeply emotional and who love deep and sound doctrine.

Fuel, Fire, Furnace, Heat

Therefore, as a pastor I agree with Jonathan Edwards when he said, “I should think myself in the way of my duty, to raise the affections of my hearers as high as I possibly can, provided they are affected with nothing but truth, and with affections that are not disagreeable to the nature of what they are affected with.” I think of it something like this: The fuel of worship is the truth of a gracious, sovereign God; the furnace of worship is your spirit; and the heat of worship is the vital affections of reverence, fear, adoration, contrition, trust, joy, gratitude, and hope.

But something is missing from that analogy, namely, fire. The fuel of truth in the furnace of your spirit does not automatically produce the heat of worship. There has to be fire, which I think is the Holy Spirit.

When Jesus says in v. 23, “True worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth,” some take him to mean “in the Holy Spirit.” I’ve taken him to mean that worship must come from your spirit within, instead of being merely formal and external. But in John 3:6 Jesus connects God’s Spirit and our spirit in a remarkable way. He says, “That which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” In other words, until the Holy Spirit touches our spirit with the flame of life, our spirit is so dead it does not even qualify as spirit. Only that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. So when Jesus says that true worshipers worship in spirit, he must mean that true worship only comes from spirits that are made alive and sensitive and vital by the touch of the Holy Spirit.

So now we can complete the analogy: the fuel of worship is the grand truth of a gracious and sovereign God; the fire that makes the fuel burn white hot is the quickening of the Holy Spirit; the furnace made alive and warm by the flame of truth is our renewed spirit; and the resulting heat of our affections is worship, pushing its way out in tears, confessions, prayers, praises, acclamations, lifting of hands, bowing low, and obedient lives. Notice verse 34. When his disciples come back with food, Jesus says, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.” The work of God is to seek real worshipers. Jesus was sent to accomplish this work.

Therefore we should see the whole interchange with the Samaritan woman as the work of God in Jesus seeking a real worshiper. In verse 35 Jesus applies his example to us, “Do you not say there are yet four months and then comes the harvest? I tell you, lift up your eyes and see how the fields are already white for harvest.” There is a white harvest of harlots in Samaria. I have just made one into a real worshiper. That’s why the Father sent me; so send I you. God seeks people to worship him in spirit and truth. Here comes the city of Sychar white unto harvest. If you love the glory of God, make ready to reap.

“The Blessing of the Rain: Praising God in the Storm or the Gentle Rain” by Randy Kinnick

 

Image

7 Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; Sing praises on the harp to our God, 8 Who covers the heavens with clouds, Who prepares rain for the earth, Who makes grass to grow on the mountains.  Psalm 147:7-8

Some people dread a rainy day.  The gray skies and the gloomy weather seem to them to be a downer.  I can understand how the weather will affect one’s state of mind and emotion.  When the winter days get short, the gray skies dominate, the cold is bitter and the darkness comes earlier, I feel that affect.  Not so, however, for a rainy day.

Rainy days are a welcomed thing sometimes.  Granted, when I have outdoor plans and the rain interrupts, I’m not too happy.  But, hey, I don’t get to make those decisions, right?  However, there is actually a comfort that a rainy day brings.  I feel cozy.  I remember, as a kid, when a summer or spring rain would come, I would get the lounge chair and a blanket and sit on our carport watching and listening to it rain.  It was soothing and calming.

Last night, it rained, and lightning and thunder pierced the sky throughout the night.  This morning, from the perch of my Starbucks vantage point, I watch the rain descend on the world around me.  It soaks, drenches, washes and cleans.  Our dry, parched land is drinking it in…a much-needed refreshment.  I’m reminded, as the rains descend to refresh the ground, so I desire to drink in the presence and truth of the God who supplies the rain.  I long to be refreshed in soul and spirit as He rains His love, grace and power in me.

Psalm 147

1 Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; For it is pleasant, and praise is beautiful. 2 The Lord builds up Jerusalem; He gathers together the outcasts of Israel. 3 He heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds. 4 He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name. 5 Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite. 6 The Lord lifts up the humble; He casts the wicked down to the ground. 7 Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; Sing praises on the harp to our God, 8 Who covers the heavens with clouds, Who prepares rain for the earth, Who makes grass to grow on the mountains. 9 He gives to the beast its food, And to the young ravens that cry. 10 He does not delight in the strength of the horse; He takes no pleasure in the legs of a man. 11 The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, In those who hope in His mercy. 12 Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem! Praise your God, O Zion! 13 For He has strengthened the bars of your gates; He has blessed your children within you. 14 He makes peace in your borders, And fills you with the finest wheat. 15 He sends out His command to the earth; His word runs very swiftly. 16 He gives snow like wool; He scatters the frost like ashes; 17 He casts out His hail like morsels; Who can stand before His cold? 18 He sends out His word and melts them; He causes His wind to blow, and the waters flow. 19 He declares His word to Jacob, His statutes and His judgments to Israel. 20 He has not dealt thus with any nation; And as for His judgments, they have not known them. Praise the Lord!

The rain reminds us of the faithfulness of our God.  I am reminded of my dependence upon Him for life and sustenance.  I am reminded of His provision for every need…to fill my parched spirit with His refreshing “rain.”  As Psalm 147 reminds me, there is so much for which to praise the Lord.  Here are a few reminders…

  • He gathers the outcasts to Himself
  • He heals broken and wounded hearts
  • He demonstrates His mighty, infinite power through creation
  • He lifts up the humble
  • He brings judgment upon the wicked
  • He supplies the earth with nourishing rain and growth
  • He provides food for the animals
  • He finds pleasure in those who fear Him and seek His mercy
  • He blesses our habitations and posterity as we follow Him
  • He provides for our needs and security
  • He has given us His powerful Word

There is so much for which we can praise God.  The rain today reminds me of these and many other works of our mighty God.  Let us, as Israel was challenged to do through this Psalm, “Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; For it is pleasant, and praise is beautiful.”