Abiding with Jesus

3rd Sunday in Lent
Scripture: St. John 4:5-26

In James 1:25 we are made aware not to forget what we have heard, but to do it, and there will be a blessing for what we have done. We set in church hearing an inspiring plea to do something special for Christ. We tell ourselves “I’m going to do that.” As we exit the church service it totally slips from our heart and mind. Jesus has set many examples of getting with people who are not in fellowship with His abiding love and grace.

One example is at Jacob’s well. He is resting at Jacob’s well, its high noon and He is thirsty. A Samaritan woman approaches the well. He asks her for a drink of cool water. She responds in astonishment. “Why do you ask me to give you a drink for Jews have no use for us Samaritans’, and you have nothing to put the water in?” Jesus then replies, “If you knew who I am and ask me, I would give you living water that would fill you up, flowing through your whole body”. She replies, “Give me this living water that I won’t need to come to the well daily. Jesus tells her to go and tell her husband. She replies, I don’t have a husband. Jesus replies that she speaks the truth, for she has had 4 husbands and the man she now lives with is not your husband. She says, “I believe you are a Prophet.” Now Jesus has traveled out of His way to be at Jacob’s well where He confronts the woman. Do you remember the last time you went out of your way to offer someone the Living Water for their life?

Another example is John 5,where we see Jesus at the Healing Pool. Jesus has traveled from Jacob’s well to Jerusalem near the sheep gate, to be with this person who believes the water has healing powers if they are the 1st in. There an invalid man waited a long time to be the first one in the healing waters. We are told that the 1st one in the healing water will be healed. He tells Jesus when the water shakes he is not fast enough to be the first one in. The invalid tells Jesus that he has no one to help him get in the pool. Jesus tells the man to “Get up, Pick up your mat and walk.” The man did just that! It was the Sabbath and one church leader condemned Jesus for healing on the Sabbath.
The great lesson from this scripture is if we want to be an agent of God, we need to get out of the church and be with the people who need spiritual and physical healing.

I remember responding to a request of a man in the parish I once served in. He asked me to go with him to see a friend and co-worker who was slowly dying with cancer. Arriving at the man’s home, we were welcomed in. I asked Him if he knew the Lord and Savior. He began to give excuse after excuse of why he was not a child of God. After listening to him, I finally told him all His reasons were only excuses that we build up on our lives. Before we left his earthly home, he accepted Christ as his Savior. Less than 4 or 6 weeks later, I had his funeral.

We have to help one another to tear down the brick walls that we build that block out the Living Water of Christ that is offered freely. To all who confess and believe that Jesus is the Son of God who offers all of us freedom from sin and death. We need to pick up ourselves, walk out of the church and invite all to have eternal life with the Lord of love and grace.

Let us pray.

Stanger at Night

2nd Sunday in Lent
Scripture: Romans 4:1-5, St John 3:1-17
I really like this story about Nicodemus. I can see myself in many aspects of the story. While I have known about my Lord and loved Him greatly, all my actions are not all that He desires. At times His love radiates from my daily life. I was somewhat like Nicodemus as I came to Him in the darkest moments of my life. Yet one can not really love the Lord with ones whole being if we only seek His presence when we seek something from Him that is a desire for us.

We all know John 3:16 by heart, yet if we don’t show that love all the time and openly, are we sure that we totally believe in Him? There is a lot more of Nicodemus in each one of us than what we are willing to admit or open up too. Nicodemus was a Pharisee and a member of the Jewish Council. But he still felt like something was missing in his life. Not wanting to admit this to the rest of the council, he gives to Jesus under the cover of darkness. He addresses Jesus, saying “Rabbi, I knew that you are a teacher sent from God for no one could perform the signs and things you are doing if God were not with Him.”

Jesus replies, “I tell you, no one can see the Kingdom of God unless they are born again.”

Nicodemus asks, “how is this possible, for he cannot enter again into his mother’s womb.”

Jesus replies to Nicodemus a 2nd time, “No one can enter the Kingdom of God unless they are born again by the water and the Spirit of God.

Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the water and the spirit gives birth to the Holy Spirit in new life. The Holy Spirit is like the wind. No one can see the wind, but we can feel it and see what it can do, whether it’s a gentle breeze or a frightening storm destroying everything in its path. The Holy Spirit is more like the gentle breeze. One can sense its presence, a silent, guiding presence that offers comfort and direction in one's life.

This congregation has seen and felt the Holy Spirit working in many of our lives. When Derek Mitchell was told that there was a mass in his small body that had to come out and it was cancer, there appeared a cloud of darkness all over our church family. We could not understand why God would do such a thing to a small child. Surgery was planned. His whole family was gathered at the hospital. Judy and I were among that gathering. When they came to take him to surgery, the nurse told him he could walk beside him, ride in a wheel chair or drive a battery powered Jeep. He jumped ahead of her, got in the Jeep, and raised his little hand waving bye to all of us. As he disappeared down the hallway, tears were flowing in abundance from all of us.

Minutes passed like hours, and hours like days. The doctor finally returned. He didn’t know what had happened. The tumor was there, they saw it on the x-ray, but once in surgery it was gone! There was no sign of cancer anywhere. Today he is a tall teen, enjoying life, family and fellowship of other Christians. We knew what had happened and we knew why! The Lord of all life took care of that situation.

When we are up against a brick wall, with no sight ahead but more bricks, God is here. He doesn’t leave us hopeless. We need to remove the bricks so we have the desire and ability to love and serve Him more in all aspect of our being. I don’t know the brick wall or road blocks in your lives, but I do know who can and will remove them.

Let us pray.

Test in the Wilderness!

1st Sunday in Lent
Scripture: Matthew 4:1-11, Romans 5:12-19
Our lives and the world are full of temptations. Even when we are living a good clean life, we as Christians allow ourselves to drift away from our loving Savior and slip into the hands of Satan. We are created with free will. And with the free will we desire our way and actions in our lives that do not please our Lord. Even the Son of God, Jesus, was tempted. Are we stronger than Him?

Absolutely not! Our hearts are stronger in the love for our Lord, but our flesh is weak.

Jesus was tempted after spending 40 days and nights in the wilderness. Satan saw His condition and confronted Him with 3 temptations. The pains of hunger must have been great, wherein the devil told him to use His power and turn the stones into bread and quench His hunger. But Jesus replied, “You shall not tempt the Lord.”

So the devil tried a 2nd time. Taking Jesus to a high mountain, he showed him all the glory of creation. “See all this glory, it is mine. I will give it all to you if you will bow down and worship me.”

Once again Jesus replied, “You shall not tempt the Lord.”

Now the devil doesn’t give up easily. A 3rd time he takes Jesus to the Holy temple, placing Him on the highest point. He challenged Him to fall down, because IF you are the Son of God you will not be injured. After this temptation, Jesus told Satan to be gone, and Satan left Him. The angels came and ministered unto Him. If Jesus faced temptation, what makes us think that we will not be tempted by the devil, because we have confessed our faith in the Lord? It is here that our freedom of will kicks into high gear.

This is what happened to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. They were in a paradise on earth. Eve was tempted by the devil to take from the tree of good and evil, then share with Adam. It was then they saw that they were naked. Hearing the voice of God, they hid because of their nakedness. God called them, and Adam responded telling Him that they hid because they were naked. God knew they had eaten of the tree of good and evil. Adam replied, “The woman you gave me gave it to me”. So Adam tries to pass the buck, blaming not only Eve but God Himself for His downfall from grace. God makes clothes out of leaves and chased them from the Garden, telling them of their punishment for disobedience to Him. Eve will bear great pain in childbirth. Adam shall make a living for himself and loved ones by the sweat of his brow.

It is because of that same free will; want to have it our way and not God’s way in our lives, that we face the temptation of the devil daily in our lives. Some says that they have not sinned; facing temptation in their lives is the spirit of the devil. If you confess and believe that you are walking on very, very thin ice.

We don’t go out to sin against the desires of our Lord. It is because of our self will that we do things we want and not in the covenant of our Lord. Good people slip into sinful actions ever so easy. Good people shoplift, taking small item that they can slip into their pocket or purse. I have heard of cases where professionals go into the restroom with their briefcases with books under them and proceed to put them in the briefcases and leave without paying. I know of a barber who had a very profitable business. He would steal Kool-Aid and serve it to his customers up till the day he was caught. Sadly, he could afford it. An example of a good person who let self will slip into their life.

The devil causes all of us from time to time to yield to the lower nature of our humanity. Be aware, he is more active in the Christian’s life where he works to see what can cause the Christian to fall from grace.

Let us pray.