Conversation Between Jesus & Samaritan Woman

Conversation

Let’s Explore One Conversation Jesus Had.

Let’s explore the conversation Jesus had with the Samaritan woman at the well in John chapter 4. But first let’s take a look at history between Samaria and Judea at the time of Christ. It is important to understand the conflict between the two groups of people.

Samaritans were a blend of Israelites left behind when Israel was exiled by the King of Assyria circa 722 B.C. and Assyrians that the King sent into the area. (2 kings 17). They believed in the God of Israel, acknowledged Moses as His prophet, and accepted the Pentateuch as scripture. They, however, did not accept the any Old Testament writings beyond the Pentateuch as canonical. The Samaritans considered the Judeans to be apostates following the sanctuary leaving Shechem. They worshiped God on Mount Gerizim and not in Jerusalem. They, too, were looking for a Messiah to come.

Similarly, the Judeans considered the Samaritans to be apostates. They opposed the Samaritans because of the intermarriage with the Assyrians. The Judeans considered them to be idolaters because intermarriage merged idol worship with the worship of Yahweh. The Samaritans had also caused trouble when the Jews were seeking to reestablish themselves and their temple (Ezra 4).  Therefore, there was a great deal of tension between Judea and Samaria even in the time of Jesus’ ministry.

The Samaritan Woman at the Well

Being that Samaria was to the south of Galilee and north of Judea, Jesus had to go through Samaria to get to Jerusalem. Typically, Jews avoided going through Samaria when traveling between Galilee and Judea. Yet, Jesus did not. He purposefully traveled to Samaria. He stopped at a well about the noon hour and waited.

As a woman came to the well to draw water, Jesus intentionally drew her into a conversation with Him by asking her for a drink. He was well aware of the fact that Jews did not associate with Samaritans yet alone a woman. This is where Jesus first got my attention. He set aside social norms to reach out to her and those living in Samaria. For the custom was that a Jew was considered unclean if he used a drinking vessel handled by a Samaritan. Still Jesus asked her for a drink.

In addition, Jesus continues His conversation with her in spite of all the social customs. He tells her of living water yet one can tell that she is focused on the physical whereas Jesus is speaking spiritually. She questions his ability to draw water and if He is greater than Jacob. The woman is obviously without a clue as to whom she is conversing with.

Therefore, Jesus takes it one step further by revealing to her sin. He does not do it blatantly. He asks her to call her husband and thus she points it out that she does not have a husband. Then Jesus gently makes her see that He knows everything about her. This is what broke through to her heart. It was being known by Him. Therefore, she went to draw others to Him.

What I Have Learned from this Conversation

Jesus was not held sway by social norms. He reached across them to bring His message of salvation. I need to think like Jesus and not be held to the customs of this world. Jesus wants me to think outside the box. Like the woman at the well, I, too, can get focused on the wrong thing and not see with the eyes of Jesus. I want to draw others to Jesus who knows me better than I know myself.

I pray: Dear Lord Jesus, help me to see the world as You do. Cause me to brave the social barriers and reach out to bring the good news to others that need You. Amen.

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Hope is Found in Jesus

My Hope is the Lord

Due to the recent events here and abroad, the news has caused my heart great sadness.  The loss of life in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, only added to that sadness. I hurt for the family who lost both father and son here in Texas. Though, I cannot fully fathom their loss, I do know what it is like to lose a loved one in an untimely manner. I have received the comfort that only God can provide. While the comfort did not happen right away, it did come over time. However, hope can be found in Jesus.

At church on Sunday, July 17, 2016, I was reminded that my hope is in Jesus.  As we sang the hymn, My Hope is Built on Nothing Less, before the sermon, I was reminded also that there is nothing else on earth that can put my hope in.

The aforementioned hymn is comforting because ‘I rest in His unchanging grace; in every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil. Christ is my solid rock and all other ground is sinking sand.’ There is comfort in putting one’s hope in Jesus.

In addition, Psalm 27 was the text for the sermon. Though Vicar read only the first couple of verses. I find comfort in the rest of this Psalm. King David knew to whom he could go to for comfort and shelter. He knew to wait on the Lord.

Therefore, I pray that the families of the fallen officers and those lives senselessly taken in Nice, France, will take comfort in God. I do hope that they will find their rest and stay in Him and that they can sing.

“On Christ, the solid Rock I stand;

All other ground is sinking sand,

All other ground is sinking sand.”

Prayer for Comfort and Hope

Dear Lord, as You know there are many hurting hearts today. Please God, comfort them as You alone know how. Ease their pain and let them not forget their loved ones. I ask for Your mercy and grace to the families and to put a stop to the senseless violence. Help them to be strong and  to wait on You. Give them your peace that passes all understanding.  Amen.

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Church, Gotta Love it! I do!

Church

Five Things I Love About My Church

Let me tell you the five things that I love about my church, Faith Lutheran. This helps confirm my reason for staying. No church is perfect but I do love where God has called me to be.

1. The Bible Taught Faithfully.

Our motto is Know Christ, Live Christ, and Make Christ Known. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. During our worship service, we often have an Old Testament,  Epistle, and Gospel reading. The Epistle is taken from one of the letters that were written to the church either by the Apostle Paul, James, or Peter. This is done interactively with the congregation reading the words in bold. We stand for the Gospel reading out of respect. The sermon is taken from one of the either of the Bible readings.

2. We are Growing Congregation.

We hold a new member’s class once every quarter. My church has as many as 15-20 or as few as 5 members added. In our Bible class for members with special needs, known as the Rock House, we have experienced growth. We added as many as 10 members in this group and a new member is seen on occasion. This makes for a total 25+ members. I do like seeing new members added to our congregation. Furthermore, there are some really swell people to get to know. I love you all!

3. Blended Worship Music

During our worship service, you will hear both traditional hymns and praise music. We also have talented soloists and we recently added a Praise Music Vocalist. Another point that I would like to make is that our Senior Pastor on occasion teaches us a new hymn. I enjoy the blended music and I feel that it reaches out to most everyone. The hymns centered on God or on Christ and Him crucified.

4.  Opportunities to Serve are Plenty.

At Faith, you will find plenty of opportunities to serve both for the young and for those young at heart. I happen to serve with the Rock House as do a number of very special people. Not only do I serve with them but I also serve with a group of wonderful women in Lutheran Women’s Missionary League’s evening group, Joy Mission Circle. We collect mites which is the change from our pockets to help fund missions outside of our local congregation. We have a ministry for Braille and we are a Stephen Ministry congregation. Let’s not forget our youth. They, too, have opportunities to go on servant trips.

5. Last but not least, Our Newest Staff Member!

Most noteworthy is our Vicar. I am excited and pleased that Vicar Bill Crowe will be ordained and installed as our associate pastor on July 24, 2016, @ 3 pm. Every opportunity that I have had to speak to him, he has impressed me as a man after God’s own heart. He is open and friendly. He is quite knowledgeable and loves the Lord. Hence, I know that God has blessed us with him and his family as well.

In conclusion, I would like to invite you to come for a visit when you are ever in Georgetown, Texas. To God be the glory!

“We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty,
    who is and who was,
for you have taken your great power
    and begun to reign.” Revelation 11:17

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Sheep of Your Pasture

I am pleased to welcome my first guest blogger, Janet Hines. Her post is titled I am a Sheep of Your Pasture.

I Am a Sheep of Your Pasture

by Janet Hines

I took this picture in Spain while driving from Antequera to Malaga. It took my breath away.

Pulling over, rolling my window down – my breath stilled, my heart overwhelmed. Many of the sheep in the pasture had bells around their necks – there were probably a thousand sheep . . .

. . .  and the sound was one of the most beautiful, spiritual sounds ever filling my ears, moving into my heart, my breath slowing in an attempt to match the rhythm.

The sheep farmers put the bells on many of the older sheep to ward off predators. If the shepherd hears the bells ringing loudly, they know danger is present.  As the anxiety of the sheep increases so does their movement.  The tone of the bell changes. It serves as an alarm.

The shepherds then know their sheep need them.

Yet, when all is well and every sheep is calm, the beautiful music fills the air.

Isn’t it like that when we live with God as our Shepherd?

He is ever present. Always caring for us as the shepherds care for their sheep, yet not always visible. Always ready to protect us and enable us with the means to sound alarm.

May our times of peace be as music to His ears just as this flock filled my ears that afternoon on a quiet road in Spain – yet I know our cries in distress are precious to Him as well as we turn to Him. He takes my good and my bad – my times that are easy and my times of tragedy and crisis – He takes me just as I am. …

Please follow this link to read more of Janet Hines post.

About the Author

Janet Hines lives in Covington, Louisiana. Mother of four and grandmother of seven, her life passion is to live sharing the hope of God as she has been relentlessly filled. She is the co-founder of Mi Esperanza – a non profit organization operating in and around Tegucigalpa, Honduras. The primary focus of the organization is women’s education. Mi Esperanza provides not only skill development but life empowering education allowing them to gain employment or begin their own businesses with the micro loans offered to alumni of the programs. Her other passions include travel, photography and writing.

You can find Janet Hines at these social links.

 

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Lives Forever Changed!

Lives changed

Read All About Lives Changed!

Are you looking for a book that shares stories of lives changed? Well, I have the book just for you! Finder Keepers Losers Winners by Kay Gray is the just the one for you. I consider her a dear friend of mine and she writes of lives changed at Oak Ridge Ministry through Jesus Christ and how God brought her to this ministry.

For one thing, Kay writes from her heart. She is forever changed by the men whose lives have been changed by accepting Jesus into their hearts. She shares openly and warmly not only their stories but her story also. Kay credits God for bringing her together with Joshua Harris and the Oak Ridge Ministry.

Moreover, Kay writes as if you were sitting down to the table with her. You will appreciate her honesty about the fact that some lives have not been restored because of the choices that were made. Yet, she rejoices of the lives that have been forever changed by the grace found in Jesus.

Equally important, Kay tells you how she found the Bible which led to her meeting, Joshua. The Oak Ridge men gave her the title of Bible Lady. Some of the men, lovingly, call her Mama Kay.

Hence, this book is filled with grace, truth, and love. You will read of a very special man who started Oak Ridge Ministry and the lives of men faced with addiction. You will read of heartache and the celebration of new life found in Christ.

About the Author

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Kay Gray is a retired teacher and former boutique owner. She lives in Georgetown, Texas, and attends Crestview Baptist Church. She enjoys working with special needs kids at the church camp. Kay is an avid a supporter and encourager of the mission of Oak Ridge Disciple House. She teaches women’s Bible studies and is beginning an outreach ministry through her website mamakaygray.com.

Read it for yourself!

Therefore, I recommend this book if you want to read how Jesus can change lives. Well, read Finders Keepers Losers Winners, for yourself. Click this link to order your copy.

 

Another review: The Truth About Happiness by JE Berry.

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Tale of Two Friends United by Christ!

Tale of two friends

A Tale of Acceptance and Grace.

God makes life most interesting when you let Him in and He opens your eyes. This is my tale of my friendship with a dear friend of mine. We have something in common but yet so different. She grew up in the Lutheran Church but has changed to a Baptist church. Whereas, I grew up going to a Baptist church and now I choose to worship at a Lutheran church. We have both been baptized in the Baptist church and have a strong love for Jesus.

This tale is about acceptance and grace. Acceptance of the differences between us and the grace to embrace what we have in common. There was a time in my life that I was not attending a Lutheran church. I was attending the Church of the Nazarene where I chose to rededicate my life to Christ through baptism. My friend did likewise when she went to the Baptist church. A few years later, I returned to the Lutheran church and had to attend membership class. I was reluctant at first for my faith in Christ had not changed but it was to my benefit because I needed to be reminded of what Lutherans believe. There is a part of me that identifies with the Baptist but I need the affirmations that I find in the confession, creeds, and communion at the Lutheran service.

My dear friend refers to her change as a conversion. Yet, a convert is a person who has been persuaded to change their religious belief or faith or other beliefs? So what does it mean to convert  from Lutheran to Baptist? Do they not believe in the God, the Father, God, the Son, and God, the Holy Spirit? For me, I have not converted from one to the other for my faith has not changed. Where I choose to worship has changed. I guess that the change lies not in our faith but in other beliefs.

On the key points of faith which are creation, the birth, life, sufferings, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, I believe that the Baptist and Lutheran agree. Now on matters that are not of eternal importance, there is a lot of differences. Some of those differences are in baptism and communion and order of service. I don’t want to go into these.

Am I okay that my friend attends a Baptist service? By all means, yes! God knows her heart as He knows mine. Do we both believe in Jesus and have a personal relationship with Him? Most definitely so! Each person’s walk with Jesus is as unique as a snowflake. We both serve the same Lord. How we do so is different, that’s all and it is perfectly okay.

As Michael W. Smith writes in his song,”Friends are Forever,”

 Friends are friends forever if the Lord’s the Lord of them…

A lifetime’s not too long to live as friends.

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Word Pictures For Spiritual Adornment

Word pictures

 Biblical Word Pictures

There are a number of beautiful word pictures in the Bible. Today, let’s look at those address spiritual adornment. I have found a couple in Proverbs and one in Isaiah that I will explore first.

First, the beginning of Proverbs 1 it talks about wisdom, instruction and teaching. I find that heeding the instruction of my father and the teaching of my mother is described as a graceful garland for my head and adornment for my neck (Proverbs 1:8-9). Therefore, I asked the question, what is the significance here? This word picture points to the fact that our lives are to reflect whose instruction and teaching we follow. Thus, it will be as plain as a necklace or garland worn on our heads.

Second, Proverbs goes on in chapter 3 verse 21-22 to say that I should not lose sight of wisdom and discretion for they are life for my soul and again, an adornment for my neck. Hence, I would hope that my life reflects the beauty of God’s wisdom much like the beauty of wearing a set of pearls as seen above.

Third, in Isaiah 61:10, I find another word picture that is inspiring.

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord;
    my soul shall exult in my God,
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
    he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress,
    and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.*

Likewise, God has graced us with these through His Son, Jesus. God calls us beloved and chosen. He dresses us with the righteousness of Christ. He loves us with an everlasting love.

Wisdom for Adornment in the New Testament

Last but not least, there is one more that I have found in the New Testament in 1 Peter 3 verses  3-4. Here, I am to adorn myself with the hidden person of the heart with imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. This is precious in God’s sight. This is also in stark contrast to what the world would have me to adorn myself.

How do you adorn yourself, according to His Word or to the way of the world?

*The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

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Letter to My Beloved from God the Father

God’s Letter to His Beloved.

I have a dear friend who struggles to find her worth in what she does. I have tried to tell her that her worth does not come from what she does but from whom she belongs to as a believer in Christ. And her value also comes from His great love for her. Therefore, God has put it on my heart comprise His love letter to my friend and anyone else who struggles as a believer to find their self worth in what they do. There are several verses that I have found that to comprise this letter.

This is how I imagine God would write His letter to her.

Love LetterMy Dearest Child,

You are my beloved and chosen. I gave My Son, Jesus, because I love you so much that I would rather die than live without you. You are mine through the blood of My Son and I rejoice over you with singing. I love you with an everlasting love therefore I have drawn you to Me.

Yet, I have loved you even while in you were still in your sins thus I sent My Son to die in your place that you may have life more abundantly and have everlasting life. It is a free gift of faith to you. You cannot earn it. Though I, being rich in mercy and great love, have done this for you. Therefore, I now call you My child. Relax, let go, and know that I am God.  Furthermore, there is nothing that you can do to add or take away from my great love for you. My love for you will never fade or die away. 

Hence, you don’t have to prove yourself and stop trying to be someone else. Be who I created you to be. Just breathe!

Come and abide in me. You are loved.

Signed, God, the Father

(Zephaniah 3:17: Jeremiah 31:3; Psalm 46:10; John 3:16; Colossians 3:12; Ephesians 2:4-5, 1 John 3:1, 4:9,16)

Check this post regarding God’s Message Back to Me.

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Sky Is Falling! Need Help!

When you feel like the sky is falling.

Ever Felt Like Saying, “The Sky Is Falling!”

I am sure that you probably have. Like times when you felt like what you or a friend were going through was too much! And you wanted to cry out, “Why me, Lord?” or “Help me, Lord, I don’t know what to do.” Today, I have that sky is falling feeling for several of my friends. Yet, I know that God is greater than all of this.

I have friends and family who are either facing a recent cancer diagnosis, their own illness or a spouse has taken a turn for the worst. I cannot begin to imagine how they are feeling right now. If it were me, I would definitely feel like things were falling apart. My heart is heavy for my friends.

Personally, I am well and for that I am thankful. Yet, I found myself at loss for words when I went to pray for them. I know that my God is able to do more than I can possibly ask, so I cried out, “Help them, Jesus.” The Bible tells me that Jesus said that there would be trouble in this world but to take heart for He has overcome the world (John 16:33). Jesus is my rock in this storm of life and He knows what is going on in the lives of my friends.

I am called to be the one who stands in the gap for my friends, in prayer, trusting that God will supply all their needs (Philippians 4:19). The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. After all, there is nothing my God cannot do.

However, should you feel stuck check out Help, My Prayer Life is Stuck.

A Call for Help!

My prayer for my friends: Dear Merciful Father, hear my prayer. You know the friends that I care about and You love them with an everlasting love. Surround them with Your reassuring presence and increase their strength. Fill their loved ones with Your peace that passes all understanding. May they trust Your all-sufficient grace. I pray that You would supply all their needs according to Your steadfast love. In the name of Jesus.

 

 

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Creed? What is it and Why Do I Need It?

Creed

The Apostles’ Creed

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From thence He shall come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Christian Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the dead, and the life everlasting.

This is called the Apostles’ Creed because it contains a summary of their teachings. Where I attend worship we say this most every Sunday. At other times we recite the Nicene Creed and on one Sunday out of the church year we recite the Athanasian Creed which is a much more in depth and a long one. I particularly like the Apostles’ because it is a simple statement of faith. Reciting and memorizing it protects one from false teaching. It explains the trinity being God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit. If you were to attend at my church you would know what we believe without having to ask. There is a certainty here in this statement of faith. The Bible supports this statement.

Why Do I need it?

Because I am a fickle person and my flesh is weak. Without it, I could so easily grow complacent in my faith and lose sight of the fact that I need God. I find reassurance too when it is recited in my church.  We all believe the same and worship in spirit and in truth.

Some may question it or call me foolish but that is their opinion. If according to the naysayers, I am wrong then I have nothing to lose but if I am right in my belief, and I know that I am, then I have everything to gain. I would rather err in believing than to die in unbelief. God has in more ways than I can count proven His love to me. This creed is my statement of faith and nothing can change my heart.

If you wish to know more click this link.

31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32

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