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April 30, 2010

HIS WORD FOR TODAY:

John 5.8

“Then Jesus said to the man, ‘Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.’”

REFLECTING IN HIS WORD:

It would have been interesting to hear the tone of voice Jesus used when He was speaking with the Sheep Gate invalid. John does provide the opportunity to see a Jesus whose passion is not hidden and not casually worn on the sleeve of His tunic. We see a compassionate and understanding Jesus who reaches out to the heart, mind, soul and spirit of people victimized by sin. We also see a Jesus whose righteousness seems to grow a little weary with spiritual leaders who have failed in their duties and opportunities to glorify God by serving others before themselves. John lets us see a sometimes terse response that gives warning to those nearby He is not pleased with those who are not obedient to the truth.

I can feel this power in the story of the Bethesda Pool healing. The man who had been invalid for years because he had no one to help him into the pool when the waters were stirred so he could bath in its healing balm. Jesus first wanted to know if the man wanted to get well. He wanted the man to confess the reason was not for a lack of wanting. We know some people who have decided their misery and disability is an excuse to depend on others for their livelihood instead of making efforts themselves. Surely this was not the case. His problem was not a matter of motivation but a means of transportation. So, Jesus decided that the “middle man” needed to be eliminated. If God’s people weren’t going to take care of the sick and the infirmed whether it was the leadership duty and opportunity or whether it was just being a good neighbor, then why allow people to suffer that further indignity.

“Get up!” It was not a simple urging. Jesus was emphatic. How many children have been urged to “Get up!” by a mighty parent of God? It is a way of saying, “Your way is not working and your belief system is failing you miserably. Get up!” It was also Jesus’ way of saying “magic water doesn’t exist in this pool any more than it existed in Jacob’s well in Samaria.” De Leon’s search for a pool with its water that could let people live forever failed miserably, too. The press for eternal earthly life is an abomination to God. It is merely the means of deceiving others that they will not need God. It is not the length of life nor the complete and full physical abilities of one’s body that makes the healing truly effective. It is confession of faith that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God and as such proclaimed as one’s personal Lord and Savior that makes the healing truly effective. It is the press for eternal spiritual life in tune with God and not relying on any middle man to effect the change. Did you see that in the stories I mentioned in yesterday’s study? Mary told the servants “Do what He says.” Jesus said, “One day you will not worship on a mountain (bound to a religious practice) but in spirit and truth.” Back in Cana it was the ruler himself who made the request and not one of his servants who could have easily communicated the message of intent. Today, it was Jesus teaching a man that he didn’t need to wait for mythical water or make-believe people who might care about his condition to be healed. Get up! Worship God in spirit and in truth. Of course that part of the story will come tomorrow.

PRAYER CONCERNS (share your needs and others in the comment section so that God’s Mighty Men can join prayer forces as intercessors of faith, hope and love)

* For those who will lead God’s people in worship, service and praise this weekend
* For the children in a China kindergarten class who were knifed and their families and
community and for those in another community who were attacked with a hammer and then
were witness to a man committing suicide by setting himself on fire
* For a closure of the oil leak from the damaged well in the Gulf of Mexico and the protection
of wildlife in the water and on the Gulf Coast shores
* For those who lost loved ones and property in the earthquakes, fire and storm around the
world
* For the resolution of unrest in the Middle East, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan
* For the protection of our troops around the world defending what is right and good for the
sake of human dignity and hope
* For the support and encouragement of those who are seeking employment and the peace of
mind that comes from trusting the process of God’s creation of a new opportunity with the
promise of vocational resurrection in its season
* For the release of all those who are now addicted to the internet through games such as Call of
Duty which has valued violence as a means of social interaction
* For confidence for Mack
* For teachers and students as they prepare for the end of this week of testing

PRAYER CELEBRATIONS (where we see Him at work in the world):

* A productive week with TAKS tests is coming to an end!
* Opportunities to use students with testing irregularities as moments for mission, vision and
purpose talks

ABIDING IN HIS PRESENCE THROUGH PRAYER:

Father, speak to us and make us capable of standing on our own to accomplish that part of Your Will fashioned for us to do today in Jesus’ name. AMEN.

April 29, 2010

HIS WORD FOR TODAY:

John 4. 49

“The royal official said, ‘Sir, come down before my child dies.”

REFLECTING IN HIS WORD:

Let’s get down to the heart of the matter. We studied about what it was we needed from Jesus and how our actions and affections toward Him can be based on our earthly perceptions instead of heavenly revelations such as Judas Iscariot. But, Jesus was not oblivious to human needs nor earthly perceptions. He was in the midst of people whose perceptions had been changed and challenged by contemporary wisdom and ancient teachings. He was in the midst of people whose needs were great and whose desires were true to who they were. He loved these people. He hated sin. He loved the sinner and the saint equally. His heart broke for all those who were in need whether they saw the deeper spiritual need or not. He had come for them all and for all generations to come.

Interesting how Jesus has a way of getting people to reveal their own truth. We have three stories shared in the beginning of the gospel of John which took place outside of Judea. In the first story (the wedding in Cana), Jesus had no intention of revealing who He was. He was not to be the center of attention. He was a guest, along with His disciples, perhaps because His mother was at the wedding. This was a time for celebrating the bride and groom. But, in obedience to His mother, he obeyed her and turned the water into wine. In the second story (the woman at the well), the woman had no intention of revealing herself to anyone least of all a Jewish stranger. She had no desire to be the center of attention. But, she was a guest, along with His disciples, to an object lesson of such import it changed her life forever. In the third story (the healing of the royal official’s son), Jesus had no intention of being made the center of attention as if He and His disciples were some kind of miracle road show with all the spiritual fireworks some people saw when He cleared the temple. He rebuked those who had crowded near Him about their need for miraculous signs and wonders to affirm their belief or substantiate their particular claim to who He was and what He was to do. But, this man’s focus was strictly on his son who near to death. For this man, all miracles and wonders aside, the greatest need was the restoration of life to his son. He spoke directly to Jesus from his heart. If John had been close enough to hear the entire conversation then he might have heard the man perhaps say what most every parent would say to God in this situation, “I would be glad to trade places with him just so he can live.” Jesus responded to the sincere faith and desire of the man (his position was not an issue) and healed the man’s son.

But, isn’t that what Jesus did for us? He went to God and declared in love “I would be glad to trade places with them so they can live.” His purpose was not to lift Himself up but to be lifted up on the cross so that we might be able to stand before the throne of God in confidence to worship Him forever. Whether Jesus shows up at the well of our lives or we approach Him with the concern for ourselves or others, He loves us and desires what is best for us. Do we speak plainly with Him in our study and prayer? Are we honest about our intentions in prayer and our requests of God’s power and might? God has spoken plainly with us. All He wants is our plain speaking of faith, hope and love in return.

PRAYER CONCERNS (share your needs and others in the comment section so that God’s Mighty Men can join prayer forces as intercessors of faith, hope and love)

* For the children in a China kindergarten class who were knifed and their families and
community
* For a closure of the oil leak from the damaged well in the Gulf of Mexico and the protection
of wildlife
* For those who lost loved ones and property in the earthquakes, fire and storm around the
world
* For the resolution of unrest in the Middle East, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan
* For the protection of our troops around the world defending what is right and good for the
sake of human dignity and hope
* For the support and encouragement of those who are seeking employment and the peace of
mind that comes from trusting the process of God’s creation of a new opportunity with the
promise of vocational resurrection in its season
* For the release of all those who are now addicted to the internet through games such as Call of
Duty which has valued violence as a means of social interaction
* For Lisa’s encouragement that she is truly prepared for this week and calm confidence for
Mack
* For teachers and students as they prepare for a week of testing entering its fourth day

PRAYER CELEBRATIONS (where we see Him at work in the world):

* A productive week with TAKS tests
* Students taking a vital, active interest in their future

ABIDING IN HIS PRESENCE THROUGH PRAYER:

Father, where Your Word is there is life. Thanks, Lord, for speaking life to us that we might have life and have it abundantly without fear or despair of falling short. AMEN.

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April 28, 2010

HIS WORD FOR TODAY:

John 4. 45

“When He arrived in Galilee, the Galileans welcomed Him. They had seen all that He had done
in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, for they also had been there.”

REFLECTING IN HIS WORD:

If you have not done anything with your life, don’t worry, your reputation will never precede you. It is by action that you will be known. Jesus was welcomed back into the region of Galilee because of what He had done in Jerusalem during the Passover celebration. Hopefully you recognize that John’s timeline of recording the events in Jesus’ ministry was a bit different from the other gospels. Here is one place that gives us pause to reflect on “what did Jesus do in Jerusalem.” Especially, what did He do that would excite the Galileans about His presence, His coming and His ministry? You just have to go back to chapter 2 to discover this answer for this. There was one major event and another of John’s “meanwhile back at the ranch” moments we had looked at previously with the disciples and the woman at the well. The major event was the cleaning out of the temple courts from all the money-making operations that had been sanctioned by the temple leadership which were a mockery to God. He declared “How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!” (Remember this scene took place during the Holy Week events of the last week in Jesus’ earthly life as recorded in Matthew, Mark and Luke. Jesus was remembered as saying “You have turned my Father’s house, or this house of prayer, into a den of thieves.”) This was not a dispassionate display from the meek and gentle lamb. Here was the lion of Judah lifting His head to heaven and filling the courts with a shot that would be heard even into Galilee. And, oh by the way, while He was in Jerusalem during that time, many people saw miraculous signs performed at His hand and they believed in Him.

So, what does that have to do with His reputation or ours? John 2.25 answers that question for us saying “He did not need man’s testimony for he knew what was in a man.” I believe this is one of those defining comments about the difference between man’s agenda and God’s. God’s agenda is to bring all men unto himself so they might receive the blessing He has prepared for them through His saving grace. Man’s agenda is to have others support Him, even God, so that he can live the life of his own definition. There isn’t anything wrong with that definition as long as it aligns with God’s. But, here we see the problem and John introduces us to this problem all in one chapter. It is quite possible that the Galileans were excited about Jesus coming to their hometown because of the spectacle in the temple court. No, not the miracles, signs and wonders but the explosive outburst and physical commentary displayed in the temple. Could this be that “warrior Messiah” others had heard about? Could this be the One who would unify the split between north and south? Could it be that Judas was one of those people who was willing and ready to cast his lot with this misidentification of the Savior of the World? The question offered to us is what reputation precedes Jesus in our lives? What expectation did we have to place on what we needed Him to do for us? Or is it with us? Or is it through us? Whatever it is, mighty man of God, it needs to align with what God’s plan is for us and for His Kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven.

PRAYER CONCERNS (share your needs and others in the comment section so that God’s Mighty Men can join prayer forces as intercessors of faith, hope and love)

* For the override of the Governor of Oklahoma’s veto of an abortion bill and the lives of
God’s children that will be forever changed
* For those who lost loved ones and property in the earthquake in China where over 2200
people have lost their lives and thousands more are displaced and those who
are forced to leave their homes because of an erupting Icelandic volcano sending another large
ash cloud toward the UK and Europe; for the earthquake victims in New Guinea, Afghanistan,
Chile, Indonesia and Haiti
* For the resolution of unrest in the Middle East, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan; a special
concern for the unrest in the Ukraine as their parliament erupts in battle
* For the protection of our troops around the world defending what is right and good for the
sake of human dignity and hope
* For the support and encouragement of those who are seeking employment and the peace of
mind that comes from trusting the process of God’s creation of a new opportunity with the
promise of vocational resurrection in its season
* For the release of all those who are now addicted to the internet through games such as Call of
Duty which has valued violence as a means of social interaction
* For Lisa’s encouragement that she is truly prepared for this week and calm confidence for
Mack
* For teachers and students as they prepare for a week of testing entering its third day

PRAYER CELEBRATIONS (where we see Him at work in the world):

* A productive week with TAKS tests
* Tuesday was a beautiful day (I didn’t get to enjoy it being inside all day) but I heard it was

ABIDING IN HIS PRESENCE THROUGH PRAYER:

Father, Your will be done in us, through us and with us. AMEN.

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April 27, 2010

HIS WORD FOR TODAY:

Genesis 32. 23, 24; 26b

“After he had sent his whole family across the Jabbok and they were safe, he sent over all his possessions. So Jacob was left alone, and a man came and wrestled with him until daybreak
Jacob replied, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.’”

REFLECTING IN HIS WORD:

The man was none other than an angel of the Lord. It draws to mind how many of us, weak and strong end up wrestling all night with some concern. All other parts of our lives have been put to rest for the night but we are tossing and turning in worry, concern, fear, doubt, question, uncertainty and confusion. How many nights sleep have we lost because we could find no peace for our lives in the coming day? Jacob wrestled as well as he anticipated meeting his brother Esau from whom he had “wrestled” away from his father Isaac. It is not a lesson about not wrestling with great concerns and struggling with God’s will for our lives when it seems the vision is not clear. It is a lesson to not let go until you have received a blessing for the coming day; an assurance of peace and prosperity. It is a call to not enter the day’s work without having come away from God with what was promised to you.

I sometimes think I have missed the blessing on some days. I look back across them and see only struggle, the people I care about heavy with concern or nothing “outstanding” that happened in the day. I did think that until I was reminded of this lesson. Now, I realize that beginning the day with prayer, praise, God’s word and a sharing of momentary insight is a tremendous blessing. I need to change my perspective. The joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30.5). I do not have to wait until the day is done to see if I have been blessed. I can look at the end of the day and decide how I did with the blessing God has given me. So, my word of ministry to you in these matters is that if you cannot rest in the night for the many concerns you are still holding on to that God is seeking to wrest away from your grasp make sure that you are not left empty when you let go of them. God may be wrestling with you to take these concerns upon His own shoulders and offload a tremendous blessing of faith, hope and love; peace and prosperity for you in the day to come.

PRAYER CONCERNS (share your needs and others in the comment section so that God’s Mighty Men can join prayer forces as intercessors of faith, hope and love)

* For those who are standing for the National Day of Prayer that God might continue to show
His mighty hand at work through those who have committed their lives to the truth of the
gospel which says that through Christ alone can Heaven and its blessings be gained
* For those who lost loved ones and property in the earthquake in China where over 2200
people have lost their lives and thousands more are displaced and those who
are forced to leave their homes because of an erupting Icelandic volcano sending another large
ash cloud toward the UK and Europe; for the earthquake victims in New Guinea, Afghanistan,
Chile, Indonesia and Haiti
* For the resolution of unrest in the Middle East, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan; a special
concern for the unrest in the Ukraine as their parliament erupts in battle
* For the protection of our troops around the world defending what is right and good for the
sake of human dignity and hope
* For the support and encouragement of those who are seeking employment and the peace of
mind that comes from trusting the process of God’s creation of a new opportunity with the
promise of vocational resurrection in its season
* For the release of all those who are now addicted to the internet through games such as Call of
Duty which has valued violence as a means of social interaction
* For Lisa’s encouragement that she is truly prepared for this week and calm confidence for
Mack
* For teachers and students as they prepare for a week of testing beginning today

PRAYER CELEBRATIONS (where we see Him at work in the world):

* A productive week with TAKS tests
* Lisa had a successful day with her testing

ABIDING IN HIS PRESENCE THROUGH PRAYER:

Father, for the blessings we have received for this day we are truly thankful. May we use them in a mighty way for the glory of Your kingdom and for the benefit of Your people. AMEN.

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April 26, 2010

HIS WORD FOR TODAY:

John 4.42

“They said to the woman, ‘We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have
heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”

REFLECTING IN HIS WORD:

We come to the end of this testimony concerning the ministry of the woman at the well. On the one hand it is easy to create possible scenarios and dialogues based upon the context that this was a person marginalized by gender, cultural bias, ethnicity, a differing religious reference and a difficult life. Yet, I would do no justice to this particular witness unless I also embraced the fact she held some position of leadership and authority in the community of Sychar even if it was among others who were marginalized as well. She returned to the city and spoke to those who were at the city gate. It would not be unusual to believe the leadership of the community were there as well as others seeking opportunities which would help themselves. The business of the day was generally conducted at the city gate. But, she not only spoke to them and shared with them her testimony concerning Jesus the Christ; they listened and responded. She had to speak with confidence and surety. Her knowledge of religion and faith can point to a grounding of thought and belief that was sincere. Perhaps she had just wandered away from her “church” upbringing. Life does have a way of doing things like that and so, too, does going to “church.”

As God’s mighty men, we also have a sphere of influence, a group of people who listen to us, respect our words and look to us for leadership and insight. Sometimes, we fall short of who and what we should be but these people still give us the benefit of a doubt and trust us. They respond to how we respond to difficult times in our lives. They know by experience we can’t all just keep pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps. There are times when we all need some guidance and assistance which comes from a power greater than our own. So, God’s mighty men of today are not unlike Jesus’ mighty men of His day. Those disciples were living on the edge because they had chosen to be followers of Christ. They didn’t have all the answers. They didn’t have all the authority. But, they did have Jesus. One day they would be able to inspire others to come and see Jesus for themselves. One day they would rejoice that others would believe based on their own experiences with the Risen Lord and not just their words alone. It started with just a question “Will you serve Me?” Much like the call of Isaiah when the voice of the God said, “Who will go for Me?” He responded, “Here I am, Lord, send me.” Will you answer the call today to go and tell others of this Savior who met you at the promised well of life, your life?

PRAYER CONCERNS (share your needs and others in the comment section so that God’s Mighty Men can join prayer forces as intercessors of faith, hope and love)

* For those who have suffered loss of life and property in the powerful storms crossing our
country this past weekend and their recovery in grief and in confidence
* For those who are standing for the National Day of Prayer that God might continue to show
His mighty hand at work through those who have committed their lives to the truth of the
gospel which says that through Christ alone can Heaven and its blessings be gained
* For those who lost loved ones and property in the earthquake in China where over 2200
people have lost their lives and thousands more are displaced and those who
are forced to leave their homes because of an erupting Icelandic volcano sending another large
ash cloud toward the UK and Europe; for the earthquake victims in New Guinea, Afghanistan,
Chile, Indonesia (today with a 6.0 earthquake) and Haiti
* For the resolution of unrest in the Middle East, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan; a special
concern for the girls’ schools in Afghanistan under attack from the Taliban who are using
poisonous gases
* For the protection of our troops around the world defending what is right and good for the
sake of human dignity and hope
* For the support and encouragement of those who are seeking employment and the peace of
mind that comes from trusting the process of God’s creation of a new opportunity with the
promise of vocational resurrection in its season
* For the release of all those who are now addicted to the internet through games such as Call of
Duty which has valued violence as a means of social interaction
* For Lisa’s encouragement that she is truly prepared for this week and calm confidence for
Mack
* For teachers and students as they prepare for a week of testing beginning today

PRAYER CELEBRATIONS (where we see Him at work in the world):

* A productive weekend preparing for TAKS tests
* The Word of the Lord speaks through the stories of others

ABIDING IN HIS PRESENCE THROUGH PRAYER:

Father, for the witness borne today by these mighty men we give You thanks. Let their words, actions and faith speak with authority and with love as only can come from our Savior in whose name we pray. AMEN.

April 25, 2010

HIS WORD FOR TODAY:

John 4.34

“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the Will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work.”

REFLECTING IN HIS WORD:

Today’s lesson is easy enough if we know what God’s work is. Jesus finds his physical, emotional and spiritual satisfaction in completing God’s Work. The completion of God’s work is to bring in the harvest. We might wonder how that could be when we see sin so much at work and very present in the world. We look at the world and are easily overwhelmed thinking that there are so many unsaved people who need to hear the gospel and be disciple in faith, hope and love. We are focused so much on the consequences of the problem of sin that perhaps we overlook the consequences of the reality of Christ. Even before His death Jesus was teaching His disciples that the fields of life were white with harvest. I have said many times that “Jesus is outstanding in His field.” God’s people are the fruits of His labor from which He rested eons ago on the seventh day of creation. It is true, isn’t it, that God had finished making people on the sixth day. From that point forward it would be up to Adam and Eve and their descendents to carry on the work which God had begun. But, the scripture does not say that on the seventh day, the Sabbath, He ceased working. Rather it says that He rested from all His labors. By that seventh day God had finished the work He had been doing does not indicate that God had done all He had planned to do. There was more work to do and God’s mighty men are to continue doing that work. I mean, honestly, when we brought children into the world is our work done? We certainly want to rest from our labors (especially God’s mighty women who labor to bring that life into the world) but we do not cease our work as it relates to those children. There is much to do.

So how do we find our satisfaction? I heard last week that “addiction is another word for a lack of a positive relationship.” Those who suffer from all types of addiction can see that prophetic word and know its truth. What then is a positive relationship? It might well be one that is obedient to the Will of the One who made it ultimately possible for us to be in the world so that His Work might find it completion. The woman at the well lacked that positive relationship having been married five times and living out of wedlock with another man. She could not have that positive relationship with a man until she was in a positive relationship with God. She was bound to serve people and only hope for God. In this encounter with the Lord, the Christ in whom she had hope, she not only found a way to serve people but to serve God in a mighty way as well. She stepped into the arena of true discipleship and began working to bring God’s Work to completion. The disciples, on the other hand, still had not figured out what this positive relationship was all about. They were glad to just be in the presence of Jesus instead of practicing the presence of Jesus. They were glad to just be working and missing the fulfillment of working for the Lord in obedience to God’s Will for the purpose of getting the job of faith, hope and love done.

Hmmm, doesn’t sound quite as simple as we thought, right? But, it is. Our food, our satisfaction, does come from doing the Will of our Heavenly Father and working to complete the work He has begun in us and now through us in Jesus Christ. It is necessary, of course, to figure out what our place is in the kingdom. I believe it starts by going and sharing the good news that “I have found a man who knows everything about me. I know He is the Christ.”

PRAYER CONCERNS (share your needs and others in the comment section so that God’s Mighty Men can join prayer forces as intercessors of faith, hope and love)

* For those who will lead God’s people in worship, praise and service this weekend
* For those who have suffered loss of life and property in the powerful storms crossing our
country this weekend
* For those who are standing for the National Day of Prayer that God might continue to show
His mighty hand at work through those who have committed their lives to the truth of the
gospel which says that through Christ alone can Heaven and its blessings be gained
* For those who lost loved ones and property in the earthquake in China where over 2200
people have lost their lives and thousands more are displaced and those who
are forced to leave their homes because of an erupting Icelandic volcano sending another large
ash cloud toward the UK and Europe; for the earthquake victims in New Guinea, Afghanistan,
Chile, Indonesia (today with a 6.0 earthquake) and Haiti
* For the resolution of unrest in the Middle East, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan
* For the protection of our troops around the world defending what is right and good for the
sake of human dignity and hope
* For the support and encouragement of those who are seeking employment and the peace of
mind that comes from trusting the process of God’s creation of a new opportunity with the
promise of vocational resurrection in its season
* For the release of all those who are now addicted to the internet through games such as Call of
Duty which has valued violence as a means of social interaction
* For Lisa’s encouragement that she is truly prepared for this week
* For teachers and students as they prepare for a week of testing beginning in 2 days

PRAYER CELEBRATIONS (where we see Him at work in the world):

* A productive weekend preparing for TAKS tests
* This is the day of the Lord

ABIDING IN HIS PRESENCE THROUGH PRAYER:

Father, may the words of these mouths, the meditations of these hearts, the works of these hands and the joy of these lives renewed by your Love be acceptable and effective in Jesus’ name. AMEN.

April 24, 2010

HIS WORD FOR TODAY:

John 4.31

“Meanwhile His disciples urged him, ‘Rabbi, eat something.’”

REFLECTING IN HIS WORD:

One of the literary tools the Elder John uses in sharing the gospel is that “meanwhile, back at the ranch” insert. Yes, I know, he doesn’t say “back at the ranch” but there are these jolts of reality which surround Jesus’ mighty men. While He is doing the will of His heavenly Father- healing, revealing and transforming lives; the disciples have this inane ability to just be terribly human. I think it must be because they just do not have a firm grasp on their new reality as disciples of Christ. Notice I do not say followers of Christ but disciples. Jesus had many followers but when crunch time came to make decisions about discipleship most turned away. Followers are like groupies and interested in the latest fad or “new thing.” Disciples are student-learners whose purpose is to become faith-practitioners. When Jesus commissioned His disciples following His resurrection just before His ascension, He told them “go and make disciples.” He did not send them to make followers. Followers happen because people become enamored with the pulse of emotion and excitement that charismatic leaders can generate. They get swept up into the moment and translate that to mean an ultimate reality and truth. Jesus was preparing His disciples for ultimate reality and truth when He predicted His betrayal and crucifixion. He prepared them for their ultimate reality and truth when He told them of their own earthly fate as His disciples.

But, it is the same for all those who make the decision to cross the line between being a follower and becoming a disciple. It is a process of hearing the truth, listening to its call and obeying its command. It is a movement from seeing the world through human eyes only and visioning the world with the eyes of Jesus. The disciples who returned to the well from Sychar to find Jesus in dialogue with the Samaritan woman were still in transformation. The woman was becoming a disciple obeying and proclaiming the living Word made flesh who offered the end of a thirsting for righteousness. While the disciples made their way back to the well, working through the coming crowd and dealt with Jesus as if He were one of them asking, “Here, we went to town, got some food and have eaten. You should eat, too.” They were still following Jesus. They still had not embraced at this time that they were one with Him not that He was one of them. The good thing is that they would not stop following Jesus, except for one. They continued to press on in belief, growing in faith and become His disciples first, then apostles. While we do not hear of what happened to the Samaritan woman after she preached her first sermon and extended her first invitation, I doubt that it stopped there. But, this was not a story about the Samaritan woman. This was another chapter in the gospel concerning Jesus as the Christ and the impact He was making in the lives of those whom God was loving through Him. That story continues through His mighty men who are not satisfied with being mere Christ-followers. Those mighty men have chosen to be His disciples who are still engaged in the learning process of spiritual maturity growing, as the Apostle Paul wrote to the congregants in Corinth, “into the full measure and stature of Christ.” It happens when we stop inviting Jesus to be one of us. It starts when we accept His invitation to be one with Him; sons of the Most High God our Father and joint heirs in the Kingdom of Heaven and Earth.

PRAYER CONCERNS (share your needs and others in the comment section so that God’s Mighty Men can join prayer forces as intercessors of faith, hope and love)

* For those who will lead God’s people in worship, praise and service this weekend
* For those who are standing against the National Day of Prayer and the Army who has
rescinded its invitation to Franklin Graham to be a presenter at the Pentagon’s National Day of
Prayer service for speaking against Islamic practices
* For the eleven killed or missing in the oil platform explosion in the Gulf of Mexico
* For those who lost loved ones and property in the earthquake in China where over 2200
people have lost their lives and thousands more are displaced and those who
are forced to leave their homes because of an erupting Icelandic volcano sending another large
ash cloud toward the UK and Europe; for the earthquake victims in New Guinea, Afghanistan,
Chile, Indonesia (today with a 6.0 earthquake) and Haiti
* For the resolution of unrest in the Middle East, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan
* For the protection of our troops around the world defending what is right and good for the
sake of human dignity and hope
* For the support and encouragement of those who are seeking employment and the peace of
mind that comes from trusting the process of God’s creation of a new opportunity with the
promise of vocational resurrection in its season
* For the release of all those who are now addicted to the internet through games such as Call of
Duty which has valued violence as a means of social interaction
* For Lisa’s rest this weekend
* For teachers and students as they prepare for a week of testing beginning in 4 days

PRAYER CELEBRATIONS (where we see Him at work in the world):

* Yardwork and preparing a place for God’s creatures to be nurtured and celebrated
* The opportunity to give the gift of life through apheresis (gallon 58)

ABIDING IN HIS PRESENCE THROUGH PRAYER:

Father, You have extended the invitation and these mighty men are answering. Maintain Your blessing on them as they transition from followers excited about all You are doing to becoming disciples of Christ sharing in His ministry through them to others. May the blessings be abundantly revealed, known and received in Jesus’ name. AMEN.

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April 23, 2010

HIS WORD FOR TODAY:

John 4.18c-19

“[Jesus speaking] ‘What you have just said (“I have no husband.”) is quite true.’ ‘Sir,’ the woman said, ‘I can see that you are a prophet..’”

REFLECTING IN HIS WORD:

The first step to receiving God’s living water was “God asking a question of us.” (April 21) It could be someone asking us for a drink of water. It could be someone asking us if we truly believe in Jesus Christ. It could be someone asking us if we are willing to work in a foreign land. It is a prelude to taking the second step. I used to laughing say that a baby hasn’t really walked until they took that second step. The first step could have certainly been the result of a loss of balance after standing up. But, the second step would express some intentionality. I believe the same would be true in this teaching. The second step in receiving living water must show our intentionality toward God.

The second step to receiving God’s living water is to be prophetic. I have mentioned before that prophecy is less forth-telling as if to predict the future and more truth-telling as if to open the door to the future. If the woman at the well had any hope of receiving this living water which the world could not provide then she was going to have to start being truthful about herself. It is a time of confession that will lead to a profession. When she confessed she was not married she gave Jesus the opportunity to speak directly into her heart, soul and mind. As He revealed some of His knowledge about her she began to make professions: “I see you are a prophet;” “I know the Messiah is coming;” and most of all “Come and see.”

Just as the stone had to be removed from the well in order to draw water, just as the stone had to be removed from the tomb to reveal the resurrection, so, too, did the stone have to be removed from the life of the woman at the well so she could receive the gift. I believe this ties back to Jesus’ words “If you knew the gift, you would be asking me for a drink of living water.” She revealed herself to the Lord and He revealed himself to her. You tell me a truth and I will tell you one. The same is true for each of us. Sin is that stone which can keep the well of our lives being filled from above. We cannot successfully exist on the water table of the world that rises up in us. That water can disappear. Our well can run dry. But, when we confess the truth about our lives and profess the truth about our future then we are filled to overflowing, our will shall never run dry and the water we share with others will never be bound to an “earn” but a give.

PRAYER CONCERNS (share your needs and others in the comment section so that God’s Mighty Men can join prayer forces as intercessors of faith, hope and love)

* For those who will lead God’s people in worship, praise and service this weekend
* For those who are standing against the National Day of Prayer and the Army who has
rescinded its invitation to Franklin Graham to be a presenter at the Pentagon’s National Day of
Prayer service for speaking against Islamic practices
* For the eleven killed or missing in the oil platform explosion in the Gulf of Mexico
* For those who lost loved ones and property in the earthquake in China where over 2000
people have lost their lives and thousands more are displaced and those who
are forced to leave their homes because of an erupting Icelandic volcano sending another large
ash cloud toward the UK and Europe; for the earthquake victims in New Guinea, Afghanistan,
Chile (a 6.1 earthquake hit there yesterday) and Haiti
* For the resolution of unrest in the Middle East, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan
* For the protection of our troops around the world defending what is right and good for the
sake of human dignity and hope
* For the support and encouragement of those who are seeking employment and the peace of
mind that comes from trusting the process of God’s creation of a new opportunity with the
promise of vocational resurrection in its season
* For the release of all those who are now addicted to the internet through games such as Call of
Duty which has valued violence as a means of social interaction
* For Lisa’s work success in this coming week
* For teachers and students as they prepare for a week of testing beginning in 5 days

PRAYER CELEBRATIONS (where we see Him at work in the world):

* God has allowed me another day of blessing and promise to do my best to serve His will
* Pets

ABIDING IN HIS PRESENCE THROUGH PRAYER:

Father, thank You for revealing the truth to us about our lives. We are not bound to the things of this world which hang about our necks as a great millstone. We have been set free, the millstone is rolled away and we shall rise with Him who was raised for us. Let this truth be known through these mighty men as they become gospel prophets of faith, hope and love in Jesus Christ. AMEN.

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April 22, 2010

HIS WORD FOR TODAY:

John 4.15

“The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep
coming here to draw water.’”

REFLECTING IN HIS WORD:

Have you ever said something insightful and powerful and you didn’t even intend on doing so? Others look at you in amazement at the depth of thought you produced in bringing to light one of those “aha” moments. When you stop to think about it you are amazed yourself and wonder where it might have come from. Perhaps you took credit for it and basked in the glow of others’ admiration. Perhaps you passed it off as just one of those normal things that happens with you all the time. On those rare occasions you might actually stand in awe that your humanity stepped out of the way of God’s spiritual leadership and the gift of inspiration which He created in you moved to the forefront. Maybe it was just a slip of the tongue and you will never sound that smart again. Enjoy your moment in the sun.

Or maybe you can be like the woman at the well who was enjoying her moment in the “Son.” Living in the midst of greatness, as the mighty men of God are wont to do, has its benefits. The more one finds himself in the center of God’s presence the more there is to discover and uncover about the gift which has been given. Jesus promised His disciples, on the night when He was to be betrayed, that He would send to them the gift of the Holy Spirit. It would lead, guide, inspire and teach them all they would ever need to know as they served God in a mighty way. The Holy Spirit is like a key to the God-a-pedia of life. Using that key unlocks the blessings which each Christ-followers has been given. Each blessing is loaded with power, authority and insight that allows the believer to know a little more and do a little more. Left to our own device we may never know more than we do right now. But, empowered and enlightened by God’s Holy Spirit each mighty man of God becomes a tremendous tool of faith, hope and love in the Master’s Hand.

So, this woman from Sychar who knew there would be a Messiah who will come and explain the mysteries that kept people separated from one another (see 4.25) was trying to put together all the information given to her so far. Living water welling up to eternal life and water from Jacob’s well which had sustained a nation of people for two thousand years. Water from a well drawn to help meet the needs of her material existence meets the water from an eternal spring that would cause her to never need to draw from it again. At first we might think she has missed the meaning altogether reducing the profound to the level of profane. Later Christians might laugh at the simplicity of her thought and how she missed the point Jesus was making. Maybe that was the case. Maybe it was only half the case. How many times have we had to be told something before we finally “got it.” Maybe she was getting the truth in her spirit and said much more than she knew in her own mind.

If she received this living water that would quench her thirst for wholeness, purpose, meaning, truth and yes, salvation then she would not be slave to Jacob’s well on the Patriarch Road padded flat by the feet of those who eyes were turned to the past instead of focusing on the future. As long as she had to draw water from Jacob’s well she was bound to the barrenness of her life and the fleeting hope of peace and freedom. But, if she could draw from Christ’s well then she would be a woman of promise and life. And her life would not just be any life but a life alive at the center that would move the mountains of Samaria to the feet of Jesus. Oh, yes, isn’t that what was about to happen when she returned to the city gate and met with elders of the town, the mountains, and proclaimed the truth she had found in Jesus the Christ? Aren’t we, as God’s mighty men, equally equipped and charged to be the movers and shakers of the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in Heaven. Are we not promised that when our words fail God will provide words for us. In fact, He provided “the Word” for us and it speaks mightily all on its own welling up to eternal life.

PRAYER CONCERNS (share your needs and others in the comment section so that God’s Mighty Men can join prayer forces as intercessors of faith, hope and love)

* For the eleven killed or missing in the oil platform explosion in the Gulf of Mexico
* For those who lost loved ones and property in the earthquake in China where over 2000
people have lost their lives and thousands more are displaced and those who
are forced to leave their homes because of an erupting Icelandic volcano sending another large
ash cloud toward the UK and Europe; for the earthquake victims in New Guinea, Afghanistan,
Chile and Haiti
* For the resolution of unrest in the Middle East, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan
* For the protection of our troops around the world defending what is right and good for the
sake of human dignity and hope
* For the support and encouragement of those who are seeking employment and the peace of
mind that comes from trusting the process of God’s creation of a new opportunity with the
promise of vocational resurrection in its season
* For the release of all those who are now addicted to the internet through games such as Call of
Duty which has valued violence as a means of social interaction
* For Lisa’s work success in this coming week
* For teachers and students as they prepare for a week of testing beginning in 5 days

PRAYER CELEBRATIONS (where we see Him at work in the world):

* A safe and less painful visit for Mack to the dentist and his oral healing
* European flights are back in the air and people are moving

ABIDING IN HIS PRESENCE THROUGH PRAYER:

Father, You who removed the stone from the well of life and let the Son pour out upon our lives in mercy, grace, love and forgiveness, receive our thanksgiving and our ministry. May Your Spirit be strong in those who ask for a drink from the wellspring of life. May Your strength be theirs in all they say and do as they share the gospel of Jesus, the man of Nazareth, the Son of God whom they have met when they least expected. AMEN.

April 21, 2010

HIS WORD FOR TODAY:

John 4.10

“Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you
would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.’”

REFLECTING IN HIS WORD:

Our salvation begins with a question and it isn’t even our question. The question comes from God. Remember it was when the woman from Sychar approached Jacob’s well as she had before too many times to count that Jesus asked her the first question. Jesus is the initiator of God’s love message, the salvation dialogue. Somebody has to ask the question. We may think about the plight of our lives. We may quietly mull over the question of our meaning and purpose. We may give God a consideration as one option among many. But until God steps into our presence, waiting at the well of our soul and extends the word that begins the journey into wholeness it rarely gets done on our side alone.

Hear the dialogue again.

Jesus: “Will you give me a drink?”
Woman: “How can you a Jew ask me a Samaritan for a drink?”
Jesus: “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that ASKS you for a
drink, you would have [already] asked Him and He would have given you living
water.”

Do we stop to think about our opportunity to serve the Lord with each person we meet? Do we go through an acceptability checklist for who receives the blessing of the Lord through us? We boast about being the richest and most powerful nation in the world. Do we as Christ-followers and mighty men of God believe we are in this position based upon our own industry? Of course we do not. We remember, most of the time, that it is because we live in the midst of the blessing of God by being righteous before God and man. Others are living from the residual of what God has given us. Yet, there is still some fear that if we give our bounty to others there will be none left for us. So, we are careful about who we serve, who we talk to and what we do. What will the neighbors think?

The woman at the well did not ask this stranger if she could offer Him water. Was it because He was obviously a Jew? Was it because He was a man alone in the middle of the day with no one else around? Was it because she had an agenda of task which superceded the call for people? Whatever the answer, Jesus knew it was a spiritual question that begged to be asked. If she wasn’t going to do it even when she had wrestled with it many times, Jesus would. And He did.
And He does. He asks of us in the quickening of our conscience by His Holy Spirit “What will you do for this person or that person?” He asks of us in the laments of our daily lives “What can I do for you?” If we had the confidence of faith, hope and love flooding our lives, we would not hesitate to ask Him ourselves boldly instead of answering timidly. We have the right! We have the opportunity! We have a God who not only wants to hear our questions but listen to our needs and answer them. This is the true gift of God, I think. The gift is God himself who has shown himself to the world through Jesus Christ.

It is time to make Jesus known to the world so they can recognize Him and ask Him for the gift of living water without having to wait and wonder “when He comes.” He has come and the time is now when God’s people shall and must worship in Spirit and in Truth.

PRAYER CONCERNS (share your needs and others in the comment section so that God’s Mighty Men can join prayer forces as intercessors of faith, hope and love)

* For those killed in the oil platform explosion in the Gulf of Mexico
* For those who lost loved ones and property in the earthquake in China where over 2000
people have lost their lives and thousands more are displaced and those who
are forced to leave their homes because of an erupting Icelandic volcano sending another large
ash cloud toward the UK and Europe; for the earthquake victims in New Guinea, Afghanistan,
Chile and Haiti
* For the resolution of unrest in the Middle East, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan
* For the protection of our troops around the world defending what is right and good for the
sake of human dignity and hope
* For the support and encouragement of those who are seeking employment and the peace of
mind that comes from trusting the process of God’s creation of a new opportunity with the
promise of vocational resurrection in its season
* For the release of all those who are now addicted to the internet through games such as Call of
Duty which has valued violence as a means of social interaction
* For Lisa’s work success in this coming week
* For teachers and students as they prepare for a week of testing beginning in 6 days

PRAYER CELEBRATIONS (where we see Him at work in the world):

* A safe and less painful visit for Mack to the dentist and his oral healing
* For the elimination of barriers that keep God’s people from seeking Him boldly

ABIDING IN HIS PRESENCE THROUGH PRAYER:

Father, we do thank You for asking us “Do you believe?” We do believe and now receive the blessing of Your Spirit. Watch and rejoice as Your mighty men go into all the world preaching, teaching, baptizing and making disciples in all nations. Watch and listen as they ask and answer the important questions of life with faith, hope and love. Be glad today as they shall be glad in You. AMEN.

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