Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Why "Born Again"?

This is a phrase that has been discussed for the last 2000 years, not always in the best light. What exactly does it mean? And do I need to be?

John 3:3-8
3. Jesus answered and said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." 4. Nicodemus said to Him, "How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born, can he?" 5. Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7. "Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.' 8. "The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit."

In the days when Jesus walked here on earth there were two types of people. Those who knew God and those that didn't. In those days the Jews were the people God had revealed Himself to. Jews and Gentiles: the Jews were God's chosen people, all the others were Gentiles. It was a pretty closed society.
So Nicodemus found himself as one of the "chosen"; one of the elite. But things were changing. No more would it be possible to "get to the promised land" (find salvation) in his current state of mind. Jesus was on the scene and it was all going to change. They were transitioning from the "Old Testament" covenant into the "New Testament".

Nicodemus was a man with a vast amount of knowledge, yet he did not understand what Jesus was saying about being "born again". He was a very intelligent, learned man, yet he could not grasp the concept. "Go back up into your mother's womb? What?... I'm missing something here!"

Nicodemus was used to one set of rules for his living and thinking. These were a very rigid and unforgiving set of rules, complicated and meticulous to say the least. God had not wanted that, but the rabbis and teachers of that time had taken the 10 Commandments and added on hundreds of complex and rigid "rules" by which the Jewish people were to live their daily lives, such as not carrying things on the sabbath, giving 1/10 of every measly "spice", oh, and then there were the concepts of divorce. Just say three times in public that you are "divorced" and "Bam! Out you go Mam!" ouch!

Jesus came to do away with all that, to offer a way to live and worship that was freeing. We heard a little of it when we looked at the Samaritan woman. At that time there was one place to worship and if you didn't do that, then you were considered an outcast. God wants our belief system "on track", and in line with the Word of God, but how grateful I am that He does not demand rigidity and separatism. His nature is forgiving and kind. He is not bound up with rules, and making people "pay" for their mistakes. Back in Old Testament times you lived by the rules or you were "out"!

Some people might think that Christianity is one big "clique", but it's just the opposite, or at least it should be. Jesus is all about bringing people to Him. He wants to tear down the walls of separatism and reach out to those who do not know Him. If you have seen Christian people that are elitist, I'm sorry, that's not who God is. It's relationship, not "religion". Recently, someone said to me that they had been told that if you were not a member of a certain "denomination" then you were not saved. Oops, that's going to be a problem for a whole lot of us out there. Jesus never wanted denominations, so somehow I don't think that is from God.

In Malachi 4:6, one of the last verses in the Old Testament, it states that God wants to turn the hearts of the children back to the fathers, and in this case "Father". God was tired of all the distraction, petty rules and regulations. He wanted to get back to basics. That's what Jesus was and is about; getting back to the basics.

So now on to the basics. John 3:16-18  says: (This is Jesus speaking about Himself)

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already, because he has not believed in the Name of God's one and only Son."

It's really pretty simple, God had a plan way back in the garden of Eden. Man messed up. God gave rules. Those rules didn't work with Man. God said OK, then let's do this My way again. Man, you need to believe in Me and we need a "relationship", not a set of rules. That's where we are today. We need "relationship", and that relationship consists of turning to God and realizing that we can't do it on our own. We are incapable of living by a set of "rules". We sin, we mess up, we fall short. So we admit it, and ask God for His forgiveness and salvation, through acknowledging Him and realizing that God sent His Son to pay the debt "for us". Asking for God to move into our hearts and lives, and turning it over to Him.

Please don't think I'm some sort of anarchist, someone that does not believe in rules. Because we all need guidelines and boundaries. Without them it's too easy to wander off into dangerous territory. I just believe we cannot let anything take the place of our knowing God and our "relationship", our connection, with Him.

So Jesus said, you must be "born again". New life in Christ. A "do-over". That's what Mankind needed. Access to a fresh start. That's what I needed. I was so bound up in rules and trying to "conform" that I missed out on the sweet relationship with Jesus. I was so caught up on what others might think of me, or what was expected of me that I missed the basic thing... really knowing who Jesus is. I let everyone else's "opinion" supersede what God was trying to say to me. He's good, and I mean really good. He takes us as we are and then is so patient. He has a way that's easier than what mankind wants to dictate.

Jesus says in Matthew 11:28-30

28: Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am gentle and humble in heart: and you will find rest for your souls. 30. For my yoke [is] easy, and my burden is light.

Jesus is referencing a yoke here, like a yoke on oxen. It means guidelines, and His way of doing things. Hook up with Him. Let Him be the lead. He will shoulder your burdens if you get in "relationship". He'll carry it for us. That's what being "Born Again" is about.

Be Blessed,

Monday, October 26, 2009


Reading from John 3

"Nicodemus comes to Jesus at Night"

For the next several days let's look at a scholarly man who was bound by many laws and traditions. Let's see how he risked it all to get down to the truth of the matter. Let's take a look at how he stepped out of his comfort zone and went to see Jesus "undercover".

Today I'm using the New American Standard Translation. It's close to the NIV, but there are copyrights involved in the NIV, that I wasn't aware of. Since I am using scripture from a Bible Website, I'll just use this version for the text. If I refer to some other wording I'll try to remember and reference the NIV, so we won't be confused.

Version: NAS (New American Standard)

John 3:1-8

1. Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; 2. this man came to Him by night, and said to Him, "Rabbi, we know that You have come from God [as] a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him." 3. Jesus answered and said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." 4. Nicodemus said to Him, "How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born, can he?" 5. Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7. "Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.' 8. "The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit."

I don't think any of us have truly found these scriptures easily understood in this passage. It seems to elude alot of us when we start talking about being "born again", and the references to baptism. I'd like to share with you what I have felt the Lord was saying to me concerning this passage in John 3, where Nicodemus, a Pharisee and learned Bible teacher, comes to Jesus at night for some "one on one" time...

 Now in the days that Jesus was living, a lot of controversy was brewing concerning His claims to be the Son of God. A man in the position of Nicodemus was highly esteemed. He was a true godly man and held his position of being a Pharisee with honor. There were two main religious groups of the Jews at that time who were in teaching authority, the "wise elders and statesmen", so to speak of the Jewish people: The Sadducees and the Pharisees.

Nicodemus was a "Pharisee" and was the epitome of the learned class. He was instructed in all the ways of the Talmud, (Jewish Bible) Jewish traditions, and maintained his detailed and meticulous study and godly lifestyle. The Pharisees were the authority on all aspects of Jewish life and were part of the ruling sect. So of course, when Jesus started speaking and teaching in the Synagogues and speaking and ministering publicly, the Pharisees were on guard and watched Him closely. They were the religious and spiritual "police" of their day.

Nicodemus was part of the group. They talked, discussed news of the day, lived closely with one another, and really did not think too much as individuals, they had the "group mentality" going on and considered themselves "the in crowd". They had to get their individual ideas and opinions co-ordinated and okayed by the rest of the "group".

This brings me to a point I want to discuss, "group mentality". This could cover a lot of ground, but I'd like to say, it can be great to be in a group. There is comfort, acceptance and likemindedness. If we are here today reading this blog, well, I guess you could say that we are part of a group.
Let's just not get to the place where we are intimidated by what the "group's" opinion might be, or whether or not you might be excluded if your opinion is contrary.

Don't be afraid to voice your opinion or look at a situation from a fresh perspective. Don't let "the group" influence you to do, act, or feel a way that you are not comfortable with. This concept can infiltrate many aspects of our daily lives. Whether it's being in a "mom's group", a business club, a social sorority, a couple's clique or even a group at church, just to name a few.

I've been a part of "groups" many times in my life. Some of them were wonderful experiences, other times I found myself eventually slipping out, because I was dominated by others, and found "free thinking" to be something that was frowned upon. Pray about it and then let God lead and guide you to the people and places that offer you an outlet for free thinking and voicing of your own opinions. Don't be afraid to spend time by yourself for clearing the mind. Get to know yourself for who you are, and trust your own thoughts and self. Be like Nicodemus who, by the light of day was part of the crowd, but had the nerve to seek out the "Truth" even if it was at night and "undercover". Don't let the "spiritual police" dictate your thoughts and beliefs.

Nicodemus calls Jesus, "Rabbi" which shows he respects Jesus and acknowledges that He is hearing from God. He says that he knows Jesus is from God otherwise He would not be able to do the miracles that He had been doing. Yet Nicodemus doesn't really understand Jesus and he is on a fact finding mission. He has a lot of questions, and at this Jesus says that really unless you are open to what He is saying; unless your heart and mind and spirit are "open" to what God is wanting to say and show you, then you really will not be able to understand.

The same goes for today. I have had so many questions for God. But I have found that I really wasn't able to understand and absorb the concepts until I was ready to be open to what He was wanting to show me. When I had an attitude of "well, that's not what I've been taught" then I really didn't get very far in the "revelation" department with God.

Nicodemus had questions, but he was open to what Jesus was saying. He came to Him of his own free will and said, I don't understand but I need to. You are from God. And I need to know who you are. I'm willing to listen.

In verse 3 Jesus says no one can see the "kingdom of heaven" unless He is born again.

We think of the phrase "kingdom of heaven" as being the place we go to when we pass from this earth, but I also want us to realize that "the kingdom" is our Christian life here on earth. It is God's way of doing things. His concepts, and our living within the parameters He has for us. Just like a physical "kingdom" with a king and his subjects, we live in a place where God is the "king" and we are His people. He has rules and laws and we are "citizens" with rights and protection. We look to Him, and He watches over and provides for us.

Toward the end of this passage Jesus talks about "wind" and I will allow the Holy Spirit to blow, He's not to be controlled, well, we do try at times, but when that happens He ceases to be felt. In the case of the wind, you do not always know from where it is coming, nor do you know exactly where it's going, so since I'm wanting to allow God to access this Bible Study time, I have to be willing to be like a little boat, raise my sail, and let the Holy Spirit's "wind to blow" and let Him take me where He desires. Having said that next time let's look at the scripture verse that talks about salvation and being "born again".

If you don't know Jesus, then be like Nicodemus. Come to Him and say, "I don't know you, but I'm interested in finding out about You. Please show me who you are. I want to find out." He will do that for you. That's who He is. He doesn't want to make it hard for us. It's easy to start on the journey. He's right there waiting to hear you ask.

If you would like to read these verses in your own Bible, ask God to reveal Himself to you through His Word, John 3:1-8. This is a rich and detailed chapter. I'm looking forward to see what God has on His heart and mind for us.

Be Blessed, 

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Real Worshipers

Reading from John 4

"Sir," the woman said, "I see you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem."
Jesus declared, "Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know, we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and His worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth."
The woman said, "I know that Messiah (called Christ) is coming. When He comes, he will explain everything to us."
Then Jesus declared. "I who speak to you am He."

The woman was amazed at Jesus' ability to know her. How could this man, this Jewish rabbi, know her life, and ultimately her thoughts and intentions? She took the opportunity of the conversation to voice her opinion not only of him, but of their differences in belief and worship. She recognizes that he must be a prophet, as he knew about her life, but she defends her belief system, ultimately saying that the Messiah will come and that then He can sort out all the controversy.

It strikes me that at times we attempt to defend our own belief systems, morals, ideas, and attitudes in the face of what the Bible might be saying, or if the slightest hint of conviction comes on us we wave it away, with an attitude of  "Yes, But...".

I know that I did that myself most of my adult life. I would read the Scriptures, and if it was something I didn't understand, or didn't particularly agree with, I would find myself making excuses, and avoiding the Truth that was staring me in the face, shut the book, turn off the voice inside of me and morph into "Scarlett O'Hara". Oh, fiddle de de. I'll think of that another day, not today. Today I will do what I want, think what I want, and believe what I want!

Jesus then says in so many words, woman, you are worshiping someone you don't even know, you are fooling yourself, and even though you may have good intentions, good intentions are not enough. You have to have the Truth.

I have talked with many people who are loaded with good intentions. People who are kind hearted, do good deeds, love other people, say they are "spiritual", but don't have a clue concerning the Truth. And the Truth is this: Jesus, and that Jesus is God's Son, sent here to redeem us from our sin. He is the way, the truth, and the life, and there is no way to the Father except through Him. (John 14:6)

We have to know the Truth, and we won't find it in the latest Blockbuster movie or book, TV infomercial, or on Oprah.(I do watch Oprah, I just don't look to her for my spiritual guidance) The Truth is the Word of God, plain and simple, and if what you are hearing does not line up with the Bible, I'm sorry, it's just not the Truth.

You may not agree with me, but there are so many "things" out there; so many ideologies, philosophies, trends, and super-duper sales pitches that I've had to be very particular about what I expose myself to. If I read the latest bestseller self help book on the NY Times list, it needs to line up with what the Word of God says, otherwise I won't let it in my heart. I know this sounds somewhat narrowminded, OK alot narrowminded, but I have a hard enough time keeping my thoughts in line with God, without someone getting in there and confusing me. And confusion causes doubt. And then you are on a slippery slope.

I'm sure there are people who would read this and immediately exit, but that's how I feel. That's my way of staying "on track", and it works for me. Am I against hearing other people's ideas or opinions? No, I'm just careful about what I allow in my heart.

So we know about worshiping in "Truth". What about worshiping in "spirit"? In the Old Testament times we know the Holy Spirit "came upon" individuals, but He did not "indwell" a believer in the everpresent way He does at this time. (Since Jesus death on the cross and his resurrection) Jesus said he would "go away" so that we might receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.(John 14) Now upon our salvation experience He comes to indwell us and take up residence in our heart (spirit). In doing this we now receive the mind, heart, and thoughts of God, Himself. (1 Corinthians 2:16)
If we seek Him, He will give us guidance and direction for our everyday life. Now we can worship, not only in Truth, like the Old Testament believers, but also in spirit, as the Holy Spirit speaks to our spirit. We know the Truth of the Word of God, and we are also blessed and motivated by God's own Holy Spirit. That's real worship. Not one or the other, but the combination. That is my great be a True Worshiper.

So we find in verses John 39-42 that the woman went back to town and spread the word that Messiah was there among them, and that many in that area came to see and hear Jesus and ultimately believed in Him because of her testimony. 

So my Life Lesson through this has been: Be open to meeting God in my daily life, let Him speak to me about the Truth, let me not be afraid to "come clean" before Him, and then to go share my experience with others.

Glad you're with me on the journey.

Our older daughter and her husband, from St. Louis, and my brother and sister-in-law from Texas will be here this week for several days. We'll be spending some wonderful quality time with them, so I'll post next week. Not sure where we will be reading, I'm excited to see where this is going. God has really blessed me this last week in studying this Samaritan woman. Hope you know her a little better because of this. My ultimate goal is to know Jesus a little better... everyday.

Have a wonderful rest of the week and I'll be back probably Tuesday. Be sure and check back in though, in the comment section. We have back and forth commenting, that I will be checking, which I really enjoy.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Let's Get Honest

Reading from John 4

In the times that Jesus was here on earth there were few opportunities for men to speak with women in a public place. It was not part of their culture. Men and women were pretty much segregated. It was not proper for a man to address a woman, and forbidden by culture for a woman to speak to a man. It was just not done.

For a Jew to speak to a Samaritan, unheard of. And for a Rabbi to speak to a woman, well, it just didn't happen. In that culture, women were not to speak in public or to even voice an opinion. At home they were allowed, but not in public. So for Jesus to speak to this woman in a public place was very much out of the ordinary. I'm sure she was surprised. Yet He opened the conversation with asking for a drink.

"...Sir, give me this water so that I won't get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water."

And then He dropped the bomb shell:

"Go call your husband and come back."

And she said, "I have no husband."

Jesus said to her, "You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true."

Let's stop here and look closely at this dialogue. In the beginning it appears that Jesus doesn't know about her marital status, but in reality He was waiting for her honesty. Let's disregard the nature of this subject matter; women and marriage and divorce etc.

Let's look at this conversation for what it is. This could be a man He was  speaking to. It could be a young person that just stole a car, and He asks for a ride. This subject is about being honest with yourself before God and admitting our failures, problems, shortcomings, and yes, admitting our sin.

I don't want us to get caught up in the subject matter. Divorce happens; disappointment, adultery, inability to communicate that ends in "falling out of love" happens. I'm not saying that it's the best way. But sometimes it happens. God says he hates divorce. It doesn't say He hates those involved. He hates it because it tears people apart, and families suffer.

You know the church signs, out front, where they have some little saying that's pithy and or a double meaning? Cute and clever to get your attention?
Well, last week we saw one that said, "God has no plan B". My husband had a fit! I was sort of surprised at his indignance. He said in so many words, how wrong that is, because God is the God of second chances. and third, and fourth, and five hundred and fourth. You know what I mean? Yes, He has His perfect will, but I have to tell you, just in case you didn't know...I am not perfect. Nope, not perfect. I've been married almost 37 years and it's not been perfect. My husband hasn't been perfect and I have been messed up and messed up other people. So there.
We've been near divorce a time or two, so believe me. God forgives, heals and restores. I'm living proof!

One other thing I want to say concerning these scriptures, and the other reason they mean alot to me is that Jesus looked at this woman and saw her heart. He had a change of eternity for her, but He also had a job for her. She may have become the first woman "evangelist"! She ran back to town and told all the other townspeople who Jesus was and for them to come and meet Him.

When I was 45 years old, God "called" me. He reached down and gave me a message and said now go tell it. I had this burning in me for months before I finally went to my Pastor and talked to him. The calling was strong, it was life changing and it wasn't going to go away. I won't go into detail, let's just say that I left feeling rejected and insignificant. I know in my heart it would have been different if I had been a man.

It's hard being a woman in the realization of a call to minister. I thank God that He put it in my heart. I'm not dead yet. God's in charge!

I'm so grateful that God has elevated the status of women. It may still be hard, but He knows our hearts and He loves us more than we could ever imagine.

I want this to be affirming, encouraging, and the Truth. We have all sinned in some way or another. I make no judgements. I have been right there with some biggies. We go to God, admit our sin, and then receive forgiveness. Repentance is admission, and then making a decision to turn from sin and go the other way. It all starts with being honest before Him. He will be there for us, no matter what.There is no sin so big that He does not forgive. He wraps His loving arms around us... and how wonderful is that?

Be Blessed,

Just want to mention that if you leave a comment here I will get back with you here. I think that is more in keeping with making this an "interactive" place. If you have something personal, I'm happy to have you email me. It's on my profile. Then I'll return your email. I'm loving hearing from you all. This has been a huge blessing to me. This was tough subject matter. I prayed hard for the right words. God is so loving. If any one of you is ever offended or hurt by anything I say, please let me know, It was not intentional and we'll figure it out. Love you all, and thank you for taking the time to come by!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Do you know who you're talking to?

Reading from John 4

John 4:7-14  When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, Will you give me a drink? The Samaritan woman said to him, "You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?" (for Jews do not associate with Samaritans). 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."

Sir, the woman said, "you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?"... Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."

In the day that Jesus was  here on earth, His followers had Him physically with them. His disciples knew Him and heard Him speak every day. They were familiar with His voice. They knew and recognized it like we recognize our loved ones and friends today. We all know people whose voices are so familiar that we don't have to ask "Who is this?" when we hear them on the phone. We automatically know who it is. Today it may be a little less clear on how to actually "hear God speak" to us. And yes, He still speaks today.

You may have known people (or even be one of them) that say "God doesn't speak to us today. That was for Old Testament times and the early days of Christianity." I have heard this many times, many of which were spoken from the pulpit or another place of authority within a church. That may be what some people prefer to believe, but as for myself, I hear His voice.

There are several ways which God communicates to His family here on earth. In the days that Jesus lived an earthy life, it was person to person, verbally. Now, it is through our spirit from His Holy Spirit. That part of a person that is our innermost being. Our substance that makes us at one with our Heavenly Father. It is what continues to live on after our bodies have died a physical death. Without going into a complete in depth study, we need to realize that we can communicate with God in a way that transcends our earthly abilities. 

Just as we know in our hearts when we have been hurt or have hurt another, or if we love another person, so we know when we have felt God's touch. He communicates through an impression, or a "word" from the scripture. Some thought that just innately "appears" in our consciousness. He gives us ideas and comprehension through "pictures" in our minds, or at times we actually "hear" a voice in our thoughts. I like to say He "downloads" a concept. Something that you previously had not thought of or understood, suddenly takes on a complete comprehension... you "get it".

There is a lot of discussion on this topic of hearing God, but I will say this, He does communicate with us, or at least He "tries" to communicate. Don't feel bad if you have not had this experience, just ask Him in prayer for the opportunity to communicate with Him, and I guarantee He is more than willing to answer that prayer.

In the days when Jesus and this woman met, He spoke to her face to face. Today we read God's Word, the Bible. But don't forget to say in prayer,
"I need your thoughts, Lord, and your mind. Speak to me in however way you chose. I'm open to hearing You and to doing your will. Thank you for hearing me and choosing me to be your child. In Jesus Name Amen.

God choses a time to approach us. Will you take that time to let Him speak? I have always thought it interesting that Jesus many times asks us a question. It isn't that He doesn't know what we'll say, but He wants us to think about the concept that He is putting in front of us. He asked her for a drink, but He was opening the door for communication. He wanted her to think about another kind of "water", the kind that only He could give, the kind that would be not only refreshing, but also life changing...eternity changing.

Has God been waiting for you by the well...His well? His well of wisdom, acceptance, healing, and comfort? He is the one with the "water". He is the one with the answers. He is the one with the peace.

Is God asking a question of you? If so, what is He asking, and more importantly, what is your answer?

Be Blessed, Debra

Saturday, October 17, 2009

No One's Alone

Reading from John 4

I forgot to mention that I am not a Bible scholar, I don't have a degree from a seminary, or much of any "credentials", so this is a way for me to study and spend some time in the Word. There is a lot I need to learn, and I'm so glad that you're along for the ride. If you have input, feel free. I surely do not "know it all". I'll be digging, and praying, and listening, and cracking a book or two I'm sure.

John 4:4-7 Now he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob's well had been there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, "Will you give me a drink?"

John writes that Jesus and His disciples were on their way to Galilee, which is in the north, from Judea which is in the south. The Samaritans were part Jewish, part Gentile, so to the Jews they were to be avoided, this would be a case of racism in today's terms. When traveling, the Jews would go out of their way to go around Samaria, making it a much longer journey. But Jesus took the straight path, which took him straight through. I'm sure His disciples were not accustomed to this idea. Why would he want to do this? Travel through an area that was unfriendly and maybe dangerous. Because Jesus had a plan and a schedule to keep. He had a meeting to attend that no one knew about. Not even the one that He would meet.

Now, it says that He arrived at the 6th hour, and since the Jews started their day at 6 am, this means it was noon, lunchtime, and the heat of the day. The disciples were sent to a small town for food, and because Jesus was tired he sat down at the well, which was the same well that Jacob had dug many hundreds of years before. It is said to be very deep, over 100 feet.
Most of the women of the town came to draw water in the evening, when it was cooler, so at noon, it was deserted...except for Jesus and a woman who came at that time, just to avoid the crowd.

How many of us find ourselves "alone" for one reason or another. Maybe we are weary of the company of others. Maybe we have been rejected or outcast by friends and family. Maybe we have chosen a solitary path of our own making. Maybe we want to be included, but have not had the opportunity to make friends. Maybe, out of necessity or circumstance, we are on our own. Alone-ness and loneliness come for many reasons. Maybe we really aren't alone physically, but just feel alone. Like no one understands us or knows what we are going through. Been there? I have.
This woman that Jesus was about to meet was alone that day. An outcast because of her lifestyle. She had been married many times, but rejected, put out by her husband, one after the other, or maybe widowed at one point. At any rate, she was frowned upon by the other women, and talked about by the town people. She was familiar with it and wanted to be alone. Away from whispers and stares.
Here sat a man, a Jewish Rabbi, who was waiting for her at the well. Can you imagine what she was thinking as she came upon Him. I can hear it now.
"Great, who is this? A man!... and good grief, not any man, but a Jewish Rabbi! What on earth is he doing here? All I want to do is get some water, mind my business, be left alone."
Don't you imagine she would have rather turned and walked escape route. But no, not to be. There was a plan in motion, and her life was about to be changed!

We may feel alone in life, but God is there. He wants to meet us in our circumstances. good or bad. trouble or peace. happiness or unhappiness. He is there. waiting...waiting for us to come close to Him so He can reach out. He has something to say.
I've been "busy" for the last few years. And I haven't always been listening. So now I'm gearing down. So I will hear Him, and I will listen.

What I need to remember: These few verses have really spoken to me about being available to what God is doing...what He wants to do. To be open to the "unexpected" in my daily life. To not "judge" a situation or a circumstance by how it may appear on the surface. To be willing to go when and where it may not be convenient, or where others may feel is "less than", because if God leads you somewhere, there is sure to be an encounter and a purpose. And who knows, you may meet God in an unexpected way and in an unexpected place.

Remember, if you feel God is speaking to you about this passage, feel free to comment. What you may be feeling and hearing, or have experienced, may be just what someone else needs to hear. So this time is not "about me", but to also hear from you.

Thank you for taking the time to visit today, I'm hoping this will be an encounter  for you. I don't want anyone to feel this will be time consuming or a place where I am asking for your "commitment". I won't assign homework or make you take tests! (ha ha) I'd just like this to be a place where we can meet for a moment and think about a verse or two, and maybe, leave with a new thought or idea, or just a moment where we "hear" God speak to us in our busy day.

Be Blessed,

Friday, October 16, 2009

I'm Ready...finally.

Today is the start of a new "day" for me. I have been considering this idea for a while, even though I knew I should just go ahead and take the plunge. I'm finding that I have somewhat neglected my time with God since I started my blog, Common Ground. In the past, time would fly as I journaled and studied the Word. Now I sit at a computer screen more hours a day than I would like to confess. So, I've been thinking of an online Bible Study. I'm not exactly sure how this will play out, but I know the time is here. No more putting it off.

I will say, if you want to comment, please do. I want this to be interactive. Questions, thoughts, ideas, opinions, they are all valuable to me. I'm not going to get into any doctrinal or theological debates here. This is just my "quiet time" opened up. So if you'd like to comment please just keep it non-confrontational.

I am a born-again Christian. Spirit filled, 10 years ago. To those who may not be familiar with that terminology I'll just say at that point my life took on a new dimension. I totally laid it all down for God.  I ceased to be the center of my existence and God became my top priority and focus. I believe in not only the "fruit of the Spirit", but also the "Gifts of the Spirit". All of them. God doesn't change. Man changes. I won't argue this, or debate this. I do not argue with my experience with my Father. Believe me, when I was still going to a Baptist Church, God had plans for me that totally rocked my world.

I was raised Southern Baptist. I've attended Methodist, Presbyterian, non-denominational, Assemblies of God, Word of Faith, and Four Square churches. To me, the criteria for a church should be preaching and teaching of the Word of God, Praise, Worship, and not being confined to a "plan". God likes order, but He prefers that we let Him lead the service. So having said that, my husband and I are not in an "organized" church at this time. We consider our "relationship" with God the priority. That does not mean that tomorrow things might not change. We are open to whatever and wherever God leads us. "Lead" is the operative word here. We follow. He leads.
This is totally so NOT about "denominations". There are no "denominations" in the Bible. I want to be open, open to what God is doing. I hope you do also. So let's leave "denominations" at the door. We can state what we are for reference sake, I'm not saying no to that, but I want us to be, as I like to say.... on Common Ground.

I want to keep these posts the appropriate length. So I'll let the Holy Spirit write them. There probably won't be any pictures unless God impresses me to find one. I love a good picture, but this is about something else.
I'm also going to try to set up a prayer request link. I'll try to accomplish this soon.
I may not follow what we think of as a set Bible Study. I'm going to share with you what God is sharing with me. It may skip around, it may stay on topic for awhile. Honestly, I'm not sure. I don't have the plan. So we'll see where this leads. I'm setting up a followers connect. If you're interested, please sign up. Let me know you're out there. I use a NIV Bible, New International Version. It is translated word for word from the original Hebrew and Greek, and I'm most comfortable with this. This may be daily, maybe not. It may be once a week. It may be a verse, or a chapter. So here goes...

October 15, 2009

"A Samaritan Woman's  Encounter with Jesus"

If you'd like to read John 4 this will be my first subject to read and consider. This is a chapter that I have spent alot of time in. God has given me alot of spiritual insight through this encounter with the Samaritan woman. So I will leave you with this.

John 4: 4-6  "Now He had to go through Samaria,...tired as He was from the journey, he sat down by the well."

I'll be back soon.
love, Debra