Good morning friends and family and welcome to today’s message. I know that in many churches throughout the country and the world, last week and today, pastors tell their congregations what God said to them about the New Year. I have never heard a phrase that I can say was from God about a new year, not to say this doesn’t happen. What I feel very strong, is we need to change, so that we are that church waiting for the return of Jesus. So that each one of us, and those who we witness to and lead to Jesus will hear on that Day of Judgment, “Well done good and faithful servant.”
So many each year make new year’s resolutions and fail every single year. I would ask all of you if you would honestly from this day forward make up your heart and mind to live your life for Jesus, according to the Bible. Would you make the commitment to spend time in the Bible every day? Pray every day? Share your faith everyday? It sounds hard and time consuming, but I tell you it can be done. I tell you that if you honestly do these things it will soon be a desire, not a chore. Soon you will yearn to spend time with Him. You will see your life changing. You will respond to things differently. God will move through you and your whole outlook on life and people and situations will change. Amen?
2012 and 2013 was a strange year. More natural disasters, more hate crimes, more churches crumbling because of greed, false doctrine being preached. The negative things just kept piling up for the past couple years. I believe, because of what the Bible says that things will not get much better for 2014. I believe we will see more of the earth groaning. I believe we will see more wars and rumors of wars. I believe that we are going to see more crime and it will be getting closer to all of us even here in the sticks of Maine and wherever you maybe hearing or reading this. Wow Brother Jim careful what you speak. Remember the power of your words. I am thinking about the words that are spoken and they were spoken way before my time by the Master, Jesus. Let’s look at some verses in Mark 13.
Mark 13:1 KJV And as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here! 2 KJV And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. 3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, 4 Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled? 5 And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you: 6 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. 7 And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet. 8 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows. 9 But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them. 10 And the gospel must first be published among all nations. 11 But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost. 12 Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death. 13 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
Let’s look at some other verses in Luke 21 starting with verse 10.
Luke 21:10-18 KJV Then said he unto them, Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: 11 And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven. 12 But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name's sake. 13 And it shall turn to you for a testimony. 14 Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer: 15 For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist. 16 And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death. 17 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake. 18 But there shall not an hair of your head perish.
Friends, these things are going to happen. Church, this is what we need to do. Please turn to Colossians.
Colossians 3:1-3 KJV If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
I would urge everyone to read the rest of this chapter and book.
Friends, I want us to take a drink at the well. Ready? How many of you remember the story of the woman at the well that Jesus spoke to? I want us to look at John chapter 4. If we all remember the story, I want us to skip to an important part for all of us today. Let’s turn to John 4:7. Jesus and His disciples have been in Jerusalem. They're on their way to the north to Galilee, and they're going through Samaria, which is the hill country north of Judea, between Judea and Galilee. Jesus comes to the well of Sychar, which is Jacob's well, and in verse 7, He encounters a woman. This is where we pick up the story.
John 4:7-8 KJV There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. 8 (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.)
They came to town, they needed some food supplies. The men went into town to buy the food supplies. Jesus comes to the town and a woman shows up. And He says to the woman, “Will you give Me a drink?”
I think that there is something we need to learn…. that there are always going to be differences in the way people look at God. There are going to be differences in the way people view heaven and differences in the way people view how you ought to live your life and how you live a life that pleases God.
This woman had a set of rules by which she lived. She was a Samaritan. Jesus had a separate set of rules by which He lived. Amen? He was a Jew. And so it's going to be true in our lives today. You're going to encounter people you work with who have a totally different view about God than you do.
Jesus is a Jew, and the Jews don't have any dealings at all with the Samaritans.
If we look at verse 9 there, Jews do not share things in common with the Samaritans. She's probably talking about the bucket at the well that she was going to have to let down into the water, draw the water up, so Jesus could have a drink of the water. If a Jew used that bucket, a Samaritan wouldn't. If a Samaritan used that bucket, a Jew wouldn't.
John 4:10 KJV Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.
It's not about buckets. It's about the Person who's offering you the gift of water that lasts forever. She missed this entirely. And you know what? When we talk about religion and the difference between religions, I find most miss the point entirely.
The point is not about religion. The point is He's not condemning the woman. He's not saying that your bucket is worse than My bucket, or My bucket is better than your bucket. She's just ignorant of the gift of God. And she's also ignorant of the Person who is offering her this gift.
She doesn't understand spiritually the importance of what Jesus is telling her. I have found recently discussing the Bible with people, I tell them things that God wants them to know, and sometimes they just look at me with this blank stare because they're not spiritually connecting to what I am talking about. Can anyone else relate? Leanna and I have had a couple great guys from the LDS church stop by and have dinner and then spend time in the Bible and in their book. I find things that don't line up with their book and the Bible which is the only book I trust and put my faith in.
I think sometimes I am wasting my breath with some, but it is what we all are called to do, share the Gospel with the world. Jesus is saying to the Samaritan woman, “I'm going to offer you something nobody else can offer you. Look at verse 13.
John 4:13-14 KJV Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: 14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
These words must have really stunned this lady. She had probably never heard of this talk and as we will see, she probably was not feeling worthy. And then this talk of water?
John 4:15-16 KJV The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw. 16 Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither.
I love how Jesus handles this next part of the story, because He knows what's on our minds, not what's on our lips. He knows before we say what we're going to say. He knows this woman has a problem. She's had five husbands and the man she's living with is not her husband today.
So He says to her, “I want you to understand fully the value of the water I'm offering you, and you can't in your current spiritual condition, but I don't want you to lose this.” Here is the most important thing this woman does all day. She says in verse 15, “Sir, give me this water.”
She does not fully understand that He's talking about eternal life, not talking about water, but she says, “I have to have the Jesus water. Whatever the water is, You've convinced me it only comes from You, and I have to have it. Church, you and I need to get to the place in our relationship with the God where we understand that this kind of water only comes from the Lord Jesus. And we have to have it if we're going to have a relationship with God.
I think we make things way to hard. We don't have to understand everything. If it took us to understand everything necessary for salvation in order to be saved, none of us would ever get saved. We just have to believe the things that God tells us, and trust Him to be telling us the truth. This is faith. Jesus spoke so much on faith and to the disciples on their lack of faith.
This is from the book of Jim's translation. The woman at the well has just heard Jesus say He can give her water in which she'll never thirst again. She says, “Hey, give me that water.” And He says, “Well, first of all, go call your husband.”
John 4:19 KJV The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.
She recognizes there's something different about Jesus. How would He know, being a stranger to this little town of Sychar, how would He know anything about her husband? How would He know that she's had five husbands, and the man she's living with right now is not her husband? How could He possibly know that? There was no National Enquirer in those days. You couldn't get this off the newsstand. There was no email to send to people. No You Tube. None of these exist. How could He possibly know that? And she has the answer. "You've got to be a prophet."
Now at this point, if someone said that to me, I'd say, "Well!" Jesus doesn't even acknowledge that.
Look at her mindset compared to Jesus' mindset. Reminds me of back when there was the prejudice issues between the blacks and whites when I grew up. Her mindset says, “If a Jew uses that bucket, I as a Samaritan can't use that bucket.” Her mindset says, “My religion says worship on this mountain. Your religion says worship on that mountain.”
Everything about her religious experience relates to buckets and places and things and rituals. None of it relates to God. And that is the problem with a lot of the religions of mankind. They relate to rituals. They relate to things you do. Things you say. Places you go. They don’t have a relationship to the loving God who is in control. And that's why seeing what Jesus had to say to her was so important.
John 4:21 KJV Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.
What Jesus is doing is slowly bringing this woman away from religious tradition and opening up a whole new relationship with a new life in Christ. This woman shows some insight. verse 25 The woman says, “I know that Messiah, called Christ is coming. And when He comes, He will explain everything to us."
This woman knows that there is a Messiah coming and that He will explain then. Look what Jesus says to her. Then Jesus declared, “I who speak to you am He.” Praise the Lord.
Jesus says, “I'm the Guy.” Amen!! What we're learning about God is God is in control. God sets up the parameters. God sets up the way. God sends the Messiah. God has all this in His control. The problem is nobody wants to believe it. Do we?
We want to control our own lives. We want to have our own Messiah. We want to start our own religion. We want to do our own kind of faith. We'll pick and choose; we'll have a little smorgasbord religion. I mentioned in a message last year that there are over 200 different Baptist faiths.
I am going to get bold here, but I find this in American churches from what I see, read and hear. We put a little Judaism in there. We add a little B'hai, which believes in the spiritual unity of all humankind. Throw in a few things from Islam a lot of eastern religions. We'll make the common religion of America today. And we will miss heaven by a mile as a result of it because we simply haven't obeyed what God had in mind when He sent His Son to be the Messiah. It is so true. There are new cults popping up everyday. Look at the followers that Oprah has and some of the other movie stars.
Here is the point of all of this, and you see it in verse 26. John 4 at verse 26. Jesus says, “I Who speak to you am He. The Great I am.” Praise God!!
Notice first of all that Jesus did not shy away from calling Himself the Messiah. He doesn't say, “You know what? There are lots of messiahs out there and, hey listen, if you'd like to have Me as your Messiah, sign the card and join up. Just come with Me and everything will be hunky dory for you.”
He doesn't do that. Jesus says, "Look, I'm the Guy. There aren't others; it's just Me. I am the Messiah that the Old Testament prophets predicted." He is not at all reticent to say He's the only way. secondly notice this in this verse Jesus was careful to say that the Messiah was talking to this woman. The Messiah is not an idea; not an ideal. You know there are a lot of Jewish people today that think the state of Israel is the Messiah. All the promises of God in the Old Testament are fulfilled in the state of Israel.
There are other Jews in Israel that say the state of Israel is the worst possible thing that could happen because it's sucking off all the promises of God from us. And Jesus says, “Look, the Messiah is not an idol. The Messiah is not an idea. The Messiah is not a religion. The Messiah is a Person, and that Person is talking to you right now.”
Jesus started a relationship with this woman. The relationship being, He's talked to her; talked to her about her needs. Talked to her about her religion. He talked to her about her husbands. He comes in and He says, “Look, let me tell you about your life; and let Me tell you about Mine.”
It's not about worshipping God in that mountain over there as opposed to that mountain in Jerusalem. It's not about who uses this bucket. In fact, it isn't about religion at all. It's about a relationship.
For those who have followed J and L Ministries in the past almost two years, we have looked at verses that shows that He is in control. He does what He pleases. And what He pleased to do was to send His Son to die for you and me because He loves us that much.
What He pleased to do was allow His Son to reveal to you who Jesus is and what He can do for you. It's all written here in God's Word. This Book that very few ever seem to read. Everything God has for you to know about Him, all the ways that God has planned for you, all the good things He has for you, it's all in the Book. It is all in this wonderful unread, dusty Book.
I want to make another bold claim. Here is what you need to know today. God is in control. He's in control of your life. And He sets before you and me life and death. Death is found in religion. Life is found in a relationship with Him.
I don't know what religion you've been following, but it really doesn't matter. The question is, do you have a relationship with Jesus? Jesus said, “I am the Way. I am the Truth. I am the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
Friends, whether you are hearing my voice today, or hearing or reading this at another time, if you have never trusted Jesus as your Savior, it may be because you've been trusting your religion.
Religion doesn't get you to God, only Jesus does. I want to invite you right where you are right now to just take a few minutes and pray to God. Use your own words and let it come from your heart. If everyone would close their eyes and bow their heads.
Say to Him something like this. Lord, I know I'm a sinner. I've broken Your law. I deserve the penalty of death. But I'm grateful to You that You provided Your Son Jesus. I believe Jesus died for me and I believe He's the only Savior I have and will ever need. And right now I invite You to be my Savior. Jesus, I ask You to come into my heart. I give You my life. Mold me like the potter’s clay. Be the ruler of my life, because I give it to You from this point forward. Lord, I pray that You fill me with the Holy Spirit to guide me and to strengthen me. In the precious name of Jesus I pray. Amen.
If you have never asked Jesus into your life, or you have strayed away and you prayed this prayer, congratulations in becoming part of God’s Kingdom. Leanna and I would like to hear from you so we can pray for you and help you get started on your new journey with God. For those who have been saved for some time, remember, salvation is not about religious traditions and being involved in a church and doing all kinds of good things. It is all about knowing Jesus and Him knowing you. It is about a personal relationship with the Master. Amen?