Relating to Those Different From Us

Relating to Those Different From Us

    “The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?'” (John 4:9).

 

    Do you find it difficult to relate to others who are different than you? Do you shy away from interacting with those who may have a different belief?

 

    Jesus interacted with his culture and especially those who thought differently than He. When Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well it was much like a Christian speaking to a Muslim or a Jew speaking to a Palestinian. Jesus built a relationship with the woman instead of taking an adversarial position.
 
In order to influence our culture it is vital believers engage with those unlike us. We often assume others who come from other cultures do not want to engage with us. This is a deception from Satan. Many who grow up in other faiths do so as a cultural tradition, not because they have strongly held beliefs. For instance, many Muslims do not know what is in the Quran and simply believe what they are taught based on tradition.

 

    Every person is looking for a genuine relationship with God. Jesus operated based on that assumption. Notice how Jesus engaged with the woman.
 
Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. 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.” He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” “I have no husband,” she replied. 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.” “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet“. (John 4: 13-19).

 

    Once Jesus established a rapport with the woman He began to engage with her. He spoke supernaturally into her life which broke through the religious spirit which prevented a theological debate. This led to faith in Christ and even the city being impacted.

 
    Why not seek out a relationship with someone different from yourself. You’ll be surprised how God might use you.
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Worship and Work

Worship and Work
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    “One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike (Rom 14:5).

 

    Avodah (Ah´-voe-dah) is a Hebrew noun used in the Bible that has two distinct yet intertwined meanings: worship and work. It is also derived from the Hebrew verb L’Avod which has two meanings; to work and also to worship. The dual meaning offers powerful wisdom for modern times for how we are to view our work lives.

 

    Work, if done with integrity and unto God, is a form of worship in the biblical Hebrew context. There has never been a concept of segmenting our work from our faith life in the Bible. It is in the realm of the sacred to bring God into our everyday life. Hebrews did not set aside a “day of worship,” such as Saturday or Sunday, but everyday is a place and time of worship. They did set aside a Sabbath day of rest.

 

    It is a western idea to segment one’s faith life from our work like. In the Middle East and Asia, their cultures would never separate their faith from their work life even though their faith foundations might clearly contradict Christian beliefs. When someone comes to faith in Christ from this area of the world, they have an easier time of assimilating their faith into their work because they have always done so.

 
    God calls us to do our work as an act of worship to Him. Our work is not to be a place of sweat and toil, but an expression of our love, faith and adoration of Jesus Christ. Today, before you work, ask God to help you see your work in a new way–as worship to Him.

Remember the Spring

 

Remember the Spring

Both the singers and the players on instruments say, “All my springs are in you.”
Psalm 87:7

Recommended Reading
Psalm 87

A family in a typical American home once entertained a man from a poverty-stricken village in the developing world. “Three places to eat!” was all the man could say, as he saw the dining room, the kitchen table, and a picnic table on the deck. The Lord blesses us with our daily bread, and with multiple places to eat it. Many of us have plenty of clothes, and multiple closets. The Lord daily opens the floodgates of heaven and pours out blessings beyond enumeration.

There’s a Chinese proverb that says, “When you drink from a stream, remember the spring.” How easy it becomes to mutter, grumble, complain, bellyache, and yield to discouragement and depression. Instead we should count our blessings and praise God from whom all blessings flow. As the psalmist said, “All our springs are in Him” (Psalm 87:7).

When our heart is filled with gratitude, it’s easier to remember the goodness of God in the past and trust Him for future blessings. Ralph Waldo Emerson was right when he counseled, “Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously.”

Thou who hast given so much to me, give one more thing: a grateful heart. 
George Herbert

 
 

His Vision, His Way, In His Timing

His Vision, His Way, In His Timing

    “Then God said, ‘Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about’ (Gen 22:2).

 

    Have you ever wanted something so bad that you would do almost anything to get it? Have you ever gotten so close to fulfilling a dream only to have it disappear right before your eyes? Such was the case for Abraham.

 

    God promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations. He would have a son. However, Abraham panicked when Sarah aged beyond child bearing years and tried to help God by birthing Ishmael through Sarah’s servant, who was not the promised son. Eventually, Isaac was born, who was the promised son.

 

    However, God tells Abraham to sacrifice his only son on an altar to demonstrate his obedience to God. Truly, this is one of the hardest instructions given to one of God’s people in all of scripture. It compares only to the Heavenly Father sacrificing His own Son. God intervenes and allows a ram to get caught in the bushes nearby, symbolizing the Lamb of God as a prophetic sign of what is to take place in the future.

 

    God often births a vision in our lives only to allow it to die first before the purest version of the vision is manifested. This has happened several times in my own journey. Oswald Chambers observes, “God’s method always seems to be vision first, and then reality, but in between the vision and the reality there is often a deep valley of humiliation. How often has a faithful soul been plunged into a like darkness when after the vision comes the test. When God gives a vision and darkness follows, waiting on God will bring you into accordance with the vision He has given if you await His timing. Otherwise, you try to do away with the supernatural in God’s undertakings. Never try to help God fulfill His word.”  

 
    When God’s vision is finally birthed, nothing will stop it. Our job is to allow God to birth His vision through us His way and in His timing. 

Do Not Be Afraid: Faith Before Works

Do Not Be Afraid: Faith Before Works

After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.”
Genesis 15:1

Recommended Reading
Genesis 15:2-6

The exchange of faith for righteousness is a bedrock New Testament doctrine: “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith'” (Romans 1:17). We are “saved through faith” (Ephesians 2:8). Not all New Testament Christians know that the doctrine of righteousness by faith has its roots in the early chapters of Genesis.

God had called Abraham from Mesopotamia and told him a great nation would flow from him and Sarah. But Abraham thought they were too old to have children. So God appeared to Abraham in a vision and said, “‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.’ … And [Abram] believed the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness” (Genesis 15:1, 6; italics added). There it is — faith for righteousness. We gain standing before God because of what we believe, not because of what we do.

Trust the promises of God, and when you do, you will bear the fruit of righteousness.

He does not believe that does not live according to his belief. 
Thomas Fuller

 
 

Regaining the Art of Community

Regaining the Art of Community

    “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin (1 John 1:7).

 

    I have a friend who spent three months living in Israel with Jewish believers. During one of their conversations the Jewish man noticed how often my friend came to visit him only to discuss a project. He turned to my friend during dinner and admonished him: “You western Christians! You always seem to need a program or an event to get together. Why can’t you fellowship with one another just because you love each other!?”

 

    My friend was convicted by his assessment. They began to talk about how Jesus modeled love for the disciples and how they simply hung out together because of their love for one another. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35).

 

    Jesus often spent unhurried times of fellowship with the disciples. They shared countless meals together. It is often during such times we get to know others at a deeper level.

 

    Love for one another is one of the greatest signs of faith in Christ. However, the pace of life often contributes to a life being lived for the next event instead of a relationship rooted in the love of Christ.

 
    How many relationships do you have in your life that would allow you to fellowship simply because you cared for one another?

Paradise Ahead!

 

Paradise Ahead!

Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”
Luke 23:43

Recommended Reading
Luke 23:39-43

In the traditional Book of Common Prayer, an unusual blessing is suggested for the bedside of dying saints: “Depart, O Christian soul, out of this world; in the name of God the Father Almighty who created you; in the name of Jesus Christ who redeemed you; in the name of the Holy Spirit who sanctifies you. May your rest be this day in peace, and your dwelling place in the Paradise of God.”

We use the word “paradise” when we speak of a beautiful location or tropical island. When we think of a paradise in the Bible, we might think of the Garden of Eden. But the Bible doesn’t actually refer to Eden using the word “paradise.” Instead, three times this word is used to describe heaven. Jesus used this term with the dying thief. Paul said he was caught up into the third heaven, into paradise (2 Corinthians 12:4). And John used the word “paradise” to describe heaven in Revelation 2:7.

Jesus replaced the sting of sin with salvation and the pain of death with paradise. In Him, we have paradise ahead!

O paradise! O paradise! I greatly long to see, the special place my dearest Lord in love prepares for me.
Frederick W. Faber