God-in-a-Box–Your Inbox… for appreciating God
Get a Cosmic View of Jesus' Life in Small Bytes

Jul
08

Jesus can’t turn away from anyone who clings to him in need. He sees the officer’s horror in confronting himself, and with tenderness says, “Go home. Your son lives.”

Relief floods the father with a peace and joy he has never felt. He could have reached home that night, but so great is his confidence in Jesus now, that he spends the night along the way and goes home the next morning.

At home, those with the child saw a sudden turn in his condition. At the hottest part of the day, the fever left, and he began sleeping peacefully. The family sent messengers to meet the father the next morning, knowing his anxiety when he left.

But everything has changed for the gentleman. The sunshine and birdsongs that seemed cruel the day before, now share God’s praise. When the messengers meet him, they tell him excitedly, “Your boy lives! He is going to be ok!”

“When did he get better?” asks the father, already knowing.

“Yesterday after mid-day the fever left.”

The father remembers and smiles.

Sometimes Jesus delays answers until we see our true motives.

God longs to give us His best gifts, but he wants us to believe He hears us because He loves us. Every prayer of faith enters the Father’s heart, and He will answer our requests in the best way at the right time.

So relax and believe He has heard you. Know you are loved, and will have His best answer bringing no regret.

John 4:50-54

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Jul
05

After Samaria, Jesus heads back to Cana, but passes by Nazareth,  saying a prophet is honored everywhere but his hometown.

Word quickly spreads that Jesus is back in Judea. A Jewish gentleman, an officer of the king, has a son in Capernaum who is dying. The doctors have given up on him, when his father hears that Jesus is in Cana. The desperate father determines to find Jesus and ask his help.

He arrives in Cana, presses through the crowd, but Jesus is not what he expected. His faith waivers. Could this common, travel-worn, dusty man be his hope? Still, he is his last hope. So he asks.

Spirit had already shown Jesus the father’s pain and his conditions for faith before he left Capernaum: If he heals my son, I’ll believe he is the Messiah. Jesus wants more for him than his son’s health; He needs the gentleman to feel his own spiritual poverty so he can heal his faith and gift him with everlasting life, before giving his son temporary life.

It was painful to Jesus that his own people failed to hear God speaking through him, so he says, “Unless you see a miracle, and get your request, you will not believe.”

In a flash of insight, the horrified father sees his conditional believing as arrogance, his own crippled heart, and his motives. He realizes that his doubt could cost him his son’s life. In agony he cries out, appealing to Jesus’ love, “Please Sir, come before my son dies!”

John 4:43-49

Jul
04

As Jesus’ friends walk up, the woman leaves.

Forgetting Jesus’ thirst, what she was doing, and her water jug,  she runs to the leading men of the city with her discovery, “Come and see a man that told me my life, could this be the Messiah?”

Only looking at her they perceive a change; she looks different.

At the well, the disciples see Jesus’ face and hesitate to interrupt his meditation, but remember how He needed food and urge him to eat.

He loves their concern, and reassures them that he’s been nourished.

They wonder did the woman give him something to eat?

So he shares with them the effect he feels from having one person respond to him with faith. As a mother delights in the smile of recognition from her baby, so he delights when we “get” who He is.

Jesus knows the woman believes in Him, and as he sees the sun reflecting white on green fields, he comments, “You think there’s four months to harvest, but there is one ready here now.”

The Samaritan men come to the well and crowd him with questions, begging him to stay and teach them. What a difference from the skepticism at home!

For two days Jesus and his friends stay, eat, and sleep as guests of Samaritans, who don’t even need miracles to believe.

The disciples are stretched–extremely uncomfortable, but years later were so grateful for the experience and Jesus’ example to them.

John 4:27-42

Jul
03

Jesus’ answer to the Samaritan woman is full of courtesy but he doesn’t hide. He allows her to steer the conversation away from her, and he steps right into centuries of controversy with decisive words, watching for an opening to get back to her heart.

“The time is coming when the place of worship won’t matter, what matters is knowing God. Your idols show you don’t know Him; but we know Him because Messiah comes through the Jews. It’s time for true worship to show itself in delighted obedience. These are the worshipers God wants, and it requires your willingness and God’s working.”

She has never heard anything like this from any religion. But never has she felt such a “thirst” for something better. She has read scripture and desired to understand it. Could this man be the Messiah? she wonders, as Spirit opens her inner eyes.

“I know Messiah is coming and will make everything plain,” she says.

“I am your Messiah.” Jesus reveals.

Jesus trusts his clearest words to an outcast woman because she is receptive. He can’t be this open with the self-satisfied priests and rabbis back home. But he knows the heart he has given his secret to, knows she will share the honor and the joy bubbling up like a spring inside her.

Just then his disciples return, amazed that he is speaking with a woman–a Samaritan. Even though shocked, they say nothing, and it is months before they understand Jesus’ actions.

John 4:20-21

Jul
02

Jesus knows this woman is seeking. So his answer engages her, “If you knew what God has for you, and who I am, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”

She is intrigued and takes the bait. “How can you offer me water when you have nothing to draw with? Are you greater than our father Jacob…?” (She’s spiritual and open.)

“Everyone who drinks here, gets thirsty again. The water I give satisfies. In fact, it becomes a spring inside you making new life.”

“Sir,” she replies, “give me your water, so I don’t have to come here to get water…” (alone, at noon–obviously avoiding others).

“Call your husband and come back.” Jesus invites.

“I have no husband,” she answers, hoping to end this turn of conversation.

“Well said,” he notices, as if reviewing her life, “you’ve had five husbands, and the one you’re with now isn’t your husband.”

She stares at him; a shiver runs through her, “You must be a prophet.” she reverently observes. “So why do you people say we should worship at Jerusalem?” she asks. (Changing the subject to distract him from her past.)

The Samaritans had been denied the privilege of helping rebuild the temple at Jerusalem in the days of Ezra. Rebuffed and insulted, they built their own temple on Mt. Gerazim, and the two groups had hated each other–and had not spoken–since. But Jesus shows he holds no prejudice.

God singles out a woman, a Samaritan, an outcast in her society (a three-time loser) for her ability to draw others!

 

John 4:10-20

Jul
01

When Jesus hears about the Pharisees stirring up jealousy, he and his few disciples leave Judea and go to Galilee. He “needs” to go through Samaria to meet someone, and avoid dissension.

In the beautiful valley of Shechem is a well, the pride of the people, built by Jacob. Jesus is thirsty, tired, hot, and hungry after walking all morning. It’s noon, so his friends offer to go into the city and buy food while he rests.

This they will do, but no other reason would get them to converse with a Samaritan. Jews and Samaritans hate each other–a feud over identity and the place of worship dating over a thousand years.

Jesus rests by the well, the heat of the sun and the inaccessible cool water intensifying his thirst. He has nothing with which to draw water.  He who created water is dependent on another’s kindness for a drink!*

Fortunately, a woman comes to draw water. (Most women come in the cool of the morning or evening–for friendship. Her timing suggests her unpopularity, or shame.) She pretends not to notice him, and as she prepares to leave, Jesus asks for a drink.

Easterners call water “the gift of God”, and no one refuses it to another. She intends to comply, but is so surprised when she looks at Jesus, that first she has to ask, “How can you, a man and a Jew, ask me for a drink?”

A divine appointment, set up by God and shown to Jesus early that morning, because God sees honest hearts, and He is not prejudiced.*

John 4:1-9   *John 1:1-3   **John 5:20, Isaiah 50:4

Jun
28

John’s popularity is waning, and Satan sees an opportunity to stir up rivalry. So some rabbis “notice” to John’s disciples that Jesus’ crowds are growing, while John’s are dwindling daily. “Why should Jesus’ disciples baptize?” they ask. “That’s John’s thing.”

Upset and defensive, John’s disciples ask him if he is aware that Jesus’ disciples are baptizing–that Jesus is stealing their show.

John is human, open to their suggestions, their feelings. But he chooses to live on a higher plane, above antagonizing jealousy.

“A man can only have the honor God gives him,” he says. “Jesus is from heaven, and I am not.”

Then he helps them understand. “I am the friend of the groom bringing his bride to him. Now my job is over, and I rejoice at his happiness. He must increase, but I must decrease.”

John knows himself–the result of knowing God intimately. God wants that relationship with you, too. Besides giving self-worth and Identity, it makes you emotionally bullet-proof. Hurt feelings won’t destroy you.*

John ends with, “He is the only one who has the Spirit without measure. If you aren’t attracted to Him, God’s wrath is all there is.” In other words, “God wants his character to attract you, if not He can only let you go.”

“God’s wrath” is defined in scripture as “letting go” of us. He doesn’t torture us; He lets us have our way. We destroy ourselves with His enemies’ help.**

John 3:22-36   *2 Corinthians 7:10, Romans 8:28   **Many scriptures define God’s wrath as God letting go, or giving over to the enemy, (over 30 in Isaiah and Jeremiah, and Romans chapter 1 has three).

Jun
27

Nicodemus left Jesus a changed man.

He began reading scripture in a new way–not for discussing, but for knowing God–for receiving life and relationship.

Right at the beginning of his ministry, Jesus gives a detailed outline of His mission to a respected teacher of the Sanhedrin. Never again does He lay out such a complete picture of the process of choice and transformation that takes place in one who believes.

The best-known scripture, “God so loved the world that He gave His only born son…” (John 3:16) was spoken to Nicodemus, who told John, much later, about his visit with Jesus that night.

If you’ve never read John 3, verses 17-21 are rich but not often quoted. God made himself into a “Son of Man” (Jesus’ favorite title) and came to lift from us the curse of the law of sin and death. God didn’t have a son so He could condemn us, but to rescue and restore us.*

The problem is that we don’t all want to be rescued, and that is what Jesus shared with Nicodemus. He says, “Here is the condemnation: No one likes to be corrected, but everyone who loves darkness hates The Light and will not come to it to be healed…”

From the Sanhedrin Nicodemus protected Jesus as long as he could, and after His ascension, when Jesus’ followers became a scorned and persecuted religion, Nicodemus was there, like a rock, with his money and influence. He was happy to become materially poor so that he might become truly rich.

John 3:16-21, *see also Romans 7-8:1

Jun
26

In Jesus’ presence Nicodemus feels his need of change. The cloud lifts from his mind and he begins to understand Ezekiel’s promise of God gifting a new heart. He had never understood that the most careful obedience is worthless without a love relationship to God. He had read all the scriptures with a righteously closed mind.*

Jesus helps him with symbolism familiar to him, “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up…”**

Nicodemus knows Israel’s history, that in breaking faith with God, the Israelites had forfeited God’s protection and were bitten by the serpents that lived in the wilderness.

Many were dying. So God had Moses make a brass serpent, and lift it high on two cross pieces of wood. All they had to do was acknowledge why they were dying, look at the cause, and acknowledge God’s provision for them. If they looked, they lived.

They knew there was no power in the serpent; it was a symbol of God’s enemy who had ruined His creation, but also a symbol of God’s provision–Messiah would come and die requiring only a look of faith.

Nicodemus gets it. Jesus is telling him that He is the Messiah and will die, becoming the redemption-offering for separation from God, to conquer death. By absorbing the serpent’s venom and dying, he defeats the destroyer. He can offer us the choice of healing and life.

Obedience doesn’t save. Even faith doesn’t save–but faith is the necessary link, “the look” or choice, the hand reaching to accept the gift of life offered.

John 3:10-15   *Psalm 51:10, Isaiah 64:6, Ezekiel 36:26-27   **Numbers 21:4-8

Jun
25

Jesus knows Nicodemus feels secure in God’s favor, believing that his good deeds and liberal giving earn him a place in God’s kingdom. So Jesus goes deep, saying, “You can’t enter God’s kingdom unless you are born again.” Birth was a common metaphor used for converts to Judaism. This isn’t a foreign concept to him, but confrontation is.

Nicodemus is surprised and momentarily his composure slips. He shows his irritation in irony. “Seriously? Can a man get back into his mother’s womb when he is old?” He is astonished that his “righteousness” isn’t good enough.

Jesus saves his own irony for later, now He simply says, “Seriously, unless you are born of water and Spirit, you can’t even see the kingdom of God.”

Nicodemus knows that Jesus is talking about baptism and the Holy Spirit. He and his peers had rejected John’s baptism. They felt no need of repentance; they felt secure in doing everything right.

He is convicted that John’s message was preparation for Messiah. But he is confused.

So Jesus, loving this honest-hearted seeker, illustrates heart-religion using the wind. “Spirit works like the wind; you don’t know where it comes from or where it goes; you can hear it, but you can’t see it. You only see its results.” He knows Nicodemus has read about Ezekiel’s “new heart.”

Nicodemus can only reply, “How can this be?”

Now, Jesus’ irony, “You are a teacher in Israel, and you don’t understand this?”

Even though Jesus confronts him, his tone is kind, his look so full of love, it draws the rabbi to him.

John 3:1-9   Ezekiel 11:19, 18: 31, 36:26