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Well-1

This last Sunday, I had the wonderful opportunity to preach at Pascack Bible Church, my home church. Prior to preaching my dear sister Sharon Chang presented a reading of "What I Found at the Well."

You can listen on line, or download the sermon and share it with a friend.

PascackBible.org

Ben NelsonThanks for stopping by.

Ben

3

River of Living Water

But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth. (John 4:23-24 NASB)

Did you know that God is looking for something? It is not something that he does not have, but it is something He wants more of.

And this is nothing new. Do you remember this verse out of 2 Chronicles?

For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His. (2 Chronicles 16:9 NASB)

Do you see it?

The Father is looking for people who’s hearts are completely His. I love that phrase, completely His.

I expect that many of you, like me, learned this verse in the King James Version where it says whose heart is perfect toward Him. But I love this phrase – heart is completely His.

That is such a perfect description of true worship.

Is your heart completely His?

Maybe your saying to yourself – if I am honest – I was lusting after other stuff yesterday, or earlier today, and my heart was going after this or that.

How bout right now – as you read these words – isn’t your heart crying out to be completely His?

Guess what – that right there – that moment of giving your heart to Jesus completely – that was a moment of worship.

Can you go longer – just a bit longer – in worship – full on desire to love Him more today that you did yesterday?

If you will put your will to work on what you know in your heart and reborn spirit is right, before you know it you will be just the kind of worshipper the Lord is spending considerable effort looking for.

Let today be better than yesterday, and tomorrow we can get after it again.

BenLet’s live a life of ever-increasing worship!

Thank you for stopping by today.

Ben

 

This post originally posted in February of 2013

2

River of Living Water

In this encounter with the woman at the well, it takes some time for the woman to catch on that Jesus is not talking about natural things.

When He starts talking about living water she says this.

“Sir, You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water? (John 4:11 NASB)

I started to ponder this question. What did Jesus have with which to draw. He was talking about a well, or better, a spring of living water. How was He able to draw from this well of living water?

photo credit: las - initially via photopin cc
photo credit: las - initially via photopin cc

To take water from a fountain you would need a bucket of some sort. (For you who like old lingo substitute the word vessel where I use a bucket.) And in the case of a well, you would need a rope to lower and raise your bucket.

Jesus tells us this 'living water' is the Spirit, but how to find a bucket that can hold this living water? The fact is you actually have to become the bucket, be the bucket, man! [Tweet This]

Jesus laid out a detailed plan for this in Matthew 5:3-11. Religious folks call this the Beatitudes, today we will call it the ‘How to be a bucket list.’

  • Poor in spirit - see you need before God
  • Mourn - confess and forsake your own sin
  • Meek - submitted to the heart of the Father
  • Hungry and thirsty for righteousness - walk in a way than shuns sin in your own life.
  • Merciful - tempered by an unwavering mercy, fed by the mercy you have received.
  • Pure in heart - keeping yourself free from guile, seeking His face daily, hourly,  moment by moment
  • Leading men to peace with their Heavenly Father.

This is the path Jesus laid out to truly blessed life - one flowing with living water.

If you want an abundance of this living water, start with step one and get your bucket on.

BenThanks for coming by today.

See. You tomorrow.

Ben

For lots of detail on this ‘How to be a bucket list’ check out my series on the Beatitudes.

This post was originally posted on February 15, 2013

13

By Carl Heinrich Bloch (http://masterpieceart.net/carl-heinrich-bloch/) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

“Come see a man who knew all about the things I did,
who knows me inside and out.
Do you think this could be the Messiah?”
John 4:29

What I Found at the Well

Samaritan Woman

I wasn’t always this way: a pariah, an outcast from society, cut off from my children, forgotten by those I once loved. Now, I live day to day. Then, I had a future. Hopes. Dreams.

When I was a young girl, I dreamed of the day when I would be the one in the white dress. I would be the one swept away by the dashing and gentle man. I would be the one celebrated, congratulated. The young girls would sing and dance around me.

I remember when my fortunes began to turn. As a woman in a man’s world, it wasn’t like I had much to say in the matter. My first husband threw me out one day. I know it wasn’t the first time I didn’t have a meal ready for him when he came in, but was that all I was to him? A cook?

He was nearly three times my age. When we married, his forty-six years could have been a hundred to me. He was a butcher, and my father made the match thinking I would not go hungry. At sixteen, I had done some cooking, but our family was large, and I was the youngest girl. I never learned how to manage a kitchen or plan a meal.

The marriage lasted less than two years. Now instead of a silly sixteen-year-old girl, I was a divorced woman with a broken heart at seventeen. He and his new wife kept my baby, my only joy for the last eight months.

My parents let me back in my childhood home, but things were not the same. They looked at me with different eyes. Rather than seeing my pain, they saw the shame I brought them.

My father tried for a couple years to find me a match, but a good man did not want a divorced woman.

That’s when I began to settle. I settled four more times, and each time I found myself back on the street. Now I live with a man, and he’s a brute. He does not have any interest in marrying me; he just wants someone to boss around. I have finally learned to get supper on the table promptly, since the alternative is so painful.

After my second marriage, the women in Sychar began to talk. It got worse and worse, until I just didn’t want to be seen in town anymore. Every time I showed up in the village, my shame burned me. It was like holding my hand over an open flame. When I entered a shop or market, all the talking stopped and the glaring began.

Twice a day—morning and evening—since the day I was first married, it fell to me to fetch the water. A few years back, I stopped going with the rest of the women. As their distaste for me grew, I looked for different times and other places to find water. I began to travel all the way out to Jacob’s well. It was deeper than the one in town, so I needed to bring more rope. It was fifteen minutes farther away, but it was private in the heat of the day.

When I got to the well today, I was a bit surprised to find a man there. Not just a man, but a Jew. I could tell by the locks of hair curling down beside his cheeks and by his Galilean accent. I can’t even imagine how he came to be there.

It was rare to see a Jew in Samaria. They didn’t like us. They didn’t like our animals. They didn’t like our roads. They didn’t like anything about us.

This Jew looked tired, having most likely spent hours traveling, and he had nothing with him—no waterskins, no luggage, no food. Who traveled across this desolate tract without water? But here he was.

I was hesitant to approach. The Jews could get pretty hostile toward Samaritans. The fighting wasn’t of a physical nature, but there was no love lost in our dealings.

Then, out of the blue, He spoke to me.

“Will you give me a drink?”

I looked up. I had not let my eyes meet His. Eye contact was usually painful for me; the scorn or condemnation I found in most eyes drove mine to the ground. But when He spoke it startled me, put me off-balance.

At first I thought I would just ignore Him. This Jew could only have malice in mind. But I could feel His eyes on me. He did not turn away and was not put off by my silence. He just sat there on the edge of the well and watched me. When I finally looked up and met His gaze, something in His eyes said He was there just for me. He didn’t look at me like other men. He was looking at the “little-girl me”—like my father used to when I sat on his lap. There was somehow safety in His gaze.

Still, this could not end well for me, so I took another moment, gathered my wits, and put up my guard.

“You’re a Jew and I’m a Samaritan, a woman. How can you ask me for a drink?”

Then He started talking to me about some living water. At first I didn’t get it. I couldn’t tell if He was flirting with me or making fun of me. But there was something in His tone, in His way, something completely genuine.

Next thing I knew, He told me to call for my husband.

There it was again. Every time I dared to hope for something good, for a new relationship, my past stood like a locked gate before me, an iron barrier between me and life.

I wanted the living water. I wanted eternal life. But who would ever love someone with my past?

“I’m not married,” I mumbled. It was true after a fashion. The man of my house won’t even let my children visit when he’s at home. He would never marry me—love me.

He waited a beat. My heart waited, too. Did He know I was bending the truth?

“That’s nicely put: ‘I have no husband.’ You’ve had five husbands, and the man you’re living with now isn’t even your husband. You spoke the truth there, sure enough.”

How could He know these things? They say Messiah will come, and when He comes He will tell us all things. Could this be Him?

We spoke of other things—of temples and worship, of Mount Gerizim and Jerusalem. But what I wanted to ask Him—Are you the One?—I couldn’t get my tongue to say the words.

Finally I edged up on the question.

“I do know that the Messiah is coming. When he arrives, we’ll get the whole story.”

His answer broke the iron gate, and the floods began to flow. His answer was like living water to my soul.

“I AM He.”

This Man-Jew-Prophet-Messiah-Savior of the World, this Jesus, flooded my soul with living water. He made me a temple, a place of worship to the One True God. And He did it knowing who I was and what I’d done. He knew me—all of me—and loved me.

Today, when I lie down to sleep, it’s not in blankets of shame. The flood within me springs up to life daily.

The acceptance I pined for these forty years, I found at the well.

The cleansing I wept for year after year, I found at the well.

Come! See a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?

~~~

To read the original story, see John 4:1-29.

Copyright - Benjamin Nelson - 2015

Encounters With Jesus - Available Now
Encounters With Jesus - Available Now

The story above is a chapter from my book Encounters With Jesus, which is a compilation of forty such stories. It takes the reader from Christ's conception to His resurrection through the eyes of dozens who were touched by His ministry.

You can get your copy today in paperback or kindle on Amazon, or for your Nook at BN.com If you want both you can get the Kindle version for only 99c when you buy the paperback on Amazon.

4

By Carl Heinrich Bloch (http://masterpieceart.net/carl-heinrich-bloch/) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I have been spending a majority of my time in John’s gospel these days. My home church has been working through it for over a year, and now we are in what is likely to be a year long pulpit series trekking through it as well.

I will have the opportunity to preach on the story of the woman at the well in a week and a half, so I am spending some time and attention on her story again. I blogged through this a little passage over a year ago. You can find those posts here.

One thing I noticed in both John 3 and John 4 was this ever-so-promising word – WHOSOEVER. (Well – actually I had to go to my KJV search to find this word – it doesn’t actually appear in many of the modern translations. – ah well – their loss [wink])

Check it out:

That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. - John 3:15-16 KJV

Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: 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. - John 4:13-14 KJV

There are some serious parallels in these two presentations of the Wonderful News.

What strikes me here is not just the fact that He used the word WHOSOEVER but that He demonstrated “whosoever” in no uncertain terms.

Check out the whosoever we are talking to here.

Nicodemus Woman at the Well
Man Woman (that’s a bigger deal that you may realize)
Rich Poor
Educated Not permitted to learn to read
Memorized the Torah Talmud says better to burn the pages than to let a woman read them.
Jew Samaritan
Good reputation Terrible reputation
Named Un-named
Came to Jesus Jesus came to her
Met at night Met at noon
Believed and kept quiet Believed and told everyone

I am not sure there could be two more different people in that time and place.

I believe one reason John tells us of these two encounters back to back, is to bring our attention to the WHOSOEVERness of the gospel.

He offers both of them in turn access to eternal life.

How great is our God!

Ben NelsonThanks for coming by today.

Don’t forget to shine.

Ben

8

photo credit: robertmorgan.net via photopin cc
photo credit: robertmorgan.net via photopin cc

A few years back Billy Graham was coming to New York City. It was a Big Deal. His team came before him and contacted every church in the tri-state area. Church members everywhere in a 50-mile (I am guessing at 50) radius were recruited and trained as counselors and ushers. There were local and regional prayer gatherings. There were classes set up for follow up after the big event, and training for those who would receive a large influx of attenders in the following weeks.

It is a great system, and it is set up to insure that no one falls through the cracks. That if someone comes to the moment of ‘decision’ they would be able to navigate their way to grace.

If you wanted to reach your town or city with the gospel message, where would you start?

  • Would you start by approaching the mayor perhaps?
  • Prayer walks around all the neighborhoods?
  • Postcards in every mailbox?
  • Street theater?
  • A booth in the town flea market?
  • Knock on every door?
  • Signs in the front yard?

(Just for the record, I've been involved in almost every one of these strategies – I'm in favor of them all.)

Jesus had another plan. Jesus plan in John 4 was pretty simple. ~I am going to head down to the well in Sychar in Samaria, and sit at the well. I sense that I,m supposed to skip lunch and see what happens~

The Word tells us that Jesus only did and said what He heard and saw with the Father, and I am not sure how clear those pictures were, and how much detail He got in advance. I feel like it was impressions, because I get that, but I know people who hear things and obey – more like taking dictation, and others who see scenarios in their spirit’s eye and have a better idea of how things are going to break.

We're told most Jews go around Samaria to get from Judea in the south to Galilee in the north. Not Jesus:

He left Judea and departed again to Galilee.
But He needed to go through Samaria. (John 4:3-4 NKJV)

Then there was a divine appointment.

A woman of Samaria came to draw water. (John 4:7 NKJV)

Conversation ensued (see the last couple weeks worth of posts if you want details)

And in a few short minutes an evangelist was born.

And from that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all the things that I have done.” (John 4:39 NASB)

Hmmm – sounds like the key to the city was a woman with a broken life, bad reputation, and a deep draught of living water. [Tweet This]

photo credit: Theophilos via photopin cc
photo credit: Theophilos via photopin cc

I have a few take-aways today.

First, planning is great – plan, pray, strategize – all great, but as you execute your plan, keep listening for the Spirit of God on the inside and be willing to go with His plan. Even if you don’t have a plan laid out, let your plan be to listen for the Master’s plan.

Next don’t discount anyone the Father puts in your path. Woe to me if the Lord puts a person in my life who I deem unworthy of or maybe impenetrable with the gospel.

Finally, perhaps you see yourself as damaged goods (a leaky bucket). Maybe you’ve screwed up every relationship you have ever been in, or perhaps more people than you can count have abandoned you. You have become jaded and disheartened because every thing you have ever set out to do has fallen apart before you. Your reputation has betrayed you, and you have nothing to offer.

You, like the woman at the well, need a drink - a drink of living water. One drink from this fountain and a river will form inside of you and flow to your city.

This woman with a past and no hope or vision for a future tuned out to be the key to the city.

What will God unlock with you today?

BenI am psyched about the possibilities.

See you tomorrow.

Ben

 

Originally posted March 8th of 2013

meadows

I grew up in an era when “testimony” meant a sordid story of evil that turned good. People came and spoke, and gave their testimony. They told us for 20 minutes of their wicked exploits and close with an “I came to Jesus” moment and invitation.

It was encouraging on one level, God cared for the worst of sinners. But, honestly, I felt like I had no testimony of my own. I was a church kid, and never did anything bad. I was, in fact, a good church kid, who didn’t even do the bad stuff that other church kids did.

I want to think for a minute about our girl from the well of Sychar.

And from that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all the things that I have done.” (John 4:39 NASB)

As I said last Friday, there is great power in your testimony. When combined with the Word of God and attentiveness to the Spirit, it makes for unstoppable evangelism.

The woman of Samaria had met Jesus hours, perhaps minutes, before. They had talked, and Jesus had, by the Spirit, seen into her life.

This was her entire experience in Spiritual life.

She went into the city telling everyone about her amazing encounter. Her story, her testimony, began that day.

However, there is a misuse of testimony out there that I want to poke at a bit today. Please hear me – before you read on, please apply grace.

She did not go off and tell of all the evil she had been into, giving lurid details, names, dates, and ‘old life’ photos of all her men summing up with a few short ‘Come to Jesus’ words. The gist of her message was – Come see a man who told me all things – this must be the Messiah.

It is really good to know that Jesus can save to the uttermost those who are terribly lost, and I presume the people of her town did know her past to some extent. But I feel like our testimony begins where God shows up. There is nothing wrong with giving the broad stokes of who you were before.

The power of the woman’s testimony was not in the wretched life she lived before her encounter with Jesus, but in the river of living water that she sensed gushing out of the deepest part of her. That which was dry and parched, was now a source of life for everything in its path.

Turns out I did have a testimony. I was the rich young ruler (all but the rich part.) I had kept the commandments from my youth, but needed to step off the throne of my life and let Jesus be Lord over me.

Our past is an important witnessing tool, and can bring glory to God as a beginning to our stories. But we are called to testify to what we have seen, heard and how Jesus has touched our lives.

Let’s not sensationalize our past. There is a verse in Ezekiel that always gives me pause.

Yet she multiplied her harlotries, remembering the days of her youth, when she played the harlot in the land of Egypt. (Ezekiel 23:19 NASB)

Sometimes when we glorify our evil past, in our lives BC, we actually multiply our transgression!

Let’s glorify God by shining light on our transformation, not on the monster we were before. It’s OK to display how desperately far from God you were, it’s important, so that God receives glory for the full transformation. It’s just a mistake to make that the whole story.

Our girl’s story started the day she met Jesus, and so did mine. That other guy – he is not me, that is the story of a dead man. Now there is life flowing in and through me, and out of me to the world – Hallelujah! Only Jesus could have pulled that off.

Tell someone what the Lord has done in your life today.

BenLet’s talk again soon.

Ben

Tell Your Story!
Tell Your Story!

And from that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all the things that I have done.” (John 4:39 NASB)

Testimony – God turned the city around using her (really – of all people – this 6 time loser Samaritan woman) YES her testimony.

I have one simple message for today.

What God has done in your life is enough to turn the city around.

Notice – it was not who she had been, but what He had done that drew the crowds.

What has God done in your life?

What words has He spoken over you?

There is power in telling your story!

BenTell someone today!

See you tomorrow.

Ben

 

photo credit: KevinLallier via photopin cc
photo credit: KevinLallier via photopin cc

My question for you today is – What barn are you filling?

Already he who reaps is receiving wages, and is gathering fruit for life eternal; that he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. (John 4:36 NASB)

This line from John 4 where we have been dabbling for a couple weeks reminds me of the parable Jesus told about the man who decided he needed bigger barns.

Photo Credit: Cee Neuner - Cee's Photography

And he told them this parable:

“The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself,

‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

Then he said,

‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”

But God said to him,

‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich towards God.”

Luke 12:16-21 NASB

Back at the well, Jesus is talking about why He passed on lunch. He took the time to talk with a woman everyone else would have written off, and yet, due to the insight He received from Father, He was able not only to sow good seed, but to reap an eternal harvest.

And off she went to do the same. This brand new Christ follower had a drink of living water, and not only her entire outlook, but also her set of priorities has been rewritten.

She left her water jug behind and went on a mini preaching tour.

Jesus looks at His activity for the morning, as well as those of this fledgling evangelist, and sees the barns of heaven being filled, and spiritual wages being paid out.

These wages He speaks of are another metaphor for the food He was feasting on, of which they were unaware. If you don’t work, you don’t eat – Paul said it of the tangible – Jesus turned it around in the spiritual. If you labor, there are wages, including spiritual food, and a harvest in eternal storehouses.

This was Jesus’ conclusion to the parable of the man and his barn dilemma:

Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. (Luke 12:33 NASB)

He is talking about a purse full of spiritual wages and heavenly barns full of souls.

Whose field are you laboring in?

Not only is the Lord looking for worshippers, He is also looking for laborers.

He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." (Luke 10:2 NASB)

So grab your bag of seed and sickle and let’s get out there.

Then come back and tell us your stories.

BenSee you tomorrow.

Ben

photo credit: reutC via photopin cc
photo credit: reutC via photopin cc

Jesus spends some time with this woman He meets at the well in Sychar of Samaria while the boys are out buying lunch. When they get back and find Him in conversation with this stranger they are a bit perplexed, but no one has the pluck to ask Him what He is up to.

I think it was Thaddeus, who was still working on his falafel, realized Jesus was not eating.

Disciples: “Rabbi, eat”
Jesus: “I have food to eat that you do not know about.”
Disciples: “No one brought Him anything to eat, did he?”
Jesus: “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to accomplish His work.”

[Adapted from John 4:31-34]

I have heard it said that for a Christian, the Word of God is spiritual food. That we must feed daily on the Word and that will be what satisfies our souls. There is truth in this analogy, however, today, reading this again, I have a big thought.

Here, as you can plainly see, Jesus speaks of His food as doing the will of the Father.

This idea is not isolated to His conversation here in Sychar.

In the Beatitudes it sounds like this

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. (Matthew 5:6 NASB)

The writer of the letter to the Hebrew Christians says it like this

For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil. (Hebrews 5:13-14 NASB)

In Paul’s first letter to Corinth it sounds like this

Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies. (1 Corinthians 8:1 NASB)

The Word of God is imperative to Christian living, whether you are talking about the written Word bound in the pages of Holy Scripture, or you are talking about the voice of the Good Shepherd speaking to His flock bringing explanation, exhortation, and application of that written word.

Jesus had this daily input from the Father, and could not live without it, but it was his food, His energy source. No. His food was acting on the Word spoken to His heart. His food – His meat – was found in obedience partnership with that word. Allowing what He heard in the secret place with the Father to become flesh.

This verse from Hebrews says the difference between milk and meat taking the word learned as a babe in Christ and acting on it – practicing it!

Do you ever wonder why so many can be part of a Church body for decades and still have little baby spiritual understanding. It is because they do not let the word become flesh. We don’t obey partner with the Word we hear so that it becomes flesh. We do not lay ourselves on the altar – living sacrifices – holy and acceptable to God, by conforming to the Word.

Check this last verse I shared in 1 Corinthians

Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies. (1 Corinthians 8:1 NASB)

Knowledge unapplied makes you proud, which is the essence of childishness.

Love (which is the application of the Word to our actions) builds you up edifies those you are practicing on. It is the Word made flesh.

I like that definition - Love is the application of the Word of God to your actions. [Tweet This]

As I have said before in this forum:

Who really cares what you know if it doesn’t translate to who you are?

My desire today is for you to be the Word made flesh in your town, your school, your work place, your church, your neighborhood.

Perhaps today, while you are sitting by a well, someone will walk up who desperately needs some living water.

BenThanks for coming by today.

Come back tomorrow, and we’ll talk.

Ben

 

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