Quenched

Miracles happen on ordinary days.

The Samaritan woman left her house to fetch water from the well on a morning that started like any other. This woman’s life was in turmoil. She had been cast out, overlooked, forgotten, passed over. She was not a respectable church member or a pillar of society.

I wonder if, as she walked to the well, in her mind she rummaged through the tangle of her broken life. Maybe she was trying to figure out how the tangle started. Maybe she had tried very hard, but things just kept breaking, and all she had now was cracked and dry. She had cried herself out. Hers was a parched life in desperate need of water.

Now she’s at the well. A man sits quietly. Unlike any man she had met before, this man is Jesus, Son of the living God. He asks her for a drink. She feels ashamed and inadequate. But He sees beyond her inability. He sees right into her soul, into the breaking and the dryness.

Jesus stops to really notice her.

He is committed – just to her. He talks gently about her life, but He sees her from a different point of view. This man, Jesus, speaks to her in a kinder voice than shame. His voice is all love.

Already the water is flowing over her parched life. She has nothing to offer, but she is loved—not inadequate, not unprepared or unable, just loved. The bubbling, living grace water pours in over her cried-out dryness, washes over her shame and the years of stubborn dirt and stained memories. Now all she feels is different, clean, made whole. Even more than that, she feels ready.

Miracles happen on ordinary days. Just like Jesus brought dignity and eternal life to the Samaritan women when He stopped and asked her for a drink of water from the well, He offers the same to you and me—bubbling over life. It is His gift to us, our gift to other parched lives.

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Jesus on the Margins

The Bible has much to say about how to treat refugees, but it is also, in some sense, a story of refugees. Many heroes of the faith were themselves forced to flee persecution at one point or another, including Jacob, Moses, David, and Elijah. But there is no more important refugee than Jesus Himself.

Our nativity scenes and Christmas pageants usually include the gift-bearing magi, but often stop the story there, just before Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were forced as refugees to flee the tyrannical government of King Herod. The biblical text provides few details about how Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were treated once they arrived in Egypt. We can only speculate: Were they able to find shelter? Were they welcomed, or harassed? Did local carpenters gripe that Joseph was driving down their wages? Was Jesus suspected of carrying disease?

Having begun His earthly life on the margins, throughout His ministry Jesus demonstrates concern for the marginalized, such as the Samaritans. Samaritans were not “good” in the minds of the average Jewish listener: they were considered heretical foreigners. At one point, some of Jesus’ disciples actually suggested calling down fire on a Samaritan village, an idea Jesus promptly rejected.

Jesus’ approach to these marginalized foreigners was countercultural: he “had to go through Samaria,” even though there were other, less direct routes that some Jews may have preferred in order to avoid contact with Samaritans. When He does, He interacts compassionately with a Samaritan woman, revealing Himself to her as the Messiah and equipping her to be among the first evangelists. Elsewhere, when a Samaritan is the only one of ten lepers who returns after being healed, Jesus praises a Samaritan as a model of gratitude.

Most notably, Jesus presented a Samaritan as the model of neighborly love. In one of His most well-known parables, this “Good Samaritan” sees a vulnerable traveler beaten on the side of the road and has compassion on him. Jesus command us to “go and do likewise.” That there may be risk or cost involved—as there certainly was for this Samaritan—is not relevant to the mandate to love.

Reflection Questions:

1. How do you think Jesus’ experience as a refugee might have informed his own ministry to those on the margins?

2. Who are the vulnerable neighbors whom Jesus might be calling you to love?

Finding God Part Eleven

By receiving God’s gift of forgiveness through faith in Jesus, here is what he has done for you:

* You have become a child of God. You are one of his. You are a child of the Creator of the Universe. Put your trust in him today.

* You have found peace with God. This marks the beginning of a new and permanent love relationship.

* You have become part of the community of followers of Jesus. In addition to a new relationship with God through Jesus, you are a part of a community of other followers of Jesus. Meet them, share with them, pray with them, join with them.

Finding God Part Nine

Will you turn your life over to your Creator?
Will you believe Jesus Christ is that one Person, that one relationship, you need?
Will you admit you need him and confess your wrongdoing?

Here’s how you can turn to God:
1. Admit your spiritual need. Admit you are a sinner.
2. Believe Jesus died for YOU on the cross.
3. Receive him into your life by trusting him to forgive you forever.
4. Repent, and be willing to turn from your sin.

Here is a sample of what you might say to God:
“Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner and need your forgiveness. I was made for you, but I’ve been living for me. I want to begin a relationship with you now. I believe that you died in my place, to pay the penalty for my sin, and rose again for my salvation. I need your forgiveness. I now invite you to come into my life as my Lord and Savior.”

Finding God Part Eight

We cannot bridge the distance between us and God. But fortunately, God himself designed the perfect solution. He sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to earth. He was both God and human. He lived a normal life, but lived it as God.

Jesus loves people. He talked with them, healed them and made them promises. He even submitted to an unjust death sentence for people. But that wasn’t the end. After three days, he rose up out of his grave. He’s alive!

God saw the death of his Son Jesus as payment for your sin. Jesus took your place on a cross some two thousand years ago. That’s how God sees it. And then Jesus overcame death and actually came back to life to show his divine power. And his power over sin and death is yours. For free!

Finding God Part Two

Something isn’t complete between you and God, but you’re not sure what you’re missing. Perhaps you’ve had these thoughts:

I try to live a good life.
I try to be a good person.
I obey the Ten Commandments (mostly).
I am nice and don’t steal or kill.

You’re a good person. You try to be the best you can be, try to do what’s right most of the time and try to do more good things than bad. So why do you still feel this void?

You may even have tried more drastic ways of dulling your pain — sex, drinking, buying new things, going to fun places, meeting the right crowd, etc.

And for all this trying, there is still something missing. So what do you try next?

Changed for the Better

A few years ago, Neil Thrasher, Gary’s friend and fellow songwriter came out to the LeVox ranch to write and catch up. Neil’s daughter had asked to be baptized on their recent beach vacation. Through the sunset-lit waves and wind, Neil told Gary he heard nothing but these words in his head as his daughter came up from the water.

I came up out of the water
Raised my hands up to the Father
Gave it all to him that day
Felt a new wind kiss my face

In a Billboard interview, Gary described what happened next as, “One of those moments that we felt like we just held the pen, God did all the work.” They began writing Changed together about Neil’s daughter. As they wrote, it became Neil’s story, Gary’s story, Jay’s story, Joe’s story, Tara’s story, your story. It’s all of our stories because it’s a soundtrack for the ultimate story we all share. The Gospel. They went on.

I got off track, I made mistakes
Back slid my way into that place where souls get lost
Lines get crossed
and the pain won’t go away
I hit my knees, now here I stand
There I was, now here I am
Here I am
I’ve changed for the better

Life is a highway. Your heavenly Father has a wish for you. He wants to bless your broken road. He stands ready to change you for the better. Just stop wherever you are, and raise your hands up to the Father.

Pray: God, You’re my Father. I’ve made mistakes, but I trust You. I believe Your Son, Jesus, died and was raised so I could forever be changed for the better. Here is my life. Please bless this broken road. Amen.