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The Living Word: More Than Hosannas

The Living Word: More Than Hosannas

I Kings 17:8-16; John 4:39-45

On Palm Sunday, the crowd praised Jesus with simple things: branches from local trees, voices raised, lifted hands. Today, what can we use, or raise, or lift to make a difference?

It Doesn’t Take Much To Change Your World

* A Little Faith Can Go A Long Way ~ I Kings 17:8-16

  • 13/6 the woman offers what little she has for God’s use, and she is cared for; NOTE: this is HISTORICAL NARRATIVE – I don’t think it’s wise to say that because God HAS DONE a thing, He is obligated TO DO that thing again.
  • What I DO take from this is that God Provides. He may not provide FOR you as you think… but He might well provide THROUGH YOU; WHO ARE YOU GIVING TO?

* A Little Word Can Change A Lot of Lives ~ John 4:39-42

  • 39 consider this woman’s reputation: she was KNOWN to be “shady” – and Jesus STILL ministered to her; THAT is a powerful truth!
  • 40 they came to investigate based on HER NOT BEING JUDGED
  • 41 and once they actually heard Jesus’ words, many more came to faith
  • 42 “we heard for ourselves” – important to share Jesus’ actual words, and not OUR INTERPRETATION of Jesus; WHO ARE YOU SHARING WITH?

* A Little Witness Can Bring A Big Welcome ~ John 4:43-45

  • 43/4 Jesus is headed home, not expecting much (hometown boy)
  • 45 they had WITNESSED Jesus’ signs: the cleansing of the Temple; WHAT HAVE YOU SEEN HIM DO IN YOUR LIFE?

The Living Word: Going Past The Mountain

The Living Word: Going Past The Mountain

John 4:16-30

I saw a post on social media last week: “and just like that, every pastor became a televangelist” – the challenge of doing distant-but-connected ministry is one that many churches are now facing all over the world. But this reminder is worth remembering: Only Buildings have been closed – CHURCHES are people, and we are still Open!

What Makes Worship Work?

* Excludes Particular Place ~ John 4:16-21

  • 16/18 Jesus is demonstrating WHO He is: the One who KNOWS HER HEART
  • 19 she gets it!
  • 20 and tries to change the subject
  • 21 Jesus’ answer: worship isn’t about PLACE

* Includes Proper Parts ~ John 4:22-26

  • 22 worship includes RIGHT KNOWLEDGE
  • 23 worship includes RIGHT RELATIONSHIP
  • 24 worship includes RIGHT ACTION
  • 25/6 worship includes RIGHT RESPONSE

CLOSE: vs 28/9 look at her response to His answers: Come And See (to her neighbors)

The Living Word: Samaritan Setup

Samaritan Setup

John 4:1-15
C.S. Lewis said, “You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death. It is easy to say you believe a rope to be strong as long as you are merely using it to cord a box. But suppose you had to hang by that rope over a precipice. Wouldn’t you then first discover how much you really trusted it?”
Belief without Trust isn’t Belief at all.

To Understand the Benefits of Believing, Look at:

* The Setting of Samaria ~ John 4:1-6

  • 1/3 concern: a movement of people seeking a connection to God that bypasses the Temple/Organized Religion; this Scripture isn’t about being “a better church goer”
  • 4/6 The physical setting: about 2 days walk from Jerusalem

* An Unconventional Conversation ~ John 4:7-10

  • 7/8 Jesus needs this woman’s help; she’s the only one there with a bucket; WHAT DO YOU HAVE THAT JESUS CAN USE?
  • 9 woman knows Jesus is breaking social convention; she’s asking about His motives; WHAT DOES JESUS ASK YOU TO DO THAT IS UNCONVENTIONAL?
  • 10 “if you only knew what was really going on with you and God” you would ASK; WHAT DO YOU ASK GOD FOR? WHAT **SHOULD** YOU BE ASKING FOR?

* An Understandable Curiosity ~ John 4:11-15

  • 11 her 1st Question: How can you meet my needs?
  • 12 her 2nd Question: Who Are you?
  • 13/14 Jesus answers her need; WHAT NEED CAN JESUS ANSWER FOR YOU?
  • 15 Notice she doesn’t get her 2nd Q answered BEFORE she trusts Jesus to meet her needs; She trusts before she knows. DO YOU?

Can this be our example? Can we meet other’s needs BEFORE we lead them to faith in Jesus? Is that part of the process?

The Living Word: Being Born Again

Being Born Again

John 3:1-13

One of the neatest things about going to Star Trek: The Cruise is seeing all the costumes. One of the challenges of Star Trek: The Cruise is figuring out what all those costumes are meant to convey. Some are just “hey, I’m into Trek”, but some are much more obscure, and it begs the question: “who ARE you supposed to be?” – as we read in chapter 3 of the Gospel of John, we see this same question raised, and Jesus’ answer is a lot more challenging than a simple answer.

The Process of Being Born Again Raises

* Kingdom Questions ~ John 3:1-8

  • 1/2 implied question: Who ARE You? From God, yes, but WHO?
  • 3/4 Jesus’ response is about SEEING THE KINGDOM; Jesus points back to God’s work, not His own; Nicodemus misses
  • 5/6 now about ENTERING THE KINGDOM; action of the Spirit, not the person
  • 7/8 Notice the PUN: Wind/Spirit are the same word; the Spirit/Wind moves, but YOU aren’t in control; not even when you belong to the Spirit. We move IN RESPONSE to the Spirit (like a hang-glider or a sailor)

* Costly Answers ~ John 3:9-13

  • 9 Nicodemus is all about following the Law of his own will; it must be disheartening to discover that our effort isn’t effective
  • 10/11 Jesus isn’t teaching a new concept:
    Ps.51~create new heart & spirit;
    Ez.11&36~give a new heart & spirit; remove heart of stone, give heart of flesh;
    Jesus KNOWS how the Father & Spirit have chosen to work because He’s PERSONALLY PARTICIPATED IN THE PROCESS
  • 12/13 Jesus tells Nicodemus (and us) that He KNOWS what He’s talking about because He’s BEEN THERE.

Therefore, to SEE and ENTER the KINGDOM is a matter of TRUSTING: is Jesus who HE says He is: the one who came from God to tell us about God?

We either hold to that belief and surrender our lives to Him – or we reject it.

The Living Word: To Bear Witness

To Bear Witness

John 1:6-8; 15-18

One of the neat experiences we have in participating in Fan culture is watching so many people who are passionate about their interests being willing to live out those interests in public.

Witness the Noun, not the Verb

* Bearing Our Being ~ John 1:6-8

  • 6 John sent specifically from God for a purpose: to point to the coming Messiah; WHAT’S YOUR PURPOSE?
  • 7 notice: he didn’t come “witnessing”; this wasn’t about what he did, but who he was; WHO HAS GOD MADE YOU TO BE?
  • 8 there is a singular focus here: John’s whole life was built around BEING ‘only as a witness’; WHAT IS YOUR LIFE BUILT AROUND?

* Showing The Son ~ John 1:15-18

  • 15 John explains his context; brings previous into focus; ON WHAT DO YOU FOCUS?
  • 16/17 tells the truth about God: Law was gift – MEANING of the Law was Jesus
  • 18 IMPLIED SEMI COLON No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, that One reveals Him. (LITV) WHAT DO YOU REVEAL?

Jeremiah 31:7 ~ This is what the LORD says: “Sing with joy for Jacob; shout for the foremost of the nations. Make your praises heard, and say, ‘O LORD, save your people, the remnant of Israel.’

If you want verbs, consider these: SING, SHOUT, PRAISE, SAY

Joel’s Hope: A Word of War

A Word of War

Joel 3:9-16; Eph. 6:11-17

I’ve been reading Scripture as literature lately; I’ve been focusing more on plot and character than on devotion or doctrine. One thing I’ve noticed is the overarching theme of restoration. THAT is Joel’s Hope: that God would put right what has gone wrong.

Joel’s Hope Is Our Help

* Warn the World… ~ Joel 3:9-12

  • 9 context: this is a warning to the world, not God’s people
  • 10 riff on Isaiah 2:4; the world will fight against God anyway it can BEFORE the day of the Lord
  • 11 notice voice change: first part is Joel warning; second is Joel praying
  • 12 third part is God responding; make no mistake: God WILL judge the nations, even those who claim not to know or follow Him (THAT is why we share)

* To Weigh Their Worth ~ Joel 3:13-16

  • 13 back to Joel’s prayer: calling for the “harvest/judgment” of the nations; Jesus referenced this: Matt 9:38 (“pray the Lord to send workers”)
  • 14 “valley of decision” is a metaphor for being stuck, and needing to choose; DO YOU FEEL STUCK IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD?
  • 15 another metaphor: try to live without God, and you’re stuck in the dark!
  • 16 Our choice: thunder and trembling away from God; or a refuge and stronghold WITH Him.

* Wage the War ~ Eph. 6:11-17

  • 11/12 We are not fighting PEOPLE; we are fighting spiritually
  • 13/14 STAND actively, not passive; we are on OFFENSE
  • 15 Are you ready to move? When God says GO, what’s your response?
  • 16/17 Roman shield USED IN CONCERT; not as individuals but AS A UNIT

Make no mistake: we ARE in a spiritual war. How are you engaged?

Joel’s Hope: Rend and Repent

Joel’s Hope: Rend and Repent

Joel 2:12-17

When we learn of disasters, consider our responses. Don’t disasters often move us to action? But the question remains: what KIND of action?

God Calls Us To Respond

* God Prompts to Repent ~ Joel 2:12-17

  • 1-11 Description of the Locust Swarm
  • 12 Even now > let natural disaster move your heart towards God (not away)
  • 13/14 Return > nation had fallen away from worship; sound familiar?
  • 15/16 how should people respond? DO the acts of worship to reflect their return
  • 17 How should LEADERS respond? In prayer (not posturing)

* God’s Promises are Kept ~ Joel 2:28-32

(cf. Acts 2:16ff)

  • 18-27 God Promised Restoration (Done – see Israel today!)
  • 28/29 fulfilled at Pentecost!
  • 30/31 fulfilled at the Crucifixion!
  • 32 fulfilled NOW: STILL TRUE TODAY!

Repentance is changed THOUGHT; Rending is current ACTION

BONUS: 7 Steps on HOW to repent found in Psalm 32 (start with vs 5)


Pastor Ed Backell

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