Understanding God's Acts So He Can Lead

[We begin with a welcome and a prayer.]

Among the hardest attitudes and behaviors for a Christian to learn is the attitude and behavior of humility. Yet, humility is a critical attitude in Christian existence. Our humility is essential for accessing God's strength.

It is hard for American Christians to understand and to accept the fact that they are not in control. It is a part of our culture to emphasize the importance of the individual. The American dream stress opportunity for every person. Our constitution declares that it is a personal right to pursue happiness.

As a culture, for the past few decades we have attacked any cause of low self esteem. We have changed the American vocabulary. We have developed a 'politically correct' language. We stress the importance of being sensitive to other's struggles. While it is true that each of us regard some things as an over reaction to past insensitivity, most of us also agree that some of those changes are good.

However, one undesirable affect of stressing the individual is the encouragement of arrogance. Arrogance often focuses on the importance of the individual. As individuals grow in a sense of personal importance, they grow away from a sense of humility. Arrogance erects barriers between a person and God. Humility destroys barriers between the person and God.

Through Christ God offers us incredible help. Humility allows the person to respond to and accept that help. We desperately need that help. We do not need to arrogantly instruct God. We need to humbly be instructed by God.

Unless we learn to listen to God, we destroy ourselves. Often our personal prayers focus on telling God what we want. Rarely in our personal prayers to we listen. To often in our service to God we see ourselves taking care of Him. God is alive. God is active. God will continue to be alive and active long after we are gone from life on this earth. God will continue to be a presence in this world as long as this world exists. You and I will not!

This evening as we read, may I challenge you to listen. After you listen, I challenge you to respond to what you hear by singing. We will think together by reading and we will respond to what we hear by singing.

John 4:5-26 So He came to a city of Samaria called Sychar, near the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph; and Jacob's well was there. So Jesus, being wearied from His journey, was sitting thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour. There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, "Give Me a drink." For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. Therefore the Samaritan woman said to Him, "How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?" (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered and said to her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water." She said to Him, "Sir, You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water? You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself and his sons and his cattle?" Jesus answered and said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life." The woman said to Him, "Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty nor come all the way here to draw." He said to her, "Go, call your husband and come here." The woman answered and said, "I have no husband." Jesus said to her, "You have correctly said, 'I have no husband'; for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly." The woman said to Him, "Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship." Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will 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." The woman said to Him, "I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us." Jesus said to her, "I who speak to you am He."

[Song about hope: 533--"My Hope Is Built On Nothing Less"]

John 4:27-38 At this point His disciples came, and they were amazed that He had been speaking with a woman, yet no one said, "What do You seek?" or, "Why do You speak with her?" So the woman left her waterpot, and went into the city and said to the men, Come, see a man who told me all the things that I have done; this is not the Christ, is it?" They went out of the city, and were coming to Him. Meanwhile the disciples were urging Him, saying, "Rabbi, eat." But He said to them, "I have food to eat that you do not know about." So the disciples were saying to one another, "No one brought Him anything to eat, did he?" Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work. Do you not say, 'There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest'? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest. Already he who reaps is receiving wages and is gathering fruit for life eternal; so that he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. For in this case the saying is true, 'One sows and another reaps.' I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored and you have entered into their labor."

[Song about sharing Jesus: 623--"If the Name of the Savior Is Precious To You"]

John 4:39-42 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." So when the Samaritans came to Jesus, they were asking Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. Many more believed because of His word; and they were saying to the woman, "It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world."

[Song about personal faith: 539--"Higher Ground"]

John 4:46-54 Therefore He came again to Cana of Galilee where He had made the water wine. And there was a royal official whose son was sick at Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to Him and was imploring Him to come down and heal his son; for he was at the point of death. So Jesus said to him, "Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe." The royal official said to Him, "Sir, come down before my child dies." Jesus said to him, "Go; your son lives." The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and started off. As he was now going down, his slaves met him, saying that his son was living. So he inquired of them the hour when he began to get better. Then they said to him, "Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him." So the father knew that it was at that hour in which Jesus said to him, "Your son lives"; and he himself believed and his whole household. This is again a second sign that Jesus performed when He had come out of Judea into Galilee.

[Song about personal faith: 470--"Victory In Jesus"]
[Prayer for faith (trust)]

  1. John 4 reveals to us a very unlikely situation in the Samaritan woman. I would like to call some things to your attention.
    1. She was a very unlikely (to us undesirable) person for Jesus to use to alert Sychar to God's work and actions.
      1. She is a Samaritan, and the Jewish people contemptuously considered Samaritans as religiously undesirable outcasts.
      2. The fact the she was alone when she came to draw water may indicate even her own people in her own village considered her an undesirable person.
      3. She was a divorcee--divorced five times!
      4. By Jewish standards and Samaritan standards (both accepted and followed Genesis through Deuteronomy), she is an immoral woman--she lived with a man to whom she was not married.
      5. Only Jesus would pick such a woman to be the first to carry news about him!
    2. Jesus used a daily, physical need (water) to increase her awareness of her eternal need.
      1. "You come to draw water that can only last until you return to draw water."
      2. "I offer you water that is a permanent solution."
      3. "I know who you are and what your real need is."
    3. "God this very moment is in the process of changing the concept of worship."
      1. "It will no longer be a ritual that is regarded to depend on 'doing the right things at the right place.'"
      2. It will arise from the adoration of God from the individual regardless of where he or she geographically is."
    4. She asked about the Messiah (how unlikely a person to know about the Messiah), and Jesus identified himself as the Messiah.
    5. Though she was an outcast, she led her village to the Messiah.
      1. Because she saw, they saw.
      2. Because they saw, faith came from themselves.

  2. The second event also involved a very unlikely person--a man who was an official to the ruling Herod.
    1. As commonly is the case, rulers are not well liked.
      1. Consequently, being attached to the ruler had disadvantages as well as advantages.
      2. The man came to Jesus for miraculous help, and Jesus helped him--even though he knew the man's motivation.
    2. Even though the man was an official, he confronted a situation he could do nothing about.

I challenge you to realize the fact that though we or any other person is undesirable does not mean Jesus cannot help us or use us. Jesus gives the hopeless hope. Use your life in the joy of having hope from Jesus. This week use what Jesus does for you to give hope to the hopeless.

[Invitation Song: 376--"He Paid A Debt"]
[Song: 222--"There's Something About That Name"]
[Dismiss with Song: 227--"On Zion's Glorious Summit"]

David Chadwell
West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Evening Sermon, 20 February 2005

 Link to other Writings of David Chadwell