the boost and the battery

marmsky May (24)

the boost and the battery

Devotions from Jefferson Vann # 2391

John 4:39-42

Joh 4:39 Now many from that town believed in him among the Samaritans because of what the woman said when she testified, “He told me all the things I did.”

Joh 4:40 Therefore when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days.

Joh 4:41 Many more believed because of what he said.

Joh 4:42 And they told the woman, “We are no longer believing because of what you said, since we have heard for ourselves and know that this really is the Savior of the world.”

the boost and the battery

Something of the nature of evangelism is being described in this passage. It took a courageous evangelist to first break the ice and share the good news of Jesus Christ to these Samaritans. It took that woman who had met Christ herself, and dared to share what she had experienced.

But then it took another step. These Samaritan men would also be called on to reach more people for Christ. That would take their own personal experience with Christ himself.

The Samaritan woman’s testimony was the boost that awakened the spiritual lives of these men. Their own time with Christ was the battery that kept them going.

LORD, thank you spiritual strength that comes from knowing you, yourself. Show us how to make that strength the energy that drives our evangelistic work.

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others who care and share

marmsky May (23)

others who care and share

Devotions from Jefferson Vann # 2390

Joh 4:31 Meanwhile, the disciples kept requesting him, “Rabbi, eat something.”

Joh 4:32 But he said, “I am having food to eat that you don’t know about.”

Joh 4:33 The disciples said to one another, “Could someone have brought him food to eat?”

Joh 4:34 “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work,” Jesus told them.

Joh 4:35 “Aren’t you saying, ‘There are still four more months, and then comes the harvest’? Listen to what I’m telling you: Lift your eyes and look at the fields, because they are ready for harvest.

Joh 4:36 The harvester is already receiving wages and gathering fruit for permanent life, so that the planter and harvester can rejoice together.

Joh 4:37 Because in this case the saying is true: ‘One is planting while another is harvesting.’

Joh 4:38 I sent you to harvest what you didn’t work for; others have worked, and you have benefited from their work.”

others who care and share

It seems that Jesus is making a point to his disciples that while they were out harvesting (buying food for their meal) he was planting the gospel in the heart of this Samaritan woman. Now, while they are eating the result of someone else’s harvest (the food the disciples bought) she’s back in town, evangelizing (planting the word in) the men of Sychar. So, instead of a long distance between planting and harvest, they are happening concurrently.

This is how evangelism works. We do not have to worry about starting from scratch with most people. If we are concerned about someone’s relationship with God, we can assume that we are not the only one. We can boldly plant the gospel in their hearts, and – quite possibly – we will find that they are already receptive because of someone else’s previous work.

LORD, thank you for the others who care, and share your word to those we seek to win.

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Egalitarian Savior

marmsky May (22)

Egalitarian Savior

Devotions from Jefferson Vann # 2389

John 4:27-30

Joh 4:27 At this point, his disciples arrived, and they were amazed that he was talking with a woman. Yet no one said, “What do you seeking?” or “Why are you talking with her?”

Joh 4:28 Then the woman let go of her water jar, and went into town, and spoke told the men,

Joh 4:29 “Come, see a man who said to me all the things I ever did. Could this one be the Messiah?”

Joh 4:30 They left the town and came to him.

Egalitarian Savior

Our Lord not only broke cultural taboos by sharing spiritual things with a Samaritan, he broke gender taboos by teaching a woman, and then that woman followed suit by immediately going into town and evangelizing (τοῖς ἀνθρώποις) the men!

Sisters, there are a lot of Christians who will tell you that God plays favorites. Do not believe it. Christ’s gospel is for all people, and you have every right to share it to whomever will listen to you.

LORD, thank you for pouring out your Spirit on your sons and daughters, and giving us all your precious gospel to preach.

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hiding behind the lie

marmsky May (21)

hiding behind the lie

Devotions from Jefferson Vann # 2388

John 4:15-22

Joh 4:15 “Sir,” the woman said to him, “give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to pass through here to take out water.”

Joh 4:16 “Go call your husband,” he says to her, “and come back here.”

Joh 4:17 “I don’t have a husband,” she answered. Jesus said “You have correctly said, ‘I don’t have a husband,

Joh 4:18 Because you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.”

Joh 4:19 “Sir,” the woman says, “I infer that you are a prophet.

Joh 4:20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you people are saying that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.”

Joh 4:21 Jesus says to her, “Believe me, woman, an hour is coming when you will neither worship the Father on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.

Joh 4:22 You Samaritans are worshiping what you do not know. We worship what we do know, because salvation is from the Jews.

Joh 4:23 But an hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and in truth. And the Father is looking for worshipers like this.

Joh 4:24 God is a spirit, and those who worship him must worship spiritually and truthfully.”

Joh 4:25 The woman said to him, “I know that the Messiah is coming” (the one being called Christ). “Whenever that one comes, he will report everything to us.”

Joh 4:26 Jesus told her, “I am he, the one speaking with you.”

hiding behind the lie

The Samaritan woman appears to have been trying to deflect from her own uncomfortable moral situation by bringing up a theological disagreement between the Jews and the her people. She was happy to defer to the future Messiah to sort the disagreement out. That way, she could avoid the question. The problem was, the Messiah was already there. Jesus, the great I AM (Ἐγώ εἰμι) was the one speaking with her.

We do not have to wait for Christ to come again to solve our theological problems. We have the definitive Word from God in Christ himself, and he points us to the scripture, which he says cannot be broken (John 10:35). We can know the truth.

LORD, keep us from hiding behind the lie that your truth cannot be known.

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her questions

marmsky May (20)

her questions

Devotions from Jefferson Vann # 2387

John 4:7-15

Joh 4:7 A woman from Samaria came to take out water. “Give me something to drink,” Jesus said to her,

Joh 4:8 because his disciples had gone away into town so they could buy food.

Joh 4:9 The Samaritan woman asked him “How can you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me,?” Because Jews do not have dealings with Samaritans.

Joh 4:10 Jesus answered, and this is what he said to her, “If you knew God’s gift, and who is saying to you, ‘Give me something to drink,’ you would ask him, and he would give you living water.”

Joh 4:11 “Sir,” she said, “you don’t even have a bucket, and the well is deep. Where, then, do you get this ‘living water’?

Joh 4:12 You aren’t greater than our father Jacob, are you? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, and his sons and livestock.”

Joh 4:13 Jesus said, “Everyone drinking from this water will get thirsty again.

Joh 4:14 But whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will not get thirsty for the age. In fact, the water I will give him will become a well of water springing up in him for permanent life.”

Joh 4:15 “Sir,” the woman said to him, “give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to pass through here to take out water.”

her questions

The Samaritan woman at the well asked Jesus two questions, which are very revealing. First, she asked him how he could ask her for a drink, because any self-respecting Jew would refuse to function together with (συγχρῶνται) the Samaritan people. The situation was so much more extreme than even she understood. This was the creator of all things, and she was part of a world who had rebelled against him. How could he have any dealings with us? The answer is that he stoops to our level in order to restore us to God’s favor. He loves us.

The second question was one about who Jesus is. Is he greater than “our father Jacob?” Yes, he is. He is the greatest. There is no tradition, and no heritage greater that Jesus himself.

LORD, when people ask questions about you, give us wisdom so that our answers reflect what you are really doing, and who you really are.

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sharing life with us

marmsky May (19)

sharing life with us

Devotions from Jefferson Vann # 2386

John 4:1-6

Joh 4:1 After Jesus learned that the Pharisees heard he was making and baptizing more disciples than John

Joh 4:2 (and yet Jesus himself was not baptizing, but his disciples were),

Joh 4:3 he left Judea and went again to Galilee.

Joh 4:4 He had to pass through Samaria;

Joh 4:5 so he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar near the place that Jacob had given his son Joseph.

Joh 4:6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, worn out from his hike, sat down at the well. It was about noon.

sharing life with us

John had been making a good case in his narrative that Jesus was the most amazing spiritual being – God become flesh, the gift from the Father in whom anyone who believes can receive permanent life.

Now, John backs up and tells the other side of the story. This Jesus decides to step away from the Judean limelight and go back to Galilee and work there for a while, away from the spies of the Pharisees and their politics. That I can understand. Maybe Jesus is more like me than I thought.

And what do I find him doing on his hike (ὁδοιπορίας)? He stops for a rest. He got tired of walking. I can certainly relate to that.

I know Jesus is going to drop a huge spiritual bomb in a few minutes when he encounters that Samaritan woman. But for now, I enjoy resting with him. He is an approachable Savior.

LORD, thank you for sharing life with us, as well as for offering life to us.

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Certifying that God is true

marmsky May (18)

Certifying that God is true

Devotions from Jefferson Vann # 2385

John 3:31-36

Joh 3:31 The one coming from above is over all things. The one being from the land is worldly and is speaking in worldly terms. The one coming from the sky is over all things.

Joh 3:32 He testifies to what he has seen and heard, and yet no one welcomes his testimony.

Joh 3:33 The one who has welcomed his testimony has certified that God is true.

Joh 3:34 Because the one God sent speaks God’s words, since he gives the Spirit without measure.

Joh 3:35 The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hands.

Joh 3:36 The one believing in the Son has permanent life, but the one resisting the Son will not see life; instead, the wrath of God stays over him.

Certifying that God is true

John began his Gospel by identifying Jesus as the incarnation of God – the Word. John the Baptist could only talk about worldly, mundane things, but Jesus could explain his Father’s heart.

Now, John says that Jesus testifies to what he has seen and heard from above. How people respond to that testimony will determine their eternal destiny. If people resist the gospel, only God’s wrath, and its consequential permanent destruction await them. But anyone who welcomes the testimony of Christ about God’s love and gift, will receive that gift – permanent life.

How does a person welcome God’s testimony through Christ? By certifying that God’s gospel is true.

LORD, we affirm and certify that your gospel about Jesus Christ is true.

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when to diminish

marmsky May (17)

When to diminish

Devotions from Jefferson Vann # 2384

John 3:22-30

Joh 3:22 After these events happened, Jesus and his disciples went to the Judean region, where he spent time with them and was baptizing.

Joh 3:23 John also is baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was lots of water there. They were coming and being baptized,

Joh 3:24 because John had not yet been thrown into prison.

Joh 3:25 That was when a debate happened between John’s disciples and a Jew over the issue of purification.

Joh 3:26 So they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, the one you have testified about, and who was with you across the Jordan, is baptizing– and they all are going to him.”

Joh 3:27 John answered, and this is what he said, “No one can receive anything if it were not given to him from the sky.

Joh 3:28 You yourselves are testifying that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah, but I am – having been sent ahead of him.’

Joh 3:29 He who gets the bride is the groom. But the groom’s friend, who stands by and listens for him, is overjoyed when he hears the groom’s voice. Accordingly, this joy of mine is complete.

Joh 3:30 He has to grow, but I have to diminish.”

when to diminish

John and Jesus have a short period in which they are ministering concurrently. His disciples ask him about that. He responds using the analogy of a bride and groom at a wedding. There will come a time when the groom will have his bride all to himself. But during the wedding, the best man (to use the modern western term) gets to share in the celebration. As the ceremony progresses, it is less about the best man, and more about the bride and groom.

That’s a perfect analogy for gospel ministry today. We should regard ourselves as friends of the groom. We have the privilege of bringing new people to Christ, and the joy of getting them together with their Savior. But we should always bear in mind that our objective is to establish a relationship between the ones we evangelize, and Christ. Their eyes must focus on Christ more, and us less.

LORD, give us the joy of bringing people to you, and the wisdom to know when to diminish in their eyes.

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Coming to the light

marmsky May (16)

Coming to the light

Devotions from Jefferson Vann # 2383

John 3:16-21

Joh 3:16 Because God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone believing in him will not be destroyed but have permanent life.

Joh 3:17 Because God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

Joh 3:18 Anyone believing in him is not condemned, but anyone not believing is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God.

Joh 3:19 This is the condemnation: The light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.

Joh 3:20 Because everyone doing worthless things hates the light and avoids it, so that his works may not be exposed.

Joh 3:21 But anyone doing the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be shown to be worked by God.”

Coming to the light

Early in his Gospel, John revealed that Jesus’ life would be the light for humanity (1:4).1 But he does not immediately unpack that statement theologically. He begins to do so here in chapter 3. Nicodemus, who is a theologian, comes to Jesus at night for a conversation on spiritual matters. At that point in his life, Nicodemus could be called a success. He probably felt that he had as good a chance as anyone of getting on God’s good side – and earning his salvation, simply as a result of his theological knowledge. But Jesus tells him that he cannot be part of God’s coming kingdom without coming to the light – Jesus himself.

Jesus had already explained that the Holy Spirit was giving birth to a new people for God. He appeals to Nicodemus to accept God’s only Son, and only way to salvation. “Good” works are not an alternative to Jesus. Those really doing good works come to Jesus, the light, so that those good works may be exposed as God’s works. All “good” works apart from Christ are worthless things.

LORD, help us to reach people like Nicodemus, who are doing “good” things, but have not come to the light.

1ἐν αὐτῷ ζωὴ ἦν, καὶ ζωὴ ἦν τὸ φῶϛ τῶν ἀνθρώπων·

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Worldly things and supernatural things

marmsky May (15)

Worldly things and supernatural things

Devotions from Jefferson Vann # 2382

John 3:9-15

Joh 3:9 “How can these things be?” answered Nicodemus.

Joh 3:10 “Are you a teacher of Israel and you don’t know these things?” Jesus replied.

Joh 3:11 “Sincerely I am telling you, we are speaking what we know and we are testifying to what we have seen, but you are not receiving our testimony.

Joh 3:12 If I have told you about worldly things and you don’t believe, how will you believe if I tell you about supernatural things?

Joh 3:13 No one has ascended into the sky except the one who descended from the sky– the Son of Man.

Joh 3:14 “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,

Joh 3:15 so that everyone who is believing in him may have permanent life.

Worldly things and supernatural things

What were the worldly things that Jesus had mentioned to Nicodemus? I think he must have been referring to what he said about the wind in verse 8. He was comparing the fact that the wind does what it does invisibly, causing a visible result. He had been talking about being birthed from above by the Holy Spirit.

Now Jesus is preparing to talk about other supernatural things (τὰ ἐπουράνια). So, he offers another comparison. He compares God’s plan for saving humanity through Christ with God’s plan for dealing with the snake infestation of Numbers 21:4-9.

The comparison is not exact. Jesus points out that Moses’ bronze snake only allowed the Israelites to resume their temporary life. But Jesus death on the cross will allow the one believing in him (ὁ πιστεύων ⸂ἐν αὐτῷ) to have permanent life (ζωὴν αἰώνιον).

LORD, thank you for your divine plan, making it possible for us to live forever.

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