spiritual food

Jesus replied, “I have a kind of food you know nothing about.” ... Then Jesus explained: My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work. You know the saying, ‘Four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest. [John 4:32-35 NLT]

I can relate to doing things that quench my spiritual hunger.
In times like that it seems that I forget about my physical needs all together.
As if something spiritual transcends that which is natural.

There is just something other-worldly about engaging in work that you are made to do.
And unless you read something different, I am not speaking of religious work or activities.
The work I am writing about elates me spiritually and is totally relational.

God's work is all about the relational stuff.
When we lovingly interact with people we are doing the work of the kingdom.
Apart from love all ministry is void of anything spiritual.

Consider what Jesus says to his disciples about the harvesting of souls.
Does anyone believe that a soul can be won for the kingdom without love?
When I consider the ways that Jesus ministered I see love personified.

I am brought to an understanding that kingdom work is all about compassion.
Those who are hurting, lost and in pain need love and compassion.
Who among us ever came to the Savior for any reason other than someone loved us.

The work of the harvest fills us with spiritual food.
Our witness is all about the work of love in our lives.
Love is the spiritual food that each of us so desperately need.

Help me to love those who you love Lord. Please give me a heart of compassion.

... this devotion is part of the Red Letters series. Click here to read more.

worship is spiritual not geographical

Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband.” ... The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on 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 the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 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 he comes, he will tell us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”
So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” [John 4:16-20 ESV]

Jesus' conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well continues.
She begins to sense that there is something special about the man she is talking to.
He gets her attention as he speaks to her about the man who she is living with.

She immediately switches the subject to something religious yet the Lord turns it spiritual.
Jesus informs her that worship is spiritual not geographical.
We today would be wise to hear his words - it is not about where we worship.

It is not about the physical but about the spiritual.

The life of this simple woman is absolutely turned upside down when Jesus tells her who he is.
Can you sense the amazement that she must have been feeling?
The hope of all creation had appeared to her and she could not contain her excitement.

Her religious experience was turned inside out by the presence of the Ancient of Days.

Such is the evidence of all of history.
Peoples of all genders, ages and ethnicity have been radically changed by an encounter with God.
It is our spiritual heritage. I want such change.

Come Lord Jesus. I am thirsty. I need a drink from your life giving well.

... this devotion is part of the Red Letters series. Click here to read more.

spiritual thirst

Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” ... The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” ... Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” ... Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” [John 4:7-15 ESV]

My first reaction to this story is how a simple request can evolve into something greater.
Does the depth of the conversation simply not blow you away?
Jesus takes something so simple as a drink of water and turns it into something so profound.

He turns something ordinary into something special.

I think that is the way of the Spirit in our lives as well.
Small things can take on profound meaning.
An encouraging word or an act of kindness can have lasting consequences.

Simple conversations can become so profound.

Can anyone doubt that Jesus believed that he was the Messiah?
Could a mere man proclaim that he is the giver of living water?
The identity of Christ is so evident in this reading.

And who would not drink of this eternal well?

I have found this to be true - I have sensed this living water in my own life.
Such is the difference between the Samaritan woman's religion and what Jesus offers.
The water he gives produces more than religious zeal - his water gives spiritual life.

I am thirsty Lord. Fill me with your living water.

... this devotion is part of the Red Letters series. Click here to read more.

spiritual influence

“No one can have anything unless God gives it. You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah, but I have been sent ahead of him.’ ... He must become more important while I become less important.” He who comes from above is greater than all. He who is from the earth belongs to the earth and speaks about earthly matters, but he who comes from heaven is above all. He tells what he has seen and heard, yet no one accepts his message. But whoever accepts his message confirms by this that God is truthful. [John 3:27-33 NLT]

This passage is a fitting follow-up to the conversation that Jesus had with the Pharisee. In these verses John the Baptist affirms the things that Jesus told Nicodemus. Consider these points that John makes as he shares with his disciples and others:
  • Spiritual wisdom is a gift from heaven. A person who understands this is able to receive it because they have placed themselves in a place of humility.
  • We are not God or the Messiah. It is a needed lesson in humility for many with an over-inflated ego. Humility is a necessity, not an option, for a follower of Christ.
  • We are humble fore-runners. Like John it is our job to proclaim the good news about Jesus telling all that God loves them and wants all to know him.
  • We are friends of God who rejoice greatly at his voice. When we read the scriptures we rejoice over his words. Our relationship with God is a joy filled one.
  • His influence must increase in our lives. When we are born again we begin as spiritual infants and grow into mature children of God as we walk humbly before Him.
I love it how John ends this passage saying the same thing that Jesus told Nicodemus about eternal life. When I think of John I think of someone who had such a clear and humble understanding of his role in life and such an amazing insight into God.

Like John, I pray Lord that your influence would grow stronger in my life.

... this devotion is part of the Red Letters series. Click here to read more.

the dark side

The Light has come into the world. And the Light is the test by which men are guilty or not. People love darkness more than the Light because the things they do are sinful. [John 3:19 NLV]

The setting for the coming of the Messiah is one of great spiritual darkness.
Everyone is stumbling around in the dark - even the religious leaders struggle spiritually.
This passage reminds me of this verse from the prophet Isaiah:
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined.
Jesus is that great light that has come into the world.
His light illuminated, and yet illuminates, the dark ways of humankind.
His life, teachings and ministry testify to the light of God.  

I find it interesting how, in the gospels, sinners repented and were made whole by this light.
Yet religious people ignored their witness preferring their darkness to Christ's light.
It is a troubling thought for those of us who have followed God for a long time.

It is troubling to know that Christ mostly confronted the darkness of religious people.
It concerns me and causes me to question the dark theologies that I once embraced.
And it reminds me how easy it is to be drawn to the dark side.

Lord, I need your light. Please shine and expose all of my dark ways.

... this devotion is part of the Red Letters series. Click here to read more.

the gift of immortality

As Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the desert, in the same way the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to be its judge, but to be its savior. Those who believe in the Son are not judged; but those who do not believe have already been judged, because they have not believed in God's only Son. [John 3:14-18 GNT]

The text of John 3:16 is the most famous verse in all of the bible.
But the verses surrounding it are not as well known.
In these verses we learn about the nature of mortal and immortal life.

To begin with, God sent his Son, the exact impression of the Father.
Jesus, the Son, was lifted up, elevated, in his day that people might believe in him.
The promise was that all who believed would live forever.

Those who reject God, like all of creation, cease to exist when they die.
All creation is born mortal and have nothing in them that survives death.
People who believe in Jesus receive the gift of immortality.

Such is the gospel of Christ and the new birth.
Those who refuse to believe are already judged and cease to exist when they die.
Folks who believe are transformed and receive eternal life.

I believe in you Jesus. Thank you for the gift of eternal life.

... this devotion is part of the Red Letters series. Click here to read more.

the inner wind of the heart

Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit." Nicodemus said to him, "How can these things be?" Jesus answered him, "Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? [John 3:7-8 ESV]

As this fascinating dialog persists Jesus continues to press Nicodemus about his beliefs.
He challenges the Pharisee's understanding of spiritual matters.
Jesus speaks of the born again experience as something that a Jew would already know about?

Is that a new thought for you? It once was for me.
I mean, isn't this born again stuff a Christian doctrine?
Listening to Jesus, one might argue that being born again was part of Jewish teaching.

So why was a Jewish teacher like Nicodemus not already acquainted with the doctrine?
Perhaps the answer might be connected to a focus on the Law and not the Spirit?
In reality, one need look no further than King David to see a born again Jew.

Jesus likens being born again to the wind blowing even though one cannot see it.
Thinking about that my mind considers the power that a tornado or hurricane releases.
Winds are invisible but can have such an impact on things visible when they blow.

In like manner, when we are spiritually born our heart becomes powerful like the wind.
Our invisible spirit can exert influence and power over things visible in our lives.
That influence and power is why we need to be born spiritually.

Thank you Lord for the gift of the Holy Spirit.

... this devotion is part of the Red Letters series. Click here to read more.