The Women at the Well: Satisfied, 22 May 2011

Big Idea: Jesus is the only thing that will fill the emptiness in your life.

Are you truly satisfied? Have you ever felt like something is missing?

What are some things that people seek for satisfaction?

Most of us know the “right” answer is “God.” If we’re honest, though, we often find ourselves craving the same things that the Rolling Stones found unsatisfying—money, sex, and power.

In John 4, we encounter a woman who is seeking satisfaction. First some background on the story.

Jesus is on His world tour and travels from Judea to Galilee. So what, right? Well, to get there, He had to travel through Samaria—or He could do what many Pharisees did—He could double His trip and go around Samaria.

The Samaritans were hated by the Jews who saw them as the offspring of Assyrians who intermarried with Jews and destroyed their heritage.

Can you imagine avoiding an entire region on your journey because of despising its residents? It’s not like this was just a little detour. It must have added hours to their trip, even if they had a fast camel!

Jesus arrives at Jacob’s well around noon (though it could have been 6 PM depending upon the clock system) and sits down by the well. Normally people drew water at the end of the day rather than midway so he may not have expected to see anyone.

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
- John 4:7-8

Notice the contrast between Jesus’ interaction with Nicodemus—a moral, respected Jew who pursued Jesus in the previous chapter that we examined a few weeks ago—and this despised, immoral Samaritan woman.

The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) - John 4:9

She knew Jesus wasn’t a local!

Public conversations between men and women were prohibited in the culture.

In addition, Jews viewed Samaritans as “unclean” so a Jew would become ceremonially unclean if he even used a cup handled by a Samaritan. A Rabbinic law of A.D. 66 said that Samaritan women were considered to be continually menstruating and, therefore, always unclean.

Many of the Samaritans early embraced the gospel (John 4:5-42; Acts 8:25; 9:31; 15:3). Of these Samaritans, there still remains a small population of about one hundred and sixty, who all reside in Shechem, where they carefully observe the religious customs of their fathers. They are the smallest and oldest sect in the World.” - Easton’s Bible Dictionary

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
- John 4:10

In John’s Gospel, the word “gift” in the Greek is only used here. It emphasizes God’s grace through Christ. Jesus’ grace is a freely-given gift that must be received to be experienced. It refers to eternal life. It also refers to the Holy Spirit (Jer. 2:13; Zech. 14:8; John 7:38-39)

“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?” - John 4:11-12

The well was over 100 feet deep and Jesus forgot to buy a rope and bucket! This was Jacob’s well and the woman knew about its history.

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
- John 4:13-14

If you know anything about Jesus’ teachings, you know that He often spoke in parables and cryptic language that wasn’t always easy to understand. Here’s this woman in the desert, she came to draw water—a vital task reserved for women in the day—and this Jew tells her of a different kind of water, water that wells up or literally leaps up, the vigorous abundant life that He alone can give (see John 10:10).

The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” - John 4:15

What would you expect Jesus to say? You would expect Him to say something about water, but instead, He throws her a curveball.

He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”
- John 4:16

Huh? We’d expect Him to at least tell her to pray or obey God or something, right? He brings up her husband, to which she replies...

“I have no husband,” she replied.

Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”
- John 4:17-18

I love Jesus’ assessment of the situation. He does not condemn her, but rather He affirms her.

Jesus obviously knows her story and how she has struggled with satisfaction. Five husbands is not an accident! Clearly she was looking for love in all of the wrong places! She was masking her thirst with something that actually made her more thirsty rather than quenched.

What’s the best thing to drink when you’re thirsty? It’s water.

Some people—especially kids—think that pop will quench their thirst, but actually it makes you more thirsty. The pop companies actually add sodium which causes dehydration and makes you more thirsty! What a great way to sell beverages!

If you want to quench your thirst for satisfaction, you need to recognize that things like money, sex and power will never satisfy. In fact, they’ll actually make you crave more. Billionaire Ted Turner was once asked how much money was enough and he said, “Just a little bit more.” The things in this life simply don’t satisfy. Sure, they will bring some happiness, but it’s temporary.

Remember all of those things you wanted so badly for Christmas? I wonder how many of them will end up on eBay or in a garage sale soon. We use external things to quench our internal thirst, and the Samaritan woman did the same thing.

“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. - John 4:19

This woman is sharp! A stranger told her about her multiple partners. She had an encounter with Jesus, the Messiah that she was waiting for (verse 25).

Just as Jesus knew the heart of Zacchaeus, He knew her heart...and He knows ours.

Like everyone that encounters Jesus, she was transformed. She met the Giver of life.

Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” -Revelation 7:16-17

I don’t know about you, but when I’m thirsty, I often crave pop or juice. Water seems boring and unexciting, yet it’s what I need. Water is the most valuable and essential thing on our planet. We are filled with it. We will die without it.

In the same way Jesus provides living water to each of us—but only if we are thirsty.

Where do you go for your satisfaction? I guarantee that no food, drug, drink, bank account, Facebook account, techno gadget, car, or even person can truly satisfy—only Jesus.

Later, the woman throws out a red herring and talks about an ancient dispute. However, the story concludes...

Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers.

They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.” - John 4:39-42

My prayer is that many in our community would believe in Jesus because of our story...and experience true satisfaction.

You can listen to the podcast here.

Zacchaeus: Forgiven, 15 May 2011

Big Idea: God gives us unconditional forgiveness so that we can give it to others!

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. - Luke 19:1-4

Jesus was a celebrity. He was the most controversial figure of His day—or any day! The text says that Jesus was “passing through.” Crowds gathered around Him and Zach wanted to catch a glimpse.

When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. - Luke 19:5-6

What do you think Zach was thinking? What would YOU be thinking?

Jesus obviously knew Zach’s heart, just as he knew Nathanael’s in John 1:48. He knows your heart, too...and mine!

Notice the intensity of Jesus’ command—come down “immediately” and “I must” stay at your house. Why did He have to go to Zach’s house?

All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a ‘sinner.’” - Luke 19:7

It should be noted earlier that Zach is not only a tax-collector but the wealthy, chief tax-collector. He worked on commission—and set his own commission schedule, undoubtedly milking the people of excessive amounts of money. Jericho was a wealthy area and Zach was possibly the most hated man in the city.

But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” - Luke 19:8

What happened?

When Jesus enters your home, things change!

We obviously don’t know everything that took place, but we do clearly see the transformation of a hated, wealthy man through his encounter with Jesus.

I doubt Jesus told him he had to be generous. I don’t think Zach was guilted into making changes in his life. In fact, I don’t see any indication that Jesus was angry or condemning of Zach, but rather loving and kind toward this hated man. It says in Romans 2:4 that God’s kindness leads us to repentance.

Most of us are not drawn to angry people, but to love and kindness. Zach experienced the kindness of Jesus and that led him to repent and change.

Jesus said in Luke 7:47 that the woman who poured oil on His head and feet had many sins that were forgiven, but “he who has been forgiven little loves little.”

Friends, you and I have been forgiven by Jesus, and it is His forgiveness that allows us to forgive others.

Others don’t deserve our forgiveness, and neither do we deserve God’s forgiveness.

It seems clear that Zach had many sins that were forgiven that day, leading him to respond greatly.

The arrogant religious leaders preferred to judge and condemn Zach without realizing their own sin in the process.

Forgiveness is not about justice or fairness, but about experiencing and then passing on mercy and grace.

The passage concludes

Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” - Luke 19:9-10

Salvation came not only to Zach, but also all members of his household. The Jewish concept of the family under the Old Covenant meant that now Zach was a true son of Abraham, a child of the promise, and forgiven by Christ.

Note the purpose of Jesus’ mission in the final words—to seek and to save what was lost. Remember the lost sheep, lost coin, and lost son that we examined a few weeks ago in Luke 15? God cares about the lost. Do we?

In many cases the lost are not attractive, loving people. They may be filled with anger, greed, or addictions. Like Zach they may be despised by the world and unworthy of love and forgiveness in human eyes. Nevertheless Jesus died for them, and our love and compassion and kindness may be exactly what they need in order to repent and change and encounter the transformational power of Jesus Christ.

You can listen to the podcast here.

You can listen to Joel Sherey’s story—Forgiven? Forgiven—here.

Esther: Trust, 8 May 2011

Big Idea: If you trust God, He can use you to change the world!


You were created with value, dignity and worth...for a purpose. That purpose may be clear to you or you may be clueless. Regardless, God has blessed us with this life, this day, this breath.

For Such A Time As This

Andy Warhol famously said that everyone gets...15 minutes of fame. Rarely do we know when that moment will occur. Sure, Michael Phelps recognized as he traveled to the 2008 Olympic games that he would be on the world stage. Yes, Barack Obama knew on election day that he would be in the spotlight. Most of us, however, cannot anticipate our one shining moment.

Be Prepared

The key to greatness is not to seek it, but to be ready. The Boy Scout motto prepared. Do people take CPR classes in order to save a life on a pre-determined day? Of course not. Do you buy a fire extinguisher for a particular event? No! You want to be ready.


Today we continue our series The Secret That Changes Everything. I’ll tell you the secret right now:

If you trust God, He can use you to change the world.

You. Not the person beside you. Not that celebrity you saw on TV, your favorite author, or a rock star. You. But you must be ready.

The Story

The story of Esther has been immortalized by films such as

One Night With The King and, of course, the Veggie Tales classic Esther: The Girl Who Became Queen.

For those of you unfamiliar with the story, here’s a summary:

After a six-month drinking feast, a drunk king summons his wife. The queen refused to come so the king forbids her from ever entering his presence and begins the search for a new queen.

A beautiful orphan girl, Esther, becomes the queen after more than a year of beauty treatments and overnight “interviews” with the king.

Her cousin, Mordecai, learns of a plan by Haman to destroy the Jewish people. Mordecai tells Esther to help by seeking the king’s help. She sends a message back to Mordecai and says

“All the king’s officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that he be put to death. The only exception to this is for the king to extend the gold scepter to him and spare his life. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king.” - Esther 4:11

When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. - Esther 4:12-13

For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” - Esther 4:14

Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” - Esther 4:15-16

In a surprising turn of events, Mordecai is honored and Haman’s plan to destroy the Jews is exposed by Esther at dinner.

So the king and Haman went to dine with Queen Esther, and as they were drinking wine on that second day, the king again asked, “Queen Esther, what is your petition? It will be given you. What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be granted.”

Then Queen Esther answered, “If I have found favor with you, O king, and if it pleases your majesty, grant me my life — this is my petition. And spare my people — this is my request. For I and my people have been sold for destruction and slaughter and annihilation. If we had merely been sold as male and female slaves, I would have kept quiet, because no such distress would justify disturbing the king.”

King Xerxes asked Queen Esther, “Who is he? Where is the man who has dared to do such a thing?”

Esther said, “The adversary and enemy is this vile Haman.”

Then Haman was terrified before the king and queen. The king got up in a rage, left his wine and went out into the palace garden. But Haman, realizing that the king had already decided his fate, stayed behind to beg Queen Esther for his life.

Just as the king returned from the palace garden to the banquet hall, Haman was falling on the couch where Esther was reclining.

The king exclaimed, “Will he even molest the queen while she is with me in the house?”

As soon as the word left the king’s mouth, they covered Haman’s face. Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs attending the king, said, “A gallows seventy-five feet high stands by Haman’s house. He had it made for Mordecai, who spoke up to help the king.”

The king said, “Hang him on it!” So they hanged Haman on the gallows he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the king’s fury subsided.

- Esther 7:1-10

The Feast Of Purim

Thousands of years later, the Jews continue to celebrate the feast of Purim to remember Esther’s courage to approach the king and deliver the Jewish people from Haman’s plot to destroy them.

Earlier I said that the secret is “If you trust God, He can use you to change the world!”

What is God calling you to do?

It might not be something heroic like saving the lives of thousands of people, but it may be to share your 2WordStory and be used by God to save the eternal life of a friend, neighbor or co-worker.

This week a friend told me he was way beyond his comfort zone in sharing his faith with a friend. He said he was on the verge of giving up, but I encouraged him to press on.

If you can do it, it’s probably not God’s will.
If you can’t do it, it probably is God’s will.

God has a habit of using ordinary people to do extraordinary things.

Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things — and the things that are not — to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. - 1 Corinthians 1:26-29

You are here for a purpose, and it is to know God and make Him known.

The problem is we fear for our future and we have trouble trusting God with the things we can’t control. While most of us wrestle with this tension, it is certainly true for moms. It was true for Esther as well. Mordeci convinced Esther that she was in her role for a purpose and a reason (like every Mom). She was told she was good enough to perform the task even when facing fearful circumstances that could have cost her life.

The secret is trust. Trust God to take care of you when you need Him the most.

God can be trusted. He can be trusted in the midst of the storms of life. He can be trusted in sickness and in health, in wealth and poverty, in life and death.

The secret is “If you trust God, He can use you to change the world!”


As I said earlier, you were created with value, dignity and worth...for a purpose. That purpose may be clear to you or you may be clueless. Regardless, God has blessed you with this life, this day, this breath. He has created you for such a time as this. Now it’s time to seize this moment and change the world.

You can listen to the podcast here.

Nicodemus: Alive, 1 May 2011

Big Idea: Without a second birth we will never know true life.


Last Sunday was our celebration of the resurrection, the life of Jesus Christ after His death and the life that we can have because of His. Today we begin our 2WordStory series along with over 500 churches in the area...including these:

What makes you come alive?

Our Story

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.” - John 3:1-2

Nicodemus was one of the most important men in his day. He was a teacher and a Pharisee. The Pharisees were powerful religious leaders. He was also a member of the the Jewish ruling council called the Sanhedrin. Suffice it to say, Nick was a powerful and respected man.

This is the original Nick at Nite! He’s not sneaking around at night to watch TV, though. Why does he go out at night? We don’t know! It seems that he was afraid, perhaps of the other Pharisees that condemned Jesus. He saw Jesus as something of a peer and wanted to have a Rabbi to Rabbi chat.

In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” - John 3:3

Born again. This is an expression that has been used to describe Christians, bit Nick had no clue what Jesus meant.

“How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!”
- John 3:4

And every mom in the room said, “Ouch!”

Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” -John 3:5-8

Born again or born from above is a spiritual transformation. We all have been given a physical birth, but being born again requires a spiritual birth. It’s about moving from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of God.

Several interpretations have been given to this phrase “born of water,” but it seems most likely that Nick would see it as a reference to baptism, the water grave in which one dies to their flesh and is resurrected and regenerated by the Holy Spirit, coming alive.

I love Jesus’ use of the word
pneuma which means both wind and Spirit. We can control neither the wind nor the Holy Spirit, but we can place ourselves in their path and be moved by them.

“How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.
- John 3:9

Notice how he still doesn’t understand, yet he doesn’t play it cool, pretending to get it. He honestly shares his confusion.

“You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things?
- John 3:10

I love that! This great teacher doesn’t understand. Let’s face it, we wouldn’t have understood this, either!

Jesus continues.

I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven — the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. - John 3:11-13

Jesus is fully God yet fully human. He is the ladder between heaven and earth. He descended in the Incarnation at His birth in Bethlehem and later ascended on the Mount of Olives to heaven where He will one day return.

Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.
- John 3:14-15

In Number 21, Moses raised a bronze snake on a pole as a cure for the punishment the people received from God for their disobedience. In fact, you’ve probably seen the snake on a pole in the universal symbol of healing.

Dying people who looked upon the bronze snake were healed. In the same way, Jesus is foreshadowing His death on a tree and saying that the dying sinners who look to Him will be given eternal life.

This is the central message of our faith—that Jesus came, lived, died, and rose again for us. He did all of this to restore our broken relationship with our Creator. In fact, the very next verse is likely the most famous and significant verse in the entire Bible.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. - John 3:16

This is the Gospel, the good news. It’s about what Jesus did and our response. All other world religions are about what you DO, but Christianity is about what has been DONE by Jesus.

The love of God compelled Him to send His one and only, begotten, “only born-one” Son to earth for the purpose of dying.

As a dad, I have a much greater appreciation for this than I did prior. I have one son and I love him like crazy! I love my beautiful girls, too! When my son is gone overnight to a friend’s house, I miss him. When he’s away for several nights on a trip or at camp, I really miss him. I can’t imagine sending him away for 33 another die...for sinful people! That’s love. In the words of Francis Chan, that’s crazy love.

This is why we sing. This is why we worship. This is why we give and serve and go and tell and seek to follow Jesus. It’s not because He is a great teacher, though He is. It’s not because He changed the world, though He did. It’s because He proved His love and died for us.

The text continues...

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. - John 3:17-18

The purpose of Jesus coming to earth was not to condemn. He does not delight in the death of the wicked (Ezek. 18:22-23) but wants everyone to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9).

We have a choice. We can accept or reject Jesus. We can have a relationship with God and enjoy Him forever or we can reject Him and live forever apart from Him.

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.” - John 3:19-21

Why do people love darkness? It’s not the dark itself that they enjoy, but what they are hiding. The Light exposes our sins and evil that lead to death. Jesus lovingly rebukes our sin and leads us to repentance and life. Jesus is the way, the truth, the Light, and the life!

We see later that Nick chose to follow Jesus. He defended Jesus when the Pharisees condemned Him (John 7:50-51). He even helped Joseph of Arimathea bury Jesus (John 19:39-40).

So what’s the secret? It’s not about what you do but what He’s done that gives you life.

Nick realized it did not matter how good he was, it wasn’t good enough. It doesn’t matter how many soup kitchens you serve, how many times you go to church, or how much money you give away if you don’t know Jesus. Do you know Him? I don’t mean know about Him, but do you really know Jesus? Do you love Him? Have you received His gift of eternal life?

Have you seen the Light? Have you received the Light? Are you alive?

You can listen to the podcast here.