Have you ever experienced burn out? After an extended period of pouring effort, time, and energy into a project, job, or relationship, have you ever felt that it was all for naught? It’s a sinking, discouraging feeling that can drain all the motivation and enthusiasm for future endeavors right out of you.
While this is not a positive experience for any part of life, burn out and discouragement while serving the Lord is detrimental to our spiritual health. We are called to a life of sacrificial service which will require pouring time, energy, and effort into people and opportunities that may or may not reap immediate rewards. So as we do life and follow Christ’s call to sacrificial living, how do we avoid burn out and spiritual complacency from discouragement and fatigue
“‘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.’”
The narrative of the woman at the well in John 4 is a beautiful story of redemption, compassion, and unconditional love. Many excellent teachers have given powerful messages on this passage of Scripture; therefore, I am not going to attempt to unpack the many levels of deep truth and implications from this story. However, there are a couple points that are worth pondering before we leave this passage.
As we noted last time, Jesus broke the mold and crossed cultural boundaries to make this story possible. However, Jesus also went to the least likely and embraced her for who she was and sought to give her life and hope. He wasn’t put off by hard exteriors, and He wasn’t afraid to look people straight in the eye in the midst of their pain. In fact, Jesus wasn’t hesitant to probe the wounds in order to bring healing, for he knew that before healing and restoration can be given, the pain and brokenness of the past must be dealt with.
“Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John (although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples), he left Judea and departed again for Galilee. And he had to pass through Samaria. So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.”
In the heat of the day along a less traveled dirt road, the Son of God had a divine appointment with the most unlikely of people. However, that’s often the way God works, arranging meetings at times and in places that are most uncommon and with the most unexpected people. We must be open and available to take the road less traveled and see the people the world overlooks, because in these opportunities God often has great things in store.
Have you see the above symbol as a bumper sticker on a car or adorning someone’s cap? I remember when I first saw it over five years ago and thought it was some weird rock band symbol or something. However, when I finally found out what it stood for, I’ve loved it ever since
HE>i = He is greater than I
It serves as a constant reminder of the daily decision we must make to humble ourselves so that Christ may be magnified in our lives. It puts into four simple symbols John the Baptist’s succinct but powerful declaration that “He must increase, but I must decrease.” John made this statement when one of his followers noted how Jesus was attracting more followers and taking some of John’s disciples as well. So he asked what John felt about this after so many years of successful ministry. John’s answer was filled with humility and one that would rarely be heard among church leaders in America today. We would do well to learn from John’s example of humble leadership and pursuit of God’s kingdom above personal success.
It is Valentine’s Day weekend. Love is in the air. And I have the honor of standing up as a bridesmaid for a dear friend as she makes a covenant before God and others to love her man for the rest of her days. While marriage is a wonderful thing and the love God ordained between a man and a woman is beautiful, it is just a weak shadow and imperfect copy of what love truly is. Therefore, as we begin this weekend that celebrates love, I believe it is quite fitting that our next couple verses in John contain some of the most famous words on love in the Bible.
Are you a night owl or a morning person? Does the pre-dawn stillness thrill your soul or do you prefer the quietness of the midnight hour after others have retreated to bed before turning into proverbial pumpkins?
As I sit here in the pre-dawn stillness pondering and writing on today’s passage from John, I think you can guess which category of people I belong to. The early bird catches the worm, and I like getting as many worms captured each day. Yet despite my early morning preferences, I find that I often do my soul-searching praying and wrestling with God late at night and into the wee hours of the morning. Can anyone else relate?
After turning water to wine in Cana and quietly exiting that event, Jesus went to Capernaum where He set up a home base before traveling to Jerusalem for Passover. Remember what John the Baptist declared the first time Jesus appeared on the banks of the Jordan? “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29). Therefore, I find it fascinating that the Apostle John makes a point of noting the three years Jesus journeyed to Jerusalem to observe the oldest and most important of all the Jewish feasts: the one celebrating and remembering the salvation of Israel in Egypt through the blood of lambs. Each year of Jesus’ earthly ministry, He committed to being in Jerusalem for the ritual God ordained as a foreshadowing of the sacrifice He would eventually make on a hill outside Jerusalem during Passover.
So Jesus went up to Jerusalem for Passover shortly after calling His disciples and starting His public ministry. While He was there an event took place that highlighted the differences between Jesus and the religious leaders of the day and started the tension between them that would ultimately culminate two years later. What was that event? The infamous purging of the temple.
After spending thirty years in obscurity, Jesus stepped into the pages of world history and began His three years of earthly ministry. First, He was baptized and declared the Messiah by His cousin, John the Baptist, and then He started calling the men who would become His closest disciples. As Jesus was gathering His disciples and preparing to start His ministry throughout Israel, He attended a wedding where a hosting emergency came up that would thrust Jesus into the spotlight sooner than he intended. This event was the wedding at Cana where Jesus performed His first miracle.