Tag Archives: John 4

3 Ways to Ruin a Church Service

I was at a service last night that actually started before anyone entered the building. My heart was stirring most of the day as I prepared for the service. I felt the Spirit moving when I stepped inside the building. By the time that service started my wheelbarrow was already filling up! That’s a reference from the church Pastor, Darius, last night. He said that “people can be blessed a thimble full or a wheelbarrow full, it depends on how prepared you are to receive it.” Oh, that stirred me. I came in with an empty wheelbarrow. No thimbles for me! I don’t take those kind of services for granted because they are for certain not an everyday occurrence or not even an every church occurrence. It’s not that they couldn’t be. And for me, it may have nothing to do with the church or service, but it might be that my heart isn’t right. Life takes its toll sometimes.

So how can you ruin a church service?

Come Preoccupied

The cares of this world can take their toll.

Matthew 13:22 says it like this:

He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.

Not only will the cares of this world prevent someone from being saved, but they can suck the life out of those who are saved! I sometimes think I need to wear a shirt that says, “Please, don’t ask me and I won’t ask you.” Everyone’s got struggles. Some may seem petty to someone else, but when it’s our problems, it’s not petty. The struggle is real… very real. And if I enter a service with the cares of this world on me to the point that my mind is preoccupied with nothing else, the preacher will be hard pressed to bless. So what’s the answer? Prayer’s a great place to start. Prior to last night’s preaching, the Pastor opened the altar. It was lined with praying people. What did they pray for? I don’t know, it wasn’t any of my business. I went to the altar to do my own business with the Lord. And that few minutes of time were honored by God.

Come Presumptuous

You want to leave a service as empty as you came in, come anticipating nothing. You’ll get exactly what you came for. Presumption is nothing short of pride. It’s saying that you already know what God is going to do. It’s an easy mode to get in, I’ve been there on more than one occasion. We go through the motions of salvation.

Romans 9:20-21

Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?

Coming into a service with the attitude that it’s going to be “just another service,” is a prideful way of saying that God doesn’t have the power to make it an amazing service. Just stomped my own toes there…

Come Pretending

Church isn’t just an obligation, it’s a necessity. And coming to church for the purpose of checking that off your list is pretending, not serving. My wheelbarrow was filled last night because I ask God to fill it with what He’d have me to hear. I heard one thing, someone else may have heard something entirely different from the same message. The gospel is exclusive and inclusive. It’s for everyone (collectively), and for every one (individually). But pretenders seldom get anything from the Word of God because the second it starts to make them uncomfortable they turn the preacher off like a bad radio station.

2 Timothy 4:3

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;

The truth hurts. It convicts and sets a soul in search of rightness. It’s not for pretenders.

I will confess that I can be all three of my bullet points. Last night was the exception because I needed to hear what God had to say and I ask Him to say it. I ask Him to leave me out of it. And just give it to me straight. I came expecting Him to rake me across the coals for failed Christianity. But He rather soothed my troubled heart like Daddy does. Abba. Father. God.

He knows me. And praise God… I know Him.

John 4:23

But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.

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Discovering The Worship Within Us

JOHN 4:19-24

19 The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. 21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

The Worship Within

It’s been my desire for a few weeks to work on a Worship song. God has been pouring His words into my soul and I’ve been amazed at what’s been happening… even in the face of a struggle within myself. So this morning I set my mind to write a worship song.

I was going to get myself in a mind of worship! I came into the living room with guitar in hand and began to pen the words down of the song. The words came swiftly enough, so I felt as if God’s anointing was on me once again and I was ever so grateful.

Now for the tune…

That was a little odd for me. Usually they come hand in hand… the words and music enter my brain in a married state. But this morning only words. So as I began to try to wrap my mind around a melody by going back to the Bible story where the song idea had come from.

John 4:20-24

It’s the story of the woman at the well. The woman married five times and now living with the sixth. That woman… the one who Jesus knew… and she knew He knew, but she didn’t know how. So she perceives that he is assuredly a prophet and attempts to turn the subject away from her indiscretions of life to the matter of religion. Or perhaps song writing.

It is here that my song and my soul found the flavor of the music for the words God had given.  But they weren’t what I had imagined a worship song to be like, just like the woman at the well, who told the Lord, the Jews worship one way, and we (the Samaritans) worship another. And Jesus informs her that she doesn’t know what worship is. But He’s about to show her.

It’s not religion or a location, it’s a spiritual act drawn on the emotions of gratitude for salvation and of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Worship is very personal.

And the melody came… and it came with a Jewish flavor. And my first thought was like the woman of Samaria, “But God I’m not Jewish.” And as the guitar rang out my spirit filled with happiness and I understood, that I’m not Jewish, but I am Jesus’ and He is very Jewish.

I had a new understanding of worship. It’s not about who I am. Shari, the sinner, the failure, the doubter and often rebellious child of God. But I am the child of God. Perfectly forgiven.

Verse 23 says that God is seeking “such to worship Him.” Someone understanding the truth in themselves, and seeking the truth in Him.

So I got a little Jewish this morning in the name of Jesus! That was fun and it was worship!

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The First Easter Bucket

John 4:9-14

Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.

10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.

11 The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water?

12 Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?

13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:

14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

15 The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.

I know we’re a few days past the Easter holiday, but truthfully, if we celebrate Christ in our lives every day we’re celebrating Easter; and this thought came into my mind and my heart yesterday and I needed to share it, as I’ve not been able to stop thinking about it since that time. The story of the woman at the well paints such a marvelous picture of salvation for the child of God. An interesting note about this story is that it’s the longest recorded conversation that Jesus has with any one person. And it happens to be with someone He, twice over, should not be talking to according to Jewish law. One a Samaritan, and two a woman. And yet, the Lord doesn’t stand on the formality of religion but rather He goes for the relationship. I love that about Jesus!

So here He stands (or sits, because He was weary) talking to this woman who came to the well in the hottest portion of the day, most likely to avoid people judging her, and she meets the only One worthy to judge. There’s probably a thousand points in this story, but today I’ll mention three.

  1. The Holey Bucket

The Samaritan woman came to the well prepared to get her own water and head back to the house before any of those judgmental people of her city came around. She’d had four failed relationships and was working on the fifth. She’d been let down so many times before, she knew better than to rely on anyone else to take care of her, she could take care of herself. Or so it is that I think of her. And independent woman. Her attitude with Jesus seemed to be almost sarcastic when she says “Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with….” In other words, Mister, You came here without a bucket! How do you plan on getting water?

  1. The Holy Bucket

This is what I love about the Lord, and reading His word. In the Bible according to Shari, the one that plays out in my head when I hear or read the Word of God; the one that sometimes adlibs, I hear Jesus saying… Woman, I am the bucket! I have everything you need to sustain life. You can drink of what this world has to offer for the rest of your days but at the end you’ll die of thirst because you can’t live without me.

  1. The unholy Bucket

And then she realizes there’s something different about this man. He knows her, inside and out. He tells her everything that’s been going on in her life, and yet she doesn’t feel condemned. All the sinful, shameful things she’s been doing, she knows He knows. And she also knows that what He speaks is truth. Nothing in the world has ever satisfied her. She tried everything, and every time it fails. She’s tired of coming to that well ashamed, she want to be clean. She’s tired of carrying that unholy bucket around in her life that has her labeled an unfit woman. So she cast care to the wind and says “Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.”

I don’t want to come here again.

Woohoo! And Hallelujah, does that story ever put a shout in my soul! If the woman had a name tag, and she doesn’t, it would likely bear our name. She every one of us who comes to Jesus with our unholy bucket trying to cleanse ourselves, and it never works.

But Jesus isn’t at the well any longer, He is the well. Because of the cross of Calvary we now have that Easter Bucket of endless living water that will allow us to live eternally with our Lord, but for now will allow us to live effectually for our Lord. For now we have purpose.

There is so much in this story I can’t possibly do it justice in a blog, but after she finished her business with the Lord at the well, she went back to the city. This time she wasn’t avoiding people she was looking for people unashamedly to tell them what the Lord had done in her life!

So… have you been to the well? If you not… go quickly! If so… tell somebody!!!