06.5 John – Direction not Confirmation

The lesson with the signs in our lesson this week can be confusing for people.  In John 4:48 Jesus admonishes the people (plural) around Him, “Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.”  But does that mean that signs and wonders are bad or praying to see them is negative.

What we need to keep in mind is the type of prayer and request.  If we ask for Jesus help, such as healing or strength, we need to trust and obey.  He says that He hears our prayers.  We don’t need to ask or expect confirmation that He’s got it and is taking action.  To do so is to doubt His promise to us.

On the other hand, if we seek direction or guidance on how to do our work better, then we may ask for a sign to help show us the way.  This sign may come through a series of events that unfold (what others may call coincidence but that we know is the hand of God).  It may come through another, through the scriptures or it may actually be a sign.

The signs and wonders of our Lord are works of art.  They are wonderful and beautiful.  But the one to be admired and loved is the artist, not the artwork.  It is not the paint or brush or canvas, but the master who uses these things for our good.  The admonition is to not allow our focus to shift to the created not the creator.

My Answers:

10.
Jesus first viewed the official in the light of those in Galilee and the area.  They lacked faith in Him and only placed faith in the signs and wonders He performed.  It was about the art not the artist.  But the royal official did not require proof.  He heard the words of Jesus and obeyed, unquestioningly.
As
a result, he witnessed and participated in a very big sign

11.
It is fine to ask Jesus for healing and care for ourselves and others, but do not require Jesus to prove Himself.  Ask, trust and obey.

12.
He asked, and accepted what Jesus said.  He obeyed and trusted.

06.4 John – Step not Leap

Christianity is not a “leap of faith”.  We are not called to thrust ourselves blindly into the unknown, hoping against hope to be caught.  We don’t fall into it, but are lifted up by it.  The message as demonstrated by the Samaritans was that all are welcome to come and that faith in Jesus is a walk, a journey.  When we repent, we simply recognize we do not have the strength or ability to save ourselves.

Without Jesus, we are alone in the ocean of sin.  While there are thousands of people in the same ocean, none of them can save us.  Being “better” than others, simply means we are drowning more slowly.  The only hope for salvation comes from above.

Once we are saved, our walk begins.  In faith, we stand on the solid ground of the gospels, but we are still soaked through in our sinful body and world.  But if we walk with Jesus every day, if we pray, if we study scriptures, if we worship and sing, we grow stronger and holier.  Like a patient who has been bed-ridden, our muscles atrophy and our tendons contract.  But, by walking and working, we grow in strength.  It can be challenging and, at times, painful, but it is the path to spiritual wellness and holiness.

My Answers:

7.
1. They heard the testimony of another (the samaritan woman)
2. They learned the word of God
3. They received true and complete faith (we know this man is the Savior of the world)

Kids and people at work

8.
They took the time to stay with and learn from Jesus.  They believed that Jesus was the Messiah, the savior of the world as promised by God and the prophets

9.
a.
Philip went to Samaria following persecution after Jesus’ ascension and the martyrdom of Stephen.  Many were saved, healed and baptized, both men and women

b.
It often comes through difficult times or persecution.  People when oppressed are more interested in hearing the good news.  People challenged by health, death, hardship, fear, turn to the one solid anchor – Jesus.

06.3 John – Wages

What payment do you want?

Romans 6:23 tells us the wages of sin is death.  But in John 4:36, Jesus also tells us there is a wage for those who participate in “the harvest.”  Matthew 6:20 calls this treasures in heaven.  Throughout the scriptures we are admonished to focus our desires for wages on the long term.  If we “cash in” on our good deeds on earth, through acknowledgements, pride and recognition, then we have received our reward.  But if we do our work diligently, as for the Lord, then glory awaits us at the banquet in heaven.

But this is hard.  Delayed gratification is difficult, but always has its reward.  Carole Dweck’s work on the growth mindset provides a psychological example of a heavenly truth.  In her experiments with children and their ability to forego a reward of a marshmallow.  Those who successfully delayed gratification were found to do better in many stages of life, including standardized testing years later.  The successful children did this by changing their focus, from the immediate reward to something else.

In the same way, we can change our focus as well.  2 Cor 3:18 tells us to not focus on the problems all around us, but on the riches of heaven.  Philippines 4:5-8 calls us to focus on Godly things, things that are true, noble, right and pure, lovely, excellent, admirable and praiseworthy.  By focusing on these things, we see the big prize – eternity with our heavenly family.

My Answers:

5.
Jesus, already using the analogy of food to discuss spiritual joy, continues by transferring it to the harvest4 months left is the lull time for wheat (7-8 months).  There isn’t anything to do.  But Jesus says to look, others have already done the hard work and you  get to participate in the harvest of souls.  The sower is the word of God and the Holy Spirit, it is also those who prophesy, teach and speak the work (like JTB).  The field is the earth, all humans, God’s creation.  The crop is saved souls brought in to everlasting life in faith, the harvest is the time of decision, the choice to accept the gift.  The reaper is the one who brings the person to faith and witnesses for the good news of Christ.  The wages are joy and heavenly riches.

6.
I can get into the lull period.  I can not see / recognize those who are ready, but just go on with my normal day-to-day.

06.2 John – Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

When someone becomes a Christian, they immediately are filled with living water and they never thirst again.  Everything from that point forward is just wonderful and joyous and divine.  Right?

For most of us that is not the reality that we witness, nor is it what Jesus is promising.  He does not promise a mountaintop life, with only highs and no lows, with no work and only play.  Instead, He calls us to be workers in the field, to get our hands dirty, to sweat and toil for the kingdom of God.

But he also promises that joy will always be accessible to us and that His power and Spirit are always with us.  There will be times of hardship and sadness.  One does not need to look far to see how Jesus Himself was persecuted as were all of His followers.  But the solution is not to be found in looking downward, in focusing on the problems, but instead in looking up.

Too often we let our focus drift to the challenges and problems of the world.  We live in a broken world, with broken leaders and systems and ideas.  The things of the world are not the things of God.

I listened to a pastor this week admonish Christians to be aware of their focus and words.  When our attention is too drawn to politics and world problems, we portray to others a sense of worry and of dread.  The call is not to ignore these things, but to communicate that there is a solution and His name is Jesus Christ.

My Answers:

3.
a.
to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work.  The gathering of believers brought spiritual nourishment.  Fed by bringing glory to God

b.
The highlight of my weeks are the time I get to spend telling the story of God’s word to kids.  I also enjoy writing about it and find myself more filled up than poured out from doing it.  I gain more by the act.

c.
Start by relying on Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit.  By changing their focus in life from the troubles around them to the glory of God (2 Cor 3:18) and act as one who is blessed by God (Phil 5:5-8

4.
a.
I often seek my way first and turn to God when it fails.  I too often want the easy path instead of wanting God to challenge and work me so that I will grow.

b.
Care for others, needy, widows, orphans; prayer; fasting; storing up riches in heaven; bibles study, memorization of verses; not worrying (trusting in God instead); making disciples; going to where others need to hear about Jesus; Testifying to the good news of God’s grace; finishing the race