John 4

Vs. 23, “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.”  After leaving Jerusalem for Passover, Jesus and the disciples head north to Galilee.  However, in this circumstance, perhaps because of the tumult surrounding John the Baptist, Jesus elects to travel through Samaria (vs. 1-27). Samaria had formed from the apostasy of the Northern kingdom and the invasion of the Assyrians in 722 B.C.  The Jewish people had intermingled in marriage with the Gentiles; hence the Samaritan people were mixed.  Centuries later, the Samaritans and Jews did not have fond feelings for each other.  Samaritans designated their own place of worship.  Jesus and the disciples traveling through Samaria would have been a surprise for everyone.  The surprises only continue as we see the interaction and conversation Jesus has with the Samaritan woman.  The woman comes to saving faith and is so excited she runs to tell the others in the town (vs. 28-42).  After staying in Samaria for two additional days, Jesus and the disciples arrive back in Galilee (vs. 43-54).  Perhaps they returned to Cana to follow-up with them after Jesus’ first recorded miracle (John 2).  Jesus’ second recorded miracle happens as an royal official travels to Cana from Capernaum to ask for healing for his sick son.

Regarding application…Heart of Worship.  Vs. 24, “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”  While worship is heartfelt response, there is much more to it.  Jesus reminds us that worshipping God is done through the power of the Holy Spirit and on the truth of God’s revelation!  It’s not about the location (Mountain retreat, church sanctuary, etc.) that dictates a proper place to worship.  Worship in a fellowship meeting in a private home is just as moving as worship in Jerusalem on a spiritual homeland journey.  I remember one of the most touching moments of worship I have ever been in was in a intimate bible study for my youth group many years ago in Oregon.  While I’ve experienced powerful worship at retreats and revivals, sometimes those intimate times of worship are most memorable!  Take time today to worship the Lord and remember the power of testimony the Samaritan woman gave!

Jesus Ministry

Micah 2

Vs. 1, “Woe to those who plan iniquity, to those who plot evil on their beds! At morning’s light they carry it out because it is in their power to do it.”  Sadly, people in Judah were coveting and corrupt in their actions.  Question: Who were these people of iniquity?  They were the rich and powerful!  It’s interesting to note while the wicked plotted and planned (vs. 1-2), God was also planning His response (vs. 3-5).  Micah uses the word “Woe” to convey a strict warning to those with premeditated evil.  But justice would come soon by the future conquering of their lands.  However, the people of Judah were allowing the deceit of false prophets to cloud the truth from God’s prophets like Micah, Hosea, Amos & Isaiah of that time (vs. 6-11).  And thankfully, Micah closes out the end of the chapter with a salvation oracle (a communication from God).

Regarding application…Do You Covet?  Vs. 2, “They covet fields and seize them, and houses, and take them.  They defraud a man of his home, a fellowman of his inheritance.”  My professor in class today made this comment, “You don’t have to have a lot of money to be materialistic.”  The last commandment is “You shall not covet…” (Exodus 20:17).  It’s easy to just assume since we don’t have all the nice things that the rich and famous do, that we are not people who covet.  One of my favorite channels aside from ESPN, is HGTV.  It’s a channel that is pretty much dedicated to houses.  I recall a couple of years ago, we had dropped off my little brother-in-law to college and drove to Los Angeles.  We were taking a local route and found ourselves in Beverly Hills.  The houses were like mansions and I found myself day-dreaming.  I’m dating myself and I remember growing up with the television show titled, “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”…it probably gave the idea of MTV’s “Cribs”.   Coveting is certainly a very real issue that can be quite a stumbling block for Christians today.  Question: What do you covet?  Whatever it is…let it go and put your trust in the Lord!

Micah 1

Vs. 2, “Hear, O peoples, all of you, listen, O earth and all who are in it, that the Sovereign Lord may witness against you, the Lord from his holy temple.”  Question: What were the people supposed to hear?  Sadly, it was not good news.  Micah is prophesying the fall of the northern kingdom (Israel/Samaria) as well as the southern kingdom (Judah) (vs. 2-4).  Question: Why? The divided kingdom (Israel & Judah) were both sinning against Yahweh.  There was idolatry and prostitution (vs. 7).  We can’t hide our sins from God!  Micah goes on in the second half our chapter lamenting (vs. 8-16).  Question: What does it mean to lament?  Lament basically means to mourn.  It’s only natural for Micah to lament knowing that disaster was to come.  Micah specifically lists twelve cities near his hometown of Moresheth (vs. 1).  We can only imagine the terrible wailing and description of Micah’s lament (vs. 8).  This is not an easy chapter to read because of the heavy consequences that would come.

Regarding application…A Mourning Heart.  Vs. 16, “Shave your heads in mourning for the children in whom you delight; make yourselves as bald as the vulture, for they will go from you into exile.”  There was an old 80’s song “Don’t worry, be happy” by Bobby Mcferrin.  But, Micah would exhort the exact opposite.  It’s time to mourn!  Question: Who likes to be sad?  Who likes to mourn?  Who likes to weep and wail?  Most of us in this life would not want to identify ourselves in such a way.  I’m remembering Jesus’ lament over Jerusalem (Matthew 23).  But there should be a natural response of sadness when we see a lost people suffering.  This is the kind of heart that God desires His people to have.  Question: Do you have a mourning heart?  There is a time for everything in this life (Eccelesasties 3), let us mourn when it is right.  Let us mourn with a heart that is being shaped by God to the love of a lost world.

Acts 8

Vs. 1, “On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.”  While the stoning death of Stephen is tragic to the church, notice how this incident would actually help the Christians finally start spreading out to Judea and Samaria (Acts 1:8).  Notice how we now focus in on Samaria as Philip (one of the seven chosen in Acts 6) goes down from Jerusalem.  Question: How could Philip go down when Samaria was north of Jerusalem?  Because when Jerusalem was higher elevation and Samaria was in a valley, so literally, Philip went down.  Anyways, we see Philip bring the Gospel to the Samaritans and also run into Simon the Sorcerer (vs. 5-25).  It’s interesting to note how they believed and were baptized, but it wasn’t until Peter and John came that the Holy Spirit would fill those who truly believed.  I say “truly” believe, because Simon the Sorcerer confessed belief, but did not truly believe.  There is also the issue of the “Pentecost” like experience with the Holy Spirit to the Samaritans.  There is not an agreed consensus on how to explain this.  In my Seminary class, we talked about how this was still the early church and the outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit was not yet normative at that time as our present age when we accept with belief and the Holy Spirit comes into our life.  We then come to an interesting encounter with Philip and an Ethiopian (vs. 26-40).  We see an angel of the Lord specifically command Philip to go south and while traveling he runs into an Ethiopian eunuch (high official).  Geographically, this would be fulfilling the aspect of going out finally to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).  The Ethiopian just happens to be reading the text from Isaiah 53 (referring to Jesus the suffering servant).  What a wonderful example of NT Scripture fulfilling OT scripture!  God would use Philip as quite the missionary evangelist!

Regarding application…Opportunities to Share.  Vs. 29, “The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”  When we are walking with the Lord, He undoubtedly will give us opportunities to share our faith!  Just this Monday, I was at LA Fitness and relaxing after working out in the spa & swimming pool area.  There was a gentleman that happened to be finishing up a business trip and driving back to Arizona the next day.  We acknowledged each other, but then a very interesting conversation ensued.  We talked about what each of us currently do and He was sharing with me how he is a Jew.  We talked for about 15 minutes, I had the opportunity to share my faith.  He had his own skeptical responses, but I could see that there was emptiness in his life.  This story in our passage today reminded me of my encounter with the traveling Jewish salesman.  You see, God will give us opportunities when we are pursing Him!  Your schools, workplaces, hangouts, places you frequent…they are all opportunities to strike up conversation and even share your faith!  That’s one of the main reasons we are still here!  To be witnesses of Jesus Christ!

Acts 1

Vs. 4, “On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.”  After the resurrection, Jesus spent forty more days with His disciples instructing them (vs. 2).  He was reminding them that the thirds person of the Trinity will be coming.  The Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit for many Christians is the most difficult to understand.  While there are differences in understand the baptism of the Holy Spirit (vs. 5), we as Christians have the confidence that we have the Holy Spirit in us.  The Holy Spirit helps us to be holy and sanctified for God.  The Holy Spirit guides us and helps us to do the will of the Father in Christ Jesus.  In this chapter, we see the disciples obey Jesus and wait for the coming of the Spirit (vs. 9-26).  I love how we see the dependence shown in fervent prayer (vs. 14).  We also see the adding of Matthias as Judas Iscariots replacement among the twelve (vs. 20-26)

Regarding application…You are Witnesses. Vs. 8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  How can I not highlight this verse for our application today?  This was Jesus’ last command before He ascended to Heaven.  This fulfills the importance of what we call the Great Commission (Matt 28:19-20).  Though we have not physically seen Jesus, we still have the important job of witnessing because we have experienced Jesus through the Holy Spirit.  Brothers & sisters in Christ…This is our purpose.  So often we ask ourselves, “What is God’s will for me?”  We are to be witnesses of Christ in all that we do.  A witness in a trial bears testimony for what they saw and believe.  We do the same thing.  That is why we devote time to reading the Bible, because the more we know, the more effective our witness becomes!

Hosea 9

Vs. 1, “Do not rejoice, O Israel, with exultation like the nations! For you have played the harlot, forsaking your God. You have loved harlots’ earnings on every threshing floor.”  Question: What is going on here?  It was harvest time and Israel was rejoicing because the harvest was plentiful.  Sadly, they followed the nations around them and gave thanks to the fertility God’s for their good fortunes.  And to make matters worse, they were throwing parties that involved immorality of all kinds.  Success is not always a measure of God’s favor on us and this is where Israel (Ephraim) had gone wrong.  Their hearts had turned and forgotten about God.  We see the broken heart of God in the last section of our chapter (vs. 10-17).

Regarding application…The Bigger Picture.  Vs. 17, “My God will cast them away Because they have not listened to Him; And they will be wanderers among the nations.” It’s never easy to see the others being disciplined.  If we only look at this chapter, it would be quite depressing.  But, remember brothers & sisters…that we have the whole context of the Bible both Old and New Testaments.  We know that God would restore those who were cast out through Jesus.  When Jesus traveled through Samaria and ran into the woman at the well (John 4), she likely was a descendant of these people we just read about in Hosea.  God’s love has always been extended to His creation.  It’s just that not everyone turns to Him.  Question: Will you turn to Him?  Examine your heart as you think about the scripture in today’s reading.  And remember the bigger picture!