Return to Purity
By Pastor Hal Mayer
This month’s message is a very special message for those who are burdened with sin. More than ever, we need the power of Christ. And today, I want to share with you an important message about the power of Christ’s love for sinners. As you listen to this month’s message I pray that you will be greatly refreshed, as I was in preparing it. In these last days we need Jesus more than ever. It is His power that will sustain all His faithful people.
So let us begin with prayer. Dear Heavenly Father, through Jesus, we ask for Your Holy Spirit to hover over us as we learn of Christ. My we be impressed by the fact that our Savior loves even the lowest of all and that He want us to be with Him forever. So speak to us today I pray. In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.
Turn with me in your Bible, if you can, to John, chapter four. Here we find a wonderful story that is so very practical. Here is a story that rings down through time, right to our own moment in history. Jesus speaks to you through this story in a way that softens your heart and opens the windows of heaven to your soul. Jesus loves you personally. He is not some distant theoretical figure, but He is interested in eternal fellowship with you. Jesus is not a theology. He is your friend. He is God, but He understands your trials and cares. He understands your pain and sorrow. There is not one soul in this world that is without it. He understands the gaping hole in your heart for love, compassion and understanding. Put yourself in the shoes of the woman who came to the well thinking she was coming for her daily water, but who came away full of happiness and joy in Jesus Christ.
I would like to speak to men for a moment. You know, while it is difficult for anyone, man or woman to accept our own human weaknesses and sins, it is especially so for men. We tend to understate them. Because of our natural pride, we tend to diminish them while comparing ourselves to others around us. And in doing so, we tend to naturally think of ourselves as better than others. Again, though these are traits common to all, it is especially easy for men to excuse themselves and justify their evil ways. Underneath all the pride and sometimes arrogance, Jesus knows that we are corrupt and that we are prone to deceive ourselves into self-righteousness.
This story speaks to men as well as women. It speaks of the way to find freedom from sin. It speaks to us all, but especially to those who are quick to put up a defense against His unerring eye. We put up walls around our souls, like the walls around the city of Sychar, to keep out any unwanted attention. What happened at Jacob’s well speaks to us of Jesus’ love for those who He can only reach through kindness and compassion. So put yourself in Sychar. Let Jesus speak to you at the well.
Jesus was in Judea, and as was often the case, the Jews there stirred up an argument, this time trying to alienate the disciples of John from the disciples of Jesus. It is all there in John, chapter three. But Jesus knew the hatred of the Jews, and their desire to discredit the work of God. So He quietly ceased His labors and withdrew to Galilee. There was plenty of work to do elsewhere, so He did not stay where there was potential for conflict of this sort. He would have plenty of conflict down the line, so there was no need to precipitate unnecessary strife.
Verse 3 tells us that Jesus left Judea. What a tragedy! He left Judea because of their unbelief. He left Judea because their hearts were hard and determined to resist His love. Jesus always leaves when He is not wanted. He comes back hoping you will receive Him, but He won’t force Himself on anyone. So He goes where hearts hunger and thirst for His love and His fellowship. He goes where He can touch the penitent soul with forgiveness and respect, and lift them up to heavenly places… to cheer them, and encourage them along life’s difficult pathway.
The scripture tells us in Verse 4 that “He must needs go through Samaria.” This was not merely for convenience sake that He “must needs” go through Samaria. It was a Divine need. The Holy Spirit led Him there. For there was a woman there, and a whole city that hungered for His righteousness, though they didn’t know it. The Jews hated the Samaritans and, even though the most direct route between Judea and Galilee was through Samaria, the Jews would go out of their way and go around Samaria through the Jordan valley and bypass Samaria if they could. They didn’t want to get into Samaria and get caught there with needs for food, water or lodging that would make them dependent on the Samaritans. But Jesus loves to go and find people who hunger and thirst for His righteousness. Even today He still longs to fellowship with sinners who want His purity. Jesus isn’t motivated by prejudice, or traditional hostilities. He looks especially for souls who have sinned and don’t know Him. He looks especially for those that have been offended and alienated.
So He came to Sychar which is where Jacob’s well was. Jesus sat down at the deserted well. It was mid-day. Nobody normally comes to a well at noon. The women of the city come in the evening when it is cool. They come to get water, but they also come to gossip. It is their social time, at least for those who are in good with the group. But it is a painful time for those who are outcasts of society and unpopular.
The disciples went into the city to buy food. They only did this because they had to, for the relationship between the Jews and the Samaritans was rather hateful. Historically, the Samaritans were a mixed race, but the puritanical Jews would have despised them because they were “compromised.” Over the years one thing led to another and the suspicions and hatred grew and finally alienated them from each other. The Jews even equated the Samaritans with devil possession. Christ’s Object Lessons, pg 381 says, “And when the Jews were so filled with murderous hatred against Christ that they rose up in the temple to stone Him, they could find no better words by which to express their hatred than, “Say we not well that Thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?” John 8:48. That is how it was. Hatred breeds hatred. It doesn’t stop until wars of revenge lead to the bloodshed of millions.
Have you ever had that happen to you on a personal level? Have you ever watched a relationship deteriorate because of suspicion and evil surmising? Eventually, envy, hatred and hostility set in. The more a relationship goes south, the more difficult it is to face each other. The more difficult it is to work or worship together. This is exactly what happened to two whole groups of people. The Samaritans felt they couldn’t worship with the Jews. So they had to devise their own means of worship. And arguments arose about the validity of the Samaritan worship. After all, it was mixed with some false teaching and idolatry.
There was even a rival temple in Mt. Gerizim in opposition to the temple in Jerusalem. These people were determined to have their own separate worship. The Jews treated them with distain, but not Christ. He did not condemn them. He longed to meet them and reach them with the truth. He knew their hearts and that there were some that would be open to hear of His love and the kingdom of God.
Jesus set an amazing example to the Jews. Though He was one of them, he had compassion on those that were outcasts including Samaritans. He was about to show that He was impartial and loved them too.
Jesus often even surprised his disciples with his freedom from Jewish customs and restrictions. It seemed that he didn’t much care about what the leaders said. This made no small impression on the disciples who were still prejudiced and bound up in Jewish tradition. They could see that Jesus’ freedom was creating a lot of hostility from the leaders who didn’t like the fact that Jesus didn’t even give them token loyalty. He was kind, but also strongly independent, even to the point of disregarding their authority.
Both the Jews and the Samaritans hated each other. Both sides could never be reconciled. The Jews would only interact with Samaritans if it was absolutely necessary. They wouldn’t even buy water from them if they didn’t have to.
The scripture says in Verse 7 that “there cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water…”
Why would a woman come during the middle of the day when no one else was there? Why would she come when it is hot? Jesus read her heart. She was coming there because she was too ashamed to come at the regular time. Her life was not normal, and the other women must have viewed her as sub-standard. She had difficulty with her relationships, and had been in and out of quite a number of marriages. She thought marriage would bring her happiness. But it failed her and she had become discouraged. Now she was living with a man, perhaps because it was easier than trying to make a marriage work.
To come with the other women to the well was just too painful. It was easier to come during the heat of the day by herself, than during the heat of ridicule and averted eyes. Her shame was ever before her, and she was miserable. She could not walk the streets without a sense of being an outcast. Not only was she a Samaritan, an outcast from Israel, but she was the lowest of the low, an outcast even among the Samaritans.
She brings her earthen water pot to the well every day. This is her burden. She fills it with earthly water and returns to her home with her burden on her shoulders. But it only brings her temporary physical relief. This is the way her life has been spiritually. She has tried to find happiness through earthly pleasures, but always she fails. She tries again. And fails again. Her hurt feelings and pain continue to mount. So she tries harder to find relief through earthly means. But she still feels that rejection, alienation, and pain. She is never free. Her earthen water pot is empty every day and she must go back to the well with her burden to find relief. Likewise she always has to go back to try and find happiness and peace – temporary though it is – from worldly sources.
Have you ever felt the heavy weight of an unhappy, sin-filled life? This is what she felt. Her earthen water pot was a symbol of her guilt that she constantly carried wherever she went. Her sins were ever before her. She thirsted for relief from the dry spiritual experience that parched her soul. How often have you carried your earthen water pot with you, thirsty for relief from a dry spiritual experience? How often have you tried to fill the gaping hole in your heart from earthly sources that cannot genuinely satisfy? Do you need relief? Do you need to meet the stranger at the well? Jesus is the only one that will never fail you.
Imagine what happened… When she arrived at the well, which was a little distance from the village, she noticed a stranger sitting there, and she almost hesitated in her errand. But then she recognized that he was a Jew and would probably not even speak to her. The Jews wouldn’t talk to Samaritans unless they had to. She must have figured that this Jew would do the same. So she hurried with her task of drawing water.
Just as she was going to put the water pot up on her shoulder and return to the city, the stranger spoke. “Give me to drink.” This shocked her and she felt a pang of guilt. In the East it was very discourteous not to offer a drink of water. But absorbed in her own problems, her own shame and guilt, and in her hurry to get away this woman had forgotten the most basic of oriental courtesies. But the voice was surprisingly kind. Most Jews when speaking with a Samaritan were cold and distant. One could tell that there was an underlying prejudice. And they usually looked past you rather than in your eyes.
But this voice was different. It was warm and friendly, and the stranger met her gaze with a look of compassion that almost frightened her. She was so taken with surprise that she forgot his request, and asked “How is it that that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, a woman of Samaria? For the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.”
Jesus longed to tell her the full truth, but it was too early. She was only curious. She needed to have deeper inquiries awakened in her soul. So He didn’t answer her question directly. He spoke of himself. “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.”
Jesus was about to show her that, even if the Jews would have no dealings with the Samaritans, God does. God had given the greatest gift He could bestow on the entire human race in Jesus Christ. Jesus was disguised in the most humble human form; His divinity was unrecognizable without spiritual enlightenment. If only she knew to whom she was speaking, the most precious gift of God to her soul, she would thirst for the refreshing spiritual shower that would come into her life if she just asked Him…
That is what the grace of Christ and His loving forgiveness does for you. He will shower His love on you and forgive you of your sins so abundantly that it is like a cool refreshing rain. The relief is incredible! This is exactly what this woman needed, but she didn’t know it.
The woman didn’t understand. She was thinking of literal things, but Jesus was speaking of spiritual things. She said in Verse 11, “Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water?”
Jesus doesn’t need an earthen water pot to get the water of life. He doesn’t need any human devising. All He needs is an open mind and heart and He will pour His love in your soul. It is spiritual water that He offers, direct from the heavenly well.
The woman continued: “Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children and his cattle?” Little did she know that she was talking to the great “I am.” The one that was before Jacob. The one that wrestled with Jacob in the darkness. The one that assured Jacob of his love and care, when faced with his own guilt and sins.
Yes, Jesus was greater than their father Jacob. Jacob had to dig the well with his own hands, toiling and sweating. But Jesus could speak a word and worlds came into existence. Jesus was the Master of the universe, the Creator. He was the One who had defined the laws of physics. He had created water and gravity, and caused the streams to flow into rivers and rivers into oceans. Jesus was indeed greater than their father Jacob. At His command water turned into wine. At His command the raging sea was calm. At His command fish came into the nets of fishermen.
Yet here He sat, thirsty and hungry. Jesus came down from His father’s throne and became one with the human race. He took our nature, our fallen human nature, but never partook of our sin. He had all the limitations we have, yet He overcame by the power of His Father living in Him. Yet He joined us in our trials and our physical characteristics. He got hungry and thirsty just like we all do. And even though He could turn stones into bread, He refused to do so. Even though He could have slaked His thirst from Jacob’s well with a mere word, He chose to ask a favor from this outcast, guilt-ridden soul, just so He could introduce her to the eternal gift of salvation, the gift of God. He is that gift. He is the water of life.
Jesus answered her with these words, “Whosever drinketh of this water shall thirst again. 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.”
Jesus gives us His righteousness and it is like a well of water. But it is not like a well that you have to go to and let down a water pot and bring up the water. That’s a lot of work. Righteousness is by faith, not by letting down your water pot into a well that doesn’t satisfy. Instead it is like an artesian well that brings the water to the surface naturally. This is true righteousness by faith. When you are converted, you have joy that is bubbling up without having to hunt for it. You don’t have to experiment with all manner of amusements in order to find happiness. Many people want to go to a well and draw water with an earthen bucket. They buy fancy cars or homes. They immerse themselves in TVs, DVDs, music and entertainment. The noisy chatter drowns out the longings of the soul. They play around with sex. They eat all manner of food. They go to amusement parks. They make all manner of earthen water pots to draw earthly water that never satisfies, just to feel happy or find peace. They search here and they search there, but they cannot find lasting happiness.
When Jesus gives us His righteousness, it isn’t necessary to go anywhere or do anything to find happiness. You have it. He puts it in you. Because you are free from your sin. Your heart is won. Your love is now His. You are free to live without sin any more. It is the sin that took away your happiness in the first place. When you stop sinning, Jesus can pour his love and joy into your heart. While ever sin is there, it is impossible for Jesus to do that. Sin blocks His love from coming into your soul. You can’t be happy, you can’t love others, and you can’t respect yourself. You will find momentary good feelings, but you won’t have true joy. You won’t have pure joy.
Still thinking of literal water, the woman said, “Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.” She would love to avoid having to come to the embarrassing well to draw water. She would love to not have to find a time to draw water when no one is there. Often sin is something we do when no one else is watching. We avoid being around those who would identify it as sin or criticize us for doing it. Those who know what sin is, do it out of the way. They find ways to let down their earthen water pots without being seen, just like the woman of Sychar.
You see, her sins affected the way she lived her life. They made life difficult for her and she was anxious to have relief from prying eyes and wagging tongues. Sin always makes life difficult. The way of the transgressor is hard, says God’s word (Prov. 13:15). One way or the other, sin always makes life difficult. She thought that if He could give her literal water that would always be available so that she would not have to go out into the public, this would be enough to relieve her of the painful guilt she always felt.
But Jesus longed to give her something much more than a shield from embarrassment. He longed to give her something that would let her hold her head up high. He longed to relieve her of her SIN, not just the guilty feelings. He longed to make her truly happy and no longer anxiously glancing behind her whenever she was out of her house. No more skirting around the corner to avoid the gaze of others. No more short forays into the market place to quickly buy a few things to eat. No more head down. No more sad countenance. No more crying in her bedroom. No more tear stained pillowcases. Jesus wanted to bring her unutterable joy – like an artesian well where the water just bubbles up.
Please also note that Jesus was not merely offering this woman unutterable happiness in this life, but also He was offering her everlasting life. She wouldn’t be interested in eternal life if there was no relief from the pain. So Jesus offered her both; freedom and peace now, and eternal happiness.
In order to do this, Jesus offered to take away more than her guilt. He offered to take away her sins. Make her free of them, so that she wouldn’t do them any more. Do you want Jesus to do that for you? He can, you know. And He will if you ask Him to. Oh how she wanted that! She wanted to feel clean again and Jesus was offering to restore her purity. Can Jesus really do that? Can He really give back my purity? Of course He can. He is able to give you back what you have recklessly given away. He can cleanse you and restore you to the pure innocence of a child. It’s a miracle! But believe it or not, it is possible, even for you.
Notice Verse 15. Jesus asked for a drink of her water. Now she begs Him for a drink of His water. “The woman saith unto him, ‘Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.’” You see, she wanted the freedom! She wanted the joy! Jesus was so kind, so respectful that she wanted what He had. She begged him for the water of life because it sounded so good.
But in order to give her that freedom and joy, Jesus had to help her face her sin, acknowledge it and put it behind her. This is very important for those that want to have the freedom and the joy. Jesus can’t deal with our sins if we are trying to hide them from Him. He cannot take them away if we don’t acknowledge them and give them to Him.
Look at what Jesus said to this dear woman bound up in her sins, but who wanted to be free of them. Verse 16, “Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.”
Jesus knew all about her history. He knew about her unfaithfulness, her cheating and her profligate sin. He knew about the divorces and the immoral relationships. He knew all about the cover-ups. He knew all about her private moral fall. Yet He was so kind to her. He was so gentle and so tender. But now He had to take off the veil of secrecy and expose her, but only to herself.
Remember that Jesus’ disciples were not there. It was just He and the woman. Often that is the way Jesus deals with us. He speaks plainly to us in private, so that prying eyes and curious ears cannot hear. He pleads with us. He speaks to us in our minds, and He speaks so kindly and so gently that we weep at His feet in sorrow for our sins.
The woman was shocked. It was as if her life had been ripped open and strewn all over the ground. At first she felt exposed, completely undone. Then the searing, burning truth flashed into her soul. This stranger knew everything! How could He? They had never met. She had never seen him before in Sychar. After all, no Jews ever come into the city for anything, except in the most dire circumstances. How could he know about her horrible life? Did he have spies? Worse, had she been betrayed by someone? But that couldn’t be either.
Let me ask you a serious question, my friend. How many husbands do you have in your past? I’m speaking figuratively here. We all have our past. We all have those sins that we have tried to hide from others and even from ourselves. I call them husbands because when we yield to temptation, in a sense we marry them. They become our husbands, our illegitimate husbands, instead of Christ. We are bound to them by bonds that we cannot break. We marry them, so to speak, and cannot escape them. Sometimes we have more than one. This woman had five husbands, and the one she was with was the illegitimate of the illegitimates. She was at her lowest point. She knew it, and until now, had no hope of ever getting out of it.
This was more than a man. But it was too embarrassing for her. Imagine her feelings. Not only did her fellow Samaritans know about her, at least by rumor, but now, even strangers, and Jewish strangers at that, are finding out. How could this be?
Have you ever had this problem? You make a mistake. You do something you know is wrong, and one of your professed friends finds out about it, and they are sworn to secrecy. But what happens? The next thing you know, someone tells you that word is getting all around. Word even gets to the very last ones you want to hear about it. And it’s your own fault, but you can do nothing about it at all. Your reputation gets smeared. The whispering stops when you approach. The condescending smiles make your stomach tie up in knots.
My friend, when sin burdens your soul and you want to be free, think about this woman with her five husbands and her immoral life. Are you anything like her? Do you have a background too? Are you in bondage to sinful husbands that you know are wrong? Jesus is at the well in Samaria waiting for you. He offers to take away your sins and replace them with His righteousness and peace. Are you afraid to face them? He will be so kind that you will never regret opening up to Him. He’ll forgive you and free you from your pain, your guilt, but most importantly, He will give you power so you don’t have to keep sinning. Isn’t that wonderful news? Jesus offers to make you utterly happy. Why? Because you can have victory over your addictions! You can break away from the sinful habits that have stained your past. You don’t have to keep hiding them and living a double life. He loves you.
The woman was so shocked that Jesus knew such intimate things about her, that she was certain that he knew everything and that she couldn’t hide anything at all from Him. But her natural reaction was to cover it up. Change the subject. Do anything to get off this most uncomfortable topic. Don’t we often do the same thing? When our sins are exposed, we often want to hide them by changing the subject.
Verses 19 and 20 says, “The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.”
I know many who have all the theological arguments lined up. They can argue as good as anyone on the most debated points of doctrine. But they don’t know Jesus. They don’t have a clue about the water of life. They hide behind their knowledge of theology or doctrine.
But Jesus is utterly patient with her. He knows He could use her question to raise her sights above the human arguments that she was used to hearing, and fix them on eternity.
Verses 21-24, “Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. 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. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”
In other words, it isn’t the place of worship that matters. It isn’t the ritual, or the method of worship that counts. It is the heart that God wants. He wants your heart. He wants you. He doesn’t want you now the way He is. He wants you now the way you are, so that He can make you what He is.
To the woman, this kind, gracious man spoke of God the Father as if He knew Him personally and intimately. How does He know so authoritatively what kind of worship matters to God? At the same time, He knew her so intimately and so thoroughly. She felt as though she was in the presence of Divinity. Suddenly she realized that perhaps, just perhaps, here was the long promised Messiah. Could it be? Was it possible that here the Christ was sitting as a poor humble man at this well asking for a drink of water? Perhaps her doubts about her own unworthiness to meet the Messiah in person caused her to hesitate to ask the burning question upon her mind. He certainly didn’t look anything like the expected Messiah. If anyone could forgive her sins and give her back her freedom and purity and give her true joy, it would be the Messiah. Maybe He was… She had to ask…
Verse 25, “I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ:” she said. “When he is come, he will tell us all things.”
We will solve all mysteries, all arguments and all difficulties when the Messiah comes. We will learn the answers to the great arguments of our times and the solutions to impossible problems will present themselves. We can overcome our past and can live in peace and happiness. We won’t be falling into sin any more… Are You the Messiah? Can You really forgive my sins and love me? Even with my awful past?
Jesus read the heart of this hurting, sin-burdened woman. He could see that she was ready to believe that He was the Messiah. But more than that, He could see that she was ready to believe in His power to save, and restore her to purity. He could say to her what He could not say to almost no one in Israel, except His disciples and a few close friends. He could reveal the secret to her because her heart was open to His love.
Verse 26, “Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.“
As His words entered her mind, a thrill went down her back… Hope surged in her veins. New possibilities opened to her mind. Suddenly she realized that she was in the presence of the One whom Patriarchs and Prophets had yearned to see. She didn’t need a miracle like the Jews demanded. This lowly sinner, whose heart was burdened by guilt, recognized the Messiah because she longed for the peace He could give her.
You see, my friends, when you meet Jesus, you begin anew. If you want to have His forgiveness and peace, He promises to give it to you. He will change your heart and give you new desires, new possibilities, new hope. You don’t have to keep living the same old way as before. Now you can live His law and have His power to resist temptation. Don’t you want that?
When the disciples returned, the conversation ended for the moment. As the disciples stood there awkwardly, no doubt, they “marveled”, says the scripture, “that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her?”
Listen to this wonderful statement from Desire of Ages, pg. 194. “It seemed a small matter, even to His disciples, for the Saviour to spend His time upon a woman of Samaria. But He reasoned more earnestly and eloquently with her than with kings, councilors, or high priests.”
I love this next part… verse 28, “The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ? Then they,” the men “went out of the city, and came unto him.”
While the woman was away, the disciples tried to get Jesus to eat. But he refused and said, “I have meat to eat that ye know not of.”
The disciples missed the point. They were thinking literal and Jesus was speaking spiritual. “Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him ought to eat?
Verse 34, “Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.”
Is it your meat to finish the work that God has given you to do? If you are united with Christ, you are come to the Last Generation in all of earth’s history for such a mission as this. You can reach hearts with Jesus’ love too. If you show kindness and sympathy for others, He will speak to them of His love and power.
As soon as the woman found Christ, she went into the city and began to tell others. The first impulse of the renewed heart is to tell others what Jesus has done for you. She called unto all the men of the city. “Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?”
Ministry of Healing says on pg. 102 that “The Samaritan woman who talked with Jesus at Jacob’s well had no sooner found the Saviour than she brought others to Him. She proved herself a more effective missionary than His own disciples. The disciples saw nothing in Samaria to indicate that it was an encouraging field. Their thoughts were fixed upon a great work to be done in the future. They did not see that right around them was a harvest to be gathered. But through the woman whom they despised a whole city full were brought to hear Jesus. She carried the light at once to her countrymen. This woman represents the working of a practical faith in Christ.”
Notice that she was no longer furtive, no longer hiding her sins. They all knew who she was and probably a lot of them know what she had done. So it was no surprise to them perhaps that someone knew what she did. But it was the urgency of her voice. Something was vastly different about her. Instead of discouragement, there was hope in her eyes. Instead of humiliation, there was gratitude in her voice. Instead of fear, there was confidence in her bearing. They could see that there was a dramatic change in her experience. When they questioned her, she told them that a complete stranger had changed her life. A complete stranger had forgiven her past, and challenged her with hope for a new future.
They were inspired by the Holy Ghost to go with her and meet this person. They put their prejudices aside, and came out of the city to hear what Jesus had to say.
As the people of Sychar were coming out of the city to the well, Jesus said to His disciples (Verse 35). “Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest?” And pointing to the advancing crowd, He said, “behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.”
The scripture says in verse 39, “And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did.” Think what Jesus did. Here was an outcast, discredited woman. Yet, when Jesus changes her life, she becomes so influential that the whole city comes to see Jesus. That’s why Jesus specializes in outcasts. That’s why Jesus loves to touch people who hurt and are burdened with sin. He knows that they will have more power than kings, nobles, or priests; and it surprises the people around them that He has done this for them.
Jesus came to do more than tell you everything that you ever did wrong. He came to forgive whatever you did wrong. He came to love you and restore your purity. He wants to become your spiritual husband.
Guess what happened? “When the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days.”
Imagine that! Jesus stayed with them two days at their request. This was hardly a thing that the Samaritans were likely to do. They invited a group of hated Jews to stay with them. Why? Because Jesus showed compassion to them. He was different.
The scripture says in Verses 41 and 42, “And many more believed because of his own word; And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.”
The Samaritans of Sychar accepted Jesus as the Savior, while the Jews were looking for ways to crucify Him.
Which are you, my friends? Are you ready to let Jesus take away your sins? Are you tired of living a double life, a life of guilt and shame, a life of looking over your shoulder all the time? Are you ready for Jesus to take you and change you and give you hope? Are you ready for Jesus to purify you and make you clean? Christ can give you victory over your sins. I don’t want to sin any more. I don’t want to wallow in the filth of my past. I want Jesus to put His love in me and His power so that I can have purity again.
Jesus is coming soon, my friends, and I don’t want to miss out. I am certain that you don’t either. But as you listened to this message, did you sense yourself in the shoes of this dear woman? Perhaps Jesus is speaking to your heart. He is calling you to the well… His well that is full of joy springing up into everlasting life. Go and talk to Him there. It will change your life. Your soul will find relief and unutterable joy.
Let us pray. Our Father in Heaven, thank You that You are at the well waiting to meet us just as we are. Perhaps we have never come to You and asked for the living water of life. But right now, we want You to give us Your living water so that we will have the joy of salvation and the hope we need for the future. You can give us power to overcome. You can give us victory over sin and temptation. But we have to yield to You and let You tell us all that we ever did, so that we can acknowledge it, repent and be cleansed. Please restore our purity today as You did for this precious woman so long ago. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.
Prophetic Intelligence Briefing
The following is a prophetic intelligence briefing that will help keep you up to date concerning the events taking place in our world. We are nearing the coming of Jesus. May the Lord keep us faithful.
Our first item this month: Condemned in South Korea
I don’t usually tell you about things that don’t make at least some headlines, but this case is different. This story is about an unpublicized event that is happening to a personal friend of mine. South Korea’s Laws Don’t Permit Full Individual Religious Liberty.
Sung Hoon Kang is a Korean young man that is a graduate of Hartland College. He is very dedicated to the Lord. When he came to Hartland he had not yet served in the S. Korean military. All Korean youth are required to serve in the military, and if they are studying abroad, they must report for duty after they complete their studies. If they do not, some of their family members will be imprisoned.
Sung Hoon loves the Lord and has a great desire to work for souls in Korea. He has strong convictions about not bearing arms, and even about not training to bear arms. But Korean law does not accommodate those kinds of convictions. Many young people of church denominations such as the Jehovah’s Witness have spent much time in prison over the years because of these convictions.
Sung Hoon loves his country and (unlike the Jehovah’s Witnesses) is willing to serve in any capacity that doesn’t compromise his convictions about bearing arms or working on the Sabbath.
On March 21, 2007, Sung Hoon was arraigned before the court in Korea. Here is his account about what happened. It is from an email to his Hartland family. I’ll read it in its entirety as written.
“When I woke up this morning and opened up the bible, He gave me this promise: “I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the LORD sustained me. I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about. Arise, O LORD; save me, O my God.” Psalm 3:5-7.
“Again, what an awesome promise He has given me! With that I read many emails that you’ve sent to me. I don’t know how I can thank you enough for all your encouraging words, bible promises and prayers. As I read through, tears filled my eyes and gave me a great courage.
“There were two trials before mine. The first one got 15 year sentence in jail; the second one got confiscation and $15,000 fine, plus one and a half year sentence in jail. When my turn came, to be honest, I was little bit nervous. But your prayers gave me much courage and even though I didn’t have any earthly private lawyer, I knew I had the heavenly Lawyer, Jesus Christ, defending silently for me.
“They accused me of avoiding the army requirement without any justifiable reason. I told them that I have no desire to avoid the duty to the country. I told them of my religious convictions and that I’m willing to do an alternative service if possible. I realized that all of the officers were very open and kind. I could see the Holy Spirit has already softened the hearts of those officers.
“The judge said that he understands my religious convictions, but by the current law of the country, it’s not a justifiable reason for not bearing arms. He expressed that it’s very unfortunate that the current law doesn’t allow any alternative service for the conscientious objectors. He expressed that he’s sorry for me.
“According to the law, they could give me anywhere between one and a half year to three year sentence. I got one and a half year sentence, which is the least they could give. They will take me away in two weeks (April 6th, Friday).
“They asked me if I had any final words. I said, “I love my country and its law. As a God-believing Christian, I don’t want to give any idea that Christians don’t respect the law of the country. I love and respect the law of the country. I want to be faithful to the duty to the country. But when it contradicts with God’s law, Christians must choose God’s law rather than the law of the country. And I want you to know that my love for my country and its law, as well as my love for my God, will not change.”
“They nodded and that was the end of my trial. My mother was in tears—a tear of joy and sadness, perhaps. But we all thanked and praised God for His mercy, care and love.
“Once again, I want to express my gratitude from the deepest part of my heart for all your prayers, encouraging words and precious bible promises! God surely has answered your prayers and kept those promises!
“Please continue to pray for my brother also. After the trial, he went to the army department and wrote a written statement that he would not bear arms. Praise the Lord! He asks for your prayers. I don’t know when will be his trial, but from looking at my case, it would take at least few months.
“Well, I will write you one more time before they take me away. “God bless!
“Your brother in Christ, “Sung Hoon.”
Sung Hoon’s brother was raised as a Christian but has struggled spiritually. Sung Hoon has a great burden for his brother’s salvation. Sung Hoon’s clear convictions and stand for the right has given his brother courage to do the same.
Next: The Episcopal Church’s New Female Leader Supports Homosexuality.
On November 2, 2006, Agape Press reported that newly installed Bishop Jefferts-Schori appears to contradict scripture.
“She says she doesn’t consider Jesus Christ to be the only way to God. She says she believes God makes some people “gay.” And she’s soon to be the leader of a mainline Protestant denomination in America…
“Bishop Katharine Jefferts-Schori—who is… the first female presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church USA – stated that Christians should not say that Jesus is the only way to God. ‘If we insist we know the one way to God,’ she said, ‘we’ve put God in a very small box.’
In spite of Jesus’ statement in John14:6 that “no one cometh to the Father but by me…” Jefferts-Schori says she disagrees with the idea that salvation comes only through trusting in Jesus Christ. “It’s this sense that one person can have the fullness of truth in him or herself rather than understanding that truth is – like God – more than any one person can encompass…
“Jefferts-Schori says she views salvation as the healing of all Creation through holy living. ‘I understand salvation as being about the healing of the whole creation. Your part and my part in that is about holy living,’ she offered. ‘As Christians we understand [salvation] as relationship with God in Jesus, but that does not mean that we’re expected to judge other people’s own commitments.’
“Where does she stand on the issue of homosexuality? The Episcopal Church has been embroiled for years in a debate over the ordination of homosexual clergy and ‘blessing’ ceremonies for same-sex couples. Jefferts-Schori supports both – and in fact, she voted in 2003 to confirm her denomination’s first openly homosexual bishop, V. Gene Robinson. She told AP that she does not believe the Bible condemns ‘committed’ homosexual relationships. God, she says, made some people ‘gay.’
“’Sexual orientation is pretty clearly defined at a very early age, before the age of reason. It’s not a choice,’ she said. ‘In that case, a person of faith would need to say that it’s a piece of how one is created.’ Consequently, she says, the church should offer what she calls ‘a sacramental container’ to help homosexuals find ‘holy ways of living in relationship.’
“Scriptures in the Bible about homosexual acts being sinful, she says, are misunderstood. ‘They’re not about what today we see as mature human beings entering into committed relationships with each other on a full and equal basis,’ says Jefferts-Schori, who believes such ‘committed’ relationships can be blessed. ‘The religious community’s job, really, is to help all human beings find healthy and whole and holy ways of living in relationship.”
Well, obviously the new and very liberal leader of the ECUSA is clearly helping to lead the denomination down the road to a major split.
Canon David Anderson, president of the American Anglican Council, a group of conservative clergy and lay people from the Episcopal Church, spoke of those that want another option for their alignment to the ECUSA. “I think they need to run, not walk,” he said, “to the exit and find an orthodox Episcopal church.”
They really need to run to a church that really believes the Bible instead of hanging around churches that pretend to believe the Bible.
Next: Bush Signs Terrorism Measure
On October 18, 2006, The Washington Post reported that “President Bush enacted controversial changes in the system of interrogating and prosecuting terrorism suspects yesterday, setting the rules for the trials of key al-Qaeda members in a step that he says will help protect the nation…
“The new law imposes tight limits on defendants’ traditional courtroom rights, including restrictions on their ability to examine the evidence against them, to challenge their incarceration and to exclude evidence gained through witness coercion.
“The President said the extraordinary measure is justified by the extraordinary circumstances of the fight against terrorism. ‘It is a rare occasion when a president can sign a bill he knows will save American lives,’ he said, before signing the measure. ‘I have that privilege this morning…’
“The bill also spells out the specific interrogation techniques that are outlawed, while granting retroactive legal protection to military and intelligence personnel who previously participated in rough questioning of terrorism suspects. That provision allows the administration to continue a once-secret CIA program for detaining terrorism suspects and using tough interrogation techniques on those believed to have information about plots against the United States.”
These principles reflect some of the legal underpinnings of the Inquisition during the Dark Ages. According to the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, the Bill which Congress easily passed in 2006,
It “re-establishes President Bush’s military tribunals, which were rejected by the supreme court as unconstitutional,
It “legalizes US war crimes committed before December 30, 2005,
It “disallows any person harmed by the US in violation of the Geneva Conventions, from filing a claim in US court.
It “strips legal residents of the US of their right to challenge their detention in court if they’re accused of being ‘enemy combatants,’
It “abolishes the right of Guantanamo detainees to challenge their detention, which in effect pre-judges all of them as guilty, and removes habeas corpus,
It “approves the ‘CIA program’ that allows waterboarding and other forms of torture,” which was a feature of the medieval torture tactics of the inquisition…
And it “names any individual, including citizens, as an ‘unlawful enemy combatant’ if they provide ‘material support’ to those engaged in hostilities against the US.”
Could this new law be expanded one day to include God’s people?
Next: Emergency Mail Inspection.
On January 15, 2007, USA Today reported that “the White House defended a policy allowing the government to open mail without a warrant, despite criticism that the crime-fighting tactic might lead to privacy breaches.”
Though the Bush administration and Postal officials said that citizens’ mail remains constitutionally protected from unreasonable search and seizure, what does “unreasonable” mean. The definition of that word can mean many different things depending on who is interpreting the law. In times past, this meant that in almost every situation, a warrant must be obtained before opening a citizen’s mail. In today’s environment, that is almost certainly not the case any more.
USA Today continued, “The mail controversy erupted Wednesday after a report in the New York Daily News that President Bush on Dec. 20 (2006) attached a so-called signing statement to a new postal law. The statement grants the government the authority during emergencies to bypass a law forbidding mail to be opened without a warrant.”
So obviously, the previous procedure of getting a warrant before opening the mail was not good enough any longer. Now, the president has unilaterally authorized the government to open and inspect the mail without a warrant which breaks down a key pillar of the constitution – a citizen’s privacy. And it is being done while suggesting that citizen’s mail is still constitutionally protected. The fact is that it is not as protected as before if the government can open any mail desired without a warrant. In fact, it isn’t protected at all.
“’This opens the door into the government prying into private communications,’ said Jonathan Hafetz, a lawyer with the Brennan Center for Justice. ‘It’s something we associate with a totalitarian or police state.’”
“’Every American wants foolproof protection against terrorism,’ Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY said. ‘But history has shown it can and should be done within the confines of the Constitution. This last-minute, irregular and unauthorized reinterpretation of a duly passed law is the exact type of maneuver that voters so resoundingly rejected in November [when they put the democrats in control of the US Congress]’,” he said.
Next: Tortured Man Gets Apology From Canada
Do you remember Maher Arar? This was the Canadian man the CIA detained and then flew to Syria for torture several years ago. Here is the latest.
On January 27, 2007, The Washington Post reported that “the Prime Minister of Canada apologized Friday to Maher Arar and agreed to give $9 million in compensation to the Canadian Arab, who was spirited by US agents to Syria and tortured there after being falsely named as a terrorism suspect.
“Arar, 36, a former computer engineer who was detained while changing planes at a New York airport in 2002 and imprisoned in a Syrian dungeon for 10 months, said after the announcement that he ‘feels proud as a Canadian.’
“’We cannot go back and fix the injustice that occurred to Mr. Arar,’ Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in issuing the formal apology in Ottawa. ‘However, we can make changes to lessen the likelihood that something like this will ever happen again.’ The head of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police resigned over the affair, and the government has pledged to increase oversight of its intelligence agencies.
“Harper and Arar both criticized the United States for its refusal to accept the exhaustive Canadian inquiry that found Arar was an innocent man. Public resentment in Canada has swelled this week over US officials’ insistence that Arar should remain on its ‘watch list’ of potential suspects, as well as the testy comments of US Ambassador David Wilkins, who said Canada had no business questioning who was on the list.
“The United States has never acknowledged it made a mistake in the Arar case, which has become one of the most public embarrassments in the US practice of ‘extraordinary rendition’ of suspects to other countries for interrogation and imprisonment. Last week, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt) demanded an explanation for the administration’s stance. He complained that American officials knew very well, ‘if he went to Syria, he’d be tortured. It’s beneath the dignity of this country to send somebody to another country to be tortured,’ he said”.
Next: Another Look Inside the Beast
In an article called “Pilfering Priests”, Time magazine reported on another Roman Catholic scandal in the United States. Apparently there has been a bit of sleazy accounting in some parishes in the US and perhaps other places. I’ll read just a couple of paragraphs…
“Until two years ago, the Roman Catholic diocese of Palm Beach, Fla., ran audits of its parishes only when they changed pastors. It was a risky, even foolhardy policy when you consider that a parish like St. Vincent Ferrer Catholic Church, in Delray Beach, hadn’t changed pastors in 40 years. In September 2003, upon the retirement of St. Vincent’s pastor, the Rev. John Skehan, diocesan accountant Denis Hamel dutifully showed up to inspect the books and the procedures for counting Sunday collections. The new pastor, the Rev. Francis Guinan – a close buddy of Skehan’s – told him to beat it. But the new bishop, Gerald Barbarito, eventually ordered Guinan to comply – and by Easter 2005, after parish staff had come forward with what they knew about St. Vincent’s slippery bookkeeping, Hamel was left dumbfounded. ‘I called the bishop,’ says Hamel, now the diocese’s financial administrator, ‘and I told him we had a tiger by the tail.’
“It was an especially ravenous beast if the allegations are true. Forensic auditors estimate that Skehan and later Guinan misappropriated $8.6 million over 42 years. They allegedly diverted St. Vincent collection money to secret slush-fund accounts while living as hedonistically as Renaissance Popes. The polic report says Skehan, 79, gave a ‘girlfriend’ $134,000, made a rare coins purchase for $275,000 and owned an oceanfront condominium worth $455,000. It says Guinan, 63, whom Barbarito removed as St. Vincent’s pastor in 2005, spent his take on expensive vacations to Las Vegas and the Bahamas; a $220,000 renovation of his parish residence; and payments to his own ‘paramour,’ the bookkeeper of his fermer parish, whom he gave $47,000 for credit-card bills and her child’s tuition. Both priests were arrested by Delray Beach police last September—after Guinan returned from a South Pacific cruise—and were charged with grand theft. (They pleaded not guilty.)
“St. Vincent’s may be the worst known case of embezzlement to hit US Catholicism, but Skehan and Guinan are joined by a gallery of other recent alleged kleptoclerics. Last month a Virginia priest was indicted for allegedly embezzling $600,000 from two Catholic churches—in part to help support the woman and three children he had been secretly living with. Last year a Connecticut priest was accused of pilfering up to $1.4 million to pay for his Audi cars, luxury-hotel stays, jewelry for his boyfriend and a Fort Lauderdale condo. And last June another priest was sentenced to five years in prison after the misappropriation of $2 million from the Church of the Holy Cross in Rumson, NJ.
Some things never change… Time continued. Hamel says, “some pastors still carry “an Old World attitude that what’s in the collection basket is theirs personally to do with as they wish.”
“…The nation’s 19,000 Catholic parishes, which gather about $6 billion a year from congregations, ‘are still often medieval in the way they secure or don’t secure Sunday collections,’ says Michael Ryan, a Massachusetts Catholic and former US postal inspector…”
These revelations come at a time when the Catholic church is trying to get over the sordid sexual abuse scandal of 2002. The Scriptures say in Revelation 18 that her sins will reach up to heaven.
Well, that’s all we have time for this month. May God bless and keep you and your family. Until next time, Keep the Faith!
This month’s message is a very special message for those who are burdened with sin. More than ever, we need the power of Christ.