No Trespassing

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We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.  Romans 3:22-25

The Bible teaches us that in the beginning God created everything, and it was very good.  His design for this world was for our good and His glory.  He intended for us to live with Him, walk with Him and enjoy all the blessings for which He created us.  He desired that humanity would worship Him in love and praise Him with all creation.  God’s creation and design was perfect, without pain, suffering, injustice, and fear.  But it did not remain that way.  We all know through our individual experience that this world is broken.  Something has gone wrong, but what? 

What’s wrong with the world today? 

The truth is that I am what is wrong with this world.  I have missed the mark of perfection.  I haven’t even really come close to being what God created me to be in my character and in my conduct.  Honestly, for every step forward I take a hundred steps backward!  I have crossed the clear lines of right and wrong prescribed by our Creator.  I have done what He has instructed us not to do, and I’ve neglected the things He has commanded.  And in all of these bad choices, I’ve shaken my fist at God and blamed Him for all of it. 

The Bible calls these actions and attitudes sin.  And sin is our problem.  Sin is the reason for broken relationships and broken lives.  Sin is churchy word for the wrongdoing and rebellion against our Maker.  And the Bible says that the wages, or consequences, for sin is death.  Not just a physical death, but a spiritual death where we are separated from the walk and worship of God according to His initial design. 

The Bible describes sin in a few different ways.  These ideas can help us understand it better and when we are guilty. 

Sin is often missing the mark.  Imagine target practice with a bow and arrow.  Robin Hood comes to my memory.  The mark we aim for is the bullseye on the target.  We pull, we aim, we fire, we miss!  We might miss the target altogether, or we miss by a little to the left.  Either way, we missed.  The bullseye represents God’s holy perfection.  No matter how hard we try, or how close we think we come, we cannot achieve his holy perfection.  We always fall short.  We need help. 

Sin is also like trespassing.  In fact, the Bible uses the word trespass often for sin.  Trespassing is crossing a clearly defined line.  If I take my trash across my property line and dump it in my neighbors’ yard, they would be angry with me.  Rightfully so.  I’ve crossed a line.  Clearly it is wrong to throw my trash in someone else’s yard.  Well, God has given us some pretty clear lines to follow.  Do not steal.  Do not murder.   Do not lie.  Do not commit adultery.  Do not slander.  There are a lot of lines, and each time we disobey these commands we’ve trespassed.  Some are easy to follow but others are harder.  Each of us has crossed a line at some point, and that makes us guilty. 

Sin is rebellion.  There are times when we disagree with God or ignore His commands.  We would rather shake our fist at God and do things our own way because it feels better.  In our selfishness and greed, we decide to do things that are contrary to what God has instructed.  We knowingly do the wrong thing.  

All of these are sinful actions and attitudes.  None of them help us.  Sin leaves us broken.  Sin distorts God’s design, damages our relationships, and ultimately destroys our souls.  We obviously recognize something is wrong with this world.  The Good News is that God has made a way for us be restored and forgiven by His great love for us.  Jesus forgives us our sin when we repent and believe in Him.  Jesus resolves our sin problem and has promised to put an end to sin once and for all. 


Go to the Well

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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.  A woman from Samaria came to draw water.  Jesus said, “Give me a drink.”  John 4:6-7

Living near a well is important.  Wells are deep holes that penetrate the water table beneath the surface and provide water for drinking and other uses.  For the traveler coming a long distance, the well was a place to be refreshed.  For the thirsty, the well supplied a much needed provision.  For the local homeowner, the well was a routine place to visit in the community.  People came to wells because they needed water. 

In John 4, Jesus and his disciples are traveling to Galilee from the region of Judea.  Jesus chose to go through Samaria when most Jews chose to avoid that place.  After some time, they were tired, thirsty and hungry.  Jesus sent the disciples into the city to get food, and he stayed by the well.  As he sat there under the heat of the noonday sun, a woman came to the well by herself to draw water.  Jesus asked her for a drink, and what follows is an incredible story of spiritual transformation!  Jesus took interest in the life of this woman when no one else would.  Jesus shared truth with her, and by the end of their conversation she believed in Him, the Messiah. 

I encourage you to read the whole chapter.  There are so many practical truths that help us relate to one another in more gracious, loving, and merciful ways.  But I want to draw your attention to two key ideas. 

First, Jesus went to the well.  Jesus could have traveled a completely different way to get to Galilee.  It was rare for a Jew to travel willingly through Samaria anyway.  But Jesus had a purpose.  Jesus knew he needed to go through Samaria.  He was willing to sit at the well under the uncomfortable sun and start a conversation with a social outcast.  Jesus knew this woman would be coming to the well.  So, he intentionally went to the well. 

Where are the wells in your community?  No, I am not talking about the literal wells in backyards.  I am talking about the places where people go to receive what they need.  I consider soup kitchens, rehab centers, clothes closets, schools, hospitals, daycares, restaurants, coffee shops and recreation centers as wells.  I am sure there are more.  People go to these places to satisfy a perceived need in their lives.  People are there.  Often you are there, but are you there intentionally to help someone else with a greater need? 

Second, the woman went to the well because she needed water.  Jesus knew that she needed something more than a drink – she needed lifesaving water – she needed Jesus.  This woman was not coming to meet Jesus.  She was not going to the synagogue to confess her sins.  She came to the well at noon when no one else should be there to get water.  She received more than she expected.  She met Jesus, who came to meet her.  Jesus cared for this woman and shared the truth about himself with her.  He changed her life.  “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did.  Can this be the Christ?” she proclaimed (John 4:29). 

Jesus intentionally went to the well to help someone with a greater need than the well could provide.  Have you considered which well you should intentionally visit to help someone with a greater need?  Perhaps you work in a well – police department, fire department, business, restaurant, school, library, nursing home (the list could go on) – and today as you go to work, would you pray for an opportunity to help someone meet Jesus?  Its time to intentionally go out of your way to visit a well.  Connect with someone who needs Jesus. 


God’s Design

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What was so good about God’s design? 

And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. Genesis 1:31a

What was so good about God’s design of the world?  When we look around today it is increasingly more difficult to see the beauty and benefits of the world around us.  The world seems so out of sorts, broken even.  So much needs to be fixed and corrected.  Each one of us understands the words struggle, hardship, tragedy, and conflict.  But the Bible tells us that God created everything, and that it was very good.


Acceptance is not Approval

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I remember one day as a kid riding to church with my family, and something ahead caught our attention.  In the ditch on the side of the road was a small puppy.  He was stuck in the ditch unable to climb out.  My brothers and I asked our dad to pull over, and let’s pick up that puppy.  Typical childhood wishes right?  Today, I’m not sure what made my dad actually pull over, but he did.  I was intrigued and excited to maybe have a new pet.  Dad put the dog in the back of the truck, and we carried it back home.  I watched it try to keep its balance, and heard it yelp occasionally as we drove back.  He was some type of hound with dark brown, floppy ears and a white coat with brown spots.  I had already accepted this puppy into our family.  We named him Fred.


Close Together

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For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  Hebrews 4:15-16