A Return To Grace

Scripture: (John 4:10 KJV)  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.

 

            I know this young woman who, well, hasnít always made the best of decisions. You might be able to blame it partly on her upbringing. Alcohol and abuse of one type or another helped contribute to her world. Funny how she swore she would never grow up to be like this. Generational curses and personal sins compiled together to drive this woman from one man to another, always hoping beyond hope for the true love that she knows deep inside must be out there somewhere. Now, you might think you know this young lady that I am talking about. Someone reading this now may even think that that young woman is you. Regardless of whom this person may or may not be, there are a couple of questions that I have for you concerning this person. First I would like to know what you think God feels about a person like the woman above. Then I wonder what you think of people who live lifestyles that are other then reputable. For there is no doubt that this person, and all like her, has and most likely still is, living an active life of sin. What is a Christianís obligation to the lost?

            Even before we go any further into this subject I think it important for us to look at our own lives. This is perhaps the most uncertain period of time in our lives. Believe it or not our country is at war. This is a time that we need to get a firm grasp on our faith and know, that we know, that we know what we believe in, and where we are putting our trust. If you are putting your faith in religion you are going to end up being hurt. When you decide to put your total faith and trust in something you had better make sure that what ever it is will be able to endure both life and death and everything in-between. I have known so many people who have been in the position of the woman above and fought there way out of despair only to put there faith in shaky ground and end up far too quickly being pushed back down into that familiar pit of loneliness, and depression and fear and greed and lust and substituting a lie for the truth. The truth, the truth, do not ever loose sight of it. Do not ever stop seeking it. Do not ever deny the reality of it.

            We have all lied to ourselves for too long. It is time to see who that person inside us really is and fill that empty heart of ours with the only thing that has ever, and can ever satisfy. It is time for us to look up and see how God Himself has reached down and is even right now offering us a fresh touch of His Holy Spirit. Let His Spirit flow into you right now and through you. Discover the truth of His presence and the reality of His grace as you receive from Him all you will ever need to reach new heights of fulfillment. You see just like the young woman above we all have needs and desires and hopes and dreams. And just like every other human being that has ever lived we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Well, every other human being but one. We have heard how God has called us all to be holy as He is holy. And we have read how the wages of sin is death. Some of us trying to find a way out of this judgment of death have believed a lie and even denied the existence of God in the first place. Yet even in our denial we have never lost the hope of His mercy and grace. You know, I have never heard so many people asking God to bless America in my whole life as I have over this past month. Yet it is these same people that a minute later will be asking Him to damn it all. What request would you like God to answer for you? The problem is I think for so many years more people have been asking the latter from God rather then His blessing. But I digressÖ..

            The point of todayís message is the grace of God. I want us to look at the encounter that Jesus had with a woman much like the one I talked about above and see how we can grow in grace as we discover the truth that is in Christ Jesus the Lord. The story of the woman at the well can be found in the forth chapter of the book of John. This Samaritan woman comes in contact with Jesus in the heat of the day. Two quick background points to this story. First is the fact that the Jews and the Samaritans did not associate with each other. Talk about your racial tension. Secondly men, especially a rabbi, would never speak to a woman in public. Notice how Jesus being a Jewish Rabbi follows these religious traditions to the letter. NOT. Another thing I hope you noticed is how this woman spent so much time in sack cloth and ashes, with prayer and supplications, fasting and seeking for this encounter with the messiah. No? Well, maybe we have to find out how it is that God could break tradition and touch the heart of someone that was not even seeking Him. Have you ever really had an unexpected encounter with God? It is so wonderful when we can go to the church of our choice and get in touch with the creator. But it is even more awesome when He comes to us out of the blue and changes our entire outlook on life.

            This woman at the well was a sinner, just like the woman I talked about earlier, just like me. God knows our heart. He knows my every thought. He knows my every selfish intention. He knows my every fear. When I come in contact with God, I think I was taught how I should feel ashamed of all my past sins, but do you know what? The truth is, when I get close to God, all I feel is His love for me. Jesus did not condemn this poor woman of her sins. He did point them out, not in condemnation but it revelation of the truth. Because it is the truth that sets us free, and the truth is that when we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleans us from all unrighteousness. What He did do was to offer her a better way. What God is offering you today, is a better way. That river of life that Jesus speaks of in this chapter flows eternal. Maybe we should look at a couple of these scripture verses right now.

            Starting with our scripture verse above Jesus had just asked this woman for a drink. Her response to Him was one of retaliation for Him even speaking to her.

  (John 4:7-14KJV)  There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.) 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. 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. 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? Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?  Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever 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.

              OK, now I know that I do not have much more time to make my point here so please listen. God is waiting for you right where you are. You do not have to get better before you go and have a meeting with Him in some Church or Synagogue or Temple or where ever you might think that you have to go to find God. He is right there with you right now. That is just part of what grace is about. Grace is God bending down. Grace is God going out of His way to come to you. Grace is God seeking you out. He knows you even better then you know yourself. He knows your potential. He knows your heart. Another part of grace is the fact that He does not condemn you for your sins. One definition of grace is getting something that you do not deserve. That is why He offers you the river of life. Jesus did not condemn this woman of her sins, and it quite obvious that she was living in sin. Jesus offers a better way. For He is the way the truth and the life. Man, it is so simple yet so intense. All of heaven is being made available to you, yes even you. No matter how many mistakes you have made in the past. No matter where you are right now. God has stepped down off His lofty throne and takes off His royal robes and walked among us as one of us, even to the point of dieing for us. And that is the point. He saw our sin. He knew where we were living and He felt our hunger and our thirst. He experienced the betrayal of his friends. He knew the loss of a dear friend. He was tempted above measure but knew that by remaining strong unto the end He could and did become the perfect sacrifice for sin.

Please, stay with me. I know that some of you who have been in the church for many years may say you know this and those outside the church may not even understand it but this is what sets us free to really live life to its fullest without convictions of death. He, God Himself, took our sins upon Himself and in trade He give us His righteousness, His holiness, His perfection. And what does he ask in return?  The same thing He at first asked the woman at the well: A drink of cold water. Let that well of water spring up from within you and flow out to those around you. Let that wonderful person that God created come out from under the condemnation of tradition and sin and touch the world with a newness of heart.

            I want you to know that there is hope. There is a river that flows from the throne of God and upon its banks there grows the tree of life. (Rev 22:1 KJV)  And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.

            Now it is your turn. Now you can receive that baptism. Now you can jump into that river and never be the same. Do you know that woman I was talking about earlier? She is even right now being changed into a new person. For now she has direction. Now she knows the truth and the chains of the past have been broken by the unconditional love of Christ. As for me? Well, I too am walking in a newness of life. Oh, by the way would you like a drink?

            (John 7:37&38 KJV)  In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.

        

            I want to pray with you today. Right now. Someone reading this today has never sincerely made Jesus Christ their personal savior. You may have been relying upon religious traditions or some other ritualistic practice that never did make that complete contact for you with God. Someone else has asked Jesus in your heart but your passion for Him has grown cold. If fact it never did get red hot. You desire more. God wants to give you more of Himself today. Someone has asked God to forgive them and knows that He has but you cannot for some reason forgive yourself. First I want you to know that God is able. Right now give it over to Him and let Him win this battle for you. Your job is to be the clay and let Him be the potter. Ok, Lets all pray together, believing, I mean really believing and expecting something great from the one true God who was and is and is to come. Amen? Amen!

 

            Dear LORD God, thank you for your presence right here beside me. Oh, Forgive me LORD, for I am not worthy and yet you desire to make me so. I accept right now the atoning blood that you shed on the cross as payment for all my sins and even more I accept you Jesus as my personal savior, best friend, commander and chief, and Lord. Let that well of water spring up from within me. Change me from the inside out and use me to be a blessing to others. I am yours and you dear Lord are now mine. Me in you and you in me, the both of us in the Father filled to the overflowing with the Holy Spirit. I am forgiven, I am refreshed, I am a Christian and from this moment on, I know that nothing is impossible. Thank you Father, Thank you Holy Spirit, and Thank you Jesus. Let my life bring you glory. I pray these things in the Name of Jesus. Amen and Amen. Praise be to God for all time, unto ages of ages Amen.