March 18, 2017

Holy Spirit is the Water of Life (Lent 3)

The readings for today have a common theme of water and life. In the Exodus story the Hebrew people are ready to stone Moses because he can not find water and they are in a desert. The Apostle Paul describes the love of God being poured out into the hearts of believers like life-giving water. Finally Jesus has this amazing conversation with a Samaritan woman. It is the same conversation he had in the Reading for last week with Nicodemus. This is the model for how to do one on one personal evangelism:
  • Ask a question to begin a conversation
  • Give a reply to their response that turns the conversation into how to have a right relationship / spiritual life with God
  • Give a reply to whatever is said that raises a spiritual question in their mind
  • Respond to their next question with how to have spiritual life - be born again / receive the  living water of the Holy Spirit
 1. Jesus describes the Holy Spirit as like "a spring of water welling up to eternal life."(John 4.14)
The story of the Samaritan woman at the well brings back dramatic memories for me. I was asked to play the part of Jesus in a short dramatization at the Sorrento Centre many years ago. Like many people I was overwhelmed by the words "I who am speaking to you am He". There is nothing vague about this Reading. Jesus was a real person talking to other real people. We know in our hearts that this is a true story because it has such a ring of truth about it:
·         Jesus asks a question that will lead to a religious conversation -Jews did not talk to Samaritans for fear of spiritual pollution
·         Jesus replies to her response with an interesting religious question - if you knew...God would give you living water
·         Jesus tells her something He could not normally know -  husbands
·         Jesus affirms her guess and reveals who He is and how to worship
·         Profound teaching about God as spirit & worship "in spirit"
·         Woman becomes a believer and witnesses to her community
·         Jesus taught people about spiritual things using concrete examples.
·         Cannot see, imagine or feel the Holy Spirit, but we can see water

2. The Exodus Reading (17.1-7) reminds us to trust in God - for life
The story of the Hebrews in the desert reminds us that people often forget about God until they are in a crisis. Being in a desert without water is a crisis. We can be fairly confident this is not a myth because the people are not described in mythical language. They are very human, very cranky.
  • They do not seem to have faith that God will provide for them.
  • Do not seem to realize that their desert experience is team-building
  • Goal is to bring them together as a people who do have faith that God will provide for them.
  • The good news is that God did provide for them and did give them everything they needed for physical and spiritual survival.
 3. Fast forward to 65 AD and Paul is explaining the Holy Spirit
Paul is explaining that those who have faith discover that "… God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us" (Romans 5.5) Just as water was poured out to keep the Hebrew people alive physically;
  • Holy Spirit is poured out to keep believers alive spiritually
  • Gift of the Holy Spirit is a tangible sign that one is a real believer
  • Paul explains the key doctrine of Justification by faith.
    • God's grace is poured out on those who believe in the life, sacrificial death and way to forgiveness of Jesus.
    • "justified' (made just) means their past guilt is taken away
    • Begin a new life with a clean slate.
  • "Sanctification" is our lifelong struggle to overcome the temptations of life, control our human desires and ambitions and live a life of prayer, praise and service.
  • As we step out in faith to live this life of prayer, praise and service we experience the love of God being poured out spiritually, like water, into our hearts through the Holy Spirit
 The readings challenge us to persevere in our spiritual life
The Apostle Paul encourages us to "…rejoice in our sufferings…" (Romans 5.3).
  • Suffering  develops our perseverance
  • Perseverance  develops our character
  • Character gives us hope.
  • Hope - our Faith or belief in Jesus Christ is not disappointed.
Become Justified,
and receive the Holy Spirit
that guides and heals us for a personal spiritual life

that begins on Earth and continues on in the spiritual dimension after our body dies

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