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Saturday, July 7, 2012

Jesus and Texas

Just got back from Texas.  Whenever I pass through Texas, I am always reminded of an old joke that I really like.  About the Texan who was visiting the farm of a friend up in Oklahoma.  As he was being shown around the 320 acres of pastureland and crops, he bragged, “This is a pretty nice little garden you have here.  Course, it doesn’t begin to compare with the size of the ranch I have down in the Lone Star State.  Why, I can get up at dawn, hop in my truck and drive all day, and when the sun sets, I still won’t have reached the other end of my ranch.”  To which the Okie responded, “Yup, I know what that’s like.  I had a truck like that once, too!”

  Anyway…..    Am filling in for the pastor tomorrow at the church we currently attend here in Parsons.  Am using the text from John 4, about a Samaritan woman Jesus meets at the well, thought maybe I’d pass along some related thoughts.  Now, if you don’t know the story, the nutshell is that the Samaritans were people who believed they worshipped the same God as the Jewish people, but their practices were far different.  As a result of that and some other historical realities, most of the Jewish people didn’t think very much of them….in fact, actively avoided them.  In addition, this woman had been through multiple marriages and was living with a guy at the time Jesus met her, all of which made her an outcast during that time even among her own people.  But Jesus goes out of his way to make a point to be sure he meets her, and then reaches out to her with God’s love while also correcting her understanding of who God is. 

  So the point for tomorrow’s message is the fact that here is this lady, who has so messed up so many things in her life, probably suffered a great deal of disappointment and has become a person for whom most people didn’t have the time of day…..and yet Jesus reached out to HER!  Most people would have passed her by.  Most people would have said she got what she deserved.  Most people would have treated her pretty badly and not felt any remorse about it at all.  But Jesus reached beyond those surface things to see her as a person God created whose life was a shambles and whose heart was broken……yet she still wanted to be loved, and deep down she wanted to know God’s ways for her life.  So Jesus takes the time to show her God’s love, and to teach her God’s ways.  She gets very excited about it…..as anyone who ever really has an experience with God does……and her life is changed forever. 

  Seems to me that lots of folks both then and now know lots of scriptures about right and wrong and punishment for evildoers.  But Jesus demonstrates the scriptures that teach of compassion, mercy, forgiveness and love.  So many times the scripture teaches that God is very near to those who are brokenhearted…..and Jesus demonstrates it personally in this story, but we forget that it is OUR job to reach out to them on God’s behalf.  If you are a person whose heart has been broken, a person that others treat as second class or unworthy, then I want you to see in the story of that woman that God still cares a great deal about you, even if nobody else does.  And that, even if you have made too many poor choices and messed up things in your life, God still loves you and finds you precious.  Don’t let those things push you away from God.  Instead, let them make you aware of how near God is, and of his desire to reach into your heart to heal those hurts and to give you fresh hope, and meaning for your life. 

  This story is one of my favorites, and is actually the text for four of the devotional entries in my book.  Hopefully, it will come to mean as much to you as it does to me.  Thanks for listening!

TL:DR  God’s desire is to help those whose lives has been broken, no matter how anybody else thinks about them.                                                                                                                                                 

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