Crossroads Connection for the Week of March 15
 
 
 
Article 1
 

Living Water


A

Scripture Reading — John 4:1-26

“If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” — John 4:10

A friend of mine likes to talk about our temptation to follow “Churchianity.” He describes this as a version of faith that centers on the church as a social organization, rather than on our relationship with God.

As a pastor, I am always grateful for people who want to support our ministries and programs. But I know it can be tempting for people to equate their church involvement with faith itself. When I ask about their spiritual lives, they might focus on music, programs, or committees in the church without ever describing their actual relationship with God.

When that happens, I am challenged to remind people of the greater gift that Jesus ­offers. Jesus did not come just to make us busy volunteers or to get us to donate to the church’s ministries. Jesus came to invite us into God’s presence.

Through Jesus, we are brought into a loving relationship with God. And it is in this relationship that we find forgiveness, healing, and purpose.

Belonging to a church is an important part of being a disciple. But in this passage, we are reminded that the purpose of the church isn’t merely to make ourselves busy or to create a comfortable worship service. It’s to facilitate the presence of God—to give you and me the chance to drink the “water welling up to eternal life.”

Prayer

Father, help me to move beyond church attendance or religious activity to develop a life-giving relationship with you. Amen.

 

 




 
 

Article 2

Living Saints

 By Greg Laurie

“Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons.”

—Philippians 1:1

It’s very easy when we read the epistles to skip over the opening statements as though they have no relevance to us. But we don’t want to do that. In Philippians 1:1, for instance, the apostle Paul reveals the door to a life of happiness.

This happiness, however, isn’t an emotional high from some pleasure or experience. Rather, it’s a deep-seated faith and trust in God.

Paul began by saying, “To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons” (Philippians 1:1 NKJV). If you want to be happy, then be a saint. Before you think that leaves you out, you need to understand what the word saint means. It’s interchangeable with the word believer.

Acts 9:13 provides another example of this. When the Lord told Ananias to go pray for the newly converted Saul of Tarsus (later to become Paul), Ananias responded, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem” (NKJV, emphasis added).

And notice that Paul said, “To all the saints in Christ Jesus” (emphasis added).

This means that as Christians, we’re not righteous because of what we do. We’re righteous because of what Jesus Christ has done for us. He has put His righteousness into our spiritual bank accounts, so to speak. That is called justification. We’re in right standing with God.

Now, living it is another story. That is where sanctification comes in. Sanctification is living out justification. The Bible tells us, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV).

Are you a believer in Jesus Christ? Then you’re a saint. Believers aren’t saints because they’re perfect; believers are saints because they are in Christ. 



 

Article 3

 

No More Tears: Tear Catchers 

You…put my tears into your bottle; are they not in Your book?
Psalm 56:8

In the ancient world, certain bottles were called “tear catchers.” They were made from brown glass and were used in Ancient Persia during funerals to collect the tears of mourners. In Rome, mourners filled small bottles with tears and placed them in the tombs as symbols of respect for the deceased.

Perhaps David had something like that in mind in Psalm 56. According to the heading of the Psalm, he was running from King Saul and had ventured into Philistine territory where he’d been captured. We know he wrote Psalm 56 as an emotional plea to God for help, saying, in effect, “Lord, you see my every tear as though it were filling a bottle in your all-loving heart.”

Some who are reading these words are filled with grief over a loss or a difficult matter. The tears are flowing. We all know what that’s like. But so does the Lord, for Jesus Himself wept. No tear is ever unnoticed by Him who will one day wipe them from our eyes. He is engaged with your burdens.

As the blood of His saints and their deaths are precious in the sight on the Lord, so are their tears—not one of them shall fall to the ground.

Matthew Henry

 

 


 

  Article 4



    
 

Article 5

When Church Works

 By Greg Laurie
 

“So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ.”

—Colossians 1:28

I heard one person describe church as something that most Americans go to three times in their lives: when they’re hatched, when they’re matched, and when they’re dispatched.

That’s how it is for a lot of people. When they typically go to church, they don’t understand what’s going on. The messages don’t make sense to them. The music seems to come from another era altogether. It doesn’t seem to be helping them or addressing what they’re facing.

So, they don’t want to be a part of the church. It’s not something they’re really interested in.

I don’t think church has to be that way. I think it can be vibrant. It can be exciting. It can be innovative. And it can be enjoyable. Yet at the same time, it can be thoroughly biblical. It also can impart knowledge and truth and help change our lives.

That’s why, as I’ve often said, the holiest moment of the church service is when God’s people come away changed people, doing what they can to turn their world upside down.

Also, I think one of the reasons that so many churches are ineffective or falling apart is because they’ve strayed from God’s original plan. We can find clear principles in the church as Jesus originally set it up and as the early believers applied them, turning their world upside down.

The church began and was maintained by Christ’s power, and it worked through His principles. It was the Spirit of God working through the Word of God in the hearts and lives of the people of God.

I think it’s wonderful when someone looks at the church and sees different ages, different cultures, different tastes, and different ethnicities with one thing in common: Jesus Christ. That, to me, is what people should see in the church today.

 

 

 

The Hairs on Your Head


For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Hebrews 4:15

The Washington Post carried the story of Collin Spears, a barber in Virginia who had a rough past. At one point he was homeless, showering at truck stops and struggling to eat. Today he’s the co-owner of a barber shop. His business partner is also a survivor of homelessness. The two barbers recently went back to the local rescue mission, this time to cut hair. “We come down here to lift some spirits,” Spears said. “If you look good, you feel good.” Collin can sympathize with the homeless because he’s been there himself.
 


Recommended Reading:
Matthew 10:27-31

Our best encouragers are people who have been where we are, who understand from experience what we’re going through.

That’s why Jesus is our great Comforter. Having become a Man, He can sympathize with our weaknesses. Jesus never sinned, but He endured all the pressures of life—and then some. Whatever you’re going through, Jesus knows—even the number of hairs on your head. He cares. And He can help.

Our Lord Jesus Christ [has] a sympathy with our sorrows and infirmities…impossible to find in any other being.
Octavius Winslow

 

 

 

 

  

 


 

 
 
 
 

                                     

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 



 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


.