Category Archives: Listen

Listen to weekly messages of hope and strength from Jacob’s Well.

Drunk Love: Get Naked

In the first verses of Song of Solomon we read, “Your love is better than wine.”  While too many of us have turned to the bottle to medicate our relationship problems the bible offers a better way.  But for us to experience true love, whether it be with God or another person, we need to first discover our true selves.

Adam & Eve walked hand in hand with God, receiving 100% attention, complete love & acceptance and as a result didn’t even realize they were naked.  Then they ate the fruit and immediately began covering up, hiding, denying, and blaming.  Through the story of Adam & Eve we’ll learn how to “get naked” . . . metaphorically!  By peeling away the ways in which we hide and live in denial, we can begin to address the sin and shame that must be dealt with before discovering our true selves.

New Beginnings – Babel

Genesis 11:1-9 NLT

Just a chapter earlier we read not 1 but 3 times that humans already possessed multiple languages; therefore, we can understand Babel not as being the only language on earth, but perhaps the first “lingua franca,” a language that lets people communicate from different tribes.  Like how English is becoming the language that people know in addition to their native tongue.  This enabled people from all around the world come to one place and settle.  This is actually the opposite of what God envisioned with the commission, “Be fruitful and multiply.”

To have one language in ancient texts is subjugation and forcing other peoples to take on their language. (Pop-pop story of kneeling on corn)  This is not what God had in mind, He wanted people to fill the earth, not come together in one place (1:28).

They settled in Shinar, undoubtedly talking about Mesopotamia, an area first called Sumer, then Babylonia.  It was here that the first temple-towers, known as ziggurats were built.  Recently archaeologists discovered Esagila, the great temple of Marduk in Babylon, which may be the building talked about in this story.  It was 300 feet tall and was believed to have been built by the gods by the Babylonians, which is shown to be false in the biblical story showing how earthlings made up the actual construction crew.

It’s difficult to miss the irony in that the humans seek to build a tower that will reach the heavens, that is among the gods, but in reality it is so far away that God must “come down” to see it.  God doesn’t laugh at them or dismiss it as much ado about nothing.  Rather, this is taken very seriously.  If Divine Intervention does not happen, the consequences can be far reaching.  But the intervention is surprising.  Rather than toppling the tower, God confuses the language.  Why?  Because knocking the building down would only be a temporary solution; towers are replaceable.  So God removes that which makes the building possible, an international language that provides communication among different tribes.

The judgment here does not need to be reversed.  Jesus’ followers do not speak with one language.  It is a criticism of Rome’s vision to form one body in the name of the Romans.  Unity is not the consequence of everybody speaking the same language, but the generative way of the Holy Spirit with the name of Jesus being the rallying point.  If the disciples spoke Greek, everyone would have understood.  This is not what they did, but spoke in each’s particular language to show how the Spirit alone would bring them together, not language.  This is the fulfillment of the same vision that God had in mind in Babel.

The point of the story is not what they are building but why they are building it.  They are seeking to build a name for themselves, to gain a reputation.  And we’re still doing it today.  I saw a really weird show on Netflix the other day called “Black Mirror” that illustrates the point.  Check it out:

What are you doing to get a 5-star rating from others?

•Building a set of rules that you must follow?

•Putting on a front or wearing a mask?

•How you dress, what you drive?

•Or have you given up?  You know you can’t be a 4 or 5 so you medicate the pain of not being accepted, of not adding up?

 

 

 

 

JD Walt likes to talk about how there are only two stories, * the story of Adam and *the story of Christ.  The story of Adam is the story of *one who climbs up only *to fall down.  Rather than being content with what they had, Adam and Eve longed for more.  The serpent offered the lie that if they only had more knowledge, more power, then everything would be better.  Yet when they ate the fruit, it didn’t bring joy, but shame.  More knowledge didn’t enlighten them, but threw them into the darkness of guilt and denial.  Rather than having the answers to life’s problems, disobedience led to more problems that they sought to cover up.  Then there is the story of Christ, *a descent into our brokenness and *ascent into heaven. Jesus embodies a life of turning to his loving Father with all of the suffering, injustice, and pain of his life and the people around him.  Adam’s story is the classic notion of how pride comes before the fall.  Adam tells the story of the failure of trust, the failure of obedience and the failure of love.

New Beginnings – Flood

Genesis 6-9 NLT

The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil.  Genesis 6:5

“Let’s go ahead and admit it: the world is a messed up place.  Brokenness abounds.  Now, this doesn’t mean we don’t intend to have a positive attitude about it.  There’s a bright side to everything…things could be worse…we should be thankful for what we have…and all that.  But just for the record, let’s be honest about the general state of affairs on our planet.  First of all, we have crime, pollution, erosion, and taxes—all of which seem to be on the increase.  Then there’s unemployment, disease, war, homelessness, and famine.  Even the earth itself gets in on the mayhem, producing earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, and hurricanes on a regular basis.  Each of these disasters forms a stage on which a myriad of stories of human tragedy are played out each day.  No words will ever capture the degree of human suffering that goes on each day in our world.

Innately, each of us recognizes that things are not as they should be. When a child dies an untimely death, we don’t need someone to explain that it’s abnormal.  When someone cuts you off in traffic, instinctively you know that an offense has been committed against you.  It seems we were born with a natural recognition of good and bad, right and wrong.  And as we look around us, something’s definitely not right.

It would be easy to sit around and complain, to cast blame on anyone and everyone for all the problems of this dysfunctional world. But if we’re really honest with ourselves, don’t we have to consider whether we’re part of the problem?  Each time we lose our temper, indulge our desire for control, or simply ignore someone else’s cry for help, we contribute to the crisis.  Somehow it’s in our nature to be selfish—a nature with every decision, and yet one we cannot seem to change.  This is a sad story indeed.

Sin is one of those universal concepts recognized in various cultures around the globe.  Virtually everyone knows what it feels like to tell a lie, enjoy another’s misfortune, or let anger run its course.  In fact, sin is such an everyday occurrence, that it’s hard to imagine what the world would look like without it.  We’ve learned to live with it.  We’ve come to expect it.  Some would even argue that the occasional sin is necessary to function in society.  Sin has blended in.  Which makes us wonder, why is sin such a big deal in the Bible?

God takes sin very seriously because of the statement it makes about our understanding of him.  He is supreme.  We are not.  God is the ultimate authority.  And we choose either submission to him or rebellion against him.  One small sin may not seem like a big deal.  But the nature of sin begs the question of whether we acknowledge God or not.  And that’s a big deal.  In a small way, our sin says, “I’ll be my own god right now.”  By choosing sin, we demote God and put something or someone else in his place instead.  And the brokenness that ensues reverberates throughout our lives and the lives of others.

Ultimately, the Bible says that sin results in death.  The apostle Paul writes that “sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.”  (Romans 5:12)  Sin causes death in our physical bodies and death in our relationship with God.  Sin is a big deal.  The important thing is not so much that we should succeed in avoiding it, but that we acknowledge God as the one worthy of setting our boundaries for us.  The issue of sin, from a practical perspective, is the proving ground on which our loyalties are declared. ” – Andy Stanley from Starting Point

So, in Noah’s day God saw humanity’s evil and violence and decided to allow their consequences to catch up with them and wipe them from the earth.  Then he saw a man who was righteous and instead offered humans a fresh start.

In the same way, God has seen your dark side and thought about giving you the consequences you deserve, but then he saw a man who was righteous who would die in your place.   Do you know him?  Other religions try to make you a better person but this Higher Power knows we must start with step 1:  powerless over our sin.  What better way to help people realize their powerlessness than a flood?  So the sinful world led to a worldwide catastrophe and then a 2nd chance.  The flood must come, but there is a rescue plan involving a man named Noah.

Many in his day laughed at him for building such a big boat on dry land.  Many will laugh at you if you tell them you believe the Flood in the Bible really happened.  Did the Flood really happen?  Archaeological digs and stories from other cultures say yes.

Archeology – In the 1920s Sir Leonard Wooley excavated the city of Ur and discovered a 12-foot-thick layer of flood deposit dating to the middle of the 4th millennium B.C.  The cities of Kish and Shuruppak also has large flood layers from around this time

Compare with Sumerian King’s List.  This ancient document (2000 BC) divides history with the great flood.  The lifetimes of the kings were outrageous, but became more realistic after the flood, much like the Bible

Gilgamesh is a great hero who wants to live forever.  So he goes to Ut-napishtim to find out how.  Ut-napishtim is the “Noah” of this story.  He builds a great boat and took his family along with many animals on a voyage and was rewarded with immortality for his great courage.  After the flood, Ut-napishtim sent a dove and a raven from the boat to check for dry land.

There are parallels, but there are also major differences.  The parallels are close enough to know that there was a tie to these two accounts.  Either one stole the story from the other, or the event actually happened and each civilization told their version of it.  The difference is the interpretation of the event.  Unlike the Mesopotamian story, it is not the whim of the gods, but the wickedness of humanity that is the reason for the flood.  In Noah’s story, God saves humanity because of His mercy and plan for redemption but the other happens because of the gods in the council leaks the plan to a human who saves the day. (Epic of Eden by Sandi Richter)

De-Creation

Just as God said, the floods came, waters burst forth from the earth, and rained poured from the sky, referencing the “waters above and the waters below” of Creation.  The flood is not simply a natural disaster intended to bright God’s judgment on humanity, but a de-creational event.  What is done at creation is undone with the flood.  The world is brought back to its pre-creation state––“formless and void.”  So unlike the fun and cheerful images we often associate with Noah—the decorations in our nurseries and children’s classrooms, the toys and camp songs, “the animals they came on, they came on by twosies, twosies”—the story of Noah is completely terrifying.  Think of the deadly tsunami that hit Asia in December of 2004.  The news reports said that once the earthquake struck, the waves traveled faster than the communications warning system could, 500 miles per hour.  The disaster caught hundreds of thousands of people unaware, wiping out whole towns and villages, killing, injuring, and displacing unimaginable numbers of people.  Put this sort of disaster into the terms one man and his family escaping to start again, and you begin to get a feel for this epoch-dividing event.

Re-Creation – Baptism is a watery grave making way for a new life

 

 

2 Corinthians 5:17 Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

New Beginnings – Eden

In Eden the blessing are many, the rules are few.  Actually there’s only one rule––God is God and we are not.  If the humans just acknowledged that God is the Landlord and we are the tenant, everything would be good.  But if they had to be free to choose their own rules and decide for themselves what is “good and evil,” then they would die.  Basically, Adam and Eve are free to do anything except decide for themselves what’s good and evil.  You know the story, you know what they chose and you know about the consequences.

God’s Plan A

But what was God’s plan?  Did God want them to eat the fruit?  Many Christians and Jews would say yes.  I’m not one of them.  Just imagine God’s original intent when He created Eden:

This was Adam and Eve’s perfect world.  Not just fruit and fig leaves, but an entire race of people stretching their cognitive and creative powers to the limit to build a society of balance and justice and joy.  Here the sons of Adam and the daughters of Eve would learn life at the feet of the Father, build their city in the shadow of the Almighty, create and design and expand within the protective confines of his kingdom.  The blessing of this gift?  Civilization without greed, malice or envy; progress without pollution, expansion without extinction.  Can you imagine it?  A world in which Adam and Eve’s ever-expanding family would be provided the guidance they needed to explore and develop their world such that the success of the strong did not involve the deprivation of the weak.  Here government would be wise and just and kind, resources plentiful, war unnecessary, achievement unlimited and beauty and balance everywhere.  This was God’s perfect plan:  the people of God in the place of God dwelling in the presence of God.  Yet, as with all covenants, God’s perfect plan was dependent on the choice of the (first humans).  Humanity must willingly submit to the plan of God.  The steward must choose this world; for in God’s perfect plan, the steward had been given the authority to reject it.

God’s Plan Sabotaged

God’s Plan A was sabotaged by humanity.  Their choice led not only to removal of blessing but reversal.  Blessings became a curse, benefit becomes a burden, paradise is exchanged for prison.    What’s your “plan A?”  Have you ever sabotaged your own plan or God’s plan?

Eve is created to be the mother of creation, but is cursed to experience extreme pain and many times death.   Adam is created to be a farmer, to work with the sun and the rain to bring about a great harvest to feed his family.  You might have a glimpse into his joy if you’ve grown a tomato or planted a tree and seen it thrive.  But you haven’t experienced his full joy because we live in a fallen world.  In the beginning, Adam would have true leadership over the earth.  But the sons of Adam saw their crops fail, the rain not come, livestock die.  Will they be able to feed their family?  Is their work going to be enough?  The term “sweat of your brow” actually doesn’t have anything to do with hard work.  It is a ANE saying that refers to anxiety that causes perspiration.  Have you been there when trying to make ends meet and the land just wouldn’t cooperate?  This is Adam’s curse.

Adam & Eve are commissioned together to care for creation and rule together.  They are like the king and queen of Narnia.  Then the curse comes to Eve and breaks that beautiful give and take relationship that they had in Eden.  Now, “your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you.”  In Eden they had all that they needed, but now they are in competition with one another, and since Adam had the advantage of size and strength, he usually is the winner.  History shows us that “Eve’s longing for her husband will too often result in her willing participation in her own oppression and abuse. A relationship that should have been characterized by mutual self-sacrifice, productivity and joy will create instead the deepest of frustration and pain. . . and yet she will still yearn for this relationship.  There is not a marriage on this planet that hasn’t experienced the aftershock of this curse.  Yet even in the midst of all this loss, a word of hope remains.  The woman is promised that the union with her husband will produce an heir who, in the end, will slay the one who deceived her.  Even in her fallen state, it is Eve that will bring forth Christ.

But the most horrific aspect of the curse is when God said, “For you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”  This was originally inconceivable, but now, because of their choice, humans will become fertilizer for the ground they were created to rule.

God’s Plan A is His Plan Z

But does God give up when Plan A doesn’t go as planned?  “His ways are higher than our ways” says Isaiah.  God’s plans don’t seem to flow in a straight line and neither do most of ours.  The reason is the same, because they involve humans. 

The difference between us and God is that when our plans fail we check out, seek the escape hatch.  But when we toward God’s plans, he adapts.  God may choose someone else or we may love us into right action.

“I am the Alpha & Omega, the Beginning and the End.”

Created in the image of God – fall from grace – rehabilitated into Gods image

Jesus declared king of birth – rejected and crucified – risen and exalted Lord

New Beginnings – All things New

New years eve is a time for fresh starts and new beginnings.  What’s your resolution for 2017?  Take a minute to share with someone what its going to be. . . .    I don’t mean to burst your bubble, but how many of you actually think you’ll still be that excited about your resolution in February?

I could give several examples of resolutions to pray more, exercise more, eat less, smoke less, etc. that didn’t make it into February.  And I know I’m not alone.  But why are we so bad at resolutions?

To make a resolution is to determine to do something different.  But we are creatures of habit who like to do things the same as we always have.  Even when our spirit of resolve is strong, to put flesh on the bones into action is hard.  The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.  As much as we want to just grit our teeth, pull up our boot straps, and try harder, many of us have discovered that our self-will is not enough.  Especially those who’ve wrestled with addictions have found this to be so.  How many times has the alcoholic tried to stop drinking, and while it might last for a minute, that thought creeps in that all we need to make life better is just one drink… and there starts the vicious cycle again.  Insanity is often defined as trying the same things and expecting different results.  So if every New Year’s you make a resolution and don’t keep it, and every New Year’s you do it again expecting to keep it this time, what does that make you?  So when I ask you how its going in a couple of months, are you going to be able to say, “I’ve been exercising and eating healthy since New Year’s and now I’m 10 lbs lighter!  Or, for those insane people trying the same old things might say something like, “Same old, same old.”  But there is somebody here tonight who doesn’t want to settle for same old.  Does anybody want to change things up tonight, do something different and experience different results?  Who wants to turn in same old for all things new?  Whose ready for the inbreaking of God’s Spirit to bring some freshness to the situation?

So tonight I want us to move from old resolutions to new beginnings.   God has done a work in you in 2016 to prepare you for 2017.  He has brought some of you through the wilderness last year to bring you into the promised land in 2017!  God wants to use adversity to make you stronger, bring you through the fire to refine you like precious gold.  The God of new beginnings wants to take your old thinking, old behavior, old ways and trade them in for the mind of Christ.  He wants to fill your life with new opportunities, new experiences, new ways of dealing with life on life’s terms!  But its not going to come from self-will, by trying harder and implementing some new strategy.  This will come because God makes all things new.

If you don’t have a problem with keeping New Year’s resolutions, then this blog post may not be for you.  You probably have everything you need to live life well and make the changes needed.  But if you’re ready to admit that you’re powerless and that your life is basically unmanageable, then you are ready for a powerful message from one of the most beautiful chapters in the scriptures.  It’s one of the last chapters in the bible, Revelation 21.

Revelation 21:1-6 NLT

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. 2 And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.  3 I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”  5 And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.”  6 And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life.

Behold

The word “behold”  doesn’t make it in many English translations.  But it’s still there.  John the Baptist stepped out of the wilderness and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!”  At the end of Charlie Brown Christmas, Linus reads, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy.”  Only the New American Standard & King James uses the word consistently.    The New Living says, “Look.”  This is more than look!  God is doing a new thing, do you behold it?  Behold means pay attention, wake up, see what you are hearing.   

I think that might be our main problem, is that we’re not paying attention and we’re sleeping through what God wants to do in our life.  Behold!!!   But what does it mean?  I think to behold is to finally see what it is that you’ve been hearing.

I am making all things new

God is making all things new.  The tense of the verb, “make,” is the present.  And while the heart of Revelation 21 is about the future that God is bringing, it is also about the present.  It is already and not yet!  In the end God will wipe away every tear, destroy poverty, cancer, death, disease, and it will be finished.  But that doesn’t mean that he hasn’t already started.  How many in here tonight know that God has already started that renewing work in your life?  How many believe that He has a new beginning in store for you in 2017?

Like so much in Revelation, this comes straight out of Isaiah the prophet, this time 43:19.  Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?  I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.   And before this prophecy is fulfilled in Revelation, it is fulfilled in 2 Corinthians 5:17:  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.  In the death and resurrection of Christ, God is making you and I into a new creation.  In the end that new creation is finalized.  So if you’re ready for a new beginning, if you want to put your past in the past and start God’s glorious future for your life, then get in Christ, because if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  Get in Christ!  Get into the tomb with him and bury the sins of your past to prepare for the resurrection of your future!  Get in Christ and strap in because he will take you on the ride of your life!  And on the road he will make all things new.

When President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing all the slaves in the Confederate States, it was to become law on January 1, 1863. On December 31, 1862, the night before it was to become law, African Americans gathered together in their churches and homes all over the USA, waiting for their freedom to arrive at midnight.

What a night that must have been! They and their ancestors had been captured in Africa, kidnapped, tied, bound, and locked in chains. Whole families, even villages, disappeared. Families were separated, never to see each other or their homes again. They were taken to different parts of the world, but most to the Americas, shackled and packed into the holds of slave ships. Upon arrival they were sold into slavery that meant a lifetime of hardship, suffering, forced labor, and deprivation of all human rights. Enduring such conditions, what must that New Year’s Eve Watch Night of 1862 been like? What did they do? Did some of them gather in small groups and whisper their prayers and songs in hushed voices, fearing their masters might descend at any moment? After all, President Lincoln’s declaring their freedom didn’t make it so in the eyes of their owners. And the Civil War would drag on for another three years. What songs did they sing? How did they pray? Did they dance, sing, shout, and clap, or was it a time of quiet, uncertain wondering what their future held?

That Watch Night of 1862 came to be known as “Freedom’s Eve.” When midnight and the New Year arrived, they celebrated with prayers, shouts, singing, and great thanksgiving to God.

New beginnings begin with faith.  Not hard evidence that everything is going to go has planned, not a desire to control the outcome, not some human power that will give us the strength to make our resolution stick.  New beginnings come when we come to believe in a Power greater than ourselves that can restore us to sanity, who can pull us out of the rut of trying the same things and getting different results and put us on a new path.

Old is gone.  New has come

What makes the New City so new?  Because the former things are gone.  Only when the old is gone can the new come.  Somebody say, “Goodbye former things!”  The new beginning is here.  But not because you said it, but because God said it.

God says, It is finished!  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.  And this isn’t the first time that God said, “It is finished.”  When Jesus was on the cross and he was tired and bleeding and dying, he did not say, “I am finished,” Jesus said “it is finished.”  The good news of the gospel is that because of what Jesus did on the cross there is a bridge from where you are to where God wants you to be.  There is a bridge called hope.  There is a bridge called salvation.  There is a bridge called redemption.  There is a bridge that no one else could build but Jesus that goes from the end of you to the beginning of eternity.  It goes from Babylon to New Jerusalem, from weeping to rejoicing, from suffering to being pain-free, from self-destructing to helping others.  And no matter what kind of storm enters in and what comes to tear you down, that bridge is still standing.  Say, “It is finished.”

But if we’re honest, there are some things in our life that are not finished.  There are some New Years resolutions from 2015 and 2016 that are unresolved.  Ask yourself–why is this thing left incomplete?  Why do I keep falling for the same lies?  Why do I keep falling into the same ruts?  Why am I not moving from this point to that point?  Why can I not complete what I said I would finish?  The good news for us  is that Jesus has completed the work on the cross and is coming back to complete the new city.  It is finished.  You are not finished, but it is finished.  I don’t know what “it” is that is holding you down, that is keeping you from moving forward, but you better tell it, that because of what Jesus has done, it is finished.

It is because those former things are gone that we have a new beginning tonight.  And with newness comes fresh opportunities.  Things that used to be completely out of the question are now possible.  A whole new city is here to be explored, filled to the brim with life in the fullest sense, with the water of life flowing from God’s throne and nourishing the tree of life.  Are you thirsty?  Do you want some living water.  At Jacob’s Well we have plenty.  We get our name from the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s Well.  He asks her if she would like to try some water that would quench her deepest thirst, something called “living water.”  See the woman had been trying to quench her thirst through relationships.  She had been married 5 times and was living with a man that was not her husband.  But rather than condemnation, Jesus had compassion and saw the struggle within, so he offered her a new beginning.  What have you been trying to quench your thirst with?  What have you been going to for satisfaction and yet been left dry?  The Lord says, I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost.

Give 2017 to God

So as we close I want to invite you to give 2017 to God.  This is not the God always out to get you, trying to send you to hell unfairly.  He wouldn’t be good if there weren’t consequences for evildoers, but the God in this city is looking to forgive and offer another chance to all.  God’s acts of judgment are always done through other agents in the book of Revelation, it says here that God himself will wipe away every tear from their eyes.  The love of God could hardly be more vividly shown.  He longs to wipe the tears away from his suffering children.

Doubting Thomas Anonymous

John 20:24-30
Thomas gets a bad wrap..  Most have had some healthy skepticism before committing to something.  I hope you don’t believe everything you hear about God and the bible, or believe everything on TMZ.  Thomas didn’t.  Maybe somebody needs to start a new recovery group for doubters; you can call it “Doubting Thomas Anonymous”

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Out of Breath

John 20:19-23
Our story tonight finds our heroes behind locked doors shaking in fear.  Jesus was crucified that Friday and the disciples were distraught.  They had the wind knocked out of them.  They were shocked and confused and didn’t know where to go or what to do.  Jesus was their life for the last 3 years and now He was gone.  In the midst of their greatest fears, while feeling like failures for not standing with Jesus in His time of trial, Jesus comes to them.  He comes not with condemnation but with life and peace.  Because Jesus is alive, in a very tangible way you can be filled with life and peace with a renewed purpose.  Jesus doesn’t just say, “Peace be with you,” but he also blows the breath of life into his disciples.

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Running Down Hope

John 20:1-18
The disciples are in a despair that we can’t really imagine. They had quit their jobs and left their families for Jesus. They believed in him with all of their hearts and had sold out to be part of this Love rEVOLution that he was leading. They were ready to fight to the death to protect their Lord but Jesus wouldn’t let them. He turned the other cheek and gave himself over to be crucified. He suffered and he bled and he died on the cross and they didn’t understand why. But the gospel story doesn’t end with the disciples crying on the streets. The good news is that Jesus is alive and the impossible is possible when God’s at work.

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Atonement through Substitution

Jesus died for you.  Through the last week of Jesus’ life we see a man who was arrested in place of the disciples, went on trial in place of Peter, was convicted in place of Barabbas, and died on the cross in your place.  In other words:  Christ died for us while we were yet sinners, that proves God’s love towards us.  In the name of Jesus Christ you are forgiven.

Atonement through the Scapegoat

Jesus came to show us what love looks like.  He came to destroy the power of evil by disproving the system of scapegoating.  The crowds responded to God’s Son by making him the scapegoat and nailed him to a cross.  We are part of that crowd;  our sin nailed him there.  Yet Jesus’ response was love and forgiveness, turning the other cheek and returning good for evil.  This is true love.

Atonement through Suffering

To be human is to ask the question why do we suffer?  When someone is experiencing pain there is no argument or sermon that will convince them; only God coming from heaven and entering into their suffering would make a difference… And that is exactly what happened.  Rather than answering the riddle of suffering, the Gospel tells the story of a God who actually suffers with and for us.

Redeeming Sex Series

ThumbnailDiscover a holistic, biblical vision of sex and gender that honors God and offers good news to the world. In our sex-saturated culture filled with confusion & conflict, we are in desperate need for an honest conversation. Inspired by Deb Hirsch’ book, Redeeming Sex, we will engage in a no-holds-barred, biblical conversation around relationships, sexuality, gender, and spirituality

2/13/2016Song of Solomon 1:1-4a1 Corinthians 6:12-20Love, Sex, and RelationshipsJamey Lee
2/20/2016Gender & SexualityJamey Lee
2/27/2016John 8:1-11Spirituality and SexualityDeb Hirsche

Redeeming Love, Sex, & Relationships

Love can be a drug and chemistry can cloud our thinking.  But love is intended to be a verb and a beautiful engine for healthy relationships.  Sex is good… but in a different way than you might think.  The bible offers amazing wisdom on sex, love and relationships.  Tune in!

Reconciliation – Rehabilitation – Reciprocation

Memphis is plagued by 3 major problems:  racism, addiction, and poverty.  Jacob’s Well loves our city through a lens of faith and works towards Reconciliation, Rehabilitation, and Reciprocation.

Don’t gain the World

Unlimited money and power are offered to Jesus, but at a price.  Later he would say, “What would it profit you to gain the whole world but lose your soul?”  Jesus lived out of a different story than the world.  Power is made perfect in weakness and the path to peace is through suffering.  Down is the new up!

Don’t make the Jump

What does it mean to test God?  Testing God is when we haven’t prayed or planned and just jump expecting God to bail us out if we can’t fly.  Jesus is tempted to do this when he was asked to jump off the top of the temple so that the angelic rescue would be a testimony to God’s power. When we test God we hold Him hostage, put God in the role of servant, at the beck and call of us when we’re in a bind.  It’s when we make our belief in Him contingent upon this kind of demonstration that we’re testing God.  Join Jesus in trusting that God will take care of you and seeking  a life of faith where we are not in control but God is.

Don’t take the Bread

Our insatiable appetite for more will never be enough.   Jesus knew this and was prepared when tempted with turning stones into bread.  The big problem with sin and the reason we so ineffectively deal with it is because we don’t seriously engage the problem until it reaches the stage of behavior. We mistakenly think of sin as external when in reality it is a response from the position of our heart.  Jesus shows us how to quench our hunger through God’s word.  How can we be filled if not by McDonalds?  Listening to God, being obedient to the will of God, seeking 1st His Kingdom.

Don’t take the Bait – Intro

Matthew 4 tells an epic story of Jesus in the wilderness that teaches us about who we are and who we can become.  It’s about learning to resist temptation so that we don’t take the bait.  God’s will for us is to be made strong to handle ourselves during any situation.  For that to become a reality we must have adequate preparation.

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All I want for Christmas is Peace

In the midst of the anxiety and stress of the holidays the gospel promises us peace and commands us to rejoice.  Only through trusting in Jesus, the Prince of Peace can we unlearn the old ways of dealing and put on a new mind to see with a different set of eyes.

All I want for Christmas is Hope

Many of us have experienced dysfunctional holidays and have become jaded about all the Christmas cheer.  But the story of Jesus’ birth begins in the Wilderness where the word of God comes to John, giving us hope as we navigate through dry and weary lands.

Stickies: This too shall pass

 

Job’s riches quickly were lost.  But his sufferings finally come to an end as well.  The things of this world will eventually pass away.  Good things will pass, be grateful for what you have, love the one you’re with.  Bad things will pass.  Wait it out, our souls are meant for eternity.  The word of grace in Job is, “This too shall pass.”

Stickies: Let go let God

Job Couldn’t let go. He was under attack and was doing his best to stand strong. First he came under the attack of the devil but then he was attacked by his friends!  Often when we are attacked we resort to trying to have some kind of control. You can’t let go if you’re trying to control. God steps in to break the cycle and finally Job is satisfied.  His vision of God has been expanded beyond all previous bounds.  He has a new appreciation of the scope and harmony of God’s creation, where he is only a very small part.  He can’t even begin to imagine what it must be like to be God.

Stickies: Progress not Perfection

Job 4:3-9, 17-21 6:14, 24-30
When people in recovery talk about progress not perfection it doesn’t mean that people should not try to be the best they can be. But if we always aim for perfection we will consistently disappoint ourselves so maybe we ought to try shooting for something a little less ambitious.  If we can make an honest attempt at overcoming one character defect at a time by God’s grace we will be moving closer to perfection.  But if we knew that we had arrived, our pride for having done so would set us back again!  That’s why John Wesley said that anyone who was walking in Christian Perfection, did so unknowingly. The point is that by setting the more realistic goal of progress rather than perfection the individual is far more likely to achieve their aim.
 
Job 4:3-9 – Job’s friends believed that if you weren’t perfect, you got what was coming to you.  In chapter 4, Eliphaz begins by complementing and encouraging his friend, but then reminding him of what he “saw in his experience. . .that those who plant trouble. . . will harvest the same.”  This is truth, have you seen it happen in your life?  Any trouble farmers in the house?
Buddhists call it karma – Hindus say you going to come back as mosquitos – and Cypress Hill sing about it like, “What goes around comes around.”
But it’s not an always and every situation truth.  There are some trouble-planters who haven’t reaped their harvest, and some will not in this lifetime.  But apparently Eliphaz hadn’t seen that happen in his lifetime.  Well, he was either really sheltered or lying to prove a point.  But that’s his experience and it’s hard to argue with that.
You know what’s the problem of basing things for others from our personal experience?  Their experience is different!
When you start thinking you have to have good karma all the time and your primary goal is to become the master of your destiny thing you develop little dysfunction called perfectionism
 
Perfectionism put on to you by others
Perfectionism is developed as a result of feelings of inferiority or of being less than others. When a child experiences these feelings he develops perfectionism in order to maintain a sense of superiority over his friends and over his environment.
Perfectionism brought on by yourself
Perfectionism helps you to hide your defects from others. After all if you did everything perfectly then no one will dig behind that wall of perfectionism to unfold those well hidden defects.
Perfection given by Jesus
There is something deep within that longs for the perfect and the good news is that God has made a way when there is no way.  In the midst of our broken and messed up world came a child who grew into a man that was without any imperfections.
*God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
* But Job’s friends probably didn’t mean ill-will.  They just wanted Job to get right with God.  And we see in chapter 6 that they also know that sometimes the truth hurts.
Job 6:25 – Constructive Criticism vs. Condemning Comments
“Honest words can be painful, but what do your criticisms amount to?”  Constructive criticism is helpful, that’s not where we’re going with this, but condemning comments only bring you down.
Constructive Criticism or Critical Comments?  There’s a difference.  The hurtful truths that Job’s friends were spitting upon him weren’t true in his situation.  They were generally found in God’s truth but not for Job in his circumstances!
And being on the receiving end of those critical comments often is what helps to develop perfectionism
Problems with Perfectionism
You never know if it’s enough.  
– examples of perfectionist tendencies
– Job lists his accomplishments yet wisely offers it to God for judgment.  He knows of no sin worth this kind of punishment but ultimately leaves it up to God.
Constantly Disappointed
If your expectations are that perfection leads to reward, like Job life will disappoint you.
Unmet expectations often leads to relapse
You don’t get to Fail
Those people who are afraid to fail are unlikely to ever find much success in life. Their desire for perfection actually gets in the way of making progress. The benefits of facing failure in life include:
* Knowing what does not work can be almost as important as finding out what does work. It means that the individual can avoid these wrong paths in the future.
* It forces people to think outside the box and try new approaches. Most of the great innovations in the world have occurred as a result of failures.
* People tend to learn and grow more from their failures than their successes. This is because pain is sometimes more motivational than reward.
Gets in the way of Progress
If you’re sitting around waiting for the perfect situation to arrive, you’ll pass up a bunch of great opportunities!
Can lead to disillusionment, lack of fulfillment, and turn back to old behaviors.  Perfectionism is a big cause of relapse!
* It is vital that people have realistic expectations. Change does not occur over night, and it can sometimes feel to people as if they are going backwards.
* Keeping a recovery journal is a good option so that people can view their progress over time. It can be highly satisfying for people to read back on old entries in their journal to see how far they’ve come.
Job 4:17-21
Then Eliphaz shares what he heard from God, not just from his experience, “Can a mortal be innocent before God?  Can anyone be pure before the Creator?”
But Job’s response would have been that God’s desire is for His children to strive for purity according to God’s standards and that our life should be seeking to be right with our Creator.  Eliphaz despairs that humans die in ignorance, but Job fights for his right to ask God what He’s up to.  Even if there is no answer Job believes that he is right in asking.
Becoming pure is different than being perfect.  Purity comes when you extract the impurities out.

Stickies: Life on Life’s Terms

Job
“There once was a man named Job.”  This is how writers start parables and history books and biographies and we don’t know if it is fact or fiction.  But this we know, it could happen to the best of us and the worst of us.
Job is described as “blameless—a man of complete integrity.”  It’s important to realize this isn’t saying that Job was perfect, but that he was honest.  There’s a difference.  He gives burnt offerings for his kids who are far from perfect.  Burnt offerings are to make atonement for sin-guilt.  I met a lady on the streets Wednesday night that told me she still makes burnt offerings unto the Lord.  She said people get on to her for smoking cigarettes, but to her they are burnt offerings and that’s biblical.   Yet one of the big reasons Jesus came was to end all of our vain efforts to atone for our sin.
Jesus
Jesus died on the cross, once and for all, to pay for the sins of the world.  He is our atonement for sin and when we trust in Him we can find that forgiveness and blamelessness that Job was seeking.   Back to Job…
Job
“He feared God and stayed away from evil.”  Job didn’t just talk about what was evil and what was good, it says he literally “turned away from evil.”  Job was genuinely a good person.  It doesn’t help us understand this book by trying to explain away his goodness based on a theology of total depravity or the idea that we are all sinners.  Everyone in this book agrees that all are sinners, including Job himself.
Sin has consequences and our negative choices often lead to struggle and suffering.  But Job teaches us that not all who are struggling and suffering have sinned.
It is possible for sinful people to be genuinely good.  It might be rare, but it is possible for someone to love and obey God.  It requires a lot of grace and a lot of work, and Job had made the effort.
Jesus
There is only one man in the bible who surpasses Job in his goodness and his grief––Jesus.  He was not only blameless but sinless and endured the greatest agony of anyone in history.  In his perfection of obedience and suffering, the questions of Job and all of us have their final answer in Jesus.  Yet while Jesus and Job help us answer some of the deep questions of life, they raise others.  Isn’t it unjust for the innocent to suffer and the guilty be set free?
Justice
One of life’s oldest questions is “Why do bad things happen to good people.”  And that’s exactly what is happening in the story of Job.  To answer this sometimes we try to refute one of the parts of the question.  Like Job isn’t actually a good person, but we’ve already talked through that.  Others will argue that maybe these aren’t actually bad things that happen, maybe they will turn out for good.  Really?  It’s the violence of men alternating with the violence of nature and not only results in the destruction of everything he has, but the deaths of all of his family.  Somebody say, “That’s bad.”  Maybe, possibly, in theory something good can come out of it, but how does it make that right!?!?
And what makes it worse is that Job lives in a universe where God is ultimately in charge.  Job believes in a God who can stop natural disasters, who can reroute pirates, and can destroy cancer, but he didn’t do any of that here.  Job doesn’t think to curse the raiders, the watchmen, or even his stupid servants now laying dead for their watchlessness.  All secondary causes disappear and only the Prime Mover, the Lord who gives and takes away who stands in the spotlight.  This kind of tragedy is not as problematic for the polytheist, the dualist, the atheist, the naturalist, the fatalist, the materialist, or the agnostic.  These are still terrible atrocities, but they make sense to them.  But how can this make sense to someone who believes in a God who is both good and almighty?
This is what we will explore over the next 5 weeks.  Why do bad things happen to good people?  How can a good God allow tragedy and suffering at such magnitude?  Not problems we can solve tonight.  But there is a principle that I believe can help.  It’s become a cliche on the walls of rooms of recovery but before that it was something that helped Job make it through another day.  Accepting life on life’s terms.
Life’s Terms
Life’s terms don’t always include hardship and disaster.  Sometimes life’s terms have sunshine and roses.  But Job identifies the two terms we can bet our lives upon.
I came naked from my mother’s womb,
    and I will be naked when I leave.
You are born and you die.  You come out of your mother’s womb with nothing and that’s how you return to the ground.  Those are life’s terms.  What happens in between is what we call life.  Don’t waste your life.
“The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
Gratitude vs. Entitlement
Luke 12:15 – Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.
Life on God’s terms
The Lord as owner
There is great relief in being under a good landlord.  When something is broken, you can know it will be fixed.  If we need to move, we can work it out and not be responsible for the house after we’re gone.  The Landlord pays the taxes and insurance, is responsible if natural disaster hits, etc.  There comes great stress with home ownership.  But our problem in Memphis are the sleazy slumlords.  God is not a slumlord!
Job passes the first test.  Verse 22 says he doesn’t “charge God with wrong” or blame God for these things.
Job’s confidence in God’s blessedness goes beyond any other in the bible.  Eli watched his sons die at the hand of the Lord, but he knew of their wickedness.  King David grieved the death of his baby from Bathsheba, yet knew he was only a victim of his adultery and murder.  Job doesn’t have the satisfaction of knowing that he is paying for his sins, for he doesn’t have any, or at least done deserving punishments of such magnitude.
Back to how Job reacted to the news of his loss in v 20.  He responds in 3 ways.  He tears his robe, he shaves his head, and he worships God.  Tearing one’s robe was a customary reaction to receiving bad news or to show extreme shock and dismay.  Shaving one’s head was a practice of mourning, identifying the person has someone who is deeply sad.  And finally Job does something unexpected.  He worships.

When the Wine Runs Out

In John 2:1-12 Jesus graces a wedding at Cana and he showed up at the Tedesco wedding at Jacob’s Well.  The problem happens in the alcoholic’s life when the wine runs out.  What is the wine that you are seeking to fill that void within?  To begin the journey of fulfillment we would be good to follow the example of Mary and ask for knowledge of God’s will and the power to carry that out.

Bridging Spiritual Poverty

2 Corinthians 8:9  You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich.

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Bridging Jacob’s Well

Jacob’s Well celebrates 5 years with Bishop McAlilly

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Jesus Bridged the Gap for us

1 Corinthians 11:17-26

 

Dining Room vs. Foyer

 

btg images.001So what’s going on in this story and how does it relate to us today?  It’s pretty clear that the way they celebrated Holy Communion was a whole lot different than the way we do it.  They’re sitting around a dinner table in someone’s home—we gather around the Lord’s Table in our church-house.  Just in the last century, archaeological digs in the city of Corinth did a lot to explain the situation for us.  We’ve discovered that the typical Roman home highlighted with two spaces for guests—the dining room and the foyer.  The dining room could fit about nine people and usually your best buddies and close family were the ones invited to eat in there.  Another 30-40 could sit or stand in the foyer—where those of lower class and social status hung out and got the leftovers.  Like in airlines today, those with money and social status go to first class (dining room), while others are stuck in coach (foyer).  So what is going on in the church here is not at all out of the ordinary for their day in time.  In fact, to do anything else would be really weird. So why is St. Paul scolding the people so hard for just doing what their culture taught them is the right thing to do?

From Consuming to Receiving to Giving

btg images.002As I looked a little closer at the wording Paul chose to fuss at his people I think I understand.  In verse 19, The Greek word translated as, “to come together,” can mean “to assemble for a meeting, as well as “to be united.”  When the Corinthians come together as a church they paradoxically do not come together in unity and peace.  So the big sin here is the division—the gap between the rich and the poor, the haves and the have-nots.  As we read further, we see the root causing this division.  In v 21 we read, “Each of you takes his own supper” in the KJV and NASB.

btg images.003The Greek word here for take, prolambano actually has a stronger connotation of “devour” or “consume.”  So the original recipients of the letter heard their pastor saying, “Each of you is consuming and devouring your dinner—while your friends in the foyer are going hungry, you’re getting drunk!”  In v 18 Paul makes clear that the main problem is the division between the haves and the have-nots.  And the root issue behind this division seems to be the consumption and devouring going on in the dining room contrasted with those hanging out in the foyer who are hungry.  How have our lives been centered in the dining rooms, spending our time and resources on ourselves, our friends, and family who already have plenty?  How has the inner city been like the foyer where the people with less get our leftovers when we get around to it?

btg images.004Paul hears of this going on in his church in Corinth—that they are over-consuming, prolambano, at Communion.  So he reminds them of the purpose of Communion, to remember how Christ did the exact opposite of what they are doing.  Rather than taking and grasping for more, Christ gave of Himself—through broken body and shed blood— and calls us to do what He did.  Let me say that again.  The purpose of Communion is to remember how Christ gave of Himself and then for us to respond to this good news by being the Body of Christ in the world—redeemed by His blood.

btg images.005This is spelled out in vv 23-26 as Paul recalls the words of Jesus Himself as He instituted this holy meal.  Look with me at v 23—a word from that same root for consume pops up again, followed by it’s opposite—“For I received from the Lord that which I also gave to you.”  Prolambano – consume; Paralambano – receive.  These are from the same root but mean very different things.  When we consume and when we receive, we end up with the same final product, but we go about getting it in different ways.  When we consume we get it when we want it and we only have to rely on ourselves—when we consume, we’re in control.

btg images.006On the other hand, when we receive, we often have to wait; we rely on others and have to approach them humbly with hands out.  So when we receive Communion tonight, we’re going to do it a little differently.  Throughout our daily lives, many of us have been grabbing and devouring.  When you come forward to receive Communion, come with your hands open—Drew will place a piece of bread into your hands. Receive the body of Christ.

btg images.008Look at verse 23, “The Lord Jesus on the night in which He was given, took bread.”  Who gave Him?  Some say Judas, and so many translations read, “betrayed.”  But this Greek word (same as the one earlier in the verse) is very rarely used in that sense.  It usually just means “to give” or “deliver” or “hand over.”  So who gave Jesus over?  Was it Judas?  Yes.  But who else gave Jesus?  Think about John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son. . .”  This is the gospel, God gave His Son over to death for you and for me.  The class division in Corinth cannot be solved by trying harder or becoming more polite.  The way to bridge the gap between rich and poor is by the same way the gap between us and God was bridged—the gospel.  We cannot find true reconciliation by becoming more socially aware or through working hard to serve in the city.  To truly give, we must first receive.  For Paul to give the story of the Last Supper, he first had to receive it from the disciples.  For us to give of ourselves as Jesus calls us to, we must first receive God’s gift to us, life in Jesus.

 

Be God’s Gift

btg images.009And we pick up on the action in v 24.  “And when He had eucharisteo. . .when He had given thanks. . .”  Wait—eucharisteo?  That’s Communion, the Mass, the Lord’s Supper—eucharisteo. . . Eucharist. . .give thanks.  It’s what Jesus did in response to what God has done.  It’s what we are called to do in response to what Jesus did.  It’s why the Catholics call this the Eucharist—it’s why we call the liturgy the “Great Thanksgiving.”

 

btg images.010In Holy Communion we celebrate this gift and find our life-source in this gift. And central to the scriptures is being thankful for this gift.  God has given us Jesus—His body was broken and blood poured out on the cross so that we could have life.  So central to the scriptures is this command, “Be thankful” for this gift and live a life of gratitude and generosity for the gift God has given you.  The word eucharisteo is made up of basically two Greek roots: “eu,” which means good, and “charis,” which means grace or gift.  So to be thankful in the Greek literally means to be a good gift.  Be a Eucharist.  Read on with me in verse 24:btg images.011So Jesus “took a loaf of bread, and when He had eucharisteo (given thanks), He broke it and said, ‘This is My body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.’  In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood.  Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’  For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.”

btg images.012

God gives us Jesus whose body is broken and blood is poured so that we can have life.  And the command is for us to be Eucharist.btg images.013

This is the body of Christ, broken for you.  The first Christians called the church the “body of Christ” because we are to be for the world what Christ is to us.

btg images.014 We are to break             ourselves open and pour ourselves out so that others can receive life.  Some of you know exactly what this is.  You have given your life to somebody—you broke yourself open and poured yourself out—you served them, you listened to them.  When they were going through an addiction you walked with them the whole way through it.  When they broke through to the other side they said, “Thank you . . . I don’t know what I would have done without you.”  What was that?  It was a Eucharist.  You broke yourself open and poured yourself out so that someone else could have life.

Invitation

The good news is that we don’t have to already be there.  We don’t wait to come to the table when we have it all right.  Instead we come to the table very aware that we don’t have it all right.  But it’s not your mom or your husband or your teacher or your boss criticizing you.  No—the incredible thing about this sacrament is that it’s not my table—it’s not the table of the United Methodist Church.  This is Christ’s table.

Holy Communion shatters consumerism.  We consume to fill the huge need in us.  In Communion we’re called to give of ourselves to meet the huge need out there.  As we receive the bare elements of bread and cup, not even enough to fill us, the whole ideology of what we hear in all commercials is reversed.  We don’t deserve more; we are privileged to receive little.  Consumption takes on a new meaning.  We consume the body and blood of Christ and in response we offer ourselves for the world.  It is absurd to go from the communion table and continue our blatant consumption.

Swimming through Anger & Joy

Why is it that you’re so angry?  What is so important to you?  For Jonah it was about being right and doing what he wanted to do.  Yet his self-centeredness only led to deeper bitterness and resentment.  The temporary happiness of the shade tree revealed where his heart really was and God invites us into a new relationship where ultimate joy is real.

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Sink to Swim

The message of the world is  sink or swim, rise up or fall down.  The message of heaven is that we must sink in order to swim.  The king of Nineveh stepped down from his throne, took off his robes of manageability, and repented with a true faith and trust in a God he could not see and did not know.  God’s grace and mercy flowed through the streets of Nineveh and will in our lives when we learn to sink to swim.

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Breathing Underwater

Jonah’s wish to escape from life’s problems led him into the belly of a whale and it was here that he was finally ready to admit powerlessness and pray to the only One who can save.  It was through this surrender that Jonah learned how to breathe underwater.

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Hurled In

As Jonah fled from his problems he boarded a ship heading to Tarshish.  Scholars have sought to find this ancient city to no avail and Jonah couldn’t find it either.  Tarshish is the place in his and our dreams where all our troubles go away and everything is ok.  Jonah was woken up to the reality of a storm raging yet he kept trying to evade responsibility but finally was hurled into the sea.

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Running Away

Jonah’s mission at home is recounted in a few verses (2 Kings 14:23–27). It fixes Jonah in history, ministering during the long and successful reign of Jeroboam II, king of Israel. The striking feature of his task is the fact that he brings a positive message from the Lord at a time of national idolatry and immorality. Jeroboam II, like the many kings before him, led his people into sin and consequent misery. Yet the Lord sees their suffering and, with no one else to help them, steps in to give relief. Jonah is directed to prophesy that the country’s borders, which had been eaten away through repeated foreign incursions, would be restored. That is indeed what happened. No doubt Jonah’s popularity rose as he prophesied and soared off the graph as the prophecy was fulfilled.   The lesson to be learned from this particular incident is that the Lord has compassion on the undeserving. It is a lesson which is repeated throughout Jonah’s life. It had to be, since he was such a slow learner. He will learn it on a personal level (chapter 2). He will also learn it in relation to the wicked Ninevites (chapters 3 and 4).

We tend to run from pain and run to pleasure.  It’s how we’re running awaywired and each of us do it in different ways.  Maybe Jonah wasn’t running from God as much as he was running from the unpleasant thing God was calling him to do.  

Reality can be filled with suffering, loss, pain, and can be anxiety-producing, so we try to escape that reality.  We live in denial.  We avoid the problems that are rising around us.  We run.  How do you run?  How do you seek to avoid reality or escape from your problems?

Before we discuss what Jonah did, let’s talk about what he didn’t do.  He didn’t talk about it.  He isolated.  We distance ourselves from the problems that plague us.  This is at the root of addiction.  But drugs don’t have to be illegal substances. Love can be a drug, gambling can definitely be a drug, binge-watching Netflix can release as much serotonin as ecstasy if you’re not careful.  Alcohol  is a drug.  Overworking when the problem is at home, underworking when the problem is at work are all ways of distancing from the problem.  Sometimes we’ll even try to change geography to run away from our problems.  This was the story of Jonah. 

Jonah was running to Tarshish.  Commentators’ guesses about where it was range from just about every Mediterranean trading station known to scholars.  It’s not an invented place but it seems always just out of the reach of those studying the etymology and ancient geography.  Isaiah 66:19 lists it among the faraway places that have yet to hear God’s name.  Since he never got there it hardly matters now.  Of greater significance is the Tarshish of Jonah’s dreams—the place where he sought peace and fulfilment away from the presence and service of the Lord. In God’s grace he failed to arrive. The reality is that Tarshish—the place where you can forever escape your problems and doing what God wills—does not exist; it is only the place of disobedient dreams.

Enough about how we run and where we run.  What about why we run?  Jonah’s motive is hinted at in 4:2, because of God’s reputation for compassion and mercy.  Maybe fueled out of racial hatred that the people might repent and God might have mercy upon the Ninevites, rather than judgment.  Or maybe fueled by selfish motives, that after preaching judgment and God answers with mercy, he would be seen as a false prophet and burned at the stake. 

Jonah turned away from the God of the universe to worship the gods of comfort, control, and approval.  What would his fellow Israelites think if he did what God said to go to Ninevah?  It would be difficult and very stressful!  He would be very much out of his comfort zone and out of control, for what if they repented?  Jonah would have no part in this, so he thought.

Psalm 139But the reality is that we cannot effectively run from God.  Jonah should have known better.  He knew Psalm 139.  Do you?

When cows sense there is a storm coming from the west, they will run east, away from the storm. As we all know, cows are not the fastest animals in the kingdom and so the storms eventually catch up to the cows while they are still running east. The cows actually end up running WITH the storm and inevitably prolong the agony and pain of being in the storm.

Buffalos have a very different response to storms. They wait forcow vs buffalo the storm to crest over the Rocky Mountains and then they run west INTO the storm. By running towards the storm they run thru it and minimize the time they have to deal with the storm.

This is another way of the world’s mantra, “Sink or Swim.”  Don’t be like a cow or you’ll sink.  If you continue to run away from your problems they’ll eventually catch up with you.  But the problem is that not all of us can do the alternative.  Many of us are too overwhelmed and too tired to run through an approaching storm.  We aren’t buff like a buffalo.  So what can we do?  There’s good news in a different cattle metaphor that Jesus used. 

Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give yoke is easyyou rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and lowly in heart.  And you will find rest for your soul…

All things Right

“. . .trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will.”  The key to this line in the prayer is understanding the Kingdom of God.  It is one of the most popular topics of Jesus yet the least understood by his followers.  The kingdom takes time but also comes in a moment.  The Kingdom is like the wheat and the weeds that aren’t made right until the last day.  Yet the Kingdom is  like a man who sees the meaning of life and surrenders all of his plans and dreams to receive this great treasure.

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As Jesus Did

“Taking, as Jesus did, 
this sinful world as it is,
 not as I would have it.”  This world is a messed up, broken, sinful place and a key part of receiving Serenity is to learn to follow Jesus in accepting life on life’s terms and quitting attempts to control things that are out of our control.  The good news is that Jesus made it through the struggle and suffering to offer redemption and relief in the midst of our sin.

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Accepting Hardship as a Pathway to Peace

God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness, gold and silver are refined by fire, what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.  The story of Joseph in Genesis 37-41 tells how he grew up believing that ease and comfort was the pathway to peace yet how his life of privilege led to slavery and prison.  It was only through accepting hardship that Joseph found the pathway to peace. . . and so can you.

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Burned Out – Jesus the Unburnt One

Jesus knew that the fire within has to burn brighter than the fire without.  When the pressure was too much to handle, Jesus let go and let God.  When friends betrayed him Jesus knew who he could trust, when pain and suffering stood ahead of him, Jesus focused on the joy set before him.  Jesus beat burnout and so can you.  Through looking at his experience in Matthew 26:36-38 and teaching in John 15:5 we will explore how to light the fire within and find a balance of work and rest.

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Burned Out – John the Baptist Overachiever

John the Baptist is a classic over-achiever.  He didn’t just go on a diet, he only ate locusts and honey.  He didn’t just downsize to a smaller home, but moved to the desert.  Jesus talked about John as a “burning and shining light,” but even the greatest of oil lamps burn out when the fuel is exhausted. The good news is that Jesus continued where John left off and took the ministry far beyond where John could have ever taken it and so it is with us.  When we get to our end we can finally tap into the power of eternity.

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Presence – Unveiled Glory

We long to be free from pretending to be someone we’re not and putting forth an image to those we meet. These defenses and fronts are like a veil such as what Moses wore and like the tabernacle and temple would later have to keep people from the glory of God. Yet it is through beholding the face of Jesus that the image of God is restored in us and all things become clear. No more anxiety about what we need to do because we know who we are and Whose we are. We’re no longer ashamed of what we’ve done because we grasp the forgiveness of sins. We don’t try to hide our brokenness any more because we see the Healer for who he is. Glory unveiled brings transparency which allows the light of Christ to shine through.  “Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom.”
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Presence – I AMnesia

We forget the things about God that we need to remember and we remember the things in our lives that we need to forget.  Like Moses, we have I AMnesia.  If we can recapture the image of God, that image can be restored in us.  But how do we get there?  Moses got there by asking.  Show me Your glory.  We recover from our I AMnesia by entering into the presence of God.

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It

The presence of God. What is it? Where can it be found? How can we get it? In Exodus 33-34 God reveals his presence and Moses realizes he can’t live without it. Today some people have “it” and some people don’t. Some churches strive for and pray for “it” and some don’t. Do you have it? Did you lose it? Do you want it back?

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Golden – Alternate Endings

In Exodus 32:7-14 there is more than one possible future for God’s people.  And God invites us to be part of determining that future.  He invites us to pray and stand in the gap like Moses does.  He invites us to leave room for hope as we wait upon Him.  We don’t live in a world that is determined and fixed like a clockwork orange.  We don’t serve a God who who is closed and stuck, but a generous and merciful Father who invites a more hopeful ending to the story.

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Golden – Living like its Golden

How are you living?  What’s of value in your life?  What do you turn to when you’re sad, stressed, or disappointed?  What’s your Golden Calf? [mp3player width=700 height=420 config=golden.xml file=http://www.jacobswellmemphis.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/2015.04.11-Golden-Intro.mp3] Listen Later:  Download mp3 (Right-click and select “Download linked file as” or “Save file as”)

Easter Eve 2015 – Sneak Peak

“Sneak Peeks” build anticipation, increase intrigue, and give us a foretaste of what’s to come.  Moses gives us a sneak peek into Jesus, Exodus gives a sneak peek into Easter, and the first Easter sneak peeks into hope and fresh power into our life.  Here we study the throwbacks from Jesus on the mountaintop in Matthew 17:1-9  to Moses on the mountaintop in Exodus 24 and sneak peeks into the resurrection of Christ and resurrection power for us today.

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Tabernacle

We all live by a set of rules. When we rebel against one rule, we resort to following another. What if we rebelled against the rules of individualism and self-centeredness by submitting to community and commandments from a God who loves us more than we love ourselves?

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Old Testament Laws

We all live by a set of rules. When we rebel against one rule, we resort to following another. What if we rebelled against the rules of individualism and self-centeredness by submitting to community and commandments from a God who loves us more than we love ourselves?

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Fear and Distance

We all live by a set of rules. When we rebel against one rule, we resort to following another. What if we rebelled against the rules of individualism and self-centeredness by submitting to community and commandments from a God who loves us more than we love ourselves?

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Coveting

We all live by a set of rules. When we rebel against one rule, we resort to following another. What if we rebelled against the rules of individualism and self-centeredness by submitting to community and commandments from a God who loves us more than we love ourselves?

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Lying

We all live by a set of rules. When we rebel against one rule, we resort to following another. What if we rebelled against the rules of individualism and self-centeredness by submitting to community and commandments from a God who loves us more than we love ourselves?

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Stealing

We all live by a set of rules. When we rebel against one rule, we resort to following another. What if we rebelled against the rules of individualism and self-centeredness by submitting to community and commandments from a God who loves us more than we love ourselves?

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Lust & Adultery

We all live by a set of rules. When we rebel against one rule, we resort to following another. What if we rebelled against the rules of individualism and self-centeredness by submitting to community and commandments from a God who loves us more than we love ourselves?

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Anger & Murder

We all live by a set of rules. When we rebel against one rule, we resort to following another. What if we rebelled against the rules of individualism and self-centeredness by submitting to community and commandments from a God who loves us more than we love ourselves?

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Honor Mother & Father

We all live by a set of rules. When we rebel against one rule, we resort to following another. What if we rebelled against the rules of individualism and self-centeredness by submitting to community and commandments from a God who loves us more than we love ourselves?

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Sabbath

We all live by a set of rules. When we rebel against one rule, we resort to following another. What if we rebelled against the rules of individualism and self-centeredness by submitting to community and commandments from a God who loves us more than we love ourselves?

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Rebellion Rules – Name in Vain

We all live by a set of rules. When we rebel against one rule, we resort to following another. What if we rebelled against the rules of individualism and self-centeredness by submitting to community and commandments from a God who loves us more than we love ourselves?

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My Worship is not for sale

We all live by a set of rules. When we rebel against one rule, we resort to following another. What if we rebelled against the rules of individualism and self-centeredness by submitting to community and commandments from a God who loves us more than we love ourselves?

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Rules for the Rebellion – Intro

We all live by a set of rules. When we rebel against one rule, we resort to following another. What if we rebelled against the rules of individualism and self-centeredness by submitting to community and commandments from a God who loves us more than we love ourselves?

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Overworked

In the midst of our bitterness and resentment the gospel brings joy and reconciliation. As we seek to quench our hunger and thirst with earthly things that will never satisfy, the gospel of Jesus fulfills our every need. We overwork and burn out in our pursuit of purpose while the gospel gives rest to the weary and a yoke easy and light.

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Battle Weary

In the midst of our bitterness and resentment the gospel brings joy and reconciliation. As we seek to quench our hunger and thirst with earthly things that will never satisfy, the gospel of Jesus fulfills our every need. We overwork and burn out in our pursuit of purpose while the gospel gives rest to the weary and a yoke easy and light.
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Thirsty

In the midst of our doubt and skepticism the gospel brings faith through meeting our soul’s deepest needs.  Though we continue to test God, still our needs are provided for with great generosity and patience.

Quarreling with man & Testing God
Here in Exodus 17:1-16, for the 3rd time in 4 complaints they wonder whether Moses has brought them out to the wilderness to kill them, this time bringing the kids and cattle into the charge.  They are putting him on trial as evidenced by Moses’ fear that they will stone him.  But who are they really putting on trial?  Moses gets at this in v 2 when he asks why they’re complaining against him, but then reveals that what they are really doing is testing God.
 
What does it mean to test God?  In v 7, “Moses named the place Massah (which means “test”) and Meribah (which means “arguing”) because the people of Israel argued with Moses and tested the Lord by saying, “Is the Lord here with us or not?”  But asking this question is not testing God in and of itself.  It is when they ask this question and demand that God prove Himself by offering a concrete sign.  This is setting God up, trying to force God’s hand to find out whether He’s really there are not.  When we test God we hold Him hostage, put God in the role of servant, at the beck and call of us when we’re in a bind.  It’s when we make our belief in Him contingent upon this kind of demonstration that we’re testing God. 
 
Jesus is tempted to do this when he was in the desert with the devil.  He’s asked to jump off the top of the temple and when God sends his angels to rescue him it will be a testimony to God’s power.  
 
Why is it so tempting to put God to the test?  I think it goes to how we want someone or something else to blame for our problems.  We don’t want to be guilty so we find someone else responsible and we can always find a way that God has a part to play if we call upon Him to act in a certain way and He doesn’t.   
 
God is not done
The people are done with Moses and Moses is done with the people.  This comes out in the question, “What should I do with these people? They are ready to stone me!”  How does God answer?  Not in words, but in action God answers.  What should we do with these people?  Those who are trying to kill you, who are ungrateful, undeserving, forgetful, faithless people?  I’ll tell you what we’re going to do with these people.  We’re going to go meet their needs.  Come on, let’s go minister to them and provide their basic needs.  The people might be done.  Moses might be done.  But tell somebody, “God is not done!”  God’s not done with these people yet!  God’s not done with you yet!  Despite your unworthiness, even though you’re not grateful, God has not lost His patience!  God’s love is long-suffering.  
God comes through again and again
The story of Exodus is a period of an intense week followed by 40 years but you can read it in one sitting in just a couple of hours.  And if you do you see how faithful God is. The people are enslaved to the most powerful empire in the world and God faithfully and patiently works out his plan to set them free.  They get to a dead-end and are stuck between the Red Sea and an invading army and He comes through again and splits the sea and drowns the army.  Then they encounter a bitter pool and God makes it sweet, next they are hungry with no food in sight and God provides manna and quail.  Tell your neighbor, “God is faithful.” 
 
People doubt God again and again 
And so today they run into another problem – thirst.  They have no water.  This is a real problem, so how do they respond?  You would think with all of the ways God has provided and shown Himself to be faithful that their response would be like, “ok this is serious but so is God.  Everything is going to be ok because we serve a God who cares about us.  God delivered us from slavery to bring us to the Promised Land.  He has given us no reason to believe that we will be left to die in the desert.  There is no water in sight, but with God all things are possible.”  This would seem to be how the people would respond, right?  But it’s not how they respond.  Over and over again when the people of Israel run into a problem they doubt God and even curse Him.  The first time something goes wrong they doubt God and test Him.  Yet every time God comes through anyway, patiently loving His people and showing up when they are in need.  And they never give Him credit and when something else goes wrong they freak out.
 
They need to be liberated, He liberates them.  They need a way out of a problem, He solves it.  They need to be fed, He feeds them.  They are thirsty, He provides water!  God provides for His people every time they are in need, 45 times in a row but on the 46th time when it looks like they won’t have what they need how do they respond?  “Where is this God when we need Him, He’s never here!  You can’t trust this God, He always lets us down!”  When you read this you can’t help but think how stupid these guys are.  But hold on…
The story of Israel is the story of us
It’s like you’re walking through a friend’s house and see a terrible portrait on the wall and you wonder why anyone would have a picture of such an ugly person in their home. . . then you realize its a mirror. 
 
The story of Israel is the story of us.  We do the same thing that they are doing.

Why is it that when you read this story you aren’t worried?  Why is it that they keep freaking out and you are keeping calm?  Because you have a bird’s eye view and are able to see the big picture.  But when you’re actually in the story and not reading the story it is hard to tell.  When you’re in the details is when you encounter the devil.  Up here from the bird’s eye view, it is easy to see God’s love and care for us, but when you’re down on the ground it’s easy to forget God’s love and think He has left us and forsaken us.  
 
Our memories are flawed.  When someone criticizes you in a hurtful way, it stays in your memory 100 times longer than when someone complements you.  It happens when you fail at something.  You’ll remember that much longer than when you succeed at something.  And when we have an unanswered prayer, it sticks in 100 times longer than when God came through for us.  What God did for us 20 minutes ago feel like 20 years ago and when we prayed and heard nothing 20 years ago it feels like 20 minutes ago.  
 
Strike the Rock
“The whole point of and reason for this narrative is God’s provision for His people in the most unlikely of all the spots in that region, the top of a rock.”  If you’re looking for a well or where you can dig for water, you would never look on the top of the biggest rock you can find.  Yet God’s grace tends to flow from the rockiest hardest places.  In the desert, all other sources of water dry up and you have to turn to God.
 
When things are going well, you get your joy from that pretty girl, from that wonderful boss, from your big truck or your fast car, from your big house, or your well-behaved kids.  But each of these places is a shallow place to draw water.  They will always dry up.  The most wonderful wife will let you down, the greatest husband will disappoint you.   The mortgage on the most wonderful house will weigh you down.  The fastest car will break down or crash, and how many know that the most well-behaved kids will misbehave.  But when you are in the desert and your boss is on your back, your car is broke down and you don’t even have a house.  When your girl is nagging and man is lazy you can’t turn to those other things for your joy, so where are you going to turn?  Tell somebody, “Strike the rock.”  The rock of God has the living water that will never let you down.  

Hungry

In the midst of our bitterness and resentment the gospel brings joy and reconciliation. As we seek to quench our hunger and thirst with earthly things that will never satisfy, the gospel of Jesus fulfills our every need. We overwork and burn out in our pursuit of purpose while the gospel gives rest to the weary and a yoke easy and light.

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Exodus – Worship

This one victory sets the stage for all future victories. All of Israel’s future enemies between the sea in the promised land are as good as dead. These conflicts are already settled in Israel already has its land. The verbs used here or in the past tense although they will take place in the future. The cross does this for us. Because Jesus won the battle on the cross, the battle see your face in his name are already decided.

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Exodus – Deliverance

There is a time for prayer and a time to walk by faith.  A time to stay on your knees, and a time to rise up and walk out the answer to those prayers.  Now is the time.  The story of the Red Sea isn’t just to tell us what happened to the Hebrews a long time ago.  It is here to teach us as well.  The people are facing an impossible obstacle yet they are commanded to “Move Forward.”  I challenge you to find one place in the entire bible where people are seeking God and walking in His will and are told to retreat.  With God, there is always a way forward.

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Exodus – Desert Detour

God leads the Israelites the back way and they don’t understand why they wouldn’t just take the way everyone else goes.  God doesn’t change His mind but He will change the route.  And for reasons they didn’t understand at the time the people were led through a Desert Detour, through the wilderness toward the Red Sea.

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Exodus: Passover

There are many types or foreshadowing that happens in the OT about the NT.  Paul talks about Jesus as the 2nd Adam.  Peter talks about how Noah’s Ark as a means of salvation from water prefigures baptism.  One of the most vivid types in the Bible is the Passover.  What the cross is to Christians, the Passover is to the Jews.  And what celebrating Holy Communion is for followers of Jesus, celebrating Passover is for followers of the Law.

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Choosing Rock Bottom: Death

Pain is a big motivator for change but we have to decide when we’ve had enough discomfort to gain the courage to seek a solution. Hitting Bottom is a choice. We can get off the elevator at any floor we choose, or keep going down into destruction and death. The plagues in Ancient Egypt illustrate this downward journey and invite us into an amazing alternative. The good news of the gospel is that God’s love trumps human sin and through the tragedy and horror of the cross God made a way for us to be free from the insanity of slavery to sin and judgment.
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Choosing Rock Bottom: Pain Motivation

Pain is a big motivator for change but we have to decide when we’ve had enough discomfort to gain the courage to seek a solution. Hitting Bottom is a choice. We can get off the elevator at any floor we choose, or keep going down into destruction and death. The plagues in Ancient Egypt illustrate this downward journey and invite us into an amazing alternative. The good news of the gospel is that God’s love trumps human sin and through the tragedy and horror of the cross God made a way for us to be free from the insanity of slavery to sin and judgment.
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Choosing Rock Bottom: Warnings

Pain is a big motivator for change but we have to decide when we’ve had enough discomfort to gain the courage to seek a solution. Hitting Bottom is a choice. We can get off the elevator at any floor we choose, or keep going down into destruction and death. The plagues in Ancient Egypt illustrate this downward journey and invite us into an amazing alternative. The good news of the gospel is that God’s love trumps human sin and through the tragedy and horror of the cross God made a way for us to be free from the insanity of slavery to sin and judgment.
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Disobedient: Obstacles

Moses wants to do the right thing but always seems to find excuses on why total obedience isn’t necessary.  And so it is with us.  When we get a glimpse of who God is and the goodness of His plans for us, we are ready to obey.  But it is never that easy.  It may be simple, but its not easy.  There are always obstacles to being obedient.  Tonight we’re going to look at three:  1) Family History, 2) Points of Weakness, and 3) Hard-headedness

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Disobedient: Redeemed

 In Exodus 5:22-23 Moses asks, “Why did you ever send me?”  This question shows that Moses is in crisis with his call after his failure to convince Pharaoh and then the people’s groaning and suffering.  A return to basics is needed.  Moses needs reassurance and encouragement, but more than that he needs to commit to answer God’s call, which he has not explicitly done as of yet.

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Bridegroom of Blood

Moses is taken through the Refiners’ Fire on his journey to do God’s will. He moves from obedience to disobedience and back to obedience as he searches for another way, is reminded of his calling, and encounters and near-deadly test before arriving at his destination. Life is full of tests to refine us and call us to get on track with God’s good purposes. When we encounter these trials will we obey or disobey, trust in ourselves or trust in God? Moses has a mix of both and through it all finds himself stronger and ready to do what God called him to do.

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Disobedient: Bridegroom of Blood

Moses is taken through the Refiners’ Fire on his journey to do God’s will. He moves from obedience to disobedience and back to obedience as he searches for another way, is reminded of his calling, and encounters and near-deadly test before arriving at his destination. Life is full of tests to refine us and call us to get on track with God’s good purposes. When we encounter these trials will we obey or disobey, trust in ourselves or trust in God? Moses has a mix of both and through it all finds himself stronger and ready to do what God called him to do.

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Disobedient Intro

God lays out His perfect plan that is reliant upon Moses’ obedience.  Moses offers excuses instead and is led through a series of trials that test his trust, show God’s power to heal, and reveal the seriousness of rebellion.  God has a plan that is beautiful and perfect and if we obey Him we will experience blessing.  Our part is obedience, but we must leave the blessing up to God.

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Unmanageability of Moses: Moses’ Low Self-Worth

In Exodus 2:23-3:12, Gods ppl struggle under the bondage of their slavery and finally admit powerlessness as they cry out to God for help. In the meantime Moses hears God’s call but struggles with a different kind of powerlessness. Like many of us, Moses is enslaved to self-doubt and questions his worth as he seeks to find release from the chains of rejection and failure.

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Unmanageability of Moses: Moses’ Exodus

Moses’ was alone and at his bottom until he met a family who accepted him and loved him for who he was. He had been rejected by his Pharaoh family and never knew his Hebrew family and was probably filled with so much fear, guilt and shame for the things that he had done, that he packed up everything and made an Exodus to start over. His journey led him to a well. Wherever you are at, we invite you to join us at Jacob’s Well in Memphis to experience the freshness of Living Water as we embrace new life one day at a time.

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Unmanageability of Moses: Anger Issues

Moses is searching for identity, disillusioned with the Egyptians but not sure how to help the Hebrews. Feeling alone and under pressure, righteous anger and self-pity merge and spill out in violence.

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Unmanageability of Moses: Daddy Issues

Moses grew up without a dad in the house and ended up allowing his aggression and anger lead to murder. Today 85% of men in prison grew up without a father… While not every fatherless kid gets locked up, u can’t blame them for feeling unwanted and growing up with an inferiority complex trying to prove themselves. But the good news of the gospel is that as bad as we think we have it, it’s worse than we think, yet God’s power and plan to redeem and save us from our mess is greater than we can ever comprehend.

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Exodus: Stones, Midwives, & Justice

As the Israelites grew strong the Pharaoh was concerned about two things, rising up and making an escape.  These are what men are good at and it’s time for the males among us to stop escaping reality and start rising up against the injustice around us.  One thing the Pharaoh didn’t account for in his violent plans were the strength and resolve of women.  Our heroes practice civil disobedience as God makes nobodies into somebodies and overpowers the mightiest man on the planet.  Even the river as the intended means of death God uses as the means of salvation. [mp3player width=700 height=420 config=exodus.xml file=http://www.jacobswellmemphis.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/2014.06.28-Exodus-Be-a-Man-and-Fight-for-Justice.mp3]

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Exodus: Intro

It’s not easy to admit that I’m in bondage to something, but admitting powerlessness is the 1st step to the solution.  The 2nd book of the bible tells the story of the underdog nation of Hebrew slaves overcoming all odds to find freedom from the most powerful empire of that time, and it is also a story for us today. It’s a vision of our spiritual journey from our land of complacency and captivity into the Land God has for us on the other side of the Red Sea. The journey will not be without trial and tribulation, yet God shall provide manna and a cloud by day and fire by night. Freedom for God’s People!

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Soul Armor: Prayer

Prayer is more than the 7th piece of armor.  Salvation is your helmet and Faith is your shield, but Prayer is how you learn to get dressed.  You can have all the latest battle gear available, but if you don’t know how to put it on and use it in war then you are sunk.  So what it means to wear the whole armor of God is to be about prayer, that our whole life would be a great prayer to God expressed in lots of different ways through the highs and lows of life, not self-centered but outward focused, keeping in mind the needs of all the saints. [mp3player width=700 height=420 config=alienvsorphan.xml playlist=step-by-step.xml file=http://www.jacobswellmemphis.org/?p=2854]

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Soul Armor: Sword of the Spirit

Ready or not, we are in a battle and we need to pack a weapon.  Bring your faith, bring the Spirit, and bring the word of God.  Listen to Leslie Ratliff as he ministers at Jacob’s Well.

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Soul Armor: Helmet of Salvation

We need to wear a helmet to save our soul.  There is a big problem in the world and our lives called sin.  God has provided a solution in a Savior.  As we recognize Jesus as the Truth, our Righteousness, and the object of our Faith we are saved.

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Soul Armor: Shield of Faith

We shield ourselves with money, education, fashion, and anything else to mask our true selves and keep from getting hurt once again.  When we get to the end of ourselves a shield of faith is available through a trusting relationship with God, thereby protecting us against attack and providing potential for God’s plan.

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Soul Armor: Boots of Preparation

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The boots for our feet are the preparation that comes from the gospel of peace.  It is a preparation for the journey and the battle.  When the pressure mounts and life gets difficult, the gospel empowers us to face our fears and deal with life on life’s terms.  Get your boots on!

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Soul Armor: Breastplate of Righteousness

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To deal with the fact that we struggle with doing what is right we often lean towards being too loose with rule-bending or too tight in our rule-keeping while Jesus invites us to become righteous in a whole different way.  He changed the game to enable us to overcome sins and situations that are impossible when we repent, believe, and surrender.  The key is to explore the depths of the unrighteousness in our heart and trust Christ to make us new from the inside-out.

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Soul Armor: Belt of Truth

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What lies have you been falling for? The Lie of Security, that if I can can get more stuff and more money I will be fulfilled? The Lie of Acceptance, if I dress right & say the right things I will please others? The Lie of Control, if only people would do what I want them to do, then everything would be ok? Let us put on the belt of Truth in Jesus.

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The Gospel According to the Walking Dead: Easter

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The Gospel According to the Walking Dead: Ephesians 5

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The Gospel According to the Walking Dead: Ephesians 4b

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The Gospel According to the Walking Dead: Ephesians 4a

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The Gospel According to the Walking Dead: Ephesians 3

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The Gospel According to the Walking Dead: Ephesians 2

The popular show about the Zombie Apocalypse, “The Walking Dead,” parallels the Epistle to Ephesus (in the bible) with lessons about life surrendered to Jesus. For one, sin is like a flesh-eating virus that will leave us lifeless and still walking around wasting our days and taking down friends and family. The Gospel is life in the midst of death and victorious over death freeing us from the chains that enslave us and enemies that seek to destroy us.
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Called:?! Here I am, Send me

In Isaiah 6 the prophet hears the call as he sees the Lord sitting on his throne (it was right around King Uzziah’s death).  Sometimes something will have to die in our life and we have to get off our throne for us to hear God’s call.  What is holding you back?  Listen here for how your sin can be atoned and your life can be empowered to be all that God calls you to be.  Towards the end, people from our community share how God is calling them to answer God’s call.
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God Qualifies the Called:!?

God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called. Gideon is the least in his family & of the weakest clan. He’s from the wrong side of the tracks, grew up in the hood, how could God use him? Yet God doesn’t see his poverty but his potential. Gideon points out all the reasons he will be ineffective, insufficient, and incompetent, but the Lord believes that He is enough, that with all of his defects he can still have an affect, that God’s grace is sufficient!!!
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Called:?! Caller I.D.

Before finding out what and thinking about where, we need to reflect on who we are and who He is.  Otherwise we’ll get frustrated with all the wrong numbers.  1 Peter 2:9-10 reveals how we are called into an extended family extending God’s presence to the extensions of the earth.   The Jacob’s Well Community broke up into four teams around the mission fields of Recovery/Rehabs, Greenlaw Teenagers, Children of Memphis, and Nutbush Neighbors.  Each team present their ideas at the end of the message.

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Called:?! to Jesus

Genesis 12:1-9 tells the story of leaving home to pursue God’s call.  We are called to leave the past behind and seek God in the here and now.  J.D. Walt takes us through the whole bible from Abraham to the Prodigal Son as we listen for God’s call to Jesus.

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Serenity: One Day at a Time

Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as the pathway to peace.
Taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it.
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His will.
That I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with Him forever in the next.
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Serenity: Wisdom to know the difference

The fear the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  Fearing the Lord involves admitting that you are powerless and need a Power greater than yourself to restore you to sanity.  It is living with the reality that we don’t have it all together, we are broken and need of a healer.  Wisdom comes from accepting our limitations while foolishness is thinking that we are God and that we can do all things if we just put our minds to it.
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Serenity: Courage to Change the things I can

Courage to Change the things we can from Joshua 1:5-9: “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
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Serenity: Accept the things I cannot change

“Acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation — some fact of my life — unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.” – Big Book of AA, page 449
“Many of the problems we experience in ongoing recovery stem from an inability to accept ourselves on a deep level. . . Very often, we discover that we are harsh critics of ourselves, wallowing in self-loathing and self-rejection. . . The most effective means of achieving self-acceptance is through applying the 12 Steps of recovery. . . We no longer have to look for the approval of others because we are satisfied with being ourselves. . . Accepting ourselves as we are resolves the problem of expecting human perfection. When we accept ourselves, we can accept others into our lives, unconditionally, probably for the 1st time…” IP #19: “Self-Acceptance” published by NA
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Serenity: God, grant me the Serenity

In light of Philippians 4:4-7, Serenity is the coming together of Joy, Gentleness, and Peace.

God grant me the SERENITY to accept the things I cannot change,
COURAGE to change the things I can, and
WISDOM to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world
As it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
If I surrender to His Will;
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life
And supremely happy with Him
Forever and ever in the next.
Amen.

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Christmas Blues

Christmas stories are so nice: angels, stars, wise men, presents, baby Jesus, & fluffy sheep in the field with shepherds. But if we’re honest, it isn’t so warm and fuzzy for all of us. Christmas is actually really hard for some of us. Listen as we reflect on Matthew 2:13-23 as we journey through disappointment, adversity and recovery.
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Childlike Faith

This Saturday our kids and youth led the service and Kids Community Director, Christy Anderson shared the message on how to live with a childlike faith while growing up out of childishness.

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I Pity the Fool who is Overcome by Sin

Sin is a powerful and disruptive force that divides communities, destroys relationships, and can give you a headache, but God has a plan.  How do we overcome sin so that we do not become overcome by sin?  I think the answer has a little bit of Mr. Rogers and Mr. T.  We overcome sin with a combo of love and truth, mercy and justice.  Christ came in weakness yet lives in the power of God.  We must be gentle like Mr. Rogers with one another regarding our growth edges and lean into the mercy of God, but when the rubber hits the road and the ship hits the harbor we might need to be tough like Mr. T.  There are two options to deal with sin.  Examine yourselves or wait for 2-3 witnesses to confront your sin.  Look inside and take personal inventory and hold one another accountable.  Yet the goal is restoration, not condemnation.  In the end, lean on love, peace, grace, and holy kisses.

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I Pity the Fool who is a Burden

Paul ends the foolishness in 2 Corinthians 12:11-18 with a vow not to be a burden.  Many of us, when receiving help from others or in an unbalanced relationship, have felt the guilt and shame of burdening someone else with our problems.  But when we’re weighed down with burdens, its hard not to share the load!  Yet there is one who wants to bear our burdens so that others don’t have to.  When we give our burdens to Christ, we become light and free to love our family and neighbors without being a drain on them.

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I Pity the Fool who thinks Power is found in strength

Whether we use our muscles, our brains, or our beauty to gain power in this world, it will not stand in God’s Kingdom. Through suffering, struggle, and pain we will be strengthened through God’s Spirit. True power is made perfect in our weakness.

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I Pity the Fool who Boasts

The new guys in town are acting the fool by boasting and bragging about their accomplishments and Paul fights fire with fire, or foolishness with folly.  Since they’re acting the fool, Paul decides to play the fool.  Boasting about our wins when everyone sees our losses only confirms our foolishness. Bragging about our weakness when everyone only sees our strengths leads to humility and credibility.  When we exalt ourselves we shall be humbled, but when we humble ourselves we shall be exalted.  Down is the new up.

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I Pity the Fool who Cons their Neighbor

Tonight we look at II Corinthians 11 and find that the word around town is that Paul is a fool and they just have to put up with his foolishness like you do your drunk uncle. If you know St. Paul you know he’s not going to take this lying down, so he answers the fool with their folly. These so-called “super-apostles” were all about the benjamins and were trying to con the Corinthians away from Christ. Paul teaches his people to be on guard and how to keep from being conned by scheisters such as these. If we’re not careful, we too can be fooled by sheep in wolves’ clothing, Satan disguised as an angel of light. Whether it be a fake posing as homeless or a thief posing as church members, we need to fight against this foolishness. The bottom line of this passage is two-fold 1) Stop acting the fool and 2) Stop playing the fool.

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I pity the fool who brings a knife to a gunfight

Paul was being really nice in the first 9 chapters of 2 Corinthians, offering words of comfort and grace to his people, but in chapter 10 he starts to sound more like Mr. T than Mr. Rogers. But sometimes we need some Mr. T to toughen us up. Tonight we learn how the “weapons of our warfare” are best turned internally instead of externally. The battle that we have control over rages within between the flesh and spirit. The good news is that Jesus is our trainer and shows us how to humble ourselves as he exalts us.

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Give Cheerfully

If you have experienced the generosity of God, and want to respond by investing in the mission of Jacob’s Well and be an active part of the harvest of righteousness that God is bringing forth in Memphis, then I invite you to fill out a Pledge Card and give generously and cheerfully with high expectations of what God will do through your sacrifice.  It’s an invitation to live out what our money says, “In God we trust,” rather than putting our trust in the god of money.

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Give Generously

When you have been forgiven much, you love much.  When you grasp the grace of God, you aren’t so critical and judgmental towards others.  But you can’t get the grace of God until you meet the God of grace.  In 2 Corinthians 8, the Macedonians give an example for us all of giving sacrificially and generously.

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Crazy: Get Depressed

Depression is something that so many in our world today struggle with and is addressed powerfully in 2 Corinthians 7:2-16.  God will not leave the downcast cast down, yet while the body of Christ comforts the afflicted, we are also called to afflict the comfortable.  Sometimes tough love is just what we need to wake up out of the funk that we’re in and begin a new path.  But it’s a tough line to walk because something we say could be taken personally and lead to even deeper depression.  How will you respond?  Depression that leads to shame that leads to self condemnation leads to DEATH.  Sadness that leads to guilt that leads to Repentance leads to LIFE.  Open your heart and mind to another way and turn from that which causes so much grief to trade it in for life.

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Crazy: Get Separated

In order for us to experience reconciliation, sometimes there has to be some separation.  We need to get unyoked from the people, places, and things that keep us from all God created us to be.  This has led to some crazy Christians revolting against culture in an outside-in religion, but can serve as an invitation for us to understand the gospel inside-out as we reflect on 2 Corinthians 6:14 – 7:1.

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Crazy: Get Reconciled

There is hope for reconciliation of estranged relationships through a strategy of offense and defense, “weapons of righteousness in the right hand and the left.”  By confronting false ideas with the truth of the gospel and seeking to live into our lives with integrity, we can see God do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.  This all comes from the power-packed example of Paul in his efforts at reconciliation with the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 6:3-13.

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Crazy: Get a Fresh Start

When we get a fresh start with Jesus, our perspective changes and our lives  might look a little crazy to the rest of the world.  This new creation comes through seeing the light and separating light from the darkness.  The old is passed away and the new is come!

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Crazy: Get Crazy

They thought Paul was crazy, they thought Jesus was crazy, and when you wholeheartedly decide to give your will and life over to the care of God, they will think you’re crazy too.  But you’re in good company.  What is your response to Christ’s crazy love?  Will you sell your car and give the money away to the poor?  Will you quit your job/gang/school to seek God’s purposes?  God’s crazy love demands a crazy response.

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Transparent: Fading Tent, Renewing Light

As we become more and more transparent and honest with who we are, the light of Christ shines through and renews us day by day. Our momentary afflictions aren’t even comparable to the eternal weight of the glory to come. The Holy Spirit is the deposit and our death is the payoff.

[mp3player width=200 height=150 config=transparent.xml file=http://www.jacobswellmemphis.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/2013.08.31-Fading-Tent-Renewing-Light.mp3] August 31, 2013  –  Jamey Lee Listen Later:  Download mp3
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Transparent: Translucent Jars of Clay

Hardships and Difficulties bring pressure and stress.  Jars of clay are fragile and vulnerable, yet ones unearthed in Corinth were used as lamps.  With the light of Christ in us, the more fragile and thin our outer shell is, the brighter we shine in the darkness.

[mp3player width=200 height=150 config=transparent.xml file=http://www.jacobswellmemphis.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/2013.08.24-Transclucent-Jars-of-Clay.mp3] August 24, 2013  –  Jamey Lee Listen Later:  Download mp3
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Transparent: Drop the Mask

One of the biggest barriers to transparency and authenticity is wearing masks that block the light of the gospel. Religious people wear masks that veil the glory of the gospel. Satan puts up blinders to block the light from irreligious people. When we drop the mask and the blinders are lifted and come as we are before our merciful God, light floods forth and we are transformed into His image, becoming light-bearers to all still walking in darkness. [mp3player width=200 height=150 config=transparent.xml file=http://www.jacobswellmemphis.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/2013.08.17-Drop-the-Mask.mp3]
August 17, 2013 – Jamey Lee

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Transparent: Smelly Christians

When we are transparent with our lives, the good, bad, and ugly, we make an impact with the gospel. If only arguing doctrine, our words fall on deaf ears, but when sharing the messiness of our lives, we penetrate the nose with the aroma of Christ, for good, bad, or ugly. We are able to be transparent with the sins of our past because we are bound by a new covenant governed by the Spirit and grace, rather than the law and judgment. Our qualifications come from the lives of those we have influenced rather than a resume of accomplishments. [mp3player width=200 height=150 config=transparent.xml file=http://www.jacobswellmemphis.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/2013.08.10-Smelly-Christians.mp3]
August 10, 2013 – Jamey Lee

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Transparent: Believe the Best, Forgive the Worst

Transparency is the answer to gossip and criticism. The people of Corinth assumed the worst of Paul when he didn’t show up like he said, but hearing his side of the story reveals that he actually had their best in mind. When we believe the best in others until they lose our trust, our relationships are strengthened and grow by faith. When we discover that someone has wronged us or has sinned, no need to demonize the person, perhaps they just had a bad day or took out their frustration on us. Forgive others as we seek to be forgiven. Forgiving others and trusting that you will find forgiveness enables us to be transparent with our lives.
Transparent
Believe the Best – Forgive the Worst
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August 3, 2013 – Jamey Lee

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Transparent: I’m Fine

We tend to say that we are “fine” even when the world is falling down around us. We want to take care of ourselves and not ask for help. We’ve gotten into the habit of being fake! Being transparent is about being honest about our weaknesses and struggles and trusting that the God of all Comfort will give us what we need.

[mp3player width=200 height=150 config=transparent.xml file=http://www.jacobswellmemphis.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/2013.07.27.mp3] July 28, 2013  –  Jamey Lee Listen Later:  Download mp3(Right-click and select “Download linked file as” or “Save file as”)

Mission – Help > Connect > Ignite > Impact

[mp3player width=200 height=150 config=mission.xml file=http://www.jacobswellmemphis.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/2013.07.20-Mission.mp3] Jacob’s Well Mission
Help > Connect > Ignite > ImpactThis is how we have seen God move people as they enter Jacob’s Well and move towards making an impact on the church, city, and world.  Join in and find your place!

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Vision – Reconciliation, Rehabilitation, Reciprocation

[mp3player width=200 height=150 config=vision.xml file=http://www.jacobswellmemphis.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/2013.07.20-Vision.mp3] Jacob’s Well Vision
Reconciliation, Rehabilitation, ReciprocationA vision for Memphis from John 4 and looking a couple of years into the future, followed by a response from various people active at the Well.

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Values – T.O.U.C.H.E.D.

Jacob’s Well Values
T.O.U.C.H.E.D.At Jacob’s Well, this is what we highly value:
Transparency
Others-focused
Unconditional Acceptance
Community Development
Hope
Empowerment
Diversity

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Jacob: Make a Change

Jacob returns home & comes full circle as he buries his idols, faces death, and rises victorious as a world-changer and history-maker. Learn how to truly change and embrace the new creation within by getting in touch with the Higher Power without.

[mp3player width=200 height=150 config=fmp_jw_widget_config.xml file=http://www.jacobswellmemphis.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/2013.07.13.mp3] July 13, 2013  –  Jamey Lee Listen Later:  Download mp3
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Jacob: Break the Cycle

The rape of Dinah and circumcision and slaughter of a village by Jacob’s redneck sons illustrates the cycles of pain and sin that many struggle with today.  The good news is that we can Break the Cycle and live differently because of God’s love and grace in Jesus Christ.

[mp3player width=200 height=150 config=fmp_jw_widget_config.xml file=http://www.jacobswellmemphis.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/2013.07.06.mp3] July 6, 2013  –  Jamey Lee Listen Later:  Download mp3
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Jacob: Reconciliation

Reconciliation is all about relationships. So many long for restoration between family members, friends, and God from whom we have become estranged. In Jacob’s search for God knows what he has learned how to make amends and found reconciliation with God as he seeks to reconcile with his brother.

[mp3player width=200 height=150 config=fmp_jw_widget_config.xml file=http://www.jacobswellmemphis.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/2013.06.29.mp3] June 29, 2013  –  Jamey Lee Listen Later:  Download mp3
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Jacob: Fighting for Identity

Bible doesn’t say why Jacob woke up in the middle of the night. But there are some things you have to do alone; there are some battles that other people cannot fight for you. Yet Jacob finds that we are never alone. And before Jacob faces his greatest fear, he gets jumped by Jesus and fights with him all night. Through this he is toughened up, gets a new start, and finally finds the identity that he has been searching for.

[mp3player width=200 height=150 config=fmp_jw_widget_config.xml file=http://www.jacobswellmemphis.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/2013.06.22.mp3] June 22, 2013  –  Jamey Lee Listen Later:  Download mp3
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Jacob: Brotherly Fear

Jacob has been away for about 20 years and is not the same little coward that he was when he left.  When he ran away from home for fear of his brother he had nothing but God’s blessing and a walking stick.  Now he is loaded with money, livestock, and women.  Yet he is no match for big bad Esau and his 400 man army.  Jacob seeks to make amends and prays one of the most beautiful and powerful prayers in the bible.


June 8, 2013  –  Jamey Lee
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Jacob: Taking Inventory

Jacob leaves his father-in-law’s land and begins the long journey home.  But this time is is not trying to escape and driven by fear or insecurity.  This time he is being led by God’s word.  But before he leaves, he has to convince his wives, and too often, marriage relationships get enmeshed with parental relationships to form a triangle.  Thankfully they follow their man and their God and depart together.  But Laban finds out what is going on and catches up to confront Jacob.  Through a self-centered and delusional lens, Laban speaks about being a victim and justifies himself strongly.  Jacob, on the other hand honestly admits his fear and seeks reconciliation.  Obviously he has done a searching and fearless moral inventory, but Laban wants to do an inventory of his own on Jacob’s camp, looking for his missing idol.  When we are honest and thorough as we search throughout our relationships, leaving no rock unturned, we might find an idol or two as well.  The story ends with covenant and peace.

[mp3player width=200 height=150 config=fmp_jw_widget_config.xml file=http://www.jacobswellmemphis.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/2013.06.08.mp3] June 8, 2013  –  Jamey Lee Listen Later:  Download mp3
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Jacob: Moving On

Jacob has been raising his family and working hard for like 20 years and basically has nothing to show for it.  This time its not because of bad choices on his part, but because of the greed and selfishness of his father-in-law Laban.  And here we find Jacob in a spot where he realizes that it’s time to move on.  But he didn’t just walk out in anger or make an emotional decision in the moment.  Jacob had a plan, that was banking on God’s favor and provision.  Jacob created a win-win scenario for Laban where he could keep all the pure-bred, homogenous livestock, and Jacob would take the mutts, the ones that nobody else wants.  And yet in the next breeding seasons Jacob discovered the power in the recessive gene.  He didn’t understand the science behind it, but he trusted the God behind the science.  And over the next season, Jacob prospered and prepared for his next steps.

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Jacob: What’s love got to do with it

Jacob has gotten married to not one, but two wives, and now gets involves with two more “servant-wives.”  Just because something is in the bible does not mean you should try this at home!  Leslie Ratliff delivers a powerful message on love as Jacob continues to search for God knows what.

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Jacob: Working for Rachel

Jacob’s life was in shambles when he met Rachel, the woman of his dreams.  He had lost his family and his inheritance and was filled with so much guilt and shame for the things that he had done, that he packed up everything and moved across the Fertile Crescent where he hoped at least to survive. But when he met Rachel, bread, water, and shelter were not enough. Rachel was not justJacob’s wife, but his savior.  He wanted and needed Rachel so profoundly that he heard and saw only the things he wanted to hear and see.  Jacob wasn’t just a husband, but the answer to all of her problems.   We learn that through all of life there runs a universal theme of disappointment.  You and I will never experience life in the Spirit until you understand that–it’s the essence of the first step.  Jacob believed, “If I can just get Rachel, everything will be ok.”     And he goes to be with the one who he thinks is Rachel, and literally, the Hebrew says, “in the morning, behold, it was Leah” (v. 25).  No matter what counterfeit god we put our hopes in, in the morning, it is always Leah, never Rachel.  And when we put our hope in lesser things they will always let us down.

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Jacob: Jacob’s Ladder

Jacob has a dream about the gateway between heaven and earth.  He is struck with fear and rather than pursue his destiny, he continues to distance himself from God with conditional promises.  He has spent his whole life grasping after the blessing and is invited to be the blessing, and so are we.

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Jacob: People-pleasing

“Can children be conditioned to be codependent? Clearly, yes. In the Bible, Rebekah shows a blatant bias toward her second-born son, Jacob, because he stays close to hearth and home. Meanwhile, Isaac favors his firstborn son, Esau, because he has prowess in hunting.

Since no two children have identical skills, all children should be recognized for their differences and respected for their distinctiveness. Oh, but Rebekah does not love in this way! She becomes obsessed. Thus, the conniving begins. Rebekah wants Jacob to receive “the birthright of the firstborn” (which unquestionably belongs to Esau). She becomes determined to deceive her husband so that he will give it to Jacob. Because of the enmeshed relationship between Rebekah and Jacob, she finds it easy to persuade her son to defraud his father. She plots. . . . She schemes. . . . She secretly plans. Rebekah coaches Jacob to cover his hands with the skin of a young goat so that they will feel like the hands of his brother. She even dresses Jacob in Esau’s clothes. Because of old age and weak eyes, father Isaac is fooled. Although the scheme is a success, Jacob is found out and flees for his life.

But alas, he does not escape his passive dependency. All too soon, he again becomes manipulated by others. His father-in-law and his own two wives are crafty and cunning. Meanwhile, he feels conned and controlled. Such is the misery in adulthood when one is enmeshed in childhood.”

From “Moving from Bondage to Balance” by June Hunt

 

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Jacob: Ripped Off

In Genesis 27:30-40 Esau shows up and realizes he’s been ripped off. He feels mistreated, taken advantage of, cheated out of the blessing that was rightfully his. Esau constantly feels like he’s missing out and ends up doing more whining and complaining than making any positive changes in his life. In doing so, Esau misses out on life and the blessings of each day. His fixation on his brother and who is ahead in the rat race causes him to miss the joy of the run.

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Jacob: Blessing Jacob

Jacob has felt robbed his whole life of blessing.  He’s watched Esau get the attaboy’s from his dad, succeed in sports in hunting, in manly things, while he sat at home and watched cooking shows.  Jacob probably felt pretty worthless sometimes.  He longed for approval from his father that he never received, so he took matters in his own hands.  With his mom, he devised a plan to steal the blessing that he longed for.  He manipulated, deceived, and helped himself to the blessing that was not rightfully his.  From Genesis 27:1-29

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Jacob: Comfort & Power

When Esau came in from hunting he was exhausted, famished, and vulnerable. When we have no margin, haven’t gotten enough rest, and are on edge, we are more prone to sin. We are more apt to turn to fill a desire of the flesh or be manipulated and taken advantage of by others. So get some rest and have some fun in the name of Jesus!  This and more in our story of Jacob from Genesis 25:29-34.

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Jacob: Intro

Whether you love him or hate him, I think we can all see at least a little of ourselves in Jacob.  Coming from behind, the prototypical underdog, even with his deceit and trickery, we might be able to identify.  Whether we’re seeking approval from our father, constantly trying to have a leg up on our sibling, letting love blind us, or revenge drive us, we’ve got some Jacob in each of us.  Maybe at the heart of Jacob’s pursuit after Esau and retreat from God’s call is fear, a fear that of not adding up, the fear of insignificance, the fear of being number two.  Listen to this message and join us on Saturday nights to engage with the stories of Jacob.

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Step by Step: Step 12

The first nine steps are all about reforming and rehabbing our lives in order to walk in the Spirit.  Steps 10-11 show us how to maintain the new life that comes as a result of committing one’s life and will to God.  The final step 12 is about giving away what we have received.  If you have worked the steps with honesty and thoroughness, you have witnessed the fruit of the Spirit born in your life:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”  This is good stuff!  Too good to keep to ourselves.  We have it to share it.  The spiritual life that comes as the result of the steps is too good not to share.  This is at the heart of what we’re about at Jacob’s Well.  We call it reciprocation.Step 12:

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Step by Step: Steps 10-11 Lee

Steps 10 & 11 show us how to do what’s under your control so that you can do what’s not under your control. It’s like playing sports or music. Gameday doesn’t happen without day after day of practice. Yet somehow we think spirituality just happens by osmosis. Steps 10 and 11 offer a game plan to practice so that when the hour of temptation strikes we are ready and equipped to win.

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Step by Step: Steps 10-11 Kilzer

John Kilzer, leader and pastor of the Way, at St. John UMC in Midtown, shared on Step 10 and unceasing prayer at Jacob’s Well.

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Click here to listen to an original song by John Kilzer.

You can listen to and purchase more of Kilzer’s music here:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/john-kilzer/id663508

Step by Step: Steps 8 & 9

Our message on Steps 8 & 9 come from Genesis 4 and the the story of Cain and Abel. Maybe Cain never felt like what he offered was good enough. He always compared himself to his little brother and felt like he didn’t add up. Then God showed favor on Abel’s offering and this threatened Cain’s identity in a major way. All he wanted was to be accepted, is that such a bad thing? But he was rejected and Cain didn’t deal so well with rejection. In Cain’s mind he may have thought he only had two options, either radically readjust his identity or eliminate Abel. It was too much for him and found him on a bad day. Sadly, Cain decided that Abel could no longer continue to exist. Cain murdered Abel because he fell prey to what he could not master.

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Step by Step: Steps 6 & 7

Step 6:  Were Entirely Ready to Have God Remove All These Defects of Character.
Step 7:   Humbly Asked Him to Removed Our Shortcomings.

When we get ready for God to remove our character defects and ask Him to free us from sin, we are lining ourselves up with God’s law and the way things were meant to be.  We can’t break the laws of the universe, but we can break ourselves on them.  Because we’ve used our freedom as an opportunity for the flesh for so long, we’ve made a mess of our lives.  We like to find out how to live the hard way.  We’ve tried to find an easier, softer way but we could not.  Now at the crossroads we are ready to try it God’s way.  And soon we’ll find that freedom in Christ is more glorious than we could ever have imagined.

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Step by Step: Step 3

As humans, we find ways to deal with life and what it throws at us. If things aren’t going our way, we try to control things, or at least do things to make us feel like we’re in control. Jesus spoke to the essence of Step 3 when He said in Mark 14:36, “”Abba, Father, everything is possible for You. Take this cup from Me. Yet not what I will, but what You will.”  We have to  let go and let God.

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Step by Step: Step 2

In this sermon Dr. Maxie Dunnam preaches on Step 2, the time when we must come to believe in a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

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Step by Step: Step 1

Step 1:  We admitted that we were powerless, that our lives had become unmanageable.

The first step to begin walking in the Spirit is to admit that we are not in control. . .that we are powerless and not the ultimate manager of our lives. Tonight we reflect on how Adam and Eve’s grasp for power led to their Fall. Like Adam and Eve, we cover ourselves up by justifying our actions or judging others who seem to be worse off than us. Through these self-deceiving practices we come to believe that we are all-powerful. The good news is that God is in control and when we become vulnerable and let go, we discover a Power far greater than ourselves.

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Step by Step- Introduction: Desires & Deep Needs

In Step by Step we won’t dwell on the problem as much as the solution.  We’re not concerned about what we keep turning to as much as why you keeping turning to it.  We believe that all of these things that form anonymous programs, alcohol, drugs, relationships, are just symptoms of a deeper problem.  And when we get to the source, to the root of our problems, then we can find true freedom.

[mp3player width=200 height=150 config=stepbystep_widget_config-xml.xml file=http://www.jacobswellmemphis.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/2013.01.05-Step-by-Step.Intro_.mp3] Read:  Download PDF
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Christmas Reciprocation- Recipollution vs Reciprocation

Mary’s Song, the Magnifat, has been ranked among the greatest poems ever written, a reciprocation of God’s might & mercy. The mighty will fall and the weak shall be lifted up all through a God who shows mercy to the humble and justice to oppressors. How can we reciprocate by showing mercy to the lowly and fighting against oppression and injustice?

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Christmas Reciprocation- Blessed to Be a Blessing

When you hear good news, you have to share it.  Mary journeys to see her cousin Elizabeth and they share stories of how God is at work and are encouraged by one another.  We are blessed to be a blessing and our serving is reciprocal.

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Christmas Reciprocation- Impossible Empowerment

When we are driven by guilt, obligation, or trying to please others, we get burned out and are limited by our own negative feelings. When God motivates us to serve Him in response to His goodness and grace, the possibilities are endless.

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Ruth- Cost-Benefit Analysis

This Week’s Passage: Ruth 4:1-12

Naomi’s closest relative in town considers the proposition to take on the field and see’s it as a win-win, until Ruth is brought into the picture, then determines that he will lose more than he’ll gain. The selfless and loving motivations of Boaz stand in stark contrast. Rather than looking at costs and benefits, he acts out of law and love. What is your lens to making decisions, a self-centered cost-benefit analysis or a commitment to turn your will and life over to the care of God?

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Ruth- Love Wins

This Week’s Passage: Ruth 3

Naomi devises a plan for the young, attractive Ruth to marry the older, distinguished Boaz. The risky and bold plan consists of creating a sexually-charged environment and relying on Bo’s integrity and love to win in the end. And in the end, love does win. Like Yahweh does for Israel, Boaz sweeps Ruth under the shelter of his wings, not as in a porno, but a beautiful story of redemption. Bo is an image of Christ, our redeemer and bridegroom. What risky and bold plan will you concoct to find shelter under the wings of the Most High? How can you take a leap of faith into your bridegroom’s loving arms?

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Ruth- Bo Knows

This Week’s Passage: Ruth 2

Naomi in utter despair and Ruth who has nothing, yet gives away everything are a couple that appear to be ready for the grave, yet from God’s perspective are ripe for harvest. By “chance” Ruth meets Bo and everything suddenly changes as he is as extravagantly generous with her as she has been with Naomi. In our lives, when things look like they can’t get any worse is when great miracles often happen. Even though we don’t see it, God works through the circumstances of our lives and is extravagantly generous with his faithful.

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Ruth- Where You Go, I’ll Go

This Week’s Passage: Ruth 1:6-22

When the women get to the dead end of where they were headed, they must turn around and begin the return journey. But which home will they return, Moab or Judah? Ruth surprisingly clings to Naomi and turns to her God, her people, and her land. Ruth surprisingly acts like Naomi’s God in her selflessness, faithfulness, and love while Naomi reacts to their circumstances with bitterness and despair. When hard times hit, will we turn back to idols or our Father in heaven? Will we seek to serve others worse off than us, or throw ourselves a pity party? God’s faithful love invites us into relationship with Him and God’s faithful people invite us into relationship with others.

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Down is the New Up: Jesus kept going Up

Looking to heaven we see Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, exalted King of kings and Lord of lords. Trust that God is in control and that he is good and is coming to put his hand on your shoulder to encourage you, to comfort you, to speak to you and reveal to you that down is the new up.

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Down is the New Up: Two Sons

The story of the Prodigal in Luke 15 which shows us two ways to try to get high in life. One is the way of the younger son, seeking happiness and fulfillment through immorality, breaking all the rules and doing whatever you want. The way of the older son is also seeking happiness and fulfillment, but through a different approach, following all of the rules and getting high on the attaboys and feelings of accomplishment from doing what’s right.

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Down is the New Up: Jesus’ Lowerarchy

Maslow’s Hierarchy is about the gravity of the earth, what comes up must come down. Psychology 101 says that all people must climb up the pyramid to get to the top of life, “self-actualization.” In reality, pursuing satisfaction in worldly things only leads to emptiness and longing for more…

Jesus’ pyramid is flipped upside-down. We follow Jesus down providing for the needs of others, rescuing victims of violence and abuse, accepting others as they are in relationships across racial and economic lines, building respect and confidence in our neighbors living in poverty, and denying ourselves as we seek to carry the cross.

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Down is the New Up: 1st & 2nd Adam

‎”There are only two stories, the story of Adam and the story of Jesus. The story of Adam, symbolized by ^ is the story of self-will, one who climbs up only to fall down. The story of Christ is symbolized by v and is the story of God’s will, a descent into our messiness and sin and a surprising ascent into heaven. . . Adam tells the story of the failure of trust, the failure of obedience and the failure of love. . . Jesus tells a story of perfect trust, perfect obedience and perfect love. Our journey leads us out of the broken story of Adam and into the unparalleled story of Jesus.” – 2010 Spring Reader of Asbury Theological Seminary, edited by JD Walt.

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Down is the New Up: The Gravity of Heaven

The gravity of earth says that what goes up, must come down. The gravity of heaven, proved in the resurrection, is the good news that what goes down, must come up.

God has spent the history of the world coming down into our messiness to show us his love and transform us into the kind of people who go down into the mess of others to love them.

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Judgmental – Arrogance & Anxiety

James 4:11-17  Being judgmental is tied to arrogance and anxiety.  Who do we think we are as human beings?  We take on the role of God and think we know what’s best for our neighbors when we have trouble managing our own lives.  We think we know the future when most of us have enough trouble getting through the day.

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Judgmental – Root of Our Issues

James gets to the root of our issues by helping us to look at the desires that lead to many of our struggles.  While we too often spend our lives running from our problems, James gives the good news that when we resist the devil, he will flee.  What power there is in the name of Christ!  Resisting comes by humbling ourselves, admitting our powerlessness, and submitting and surrendering to God.

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James 4:1-10

Judgmental – Wisdom

Wisdom is more street smarts than book smart, more revelation than information.  Wisdom takes an idea and applies it to life.  Worldly wisdom teaches us to rely on ambition and jealousy to get ahead and then to cover up with lies and boasting when we get behind.  Spiritual wisdom offers a different way that leads to a pure heart, yielding to others, and other upside-down ways of living.  Listen to James 3:13-18 and get wise.

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Judgmental – Controlling the Tongue

Our words hold the power of life and death, so James teaches to tame your tongue.  Our tongue can bring large harm through destructive means such as gossip and anger.  Yet rather than bite our tongue, the gospel teaches us to give our hearts to Christ and discover an inside-out spirituality.  As our hearts are transformed, our words follow suit.

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Dead Faith: Prejudice & Profiling

Discrimination, racism, and economic profiling are building walls between people in the city of Memphis and our churches.  James the Just offers timely wisdom to transform our prejudice to reconciliation in this weekend’s passage,  James 2:1-13.  Listen and be inspired by the axioms of Jesus:  The First will be Last and the Last will be First and Love your Neighbor as Yourself.

[mp3player width=200 height=150 config=faithwithoutworks.xml file=http://www.jacobswellmemphis.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Faith-Without-Works-is-Dead_-Prejudice-Profiling.mp3]March 24, 2013  –  Jamey Lee Faith without Works is Dead
Prejudice & Profiling  –   James 2:1-13

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Dead Faith: Joy through Troubles

James 1:1-11  Nobody’s seen the troubles I’ve seen but James… yet he sees them as filled with joy!  Listen as we explore James 1:1-11 and the amazing wisdom of Jesus upside-down kingdom to give a different prospective on the troubles that plague our lives and our city.

[mp3player width=200 height=150 config=faithwithoutworks.xml file=http://www.jacobswellmemphis.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Faith-Without-Works-is-Dead_-Joy-through-Troubles.mp3] March 3, 2013  –  Jamey Lee RSSSubscribe

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When Helping Hurts, Poverty: Tough Love & Extravagant Mercy

When we’ve lived a tough life we need tough love to move forward. At the same time we need to experience the extravagant mercy of Christ in one another. The story of Hosea and Gomer brings together a tough love with consequences leading to a bottom, and the extravagant mercy that forgives great sin.

[mp3player width=200 height=150 config=helpinghurtspoverty.xml file=http://www.jacobswellmemphis.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Tough-Love-Extravagant-Mercy.mp3] Feb 18, 2012  –  Jamey Lee RSSSubscribe
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When Helping Hurts, Poverty: Fighting Poverty without Hurting the Poor

Helping someone in trouble is generally a good thing to do, but how we help can actually do more harm than good in helping someone get back on their feet. When we communicate they are helpless without us, fail to empower our neighbors to connect to resources to grow towards sustainable living, or expect them to get by without work, housing, and good health, we hurt more than help.

[mp3player width=200 height=150 config=helpinghurtspoverty.xml file=http://www.jacobswellmemphis.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/When-Helping-Hurts_-Fighting-Poverty-without-Hurting-the-Poor.mp3]Feb 18, 2012  –  Jamey Lee RSSSubscribe
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When Helping Hurts, Codependency: Enabling Jeroboam

Helping hurts when it enables someone to continue in their dysfunction. Helping helps when it gives someone the boost they need to move forward into freedom and serenity. King Jeroboam made deceit a regular practice during his reign over Israel. As his son was lying on his deathbed, Jeroboam asked his codependent wife to deceive the prophet Abijah by disguising herself. The result of their sin was the destruction of their family. We often cause our spouse to participate in our dependency by consciously or unconsciously asking for his or her help in some way. Jeroboam’s wife should have confronted Jeroboam about his sinful ways. Instead, she enabled his sin, and the results were destructive. A spouse’s confrontation, though difficult, can often initiate a person’s recovery and deliver a family from great suffering.

[mp3player width=200 height=150 config=helpinghurtscodependency.xml file=http://www.jacobswellmemphis.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/People-pleasing-Samson.mp3]Jan 21, 2012  –  Jamey Lee RSSSubscribe
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When Helping Hurts, Codependency: People-pleasing Sampson

If Samson hadn’t been so dependent upon Delilah, he wouldn’t have lost his strength, his status, or his sight. His codependence led to disobedience when he cared about what Delilah thought about him more than what God thought about him. Like Sampson, we too can have an unhealthy dependence upon people. It might be that our feelings for someone leads us to think we can’t exist without them, even when they are abusing or manipulating us. Or on the other end, I might feel like the other person can’t live without me. I am the savior and need to be needed. Let us learn from the dysfunction of Samson and Delilah so not to repeat their mistakes. Instead we shall turn to the Lord for our acceptance and depend wholeheartedly upon Him. Then we are free to love others as we have been loved.

[mp3player width=200 height=150 config=helpinghurtscodependency.xml file=http://www.jacobswellmemphis.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/People-pleasing-Samson.mp3]Jan 14, 2012  –  Jamey Lee RSSSubscribe
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When Helping Hurts, Codependency: Codependency in the Bible

Helping someone in trouble is generally a good thing to do, but if we’re not careful our help can actually become a hindrance to someone getting better. This is especially true when codependency is present. Codependency may not be a term familiar to everyone, but it is common in the community of those dealing with and recovering from addiction. One limiting but suggestive way of defining codependency is when a person is putting a relationship in the place of God in their life. The codependent often tries to rescue or control while in the relationship and usually comes to rely on feeling needed by the person they are rescuing/controlling.

[mp3player width=200 height=150 config=helpinghurtscodependency.xml file=http://www.jacobswellmemphis.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Codependency-in-the-Bible.mp3]Jan 7, 2012  –  Jamey Lee
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Christ Comes: To Make a Way Out

The first and last things Jesus says and will say publicly (Matthew 25 & Luke 4) is about making a way out for the poor, sick, suffering, and struggling. This is good news for the oppressed but bad news for the oppressors, great for the debtors and devastating to the bankers. Listen to this message on Christ’s primary purposes here on earth and thereby our primary purposes as the body of Christ.

[mp3player width=200 height=120 config=christcomes.xml file=http://www.jacobswellmemphis.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Christ-Comes_-To-Make-a-Way-Out.mp3] Jamey Lee  –  Dec 10, 2011 RSSSubscribe
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T.O.U.C.H: Hope

[mp3player config=touch.xml file=http://www.jacobswellmemphis.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/TOUCH_-Hope.mp3]Nov 19, 2011 – Leslie Ratliff T.O.U.C.H.
Transparency  –  Romans 5:1-6 and 15:3-5
We wrap up the series on our values as we reflect on what the bible says about hope for your situation.

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T.O.U.C.H: Others-focused

[mp3player config=touch.xml file=http://www.jacobswellmemphis.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/TOUCH_-Other-focused.mp3]Oct 29, 2011 – Jamey Lee T.O.U.C.H.
Others-focused  –   Philippians 2:1-11
Our second value at Jacob’s Well is being Other-focused. We realize that the root of many of our troubles is self-centeredness yet the attitude of Christ is humbly other-focused. In this message Jamey reflects on Philippians 2:1-11 and talks about how the people of Jacob’s Well have lived this value out and how the attitude of Christ is available for anyone who chooses to follow Him.

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TOUCH: Transparency

[mp3player config=touch.xml file=http://www.jacobswellmemphis.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/TOUCH_-Transparency.mp3]Oct 22, 2011 – Jamey Lee T.O.U.C.H.
Transparency  –  2 Corinthians 4:1-12
Our first value at Jacob’s Well is Transparency. We are a safe place where you can be yourself, take the mask off, and not feel the need to pretend to be holier, friendlier, or more perfect that you are. We believe that this “come as you are” culture creates an environment where each of us can reach our God-given potential.

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Rescue me from Denial

John 21:15-25
Peter denied Christ 3 times so Jesus gives him a chance to repent 3 times.  Jesus asks him if he is better than the rest, then he repents by simply saying that he loves Jesus.

[mp3player width=200 height=120 config=rescueme.xml file=http://www.jacobswellmemphis.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Rescue-me-from-Denial_-Peter-goes-to-Rehab.mp3] Jamey Lee  –  Oct 15, 2011a RSSSubscribe
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Rescue me from my Day Job

John 21:1-14
What if all of this time you’ve been throwing your net on the wrong side of the boat?  What if the hope that you long for is simply a boat’s length away?  Jesus is on a rescue mission and longs to rescue you from the mundane life that you may find yourself in.  Peter went back to his day job of fishing and Jesus rescued him to a thrilling life of saving souls and changing the world.  And here in the 21st chapter of John could be that which you’ve been searching for to find meaning and purpose in your life.

[mp3player width=200 height=120 config=rescueme.xml file=http://www.jacobswellmemphis.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Rescue-me-from-my-Day-Job_-The-Other-Side-of-the-Boat.mp3] Jamey Lee  –  Oct 8, 2011 RSSSubscribe
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Rescue me from Doubt

John 20:24-30
Thomas gets a bad wrap..  Most have had some healthy skepticism before committing to something.  I hope you don’t believe everything you hear about God and the bible, or believe everything on TMZ.  Thomas didn’t.  If your friends tell you that your dead pastor has risen from the dead and is God, unless you’re a freak, you ought to say, “Show me.”  Maybe somebody needs to start a new recovery group for doubters; you can call it “Doubting Thomas Anonymous”

[mp3player width=200 height=120 config=rescueme.xml file=http://www.jacobswellmemphis.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Rescue-me-from-Doubt_-Doubting-Thomas-Anonymous.mp3] Jamey Lee  –  Oct 1, 2011 RSSSubscribe
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Rescue me from Drought

John 20:19-23
Our story tonight finds our heroes behind locked doors shaking in fear.  Jesus was crucified that Friday and the disciples were distraught.  They had the wind knocked out of them.  They were shocked and confused and didn’t know where to go or what to do.  Jesus was their life for the last 3 years and now He was gone.  In the midst of their greatest fears, while feeling like failures for not standing with Jesus in His time of trial, Jesus comes to them.  He comes not with condemnation but with life and peace.  Because Jesus is alive, in a very tangible way you can be filled with life and peace with a renewed purpose.  Jesus doesn’t just say, “Peace be with you,” but he also blows the breath of life into his disciples.

[mp3player width=200 height=120 config=rescueme.xml file=http://www.jacobswellmemphis.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Rescue-me-from-Drought_-Breath-of-Fresh-Air.mp3] Jamey Lee  –  Sep 24, 2011 RSSSubscribe
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Rescue Me from Despair

John 20:1-18
The disciples are in a despair that we can’t really imagine.  They had quit their jobs and left their families for Jesus.  They believed in him with all of their hearts and had sold out to be part of this Love rEVOLution that he was leading.  They were ready to fight to the death to protect their Lord but Jesus wouldn’t let them.  He turned the other cheek and gave himself over to be crucified.  He suffered and he bled and he died on the cross and they didn’t understand why.  But the gospel story doesn’t end with the disciples crying on the streets.  The good news is that Jesus is alive and the impossible is possible when God’s at work.

[mp3player width=200 height=120 config=rescueme.xml file=http://www.jacobswellmemphis.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Rescue-Me-from-Despair.mp3] Jamey Lee  –  Sep 17, 2011 RSSSubscribe
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Substitute: Good Friday

John 19:17-37
In light of the 10th anniversary of September 11th, tonight we will remember another day in history that cast a dark shadow on the world.  Since our beginning we have been telling the Jesus story in the gospel of John on Saturday nights and tonight we happen to land on the most significant point in the whole narrative and arguably the most significant event in the history of the earth.  Tonight we will read about the day that Jesus died.   And through looking at the good that came from this dark day we can discover how God can get us through any tragedy, any storm, any situation that we find ourselves in.

[mp3player width=200 height=120 config=substitute.xml file=http://www.jacobswellmemphis.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Good-Friday.mp3] Jamey Lee  –  Sep 10, 2011 RSSSubscribe
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Substitute: Jesus and Politics

John 18:28-19:16
Last week Jesus was on trial with the religious leaders.  Tonight Jesus is before the political leader.  We talk a lot about what Jesus has to say about religion, but tonight we’re going to talk about Jesus’ relationship with politics.  When Pilate asks whether Jesus is the king of the Jews, it is not a theological question.  Pilate doesn’t care about Jewish prophecy, he wants to know if Jesus is political.  Pilate asked a lot of questions.  “Are you King of the Jews?”  “Where do you come from?”  “What is truth?”  But perhaps the most important question was to the people, “Do you want me to release him?”  And the people respond to this question by substitution.  They want Pilate to substitute a guilty man for the innocent.

[mp3player width=200 height=120 config=substitute.xml file=http://www.jacobswellmemphis.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Substitute_-Jesus-Politics.mp3] Jamey Lee  –  Sep 3, 2011 RSSSubscribe
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In the world, not of the world

John 17:1-26
John 17 is the record of Jesus’ farewell prayer.  It cannot be compared to any other prayer in scripture or history.  We get the chance to eavesdrop on a divine conversation between God the Son and God the Father.  And we get to experience the unity they share as he prays for us to share in that unity and how in doing so will literally change the world.  Jesus prays, May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.

[mp3player width=200 height=120 config=gospelofjohn.xml file=http://www.jacobswellmemphis.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/In-the-world-not-of-the-world.mp3] Jamey Lee  –  Aug 13, 2011 RSSSubscribe
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Aliens Suffer

John 15:18-16:4
When we live alien to this world, we suffer consequences, but there are good things that come through it. Suffering illustrates God’s worth, He is truly worth making sacrifices for.  Also, suffering refines our faith and inspires others.  The church fathers often said there are two primary things that draw us closer to God–prayer and suffering.  Are you suffering for your Lord?  Is what you’re living for worth dying for?

[mp3player width=200 height=120 config=alienvsorphan.xml file=http://www.jacobswellmemphis.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Aliens-Suffer.mp3] Jamey Lee  –  July 30, 2011 RSSSubscribe
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Aliens Abide

John 15:1-11
To be in Christ and for Christ to be in us is to abide.  Rather than be about striving and performing to become better at being religious, it is about our relationship with Abba.  It is what He is doing in us rather than what we are doing for Him.  When Christ abides in us, we bear fruit and are regularly being pruned and cleansed and bear more fruit.  We move to this place of abiding through prayer & meditation.  It is through reflecting on the life and death of Jesus and how he abided with the Father that we begin to see this reality in our life as well.  It is through practices like lectio divina, breath prayer, and holy communion that we begin to abide in Christ and he in us.

[mp3player width=200 height=120 config=alienvsorphan.xml file=http://www.jacobswellmemphis.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Aliens-Abide.mp3] Jamey Lee  –  July 16, 2011 RSSSubscribe
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Alien Peace

John 14:27-31
We seek peace through escape and retreat in the world.  The peace that Jesus gives is alien to the world’s peace.  Rather than escape the troubles, he simply gives us strength to overcome them.  This powerful peace is more like a river than a pond.

[mp3player width=200 height=120 config=alienvsorphan.xml file=http://www.jacobswellmemphis.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Alien-Peace.mp3] Jamey Lee  –  July 9, 2011 RSSSubscribe
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Origin of our Problems

John 8:37-59
When we have real problems, we seek answers, and some are found in our family tree.  For us to turn from darkness to light, it’s vital to get to the origin of our problems, oftentimes found in our family of origin.

[mp3player width=200 height=120 config=lightuptheworld.xml file=http://www.jacobswellmemphis.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Family-of-Origin.mp3]Jamey Lee  –  Mar 26, 2011 RSSSubscribe
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Light up the World

John 8:12-30
Jesus knows that he is surrounded by darkness and would be wise to hide from his adversaries, but comes forth out of hiding proclaiming the good news of Light.  One of the traditions during this festival was for the priests to light huge fires that lit up all of Jerusalem.  On the last day of the festival, as the were putting out the lights, Jesus shouted, “I am the Light of the World.”

[mp3player width=200 height=120 config=lightuptheworld.xml file=http://www.jacobswellmemphis.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Light-of-the-World.mp3] Jamey Lee  –  Mar 12, 2011 RSSSubscribe
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Living Water

John 7:37-39
Jesus knows that he is in grave danger, yet goes to the Festival of Booths anyway because of the burning message within his heart.  One of the traditions during this festival was for the priests to bring water from the font to the  altar as a reenactment.  On the last day of the festival, Jesus shouts out the good news of Living Water, that all who are thirsty can come to him and not only be filled, but be a source of life for others.  This is our central message at Jacob’s Well.  

[mp3player width=200 height=120 config=gospelofjohn.xml file=http://www.jacobswellmemphis.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Living-Water.mp3] Jamey Lee  –  Mar 5, 2011 RSSSubscribe
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Liar, Lunatic, or Lord?

John 7:1-36-52
The people trying to kill Jesus were searching for him at the feast, but there was a more basic kind of searching going on, to figure out who Jesus was.  Some said he was a good man or a prophet, others that he was deceiving the crowd, some thought he was demonic, and a few believed he is the Christ.  One is impossible, two improbable, and only one inescapable.

[mp3player width=200 height=120 config=gospelofjohn.xml file=http://www.jacobswellmemphis.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Liar-Lunatic-or-Lord_.mp3] Jamey Lee  –  Feb 26, 2011 RSSSubscribe
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Be Offensive

John 6:60-71
Jesus’ most recent discourse has caused a lot of controversy.  In introducing the first of the seven “I AM” statements, he is declaring in a very public way his equal status with God and role as judge over humanity.  This not only causes division among the crowds and Jewish leaders, but even among his own disciples.  This offensive nature of Jesus’ message is still present today and important to recognize and be ready to proclaim him, expecting rejection.

[mp3player width=200 height=120 config=gospelofjohn.xml file=http://www.jacobswellmemphis.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Be-Offensive.mp3] Jamey Lee  –  Feb 19, 2011 RSSSubscribe
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Bread of Life

John 6:22-59
The LOVE rEVOLution is hard work and we will need sustenance for the journey.  We turn to so many things for strength and to escape from it all, yet Jesus offers us that which will never spoil.  Like the Israelites received manna for their journey, we have the opportunity to be nourished in Holy Communion.

[mp3player width=200 height=120 config=loverevolution.xml file=http://www.jacobswellmemphis.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Bread-of-Life.mp3]Jamey Lee  –  Feb 12, 2011 RSSSubscribe Listen Later: Download mp3 (Right-click and select “Download linked file as” or “Save file as”)

Walking on Water

John 6:16-21
When we are part of the LOVE rEVOLution, we will encounter storms.  Sometimes they are there to throw us off track, other times they are just there.  The good news is that Jesus is with us in the midst of any storm we encounter and he is stronger than that storm.  We gain incredible insight on this from this passage.

[mp3player width=200 height=120 config=loverevolution.xml file=http://www.jacobswellmemphis.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Walking-on-Water.mp3] Jamey Lee  –  Feb 5, 2011 RSSSubscribe
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LOVE rEVOLution

John 6:1-15
On the surface, this seems like Jesus at a picnic (imagine red-checkered picnic blankets).  In actuality, Jesus and his disciples were entering the hill country on the other side of the Sea of Galilee, the hotbed of guerrilla revolutionary activity, the headquarters for the zealots.  5000 men were there to make Jesus king to lead the revolution.  But Jesus had something far different in mind. . .a LOVE rEVOLution.  And he invites us to join in by feeding the hungry and sharing the abundant life that comes in Christ.

[mp3player width=200 height=120 config=loverevolution.xml file=http://www.jacobswellmemphis.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/LOVE-rEVOLution.mp3]Jamey Lee  –  Jan 29, 2011 RSSSubscribe
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Who does this guy think he is?

John 5:19-47
So far throughout the gospel, we have seen Jesus show how generous God is when he turned water into wine, how we can learn to be real through the new birth, and stop searching to find satisfaction in so many other things because our thirst is quenched in him.  Since New Years we’ve seen him heal from afar because he was asked, and heal a hopeless case who didn’t think to ask.  With all of this in mind, the question should be, why not believe in Jesus?  Yet still, many have their doubts.  So tonight, Jesus takes a few moments to share what’s going on behind the scenes and who he really is.  

[mp3player width=200 height=120 config=gospelofjohn.xml file=http://www.jacobswellmemphis.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Who-Does-This-Guy-Think-He-Is_.mp3] Jamey Lee  –  Jan 22, 2011 RSSSubscribe
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God is at Work

John 5:1-18
The man at the pool of Bethesda had seemingly no belief at all.  When Jesus asks him if he wants to be healed, he only complains, and when others ask him who healed him, the man doesn’t even know Jesus’ name!  The point is that God is at work even when we are not.  Healing is not dependent upon our belief or hard work, as evidenced here.  Our salvation is by grace and so we should reach out to others with grace.  We should play “offense” in our reciprocation and not just “defense.”

[mp3player width=200 height=120 config=gospelofjohn.xml file=http://www.jacobswellmemphis.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/God-is-at-Work.mp3] Jamey Lee  –  Jan 15, 2011 RSSSubscribe
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Faith Healing

John 4:46-54
This Roman official had money, power, and fame yet could not make happen that which mattered most–the healing of his little boy.  So he turned to Jesus.  Even when early evidence looked grim, he didn’t give up, but instead believed.  God showed himself to be far more generous than he imagined and not only healed him, but did so from afar and gave him LIFE.

[mp3player width=200 height=120 config=gospelofjohn.xml file=http://www.jacobswellmemphis.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Faith-Healing.mp3] Jamey Lee  –  Jan 8, 2011 RSSSubscribe
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Extreme Home Makeover

John 2:13-25
Jesus’ first trip to the Temple in the Gospel of John is one that no one will ever forget.  As He enters the courts He is filled with so much passion over the injustice that is taking place that He gives the Temple an extreme home makeover, knocking over furniture, animals, and people in the process.  In so doing, He is fighting for the rights of those discriminated against because of their race, and we should do the same.  Like Jesus, the zeal for our Father’s house should consume us.  But Jesus is also teaching that He is the fulfillment of the Temple.  The Jewish leaders are shocked that Jesus has disrupted their sacrificial system and miss that they are in the presence of the Lamb of God who has come to take away the sins of the world.  You and I would be remiss not to look inside and discover how we have missed this reality as well.  Are we as “consumed with zeal” to clear our own temples of the sin that lurks within?  Are we so busy at Jacob’s Well that we are going from event to event without experiencing the kind of heart transformation that Jesus desires?  It is only through trusting Jesus as our Redeemer that we can experience an extreme home makeover in our lives.

[mp3player width=200 height=120 config=gospelofjohn.xml file=http://www.jacobswellmemphis.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Jesus-Justice.mp3] Jamey Lee  –  Nov 13, 2010 RSSSubscribe
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Generosity & Drinking

John 2:1-11
So often the church is defined by our rules and on what grounds we can exclude people from God’s presence.  Jesus’ first miracle flies in the face of this popular religious culture.  Jesus spontaneously changes water to wine and He desires to drastically change our lives from a watered down acceptance of the pain and struggle through escape and denial, to an overflowing life of abundance full of the fruit of the Spirit.   One step in this direction is to change our prayers from what I want, to what others need.  As we seek to know God’s will and the power to carry it out we will often find that God’s generosity is surprisingly wonderful.

[mp3player width=200 height=120 config=gospelofjohn.xml file=http://www.jacobswellmemphis.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Generosity-Drinking.mp3] Jamey Lee  –  Nov 6, 2011 RSSSubscribe
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What do you want?

John 1:35-51
All of us are searching for something.  Kids to adults, Atheists, Buddhists, and Christians all are looking for something.  Some are actively seeking to find out who God is or to know God more, while others are on a search to find ourselves.  Jesus is aware of this search and is all about going on journeys.  The first words out of His mouth in the gospel of John gets at this, “What do you want?”  The disciples (nor us) could really put a finger on what it is that they are searching for.  Yet Jesus intrigued them enough to spend some time around Him, and there they discovered what they had been searching for all of their lives.  In the midst of this spiritual journey, Jesus gives Simon a new name.  Simon was in no way a “Rock,” but Jesus named him this and formed him into the head of the church.  When you and I find our identity in Jesus, we find that we have everything that we need.  The key to coming to this realization is to understand that Jesus has been on a search and rescue mission for us before we began the journey to find Him.  Like Philip and Nathaniel, we long to be loved and accepted, and when we find that and so much more in Jesus, we worship Him for who He truly is. The story begins with “What are you looking for?” and ends with “I’ve been waiting for you.”

[mp3player width=200 height=120 config=gospelofjohn.xml file=http://www.jacobswellmemphis.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/What-do-you-want_.mp3] Jamey Lee  –  Oct 30, 2010 RSSSubscribe
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