The Kingdom Life Academy has been set up to encourage believers from all walks of life, denominations, vocations and locations to walk in the fullness of their identity and authority in Christ, everyday. It runs throughout the summer months and you are very welcome to come and join us as we acquire and activate our Kingdom knowledge.
It was a great pleasure for me to be asked to speak at the North of England Leaders time. We had a super time at Gateway Church and enjoyed hearing lots of testimonies of God's goodness. I was particularly pleased to see leaders from Northwich, Birmingham and York churches making the trip to Liverpool. The sessions were progressive and followed this pattern:
1. The Agony and the Ecstasy of Leadership
2. A Tool for Leading Yourself (in Reference to 1)
3. Preparing the Church for Increase
4. Ingredience for Building a Great Team
On the Sunday I was able join in with Gateway Church's series in the book of Malachi. I had the joy of speaking on "Wealth Management" which had exciting outcomes. Amy and I prayed for some folk and then travelled back to Aberdeen.
More information on the various churches mentioned can be found here.
John's Gospel is such a great place to study, because in it John is going out of his way to introduce you to the real Jesus. Writing from Ephesus some 30 years after the other 3 gospels had been written, he is surrounded by all sorts of false teachers: people presenting a Jesus as prophet but not God; God but not a human; or a human but not God; or even that John the baptists was the real messiah not Jesus! (and that is in amongst many other claims made by so-called teachers who had never even met Jesus!). John was compelled by the Holy Spirit as the last remaining of the original 12 disciples to introduce people once again to THE JESUS.
JESUS AND THE PROSTITUTE (John 4:1-42)
The story of the woman at the well in Samaria is a fresh story not appearing in the other gospels. The story appears in chapter 4, straight after the story of Nicodemus the great Jewish leader who was trying to understand the Kingdom of God from Jesus' words.
Chapter 4 does not explicitly state that this Samaritan woman was a prostitute but there can surely be little doubt. Her encounter with Jesus didn't just change her life, but that of her neighboursours too.
1. How do we know she is a prostitute?
Jacob's well is a "service station" used by travellers and locals alike. However, locals would draw their water at the cool of the morning or the dropping temperatures of the evening. You would never venture out into the heat of midday unless you were specifically going to meet travellers using the well.
2. Oh no, it's a Jewish man!
In 4v7 "It was about noon. When a samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, 'Will you give me a drink?' She replied, 'You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan, how can you ask me for a drink?'"
Implicit in this verse is that woman recognises that the man at the well is a Jew (probably by his clothes) and therefore postures herself, not for business but to draw water. To her amazement, He speaks to her. Men do not speak to women; Jews do not speak to Samaritans, and Jews of that day definitely did not speak to prostitutes; and as the lowest of the low, she knew that a Jew cannot drink or eat using the same utensils as one so 'unclean' as her (v.11).
3. The Prostitute has a Pimp
In Samaria, and in Israel as a whole, every man a woman slept with was considered her husband. In verse 18, Jesus tells the woman that she has five husbands which would indicate she was either young or relatively new to prostitution (or both).
What blows her cover away once and for all (to us) is that Jesus says, "the man you now have is not your husband." We can take from this that the man she lives with does not sleep with her because he is her boss, a pimp. Pimps of that day were not in the habit of sleeping with their employees. The benefits of having a pimp is that you had somewhere to stay and no doubt he would have had several prostitutes living with him at once.
So now, totally exposed, she drops her jar and runs back to town to tell her story. A story of a prostitute meeting the messiah!
4. Why would they listen to a prostitute?
I do not suppose under normal circumstances they would. But if she said, "a Jewish man who spoke like a prophet actually spoke to me, a samaritan woman, a prostitute and asked me, yes me, to give him a drink using my vase; and not just that, I think he is the Messiah!" It may not have been the 'Messiah' part of her story that made them go out to enquire further. I'd suggest this may not have been a crowd going out to see the Messiah at all, but a crowd (possibly even angry with this unknown Jew) going out to see if this unbelievable story could be true (with the possibility that if the woman was found to be lying her life would be in danger).
5. Righteous Jews v. Unrighteous Samaritans
The outcome is recorded in verses 28-30 and 39-42. However this story concludes nicely chapters 3 and 4.
John spends chapter 3 telling us that the Righteous Jews could never be GOOD ENOUGH to inherit the Kingdom, and then concludes in chapter 4 by showing us that the Samaritan we re not BAD ENOUGH to be rejected from the Kingdom. The prostitute at least recognises that Jesus is a prophet and could be the Messiah, neither of which the wonderful man of God Nicodemus seems to see at all! WHICH SHOWS US THAT IT DOESNT MATTER WHAT WE"VE DONE OR WHO WE"VE DONE IT WITH, WHO WE"VE BEEN OR HOW MUCH WE'VE DONE UNTIL WE RECEIVE JESUS AS THE MESSIAH THE KINGDOM IS STILL FAR OFF.
John's Gospel is such a great place to study, because in it John is going out of his way to introduce you to the real Jesus. Writing from Ephesus some 30 years after the other 3 gospels had been written, he is surrounded by all sorts of false teachers: people presenting a Jesus as prophet but not God; God but not a human; or a human but not God; or even that John the baptists was the real messiah not Jesus! (and that is in amongst many other claims made by so-called teachers who had never even met Jesus!) John was compelled by the Holy Spirit as the last remaining of the original 12 disciples to introduce people once again to THE JESUS.
Having outlived Paul and probably attending one of the churches that Paul had planted, John embarks on clearing things up once and for all....and writes a report that would eventually see him thrown in prison on Patmos, where he would write Revelation and eventually die. Today, those words of John are still changing lives. Author and pastor Phil Moore says that "Mark writes to tell us what Jesus did.Matthew and Luke write to explain why Jesus did it, but John's main concern is to help you discover who Jesus is and what it means to follow him today." (Straight to the Heart of John by Phil Moore).
JOHN & THE PORN STAR
This was undoubtedly the case for Playboy, Penthouse and Television-X porn star Teresa Carey. Teresa, and her now husband Scott had been looking into everything from Egyptology and UFOs to Buddhism and the Quran in search of life's big truths.
In their ongoing pursuit into the mysteries of the "other world" they read John's gospel:
“I’d finished work, Scott had finished uploading some of my pictures to the internet, we were chilling out listening to music, and we had an out of body experience together. We came face-to-face with Jesus, and from that moment on our lives have been changed."
The story was covered by the Mirror Newspaper and you can watch the interview
It had been a while since we'd been away on a break, so off to Loch Lomond we went to a log cabin nestled around the trees on the waters edge. Opening the curtains to the stunning snow-capped mountains across the water was good for my soul. Funny how when you have no internet, no phone reception that suddenly God's voice becomes clearer and more frequent. Church has been fabulous recently with people really seeing prayers answered and prophetic words starting to unfold, but the 4 night break on the loch was a whole gear-shift in hearing God's voice afresh.
We've returned with a new sharpness to what God is saying to us about the kairos moment we are in as a church-family. Its March, but it feels like New years day!