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What is your Experience ?

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God wants to give us a new life in the Spirit, despite all our earthly life experiences

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The title of the message is “What’s your Experience”
Introduction
All of us here have had experiences throughout our life —
Some good, some bad
— and depending on how good or bad,
those experiences can be defining moments in our lives
Illustration
An experience can be:
A knowledge or skill that we develop over time
Something we develop by observation throughout our life
Encounter or life event that we’ve been through
“We are the sum total of our experiences”
Why is it then — many times those experiences bring us more questions than answers?
And often times even question God.
What happens to our experiences when we encounter Jesus
and we will do this by looking at the story of the Samaritan Woman

Physical Experience

John 4:7–10 (NIV)
7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?
8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
7 “Will you give me a drink?
Jesus initiates the encounter — but what he did was highly unusual
In the culture of the day, it was strange for a man to initiate conversation with a woman in public
if you read further down — Even the disciples were surprised
There was a long and ongoing history of animosity between Jews and Samaritans
John makes this clear to us (v.9 For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
So, it’s no surprise that She responds:
9 “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink”
Gender and ethnicity are two huge factors in our physical experience
The world around us makes the rules of engagement clear to us
They impact not only how we view ourselves — but also others
Whenever we meet someone — We immediately start checking boxes
This woman’s experience as a Samaritan woman, had placed limits on her life
To the point that it made her question Jesus’ motives
Although the Son of God was speaking to her — all she could see was a man and a jew
Her experience of Jesus was limited by her past physical experience
10 “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink … “
If we only see ourselves through the lens of our gender and ethnicity — then we have missed the gift of God.
The world may place limits on us based on our gender — our ethnicity — or another physical characteristic
The answer is not in hating ourselves — or others
because of gender — or ethnicity
The answer is to accept the gift of God (a new life by the Holy Spirit) — the living water Jesus offered this woman
2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
Jesus offers us a new life by the Holy Sprit:
a new life beyond the boundaries of our gender
a new life beyond of the boundaries of our ethnicity
a new life beyond of the boundaries of any physical reality we’ve experienced
Jesus was able to get passed her physical experience — but there was more

Life Experience

John 4:11–12 (NIV)
11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?
12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”
“You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep”
For the woman — What Jesus was saying was still not measuring up with her experience
She had been coming to this well all her life
This well represented her livelihood — her independence
Gifts? This woman doesn’t believe in handouts — she has worked for everything in her life
“Where can you get this living water?”
This was completely out of the box for her — unheard of
How? Make it make it make sense!
“Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself”
“Who do you think you are? I’m over here drawing water from a well,
like I’ve been doing all my life,
a well that has watered my people for over a thousand years,
and all of a sudden now I’m supposed to listen to you, a Jew?”
The irony here is that Jesus IS in fact greater than Jacob
She just couldn’t get passed the realities of her life experience
Life is hard!
So hard that the gospel message sometimes seems foolish to us
1 Corinthians 2:14 (NIV)
14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.
Jesus was speaking about a spiritual reality — she was stuck in her natural reality
John 4:13–15 (NIV)
13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,
14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.
15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.
It’s important to work — It’s good to know our history and be thankful for those that came before us
But when our own hands become the limits to what life has for us — we will never be fully satisfied
How many times do we have to return to the same man-made well / man-made solution before we realize it will never satisfy us? 1000 years?
John 10:10 (ESV)
I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
Jesus offers us an abundant life without endless striving
an abundant life beyond the limits of our history
an abundant life beyond the limits of our own ability
If we can only look passed out earthly life experience

Relational Experience

John 4:16–18 (NIV)
16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”
17 “I have no husband,” she replied.
Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband.
18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.
Turn to your neighbor and tell them: “It just got personal!”
“I have no husband”
Those four words are packed with so much pain and hurt,
disappointment and shame,
a series relational experiences that have all led up to this moment right here,
drawing water in the middle of a hot noon day sun,
away from all the other women who probably despised her.
“I have no husband — I am all alone — you don’t know what I’ve been through.”
“You are right when you say you have no husband”
Jesus empathizes with her, “You are right.”
Jesus ministers to her through his omniscience — saying “I know exactly what you’re going through.”
He acknowledges the reality of her relational experience
His aim here was never to condemn her — But to set her free with the Truth
John 3:17 (ESV)
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
Like a master surgeon — Jesus dissects all her experiences to bring her to the ultimate experience
A life in the Spirit
But she still had one more experience to resort to

Religious Experience

She immediately deflects from her relational experience and turns to her religious experience
John 4:19–24 (NIV)
19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet.
20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
“I can see that you are a prophet”
Immediately, she places Jesus is a religious box.
“Oh, I know what this is now, you are trying to convert me. You think I don’t know about your religion?”
Isn’t that we do? The moment it gets personal — We deflect — we rather argue about theology than address
“I’ve read the Bible, I know what it says, I use to go to church, my dad is a Pastor, there’s nothing you can tell me that I haven’t heard before.”
Good for you— but I’m good
My religious experience is enough
At this point — Jesus gets direct with her
21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.
22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.
23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.
24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in Spirit and in truth.”
He acknowledges all her experience:
her gender and ethnicity
her life experience
her past relationships
and now her religious background
Jesus lays down some doctrinal truths, and offers her a divine perspective that is far beyond all her experiences.
“God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in Spirit and in truth”
What God is doing is essentially offering himself to us
He wants to be our greatest experience
The only experience that can satisfy
the only experience that will never let us down
the only experience that will make sense

Hope

Jesus’ last statement, triggered something in her — something that was buried deep underneath all these life experiences — One longing experience that is yet to be fulfilled in her life. — The experience of Hope
John 4:25 (NIV)
The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
“I know that Messiah is coming” — “He will explain everything to us”
Deep underneath all these experiences this woman had hope
that someday her Savior would come
and all that she has been through in life will make sense.
Even though every experience she had has left her more confused than before —
Why did she have to be born a woman, why was she a Samaritan, she didn’t choose these things, why did she have to go through so much pain in life — Why? Why? Why?
But underneath all these “Why’s?” — There was hope
I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
She just wanted to make sense of it all
Life just doesn’t make sense if we only see it through the lens of our earthly experience.
There’s got to be more — There’s got to be hope
“I am he”
Then does for her, what he had not done for anyone else until this point— and openly tells her — that he is the Messiah. And it was at that moment that she finally got it, that her eyes were opened, and she believe.
John 4:26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”
At the end of it all the Woman dropped her jar and ran back to town — and told everybody
John 4:28–29 (NIV)
Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?”
Finally! it all made sense!
Everything in her life —that led her to this moment — made sense when she Experienced Jesus
Hebrews 11:1 NKJV
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Conclusion

Maybe you’re here today and like this woman
you’ve been through a lot and you just want to make sense of it all
Jesus is asking you today to look beyond all your experiences
and find that place of hope in your heart
Despite any physical experience you’ve had: Jesus offers you a new life by the Holy Spirit:
Despite any life experience you’ve: Jesus offers you an abundant life without endless striving
Despite any relational experience you’ve had: The Father seeks a relationship with you — to comfort you — to forgive you — and to heal you
Despite your religious experience: The Holy Spirit wants to guide you into the Truth
God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in Spirit and in truth
God knows what you’ve been through — and he wants to come in and give you life
Don’t close the door on him based on your experience — Rather open your hearts to him in hope.

Salvation prayer

Dear God,
I offer my life to you
I know I’m a sinner,
and I ask for your forgiveness.
I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son.
I believe that He died for my sin
and that you raised Him to life.
From this day forward.
I want to trust Him as my Savior
and follow Him as Lord,
Fill me with your Holy Spirit
and give me a new life
and guide me to do your will.
I pray this in the name of Jesus.
Amen.
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