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About this series
Unleashing God's Power into Impossible Situations
What do you do when a circumstance or relationship in your life is so hard, so big, so overwhelming that it truly becomes impossible? You need a divine, supernatural intervention. In this new 5-part series from Chip Ingram, you’ll discover the steps to experiencing breakthrough and how to make breakthrough a normal part of your life.More from this series
I spent about an hour in a car with a good friend, and out of the blue, he turned to me and he goes, “You know, this breakthrough stuff is messing with me, man. You hit me right between the eyes.” I said, “Let’s get this clear. I just talk. If you get hit, it’s God.” He said, “Okay, well, God hit me between the eyes.” I said, “Well, what do you mean?” And for the next hour, he began to very candidly and honestly talk about some issues in his life that he knows: this is right, and this is wrong, and right now, this is wrong, and I know what I need to do.
And then, he had that look on his face, like I was not many brain cells working. “Now, do you understand, if I do what’s right, the implications?” And he started going through relationships, finances, reputation. And I just said, “Man, you believe God is real, or not? Do you believe He can take care of you? You think this is any different than when He said to the disciples, ‘Feed the five thousand, or feed the four thousand?’ You’ve just got to believe.” He goes, “I know. I got it. I got it.” And I had to believe that he’s probably not the only one.
Now, here’s what I want you to get: You’re on the verge of breakthrough. Absolutely small is the birthplace of breakthrough. You can have catalysts, you can be moved, you can step out, you can start, but the birthing of breakthrough happens in what I call “absolutely small.” Look on your notes. Size absolutely matters, only in reverse, to birth and sustain breakthrough.
And you’re just thinking, I just can’t do it. I know I should; I know I want to – I can’t. You need to be in a small group of safe, loving, caring people that say, “Regardless of the implications, whatever happens, we’ll be there with you.”
And what I want to tell you is, that’s the pattern of Scripture. Everyone here believes that God wants to change the city, right? I mean, all through Scripture, isn’t that what He does? I mean, have you ever kind of done a little look at this Bible and realized the names of these books? When God wanted to change the world, He wrote a book to the Corinthians, in the city of... And the Ephesians in the city of... And the Thessalonians in the city of… And to the Romans in the city of…
What are those? Those are the most influential cities in the world! But it always started – what? Jesus, a small group of people, the twelve, the one-twenty, and then, that got multiplied and birthed, here, there, and everywhere.
Well, did you ever wonder how Jesus reached a city, and how He taught His disciples to reach a city? Well, if you didn’t, you should, and here’s your lucky day, because that’s what we’re going to look at. Open your notes, if you will, and let’s look, very specifically, at how Jesus reached a city. And today, He’s doing it in London, and Paris, and Hong Kong.
John chapter 4 – very, very interesting. I think the goal, here, is so the disciples learn, later, when He leaves and gives them the mission, how to pull this off. If you open your Bibles, John chapter 4 – Matthew, Mark, Luke, John – it’s the gospel. The story opens as the Pharisees hear that Jesus is gaining and baptizing more disciples than John, and it’s actually not Jesus baptizing, but His disciples. And so, He chooses to leave Judea, and He goes to Galilee. He’s going to go on the non-Jewish side of the lake.
And He says – verse 4 – “Now we need to go through Samaria. So, He came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. And Joseph’s well was there, and Jesus was tired from the journey, and He sat down by the well. And when it was about the sixth hour” – or, it’s noon, and it’s very, very hot. “When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, ‘Will you give Me a drink?’” Side bar, “(The disciples all had left to go get food in town.)”
And she’s shocked, because Samaritans are a half-breed. The cultural division is absolute. Jews hate Samaritans; Samaritans hate Jews, A. B, men don’t initiate conversations with women. Women were sub-human in that day. And so, she’s wondering, 1, You’re a Jew; I’m a woman. It’s an odd time of day. And the reason she’s out at this time of day is because there’s a little colorful past, and she’s rejected in her community, and so, when all the other women go out and draw water, she doesn’t want to be there, because she’s not accepted. So, she’s out here by herself. “‘You a Jew ask me for a drink?’ (For Jews don’t associate with Samaritans.)”
Jesus’ response: “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks for a drink, you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.’ ‘Sir,’ the woman replied , ‘You have nothing to draw with and the well is very deep. Where will You get this living water? Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us this well and drank from it himself, and also his sons and his flocks and his herd?’ And Jesus said, ‘Everyone who drinks this physical water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’”
Now, here’s the woman’s response – I love this! – “Sir, give me this water so I won't get thirsty and have to keep coming back to draw water.” Boy, if You’ve got this, it sounds great!
And so, He throws out a little test, like many of you are in right now, like my friend is in right now. He says, “Oh, you want water? You’re thirsty? You want Me to meet your need? You want to spring up in you eternal life? Why don’t you go get your husband, and we’ll talk about it further?”
Her reply: “‘I have no husband.’ Jesus said, ‘You’re right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you’ve had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have said is quite true.’” And contrary to how I think most of us would read this text, I think He was affirming her honesty and vulnerability, not condemning her, as we will see.
“‘Sir,’ she said, ‘I can see that You’re a prophet. Our fathers worshipped on this mountain, but you Jews claim the place we worship is in Jerusalem.’” So, I guess, man, anybody that knows this, you’re reading my mail, there’s no way you could know this. You must be a prophet. I guess we’re going to talk religion; let’s change the subject. You say this mountain. And Jesus says, “Sweetheart” – that’s sort of my reading into the text – “it’s way bigger than what mountain, or where.”
Jesus – verse 21 – says, “Believe Me, woman, the time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; but we Jews worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet,” – new dispensation, new truth – “a time is coming and has now come when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and His worshippers must worship Him in spirit and in truth.”
You might, in your Bibles, circle – or highlight in your mobile device – seeks. Literally, it’s pursues. The Father is pursuing and seeking and running after people that don’t know Him, that they might turn and worship Him, not in some external form, but in Spirit and in truth.
“The woman said, ‘I know’” – okay? We’re getting down to pay dirt. “‘Well, I know that the Messiah’ (the Christ) ‘is coming. And when He comes, He’ll explain everything.’”
Now, this next line is absolutely amazing, because the Pharisees can’t figure out who He is, the disciples have been foggy on who He is, and after He heals people, He says, “Don’t tell anyone,” because of all the mushrooming of crowds. But here is an immoral woman, who’s a half-breed, who’s despised, who’s rejected, and she gets honest. And here’s the truth she gets: “Then Jesus declared, ‘I who speak to you am He. I’m the Messiah.’ Just then His disciples returned and were surprised finding Him talking to a woman.” That is an understatement.
“But no one asked, ‘What do you want?’ or ‘Why are You talking with her?’ Then, leaving her water jar” – here’s her response: She leaves her jars there – “the woman went back into the town and said to the people, ‘Come, and see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could He be the Christ?’ And they came out of the town and they made their way toward Him. Meanwhile” – the camera lens, as the people are starting, hubbub, they’re coming out of the town. Camera lens goes back – it’s Jesus and the disciples.
“Meanwhile the disciples urged Jesus to get something to eat.” “By the way, that’s why we went to town. It was a to-go order. We got it; we brought it back. You’ve got to be hungry. Rabbi.” “But He said, ‘I have food to eat that you know nothing of.’ Then His disciples said to one another, ‘Could someone have brought Him food?’”
Come on, guys, I mean, think about where this is at. “‘My food,’ Jesus said, ‘is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work. Do you not say, “There are four months and yet then comes the harvest”?’”
Do you think that the work of God, or when things are really going to happen, and breakthrough, and things like you’ve never seen – you guys say it’s in the future – someday, some way, when God intervenes. “But I say to you, lift up your eyes.”
And I imagine there are some people coming out of that town, led by an immoral woman, who was disrespected and despised, who thought she was unworthy. “See, the fields are white for harvest.”
And then, notice His explanation: “Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. ‘One sows another reaps’ it’s true. I sent you to reap where you haven’t worked. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits for their labor.”
And in just a few moments, we’re going to learn that they come, they believe, based on her testimony, and they’re Samaritans, and He’s a Jew, and they say, “Do You think You could stick around for another couple days?” So, He does a two-day seminar, and then, they turn to the woman, and they say, “We have come and believed, based on your word and your testimony, but after two days of hearing His Word” – look in your texts. What’s it say? “Now we believe and know that You are the Savior of the world.”
Now, I want to have you look at your notes, if you would, and I want to show you something about how Jesus, very intentionally, reached a city. And I’m going to suggest that He didn’t just reach a city, but He’s wanting to teach His disciples about how to reach cities, and then, we’re going to learn from the disciples how to reach a city.
Where did the breakthrough begin? Answer: with Jesus. Jesus cared. Jesus had compassion on that city, and He had very specific compassion on that woman.
Whom did Jesus choose? This is always a stumper for us religious people. He chose an immoral, socially rejected woman, in a culturally despised town. That’s just for all of us that think we’re not qualified.
Third, how did she make room for breakthrough? She recognized that she had thirst. A lot of us do a lot of stuff: A lot of us eat, sex addictions, shop, work – we have thirst for fulfillment and meaning. She recognized she had thirst, and she was open to realize, maybe there’s a different way to quench your thirst.
Second, when confronted with the truth, she was just honest: “I don’t have it all together. I have a checkered past.” But she had the guts enough to say, “Yep, that’s me.” And then, she made room. When she heard about the truth, she left her jars – step of faith – and she said, “I’ve got to share this with someone else.” It’s a pattern.
What courageous step did she take? Can you imagine her reputation, and the fear of rejection of going to a whole town that thinks you’re the most immoral person in the whole town, and you say, “I believe that I may have just met the Messiah. You should come and see.”
What do you think was going on in her heart when she was walking from where her jar and the well was, to the town? No one’s ever going to believe me. No one’s ever going to – I’ve got to tell them. No one’s ever going to believe me. I’ve got to tell them. I’ve got to tell them. Anybody here in the labor pains of potentiality, but your fear of being rejected is keeping you from launching?
What did Jesus want His disciples to learn about Himself? His love and compassion is for all people, regardless of where they’ve been, what they look like, or what they’ve done, or what they’re presently doing. He wanted them to understand that His personal satisfaction is rooted, not in what you can achieve, not in how you look, not in what you own. “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.”
I saw on 60 Minutes a brief little interview with a man in New York City, and his name is Tudor Jones II, Paul Tudor Jones II. He’s a hedge fund guy. I have no idea his spiritual background, other than he mentioned his mom wanted him to be a preacher. He started eighty charter schools in New York City. And in the interview, this one line captured me. He turned to the interviewer, he says, “Well, you need to understand that the only real purpose and significance in life is making sacrifices to meet the needs of other people. That’s what life’s all about.”
The rest of the world’s trying to make a lot less than 3.6 billion dollars, but someone with 3.6 million dollars understands there’s not enough steak, there are not enough jets, there are not enough houses, there are not enough vacations. What life is about is sacrificially giving up time and energy and money to meet the needs of other people. That’s where fulfillment is. I think he got that from somewhere. I wonder if we do.
And finally, what about breakthrough? I think Jesus wanted them to learn that breakthroughs start small. A man and a woman having a conversation. It’s like a mustard seed. It starts small. And then, a few people come out. And then, it multiplies.
The other thing He wanted them to learn about breakthroughs is, they’re not something that are going to happen someday, someway, out there. You say – disciples – your mindset, your paradigm is, in four months, then comes the harvest. In other words, someday, someway, God’s going to do something.
You know, there’ve been things in the Old Testament, and – from their world. For us, there was a great – the First Awakening, the Second Awakening, and there’s the Layman’s Prayer Revival, and the Wesleys did things. We’ve heard about things in Korea, and these movements in Africa, and breakouts in Latin America. I bet, just mystically, somehow, someway, God does that, and Jesus would say – rmmmm! – no. God is already working.
Breakthroughs are not about someday, someway, if we do X, Y, Z, F, G, M, and God mystically blows on it. God is already working. He’s looking for regular, ordinary people to just believe.
In fact, notice the timeless axiom I put on the bottom of your notes: “Unlikely supernatural breakthroughs are not dependent on a future work of God, but a present work of one.” See, the difference? I believe He’s working in the Muslim community in our area, and the Chinese community, and the Korean community. I think the Spirit of God is working everywhere.
He’s looking for an unlikely person, like you or me, who’s ordinary, who feels unworthy, like this woman, to say, “I’m going to just go tell them. I’m going to take a step, and I might get rejected. But what I’ll probably find is, He’s already been working, and He has hundreds and thousands and tens of thousands of people who are struggling in their marriage, and hurting, and have health issues, and unresolved issues with their parents and kids, and they’re confused, and the work, and the money – and all that stuff really isn’t delivering.
And God just is looking for a messenger – a man, a woman, or a student – who would just do what an immoral woman did to a group of people far-away from God, and He’ll break through.