Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Thirst and Satisfaction

Dannah Gresh: In order to see what someone believes, just ask, “What’s most important to him or her?” Here’s Janet Parshall, speaking at a True Woman conference.

Janet Parshall: True worship is the true measure of true devotion to God. It's the hallmark of a true woman, and God wants us to worship Him in an authentic, genuine, honestly transparent manner. God is seeking worshipers. Will we be one of those worshipers today?

Dannah: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Brokenness: The Heart God Revives, for Tuesday, August 25, 2020. I’m Dannah Gresh.

Nancy, we’ve spent the month of August talking a lot about the redemptive, transforming power of God. I’ve heard it said, “God loves you just the way you are, but He loves you too much to leave you the way you are.”

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: That’s so true. God is the God of new beginnings and fresh starts. And over and over in His Word we see that nobody is beyond His reach. Anyone can be rescued. Anyone can be reached. And Dannah, that includes you and me and everyone of our listeners.  

Yesterday, we heard part 1 of a powerful message from a past True Woman conference. My longtime friend, Janet Parshall, did a masterful job of taking us into the culture of Jesus’ day. She pointed out that there were deeply entrenched racist attitudes between Jews and Samaritans. And as you think about what's going on in our country today, you realize that human nature is human nature. Sin and pride will rear their ugly head at every opportunity given.

In that day there were also wrong attitudes about women in general. Again, today you hear a lot of misogyny. And certainly that was true in this New Testament culture.

But one dusty day, sitting next to a well near the city of Sychar, Jesus blew those stereotypes and prejudices out of the water. He spoke to a Samaritan! Not only that, but (horror of all horrors), a woman! 

If you missed yesterday’s program, check it out on the Revive Our Hearts app or by visiting ReviveOurHearts.com. 

Let’s listen as Janet continues unfolding the story of the woman at the well.

Janet: Now, notice the time of day. The Samaritan woman comes to the well at absolutely the hottest point in the day, and she comes alone. She comes alone. She was physically thirsty. She needed to fill her water jar. She needed water like everyone else in the town.

When the women gathered water in those days, they usually came together as a group. This was literally their meeting at the water cooler. It's where they chatted about their lives, where they exchanged the gossip of the town, where they caught up with each other. "Did you know Miriam has a new baby?" They would tell these things at the well.

But not this woman. They were socializing. They were interacting. They were integrated as a community. Not this woman. She was alone.

Now, I want to point out exactly what this would have looked like. I picked this up on one of my trips to Israel. It's a wooden carving made out of olive wood. And this is a typical carving of a woman gathering water. Earthen jars filled with water—very, very, very heavy. In fact, they each held about five gallons of water, and they would have weighed about forty pounds apiece. She would have been carrying forty pounds of water on her head. That's hard work.

Why in the world would you do it in the middle of the day? Why would you do it at the hottest part of the day? Why wouldn't you do it at dusk or dawn? When it's cool and comfortable. When you can meet with the other women, where you could socialize, get caught up on the latest news. Why would you do that? Well, there was that woman, that Samaritan woman, alone. Isolated. On the fringes. But she's about to have a conversation that would change her forever, forever.

And His disciples? They're off buying food, but in a very short period of time, they are about to get a lesson on how to be an evangelist.

Verse 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?'" Again, John doesn't want you to miss this, so he adds, "(For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)"

You understand the stage that John is setting here? He wants you to know beyond a shadow of a doubt, Jesus starts this conversation. Jesus is alone with the woman at the well; He violates Jewish law; He starts the conversation; and, just in case you forgot the deep racism, Jews don't associate with Samaritans. Distinctive in the Savior. He starts the conversation. He starts the conversation with the woman. He knows she's a Samaritan.

I love the way we're always telling Jesus, like we don't get that He doesn't already know.

So here is my translation. "What? You are asking me for a drink of water? I'm a woman. I'm a non-Jew. I'm a Samaritan, and well, you don't need to know about that part of my life. Look, in your eyes, even my water jar is unclean."

Yep. That would have been her response. Here is what Jesus didn't say. "Oh, you are right, I forgot." Aren't you glad He doesn't say that to us? Oh, how many times have I, a mere mortal, speck of dust on planet earth, had the gall, the arrogance, the nerve, the chutzpah—we're talking Jews, I'll use it here—the chutzpah to say to Jesus, "You listen . . ." and I fill in the blanks. And I'm so thankful He is slow to anger. Because there are times that if I were the parent, I would have said, "You get a timeout for eternity, go to your room." Jesus doesn't do that. We can't outsmart Jesus, thank You, Lord. We sometimes think we can, but we forget who we are talking about, just like this woman at the well.

Look, she has a bit of an attitude, there's no question. She doesn't really know yet who she is talking to. But Jesus' response is amazing. It's compassionate. It's gracious. And it's profound.

He doesn't respond to her "tude." Rather, He responds to her heart. And that's what He does for every single one of us. He knows; He's listening, and He cares. And He is seeking us.

So verse 10, Jesus answers 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."

Now, Jesus is offering her, don't miss this, Jesus is offering her the gift of salvation right then and right there without asking her first to get her life in order. But when you think about, it, He didn't ask us, when we came to the cross, to get our life in order first. He said, "Come, come, all ye who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." He didn't say, "Rearrange your burdens and then I'll meet you at the cross." He said, "Come."

So He's offering her that gift. He knows and will soon find out her life is a mess, but He's inviting her to have the thirst in her heart and in her life quenched once and for all. Right then, right now.

Her behavior would only change after her heart would change. There's an important lesson there for us on grace. How quick are we, particularly as women, to judge somebody because they think, Well, she's a Christian. Why does she act thus and so?

Well, where is she in her life? Did she just come to faith in Jesus Christ? Does she have some growing up to do? Can we give her some grace while she grows? Thank you, Lord, You are giving me grace while I grow. You might be chewing on meat; she's still having milk.

Give her the grace to grow, and take that part of the women's manifesto, and let's be Titus women. There is already somebody in your life that you can teach. Help her to grow in grace, in the nurture, in the admonition of the Lord by being immersed in His Word and give her grace while she grows.

So often in the Christian life, it's one step forward, two steps back. One step forward, two steps back. And boy we jump on somebody in the two steps back, don't we? I think what we should be doing is cheering when they take one step forward instead.

Here is the point: Jesus loves us with all the mess of our lives.

In a room this size and in people watching this, here is what we know. It's not rocket science; it isn't the gift of prophecy; it's just common sense. There are women in our midst today who have the secret sin of being addicted to pornography.

You came here with a friend; she doesn't know. Maybe your husband doesn't even know. But it's this repulsive, dark sin, and it's an addiction, and it's got a hold on your life, and you can't let go of it. And you are convinced as a result that God can't get rid of it.

Someone in this room is sexually promiscuous. Oh, you've got that Sunday school smile on, but your life doesn't reflect that. Or you've been unfaithful to your mate, maybe not physically yet, but you're there emotionally. And that sin is beginning to drag you down.

Or you're a closet alcoholic. You're a functioning alcoholic, but you're an alcoholic nonetheless. Or you've had multiple abortions, and you don't ever want to tell someone. Statistics tell us that most women don't. A lot of post-abortive women don't tell somebody for fifteen to twenty years after the fact. So there's the possibility of all of that and a whole lot more is right here in our midst today.

But you know what Jesus is saying? He's saying, "Give me your heart first. And then I'll give you the power to change your life. Just come to Me first. I am seeking you. You now seek me. And I've got these refreshing, living waters, freely, readily available. Just come and meet Me at the well. Don't let your secret sins keep you from the well."

He knows you; He knows me inside and out. And you know what's amazing? He loves us anyway. With all the mess, all the muck, all the mistakes, all the mire, all the bitterness, the sharp tongue, the attitudinal sins, the behavioral sins, all of the sins, all of which stink in the nostrils of our Most High King, stunk to the point where a price had to be paid.

That's what Jesus did. Paid the price. I'm guilty as charged. And Jesus said, "No, Janet, let Me pay that price for you." It's pretty overwhelming. Pretty overwhelming. I'm guilty as charged, and He said, "No. I'll pay the price." So He takes us where we're at and will gently lead us where we need to go.

Well, this woman, she's got a sharp wit. She also has a sharp tongue. She's been beaten down all of her life; she's been used and abused by men, and she's trying to play games with men all the time. And she's playing a game with this man, too.

So she says in verses 11 and 12, "Sir, you have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as also did his sons and his flocks and his livestock."

Now, knowing the well is 100 feet deep, her perception is pretty good. She notes that Jesus doesn't have on His person the typical skin bucket that you would have carried traveling through the desert. Odds are His disciples had it; they went to the town to get food and drink. So they probably had it, so He didn't have an instrument to be able to draw the water. So she thinks she's pretty sharp, pretty discerning. She's thinking, He can't drink any water; He doesn't have anything to drink it with.

So she also gets a little sarcastic, and she starts challenging Jesus and she says, "Who do You think You are? Are You greater than Jacob, the patriarch?"

And by the way, footnote, nothing in Scripture says that Jacob or his sons actually used this well. That's merely a statement of tradition. But the point here isn't the history, the point here is Jesus.

He's defying convention. He's moving deeper into the life of a woman who had some pretty dark secrets. She's more thirsty than she can even imagine or knows herself.

So Jesus responds. And He says, "Everyone who drinks this water [referring to the well] 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" (vv. 13–14).

What a message. What a teacher. How brilliant to be right there at the side of the well and to have all of these marvelous references. But Jesus knew Scripture.

Nancy read a verse last night from the Old Testament referring to being thirsty and the wells and the springs. In all of that, Jesus drew every word of Scripture connected. People say, "Oh, the Scripture contradicts itself." Hardly. It is so contextually bound, you can't see daylight through it. It weaves back and forth and refers again and again, and so He brings this wonderful point to her.

This woman avoids this profound statement that Jesus just made, and she keeps His amazing declaration and His promise of eternal life at arm's length, maybe because that's how she's always learned to survive.

Maybe that's how you have always learned to survive. You came here with your neighbor, because she's your neighbor. You know, you do aerobics together. "I need to come with her to True Woman, so I'm going to go." Or my mother-in-law. "I've got to go, my mother-in-law asked me to go. My husband's going to be ticked off if I don't go with my mother-in-law. So I'm going to go."

It's not about who you came with, it's about who you leave with. And I want you to go home with Jesus.

So she changes the subject. You know, we don't talk around the dinner table about religion and politics. Maybe I'll give you politics, but religion, not so much. I think we should be talking about Jesus whenever we can. Under the leading of the Holy Spirit, Lord give us more opportunities not less to proclaim your truth in the marketplace of ideas.

So she doesn't want anyone to know her true self. Keep it light; don't get into any spiritual discussions here. Besides, a woman likes the idea of not being so thirsty and not having to come back to the well every day to carry all those large pots.

So she says, "Give me this water." She's a pragmatist. Are you kidding? I don't like taking these big ole jugs." Every single day. There's no indoor plumbing, no running water here, picture this. "I have to go to that well every day, I've got to haul those buckets, and I've got to do it in the middle of the day" for reasons I'll tell you about in a moment. So she says, yeah, you bet, I'll take this living water. Give it to me now. I'd love to have it." She doesn't even know what she's asking for, but she is about to find out.

Her life is a mess. She is drying up emotionally as well as spiritually. She lives on the edge of society. And the scars in her life have cut to the marrow of her bone. She is not really living at all; she's just existing.

There are women here today who fall into that category. You're not living; you're just existing. You're going through the motions one step after another. One foot in front of the other. But that abundant life that we've been promised, you don't have a point of reference.

That joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart, oh, that song is not on your song list. And yet, just think of what Jesus is telling her. The satisfaction, the wellspring, the promise of eternity. How amazing this message is.

But Jesus, the unconditional lover of our soul, has the most awe-inspiring way of exposing our sin. He does it, dear ones, because He loves us. He's not a cosmic bully.

Oh, the atheists I've heard who've said that. Thank You, God, like David said, for Your precepts, Your statutes, Your laws. They're a protective corral around my heart, and You do that because You love me. And the Law reminds me how much You love me, and when I jump the fence and decide to do things my way and raise my fist toward God, I walk right out into the wolves. And God's heart breaks when the wolves go after us.

We need to see through the eyes of heaven the compassion our Father has for us.

So He's not put off by her effort. He's not put off by her demeanor. He's not put off by her avoidance. He knows her situation; He knows her lifestyle; He knows her deepest longing.

And so, the Great Surgeon takes out His scalpel, and He cuts right to the heart of the matter. Jesus wanted to show her, her sin and why she so desperately needs those living waters.

So Jesus says in verse 16, "Go, call your husband, and come back."

"Call, call, call my husband? Wait a minute, wait a minute. We're talking wells; we're talking patriarchs; we're talking utensils. How did my husband get into this situation?"

Now, you can imagine what was going on inside of her own head. It's one of those moments where we can step into the spaces between the words, where at the well we feel the dry air on our face, in the middle of the hottest part of the day. We sense her discomfort as she talks to a total stranger. She hadn't read John 4 yet, okay? It's a total stranger.

They are at the well. This man, this Jew has utterly invaded her world. He's broken a whole bunch of tradition and now, now He's pushed the nuclear button in her life.

"My husband?" Can you hear the screaming going on in her head? "Really? I just wanted to get some water far from the wagging tongues of the town. I wanted to slip in and out with as few people as possible noticing me. And this man, this Jew, asks me about my husband. Of all the things to say, my husband?"

She gets herself under control; she turns and answers Jesus with a half-truth. "I have no husband."

Now, I love what Jesus does and what He doesn't do. He doesn't shame her. He doesn't load her with guilt. He doesn't condemn her. He simply states the truth. Verse 18—and can't you just hear the sound of our Savior's voice?

"You are right when you say you have no husband. 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."

He juxtaposed her half-truth with the absolute truth of her situation. Now rabbinical law allowed up to three divorces, believe it or not. She was well beyond that. She was a serial fornicator. Men came and went in and out of her life. She was emotionally thirsty. She drank in every relationship time after time after time, and was left parched and dry after every single relationship.

So what does she do? She changes the subject. She attempts to engage Jesus in an utterly useless spiritual debate. Notice also that she's not so horrified by the question that she grabs her water jars and runs in the opposite direction. After all, this man had just told this woman her life story, and they had just met. So there had to be a little something special about this traveler. Jesus also spoke to her compassionately and with respect, and He had spoken the truth about her situation, so she was curious but evasive.

Verse 19, "Sir, I can see that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem." (paraphrased)

Okay, the Samaritans did build a temple on Mount Gerizim. And sitting on the ledge of Jacob's well, looking at the geography of the place, they probably could have looked up and seen Mount Gerizim right there from the well, perhaps could have even seen the temple ruins when they were sitting. And those who built that temple stood in stark opposition to the work that was done Nehemiah and Ezra. And there was no question that they were idolatrous.

But Jesus addresses her by gently challenging her thinking. Verse 21, "A time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem." Why? Because worship isn't a place; worship is a person.

Verse 22, "You [Samaritans] worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews."

She gets both a history lesson and a theological one. And if I may quickly footnote, don't forget that passage. Anti-Semitism is on the rise in our world today. As followers of Jesus Christ, may we never forget salvation came by way of the Jews.

Verse 23 and 24, "A [time] is coming . . . when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and [his worshipers] must worship in spirit and in truth."

True worship is the true measure of true devotion to God. It's the hallmark of a true woman, and God wants us to worship Him in an authentic, genuine, honestly transparent manner. God is seeking worshipers. Will we be one of those worshipers today?

So we knew the woman at the well was physically thirsty. She had come to the well for water. We learned that she was emotionally thirsty. She kept thinking one more man might satisfy, and she left parched. And now she's shown she is spiritually thirsty as well.

She says in verse 25, "I know that Messiah" (called Christ) "is coming. When he comes, he will [explain everything to us]."

The Samaritans believed the Messiah would be more like Moses, kind of a good teacher. So she thinks, He's not here. We have to leave the question open-ended. You don't know; I don't know. the Messiah is not here yet.

Wow. And then He utters the most profound words any human being could ever, ever hear. "I who speak to you am he" (v. 26). "I am the great I AM. I am the Messiah. I am the conqueror of death. I am the unconditional lover of your soul. I am the one who's prepared a place for you. I am the one offering you living waters. I am the great, I AM."

What a message for this woman to hear! There she was, burdened with sin, hiding in shame, thirsty, unsatisfied. She goes back after her daily chores, dreams on hold, dreading the night to come. She has an encounter with the One who knows exactly who she is, and He loves her nonetheless.

She finds real intimacy in Jesus, for the first time in her life with this man, this Jew, the Messiah. He loves her like no one ever has. She was thirsty, and He offered her living water. And for the first time in her life, her thirst was quenched.

The conversation stops, the disciples show up. You can imagine they were rather dumbfounded. Whoa! He's alone at the well. It's a woman. It's a Samaritan. They're talking. You can imagine, but they knew they better be quiet and pay attention.

His students were watching an evangelist at work and His students were getting the message that the gospel is for all people in all times and in all places. And that was a profound message, the whole truth of the whole gospel to the whole world should be our clarion call in the time God has left for us.

The students were amazed, and the Bible says no one asked a question. That's because they were watching grace at work.

Then something wonderful happens. The woman runs back into town, leaving her water jars, makes a statement that resonates throughout the centuries. "Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did" (v. 29).

Here she is, a woman getting water in the middle of the day, living in the shadows, and now she's running back to the very people she's been trying to avoid. She says, "I want to tell you about the one who has told me everything I've ever done."

Open, transparent, free, backpack of sin off, quenched thirst from living waters. And as a result of that, revival breaks out. Her repentance led to revival and later on in this passage, we read where Jesus says, "Look, the fields are white with harvest." Some Bible teachers think the Samaritans were known for wearing white robes. So the white with harvest meant there was a whole boatload of Samaritans coming out to see what she had said. The fields are white with harvest. Revival started with repentance, because she took the living waters from the One who sought her out. It doesn't get any better than that.

So they believed. You know what's amazing, as I wrap this up? This woman is never named. I love it when God does that. You know why? Because I think He's saying to us, "Will you step into that passage?"

Maybe you're that woman at the well. Oh, when I get to heaven, I've got a million questions for a million people, and after I spend a million years on my face before the Lord and I finally raise my head to see Him face-to-face, I'm going to say, "Could you point out the Samaritan woman to me?"

I would like to meet her. We don't know her name, and I think part of that is because God invites us in. Knowing our secret sins, knowing everything we have ever done, and He loves us just the same.

We think we are clever or effective in hiding guilt and shame, but in truth we are all very, very thirsty. We're barely existing, certainly not thriving, but we don't want someone to know. So we go about our daily tasks hoping no one will notice.

  • We are thirsty physically, so we use food, alcohol to try to comfort us, only to leave us hungry for more.
  • We're thirsty emotionally. We try relationship after relationship after relationship, only to be left parched.
  • And we hunger spiritually, and so we use everything from Oprah to Buddhism to ritualism to try to fill a gap that only He can fill.

So ladies, this morning I want us to step into this story. I want us to let our parched lips be quenched by the living waters that He affords us.

I want you to remember the words of an old hymn that said:

One day I came to Him when I was so thirsty.
I asked for water, my throat was so dry.
He gave me water that I never dreamed of,
But for this water my Lord would die.

He said I thirst, and yet He made the rivers.
He said I thirst, and yet He made the sea.
He said I thirst, said the king of the ages,
In His great thirst He brought water to me.


("I Thirst" by Ernie Haase)

Our gracious heavenly Father, You are a glorious King. You are the profound King of all creation. Father, we are so humbled by Your Word. We are so humbled by Your teachings. We are so humbled by Your compassion and Your kindness and Your grace.

Father, we came here today, we put on our makeup, combed our hair, and put a good face on. We came here this morning and were reminded that man looks on the outward appearance, but You look on the heart.

Oh, God, search our hearts. You know the secret sins, we didn't have to pack them in our suitcase; they came along with us. So we ask You today as we sit on the edge of that well that You would touch our hearts and You would touch our life.

We thank You that You sought us. We thank You that You were so interested in satisfying the thirst of this woman that You didn't even stop to drink.

Father, You gave Your life for us, so this morning we want to pour out all of our sins before You. You know what they are. Clean us with that living water, put in our own lives that wellspring. And Father, refresh us, renew us, take away the parched lips of our lives.

Help us to find peace and satisfaction in You. And Father, I fervently pray that if there is a woman in this room today, a woman watching us today, who doesn't yet know You, You the unconditional lover of her soul, Lord I pray that she would really, freely receive just like that woman at the well; that she would know that you know everything she's ever done, and You love her nonetheless.

Father, today may she receive those living waters and be a woman transformed. And may she possibly, just possibly, be used to bring revival.

We pray this in the name of the One who did conquer death and who continues to satisfy our thirst. In Jesus' name we pray, amen and amen.

Nancy: Amen! That’s Janet Parshall, speaking at a True Woman conference. She reminded us all of the transformational, thirst-quenching power of God in the life of the Samaritan woman. Maybe He’s at work in your life, too. He wants to be. Will you let Him?

It’s the same power Rahab experienced as well, thousands of years ago. How could a pagan prostitute turn in faith to the true God of Israel? Only by His amazing, transforming grace. 

Dannah: Would you like to study Rahab’s life more? Check out the newest Women of the Bible study from Revive Our Hearts. We’ll send you a copy as a thank you for your donation of any size to support the ministry of Revive Our Hearts. To give, just visit ReviveOurHearts.com, or call us at 1–800–569–5959. 

Now, let me ask: do you recognize this sound? (running water)

Water figures prominently in Scripture—from creation to Revelation. But how does water teach us about God's power? or help strip us of self-reliance? Tomorrow, Nancy will take us through the Old Testament book of Exodus to explain ways water can be a learning experience for God's people. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Calling you to freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ, Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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About the Speaker

Janet  Parshall

Janet Parshall

Janet Parshall is the host of In the Market with Janet Parshall, a two-hour nationally syndicated program by Moody Radio. Broadcasting from the nation’s capital for over fifteen years, …

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