Sameo is twelve. He works for his dad–as a thief. Father is addicted to cocaine and the son steals to support dad’s habit. The family migrated from Nigeria to America to “find a better life.” It only got worse. Sameo’s sure he will get caught sooner or later. His friends know what he is doing. They think it is “cool.” He knows older people. But he doesn’t like his life and wants to change. But his dad won’t let him in the house without either money or drugs, both if possible. When he does “well,” his dad affirms him. When he fails in his adventures, he sleeps outside. Not the life you’d pick for your son.

The church is the only organization that exists for its non-members. We live for the lost, for those who hate us, who have no time for us, who curse us. When we react to them, we prove their assumptions. Some churches are not the church. They exist primarily for those who are in. They draw a circle, and thieves and prostitutes are outside.

When the Jericho community drew the circle, Zacchaeus the thief definitely stood outside. That is where Jesus goes. He came “to seek and save the lost,” not to only spend time with the found. He is the Shepherd, and he by nature “leaves the 99 and goes after the one that is lost until he finds it” (Luke 15:4).  Notice that Zacchaeus “was seeking to see who Jesus was but on account of the crowd he could not” (Luke 19:3). Many lost people are more attracted to Jesus than to his people. Jesus turned the tables on the crowd and the wee little man by saying, “I must stay at your house today” (5). What a compelling seeker! The crowd grumbled (7), and Zac repented.

The insiders didn’t like a sinner crashing the party. How disgusting. An unnamed woman aimed right for Jesus. Not what the insiders or the disciples expected–but Jesus did. Her love touched him; their caution did not. Neither did their aversion regarding a Samaritan woman who had five husbands–and one Savior, enough to stage a mighty revival!

Sameo needs help. So does his dad. Reaching out and demonstrating love could pull the family into the circle. But it will mean taking some risks. The cartel doesn’t want to lose its customers. And Sameo wants somewhere to sleep at night.

I made up this story, but it fits 10,000 families around the world. Thank God the church exists where Sameo’s are struggling in the darkness. Praise God people are reaching out and drawing the circle wider than ever before–to includes thieves and prostitutes.

Dear Church, pray for God to give you strategies, so you can also leave the 99. They are going to make it. We need to find the one, Sameo, his dad, his younger sibling. What could be more exciting?!!


“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us, that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations” (Psalm 67:1,2).

Two things are happening to us:

  1. We are experiencing God’s empowering grace and blessing at the front end. Grace is a gift, not a paycheck.
  2. His face is shining upon us, saying that He is favoring us, not turning away in shame.

The goal for these blessing on us? —that the nations experience the same.

“May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you. May the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you rule the peoples justly and guide the nations of the earth. May the peoples praise you, O God, may all the peoples praise you” (v. 3-5).

Remarkable. An ultra-nationalist knowing God had called out his people gives attention to other peoples. He warred against them. Now he sees God’s higher purpose for Israel. He uses the word “peoples” five times in three verses. Them is on his mind, not just us. How interracial can you get?!


Blessings often get stuck at the altar rather than going out to the streets or across the continent. They are not meant to be scarfed down like a burrito but passed along to folks with different customs.

The author understands that we are favored so they can be. David highlights three glorious changes:

  1. They praise God. They are no longer speaking lies about lesser deities they have carved out of wood or invented out of fear. It happens to us, then to them. How tragic if they stay with dumb idols and terrorizing gods.
  1. They become glad and sing for joy. They were not glad when they were killing babies to appease a mad monarch. But now God is shining on them and brings joy.
  1. They experience the rule of God. Being ruled by Satan is not close to pretty. When we share about a God who shines on them, they experience a kind King.

Us and us gets ugly. We die like the Dead Sea is dying. Us and them is satisfying and productive. We can only keep what we give away. “Then the land will yield its harvest, and God, our God, will bless us. God will bless us, and all the ends of the earth will fear him” (v. 6, 7).

Israel sang this song, tied to the Aaronic benediction, as they brought in the fall crops. Check out the harvest of righteousness. The farthest nations join in the song of praise in their own language and colorful clothes. God loves the song!


Jesus had a great day in Sychar.  An encounter turned into an intervention. Linking up with God and touching people with His love is deeply satisfying. Jesus compared it to eating.  He said, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work” (John 4:34). He concentrated on one thing—hearing and heeding. Obeying God was like the satisfaction of eating a good meal.

What is your food?  The disciples were hungry.  When they returned, they found that Jesus had already eaten.  His food was obedience to the Father.  Genuine needs can distract us from higher pleasures. Their hamburgers satisfied them for a few hours.  Jesus’ food lasted for days as the harvesting continued. The woman was thirsty for love, and she was drinking from the wrong well. Once she tasted what Jesus had to offer, she was hooked.  But the disciples couldn’t help her, because they had food on their mind. She had husbands on hers. Jesus had harvest on his.
When we are driven by needs, we may not see the potential God is setting before us. Here is a woman starving for love. And here are twelve disciples starving for a lunch.  And here is Jesus, hungry to please God.  He makes the connection to the love-starved woman, surprising the disciples who had hunger pangs satisfied but missed a bigger meal.

What is your focus?  Where are you looking?  Are you hunting for some fast food?  Does the need of sleep or solace or a sandwich so occupy your attention that you don’t see the Samaritan? Do you want to meet your needs or the needs of others?  Nothing wrong with needs—we all have them. But who is more in need, you or they?  What has captured your attention?

When you go to the grocery store, whom do you see?  Are your neighbors next door invisible, or can you see them?  Sometimes special people groups are particularly invisible—like the elderly or children?  In that culture, the Jews could not see the Samaritans, especially women, and especially an immoral one. The Samaritan woman was invisible to the disciples. Not to Jesus.

Are you expecting God to use you for a divine appointment at work?  Jesus was always ready for an encounter—and He had plenty of them.  He could see a single lamb in a flock of them.  He could see a lonely face in a crowd.  Would you like to have some divine appointments?  Learn to listen to the Father like Jesus did.

About the harvest, Jesus said, “Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’?  I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields!  They are ripe for harvest” (John 4:35).

Some pray for revival but don’t expect it. Others are a revival and see it. Some say, “Four months…” Jesus says, “Open your eyes. It’s happening.”

We may have reasons for missing the revival: I have too many things going on. I am not experienced in revivals. I have a meeting to go to. I am booked. I have a plane to catch. For the disciples, it was simply time to eat. For the priest and Levite who missed another Samaritan, it may have been important religious duties.

The issue is not food. It is the will and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Paul wrote, “We are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do” (I Cor. 8:8). It is wrong to fast when it is time to feast.

Jesus did not put down the disciples for getting food. I wonder if one of them wanted to say, “I would rather stay here with Jesus.” He would have had a great meal!