Water to Wine - God's Best vs. Man's Best

Posted on 01/27/2008 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.

AUDIO: dialup - broadband - podcast

TRANSCRIPT: (may not contain everything found in the audio above)

Good morning and welcome to Abundant Living Ministries. For our first-time visitors, please make sure you click the welcome sign in the foyer before you leave and pick up some free gifts.

If you don't have the slBible Book or aren't sure you have the latest copy, be sure to pick one up either in the notecard from the pulpit or on the table in the foyer.


In the two and a half years we've been in active ministry in Second Life, we've made only three appeals in a service for financial support. And that number includes today.

We have two options right now. And letting this island disappear is not one of them. But if nothing changes, that's exactly what will happen. This island will cease to exist. So unless we gain a significant amount of financial support in the next few days, I will be stepping down for an unknown length of time from these weekly services so I can take on a second job to bring the ministry out of the negative and keep it from vanishing.

Souls have been saved. Believers have grown stronger in their faith, and many who had strayed from the path have come back to a living walk with Jesus. The people who make up the Abundant Living Ministries team here in Second Life, from the ministry team to the staff, are the cream of the crop. Our very presence in the virtual world is a testimony to the rest of the world community that what is built upon the solid foundation of Jesus Christ and his Word will not sway to compromise or defeat. This is why I'm willing to work both day and night to make sure we stay here and continue to make the resources available for people in and out of Second Life to find Salvation, deliverance, hope, and strength in Jesus.

Sure, it will be a great sacrifice working both day and night. I would much rather stay here with you and continue to minister to God and to you in this way, not to mention being able to have dinner and small bit of time in the evenings with my wife. But if I must use that time of preparation to instead work a secular job to make sure you continue to have this spiritual resource and to make sure this light in a dark world continues to shine, then may God's will be done.

This coming week I will be turning in applications for a night job in addition to my current full-time job. And if God moves upon your heart to financially back this ministry and what we're doing here, then I ask you to go to almcyberchurch.org and click the donation plate and support us with real-world donations and pledges. We're a 501(c)3 non-profit, so you can take your gifts off your taxes. If we all pull together, these needs will be met in abundance. But if we don't, I am committed to taking on the burden myself, because I love you and I have pledged to do my part to help you grow in the Faith and to point the lost to Jesus.

So big or small, join together with us like the family we are. Make a bit of a sacrifice, whether it's skipping eating out a couple of times a month, or sending that thirty bucks to help spread the Gospel instead of buying lottery tickets. Just go to almcyberchurch.org and click the offering link. If we all carry our part of the load, it will become light. But even if you don't, we will keep this resource here for you no matter what it takes, for we're here not of our own plans and purposes, but because this is what God has instructed us to do, and he has placed some of his love for you in us.


A quick announcement to the ladies, the weekly women's Bible study on Tuesdays will be at 9:00am Second Life time (Pacific) from now on. So be sure to update your calendars.


Let's stand to our feet and open with prayer.


Lord God, thank you for this brand new day. Thank you for your mercies which are new every morning. Thank you for your presence here with us today. And thank you for Jesus, and for the sacrifice that was made for us at Calvary.

Lord, we pray for Janselina's mother figure, Abby, who is in the hospital. We pray that you comfort Janselina and bring her peace, and that you give Abby a speedy and complete recovery.

We pray for the anonymous requests for deliverance for Seth and Mimi. Lord, set them free and set them on your path, in Jesus' name. And we ask again for a move of God in Argentina and specifically in the unnamed area.

We pray for Trish, that you help her overcome depression, and that you help her find the job you'd have her take. We also ask that you put a hedge of protection around her friends, family, and loved ones, in Jesus' name.

We pray for Taylaa who has a physical this Tuesday, the 29th, and ask that it goes well, and continue to bring her healing from the passing of her mother, restoring to her the joy of living and the joy of your Salvation.

And Lord, I pray for this service and for everyone joining us right now or later. Have your way with us today, and may Jesus Christ alone be glorified.

And it's in Jesus' name we pray.

Amen.

Click the pulpit for a notecard, as we worship God with song.


POWER IN THE BLOOD

Would you be free from the burden of sin?
There's power in the blood, power in the blood;
Would you over evil a victory win?
There's wonderful power in the blood.

Would you be free from your passion and pride?
There's power in the blood, power in the blood;
Come for a cleansing to Calvary's tide;
There's wonderful power in the blood.

Would you be whiter, much whiter than snow?
There's power in the blood, power in the blood;
Sin stains are lost in its life giving flow.
There's wonderful power in the blood.

Would you do service for Jesus your King?
There's power in the blood, power in the blood;
Would you live daily His praises to sing?
There's wonderful power in the blood.

There is power, power, wonder working power
In the blood of the Lamb;
There is power, power, wonder working power
In the precious blood of the Lamb.


TAKE A LITTLE TIME

Thank you,  Lord,
I   just want to thank you,
I   just want to thank You;
(repeat)

I just want to take,
    take a little time right now
to say thank you, Lord
for all you've done for me.
(repeat)


I SEE THE LORD

I see the Lord seated on the throne, exalted
And the train of His robe
Fills the temple with glory
And the whole earth is filled
The whole earth is filled
And the whole earth is filled
With His glory

Chorus

Holy, Holy, Holy, Holy
Holy is the Lord
Holy, Holy, Holy, Holy
Holy is the Lord

Verse

Holy, Holy, Holy, Holy
Holy is the Lord


Today I'd like for us to take a look at the first miracle Jesus performed. It wasn't raising someone from the dead, or opening deaf ears, or giving sight to the blind. It wasn't even the descending of the Holy Spirit as a dove after he was baptised, or the accompanying voice from heaven.

Jesus' first miracle is recorded after these events. And his first miracle and the name of my message today is, "Water Into Wine -- God's Best vs. Man's Best."

Let's read this from John chapter two, verses one through eleven.

John 2:1-11

1 On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.
2 Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding.
3 And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.”

4 Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.”

5 His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.”

6 Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece.
7 Jesus said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” And they filled them up to the brim.
8 And He said to them, “Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast.” And they took it.
9 When the master of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom.
10 And he said to him, “Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now!”

11 This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him.


We don't hear that much about this miracle. We hear about Jesus walking on water. We hear about Jesus asking the Samaritan woman for a drink of water. We hear about Jesus being baptised in water. We hear entire message about them, or even series of messages, articles, or books. But we don't hear that much about Jesus turning water into wine. And yet within this first miracle, this small, seemingly insignificant event, Jesus sums up the state of mankind without God, the difference between the New and Old covenants, the redemption of all humanity, and the difference between man's best and God's best.

The first thing I'd like to point out today is in verse three which says, "And when they ran out of wine."

"When they ran out of wine." For whatever reason, they weren't prepared for what this occasion demanded. Their own preparations were not enough. What they had was insufficient. They fell short of having what it took to get them through.

Have you ever run out of wine? Were your own preparations, your own efforts, ever not enough? Has what you have ever been insufficient? Have you ever fallen short of having what it takes to get you through?

If your answer is "no," then your time is coming. The truth is, what man can supply isn't enough. And until we realize this, we'll continue to fall short.

The truth is that there is a time coming in our lives when we'll realize that what we have is not enough. For some of us, this time will come on this side of the grave. We will turn to Jesus for help. For others, we will continue to deceive ourselves into believing we have enough, and we will only realize the truth after our life has ended, and then it will be too late.

But I believe most of us here have realized that, at least in the grand scheme of things and in our own Salvation, what we have is far from enough. And for those who haven't, the Spirit of God is here today and he's tugging at your heart. And I pray and believe that God will reveal the truth to you today, and when you know the truth, you'll be set free.

So the first thing to realize is that what we have is not enough. And this is not true only in our Salvation or in eternal matters. This is true for all of life. Sure, we might be able to get by or even appear to prosper without asking Jesus for help. But we don't realize how things would be if we would come to the end of ourselves and cry out to him, "Jesus! What I have is not enough! I cannot walk by faith, walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh, and I cannot glorify you in all I say, think, and do, with my own efforts and what I can produce. I need your help! I need YOU!"


And this brings us to our second point today, which is in verse five, where Mary says to the servants, "Whatever he says to you, do it."

Imagine what would have happened if they had realized they did not have enough wine, and someone asked Jesus for help, but when he told them what to do, they did something else instead. I'm afraid all their efforts would have been in vain.

They could have said, "Jesus, that's rediculous. These stone waterpots are very heavy. And besides, what does water have to do with wine? We don't know you. You've never done any sort of miracle. Your family is not even in the business of making wine. Instead of getting water, let's at least get you some grapes. Or maybe we'll travel to the next town where we might be able to find enough wine to get us through."

But if they had not done what Jesus said, or if they had modified what he said to suit their own human wisdom, they would not have seen the glory of God that day, and they would have fallen short of having what they needed to get them through.

I don't have to ask if any of us have ever done that. Of course we have. Most of us have asked Jesus for help. And probably all of us have either not done something he said or done it a little bit different than he instructed. And whether or not we realized it, we were left short of what we might have seen had we simply done what God said.

So we would do well to keep these words of wisdom at the front of our minds. Memorize them. Print them places you will see them often. And live by them:

"Whatever He says to you, do it."


Next, in verse six, we read, "Now there were six stone waterpots sitting there, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece."

Imagine a thirty-gallon water pot. That's big. Most of us know how big a keg of beer is, either from days in our past or from the movies. Imagine two of those, one on top of the other. That would come up to our shoulders. And that would hold thirty gallons.

How heavy would those two kegs of beer be if they were empty? I'm certainly no Sampson, I admin, but I wouldn't want to try carrying them anywhere. Imagine if they were both full of beer. Forget it, you may be able to pick them up, but I wouldn't even try.

Now imagine that instead of metal, they're made out of stone and are fused into one huge container. Well that's exactly what was sitting there that day. They were too big for most of us to even think about lifting even if they were empty, let alone full of water.

An important bit of knowledge to add to this is that they were used for ceremonial purification. They were placed at the door so a person would not enter the house in an "unclean" state and thereby contaminate the house. They would dip their fingers into the water and wipe them dry, symbolizing the washing away of their sins.

This was the Old Covenant. It was symbolic, but did not truly cleanse the soul from sin. And just as the stone water pots were too heavy for anyone to carry, so the Old Covenant was too heavy to bear, nor could it cleanse the soul from sin.

And so in verse seven Jesus says to them, "Fill the waterpots with water." And it says they filled them up "to the brim."

In the Christian world, we often hear that works are not important for the believer because nothing we do matters. Jesus did it all, and nothing else is required. But this is a dangerous misunderstanding of Scripture. It is true that to receive Salvation, we simply receive it. We can't earn Salvation by our works. We cannot attain the Second Birth by some type of pennance, ritual, good deed, or mental ascent. Jesus did it all, we need only accept what he did. But when we have come into the Kingdom, it's very important to realize that faith without works is dead. We have entered into a covenant with Christ, and Scripture makes clear that we are to be faithful. And just as there were six water pots, six being the number representing mankind, so he asks us to use our human strength, mind, heart, and soul to obey him in all things.

Not only did these servants fill the pots, they filled them as full as they could, "to the brim." How often do we do just what we think we have to do, and go no further? Don't worry, I'm stomping on my own toes right now. How often do we, instead of seeing how little we can do, see how whole-heartedly and passionately we can carry out the wishes of the Master?

So they filled them to the brim. And yet, if things had stopped there, they would have been in a more miserable condition than before. Their part alone accomplished nothing but to make the burden of man's efforts even more impossible to bear. Yes, God asks us to obey him with our whole hearts, filling our human vessels to the brim, going the second mile, doing our absolute best. But without the touch of the Master, all we have is a burden that we cannot bear. Obedience is imperitive. But we must realize that it is what God does with our efforts, not our efforts themselves, that changes the world.


Next, in verse seven, Jesus tells the servants, "Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast." Once again, they did not talk their way out of doing this strange and rediculous task. They could have said, "Are we supposed to go to the master and say, 'Master, you are asking for more wine, so here is some lovely water'?" But instead, they obeyed the Word of the Lord, having seen no miracles, having seen nothing out of the ordinary, having seen no sign whatsoever that their need would be met and their work had not been in vain.

Then in verse nine we read, "When the master of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom, and he said to him, 'Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now!'" - "You have saved the best for last!"

What he did not know was that the bridgegroom had indeed served his best wine first. And it had seemed good enough. But when his best was not enough, Jesus stepped in on the scene. And because of obedience, God took plain old water stored in cold stone vessels and provided an abundance that was far superior to what human effort could produce.

And I say he produced an abundance, because sitting there in stone waterpots was up to 180 gallons of the finest wine that mankind has ever tasted. The waterpots were not perfect. The water was just water. The obedience, while necessary, was in itself of no consequence. But what Jesus made out of it was absolutely perfect.

In these pots meant for purification was water that could not wash away sins and only represented a burden too heavy to carry. But because our religious rituals and our own efforts were not enough, he transformed them into wine, symbolic of the New Covenent of his blood, which is more than enough, and completely cleanses the soul from sin.


The ministry team can come to the front now.


Are you ready to admit that your best simply isn't enough? Are you ready to ask Jesus for help, and then to do exactly what he says with completeness and passion, even if what he says doesn't seem to make any sense?

If so, you're invited to come join me at the altar for a time of dedication and worship.

And if you have not accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then he's waiting and ready to turn your emptiness into something new and full of life. Just tell him you accept him into your heart as your Lord. Then instant message someone on the ministry team.

Jesus is ready to give you his best, as you choose to admit your need to him and obey him. Let's gather here at the front and dedicate our all to him together.


Lord Jesus, we come to you today insuficient and unable to fit the bill with our own efforts and resources. And so we ask you for help. We commit ourselves today to obey you in all things with our whole hearts, and we ask that you lead us, direct us, and turn our obedience into the best wine by the power of your Holy Spirit. And when we fail, give us the boldness and strength to get back up and keep moving forward.

We surrender to you, Lord, and I ask that you move here now in a mighty way. Hold us to our commitment. Holy Spirit, I ask that you remind us every day that we can do nothing without you, and that as we seek your presence and walk in your Spirit, nothing will be impossible.

Guide us now as we spend some time in prayer and worship, and may we leave here today transformed by your presence.

We ask these things in Jesus' name.

Amen.


Let's continue in prayer and worship. If you need to go or wish to carry on a conversation, you're free to go. You're also invited to make your way to the room on your left after your time of ministry, and we'll meet there in a few minutes for fellowship.