Monthly Archives: January 2012

Red Letters (Jan 30)

John 4:13-14 (NIV)
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, [14] 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.”

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Jesus, the Master Teacher, often used real world images to help people grasp the spiritual concepts he was teaching. As he shared with the Samaritan woman about the reality of eternal life, he compared the temporal with the eternal by using an illustration she could readily see and understand–water and wells. As Jesus drew her into the conversation about living water, she began to ask questions about how Jesus could possibly get water from a well without having something to draw it out with. That was a reasonable question. And it provided Jesus with the perfect segue to unfold the truth to her: the water from this well is able to quench your thirst for a little while, but there exists another kind of water, the kind I can give, said Jesus, which will produce a spring of water on the inside of a person–a spring that will flow from the inside out. This kind of water gives life without end!

As she turned this perplexing thought over in her mind, she couldn’t quite make sense of it. But her curiosity was piqued, and even if she couldn’t understand it all, if this man had a better kind of water, she wanted it.

Have you ever questioned if there is more to life than just working to meet the needs of each day? Have you ever wondered if there is something more than just this?

May we live in the awareness of eternity, Jesus, knowing that there is more to life than just making the daily trek to our earthly wells to take care of our physical needs. We are grateful for your life-giving presence within us. We thank you. AMEN.

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Red Letters (Jan 29)

John 4:10 (NIV)
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.”

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I wish I had known. The young man had missed an opportunity to ask for advice as he was building his new business. He had recently been introduced to an older man at a social gathering. They had talked for a while about their families and some of the places they had traveled to. But they had not talked about business. Only later did the young man discover that the man with whom he had visited had actually become quite successful in starting a number of new companies through the years. If only I’d known! I had a lot of questions he could probably have helped me with!

As Jesus began his conversation with the Samaritan woman, he didn’t want her to miss out on a life-changing opportunity. He knew she needed the abundant life that only he could give. He also knew that she had no way to recognize who he was and the living water he could offer to her. Jesus continued to draw her to the place of recognizing her spiritual need and his ability to provide the answer. If you knew…you would have asked.

Have you ever come to the realization that Jesus has all the resources to meet the deepest needs of your life?

May we not miss you, Jesus. Reveal to us our need of you and your unique ability to give us new life. We praise you. AMEN


Red Letters (Jan 28)

John 4:7 (NIV)
Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?”

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How should a Christian go about the task of sharing the good news of Christ with others? Should we set aside a specific day or time and mark it on our calendar? Should we set up appointments to talk with those we know need Christ? Or should we just wait patiently until someone asks us about our faith, and then use that as an opportunity? How should we approach the important work of sharing the gospel with people in need?

We can learn something about this from Jesus himself as he often encountered people in need. On one occasion, as Jesus was traveling back home from Judea to Galilee, he stopped midday in a small town. He was hot, tired, and thirsty. As he sat beside the well in the center of town, a woman approached in order to fill her water jars. She said nothing to Jesus and didn’t expect him to say anything to her since the racial and gender barriers would make that awkward. But Jesus startled her as he spoke directly to her. They had something in common in that they were both at that well for one reason: they both needed water. Jesus broke through the expected silence with a simple request. Will you give me a drink?

That unexpected question was the beginning of a life-transforming encounter for that Samaritan woman. But Jesus had not scheduled the ministry opportunity, nor had he set up an appointment. He had simply made himself available, moment by moment, to meet the needs of those he came in contact with. His life orientation was serving others. And he did this in the daily context of life. Jesus operated from a perspective that saw beyond social norms and labels. He saw people as individuals in need of what he had come to offer. Whenever and wherever he encountered them, he began the conversation, even with everyday mundane requests, such as Will you give me a drink?

We can learn a lot about serving others and sharing the Good News from Jesus. Every moment can be filled with divine appointments.

Have you ever thought about intentionally being on mission with God as you move through the rhythms of daily life?

May we be looking for ways to serve others and share the hope found only in you, Jesus. We need you to open our hearts and our eyes as we move through the moments of this day. We need you. AMEN.


Red Letters (Jan 27)

John 3:19-21 (NIV)
This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. [20] Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. [21] But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.

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Have you ever watched small children playing hide-and-seek? They love to hide, but they also love to be found eventually. When it comes to people in their relationship with God, unfortunately, that is not always the case. As Jesus finished his heart to heart talk with Nicodemus about the kingdom of God, he turned the conversation to the tendency of people to hide from God. Jesus explained to the religious teacher that sinful hearts don’t care to come near the light of truth for fear they will be exposed. Better to keep a distance from the Light! He ended the conversation with a hopeful thought: living by the truth takes away the fear of exposure to the light, and ultimately this brings glory to God. Walking in the truth means there is no need to hide from God.

Have you ever “hid out” from God, hoping there were things about your life which would never be discovered?

May we live confessionally before you, Jesus, hiding nothing from the Light of your holiness. May the glory of God be evidenced in our lives. We need you. AMEN.


Red Letters (Jan 26)

John 3:17-18 (NIV)
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. [18] Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

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The young man stood before the judge. With his face looking downward, he listened to what the judge had to say to him. He had been found guilty, and with that he couldn’t argue. He knew he had committed the offenses. He truly was sorry. But it was too late. The deeds had been done, he had been tried and found guilty, and now, he was about to receive his sentence. Would it be life in prison? A few years with possibility of parole? He had no idea which way this would go. Then, the judge began his pronouncement. As he listened, the young man could scarcely believe what he was hearing. It couldn’t be possible, could it, that someone else would serve his sentence, and that he could go free without spending one day in jail? That wasn’t just good news, it was incredible news!

Of course, we know this scenario doesn’t happen in today’s judicial system. People who are found guilty of crimes don’t walk out of the courtroom to freedom. They have to serve their sentence. But this is exactly what Jesus was telling Nicodemus that God had done. Those who refused to believe in the Savior would not be released from the penalty for their sin, but those who would place their faith in Jesus would be released from their rightfully-deserved condemnation for breaking God’s law. To Nicodemus, the religious lawyer, this would have seemed insane. But to Nicodemus, the law-breaker, this would have been the most wonderful news he could have received.

Have you ever come to a point of realizing that you have broken God’s law? If so, have you ever heard the good news that Jesus was sharing with Nicodemus?

May we constantly live in the awareness of what you have done for us, Jesus, ever thankful that we will never receive the condemnation we deserved for our breaking of God’s laws. Words seem so inadequate to say…we thank you. AMEN.


Red Letters (Jan 25)

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John 3:16 (NIV)
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

It is without doubt the most well-known and most quoted verse of Scripture in the Bible. As I reflect on this verse in “Red Letters,” I wonder how I could possibly contribute any new insight regarding what it means. Though there have been theological debates around it, I believe the words of Jesus in the context of the conversation with Nicodemus are pretty straight-forward. I thought I’d reflect on the key words:
God
Love
World
Gave
Only Son
Whoever
Believes
Perish
Eternal life

It turns out that most of the words in this verse are key words! The subject: God. His action: loving and giving of his only Son. The object of this action: the world, the whoever. The needed response: belief in the Son. The dual effect: not perish, but have eternal life.

With this sentence, Jesus continues his instruction to Nicodemus, to shed further light on the connection between the snake plague (as consequences for sin) during the Exodus and the devastation caused by sin which affected this religious leader and everyone else. Just as God had mercifully provided a remedy in the Sinai Desert, through the ministry of his Son he was now providing a once-and-for-all remedy for Nicodemus and all humankind. The first man to ever hear those beloved words, that verse which has impacted lives through the centuries…for God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son…,Nicodemus must have leaned in a little, pondering carefully all that Jesus was saying.

Have you ever thought about the fact that you are included in whoever? God’s loving and giving has been extended to you and everyone else who will place their faith in Christ Jesus.

May we ever praise you, Jesus, for you are our Savior, the only remedy to give us eternal life in place of death. We thank you. AMEN.


Red Letters (Jan 24)

John 3:14-15 (NIV)
Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, [15] that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.

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That snake that Moses lifted up in the desert is referenced in three different historical periods in Scripture. Of course in the original context the bronze snake was a part of God’s merciful provision for his rebellious children during the Exodus. In order to relieve the effects of the venomous snake plague, God had instructed Moses to craft the object and then lift it up on a pole. All who looked up at it would live. Seven hundred years later, King Hezekiah smashed the bronze relic to pieces in worship reform. Apparently the famous object that had been preserved for all those centuries had become an idol which God’s people were burning incense to. Lastly, in his continuing conversation with Nicodemus about how one could be a part of God’s kingdom, Jesus referenced the original context of the snake. But he also revealed a striking parallel between that merciful act of God during the Exodus and his own personal ministry. In both instances, those ravaged by the curse of sin had opportunity to express their faith in God. In their distress they could find hope. Healing was available to them as they looked to the object lifted up before them. Through this remedy, God had made life available to all who would believe.

Have you ever experienced a desperate need for God to intervene in your life? Have you looked up to find his mercy in your time of need?

May we look up to you in faith, Jesus, for the healing of our souls. We are grateful for your willingness to be lifted up on the cross many years ago. We thank you. AMEN