Wednesday, February 28, 2018


Jesus answered [the woman at the well], “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.”  (John  4:10 NIV)

Volumes have been written about the things Jesus said to this woman. In particular, His comments about worshipping in spirit and in truth are considered foundational. But to fully appreciate Jesus’ compassionate understanding, we must give some thought to what He didn’t say. He didn’t enumerate her sins, lecture her for setting a bad example, ask for an explanation, demand an apology, or tell her she was going to Hell if she didn’t shape up. It’s hard to imagine a minister standing face-to-face with the biggest sinner in town -- a woman whose life would have made a great Jerry Springer episode -- and not even broaching the subject of morality, but that’s what Jesus did.


Because He understood that she’d been hammered enough. Nobody knew better than she did what a mess she’d made of her life. She lived with the consequences of her choices every day and slept with them every night. What she needed was not another rebuke, but a deep, refreshing drink of living water.

-- Mark Atteberry in “Free Refill: Coming Back for More of Jesus"


Tuesday, February 27, 2018


“So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when He adopted you as His own children. Now we call Him, ‘Abba, Father.’ For His Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.” (Romans 8:15-16 NLT)

The ability of love to speak to the deepest places of our hearts never goes away. Have you ever noticed how people in love sometimes speak to each other in baby talk? It is immensely intimate and private – and it’s off-putting to a third party. If you do it, I wouldn’t want to hear it. But we do it because it is the tenderest language we know.

Jesus’ prayer life demonstrated this intimacy, because He called God “Abba,” an Aramaic word much like “Dada” or “Momma.” (Jesus spoke in Aramaic, and some portions of the New Testament are written in Aramaic rather than Greek.)  “Abba” was a Jewish child’s first word, because it was so easy to say. Somehow when Jesus was with God, the tender love that an adult offers to a child to give strength is what He received from His Father. It rewired His nervous system.

It does not stop there, for Jesus told His followers that they could have this same experience. This is why Paul wrote that by the Spirit we too can say, “Abba, Father.” This is what happens when we are praying…

God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who He is, and we know who we are: Father and children. (Romans 8:16 The Message)

-- John Ortberg in “The Me I Want to Be”


Monday, February 26, 2018


"But to all who received Hm, who believed in His name, He gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God." (John 1:12-13 NRSV)

Although God is the Creator of us all, nowhere does the Bible say we are all His children. On the contrary, there are two conditions you and I must meet before we can be called God's children. One is that we must receive Jesus, or open the door of our hearts and invite Him to come in. The other is that we must believe in His Name.

Believing in His Name means we must be willing to commit our lives to all that He is as represented by His Name. And His Name is Lord Jesus Christ.

The qualification for being a child of God by believing on His Name means much more than just head knowledge. It is not just giving intellectual assent to the fact that the Name Lord Jesus Christ is the label attached to the Person. It means to rest in Jesus, to put all of our trust on Him alone for forgiveness and salvation.

– Anne Graham Lotz


Friday, February 23, 2018


“For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom,  but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles,  but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”  (1 Corinthians 1:22-24 RSV)

The message I preach hasn't changed. Circumstances have changed. Problems have changed, but deep inside, [humanbeings have] not changed, and the gospel hasn't changed.

-- Billy Graham


Thursday, February 22, 2018


But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.”  (John 1:12 ESV)

In 1994, when our family was living in Cleveland, Ohio, we learned that a Billy Graham Crusade was coming to town. Part of the procedure that Billy Graham always followed was involving local churches and ministries across a broad denominational perspective. Billy Graham's team would solicit churches to pray and to send harvesters into the field. A lot of before-hand prayer and preparation was involved. I decided that I would be willing to be trained as a counselor -- one who comes to the stadium floor at the designated time, to meet people who wanted to receive Christ into their lives right then and there. Each night of the crusade Billy Graham would preach a basic gospel message, and then follow that with an invitation -- an invitation for people to leave their seats and come to the stadium field. Once people were gathered, he would invite them to pray a simple prayer with him, acknowledging their sin, accepting God's forgiveness in Christ, and asking Christ to come into their heart and live with them daily.

I was trained and prepared to answer any questions that came my way as I met with people who had ventured down to the field. Over the four-day crusade I probably counseled with 6-8 people of all ages. One night, I got down to the field and was looking for someone to talk with. I felt a tap on my shoulder and turned to find another counselor, a woman. She was standing a short distance from a man and a woman who had come down to the field together. She asked if I would talk with the man while she talked with the woman. I said I would be glad to. Then she said, "They're developmentally disabled, here with a group home." My first reaction was… my training had not prepared me for this. Then God reminded me that He had prepared me for this through our son Dustin and his developmental disabilities.

Suddenly I felt empowered by the Spirit. I introduced myself and quickly found out that he could not speak, but seemed to understand basic things. While waiting for Billy Graham to invite the large crowd to pray with him, I talked briefly with this man. I asked him where he thought God was, and he pointed to the sky.

Soon Billy began to speak again, and then invited people to pray with him. As Billy prayed, this man prayed in unintelligible words -- more of a guttural speech. After the prayer was finished, I asked him where he thought God was now. And I'll never forget what he did next. He pointed to his heart. In his own way he was saying that God in Christ was now living in his heart. He got it!

-- Rev. David T. Wilkinson


Wednesday, February 21, 2018


“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”  (John 3:16 RSV)

Billy Graham was honored by leaders in Charlotte, North Carolina. After wonderful things were said bout him, Graham stepped to the rostrum:

"I'm reminded today of Albert Einstein, the great physicist honored by Time magazine as the Man of the Century. Einstein was once traveling from Princeton on a train when the conductor came down the aisle, punching the tickets of each passenger. When he came to Einstein, Einstein reached in his vest pocket. He couldn't find his ticket, so he reached in his other pocket. It wasn't there, so he looked in his briefcase but couldn't find it. Then he looked in the seat by him. He couldn't find it. The conductor said, 'Dr. Einstein, I know who you are. We all know who you are. I'm sure you bought a ticket. Don't worry about it.' Einstein nodded appreciatively.

"The conductor continued down the aisle punching tickets. As he was ready to move to the next car, he turned around and saw the great physicist on his hands and knees looking under his seat for his ticket. The conductor rushed back. 'Dr. Einstein, don't worry,' he said. "I know who you are. No problem. You don't need a ticket. I'm sure you bought one.'

"Einstein said, 'Young man, I too know who I am. What I don't know is where I'm going.'"

Dr. Graham continued, "See the suit I'm wearing? I bought it for this luncheon and one more occasion. This is the suit in which I'll be buried. But when you hear I'm dead, I don't want you to immediately remember the suit I'm wearing. I want you to remember this: I not only know who I am, I also know where I'm going."

-- John Huffman, Preaching Conference 2002


Tuesday, February 20, 2018


Apart from the flow of the Holy Spirit, we can’t even see our sin. Here is a vivid picture of how this works: When we lived in Chicago, there was a season when we would often get heavy snow. (It started in August and ended in June.) To melt snow and ice, the street crews would cover the roads with rock salt, which ended up coating car windshields. At night, driving by headlights in the dark, you don’t know the film is there. Then the sun comes up and sunlight is 500,000 times more intense than moonlight. The intensity of the sunlight illumines all the salt on the windshield, and suddenly you can’t see out of it. You can’t go anywhere. You have only two choices: Get the windshield cleaned up, or drive only at night. Avoid the light.

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light….(John 3:19)

-- John Ortberg in “The Me I Want to Be”


Monday, February 19, 2018


Loss is not simply something to be recovered from. Hope does not mean returning to happiness as soon as possible. God comes to us in our grief and shares it.  In that shared grief, we find love. “Mourn with those who mourn.” Paul says. (Romans 12:15) Love meets in shared suffering and broken souls like no other kind of love.

One of the most common results of people who go through deep grief is that they come to have a deeper appreciation for other people. People diagnosed with a serious illness often describe this paradox. They hate having their body invaded by the illness, but they wake up to how much people matter. They quit wasting time and emotion on what doesn’t count…

God comes to us in our grief, and because He shares our grief, it begins to mingle ever so slightly with hope.

We cling to each other, and love meets in shared suffering and broken souls like no other kind of love.

-- John Ortberg in “The Me I Want to Be”


Friday, February 16, 2018


“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”  (1 John 3:18 NIV)

Truth is important.  But more important than that is what one does with the truth.  Truth gives the basis upon which a person can act.  But unless he acts on it, the basis is useless.  In all our preaching our ultimate goal is to have the truth act upon the will.  It is not enough to move people emotionally or have them give intellectual assent to what we say.  Unless the effect travels from the emotions and the intellect to the will, there can be no lasting impact on the life. 

-- Ajith Fernando in “The Christian's Attitude Toward World Religions"


Thursday, February 15, 2018


“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”  (Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV)

We can't solve modern problems by going back in time. Retreating to the safety of the familiar is an understandable response, but God has called us to a life of faith. And faith requires us to face the unknown while trusting Him completely.

-- Charles R. Swindoll


Wednesday, February 14, 2018


This morning I meditated on God's eagerness to forgive me, revealed in the words of Psalm 103: "As far as the East is from the West so far does God remove my sin."  In the midst of all my distractions, I was touched by God's desire to forgive me again and again.  If I return to God with a repentant heart after I have sinned, God is always there to embrace me and let me start afresh.  "The Lord is compassion and love, slow to anger, and rich in mercy."

It is hard for me to forgive someone who has really offended me, especially when it happens more than once. I begin to doubt the sincerity of the one who asks forgiveness for a second, third, or fourth time. But God does not keep count.  God just waits for our return, without resentment or desire for revenge. God wants us home. "The love of the Lord is everlasting."

Maybe the reason it seems hard for me to forgive others is that I do not fully believe that I am a forgiven person.  If I could fully accept the truth that I am forgiven and do not have to live in guilt or shame, I would really be free.  My freedom would allow me to forgive others seventy times seven times.  By not forgiving, I chain myself to a desire to get even, thereby losing my freedom.  A forgiven person forgives.  This is what we proclaim when we pray: "…And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us."

This lifelong struggle lies at the heart of the Christian life.

-- Henri Nouwen in “The Road to Daybreak”


Tuesday, February 13, 2018


"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”  (James 1:2-4 NIV)

Trials, temptations, disappointments -- all these are helps instead of hindrances, if one uses them rightly. They not only test the fiber of a character, but strengthen it. Every conquered temptation represents a new fund of moral energy. Every trial endured and weathered in the right spirit makes a soul nobler and stronger than it was before.

-- James Buckham


Monday, February 12, 2018


"Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect." (Romans 12: 2 NLT)

To be honest, I didn't want to believe that Christianity could radically transform someone's character and values. It was much easier to raise doubts and manufacture outrageous objections than to consider the possibility that God actually could trigger a revolutionary turn-around in such a depraved and degenerate life.

-- Lee Strobel in “The Case for Faith: A Journalist Investigates the Toughest Objections to Christianity”


Friday, February 9, 2018


"While bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come."  (1 Timothy 4:8)

The Apostle Paul took the Olympics -- well-known even then -- and taught the Christians to transpose them into a different level, and to see in the games a reality very different than everyone else is seeing. When you see them training and denying themselves, see another kind of training and self-denial. When you see the athletes compete, see another kind of completion.  When you see them smiling with a gold medal around their neck, see another kind of prize.

Olympic glory is for the young and the fittest, but the Christian "race" is for the young and old, the healthiest and sickliest.

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on the crown of righteousness is laid up for me, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day -- and not only to me, but to all who crave His appearing.… “ (2 Timothy 4:7-8)

-- Adapted from Anugrah Kumar in “The Christian Post”,  quoting from John Piper


Thursday, February 8, 2018


The psalmist said to God, “With my lips I recount all the laws that come from Your mouth” (Psalm 119:13). He declared to others what God was teaching him. Through this exercise, he not only edified others but also strengthened his own understanding of God’s truth. There is an old adage that says, “Words disentangle themselves when passing over the lips or through the pencil tips.” As we share our thoughts with others, we learn because we are forced to organize and develop our ideas.

--  Jerry Bridges in “True Community: The Biblical Practice of Koinonia"


Wednesday, February 7, 2018


United Methodist Bishop Lance Webb once defined Biblical fellowship -- ‘koinonia’ -- as "a deep mutual sharing together with Christ of our joys and sorrows, our sins and struggles and victories. Koinonia is experiencing the redemptive fellowship in Christ which nourishes, sustains, guides, rebukes, and understands each participant in an atmosphere of love and equality. Koinonia is Christ-empowered fellowship with the focus on ministry in and for the whole world. The small group offers the best possibility for the experiencing of genuine koinonia. Some would even declare that 'true Christian fellowship is possible only in small groups’."

-- quoted by Walter Albritton in “Koinonia Ministries Guidebook”


Tuesday, February 6, 2018


“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the LORD's holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge -- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”  (Ephesians 3:17b-19 NIV)

There is such a love, a love that creates value in what is loved. There is a love that turns rag dolls into priceless treasures. There is a love that fastens itself onto ragged little creatures, for reasons that no one could ever quite figure out, and makes them precious and valued beyond calculation. This is love beyond reason. This is the love of God.

-- John Ortberg


Monday, February 5, 2018


“May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.”  (Ephesians 1:2 NLT)

God's people are like sheep.  David the psalmist found comfort in knowing that the Lord was his shepherd, who could make him "lie down in green pastures."  Modern-day shepherd Phillip Keller wrote in his book “A Shepherd's Look at Psalm 23”, "Freedom of torment from parasites and insects is essential to the contentment of sheep… Sheep can be driven to distraction by… flies and ticks.  When tormented by pests, it is literally impossible for them to lie down and rest."

In the Christian life our most annoying pest is worry.  It can drive us crazy with concern.  My mother never slept at night until her three kids were home safe and sound.  My son, Nathan, is unsettled at school when his father is traveling overseas.  The apostle Paul knew it was natural to worry about those you love, so he wrote to the Ephesians in order to comfort their hearts and give them peace.

-- Lenya Heitzig and Penny Pierce Rose in “Pathway to God's Treasure: Ephesians"


Friday, February 2, 2018


“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”  (Philippians 2:3-4 NIV)

My dad has been a tremendous example for not only our family but the whole community because of his humility and his character. I've really looked up to him and respected him in his life. When you're in the spotlight, if you play sports at a high level, people will look up to you and it's kind of easy to get a big head. But he's taught me to keep my priorities straight with God being No. 1. God calls us to be humble and I think that's probably one of the main characteristics I look up to with my dad.

-- Michelle Munoz, talking about her dad, Hall of Fame football player Anthony Munoz, in Sports Spectrum


Thursday, February 1, 2018


“For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:2 NIV)

In a generic God culture, we may be tempted to describe the faith as broad, universal, and unrestrictive. So we may preach an amorphous "love" without giving it the cruciform shape that makes Christian love possible -- and so demanding. Or we may preach "compassion," "possibility thinking," "self-fulfillment," or whatever vague virtues that culture may be in the market for at the moment.

We must trust Jesus enough to create the hearing that He deserves. Our job is to keep our preaching tied to its proper object -- not the wishes and fears of the congregation -- but rather the God who seeks and saves in the person of Jesus.

-- Will Willimon in “Leadership Journal”, Winter 2002