“Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.” John 3:6-7 God had a plan before He created man in the Garden of Eden. He knew how He was going to bring man back into fellowship with Him. “God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” (Ephesians 1:5) Why did God need a plan? He needed a plan because He knew that in the Garden we would rebel against Him. Because of Adam and Eve, we are born into sin. Every one of us fall short of what we need to enter the Kingdom of God on our own. “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” (Romans 3:23) “But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead.” (Ephesians 2:4-5) This new spiritual birth is a new beginning in the relationship between God and the person who believes in Jesus Christ. Without this new birth, we are dead in our sin and there is no hope. With this new birth comes life and life abundant. It is a life that we live here on earth and then we get to go home to live with God for eternity. “It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything […]
“What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?” Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.” John 3:5-6 Nicodemus was a little like us. He wanted to know more about God, but there were things about God that was just not reasonable. He wanted to be part of God’s Kingdom, but he needed to clear up the doubt in his mind. I know well about wanting to understand God and learn more about Him. This has been my quest from the time I was born again till now. I think at times that I have it all figured out and then God throws something at me that just is not within my reasoning. I don’t understand God’s healing. I don’t understand why He heals some and not others. I don’t understand why some suffer and others don’t. I don’t understand why God called me to the ministry and He didn’t call the person that wants more than anything else to be in the ministry. In my walk with God, I have worked through more times of doubt than I believe most people have. I am the one that says prove it to me. Prove to me that it is true. This was Nicodemus; he had studied the Word of God, but he still had doubts. “And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) It is alright to ask questions of God and to doubt at times, but in the end, we must have the faith that God knows what we […]
“Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” John 3:3 The butterfly is nature’s most visible illustration of rebirth. Once drab and earthbound as a caterpillar, the butterfly emerges from its cocoon in beautifully radiant colors, soaring upward into the sky. Free – born again – just as each of us can be when we are, through Christ, born again in the Spirit. “In one sense I had lost everything – power, prestige, freedom, even my identity. In the summer of 1974, as prisoner number 23226 at Maxwell Federal Prison Camp. But in another sense, I had found everything, all that really matters, a personal relationship with the living God. My life had been dramatically transformed by Jesus Christ.” (Charles Colson in his book “Born Again”) The following verses in John talks about being born again. Charles Colson experienced it in a mighty way. Jesus Christ changed his life with this experience called being born again. When God led me to start these devotions on the Gospel of John, I was excited because it meant that I would dig deeper into a book that I have loved for years. I just didn’t expect all that I would learn. I didn’t expect the changes that God would have on my life. This concept of being born again is strange, but I can say with Charles Colson, that over thirty years ago I was born again and it has made all the difference in my life. In the next few devotions, I am going to write about this wonderful experience. An experience that you can only truly understand if you have experienced this gift from God. Go with me on this journey and see what God wants to teach us.
“There was a man named Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader who was a Pharisee. After dark one evening, he came to speak with Jesus. “Rabbi,” he said, “we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you.” John 3:1-2 This is more proof that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Even a Pharisee recognized that Jesus was from God. Nicodemus was a Pharisee, which meant he lived by the strictest possible religious rules, not all of the Pharisees were hypocrites. Nicodemus was a true seeker of truth. He came to Jesus at night so that he could have a quiet uninterrupted conversation with this new teacher. He was a man of high moral character with a deep hunger for God and the things of God. Yet he was spiritually blind. He did not understand how one could come to God. This man was a well-educated religious leader. He just did not have spiritual discernment, but he was seeking to know more about salvation. He wanted to know how he could have a closer walk with God. Being spiritually blind he could not understand the things of the spirit. Just like us, most of the time, Nicodemus was thinking more worldly than spiritually. Matthew sums it up, “I baptize with water those who repent of their sins and turn to God. But someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not worthy even to be his slave and carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. He is ready to separate the chaff from the wheat with his winnowing fork. Then he will clean up the threshing area, gathering the wheat into his barn but burning the […]
“Because of the miraculous signs Jesus did in Jerusalem at the Passover celebration, many began to trust in him. But Jesus didn’t trust them, because he knew all about people. No one needed to tell him about human nature, for he knew what was in each person’s heart.” John 2:23-25 God knows our hearts. He knows all about us. He knows if we are committed to Him or not. We may be able to fool the people around us, but we will never be able to fool God. The people wanted a sign. They wanted to see Jesus perform miracles. This is a problem we have today. We want to go to the church that is seeing signs. The problem is some of these signs are not from God; they are manmade. Yes, God does perform miracles today. What we need to look for are the small miracles that God does every day. I am a doubter at times. I want God to show me in a great and wonderful way that I am in His will. My personal devotion this morning was, “For the word of the Lord holds true, and we can trust everything he does. He loves whatever is just and good; the unfailing love of the Lord fills the earth.” (Psalm 33:4-5) If we believe this is true, we don’t need great and wonderful signs from God. All we need is Him to show us His love every moment of every day. Signs do lead us to God. Just as we will see in Chapter three. Nicodemus was led to Jesus by His signs. The signs only lead us to God. We must make the choice to follow Jesus with our hearts. “Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy […]
“Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers’ coins over the floor, and turned over their tables. Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them, “Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!” John 2:15-16 As John moves on to show us that Jesus is the Son of God, he writes about Jesus clearing out His Father’s House. John wrote this at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry and Matthew wrote that this happened at the end of Jesus’ ministry. John wrote that Jesus was the Son of God and what better way to show this than with Jesus starting at the temple. The temple was the place that the people came to worship God. Jesus was about to change the way we worship God. The Jewish leaders did not understand what Jesus was doing. “But the Jewish leaders demanded, “What are you doing? If God gave you authority to do this, show us a miraculous sign to prove it.” “All right,” Jesus replied. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (John 2:18-19) Jesus was speaking of His death and resurrection. When Jesus arose from the dead He became the temple of God. The place that we worship God. They were making God’s house a business. God’s house is a place of worship not a market place. The market place was set up in the Gentile court so this was a very poor example to show the Gentiles about God. I have had leaders in the church tell me that the church needed more members and more money. This is business 101, not ministry. We need to do […]
“This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in him.” John 2:11 Just as John wrote about Jesus’ first disciples it seems only right that He would write about His first miracle. Just as God chose John the Baptist to announce the coming of Jesus, He chose this humble event to show Jesus’ first miracle. This is not good marketing. If you are going to market something, you would have an event that was in a very important place; with all the media representatives present and with cameras set up to record all that Jesus did with the wine and water and how Jesus just told the servants to put water in the jugs and it would become wine. This is the way the world does things, not the way God does things. “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 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 12:1-2) This is our problem, we think like the world. This verse in Romans tells us to be transformed out of worldly thinking and realize that God does not need the media or have an event in an important place to get His message across to the world. This event tells us that God works with the humble and the insignificant individuals to change the world.
“The next day there was a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration. The wine supply ran out during the festivities, so Jesus’ mother told him, “They have no more wine.” John 2:1-3 The Gospel of John is about revealing to us that Jesus was the Son of God. So why put this story in his writings? This story seems like it just doesn’t belong. As I researched this, I have found that some commentaries omit this story all together. I believe all of God’s Word has a message for us. It had something that we can apply to our lives. This story is no exception. John shares with his readers the details of an event that is not included in the synoptic Gospels. This event was probably especially memorable to John, being the first miracle that Jesus performed in His ministry. This event takes place in Cana, which was likely a neighboring village from Capernaum as it was the next destination after the wedding. As we consider this scene, we realize that our Lord associated with people who were not the affluent, wealthy or powerful. In the eyes of the world, this was not a big deal that was accompanied with grandeur and expensive entertainment. No, our Lord was in attendance at the modest wedding of two relatively insignificant individuals, in a relatively insignificant village in the frontier of Galilee, where the wine was more than likely the main attraction. Certainly, this was an event that must make those with a theology of glory disappointed in its humble and ordinary setting. This event shows us that Jesus cares about every area of our lives. He not only cares about our healing; He […]
“Jesus looked around and saw them following. “What do you want?” he asked them. They replied, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?” John 1:38 Jesus asked the new disciples a very important question, what do you want? He already knew their hearts, but He wanted them to think about this question. Jesus knew that to follow Him means to give up all. At times, it means to suffer trouble. At times, following Jesus means that you will have to leave family and friends in order to follow Jesus. Jesus was forcing them to define their purpose and goals. Were the disciples looking for a revolutionary leader to overthrow Rome? They may have had this on their minds as they started to follow Jesus. Soon their purpose would change. They knew in their hearts that this man named Jesus was going to be their teacher. They, just at this time, did not realize how important this meeting was. This meeting would not just change their lives, but it was going to change the world. We need to ask ourselves the same question, why do you want to follow Jesus? When I first started to follow Jesus, I don’t think I could have answered that question. I started to follow Jesus because I had tried everything else and nothing worked to fill that God-hole in my spirit. The disciples felt the same way. This is why they asked Him where He was staying. They wanted to know more about this man. They wanted to know why they were following Him. After more than thirty years of following Jesus, I can now say that there is no other way of life. Letting Jesus lead and having a personal relationship with Him gives me the peace to face all of life’s problems.
“Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved.” John 13:23 John was not mentioned in the first group of disciples, but we know that he was in that group because how else would he know so much about the first meeting of Jesus. John is known as John the beloved because Jesus showed such love for John and John for Jesus. John was not always so loving. John was also known as one of the sons of thunder, because he and his brother James wanted to call down lightning on the unbelievers. His importance in the twelve grew as he matured, and after the crucifixion, he became a “pillar” in the Jerusalem church, ministered with Peter, and finally was exiled to the island of Patmos by the Romans, where he received from God the majestic visions that comprise the book of Revelation. As he grew in his walk with Jesus, John changed. He became more loving and his writings show how he grew. In spite of these youthful expressions of misdirected passion, John aged well. He began to understand the need for humility in those who desired to be great. John’s is the only gospel that records Jesus washing the disciples’ feet (John 13:4-16). Jesus’ simple act of servanthood must have impacted John greatly. By the time of the crucifixion, Jesus had enough confidence in the young man to turn the care of His mother over to him, a charge John took very seriously. From that day on, John cared for her as if she were his own mother (John 19:25-27). John’s rash request for special honor in the kingdom had given way to a compassion and humility that would characterize his ministry in his later life. Although he remained courageous and bold, his […]