Born Again–John 3 Part 1

Nicodemus was a very intelligent and respected leader in the community.  He had always done the right things and risen in the ranks of Jewish society.  But, as he watched Jesus and listened to him speak, he was drawn to the stark difference Jesus’ discussions of God seemed to embrace. So he met him one evening with the idea of asking a few questions.  But, once again, Jesus looked past the robes and straight into Nicodemus’ heart.  “You Must Be Born Again.” Jesus spoke straight into Nicodemus spirit.  He cut past the surface, the religion, the Jewish heritage and answered the real question, “I’m a devout follower of Jewish law—why isn’t it working!?” Jesus knew that Nicodemus was doing his best to be righteous.  But, sadly, he also knew that his best would never be good enough. 

Jesus gave Nicodemus the key—We must quit trying to be our best, and simply allow God to transform us into his best. Jesus wanted Nicodemus to understand that he was not alone.  None are righteous in their own strength. All have to be reborn as God’s kids through a simple surrender of their will.  Jesus knew that was an especially difficult realization for the religious elite.

In today’s culture, little has changed.  Like Nicodemus, we must be born again to experience God’s love and plan for our lives. Our best religious self fails to meet God’s standard.  We have only one choice, realize we will never meet the grade on our own; and then surrender our lives to him to be reborn spiritually.  We then become new creations—the old is gone and the new is here. (2 Corinthians 5:17). It has always been simple—BUT, it’s never been easy!!!

God Bless You

Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.

“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit[b] gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’

Passion for his Father’s House–John 2 Part 2

Imagine coming home and finding people partying in your parents’ house.  Food all over the couch, drinks spilled on the carpet smell of smoke everywhere—You would be angry.  That is exactly what Jesus experienced as he entered the temple.  This place of worship was nothing more than a farmers’ market.  What is worse, they were cheating the people who came to worship. 

So Jesus worked to remedy the problem.  He cleared the market and scolded all the religious folk.  What an uproar that caused. Truth was–the difference between the leaders’ perception and Jesus’s was the difference between being an employee and being family.  As his child, we would never disrespect our dad’s wishes or dishonor his house.  

But as perceived employees of God–the religious leaders continued act as if their relationship with God was a list of do’s and don’ts; and, righteousness could be achieved by checking the boxes and hiding the evil of their hearts within their extravagant religious robes.  What they were not prepared for was–God facing them and seeing right through the robes and into their hearts and minds.

We still struggle with that today. So many Christians and churches equate spirituality with pomp, ceremony and the show. If our numbers are up, if the worship is good then…we are great.  If the sermon is being downloaded weekly and if the community thinks we are good—then we must be.

But, just like in the temple, God looks through all that–and straight into our hearts. He wants to know if we understand the relationship is truly about intimate fellowship with him.  Do we get that his main desire is to free us from the complexity of religion and untangle us from the guilt of our past and the culture that pervades our world.  That is the same perception issue Jesus had to deal with in the temple. 

If we will simply trust him, seek him and follow him—then we can be free to live as his child in his lavish love and eternal plan.  If we do not—well then, we will suffer at our own hand and fall into a well designed trap that speaks of you being in charge, but simply enslaves you to a lifeless religion or a cruel and evil world.  I want to be free!!!

God Bless You

13 It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration, so Jesus went to Jerusalem. 14 In the Temple area he saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; he also saw dealers at tables exchanging foreign money. 15 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. 16 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!”

17 Then his disciples remembered this prophecy from the Scriptures: “Passion for God’s house will consume me.”[c]

18 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.”

19 “All right,” Jesus replied. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”

Miracle–John 2 part 1

Turning Water Into Wine, of all the miracles Jesus performed, this one seemed so out of character.  It was a party saver–it made his momma proud, but what really did the miracle show for Jesus ministry. Well, first it showed that he could do amazing things.  There was no parlor trick for changing he composition of liquids. He did not simply change one glass, he changed gallons of water into gallons of wine.

Next, the miracle showed God does things right. He did not make a cheap or wimpy wine–no this was the best stuff. The steward was confused–this stuff should have led!  When God is involved he does not do half way or sub-standard.  That was a critical thing for the disciples to see and for us to see as well.  As God remains involved in our live, he does things so much better than we ever could. His plan is always better than our plan.

Finally, it showed God cares about all aspects of our lives, not just the spiritual component.  God celebrated in the wedding and oh what a wedding gift.  We, as a family, need to realize that God cares about every little thing.  He is there for us in all aspects of our lives, not just church. He loves that we celebrate and he loves the covenant of marriage.  it models his covenant to us. So this was the perfect 1st for Jesus, Cheers!!!

God Bless You

On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there

and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding.

When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”

“Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”

His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.

Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.

Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”They did so,

and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside

and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”

To Be Called By God–John 1 continued

What an amazing and wonderful honor to be called into service by God.  Andrew, Peter, Phillip, Nathanial, James, John, Matthew, Thomas, Simon, Judas, Bartholomew were just guys in the area.  But when pressed into service, they started on an adventure that would literally mark time and would change the world, forever.  In their time with God, they saw the hungry fed by the thousands.  They saw the blind given sight, the dead raised and the sick healed.  They watched as the master confounded the wisest men of the time. He pressed the religious establishment to their brink and ultimately drove them to kill him. They were paraded, hunted and transformed into what would become the Church.

 We too are called.  Sure it has been a couple thousand years since that 1st call went out, but, our Lord calls us to the same adventure today.  We are called to trust him, follow him and watch him change the world a life at a time.  We have the luxury of seeing all those that have gone before. Still as we follow, we are as apt to see miracles as were Andrew and Peter.  We simply cannot be afraid.  We must remain focused on his message and allow him to transform us as he did those original 12.  Do not be afraid—It says in 1 Thessalonians 5:24, “He who calls you is faithful and HE will do it.” We simply have to trust and obey.

 God Bless You

 Again the next day John was standing [z]with two of his disciples, 36 and he looked at Jesus as He walked, and *said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. 38 And Jesus turned and saw them following, and *said to them, “What do you seek?” They said to Him, “Rabbi (which translated means Teacher), where are You staying?” 39 He *said to them, “Come, and you will see.” So they came and saw where He was staying; and they stayed with Him that day, for it was about the [aa]tenth hour. 40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He *found first his own brother Simon and *said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which translated means [ab]Christ). 42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of [ac]John; you shall be called Cephas” (which is translated [ad]Peter).

Christ Alone–John 1 Part 3

The reason that Jesus was so troublesome for the main street religion of his day was that he was God.  Jesus came with the specific purpose of letting the world see God as he is and lead people back into a relationship with God.  So, when the leaders were busy trying to classify John the Baptist as Prophet, Messiah or whatever–they would have completely missed Jesus.  But that would not be the case for long.

John announced Jesus–he was not cryptic or subtle–Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. There was no current classification on file to fit him. He was and is God’s best effort to reestablish a personal relationship with men. As with his birth, there was not a great deal of fanfare or pageantry.  Christ came to erase that picture.  He wanted people to know that God was approachable, God was present and God wanted to be a part of their daily lives.

He still wants that today. God wants us to see him for who he is.  All of who he is.  Sure he is the creator, all powerful and the beginning and the end.  But, He wants more than anything, to restore fellowship with you and me.  We simply have to ask and trust him and he will be there for now and forever.  Christ alone could restore what the world had destroyed–not with fanfare or parlor tricks, simply with love and sacrifice–so that was the plan he executed.

God Bless You

The next day he *saw Jesus coming to him and *said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is He on behalf of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who [t]has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’ 31 I did not recognize [u]Him, but so that He might be manifested to Israel, I came baptizing [v]in water.” 32 John testified saying, “I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him. 33 I did not recognize [w]Him, but He who sent me to baptize [x]in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes [y]in the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.”

The Stage Was Set–John 1 Part 2

The thought that God would come and dwell among us is a difficult concept to comprehend.  What is more, Since God’s purpose was to show us his true heart and love for us, lightning bolts and drama would not have quite sent the intended message.  So, God chose to appear with the minimum of fanfare.  He announced his arrival through the prophets, through the stars and through John the Baptist. 

He knew convincing men of his love for them would be difficult.  He also knew that most would reject him.  But, to as many as would believe in him, to them he gave the right to become his kids.  The right that is alive and well today.

God’s message of Love is equally pertinent today.  The world is as lost and counter to the message of God’s love as they were when Christ came. through the Church and media, his message of love is being spread throughout the world.  But, as in the time of Christ, most are hostile to the message of love God has shared.  Few recognize the sacrifice made by God’s appearance on the scene. Fewer recognize their need for a savior. But to as many as receive the message he still gives the right to be one of his kids for now and for eternity.  No greater right exists in all the world.

God Bless You

In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome[a] it.

There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

In the Beginning–John 1 Part 1

We live linearly. We were born, we live a number of years and then we pass away. But, you see, the reason why we live and where we pass to was planned from the beginning. God created all things–as Christ, he implemented the universe. He said–and it was. 

But as men flourished, they pulled away from the light of God and first embraced and then were entrapped by the darkness of sin and death. So in God’s wisdom, he  once again brought light and life back into the darkness. So begins the Gospel of John. 

In our lives, we stumble around in that darkness until we realize the life and light we seek is Christ. When we surrender to his leadership, He frees us from bondage and restores light back into our lives. Light brings hope and direction we can walk with confidence and avoid pitfalls. We are once again free to embrace the journey he has set us on. 

What a gift–eternal life and light from the creator and implementer of both. 

God Bless You

In the beginning the Word already existed.The Word was with God,and the Word was God.

He existed in the beginning with God.

God created everything through him,and nothing was created except through him.

The Word gave life to everything that was created,and his life brought light to everyone.

The light shines in the darkness,and the darkness can never extinguish it.

Don’t Worry, Be Happy–Genesis 50–Final

Sometimes it is just hard to believe the truth. Jacob was dead and the brothers were left to face Joseph alone.  It had been 17 years since they came to Egypt, but, there was still a nagging fear between the brothers, that fear was based on the guilt they carried for what they had done.  Joseph had been over it for a long time, God showed him that he allowed the trials to save the nation.  That was good enough for Joseph.

So Joseph once again, had to sit his brothers down and reassure them that they had no need to be worried or fearful. They were forgiven and cared for–that was God’s plan.  They were ready to be slaves, but God was not, at least not yet.

In our lives, we also struggle to release the guilt from our past.  No matter how the Lord may see us, we still see ourselves as the sinners that we are.  God’s word, like Joseph’s is the same–Don’t worry, you are forgiven and I will provide for you! Those two phrases should bring peace and joy like none other. We, like the brothers are part of God’s plan, and God has accounted for our deeds and our lives since time began.  Take heart, God always keeps his promises.

God Bless You

When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” 16 So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: 17 ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept.

18 His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said.

19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 21 So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.

Who is Royalty Here–Genesis 50 Part 1

Israel had no more land at this point than a cave his grand-dad bought for family burials.  Yet, when he died, he was afforded all the rights and privileges that Pharaoh himself would enjoy.  Full embalming, 70 days of mourning and a full state procession to Canaan for his funeral.  It was so amazing that the locals even stopped in wonder.  From the world’s standpoint, Israel was a failure.  He had to live his final days in a different country on borrowed land.  But, from God’s perspective—He was the Patriarch of God’s chosen people.  In God’s eyes, Israel owned all of Canaan, and when the time was right, his people would occupy their land again.

It is critical that we do not get discouraged as we sometimes see things from the world’s perspective.  Others around us may seem to have it all—but, like Jacob, we are King’s kids. We have an eternal stake in a life of fellowship with God in a perfect heaven–with our sin forgiven.  It simply does not get better than that. We will be welcomed to our home by the God of the universe.  He will grab us up, hug our necks and say, “Welcome home my child—I’ve been waiting for you.”  That, my friend, beats any “pomp & circumstance” this world could ever provide.

God Bless You

Joseph threw himself on his father and wept over him and kissed him. Then Joseph directed the physicians in his service to embalm his father Israel. So the physicians embalmed him, taking a full forty days, for that was the time required for embalming. And the Egyptians mourned for him seventy days.

When the days of mourning had passed, Joseph said to Pharaoh’s court, “If I have found favor in your eyes, speak to Pharaoh for me. Tell him, ‘My father made me swear an oath and said, “I am about to die; bury me in the tomb I dug for myself in the land of Canaan.” Now let me go up and bury my father; then I will return.’”

Pharaoh said, “Go up and bury your father, as he made you swear to do.”

So Joseph went up to bury his father. All Pharaoh’s officials accompanied him—the dignitaries of his court and all the dignitaries of Egypt— besides all the members of Joseph’s household and his brothers and those belonging to his father’s household. Only their children and their flocks and herds were left in Goshen. Chariots and horsemen[a] also went up with him. It was a very large company.