Nicodemus a religious ruler secretively went to Jesus at night because he was curious since he knew these signs he witnessed weren't possible unless God was with Him. One might think he was a coward but God moves with whatever openness we have towards Him. The key to opening people's hearts towards God especially those who are bound in religion is we must go beyond talk. Can people say that the life we live proves that God is with us?
Knowledge about God is not enough. That is why Nicodemus was not satisfied, He witnessed something more and He wanted to know more. Jesus now breaks it down, that unless one is born again they cannot see the Kingdom of God. God is a Spirit and until we are spiritually reborn we cannot enter into the King's domain. Spiritual birth is not like natural birth as Jesus explains, it is invisible, like the wind, how you know it is there is by its effects. Those who have been born again now can understand spiritual things because they have received the Spirit of God within.
In our own natural mind whatever doctrine we create about God will always be wrong. The Pharisees were those whom people turned to know about God yet when Jesus came on the scene became the enemies of God. People can do things in the name of God and yet be His biggest enemies. You can tell who is born again because their nature reflects God. As Matthew 7:16 says by the fruit you will recognize them. Nicodemus was drawn to Jesus not just from what He said but more by what He did. The demonstration of the Kingdom with signs following prove that God is with us.
One of the main characteristics of God is that of a giver. John 3:16 says God gave His only begotten son ....... Those who are born again are givers, religion is more about taking. The use the name of God to take advantage of others while those who are born again are all about giving their lives to others for their better good. God gave out of His love for us. Giving comes from selfless love, taking comes from selfish greed. Those who are born-again release love as they minister, those who are religious condemn others by their self-righteous attitude.
The latter part of John we see his disciples behaving jealous, that people are now following Jesus more than they do John. John tells them that it is his time to decrease and Jesus' time to increase. He reminded them that Jesus is the one that he preached about who was greater than he. What we can learn from this is that jealousy and being caught up in numbers is not of God but of the world. Any ministry that focuses on competing against other churches is worldly and God is not in it. We also learn that we are to draw people to Jesus not ourselves. During this pandemic if the people we lead are panicking because they are not able to meet in buildings we have done them a disservice and will be disciplined by God for being poor shepherds.
We serve a God who comes from Heaven and now resides on earth in us. The works we do and the words we speak, testify that God is true. As God leads us and we follow His spirit moves through us as it says in verse 34 without measure. It is like drinking something so good that has no bottom too it, it is the continuous more of the Lord! Life in Christ gets sweeter and sweeter as each day goes by.
If you look at the sun, s, u, n too long you lose the ability to see, but if you look at the Son, S, O, N long enough you will truly see. We cannot know who we are and what life is about without knowing the creator of it. Mankind different than all other creation was made in the very image of God, with the sole purpose of being in fellowship with Him. Until we know God intimately we are living blind. If we are going to experience what life was intended to be we must go back to the way it was in the beginning.
This new series is entitled Intimacy, with Christ revealing "In To Me, You See!" We should expect to grow in understanding our identity and learn to live in an abiding unceasing, intimate relationship with Jesus. We will be reading through the writings of John, who was called the beloved of the Lord, for he was closest to him, and wrote his books from a deeply intimate place. Let's now dive into John chapter 1.
John 1:1-5 NLT
1In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He existed in the beginning with God. 3God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. 4The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.
If you are married, do you remember the beginning, when you first fell in love with your spouse? Maybe you are like me, that at that time nothing else really mattered but spending time with her, time disappeared, and all I did was think, and breathe Loraine. Falling in love is such a beautiful experience, staying in love is the difficulty. Having kids, being busy with work, dealing with finances, all this tends to dampen the passion of when we first fell in love. We see in Revelations 2:4 the call to return to our first love, it is not just a word to the church of Ephesus, it is a word to all whose love has become lukewarm.
Do you remember the beginning of your relationship with God, when He revealed Himself to you? I remember when I was radically born again, I felt alive for the first time, everything changed. Now I had this overwhelming desire to know God, so I dug into the Word and I felt I wasn't reading it, but it was reading me. The bible literally is alive, a person, as we see in the book of John 1.
The Word always existed, and all things were created through Him. Life cannot be known apart from Him and whatever one thinks they know is nothing but deception, for one cannot see in the dark. Until we are born again, we are blind! The Word brings Light and Life!
We now learn about John and the Word becoming Flesh, in the person of Jesus. John's purpose was to prepare the way, which he did by preaching repentance and having it symbolized through the baptism of water. Yet, he promised that there is one coming greater than he, who will baptize with the Spirit and Fire. Jesus will transition the age from the law under Moses to the law of grace and truth under Him. He will make it possible to return to the garden and experience once again the fullness of God.
Once the ministry of Jesus began, He called others to follow Him. To receive Jesus goes beyond just believing in Him. It is like when you find the person you want to marry, you cannot just believe it, you got to act on it, you must approach the person and begin a relationship of discovering one another, eventually leading to the seal of commitment being marriage, where the two now become one. Life is no longer lived alone but in partnership with another. There is no difference in receiving Jesus we are to become one with Him. He is the head though, we are to follow Him, not He follows us. Yet, in following Him, all of our true desires will be met, our God-given destiny will be lived out.
I hope you are ready to go on this journey with me of deeper intimacy with Christ. Start by making sure you are born again, and secondly answering the call to follow Him.
Issues Series (Galatians 6)
Intro: We learned in Galatians 5 about the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit. We can say we are Christians all we want but we can only follow Christ if we are in the Spirit. We can do no real good in our flesh, what seems like good has hidden impure selfish motives. Right here in Galatians 6 we see the result of being spiritual in how we approach those who are overtaken with a fault. Instead of running from them in judgement, we run to them like the Good Samaritan to help them.
THE CHARGE: Crucify the flesh daily and live out of the overflow of the Spirit.
'with the result that the Law has become our tutor and our disciplinarian to guide us to Christ, so that we may be justified [that is, declared free of the guilt of sin and its penalty, and placed in right standing with God] by faith. ‘ Galatians 3:24
What is the true solution to the problem called sin?
'For it is by grace [God’s remarkable compassion and favor drawing you to Christ] that you have been saved [actually delivered from judgment and given eternal life] through faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [not through your own effort], but it is the [undeserved, gracious] gift of God; not as a result of [your] works [nor your attempts to keep the Law], so that no one will [be able to] boast or take credit in any way [for his salvation]. For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us]. ‘ Ephesians 2:8-10
It is that simple, by grace through faith we are saved if works are added then the equation is wrong and the solution is not found.
When the answer to the problem of sin is discovered we know it because fellowship with God is restored.
'And because you [really] are [His] sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying out, “Abba! Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave (bond-servant), but a son; and if a son, then also an heir through [the gracious act of] God [through Christ]. ‘ Galatians 4:6-7
Back to the Garden
Knowledge of God without a relationship with God produces nothing but dead works.
We are not called to pick from the tree of knowledge of good and evil but to walk in the Garden and pick from the tree of life.
We must return to innocence, wipe the board clean, like Paul count all our knowledge as dung.
'But more than that, I count everything as loss compared to the priceless privilege and supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord [and of growing more deeply and thoroughly acquainted with Him—a joy unequaled]. For His sake I have lost everything, and I consider it all garbage, so that I may gain Christ, ‘ Philippians 3:8
We need to take off our old filthy rags and put on new garments.
'For all of you who were baptized into Christ [into a spiritual union with the Christ, the Anointed] have clothed yourselves with Christ [that is, you have taken on His characteristics and values]. There is [now no distinction in regard to salvation] neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you [who believe] are all one in Christ Jesus [no one can claim a spiritual superiority]. 'Galatians 3:27-28
Who would want to put on old dirty clothes when they have been given new clean ones?
'Before you Gentiles knew God, you were slaves to so-called gods that do not even exist. So now that you know God (or should I say, now that God knows you), why do you want to go back again and become slaves once more to the weak and useless spiritual principles of this world? You are trying to earn favor with God by observing certain days or months or seasons or years. ‘Galatians 4:8-10
Our ultimate desire as parents should be to see our children mature well where they can find success in life. As spiritual parents, our ultimate desire should be to see Christ formed in those we lead.
'Oh, my dear children! I feel as if I’m going through labor pains for you again, and they will continue until Christ is fully developed in your lives. ‘Galatians 4:19
We desire our spiritual children to produce the fruit of the Spirit and not works of the flesh. Ishmael was the result of Abraham not trusting God and producing a child of the flesh. Isaac was the result of waiting on the promise of God and he was born supernaturally.
'The Scriptures say that Abraham had two sons, one from his slave wife and one from his freeborn wife. The son of the slave wife was born in a human attempt to bring about the fulfillment of God’s promise. But the son of the freeborn wife was born as God’s own fulfillment of his promise. These two women serve as an illustration of God’s two covenants. The first woman, Hagar, represents Mount Sinai where people received the law that enslaved them. And now Jerusalem is just like Mount Sinai in Arabia, because she and her children live in slavery to the law. But the other woman, Sarah, represents the heavenly Jerusalem. She is the free woman, and she is our mother. ‘Galatians 4:22-26
We can only walk with God who is a Spirit by the Spirit, which is not possible naturally only supernaturally.
Let us repent and drive out our Ishmael's and choose from henceforth to only produce Isaac's.
“Get rid of the slave and her son, for the son of the slave woman will not share the inheritance with the free woman’s son.” So, dear brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman; we are children of the free woman.’ Galatians 4:30-31
If you are not enjoying fellowship with God, wipe the board clean, and accept the simple truth, that through grace by faith you are saved, and repent of any works you have added to the equation.
Paul addressed some major Issues throughout his letter to the Corinthians in the final chapter he doesn't have one major theme but rather some reminders and final instructions.
Taking Collections (vs. 1-4)
- Come together on the first day of the week to take collections.
- It is best to have people set some money aside week by week rather than trying to
take a huge collection all at once.
- Giving towards the needs of Jews is a way to bridge the gap for Gentiles.
Travel Plans (vs. 5-12)
- It is unwise to travel when it is dangerous unless the Lord says likewise.
- We can make our plans but God orders our steps.
- We will not always get to do what we would prefer.
- Expect wide doors to open with the opportunity for effective ministry.
- We are to assure that those we send out are treated in a respectful manner no
matter their age, cultural background, or ministerial experience.
- When there are issues such as jealousy and strife it may be best to say no to an
Final Exhortations (vs. 13-18)
- Be alert (Satan is like a roaring lion seeking whom he can devour).
- Stand firm in the faith (Put on the full armor of God).
- Be courageous (do not fear or be afraid).
- Be Strong (in the Lord and the power of His might).
- Your action must be done in love (1 Cor. 13).
First impressions are very important but our final words of a conversation or letter are usually what is remembered the most. So we must take our time, pray, receive wisdom from the Lord and therefore make choice words that leave an impact. Great leadership is not the ability to draw a crowd but the enablement to move people to do the right thing.
The Corinthians were very carnal and Paul's mission was to help them turn from their stinking thinking, replacing it with truth, marked with the beauty of the nature of His love.
When one of our kids smells we tell them to hit the bathroom. When a Christian is carnal we need to tell them to hit the prayer room. The flesh is to be flushed by the power of the Holy Spirit, as it says in Romans 8:13. We have no excuses for our behavior, for Romans 8:9 says we are not controlled by the flesh but by the Spirit. What we feed is what will lead. We are what we eat! So if we want to live godly we must feed our spirit. The Spirit grows in us through the Truth that is why John 4:24 says "God is a Spirit, and those who worship Him, must do so in Spirit and in Truth. We can be saved but live like we are unsaved by neglecting our spiritual hunger for Truth. Let us not be Carnal Christians like the Corinthians but Spiritual Beings bearing the image of Christ.
20/20 Vision (Issues Series)
How Dare You? (Issues Series)
1 Corinthians 6
The theme over the first four chapters of Corinthians is, " Don't think of yourself more highly than you ought." Everything we now are, all the wisdom we now have belongs to Christ. We own nothing as it says in 1 Cor. 4:1, we are mere managers of God's mysteries.
Have you ever went to a business where the manager acted as the owner? If there is a big problem, the manager only has so much authority; you are going to want to speak with the owner to resolve the matter. Christ is the head we better not supersede our authority as spiritual leaders, or we will be humbled for thinking we are more superior than we indeed are.
As managers, the one who evaluates is the Lord; we need to trust leaders in God's hands rather than judging them trying to determine their real intent, only the Holy Spirit can do that. We must receive from Christ through each other and not put a man on a pedestal.
When leaders forget who is really in charge, their pride will lead to their downfall, for in the Kingdom of God it is the humble who are exalted. Those who are in Christ realize that they are the fools of this world, the dishonored, the persecuted, what has been discarded as garbage. Yet they endure it graciously, as servants of the Lord.
Unlike the world who can talk a good game, we can back it up; we got the power of God. Our life is living proof that Jesus Christ is resurrected and is continuing His works in and through us.
So, Paul tells the Corinthian church as their spiritual Father, "What do you want? Should I come to you with a rod, or in love with a spirit of gentleness? Wow! What a statement! We must be honest with those we love and be willing to discipline when they refuse to take heed to our warnings. Those who are soft are those who don't really care. If we truly love someone we will be truthful even if it hurts.