Digging   The   Word

"I rejoice in your word like one who discovers a great treasure." - Psalm 119:162

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Blessing Of Believing

Jesus came from heaven so we could go there too.

 
John 3:10-16  Jesus replied, "You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don't understand these things?

11  I assure you, We tell you what We know and have seen, and yet you won't believe Our testimony.  12  But if you don't believe Me when I tell you about earthly things, how can you possibly believe if I tell you about heavenly things?

13  No one has ever gone to heaven and returned. But the Son of Man [who lives in heaven] has come down from heaven.  14  And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,  15  so that everyone who believes in Him will have eternal life.

16  For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life."

There is a new Rabbi in town and he is stirring things up, his teaching is different from every other Rabbi in Jerusalem, yet he speaks with so much authority. (Matthew 7:28-29) And he already has some disciples but since they are just fisherman, they have never sat under the teaching of a real Rabbi, what could they really know?

As a Pharisee, Nicodemus was deep into the teaching that the law was the way to make God happy with you and therefore gain access to Heaven. Nicodemus came to Jesus seeking answers to his questions but this Rabbi was saying some things that were difficult to understand.

Jesus doesn't mind skeptics, he doesn't mind our questions but there comes a time when we have to have faith to believe God for the things that we cannot comprehend. We cannot understand everything there is to know about the world around us so we certainly cannot understand heavenly things and so we need to believe the testimony of the only person who has ever been there and came to earth to tell us about it.

Nicodemus is a teacher of heavenly things but he doesn't really believe it, surely he must have taught the people about the bronze snake that Moses lifted up in the wilderness but he didn't understand the symbolism.

Admit your sin

Numbers 21:7-8  Then the people came to Moses and cried out, "We have sinned by speaking against the LORD and against you. Pray that the LORD will take away the snakes." So Moses prayed for the people. Then the LORD told him, "Make a replica of a poisonous snake and attach it to a pole. All who are bitten will live if they simply look at it!"
The people confessed their sin to Moses and God made a way for salvation. They had a choice, they could die from the snake bite or they could crawl to the pole and look up at the snake. By coming to the pole they were acknowledging that there was sin that needed to be confessed and they had to have faith in God that he would forgive them.

Jesus predicted his death in this conversation with Nicodemus. I wonder if Nicodemus looked back at this prediction three years later when the rest of the religious leaders were plotting Jesus death. Did the light bulb suddenly turn on? Did he have an "aha" moment?

Awakening to the reality of our true spiritual condition, we see ourselves and our need for a Savior with renewed honesty. This realization leads to action, obeying God’s commands and following the example set by Christ.

-Kyle Idleman "AHA: The God Moment That Changes Everything."

I have to wonder if Nicodemus heard the conversations about having Jesus crucified and all of a sudden he had an awakening. He remembered Jesus words and he realized that they were true, Jesus was going to die and there wasn't any way to change that fact. Maybe Jesus prediction about being crucified was the "aha" moment that made him realize that Jesus is the Son of God and that he was dying to save him from his hopeless condition.

Ephesians 1:7  He is so rich in kindness and grace that He purchased our freedom with the blood of His Son and forgave our sins.

The Bible is full of blessings that are for God's children. Are you his child? A summary of John 3:16 makes it so simple: God loves, God gave, I believe, I receive. Jesus told us that we can avoid death by believing in him. We need to believe that God is our loving Father and that Jesus is who he said he is, we need to believe in him alone for our righteousness.

Thank you Lord for so many undeserved blessings that come with believing in you and your purpose for coming to earth.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Rabbi And The Seeker

Don't be afraid to bring your questions to Jesus.

 
John 3:1-10  There was a man named Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader who was a Pharisee.  2  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."  3  Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God."

4  "What do You mean?" exclaimed Nicodemus. "How can an old man go back into his mother's womb and be born again?"

5  Jesus replied, "I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.  6  Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life.  7  So don't be surprised when I say, 'You must be born again.'  8  The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can't tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can't explain how people are born of the Spirit."

9  "How are these things possible?" Nicodemus asked.  10  Jesus replied, "You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don't understand these things?

It didn't take long for Jesus to stir up the religious crowd, when you do something that affects somebodies wallet, they are going to notice. The Passover celebration was a huge money making event for the religious leaders but Jesus cleaned out the temple and messed up their commerce.

I wonder what the people thought when the next Passover came, were they looking for Jesus to come back into the temple and clean house? We know that the money changers and the salesmen come back by the time Jesus ministry is ending, were they nervous about going back in the first year? (Matthew 21:12-15)

There is no doubt that Nicodemus would have been at the temple that day and he probably saw what Jesus did. Jesus actions raised some questions in Nicodemus and he was bold enough to approach him to get some answers. Many pastors have preached that Nicodemus came at night because he was afraid of the other religious leaders but perhaps he came then so that he could have a deeper, intimate conversation with Jesus.

"Rabbi, we all know that God has sent You to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with You."

Nicodemus had already formed an opinion about Jesus and he gives him partial credit for who he is. Actually he says that "we all know" it seems that all of the Pharisees knew that Jesus was sent from God for some purpose, but they aren't sure why he was sent.

Nicodemus didn't know that all the attention that he was placing on works was soon going to be unnecessary. I imagine that Nicodemus was about to ask Jesus how he could know that he was going to enter the Kingdom of God when Jesus interrupted. Jesus already knew the question before it was asked so he decides to answer it, wouldn't that help validate Jesus credentials?

"I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God."

As a Pharisee, Nicodemus was deep into the teaching that the law was the way to make God happy with you and therefore gain access to Heaven. Now there is a new Rabbi in town and he is talking about being born again, this doctrine sounds absurd to him, of course Nicodemus knows that he cannot physically be born again but Jesus teaching is quite difficult for him to get after a lifetime of being taught that works is the way to heaven.

"What do you mean? How can an old man go back into his mother's womb and be born again?"

How would you feel if everything that you have been taught about how to get to heaven or how to please God was completely cast aside for a new teaching? 

Of all the people that came to Jesus so far, Nicodemus struggled the most, the fisherman were very open to Jesus and each of them followed Jesus right away but for a student that studied under a Rabbi it was much more difficult to accept.

Titus 3:5 He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.

Jesus doesn't mind skeptics, he doesn't mind our questions and it doesn't bother him if it takes some time to be enlightened about his ways. God already told us that our ways were not the same as his ways and so therefore we do struggle to understand. (Isaiah 55:8)

Jesus kept the conversation going by explaining to Nicodemus that having a second physical birth wouldn't improve his standing with God. This new birth comes through the Holy Spirit and cannot be accomplished by any of our impure works.

As long as you ask in the same spirit as Nicodemus you should not be afraid to bring your questions to Jesus. Nicodemus did not ask his questions the same way as the rest of the religious leaders. (John 2:18, 6:30, 10:24, 11:46-48, 18:19) It seems that Nicodemus came honestly looking for answers that would help him understand this new teaching.

Matthew 11:28-29  Then Jesus said, "Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you. Let Me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Jesus asked us to allow him to teach us, he is humble and gentle to those who are eager to learn from him, he will not refuse to allow you into his classroom. He is willing to teach us and help us learn the way to an eternity with him and he wants to continue teaching us how to become more like him. (John 6:37) He is an awesome teacher and we will understand a lot but there will always be more that we cannot comprehend and we will have to accept by faith.

Thank you Lord for allowing us to come with our unbelief, our questions and our doubts. Please increase our faith to trust what we cannot understand. (Luke 17:5)

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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Jesus Perception Of Reality

Jesus didn't have any faith in their faith.

 
John 2:23-25  Because of the miraculous signs Jesus did in Jerusalem at the Passover celebration, many began to trust in Him.  24  But Jesus didn't trust them, because He knew human nature.  25  No one needed to tell Him what mankind is really like.

John 12:37-38  But despite all the miraculous signs Jesus had done, most of the people still did not believe in Him.  38  This is exactly what Isaiah the prophet had predicted: "LORD, who has believed our message? To whom has the LORD revealed His powerful arm?"

I love how John 2:25 points out the obvious, Jesus has just given them a clue in the previous verses as to what they are going to do with him in a few years, if anybody knows the heart of man it is Jesus. Jesus miracles brought about results, there were plenty of people that saw the miracles and realized that Jesus was not a normal man, thats what the miracles were suppose to do. But Jesus knew their intentions and he knew that they didn't really believe him for salvation.

They believed that Jesus is the promised Messiah, but did not believe in him to the salvation of their souls, this stands in contrast to the belief that Nathanael had in John 1:45-51. Jesus saw something in Nathanael that he doesn't see in this crowd.

Three things that show us that Jesus is God:


✔  Jesus passion for reverence, John 2:13-17
✔  Jesus power of resurrection, John 2:18-22
✔  Jesus perception of reality, John 2:23-25

-John MacArthur "Jesus Displays His Deity"
I have to wonder, what was their level of comprehension about Jesus? Were they believing in the earthly reign of the Messiah before he reigned in their hearts? There have been plenty of people who have believed that he is the Messiah but they don't commit their lives to him.

God can see the stuff in our hearts that we don't want to let anybody know about. We cannot trick him about our level of commitment and he isn't fooled when we say that we love him yet we are not willing to serve him when it isn't fun or rewarding.

Jesus was fully aware every time the disciples had a disagreement about what his teaching meant, he knew which one was going to betray him and who would give their life for him. He also wasn't surprised when large groups of followers changed their minds and walked away from him.

Checkout this brief outline of John chapter six:

John 6:2  A huge crowd kept following Him wherever He went, because they saw His miraculous signs as He healed the sick.

John 6:26  Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, you want to be with Me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs.

John 6:30  They answered, "Show us a miraculous sign if You want us to believe in You. What can You do?

John 6:64-71  But some of you do not believe Me." (For Jesus knew from the beginning which ones didn't believe, and He knew who would betray Him.)  65  Then He said, "That is why I said that people can't come to Me unless the Father gives them to Me."  66  At this point many of His disciples turned away and deserted Him.  

67  Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, "Are you also going to leave?"  68  Simon Peter replied, "Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life.  69  We believe, and we know You are the Holy One of God. "  70  Then Jesus said, "I chose the twelve of you, but one is a devil."  71  He was speaking of Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, one of the Twelve, who would later betray Him.

The crowds saw Jesus demonstrate his power but the miracles didn't affect them the way it did the true followers of Jesus. The real disciples were willing to accept the invitation to "come and see," they come like Nathanael did with honesty and integrity, and they see the miracles and perceive what they really mean.

Thank you Lord for drawing me to you and giving me faith to believe in you.

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