Born of the Spirit

Re:Verse reading–John 3:1-21 (day one)

“You must be born OF the Spirit.”–v 7

Small word.  Often ignored.  Important truth.  We must be born OF the Spirit.

The word in Greek is “ek”.  It meant “out of” (note EXodus–when God lead the people of Israel “out of” slavery).

It speaks of origin.  Life that comes “out of” the Spirit.  The unlimited creation-power of Heaven acting on persons, inaugurating them into a new life, both in dimension and usefulness.   The agent of this new birth is the Holy Spirit.  We are to be born OF Him.

It speaks of likeness.  Those who are born OF the Spirit will necessarily reflect His character and nature.  As children “look like” their parents, we must “look like” the Spirit in humility and holiness.

As we celebrate the birth of Christ this season, we should make this connection.  The Lord was born OF Mary so that we would be born OF the Spirit.

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Authority

Re:Verse reading–John 2:1-22 (day seven)

The Jews then said to Him, “What sign do You show us as your authority for doing these things?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” John 2:18-19

Jesus, literally turning the Jewish world upside down, was flipping tables to reveal a new way under the Christ.  Naturally, those gathering Jewish leaders utilized their perceived authority to card Jesus, “we need to see your i.d.”.  They thought they were keeping order, but they were peons interfering with the work of the King.

Later in the book of John a similar scene occurs: So Pilate said to Him, “You do not speak to me? Do You not know that I have authority to release You, and I have authority to crucify You?” Jesus answered, “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above…John 19:10-11a

Neither the Jewish religious leaders nor the reigning politicians could demand anything from Jesus.  Jesus was their superior whether they acknowledged it or not.  May we fully submit our lives to Christ and his Kingdom above any kingdom of this earth.

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Legacy of a Wedding Story

Re:Verse reading–John 2:1-22 (day six) 

Jesus was no party crasher. He knew better. The day was for the bride and groom; it wasn’t his time to take center stage. What he chose to do instead was subtle, quiet, but deliberate: he turned water into the best wine at the party, and no one was the wiser. Save Mary, his new gaggle of disciples, and a handful of servants (maybe even the bridegroom), they knew what he did, and they marveled. That was the point after all, to manifest his glory to the disciples so they would see and believe, while cleverly pointing to the day he would take center stage (the cross).

A thousand times they retold that wedding story, and others after them. And John wrote it down. Why? So we could see what he saw that day at the wedding, and believe.

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Not a Genie

Re:Verse reading–John 2:1-22 (day five) And Jesus *said to her, “Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come.” 

Why the harsh words to his mother?  Especially since Jesus was going to do what she had asked. It points to a deeper question, “Why does God give us what we ask for?”  Is it because we asked? Kind of.  More specifically, it is because we asked for the right thing (God’s will). Jesus was clearly stating that God is not like a genie in a bottle- granting us whatever we ask. Do you see the danger?  For us?  For others? He is protecting (pride/ego) and also teaching (a bigger/better perspective) to look and ask for God’s will.  “The Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing.”  Does this perspective sound familiar? ‘Your kingdom come.  Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

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Abundant Supply

Re:Verse reading–John 2:1-22 (day four)

This is the first of seven ‘sign’ miracles that John writes about.  In John, a sign is an event that symbolizes a meaning greater than itself.  Jesus has just been baptized by John the Baptist and has begun His public ministry.  He is just setting out to proclaim His deity and to tell of His mission of salvation.

When Jesus appeared on the scene, Judaism was an empty religion.  The Jews had drifted so far from the truth of God’s Word that they not only didn’t recognize God’s Son, the Messiah, but they would also soon seek to kill Him.  Into this emptiness and void (no more wine), Jesus brought abundant hope (180 gallons of wine).  Commentator William Barclay said no wedding party could possibly drink that much wine.  Jesus’ abundant blessing and provision was above and beyond the recognized need.

Have you ever experienced God’s rich provision?  Maybe to a need that you didn’t even know about?  Paul wrote to the church at Philippi, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 4:19)  Give God the glory!

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Ask

Re:Verse reading–John 2:1-22 (day three) 

“Why do you involve me?”

Sometimes Jesus’s questions sound like he’s annoyed: “Who made me an arbiter between you and your brother?” or “Why are you afraid, you of little faith?” or “Why do you involve me?”  Well, is he irritated?  Maybe.  I mean, come on.  He’s not going to pretend to cherish every request that rolls off your brain.  Any displeasure with us isn’t born of pettiness, though.  What gives him concern is that we often ask for things as a shortcut for growing: I don’t want to do the hard work of finding peace with my brother, or I want somebody to tame the universe for me instead of learning to live confidently in it, or I’ve taken on responsibility for others’ happiness.  Make requests, absolutely.  But know that every response will call you to learn Jesus’s kind of life.

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If I Had Only Known

Re:Verse reading–John 2:1-22 (day two) 

So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken. vs. 22

If I had known then what I know now…Have those words ever come from your mouth? Sometimes when we look back on the paths we have taken we wince to think of the choices made or the opportunities squandered. More often we can look backwards and see the wisdom offered by others that seemed foolish at the time becomes much more profound when life experience and our own wisdom builds. (All parents just shouted: AMEN!) John, the disciple Jesus loved, captures this moment early in his gospel account. After clearing the Temple he describes what is to come in his own life and ministry. The other disciples remembered these words and had a clearer understanding after Jesus demonstrated his words through the cross.

There are lessons that can only be taught by time. The point is to treasure the words of Jesus. What you are reading and praying through will, in time, prove a wonderful truth that was there all the time.

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Near

Re:Verse reading–John 2:1-22 (day one)

“This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and He manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.”–v 11

It was an unexpectedly small start.  Not a big splash on some large stage. (That will come next.  See v 12-22)  His first miracle was humble.  Local.  IMMANUEL–God with us. As present and involved in our homes/marriages/jobs as He is at church.

John (and most of the prophets) were distant.  Detached.  Separated.  Men of the desert.  Jesus is different.  God at the dinner table.  Same prophetic power.  More accessible.

And if God is near us, we are to get near others.   To be “in the world, but not of it” is a hard assignment.  No argument.  Even so, the example and command of Christ is clear.  “Go into all the world.”

What good is salt except in contact with corruption?  As we get near them.  He will be with us.

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Testify

Re:Verse reading–John 1:1-18 (day seven)

He (John the Baptist) came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him.  He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light.  – John 1:7-8

Did you notice that John the Baptist is “a” witness, not THE witness?  To be clear, John the Baptist holds a critical place in the proclamation of the Gospel bridging the gap between the Old Testament and the New, but he is not the only witness, and certainly not the last.  That task has been handed down for millennia through the church.

Following the legal analogy John the Baptist was a critical witness in verifying the truth of Jesus’ case, and so are we.  We carry on that same purpose of testifying to the truth of Jesus Christ as Lord.  We are witnesses of Bethlehem, we are witnesses of Golgotha, we are witnesses of the ever-building Kingdom of God on this earth. To this we testify.

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Boom

Re:Verse reading–John 1:1-18 (day six)

In the beginning…

John knew what he was doing; he was very intentional in echoing Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God …” These words are a literal explosion of reality: God is, and God speaks. John’s words millennia later are intended to be no different, an explosion of universe altering reality: the Word (Jesus) is GodThere are no greater truths than these, and they demand from us our greatest response. Without exception, every human being must and will respond to these two realities.

How will you respond today?

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