Thursday, March 16

Spiritual Questions: Born Again?        John 3:1-17                                                                         Jesus Teaches Nicodemus

3 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.[a]

“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[c] must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”[d]

“How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.

10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11 Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.[e] 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,[f] 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”[g]

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

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There is certainly a lot to unpack in this passage. The main part of this message has to do with Nicodemus having trouble understanding “born again”, to the extent that Nicodemus was applying his earthly understanding “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born” as oppose to Jesus’s spiritual explanation.

Jesus talked about being born of “water and spirit”, this being a purification by the spirit of the earthly and/or fleshly self and the outward expression of “water” through baptism purifying the person.

With the Holy Spirit taking up residence in your heart, you will find that you may look at things differently than you used to and through more of a spiritual lens rather than a fleshly lens. I sometimes like to remember my baptism, maybe you do as well, though for me it was a long time ago at age 13, I still remember standing in the front of a little country church in western Kentucky and being sprinkled with water. Coming from a military family and having a military haircut, I can still remember, and feel, the water as it ran down my head and on to my Sunday best church clothes. I did not, at the time, feel all that different, but my change has been a journey that truly began at age 13 and is now entering into my 46th year since age 13.

As I look back at the changes in my life, say in five year increments, I can see how my thinking has changed as teenager, to young adult and moving into middle age. Not to say that things have been easy, but through all the circumstances and struggles of life, I have had the peace of Christ within me and the guidance that only God can provide.

If you want this peace in your life and guidance, just ask Jesus into your life then talk with your pastor about being baptized (outward expression of the purification and decision you have already made). You will find that your baptism will be an experience you will remember for the rest of your life. If you have not been baptized and made the decision for Christ, always remember, no matter what any of us have done, God will always accept us, no exceptions!

I remember a devotion I read a while back concerning baptism. There was a pastor leading a Hispanic congregation in a baptismal service.  They borrowed a school pool and the pastor was baptizing in the shallow end of the pool. There was an individual, speaking in Spanish, that the pastor could not understand, and as his time came, it was explained to the pastor that the individual wanted to be baptized at the deep end of the pool, because of all that he had done in life that he was truly sorry for, he wanted a complete covering from Jesus. This individual wanted as much of Jesus’ covering as possible so that he knew he was washed clean in Christ!!

Dear Lord, thank you for forgiving us no matter how many sins we have committed. And thank you for your gift of baptism.

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