Tuesday, September 9, 2014


Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

(Joh 3:5 KJV)
The Pharisees in their traditions held to a very high standard of belief and practice. Yet, like the rest of us they had a sense that despite the facade that they exhibited on the outside, on the inside was an abscess of corruption that could not be easily reasoned away. They looked within themselves everyday and perceived something that was totally at variance with the image that they tried to project. They had sin in their lives. They were full of pain and misery that couldn't be covered over with a salve. Their heart like all of ours was full of wickedness. 
Nicodemus saw what Jesus was doing and heard the words that He spoke at the feast of those days. There was something about His message that rang true within the old Pharisee. He was undecided about the message he was hearing but he resolved to know more. He came to Him "by night" in order to avoid publicity that potentially could put him a odds with his peers. He just had to go and have a conversation with this man who obviously had so much zeal for the LORD. He had to know just what it was that was there. 
All of us are like Nicodemus in that we have a disease inside and it seems as if we are helpless to do anything about it. Here is the bad news for us today, there isn't anything we can do. No matter how much we dress ourselves up on the outside, on the inside there will always remain that icky feeling that we won't be able to shed. Here is where we need to do what Nicodemus did and have a conversation with Jesus. Christ will put us in touch with our pain in that He has endured the very same evil that we are presently dealing with and He came though it unscathed. Christ can drain the puss out of the wounds that we all carry around with us. "He was wounded for our iniquity." He bore our sins on the cross. And now if we will believe, He will help us bear the burden of our own cross.
Nicodemus became a disciple of Jesus. Although secretly intially "for fear of the Jews," it would seem that his conversation with Jesus had an impact on him. Those who seek out Christ and sincerely listen to what He says will not be disappointed. Nicodemus stood up for Jesus when the rest of his fellows were conspiring against him (Joh. 7:50), and he helped Joseph of Arimathea take Jesus' body down from the cross and lay it in a tomb at great risk to his safety and reputation. Nicodemus also donated myrrh and aloes to anoint Jesus' body when He died.
Nicodemus is a great example to us today. He was a seeker of God and God rewarded his obedience in seeking out his Messiah. Don't shut out what you already know about yourself today. You are right in sensing that there is absolutely nothing you can do for yourself to deal with that void inside. Just go talk to Jesus. He will quiet your conscience and give you rest for your soul. "You must be born again." The road to believing that consists of nothing more than turning from the way you are on and seeking out your King in God's Word today. Just go talk to Him, and rest easily in the knowledge that "whosoever will believe in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." Amen.

Friday, September 5, 2014

And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine.

(Joh 2:3 KJV)
Jesus and his disciples were invited to a wedding. My study tells me that it is probable that the couple getting married were a God-fearing couple else it is unlikely that Mary would have been there or Jesus would have accepted the invitation.
It is also likely that the problem with the lack of wine developed as a direct result of Jesus and the disciples being there. It is possible that the invitation to Jesus and those with him came as a result of His mother being there to begin with and the invitation was extended naturally upon discovering that He would be enroute to meet up with her. A last second invite; a friend to the soon-to-be newly created family indeed. This is borne out in the number of jars that Jesus would eventually ask be filled with water. Six disciples traveled with Jesus to the wedding and six jars would be filled with water and turned into wine. As it would turn out despite the temporary embarrassment, there would be more than enough wine for everybody there. It would also happen that the governor of the feast would point out to the (I'm sure surprised bridegroom), that the best was kept until the last. The event would end to everyone's satisfaction after all.

When we consider Jesus' participation with us in our lives, oftentimes we might find ourselves in similarly difficult situations. The love and want to be obedient are there but the wherewithal just doesn't seem to be. The Christian life is not an easy one to navigate at times after all. Sometimes we have to take stock of the question that Jesus asks Mary to discover what it is that God is trying to teach us in any particular situation. "Jesus said to her,
'Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me?" The answer to that question just may well be the key to overcoming in those hard to deal with situations where it seems that in faith, we might have bit off more than we could chew. Jesus never leaves us to our own devices. As long as we take the time to acknowledge that He is there, He is faithful to make sure that we don't end up in a place of shame. Jesus wants to be involved in every area of our life. Here in our story it was a marriage. Out there with you it could be your work, home, social life, or relationships. His death and resurrection has made it so that we never need to wonder about His being here with us. Make sure you always have that invitation in the mail. Don't ever let yurself be lulled into believing for any reason your mind might devise that He isn't there with you. "I will never leave you or forsake you." You can be sure He never will. soli deo gloria

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel. (Joh 1:49 KJV)

Nathanael was a skeptical guy. He seemed to be a no nonsense sort of person who was not given to just accepting out of hand what other people told him. There is nothing wrong with being a bit skeptical, but it does become a problem when skepticism becomes a point of pride or honor. God will not reach those who "think more highly of themselves than they ought to."
God desires that "none should be lost." He was calling Nathanael. In His ongoing mission to bring us all to faith in the atonement that has been made for all people in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ, He uses ordinary people like you and me to witness to our acquaintances however we might know them (I am assuming you to be a Christian). He only has two requirements of us and those are that that we come to know and apprehend Him through His Word, and that through this understanding we are willing to submit to Him and be led by His Spirit.  It is important that we meet these criteria because believe it or not the world that we are appealing to are only interested in the real deal. They can make out phonies. They are not interested in our attempt at times to make either heaven or (more relevantly at this point in time) this earthly life into the fantasies that we want them to be. People would much rather just have the facts. God Himself through His Spirit is the only One able to convince them. He will save them from their sin.
Fortunately Nathanael knew somebody who took seriously this duty and vocation as a friend. Philip was willing to share with his friend what he had come to see: That Jesus was "the One whom  
Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write..." (Joh 1:45). Funny how he was willing to share with his unbelieving friend at that point in time what most Christians today are barely aware of, i.e. the law. This was as clear of a testimony as could be given at that point in time. In contrast to today when we try and make Jesus more palatable to those whom we are given to witness to, Philip went right to the heart of the situation with his friend. Paraphrasing: "This is the One whom God has sent to deal with our struggle against sin." Because of his friend's directness, Nathanael was willing to hear more, even go and see this Jesus for himself. Once he got there, Jesus knew exactly what needed to be said and done.

Be willing to be like Philip. Tell your friends about Jesus. Speak to them realistically when the opportunity presents itself (it will) about the freedom from sin that God has made available to them in Christ. Don't sugar-coat it for them. The time is short. "Today is the day of Salvation." Remember that Jesus your King has rescued you from the skepticism of this world. He wants to preach through you that Jesus has been raised from the dead and they are no longer in bondage to their sin. Tell all your friends and family, co-workers and other acquaintances that you want to take them to meet Jesus. My prayer for you is that you belong to a church that does not try to prevent Jesus from being seen. My advice to you at that point in time would be to join us Lutherans. Kyrie eleison