Rebirthing Pains…

So as we read John 3, we see that even Nicodemus, a religious leader of the Jews of the time and a member of the Sanhedrin (the supreme court of the Jews) had questions for Jesus about rebirth and what it meant. This conversation goes right to the heart of Mosaic law – how can one get right with God and enter the Kingdom of heaven? The rebirth of which Jesus spoke is not a physical birth, but a spiritual birth, which was a radically different concept especially at that time. Nicodemus, as a spiritual leader would have known that even those who want to change cannot do so in their own strength. But at the time, not everyone had the Holy Spirit within them to help effect that change. That gifting, the indwelling in each of us by the Holy Spirit, only came about after the resurrection and ascension of the Christ into heaven. The Hebrew word for “spirit” means both “wind” and “breath”. Jesus tells him “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” (John 3:8). The Holy Spirit gives us his seven-fold gifts of wisdom and understanding, right judgment and courage, knowledge and reverence for God and his ways, and a holy fear in God’s presence (see Isaiah 11) that we may live God’s way of life and serve in the power of his strength.  Do you thirst for new life in the Spirit?

True love is action. It is not the debased idea of simple emotion that has been popular in this modern time, it requires movement and dedication and a lot of work. When you love someone, you give them the very best you have to offer, not stinting or holding back anything you have. It ain’t easy, this love. God proved his love for us by giving the best he had to offer – his only begotten Son who willingly went to the cross. He chose that horrible death. If you read the accounts of the events leading up to his crucifixion, he could have walked away at any point up until then. Saint Augustine said, “God loves each one of us as if there were only one of us to love.

In verses 22 – 30, the followers of John the Baptist come to him complaining that Jesus, whom John had baptized previously, was drawing everyone to him for baptism. They were offended by this, but John responded humbly that he himself was not the Messiah, but only the messenger sent to prepare his way. John describes the Messiah as the Bridegroom and himself as the friend of the Bridegroom. The image of marriage and the wedding feast is used throughout the scriptures to describe God’s joy in his people, who are regarded as his bride. As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you (Isaiah 62:5). John acted as the best man in arranging the marriage and in making preparations for the marriage feast. John rejoices that the Bridegroom has come to make his bride, the church, ready for the marriage feast.

Even when we accept spiritual rebirth and allow the Holy Spirit to guide us, this is only the beginning of the journey. We still sin, but now we start to be led by the Spirit in avoiding that sin. This looks different in each one of us. Some are immediately convinced by the Spirit (usually in the form of our conscience) to avoid certain acts, and begin to examine their lives to see what needs to be purged and what should be added to start leading a Holy life. Be aware that just because the Spirit is working on one person to avoid ‘Sin A’, it may be working on someone else on a completely different ‘Sin B’ that needs to be worked out before they can work on ‘Sin A’ for themselves. In my own case, I was delivered from my most egregious sins, but I failed to confess them and so when the time came for the consequences of those sins to come due (and they always come very painfully due), I ended up losing everything I cared about, and only the grace of Abba God was able to redeem and restore me.

Read Day 2 Devotion by Cristy
 Let us know your thoughts about today’s scripture reading. God speaks differently to each person through His Word. We can strengthen and encourage each other by sharing what God is teaching us.

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