Wednesday, January 11, 2023
By John Barksdale, Small Group Leader
“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.” – John 3:16
Time to start over…
I hate having to turn around. There have been dozens of times that I have left home to do an errand, forgot something I needed, and had to turn around. Even worse is having to start over. I was recently putting a new floor in my home and messed up to the point that I had to tear out everything and start over, Argg!
In John chapter 3, Jesus is having a conversation with a Jewish leader named Nicodemus. Nicodemus was confused by Jesus’ ideas because they were contrary to the teaching from Jewish leadership. Even though Jesus’ teachings were radical, Nicodemus had no doubt that God was with him because of Jesus’ miracles.
Jesus cuts to the chase and tells Nicodemus that unless a person is “born again,” they will not be able to enter God’s kingdom. Nicodemus does not understand and says, “It would be impossible to enter one’s mother’s womb again!” Jesus presses even harder by saying a person must be born of water and spirit in order to see God’s kingdom. Nicodemus still does not understand and asks, “How can this be?”
Nicodemus does not understand that Jesus is talking about spiritual things, not physical.
Jesus makes this clear by saying, “Flesh gives birth to flesh, and spirit gives birth to spirit.” Then as an illustration, Jesus describes a weather phenomenon called the “wind.” “You can hear the sound of the wind, but we do not know where it comes from or where it is going. So is everyone born of the spirit.” In other words, being born of the spirit is not something you can physically see. It’s something you notice in the results of a person’s changed life. We can hear and see the change in someone born of the spirit even though there is no physical evidence of how it happened.
Jesus is saying that unless we “turn around”, we will not be able to get into God’s kingdom. In a spiritual sense, we need to tear out everything and start over! This means that we must change our priorities, our way of thinking, and our worldview. We need to realize that spiritual things have a higher priority than physical ones. We need to be open to a whole new spiritual reality.
So how about us? Are we willing to start over? Are we willing to be born again?
It is debatable where this conversation ends between Jesus and Nicodemus, but within this chapter is the famous verse John 3:16. God makes it clear that he loves us so much that he is willing to give his Son to save us!
And for that, I am willing to start over…
“Father, we ask by your power that we can be born again. We ask for you to change us in such a fundamental way that our entire world is turned upside down. We thank you for your love! Amen!”
Get to a place where you can focus and read the daily Scripture passage several times. From the passage of Scripture you read, highlight one or two verses that stick out. Write them down, and even consider rewriting the verse(s) in your own words.
Make some basic observations about the scripture you just read by asking these questions:
- Why was this written?
- To whom was it originally written?
- What is the author trying to communicate?
- What does the Scripture passage teach me about God and humanity?
After taking some time explaining the highlighted scriptures, begin to think about how they apply to your life. Ask yourself these questions and spend some time writing down your thoughts:
- What do these verses mean today?
- What does this verse(s) mean for my life?
- How does this verse challenge my thinking and actions?
- What changes do I need to make in my life as a result of this passage of Scripture?
Your response to the passage may take on many forms. You may write a call to action. You may describe how you will be different because of what God has said to you through the Bible verses. You may indicate what you are going to do because of what you learned. You may respond by writing out a prayer to God. For example, you may ask God to help you to be more loving, or to give you a desire to be more generous in your giving. Keep in mind that this is your response to what you have just read.