Monday: Seeing the kingdom of God
Read John 3:1-3, Matthew 6:22-23, Luke 17:21, Ephesians 1:15-23, Revelation 3:18
Jesus tells Nicodemus that only those who have been born again are able to “see the kingdom of God.” Can you see the kingdom of God? Or maybe a better way of asking this question is do you see the world through the lens of the kingdom of God?
We are born into this world with eyes made for seeing the things of this world. Even biologists agree that we see in a very limited spectrum! Being born again means we are given new eyes – we see the world in a totally different light. How’s your vision? When we get wrapped up in the things of the world, stressed out by the news, or overwhelmed by things that are not of God, we might think we have a heart problem or need an attitude check. But maybe we should start with our eyes. As Peter proclaimed in Acts 2:17, our salvation is accompanied by vision.
Take a moment to journal the things you are facing in your life. How can seeing those things with Kingdom vision make a night and day difference?
Tuesday: A Windblown Life
Read John 3:4-8, Genesis 1:1-2, 1 Kings 19:11-13, Acts 2:1-4, Galatians 5:25
The words for spirit and breath share the same root in the ancient languages. The breath/Spirit of God can manifest as a gentle whisper or a mighty wind. Jesus tells Nicodemus that the Spirit is wild and powerful like the wind. Think about the wreckage caused by a hurricane or a tornado or the power generated by windmills. Wind is this invisible force that has the power to destroy or create. This is how Jesus describes the born again life.
In contrast, many people think of the Christian life as boring or at least safe. This could not be further from Jesus’ vision! When’s the last time you felt the dangerous pressure of the Holy Spirit acting in your life? What kind of “difficulties” are you facing right now? Could they actually be the work of the Spirit to knock you off of your feet and out of your comfort zone?
Wednesday: Son of Man be lifted up
Read John 3:9-18, Numbers 21:4-9, 1 Corinthians 10:1-14
The context of the most familiar verse in the bible is one of the most obscure passages in the Old Testament. How cool! The people in the desert begin to grumble against God and pay the price. In repentance, they beg for the snakes to be taken away but God has a strange solution. He tells Moses to lift up a bronze snake on a pole. When someone is bit, they can look up and be healed. Jesus draws a parallel for Nicodemus and for us. We live in a world where God has delayed the removal of all sin. (When he returns to restore our world and finally remove sin that will be the end! Matthew 13:36-43) Instead he’s given the faithful a way to deal with the poison of sin in the world. Instead of looking up to a snake on a pole, we look to Jesus on the cross. His sacrifice takes away the bite of sin and gives us life.
What’s been biting you? Have you been poisoned by the sin of our world? God knows! And he’s provided healing. Look to the Son and be healed. (And also read tomorrow’s devotional.)
Thursday: Light and Darkness
Read John 3:19-21, Ephesians 5:7-17, Philippians 2:12-18, 1 Peter 2:9-10, Revelation 21:22-25
Light and darkness is a major metaphor throughout scripture. We will come back to this often in John because Jesus came like the dawn to shine forth the light of God upon a dark and weary world.
Here Jesus ends his talk with Nicodemus in a stern and direct manner: “This is the verdict…” Then he shares a universal truth about human hearts: We love darkness and we hate when our evil deeds are exposed. With such a heart condition what are we to do? Well, Jesus invites us to come into the light. Be honest. Be open. Be real.
Has darkness crept into your heart? Do you fear exposure? Those are the very things that need to be exposed. Look to the cross and see the healing light of your savior as you share with God and trusted brothers and sisters. Afterward, the difference will be night and day!
Friday: Complete Joy
Read John 3:22-29, Psalm 126, Philippians 4:4-9, 1 Peter 1:3-9
What brings you joy? TBH, Tacos are pretty high up on my list!
John the Baptist was overjoyed by the idea of God’s salvation appearing in the world. In fact, it says that his joy was made complete. Are you happy? Overjoyed? Or is there something missing in your joy? Could that missing thing be an understanding and a gratitude for Jesus’ salvation.
The Psalms are full of praise but even at the heights of praise their songs are incomplete because they did not have Jesus. We get to pray like Paul and Peter with full joy as we reflect on the amazing and undeserved grace of God.
Have you prayed today? Spend some time just praising God for the salvation that Jesus brought – and may your joy also be complete!
Saturday: More or less?
Read John 3:30-36, Matthew 23:11-12, James 4:6-10, 1 Peter 5:5
Humility is a two sided coin. We often think of the humiliating side of it. And we may even fear being brought low. But God does not bring us low just for the sake of putting us in our place. The other side of humility is putting God in his place. When we exalt God, we lower ourselves. Humility is all about who we are relying upon. If we rely on ourselves, creating idols in our own image, we can expect to be humbled. If we rely on God – he will lift us up!
Which side of the coin do you need to focus on? John said it so well. “He must increase, but I must decrease.” Do you need more God or less you? Ask God for wisdom so he can show you how to be humble without being humiliated!