Day 3 of the 21 Day Challenge
Thoughts and reflections from John 3
Chapter 3 offers us much in regards to godliness. I will reflect specifically on the teaching offered to Nicodemus and being born again “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born again.” (3:3) Nicodemus’ response is of the physical nature. He ponders, “How can I be born again? I can’t climb back into the womb? How is this possible?”
Jesus reply is “No one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.”
Now, some people out there don’t feel like Jesus is talking about baptism here. Maybe he is, maybe he isn’t. What Jesus is saying is “NO ONE CAN SEE THE KINGDOM OF GOD WITHOUT BEING BORN AGAIN.” As Paul establishes in Romans, the wages of sin is death and we are born as slaves to that sin. The condition of our flesh is death; there is no way around it. Jesus says, “Seeing the kingdom is a matter of being born again.”
I receive new life in Christ through my belief, faith, confession and baptism in Christ. The implications of this teaching of Jesus are and always will be in my mind concerning immersion and baptism in the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. So what I am saying is in chapter 3 of John, Jesus is teaching a new birth through baptism. We see, in the book of Acts that Christian baptism is a matter of water and Spirit. “Repent and be baptized (immersed in water), every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:38.
Through baptism, I’m dead to sin and alive to Christ. I enjoy a new life in Jesus Christ. To be born again, is not to reenter my mother’s womb, but to enter my baptismal waters and arise a new life, created anew in Christ Jesus.
How this applies to our world – taking a look at John chapter 3 it is difficult not to mention verse 3:16. The hope of our world is Jesus Christ. Believing in him offers the gift of eternal life. But for the first time, in my reading of John 3, it’s verse 18 that stands out. For those who choose not to believe in Christ, there is condemnation. Jesus didn’t come to condemn us (verse 17), according to verse 18, we condemn ourselves by opting out of belief in Christ.
The application for our world is simple, Jesus Christ is the light of the world and people must step into that light. Jesus is the hope of the world, the Savior of the world, and we must choose to believe in him.
What is the application for me?
Verse 18 has recaptured my heart. Too many people in our world stand condemned because they lack faith in Jesus Christ. What am I doing to share the hope of Christ with others? Is my preaching calling others to faith in Jesus Christ? Am I displaying the sort of urgency of ministers of the past? The world is lost without Christ. I must use what opportunities Christ has given me to proclaim Christ Jesus, the light of the world.
Prayer from the scriptures:
Thank you Father for displaying your incomprehensible love for us by sending your Son from heaven into this world. May my life display the full measure of faith, belief and trust in Jesus Christ. May I also share that belief with others, that people will come to faith in Jesus Christ, and enjoy the life eternal. In Jesus name, the name of salvation and eternal life, Amen.
Day 2 of the 21 Day Challenge
John 2What does John communicate about Jesus?
John’s chief concern here is communicating the resurrection. According to John here, it appears Jesus has his resurrection in full view, even at the earliest point of his ministry.
Concerning the miracle at the wedding in Cana, Jesus converts water to wine. I’ve long wondered what all the implications are of this miracle. On surface level, we see the beginning of Jesus miracles. Because of this miracle, we see the disciples put their faith in Christ: “What Jess did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples put their faith in him.” We see a similar response to a miracle from the Israelites following their miraculous crossing of the Red Sea (Exodus 14:31)
Also, concerning the miracle at Cana, it is possible also to see this conversion as a parallel of our own conversion from water to wine, from sinner to saint. Our conversion is incomprehensible, but it happens, much like water to wine. They didn’t know how it happened, that water turned into wine, it was simply the miraculous work of Christ, much like the miraculous work of the cross.
We also have Jesus clearing out the temple that Herod built. Jesus witnesses the corruption of the temple and starts cleaning house. Onlookers want to know what authority Jesus has to do and say what he does. Jesus’ response is peculiar “Destroy this temple and I will raise it again in three days” (2:19). They didn’t know it at the time, but Jesus was talking of his death and resurrection. We see the importance of the resurrection as a validation of Christ’s authority in this world.
What do I learn about Godliness?
Godliness appears here in the faith of the disciples. We see contrasted two views, one from the disciples who witnessed the miracle in Cana and “put their faith” in Jesus. While those who turned the temple into a market wanted a sign for authority. Truly the Godly were those who put their faith in Christ while the others proved ungodly by demanding a sign and then not having the faith to believe that the temple could be raised again in three days. We see Godliness, the God-honoring manner of life, is very much responding to the miracles of Christ in faith and believing in his authority.
How does it apply to our world?
When someone is sick and is healed, who often gets the credit? Is it God, the provider of wisdom, grace and healing, or is it the doctor, his scalpel or other technology, or other medicine? When we see sin overcome, when we see people healed, and people changed, who ought receive the credit and praise? Our response to such things reflects our faith in God. For the Israelites, they feared God and put their faith in Moses, the servant of God. When we are forgiven and changed from sinners to Saints, who gets the credit then? If a God-honoring life is putting our faith in God, it means in every way, in every aspect.
How does it apply to my life?
How many more signs and blessings must I receive before I give Christ my complete and total trust? I think it’s easier to demand more signs of God’s power than it is to believe in just one. We always want reminders and displays of power. The application is simply recognizing my hearts desire for more. What more proof, what more signs do I need than Christ conquering death?
Prayer from the chapter: Heavenly Father, the work of Christ directs me to your mercy and grace. As Jesus has converted water into wine, He has also converted me from a sinner to a saint. All authority in heaven and earth has been given to Christ, it is validated in His resurrection. May my heart find strength and hope in this truth. May I follow Christ wholly, with all my heart. I ask all of this in the name of Jesus, Amen.
Day 1 of the 21 Day Challenge
Well here is the first post of our 21 Day Challenge at EGCC. We are reading one chapter of John a day, for 21 days. For each chapter, we reflect on the same 4 questions and write a prayer. Here are some of my thoughts in reflectionWhat did I learn about Christ in this passage?
He is the Son of God, He is the Word, He is from the beginning. He was with God, always. Jesus is the Lamb of God, he takes away the sins of all the world. In his fullness we have received grace upon grace….
What did I learn about Godliness?
John the Baptist gives us a wonderful window into true godliness. Amidst the interrogation for who he was, be it a prophet or Elijah, he tells them he’s a nobody, unworthy of the one who follow after him. He says, “even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” 1:27 John the Baptist’s confession of unworthiness is a model for us all. Jesus is one to be loved and honored. Godliness is a God-honoring manner of life. A part of honoring God is realizing full well our place in his grandiose plan. John didn’t presume that his significant and important role in preparing the way for Christ somehow made him worthy to untie his masters sandals. An attitude of Godliness is humility, and we have it here, modeled for us in John the Baptist.
How does it apply to our world?
As for application to our world, there is much to be offered. No verse stands out more than John’s announcement in verse 29 “The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold, the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’”
1 John 2:2 reads “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”
And 1 John 4:10 “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
We have, for us, a Savior. His name is Jesus. He is, and was, from the very beginning: “He was in the beginning with God.” 1:2
The application for our world is quite simple really; Jesus is the redeemer of the world. Certainly the world needs to hear that message, and get a taste of it from the Church.
How does it apply to my life?
Sometimes my pride can get the better of me. Sometimes I can get into a position of importance or authority and believe that I am somehow better than someone else. John the Baptist doesn’t appear to fall into this temptation at all with his response to the interrogators. His response was beyond just self-deprecation; it was Christ-realization. His response shows his faith in the one to come, knowing and believing Jesus to be the Messiah, the Son of God. I need the constant reminder of who I am, and who Christ is, “He was from the beginning, with God.” God created me and Jesus partnered with Him in creation. If that doesn’t put my attitude in correct order, I don’t know what will. Later we will see John the Baptist say, “I must decrease, He must increase.” The application for me today is to simply remember my own unworthiness. “And from his fullness we have all received grace upon grace.” (verse 16)
Prayer from the Scripture:
Heavenly Father, thank your for your Son. He is truly the Lamb of God, and for that I am eternally grateful and give you praise. Thank you for the ministry of John the Baptist, who in humility points me to the true Savior, Jesus Christ. May my life reflect that same humility and confession of unworthiness. May I decrease, and the glory and ministry of your Son, Jesus Christ, Increase. In His wonderful name, Amen.
Sunday and the 21 Day Challenge
Starting tomorrow, Etna Green Church of Christ will embark on the 21 Day challenge. It's a simple challenge for all of us to read a single chapter of the Gospel of John each day. It will be quite the adventure for the church and I am excited to see how God will work through it.
I will post my reflections from the days reading to this site and link it to my facebook page.
The challenge is to read the chapter and have in mind these 4 questions:
1. What is John revealing about Jesus here?
2. What do I learn about Godliness?
3. How does this apply to our world?
4. How does this apply to my life?
The challenge also includes the writing of a prayer from the text for the day.
The hope is for all of us who participate to get into a healthy habit of studying God's Word, applying it to our lives and praying from scripture.
I'm excited to see what God will do with his people who truly seek Him.
Grace and Peace,
Jordan Ickes, Minister of Etna Green Church of Christ.