★ “Back to the Basics” – God’s Mysterious Plan Revealed ★

Well 23 days have passed since we rung in 2017.  We have a new President of the United States and there has been a little over 3 weeks to work on our New Year’s Resolutions that we promised that we would do…so how are you doing with those resolutions?  Have you kicked the mistakes and habits of 2016 yet?  In the post114-daily-dependence-kicking-the-habits-of-2016-away ★ Thought for the Day – Unstoppable Determination for God’s Holiness ★, I shared that I don’t believe in resolutions because they are pretty much worthless and that I was challenged to think of them more as “Commitments” instead because you either change or you don’t.  We all have choices before us on whether we want to continue in the same old habits or not.  Today if you are reading this and you don’t know the plan of God for your life, I want you to encourage you to open your mind and heart to what He wants to do in your life as you read this post.

God said through the prophet Jeremiah: 114-daily-dependence-jeremiah-29-11

Jeremiah 29:11 is a famous Bible verse that you see all the time adorned on T-shirts and displayed on plaques and coffee mugs…(I even have one myself.)  It is a verse that I have been encouraged by and have shared with others to help comfort them in their time of need.  But have you even wondered what God’s plan is for you specifically?  The Apostle Paul said in Ephesians 3:6 (NLT)…

“And this is God’s plan: Both Gentiles and Jews who believe the Good News share equally in the riches inherited by God’s children.  Both are part of the same body, and both enjoy the promise of blessings because they belong to Christ Jesus.”

If the term Gentile is an unfamiliar to you, it simply means a person who is not Jewish.  When the Jews rejected Jesus, the door was opened for everyone who is not a direct descendant of Abraham, the father of the Jews.  John 1:10-12 (NLT) says:

“He [Jesus] came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize Him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.” 

You can also read more about it in Jesus’ “Parable of the Evil Farmers.”  Until this point there was a huge chasm between the Gentiles and Jews.  Jesus paved the way to reconcile both Jew and Gentile to Himself.  Psalms 133:1 says:

“How Good and Pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity.”
“How Good and Pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.”

Regardless if you are a Jew or a Gentile, if you believe in Jesus, you are God’s people and He desires there to be unity in His Church.  Paul went on to say in Ephesians 3:10-11:

“God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display His wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.  This was His eternal plan, which He carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord.”

People who are skeptical of church, or perhaps were hurt in the past by hypocrisy, or “holier than thou” attitudes question “why do I need to go to church?”  They justify it by saying “I can have a relationship with God on my own.”  Now while that is true that we can have a one on one with our Heavenly Father, the verse we just read is clear that the plan of God was “to use the church to display His wisdom.”  It is through gathering with other believers that our faith is strengthened and will grow exponentially faster than if we try to go it alone.  Charles Stanley said,

“No Christian has ever been called to ‘go it alone’ in his or her walk of faith.” 

And Hebrews 10:24-25 (NLT) furthers that point with this:

“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.  And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”

As the “church,” God wants us to leverage our relationship with those that are in our sphere of influence.  To encourage and build others up in the faith, which cannot be done in isolation.

Last weekend I was at my church’s retreat for the Junior High and High School students.  The keynote speaker was David Marvin from the “Porch” at Watermark Church who spoke on 2 Corinthians 5:14-21.  He made this statement that has resounded ever since in my spirit,

“Every person you have ever looked at will live somewhere for eternity…either with God or without God.”

If you are a Christian, that is a haunting reality that should motivate us to want to reach those who are lost and far away from God.  For those of you reading this today who do not call yourself a Christian or maybe a better way to say it, a “Christ Follower,” I want you to know that God loves you so much.

114-daily-dependence-ephesians-3-you-area-loved-by-jesusAnd when you place your faith in Jesus, you will experience freedom like you never dreamed possible.  The Apostle Paul continues in Ephesians 3:12 with this truth:

“Because of Christ and our faith in Him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.  So please don’t lose heart because of my trials here.  I am suffering for you, so you should feel honored.

When you believe in Jesus, you have access to God like never before because until you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior the SIN in your life will keep you away from Him.  You may say “I am a good person,” but that just is not enough.  We are all sinners and have fallen short of what God desires for our life (see Romans 3:23.)  And with that access comes the unfolding of His plan in your life!

I love what Sandi Krakowski once said:

“God has an amazing plan for your life but it won’t automatically happen without your cooperation.  Partner with Him and create a great life!”
“God has an amazing plan for your life but it won’t automatically happen without your cooperation.  Partner with Him and create a great life!”

God is just waiting for you to take a step in His direction.  The invitation is open to you but you need to make the choice to follow Jesus.  If you want to start your relationship with Him today just go to this post, ★ Thought for the Day – I Hate Religion and I’m a Christian… ★ and can read more about what this means and as well as a simple prayer that you can say to God that can start you down the path.  Just like a loving father, God is willing, ready and able to help us out whatever mess we have made of our lives.  (If you want to read more on the Father Heart of God just check out the “Parable of the Prodigal (or lost) Son” from Luke 15:11-32.)

Maybe you have made the commitment to Christ and have started on the journey to develop your relationship; I wanted to remind you of the truth of what Tim Keller said that:

“God invites us to come as we are, not to stay as we are.”

The amazing thing about God is that He will take us back regardless of the filth that we find ourselves in but the expectation is that once we have made the choice, we must continue to grow in our faith so that we can enjoy that new life!  Colossians 1:23 (NLT) says:

“But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it.  Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News.  The Good News has been preached all over the world, and I, Paul, have been appointed as God’s servant to proclaim it.”

The Good News is this…God sent Jesus to be the perfect sacrifice and payment for our sins.  Through Jesus’s death on the cross and resurrection, a bridge has been created to restore the relationship with God WHEN we believe in Jesus.  (See also 1 Peter 3:18 and Romans 6:6-7)  And so like Paul, we need to be standing firmly in our faith and actively pressing on to learn and grow.  If we are not advancing in our walk with God, we are regressing or drifting away…One of my favorite John Wooden quotes which I will close this Thought for Today is….

114-daily-dependence-john-wooden-choices“There is a choice that you have to make, in everything you do. So keep in mind that in the end, the choice you make, makes you.” 

So the choice is yours today…Do you start a relationship with Jesus and be a part of God’s Mysterious Plan that will forever change your legacy and family tree?  Or if you are a believer already will you start today to pursue your relationship more fervently?  I want to challenge you to throw out the useless “resolutions” and “choose to commit” to a new trajectory so that you’re not repeating the same old habits from 2016 and regretting 12 months from now that your life is different from it was today!  Because “in the end, the choice you make, makes you!”

If you are interested in learning more on the Grace of God, check out:

★ Thought for the Day – Is There Such a Thing As a Free Lunch? ★

★ Thought for the Day – Accidental Existence? ★

 

Or if you want to deepen your relationship check out:

★ Thought for the Day – Community That Matters ★

★ “Back to the Basics” – Pursuit #1 – Opening the Pipeline ★

★ Thought for the Day – Unfathomable Payoff of Faith ★

 

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★ Thought for the Day – How Many Licks to Forgiveness ★

106 - Daily Dependence - Candy SocksMonday was the first day of school for my daughters – My eldest is now a sophomore in High School and my baby is in her last year of middle school.  It is hard to believe how fast time has gone by!  It seems like just yesterday my wife and I were bringing them home from the hospital.  First day of school is always tough…Well that afternoon my mother-in-law gave them this little gift of vintage candy themed socks.  This pair was especially interesting to me…

106 - Daily Dependence - Mr. Owl Socks

Do you remember Mr. Owl?  I may be dating myself but I grew up with this question:

“How many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie pop?”

It seemed like this commercial stayed on the air forever.

I discovered that it is actually the longest running commercial in American television history.  It first appeared in 1970 and depicted a boy on a quest to find the answer to that famous question.  Believing that Mr. Owl was the smartest of all, he handed over his Tootsie Pop expecting to get the definitive answer on how many licks it takes to get to the center; but instead the temptation was too great and after just three licks Mr. Owl bites to get to that gooey goodness.  I thought this quote was the perfect way to open this “Thought for the Day.”

106 - Daily Dependence - Forgiveness Is Not A Tootsie Pop
“Forgiveness is not a Tootsie Pop so stop counting.”

This reminds me of a conversation that is recorded between Jesus and His disciple Peter in Matthew 18:21-22:

“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked,  

‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me?  Up to seven times?’  

 Jesus answered,

 ‘I tell you not seven times but seventy times seven.’”

Jesus’s response was probably not what Peter was expecting…”seventy times seven” is a whole lot of forgiving!  But that was not what He really meant; Jesus’ point really was signaling that there should be no limit to how many times we offer our forgiveness.  And just like it’s hard to keep track of the number of licks, it would be very difficult for us to keep up with that many offenses against us.  Instead of tallying each offense, we must follow what Ephesians 4:31-32 (NIV) says,

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in  Christ God forgave you.”

I would like to unpack these truths of “What Forgiveness Is and Is Not…”

But first, I would like to share something that God showed me the other morning in my quiet time about his character.  Genesis Chapter 3 records the fall of man, when the Serpent (AKA Satan) deceived the Woman to eat the forbidden fruit of the “Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil,” and how she then gave it to her husband Adam who ate it too.  A familiar tale that has been captured in numerous artistic depictions and shared during Sunday Schools everywhere as a cautionary tale of not allowing the enemy to twist God’s Words which will lead to sinning.  In Genesis 3:13-20 God rendered the consequences to Adam and Eve’s rebellion, (because there are always consequences to sin – See Galatians 6:7).  He first cursed the Serpent, then the Woman and finally Adam.  But what amazed me this week was what the next verse says…

“And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.”  Genesis 3:21 (ESV)

Now I can’t tell you how many times I have read this story and flew right past this verse but tell me something, have you ever been betrayed and instantly responded by taking care of their needs?  But that is exactly what God did, which leads us into our first reality…

I read this quote from Ken Sande that I thought was great!

“Overlook an Offense—Many disputes are so insignificant that they should be resolved by quietly overlooking an offense.  Overlooking an offense is a form of forgiveness, and involves a deliberate decision not to talk about it, dwell on it, or let it grow into pent-up bitterness or anger.”  From “The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict,”

And Proverbs 19:11 (NIV1984) says:

“A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense”

If you wait until you “feel like” forgiving, then it will probably never happen.  In His historic Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gave us a new model for living in Matthew 5:44-45 (NASB)…

“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

The sun rising on both the evil and the good, and God sends His rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  That is an important truth to put on the sticky side of your brain.  And we need to be ready to not only forgive but to love and pray for those who hurt us.  No doubt this is a hard command to swallow, which segways us to point #2…

Essential?  Does that seem extreme?  Not so much when you look at what Jesus said in Matthew 6:14-15 (NLT):

“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.  But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Forgive or else you will not be forgiven.  Pretty cut and dry…It does not get any simpler than that.  2 Chronicles 7:14 (NLT) gives this promise:

“Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways,  I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.”

Truth # 3…

Forgiving someone is not intended about allow yourself to be a doormat to be walked all over but rather it is intended to set you free from bitterness. Unforgiveness can birth bitterness but we don’t have to swallow it.  Robert Morris had this to say about

“We’re all going to taste bitterness in our life, but you have the choice whether you’re going to drink it.”

See Hebrews 12:14-15 also.  All of us will experience pain in this life, and if we don’t master bitterness, depression can result.  I once heard this great quote that

“Not forgiving someone is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”

And even though I know this is true, I fall victim to this over and over.  Growing up, the way I handled being hurt by people was to completely write them off.  If you betrayed me, you were dead to me.  Holding a grudge was my modus operandi and I am sad to say that I did not just drink bitterness but gulped it in huge amounts.  Since 1998 when I gave my heart to Jesus, He has been redeeming my broken and unforgiving heart.  I have experience Truth #4 is in my life…

Many people believe just the opposite.  They think that forgiveness is for those who inflict pain but it really is for the one who has been crushed.  Max Lucado said it best when he penned these poignant words!

“Forgiveness is unlocking the door to set someone free and realizing you were the prisoner!”
“Forgiveness is unlocking the door to set someone free and realizing you were the prisoner!”

 What an image and truth!  When we refuse to forgive, we are effectively slamming the cell door shut, and locking ourselves in a prison of our own making.  Jesus again said in Luke 6:35-36 (ESV):106 - Daily Dependence - Luke 6-36

“But love your enemies, and do good, andlend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.  Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”

“Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” which leads us into our fifth and final truth…  

Dictionary.com has this definition of Act: “a deed; performance,” whereas an Attitude is a…

“manner, disposition, feeling, position, etc., with regard to a person or thing; tendency or orientation, especially of the mind.”

Forgiveness is not “a one and done.”  It is a continual, purposeful mindset that is a choice which is essential and a gift for the offended.  I love what Martin Luther King Jr. said that makes this point perfectly!

Jesus modeled this in his final moments as recorded in Luke 23:34  (ESV),

“And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ And they cast lots to divide his garments.”

After being disrespected, spat upon, slapped, beaten, flogged and nailed to a Roman Cross, Jesus looks up to heaven to intercede on our behalf!  What an attitude of forgiveness!  William Blake said:106 - Daily Dependence - The Glory of Christianity is to Conquer By Forgiveness (3)

“The Glory of Christianity is to Conquer By Forgiveness,”

So the question is will you “Conquer By Forgiveness”…will you forgive others as God has forgiven and loved you?  Think about it, Adam rebelled against God, sin entered the world and we were separated from Him forever.  To resolve this, God sent His Son Jesus as the payment for my sin so that all we need to do is accept the sacrifice for the forgiveness of the sin that came into the world.  Romans 5:18-19 (NLT) says,

“Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone.  Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners.  But because one other person obeyed God, many will be made righteous.”

One man ushered sin into the world but what is more important is that one man, Jesus Christ has destroyed the power of sin over our lives if we make the right choice.  One of my favorite quotes from John Wooden is:

“There is a choice that you have to make, in everything you do.  So keep in the mind that in the end, the choice you make, makes you.”

Remember, forgiveness is not a Tootsie Pop.  Don’t even try to count the number of times you have forgiven someone.  In God’s reality, there is no number of licks you will take that you will ever be justified to stop forgiving.  So now the choice is yours.  What will you do with this information?  You know what God would do, He will always forgive a repent person.  And in return, He expects us to show others the same mercy you have received.  Will you do the same?  Because in the end, the choice you make, makes you!

If you are interested to read more about Forgiveness, check out this two part series of posts called:

★ Re|Engage – Forgiveness ★

★ Re|Engage – Forgiveness In Action ★

 

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★ Thought for the Day – What’s Rubbing Off On You? ★

Yesterday was the 4 year anniversary of my father’s death.  We never had a good relationship until a year and half before his death when we reconnected and I was privileged to partner with God to lead him to accept Jesus as his savior before he passed.  There was a father wound that lasted fo92 - Daily Dependence -Family at the Crossr good chunk of my life as a result which I believe is what motivated me to be the best father that I could be to my two daughters.  If you are just tuning into our blog in the new year, we have delving into the idea of Leaving a Lasting Legacy…how to become the man or woman that will not only have a positive influence on those around us but have an impact on future generations that will be directed towards God as a result of what you are investing in today.  Today I want to piggyback on a “Thought” that we posted last year called ★ Thought for the Day – Who Are You Imitating? ★ which is based on Ephesians 5:1-2 that we should “be imitators of God,” and that we need to be leaders, not followers…to be the one influencing others, not allowing ourselves to be negatively influenced by today’s culture.  1 Corinthians 15:33 says:

            “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad Company corrupts good morals.’”

92 - 1 Corinthians 15-33 - Bad Company Corrupts

This is something that my wife and I have tirelessly tried to pass on to our daughters.  As one is now a freshman in high school and the other in middle school, we see how very, very important this really is; and how critical it is to be praying for our children’s protection.  Every day we pray that they will be a light in this dark world…to be the hands and feet of Jesus.  Just like 1 Corinthians 15:33 warns, we need to be very careful about who we associate with.  In a message called They Had Been with Jesus Marty Collier preached on Acts 4:13 (ESV) which says,

“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.”

In the sermon, he made these four observations…

“When we’ve been WITH Jesus…

  1. Others will NOTICE
  2. Our confidence will be in Christ, not CREDENTIALS
  3. We will have BOLDNESS like never before
  4. We will be unable to stop SPEAKING about the power of Jesus”

Peter and John, two men who walked alongside Jesus, who spent day and night with Him, who were uneducated fishermen, spoke with such authority and boldness that “astonished” everyone.  What is amazing is that if you read the previous 12 verses, you will see that the events of verse 13 were preceded with Peter and John being imprisoned for preaching the truth of Jesus Christ and after a night in jail, they were brought in front of all the rulers, elders and scribes with so much boldness that people took notice.  Peter and John are great examples for us that when we stand with Jesus we will have confidence to stand up for what is right.  They did not allow the circumstance of being imprisoned to deter them from their mission.  I love that last part, “they recognized that they [Peter and John] had been with Jesus.”  Charles Spurgeon made this great statement which as follower of Jesus we should consider our rally cry… 

92 - Daily Dependence - Charles Spurgeon - Recognize That You Have Been With Jesus“Live in such a way that men may recognize that you have been with Jesus.”  

This got me thinking…What characteristics do we need to embody in order that people would “recognize that you had been with Jesus?”  The answer can be found in Colossians 3:12-13 (NKJV) which outlines the “Character of the New Man”…and I believe you could extend that to cover women as well…

“Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.”

We started off with this question…what’s rubbing off on you?  Well here are some Characteristics of Jesus that I believe we need to have rubbed off on us if we want to be men and women who will be world changers for the Kingdom of God!

  • Holy (see 2 Corinthians 5:21)
    • The New Living Translation says “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”
  • Humble (see Matthew 11:29 and Matthew 20:26-28)
    • The New Living Translation of Matthew 11:29 says “Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
    • The New Living Translation of Matthew 20:26-28 says “But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
  • Meek (See Matthew 5:5)
    • The New International Version says “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” Why do you think this is?
    • “In biblical usage, meekness is that attitude of mind that is opposed to harshness and contentiousness, and that shows itself in gentleness and tenderness in dealing with others.” Rick Reinckens
    • I love how Grady Scott described Meekness:
      • “Many associate meekness with an attitude of allowing everyone to run over you because you are afraid of them. This is not meekness. In fact, some of the strongest men who have ever lived have been meek.  A good working definition of biblical meekness is Strength under control.  Jesus could stand up to the winds and the waves. He also chased the moneychangers out of the temple twice with a whip made out of chords.”
  • Compassionate (see Mark 6:34)
    • Throughout the gospels it says that Jesus “had compassion on them,” or “was moved with compassion for them” regardless of whether he was tired or not, Jesus made time for those in need.
    • “Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.”
    • But if we back up just 3 verses, it says “Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.”  He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat.” (Mark 31:34)
    • To put this in context in Verse 41 of Mark chapter 6, Jesus feeds Five Thousand Men.
  • Loving (see John 15:13)
    • The New Living Translation says “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
  • Forgiving (See Luke 23:34)
    • The New Living Translation says Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice.”
    • Regarding the “Character of the New Man”, the New King James Version (NKJV) says “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.”

Now that you have sped through this familiar list of characteristics, go back and look at them again, but first pray for God to show you in what ways you are excelling and what areas you need to work on more.  I will close with this great encouragement from Charles Stanley’s Life Principles Bible:

“God has chosen the specific era, location, and giftedness with which you would exist for the purpose of serving Him.  You are not a mistake – your strengths, weaknesses, and situation in life are part of His plan to be glorified through you.  Your ministry does not start sometime in the future when your circumstances change. It begins the moment you believe in Christ.  Serve Him obediently with this in view.”

What’s rubbing off on you?  What area do you need to work on?  God can use you wherever you are at, you are not a mistake.  He loves you so much that he gave His Son for you and I to be reconnected with Him…The choice is yours!

92 - Daily Dependence - John Wooden - Choices

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★ “Back to the Basics” – Can 1 Conversation Change a Life? ★

In our second installment of the “Back to the Basics” series we are going to answer the question…

If you missed our first post in this series, you can got back and read it here ★ “Back to the Basics” – Religion vs. Relationship – Part 2 ★.  This juxtaposition between “practicing a Religion” or “having a Relationship with God” is the starting point of everything!  I believe that for you to move forward in your faith you have to get this straight in your mind, it is the core of what God desires for all of us.

So let me ask you this question…Do you consider yourself a Glass “Half Empty” or “Half Full” Type of Person?  Or another way to look at it is…76 - Daily Dependence - How do you view life

It really makes a difference, because your response to this question can really influence your answer to the one posed in this Thought for the Day.  If you tend to view life through a “half empty,” or pessimistic lens, than you many think that people can never change so how could 1 conversation make that big of a difference.  But if on the other hand, you have a “half full” or optimistic viewpoint, than you may approach this with a more open mind…which I pray you will!

Contrary to how these Thoughts for the Day are usually developed, I will ask you a series of additional questions to get to our answer.  The conversation we will be looking at is recorded in Chapter 3 of the Book of John between Jesus and a religious leader of that time named Nicodemus, who was a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin.  At the risk of going down a rabbit trail…I want to give a little background.  As a Pharisee, Nicodemus was part of a group of Jews who thought that they kept all God’s rules perfectly and were above reproach.  What made this conversation unusual was that the Pharisees were stanch opponents to the teachings of Jesus and were so self-righteous that they believed they were incapable of being wrong.  Interestingly if you look up the word Pharisee in the dictionary, you will see one definition as being “a hypocrite,” which Jesus continually called them.Okay, let’s get back on track…The text that we will start at is from John 3:2-7 (NLT),

After dark one evening, he [Nicodemus] came to speak with Jesus. 
 
“Rabbi,” he said, “we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you.”
 

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”“What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?”Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.  Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life.  So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’”

STOP…now let’s start with the questions….
When you hear that phrase “born again,” what comes to mind?  It can be confusing if you have never heard accurate teaching on what it means.  Here is a link newspring.cc/watch/stepup/born-again to one of the best on messages I have ever heard on what it means to be “Born Again” from Clayton King (NewSpring Church) if you want to learn more on this.

Some people have the impression that being “born again” is some sort of brainwashing or that people who call themselves “born again Christians” are crazy because they have seen some eccentric preacher on TV in the middle of the night or knew some person who spoke about it in “Christianese” terms that unless you knew the context you will never understand the meaning and it just sounds like nonsense.  Well lets look back in our text because Nicodemus had questions too…

In John 3:8-12 (NLT) Jesus finishes His thought with…

76 - Daily Dependence - John 3-3 - Born Again“The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.”

“How are these things possible?” Nicodemus asked.

Jesus replied, “You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don’t understand these things?  I assure you, we tell you what we know and have seen, and yet you won’t believe our testimony.  But if you don’t believe me when I tell you about earthly things, how can you possibly believe if I tell you about heavenly things?”

I love what Jesus said in verse 8…“The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.”   You can’t see the wind and yet you know it exists because you feel its effect, it is the same way with the move of the Holy Spirit.  You see, when you ask Jesus to be your Lord and savior then the Holy Spirit comes into your life that will transform you into a new person and making you “born again.”  You may have heard it as “being saved” or “salvation” or “as You are a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ.  Max Lucado nailed it when he said, “Christianity, in its purest form, is nothing more than seeing Jesus.”  So…
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“No one has ever gone to heaven and returned. But the Son of Man has come down from heaven.  And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life.”  John 3:13-15 (NLT) 

In the brief time Jesus was on earth He did incredible miracles from healing the sick, making the blind see, the lame walk and even raising a man from the dead!  The author of the text we are looking at was one of Jesus’ closest disciples and was there to record this conversation which does not show up anywhere else in the Bible.  He also state stated in the very last verse of this book that…

“Jesus also did many other things. If they were all written down, I suppose the whole world could not contain the books that would be written.”  John 21:25 (NLT)

So that leads us to our next question…

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“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.  God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.”  John 3:16-17 (NLT)

I am sure that you have seen “John 3:16” written somewhere whether held by a fan in the stands, or on a t-shirt, or spray painted along the road.  It is a foundation verse and probably the most quoted verse about how much God loves us and why Jesus came to earth.  God sent His son to die so that we could have eternal life with Him!  You can read more on this in previous blog called ★ Thought for the Day – Sweetly Broken ★.

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“There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.  And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil.  All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed.  But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.”  John 3:18-21 (NLT)

This reminds me of one of my favorites quotes from John Wooden which I have shared before but it fits so perfectly…

“There is a choice that you have to make, in everything you do.  So keep in the mind that in the end, the choice you make, makes you.”

So the choice is yours, but know what you decide about Jesus will have eternal consequences!

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Myrrh…You may remember hearing about the Three Wisemen from the east who followed a star to Bethlehem to bring gifts to Jesus.  Part 1 of the answer is found in Matthew 2:11 (NLT):

“They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”

Part 2 of the answer is found in John 19:38-40 (NLT)…

“Afterward Joseph of Arimathea, who had been a secret disciple of Jesus (because he feared the Jewish leaders), asked Pilate for permission to take down Jesus’ body.  When Pilate gave permission, Joseph came and took the body away.  With him came Nicodemus, the man who had come to Jesus at night.  He brought about seventy-five pounds of perfumed ointment made from myrrh and aloes.  Following Jewish burial custom, they wrapped Jesus’ body with the spices in long sheets of linen cloth.

You are probably wondering why this question is in here…Besides being a fun bible trivia question, the answer is found in Verse 39…Look who is mentioned there…Nicodemus!!  Even though he was a Pharisee and had a lot to lose by assisting Joseph of Arimathea in preparing Jesus’ body for burial, it is clear that he made the decision to follow Jesus and accept the salvation that is available to everyone!!! So can 1 Conversation Change a Life?  I think it is clear!!  Yes, if you will open your mind and heart to Jesus!!

I will close with this quote from Clayton King’s message on be “Born Again,” (that I posted the link to above.)

“Salvation cannot be achieved.  It can only be received and it’s received when you believe.  You can’t achieve your salvation, you can’t earn it.  You can’t work for God’s love, it’s already there, it was they before you were born.

Jesus is willing to save you, but He’s also able to save you.  It’s one thing to be willing, it’s another thing to be able.  He’s the only one who is able to save you…”

 

If you would like to like to pray to accept Jesus, go to this blog post…

★ Thought for the Day – I Hate Religion and I’m a Christian… ★ 

It has a simple prayer that you can lead you in making the best decision of your life!!  Please message me if you would like to learn more!  I pray that you will make the decision to trust Jesus, I promise you will never be disappointed!!

If you are interested there is a follow-up to this post called:

★ “Back to the Basics” – Follow-Up to Can 1 Conversation Change a Life? ★

★ Thought for the Day – Marriage & Money – “Bonus” ★

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We hope you have enjoyed our first ever “trilogy of posts” as we delved into Marriage & Money and how they go hand in hand.  As a quick recap:

So what’s next?  How do we elevate our marriages to reach unity and oneness in our finances? Through…

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Prayer

  • Prayer really works.  Someone once said, “Prayer should be our first response rather than our last resort.” 

Word

  • Get into the Word of God; find out what the bible says about marriage and money.  Don’t just stop at this class, dig in for yourself and continue to learn.

Worship

  • Get into the Word of God; find out what the bible says about marriage and money.  Don’t just stop at reading these posts, dig in for yourself and continue to learn.

The first step is always the hardest but Proverbs 16:3 gives us the direction,

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So if you want unity in your marriage and in your finances you need to get into the Presence of the Lord through these three areas.

Here is some Practical Application, common sense but good reminders….

 1.  Teamwork = Unity in Marriage. You are a team so you need to act like one!

  • Ephesians 4:2 (NIV1984) says, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”
  • James E. Hunton once said, “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”

 2.  Forgive One Another – No one is perfect and you are bound to make mistakes.

  • Ephesians 4:26-27 (NIV1984) warns us that, “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold.”
  • And follows up in verse 32, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32 (NIV1984)

 3.  Think Before you Speak

  • Proverbs 16:24 (NLT) instructs us that, “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.”
  • And Proverbs 16:24 (NKJV) says, “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.”

 4.  Work on Budget Together = Unity in Finances will result

  • Proverbs 21:5 (NLT) says, “Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.” 
  • The Living Bible translates Proverbs 21:5 a little simpler, “Steady plodding brings prosperity.” 
  • If you have a plan, a budget and you work that plan consistently, God promises that you will be prospered.

5.  Learn, Learn, Learn

  • The late great motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar said that we need to “Commit to being a lifetime learner.”       
  • You can’t just read one book or attend one class; you need to continually learn in order to be successful in Marriage and Money.  I love what Dave Ramsey said about winning in your finances,
  • “Winning at money is 80% behavior and 20% head knowledge.”  Dave Ramsey, Total Money Makeover

I will close with my favorite quote from John Wooden:

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 So now the choice is yours.  What will you do with this information?

  • Will you chose to trust God and put him in control of your life?
  • Will you chose to change your behavior in how you relate to your spouse and your finances?
  • Will you chose to start tithing?
  • Or will you chose to do nothing at all?

“In the end, the choice you make makes you.”  If you will commit to follow God’s principle’s for our Marriages and Finances than we will have unity in both.  Remember “Nothing changes if nothing changes.”

Keep an eye out, we will be starting a new segment called “Back to the Basics,” where we will be tapping into the fundamentals of Christianity, and getting back to the roots of our faith.  While you wait, you can read our very first blog post which is a great preamble to this segment, called ★ Thought for the Day – I Hate Religion and I’m a Christian… ★ that really captures what Daily Dependence are all about!!

★ Thought of the Day – What are You the Architect of? ★ 

I once read this definition of Architecture:

“By the simplest definition, architecture is the design of buildings, executed by architects.  However, it is more.  It is the expression of thought in building.  It is not simply construction, the piling of stones or the spanning of spaces with steel girders.  It is the intelligent creation of forms and spaces that in themselves express an idea.” 

As an Architect by vocation, this quote beautifully captures what an architect is.  Ultimately though, before any piling of stones or spanning of girders, a tremendous amount of decisions and problem solving must occur.  In both architecture and in life, I believe to be successful, these skills are paramount.

And that leads us to, what are you the Architect of?  Life is a series of decisions that we have to make, so….what choices are you making in your career and in your personal life?

On A Minute with Maxwell,  the Word was “Choices.”  John Maxwell quoted one of my favorite John Wooden quotes….

“There is a choice that you have to make, in everything you do. So keep in the mind that in the end, the choice you make, makes you.”
“There is a choice that you have to make, in everything you do. So keep in the mind that in the end, the choice you make, makes you.”

“In the end, the choice you make makes you.”  I love that so much!  That goes far deeper than just what career direction to go in or where you spend your 40+ hours a week….it really speaks of the level of integrity that you will walk out in your everyday life.  And it puts the responsibility right where it belongs…on me.  And on you.  What choices are you making today that down the road you will be thankful for?  Are there choices you are making that will become regrets, or areas that you are compromising in?  I think that for many people this quote is unfortunately all to true…

 

“I’m the Architect of my own disaster.”

I would like to flip it around and look at it this way…that “I’m the Architect of my own success”….Each one of us has the power to choose a life marked by integrity and honesty, but of course just like in Architecture, you have to be intelligent in what decisions you make.  Nothing changes if nothing changes.  I will close with final quote…

“The choices we make, almost always determine the level of success we have.”  John Maxwell