I am always delighted when I read a familiar section of scripture and find new insights. As I read through John 3:1-21, I was amazed at what I hadn’t seen before. I had never realized that Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus included the beloved and most memorize words in the Bible, John 3:16. I had also not recognized with what compassion Jesus spoke to Nicodemus.
Jesus explained to Nicodemus exactly why he was here on earth and what he was doing. The gospel was clearly laid out for him. Jesus gave more direct information to this Pharisee than he did to any others in his recorded confrontation with the Pharisees.
Jesus rebuked Nicodemus for not understanding him. I believe skepticism and ingrained presuppositions hindered Nicodemus from comprehending Jesus’ words. Jesus knew this, and he challenged him to clear his mind and see the truth in what he was telling him. He took time with Nicodemus. He apparently wanted him to grasp what God was doing. I’m sure Jesus knew that Nicodemus was to become one of his followers.
I read through John 3:1-21 a number of times in both the NIV and The Message. The more I read the more I was touched. I began to see love and beauty expressed in the words Jesus spoke. He spoke to Nicodemus from his heart. I believe he spoke with passion. I encourage you to read this passage, and let it minister to your heart this coming week.
What does the word surrender say to you? Give up? Turn over control? Quit? This is not a word we humans like very much especially the turn over control part. Quitter, coward, weakling these are a few of the words we used to label ones who surrender. When a criminal surrenders to the police it usually means going to jail. A defeated army that surrenders is at the mercy of the conquering army. History contains a number of examples of the results of surrendering. Unfortunately, humans’ surrendering to humans doesn’t always work out very well for the ones who surrender. Surrendering is at best a risky business when we talk of surrendering to each other. Surrendering to God is a different business.
God invites us to surrender, but he never demands it. He promises that if we do surrender to him he will improve our lives. In this case surrendering might not be so bad.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
I can personally attest that surrendering to Jesus is as he says. I was in the pit of despair some time ago feeling useless and lost. I finally sat down on a rock and said to God, “I can’t leave this rock without you.” I surrendered. From that moment my life changed. I am now useful, happy, and at peace in my soul. The longer I stay with him the more I realize these promises. And, he also has promised me eternal life. In my case surrendering has proven to be a good choice.
Meditate on the above scripture, and hear Jesus calling to you. Find new life in Jesus our savior.
To conclude what I‘ve been writing about the Kingdom of God I’ve written a short story. Here is the first part.
In the beginning, the Great Ruler established a new kingdom within his realm. He loved this new kingdom and enjoyed visiting with his new subjects. He saw to it that they had everything needed for a blissful life. However, one of his other subjects rebelled against his rule and decided to take over this new kingdom.
Through deception and lies, he convinced the inhabitants of the new kingdom to join his rebellion. The new kingdom then came under a curse of death and destruction. It became a dark place full of evil. The rebel leader delighted in this for he himself was evil.
His rule over the new kingdom went on for many years. Finally, the Great Ruler had enough. From the very beginning, he had a plan to regain his new kingdom. It was now time to implement his plan. His plan was kept secret, and he caught the rebel leader by surprise.
The great Ruler sent his Son to the new kingdom, but he came not as a ruler but in the likeness of the humble people. Later, the son began to announce that the Great Ruler’s kingdom had come. This disturbed the rebel leader, so he began to figure out how to stop this challenge to his rule.
The Son showed the power of the Great Ruler’s kingdom with many signs and wonders. The people began to follow the Son because they were intrigued by his teaching and the miracles he did for them. They were also drawn to him because he had power over the rebel leader’s soldiers.
Many of the people desired to enter the Great Ruler’s kingdom, but there was a problem. All of them had indulged in the evil of the rebel leader. They could not enter the Great Ruler’s kingdom without first being cleansed. The rebel leader knew this so he was confident that he would keep his subjects. He thought, “I’ll get my subjects to kill the Son then I’ll for sure have the victory.”
In his book Eldon Ladd points out that God’s kingdom is not a place, but is simply his right to rule, his divine sovereignty. God’s kingdom exists right now. We enter god’s kingdom when we surrender our will and except his will. His will being foremost that we receive the gift of his son’s redeeming work. Receiving God’s salvation births us into his kingdom. We are new creation in Christ (2Corinthians 5:17) with an existence in God’s eternal kingdom.
Though we who have received salvation in Jesus are now part of his eternal kingdom, we also exist here in the temporal world. How does our new status affect our physical presence here? Eldon Ladd states the answer very nicely, “The kingdom of God is, then, the realization of God’s will and the enjoyment of the accompanying blessings” (*Ladd, page 24).
In my personal experience of realizing God’s will in my life, I have found comfort, protection, maturity, physical and emotional strength, and an overall exciting challenging life. The accompanying blessings are manifest in my family and friends and a meaningful existence. God treats each of his children individually, according to who he created us to be, yet we all benefit from his will and the accompanying blessings.
If you have received Jesus as your savior, you have eternal life in God’s kingdom. You now exist in the realm of God’s divine sovereignty. We will someday leave our existence in the temporal world, but we will continue to live forever with God our Father.
Next week let’s look further into our presence in this world as God’s children.
*The Gospel of the Kingdom of God, George Eldon Ladd, Martino Publishing 2011
I have recently been wondering about the kingdom of God. The many complex teachings on the subject have left me a little confused, but I have often felt that the idea is not really that complicated. My basic thought is that the kingdom of God is simply the kingdom over which God rules, and if you think about it, that is everywhere, for all time, in both the physical and the spiritual realms. God created it all, and he is, therefore, sovereign over it all.
When I shared this with my pastor, he recommended the below referenced book by George Eldon Ladd*. This in-depth analysis of the kingdom of God expanded my thoughts and broadened my perspective. I will be sharing insights in future posts as I study this book.
For today, I want to share this introductory thought. I believe the kingdom of God is present right here among us, and Jesus gave us access when he went to the cross. Through his death and resurrection, those who receive him as their savior are then ushered into God’s kingdom. We, the redeemed, now exist in the eternal kingdom of God. We still exist in this world but, we are in this world not of this world. Our eternal life has already begun.
*The Gospel of the Kingdom of God, George Eldon Ladd, Martino Publishing 2011
Psalm 116:8-11 reads: For you, O Lord, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living.
When I was young I learned about the Lord in Sunday school. I even went to church. However, my daily life was on me, and I didn’t think much about the Lord during the week. Then divorce came into my life. On my own, I tried to fix the emotional distress of this tragedy. I floundered in a cavern of unsuccessfulness. Finally, I came to the end of myself and called on the name of the Lord. He was right there to help.
Jesus delivered my soul from anguish, my eyes from tears, and he gave me direction for my life. Jesus gave my life purpose, and I stopped randomly stumbling through life. Overnight, life completely changed. I felt alive again as I started my new life walking with him. In his mercy and grace, Jesus was very good to me.
“How can I repay the Lord for all his goodness to me?” asked the Psalmist in verse 12. He shared his answer in verses 13 and 14. “I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of his people.” To me this means I will praise the Lord for the salvation he purchased for me. And, as I have vowed, I will continue to serve the Lord for the rest of my life. This I will do in the presence of his people. Gratitude and faithfulness will be the hallmark of my existence.
If you haven’t found the mercy and grace of Jesus just call on the name of the Lord. He will answer you.
Repost from August of 2016.
Jesus taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
There are two wills at work here in creation, God’s will and man’s will. God’s will is that there would be harmony in his creation, that we would love one another. Man’s will has brought about what we experience daily. We are subject to man’s will because God gave us free will. We each one get to choose. The ultimate goal is that we would, of our own free will, choose God’s will.
In Matthew 23:37 Jesus says, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.”
I am in tears as I hear the heart of God in these words. How much the words, “but you were not willing,” sting my heart.