Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!

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Reading: John 3: 1-17

Verse 3: “No one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again”.

In our passage today Nicodemus is a seeker. He feels the pull of Jesus Christ on his heart. He senses that following this rabbi will change his life. And like most seekers, there is a thing or two that inhibits his seeking. The fact that Nicodemus comes at night indicates a struggle many have: he does not want to give up his position or status in life. Nicodemus occupies a place in Jewish society that affords the utmost respect. He has power and influence. To choose to follow Jesus would certainly cost him all of this. Today the idea of dying to self and asking Jesus to be Lord of our life calls us to make the same decisions.

Nicodemus wants to understand Jesus. He wants to know more, to go deeper. He has seen and/or heard enough to draw him in. He is curious. Nicodemus is able to go directly to the source. But even that is confusing for him. This can inhibit continued pursuit. Effort is required to persevere. Today many people turn to the Bible for understanding. The living word functions much like Jesus did. As one reads more and more the passages come to life and gain deeper meaning. A different story can shed light on another difficult passage, building on one’s understanding.

The longer into the night that Nicodemus and Jesus talked, the better Nicodemus’ understanding will become. The same is true for seekers who spend time reading and studying the Bible. The same is true for those a little further along on their journey. The more we read and study, the better we understand the story and message of the Bible. Like Nicodemus, may we invest in our relationship with Jesus. He will lead and guide us as we seek him and continue to mature in our faith. Thanks be to God.

Prayer: Lord God, draw me in more and more each day. Help me to dive down deep, growing closer to you day by day. Amen.

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The Call

Reading: Mark 1: 19-20

Verse 20: “Without delay He called them, and they left… and followed Him”.

I can remember times as a kid when I was out in the yard playing and a friend would ride up on his bike and tell me he was going someplace. I’d hop on my bike and off we’d go. Later in life I’d be sitting in my dorm room studying and some friends would be heading off to play soccer or basketball and I’d jump up and go with them. We’ve all had experiences where we have left what we were doing to go and do something else.

In today’s passage we have James and John doing a similar thing. As they sit in the boats working on the nets Jesus happens by and invites them to come along. In that culture the invitation to follow another would have meant more than my riding off on my bike. All rabbis had followers, so James and John would have understood that this call was a great commitment. It also meant that Jesus saw something in them that merited a call to follow. Usually a rabbi’s call followed years of competitive schooling and evidence of some solid gifts and talents. The most respected rabbis always got the best students as followers.

So here sits a couple of fishermen. For a spiritual call they do not appear to have any special gifts or talents. James and John were out of rabbi school long ago. Yet Jesus comes to them and invites them to become one of His followers. What was it about them that led Jesus to call them? By profession they are hard workers and ply their craft in all kinds of conditions. Fishing is a hard way of life and if they have hired hands they appear to be successful at their jobs. Commitment, hard work, the ability to persevere – sounds like disciple material.

We were all somewhere when Jesus met us where we were at and called us to follow Him. What we left behind was not everything, but it was our old self and our life of sin. We went through a transformation after we responded to the call. As we have journeyed with Jesus we have had experiences that allow us to help others hear Jesus’ call and to answer the call of Jesus on their lives. Like the Master, may we too meet people where they are as we seek to make disciples for the transformation of the world.

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Reading: Matthew 11: 16-19

Verse 19: The Son of Man came eating and drinking… a friend of tax collectors and sinners.

John the Baptist and Jesus Christ were sent by God – one to proclaim the coming of the good news and the other to bring the good news.  Both men showed signs of God’s presence within them and were feared by the religious authorities for their connection to God.  As Jesus speaks today, He questions the current people’s ability to recognize what or who is before them.  In the end He says, “wisdom is proved right by her actions”.  Today we would maybe say “the proof is in the pudding”.  The question for us as followers of Jesus is: do we walk the walk?

In Jesus’ time, the tradition of becoming a Rabbi was a long and arduous process.  All young boys aspired to be a Rabbi.  The Rabbi was well respected and looked up to.  All young boys would study the Torah, memorizing each word of what we know as Genesis through Deuteronomy (180 pages in my Bible).  Those who showed exceptional promise would go on the further study.  Those who excelled here would ask to follow a Rabbi.  From this group a Rabbi would select three to five to follow him.  This small group would literally follow the Rabbi everywhere and would emulate all he did.  It was quite an involved process to get to train so that one day you might become the new Rabbi.  As others surpassed you, at whatever step, you would return home, most likely taking up the family business.

This was how one would become a religious authority.  It was how it was done.  John and Jesus simply responded to the call of God and went into ministry.  The authority that both men carried did gain respect from some, but not from all.  As our verses say, many called John ‘crazy’ or demon-possessed.  Jesus was looked down upon for the company He kept.  Verse 19 reads, “The Son of Man came eating and drinking… a friend of tax collectors and sinners”.  In the end both men served the God they loved.  Each man filled the exact role that God had planned for each.  John pointed to Jesus as the one to follow.  Jesus gave us the example to follow.  As we live out this day, may we clearly follow Jesus, looking to be His witness and His hands and feet in our world.