John 3:5 – Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”
The key to entering the kingdom of God is the Spirit of God. It is the Holy Spirit who carries the mandate to bring forth in the earth a “new creation.” The natural man does not receive the Spirit of God because the kingdom is spiritual and not natural. Many try reasoning in their minds how to be accepted by God. This is the height of folly because God will not allow any to know Him and His ways simply through natural reasoning. All of the world religions are based upon self-effort in trying to reach God. The basis of the “faith once delivered to the saints” is rooted in God reaching out to us. He has done this through His Holy Spirit. The Spirit caused the Christ child to be formed in Mary’s womb. It was the Spirit who came upon Jesus at His baptism. It was the Holy Spirit that empowered Jesus to heal the sick and cast out demons. The Holy Spirit strengthened the Lord Jesus to endure the cross for each of us. Finally, the Father promised Jesus that the Holy Spirit would be given to all who would believe in Him.
Nicodemus, a religious leader in Israel, came to Jesus in the dark of night. He knew in his heart that Jesus had been sent by God, confirmed by the signs that followed Jesus’ life. Nicodemus only knew the Law as a way to God. Jesus began to share that the true way of entrance into the kingdom of God was through a new birth, and not by attempting to keep the Jewish Law. Jesus told Nicodemus that it is by water and the Spirit that one must be born again. Water speaks of the natural birth process. Baptism was not a new thought to the Jews, for they had many kinds of baptisms. Being born of the Spirit was a new dimension for this Pharisee to grasp.
Many try entering into a relationship with God through various kinds of religious works. But Jesus’ words help us understand that only by the Spirit of God can one be “born into the Father’s Kingdom.” Today, are you resting fully upon a relationship with the Holy Spirit for your entrance and life in the Kingdom of God? Or is it self-effort and natural reasoning which drives you toward spiritual things?
Our greatest need is to increase our dependence upon God’s Spirit. He wants us to let go of all self-effort and fully embrace a relationship of intimacy with Him. God, as promised to Jesus, has sent His Spirit to be received by all those who have chosen to put their trust in the Lord Jesus. If you have been “born of the Spirit,” then get to know Him in ever deepening ways. Always inquire of His will and direction in your life. Learn to discern His voice in your inner man.
Father, I ask for an increase in my awareness of the need for Your Holy Spirit’s presence. I ask that I might be led more by Your Spirit and less by my own natural reasoning in my day-to-day life.
Genesis 2:7 Then the Lord formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
In the beginning, it was God that formed man. God is the divine architect of life. His purpose was not to have a design to look upon and admire as an art form, but to have a “living” man who would do His will on the earth. It was God’s “breath” that gave man life. The word “spirit” means “breath.” God breathed into man and man came to life.
The divine creator is still breathing into mankind. In the first creation, man became a “living soul.” Man’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden brought sin, separation, and darkness. God has chosen to create a “new creation” out of the sinful chaos of the fallen creation. It is what the apostle Paul was speaking concerning the new self when he states, “Put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Ephesians 4:24).
If you are “in” Christ, you are a “new creation.” The work of God’s Spirit is to breathe upon all those that receive God’s Word and recreate Christ in them. Paul said, “We once knew Christ after the flesh, but now we know Him no more that way, rather we now know Him after the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 5:16). The first disciples walked with Christ as He lived in an earthly body. We have believed in Him as the Son of God in the flesh that died on the cross. The Spirit of God raised Him from the dead and He is now alive through the Spirit. We can only know Christ by the Spirit of God. Let Him breathe new life into you today. God’s will is for us to daily receive a new infilling of His Holy Spirit. Sometimes we need to be filled many times in a day.
Father, reveal to me if I am allowing the Holy Spirit to fill me as much as You desire. I know that I need a fresh infilling of Your power and presence each and every day. I invite the Holy Spirit to fill me today and throughout this year for the glory of God.
Genesis 1:2-3 – The Earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light” and there was light.
As the earth was “formless and void,” so too are we before God speaks. Darkness was over the surface of the deep. Is your life without form and void? Do you feel void of purpose, trying to understand why you exist? Many wrestle with who they are and why they exist. Many feel a sense of purposelessness.
As it was in the natural creation, the Spirit of God is moving over the surface of people’s lives. He has come to speak the Word of God into the life of individuals and nations. The same Word of God that brought order out of chaos and light to the natural creation in the beginning wants to bring order to our lives and reveal God’s purpose in us. He has come to bring forth a new creation out of the old. This is what Paul meant when he said, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Today, many are full of confusion, emptiness, and without purpose. The darkness of sin rules in their life choices. Each area can be brought into the light of God’s Word through the life-giving presence of the Holy Spirit. God gave His Word in human form when He sent His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. The Spirit of God is waiting for individuals to receive the spoken Word. God’s word can be made flesh in our lives as well. Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the Light of life” (John 8:12). The Holy Spirit is present, helping men and women come to the Light of God revealed in His Word and manifested through the Lord Jesus Christ. Some need to receive the initial salvation of forgiveness and the new birth. Others have come to Christ, yet they still have areas in their lives that are bound by darkness. The Holy Spirit came to set the captives free and bring fruitfulness in lives that are surrendered to God’s plan. Let us be fruitful by fulfilling God’s plan in our life.
Ask the Holy Spirit to remove chaos from your life and replace it with His order. Give Him permission to search all parts of your life and reveal any darkness by exposing it to His light.
Revelation 22:7 – Behold I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book.
Eight times in the first three chapters of Revelation Jesus speaks of events which will quickly take place. In the last chapter of Revelation, Jesus declares these events “must soon take place” (22:6), I am coming quickly” (22:7), “the time is near” (22:10), and “I am coming quickly) 22:12. Is it possible there might be a clue for John and the churches of that day that something apocalyptic was about to take place?
Today, many hold to a popular view about the Book of Revelation that all the symbolism in the book is about future events that are still yet to take place. In this brief devotional, we do not have time to explore the entire book of Revelation, but consider the ten times Jesus strongly implies, “soon to take place.” This great prophetic book establishes the absolute victory of Christ over His enemies. There are three enemies which are symbolized. They are the false religious leaders among the Jews, Jerusalem with its governmental structure which had killed the prophets, where Jesus was crucified, directed the persecution of believers, and the world systems and philosophies represented in the Roman Empire.
“I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star” (Revelation 22:16). Jesus states that this writing is for the seven churches mentioned in chapter 2 and 3. He was preparing them for the soon-coming events symbolized in Revelation when He would come and judge all His enemies. What hope and blessing is ours as we look back on history and see the fulfillment of all that Jesus declared. We look forward with great hope and expectation of His physical return after finishing His Great Commission, “Go into the entire world and preach the good news.” The devil does not win, we do!
The sign of the Kingdom was seen in the first century church as Christ judged His enemies in 70 AD. The present day outpouring of the Holy Spirit being experienced around the world is preparing believers for the harvest of the nations. Jesus’ literal return is the next great event on God’s calendar when time will be no more.
Let us devote ourselves fully to the Lord and His agenda. There are many books that help to define God’s purposes in clear terms. The most important book is the Bible. The enemy tries to keep us from immersing ourselves in the Scriptures. He tries to confuse our minds with natural reasoning. He has always tried to divide Christ’s body in order to suppress the power of heaven manifested in a united redeemed community filled with the Holy Spirit. Remind yourself of what our Lord accomplished through first century believers and His judgments upon His enemies. Remember saints that the final victory lies before us and the Holy Spirit is our Helper who will never leave us. AMEN!
John 11:24 – Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day”.
The eleventh chapter of John gives us one of the greatest messages of hope. Mary and Martha had expected Jesus to immediately come when hearing of their brother’s sickness. He did not, and Lazarus died. He was buried before the Lord arrived. Their hopes were dashed and they were only left with the hope of the future resurrection. Life is filled with dashed hopes and expectations for many. Some people experience more than others.
When Jesus arrived, Martha appealed to Him by saying, “Even now, I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You” (John 11:22). Jesus assured Martha that her brother would rise again. Martha responded that she knew he would rise again in the resurrection on the last day. This is an important statement that helps us to understand the next great event. Martha’s statement is consistent with both Old and New Testament Scriptures that indicate the resurrection is the final event of human history, happening on the “last day,” as Paul said, “at the last trumpet” (1 Corinthians 15:52).
Jesus then gave Martha the cornerstone of our Christian Faith. “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live, even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this? (John 11:25-26). “Never die,” is the greatest guarantee we possess. That promise contains all the promises of God. “They are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us” (2 Corinthians 1:20). For the believer, life is settled in the “I am.” Our life is hidden in Christ, who is in God.
Martha was contending with human emotions in the passing of this good man, Lazarus. She was confused and broken, yet abiding in her was faith concerning the future resurrection. As you prepare for the New Year set your eyes on Jesus, the resurrection and the life. He alone provides hope and stability as we weather difficult seasons in life. There is no promise made of an easy life void of hurt and difficulty. But there is the promise of both His presence and His physical return. Jesus’ presence made the difference in Lazarus’ case. The resurrection of Christ sealed the future for all those who put their trust in Him.
As the early church faced Great Tribulation and the future destruction of Jerusalem, Jesus instructed John to write down what he saw and send it to the seven churches mentioned in the Book of Revelation, which is the Revelation of Jesus Christ. Jesus spoke saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades” (Revelation 1:17-18).
Christ Jesus rules the nations, directing events for His purposes. He revealed to John how He was about to direct the events at the end of that generation who first heard the Good News of His Gospel, events of judgment against His enemies. Beloved, be encouraged, regardless of what may happen in your life or in the nations, Jesus is Lord! He is the Resurrection and the Life. He is the Coming King who will judge all those who have rejected His Covenant. Hope in God! Trust in Christ! Be filled again and again with the Holy Spirit. Enjoy your life in God.
Father, I thank You for Your promise given to Martha, “he will rise again”. I thank You that Your promises are Yes and Amen to Your glory. Help me bring glory to Your name throughout the coming year.
Hebrews 1:1-2 – God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.
These words were written to Hebrew believers who were being persecuted and had become discouraged. The author wrote, “In these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world (Hebrews 1:2). And again he wrote, “How will we escape if we neglect so great salvation? After it was at first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will” (Hebrews 2:3-4).
The Gospel was preached and confirmed in the generation of the disciples. Part of the message was a coming judgment on the Jewish nation that rejected two things. They did not accept the New Covenant in the blood of Christ and the presence of the kingdom in the person of the Holy Spirit. The writer of Hebrews identified the last days as beginning in the ministry of Jesus. For that generation, it was the end of the Jewish religious system as they knew it. The city of Jerusalem along with the temple was destroyed in 70 AD, just as Jesus had warned throughout His earthly ministry. The Apostles gave the same message of warning throughout their ministry.
Just before His arrest and crucifixion, Jesus entered the temple and judged the religious leaders with very harsh words (Matthew 23). He went on to share with His disciples in Matthew 24 concerning the events which would transpire in their generation before His return when He would finish the apocalyptic judgment on the Jewish religious system which had rejected His Messianic message and the gift of His Holy Spirit. Once we understand the “Gospels” and the message of the apostles to their generation, we can inquire of the Lord of our generation. We can look forward to His bodily return for His church and the eventual judgment of the Gentile nations who reject His Lordship in the earth.
The early church was created at the beginning of the last days, as represented by Peter in his first sermon recorded in Acts 2. Our generation exists at the end of those last days when we are to be looking for the literal and physical return of our Lord. The message of His return is a vital message needing to be preached in our times. Unfortunately, men have scrambled the message of Christ’s return with their own ideas, making it difficult for people to receive. The message is clear and not as complicated as it has been made out to be. In the very same way Christ fulfilled all His words to His disciples when He came in judgment of the Christ-rejecting Jewish system. This time, He will come to judge the whole world, but this time His saints will be with Him.
Paul described the “mystery of the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15:50-57. “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” Just as Mary’s boy was born and brought redemptive hope to all of Israel and eventually the entire world, hope continues as we wait for His victorious return.
Father, I thank You that You sent Your Son to speak in these last days. I put my faith in all He has spoken and wait for Your promises to be fulfilled in my Lord’s return. Help me speak clearly and plainly of Your return in the hopes of many coming to Christ.