The Birthright – Seeing the Kingdom

a-John 3-3 imageThe YouTruth in John 3:3

“Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.'”

Nicodemus, a wise religious man, saw that Jesus was someone special, even if the ruling council, of which Nicodemus was a part, didn’t think much of Him. So Nicodemus came to Jesus alone, at night, to talk to Him. Before Nicodemus could even ask his first question, Jesus issued the statement above. Nicodemus was understandably confused. None of Nicodemus’ extensive religious training had prepared him to deal with such a profound paradox. We can only assume that Nicodemus left his conversation with Jesus with much to think about, paradigms to change, and new ways of understanding God’s Kingdom to process. Later in the book of John, we find out that Nicodemus, despite the ruling council’s severe objections to Jesus’ message, became a believer and follower.

We are all “Nicodemuses” in some way. And we can find great hope in Nicodemus’ story.

We live in a world that doesn’t entirely agree with Jesus’ message of grace and hope. It can beat us down at times. But we can know that we can come to Jesus, in the night if we have to, and ask Him about the Kingdom. And He will tell us profound, sometimes confusing, but always amazing things about eternal life.

We are all wise in our own way, and some of that wisdom will be off-target from the eternal perspective. But we can know that we can come to Jesus and ask Him which parts of our wisdom work, and which parts don’t. And He will tell us.

We may come away from these encounters confused or uncertain. But, as with Nicodemus, if we come to Him, with a yearning to understand, Jesus will leave that yearning intact and active, exactly what is needed to become deeper believers and truer followers of Him.

Oh, and by the way, Jesus wrapped up His explanation of the whole “born again” thing to Nicodemus in this way:

 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled

John 14-1 image

The YouTruth in John 14:1

“‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.'”

A troubled heart. I’m pretty sure you’ve had one of these. In fact, I’m pretty sure you’ve had one of these several times. You may be experiencing an ongoing “troubled heart condition.” If any of these statements is true about you (at least one them is surely true), Jesus has the remedy.

In this chapter of John’s gospel, Jesus is reassuring disciples with deeply troubled hearts. He’s been telling them that He is going to die, one of them is going to betray Him, and that one of them is going to deny he even knows Him. This is troubling news indeed! And then Jesus issues the encouragement above and lays before them the path to a trouble-free heart.

You believe.

This is your path to a trouble-free heart too. Believe in God. Believe in the One who created the universe and all that is in it: majestic mountain peaks, roiling oceans, birds in flight, peaceful evening breezes, all of it. Believe in the God that is eternal and outside His creation, not bound by the confines of space and time, but in all places at all times. Any trouble you may be facing, He saw coming before you were even born. He’s got it. He can handle it. He can guide you through it. Don’t let that trouble into your heart. It will do damage in there.

The path continues. Believe also in Jesus. Jesus is one quite familiar with trouble! He faced betrayal, denial, and a savage death on the cross. And despite these horrible troubles, He overcame them and sits at God’s right hand forever. Therefore, He can guide through your troubles too. He’s “been there, done that.”

God and Jesus are a package deal, part of the Triune Godhead. They are together. They completely know of your trouble, and know the way out of it. Believing in this, shuts and locks the door to your heart when trouble comes knocking.

Peace I Leave With You

John 14-27 imageThe YouTruth in John 14:27

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Jesus spent a lot of time encouraging His disciples as the time of His death on the cross drew near. They were afraid of what would happen after Jesus was no longer with them. They had trouble making sense of it. The last thing they felt about the whole situation was peace.

Have you ever been wanting for peace in your life? Does your life seem chaotic and out of control at times? Is now one of those times? If you answered, “Yes,” to any of these questions (and I suspect you answered, “Yes,” to at least one of them), Jesus’ words to His disciples above are words He intends you to hear too.

Peace in life is such an elusive thing if you try to secure it by the world’s means. Worldly peace requires particular circumstances—quiet, security, favorable surroundings, the kind words of those around you, and so on. Jesus knows that you usually cannot control any of these things, just as He knew His disciples couldn’t back in the day. So Jesus does not give you peace as the world gives, and you can praise God for that! His peace originates in eternity, rockets into this world, penetrates through all of the world’s chaos, and takes up residence in your heart. What results is a heart free from fear and trouble, regardless of what the world surrounds you with.

Jesus left this peace just for you. Go into today knowing that this peace has made the trip from heaven and, with pin point accuracy, has landed square in the middle of your heart.

Jesus Has Prepared a Place For You

When we’re trying to get somewhere, we need to ask and answer a few questions…
  • Where we are now?
  • Where do we want to be?
  • What is the way to get from one to the other?
As Christians, we know that we live in a broken world (where we are) and long to get to our eternal home in heaven (where we want to be).
The way to get there is the remaining question. In the answer there is no road map, no turn-by-turn directions, just Jesus Himself.

 

“In My Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am.”

John 14:2-3 (NIV)


When a wagon train of pioneers wasn’t sure what lay ahead or what direction to go, they would send scouts ahead to test out the available routes and determine the best way to reach the next destination point. When the scouts returned, they would lead the entire group on the way they had chosen. Jesus went ahead for us by suffering and dying on the cross, paying the penalty for our sins, and then rising from the dead and ascending to heaven. Jesus promised to come back and take us to where He had gone, just as a good scout would. But Jesus was not playing the role of a good scout here. He was doing something quite different. I don’t know about you, but I’m not particularly interested in taking the path Jesus took. Thankfully, we don’t have to. Jesus’ going ahead in His suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension and His coming back was not intended to show us the way. It was intended to show us that He was the way (John 14:6). Because He travelled this path, we don’t have to! And it’s a good thing too. We are not qualified to travel that path. Any attempt on our part to travel that path on our own would be met with failure and separation from God. (read “For God So Loves You” for more about this.) When Jesus comes back, He will not take us down the path he chose, but will take us on a route that bypasses His path altogether.

Isn’t it amazing to know that when the time comes for us to go to be in His Father’s house, Jesus Himself will usher us through the front door?! Let’s look at the questions that usually come up about that moment.

When will it be?
Jesus emphatically taught that no one knows when He will return (Matthew 24:36). So the question is un-answerable. But there are key points in time that we know are critical:

1. Now!
Since we don’t know when Jesus will return, every second the clock ticks is an eligible candidate. Treat each moment as though it might be the one! Be ready!

2. When we die
When our life on earth is over, our opportunities to accept Him as Savior and Lord will have passed. If we have chosen Him, He will come back and take us to His Father’s house so we can be there with Him forever!

3. When He returns at His second coming

Some of humankind will be alive on this earth when Jesus returns to usher in the new age. At this time, if we have chosen Him, rather than taking us to His Father’s house, He will bring His Father’s house to us!

What will His Father’s house be like? There have been a few prophets over the course of history that have been allowed to see the Father’s house and return to tell us about it. Their collective descriptions make one thing clear – it is beyond description. These men dazzle us with imagery, numbers, creatures, and signs to try to put what they’ve seen into words. The terms are so ‘out of this world’ that they can be some of the most confusing passages in all of scripture. What we can derive from them is that the Father’s house is a place of amazing power, beauty, worship, light, and peace. While we struggle to grasp just what it will be like, it might be helpful to remember the most important part of it all – Jesus will be there with us and we will be there with Him forever. When you get right down to it, everything else really isn’t that important, is it? That’s the truth.

In My Father’s house are many rooms. I am going ahead to prepare one of those rooms especially for you. When the time is right, I will come back and you and I will go together to this wonderful place. You need not travel any other way, for I AM The Way for you.

That’s the YouTruth – Jesus Has Prepared a Place For You.

For God So Loves You

The world is a mighty big place, and it is easy to get lost in it. You might feel anonymous among the masses and unnoticed amidst the noise. But God cuts through it all, reaching out to each one of us individually. You see, to God, the world is not a huge mass of humanity, but a glorious collection of unique and treasured individuals—and that includes you!

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

John 3:16 (NIV)


John 3:16 is probably the most familiar passage in the entire Bible. Familiarity can cause us to take something for granted. But since this passage expresses the fundamental truth about God’s plan for salvation, we certainly don’t want to take it for granted! So let’s explore the concepts of love and life and how they relate to God’s Son. Let’s renew the power of this oft-quoted passage.

The Bible tells us that God is love (1 John 4:8). He is the wellspring from which love flows. Love never ends (1 Corinthians 13: 7,8). Like God, it is eternal. So God’s love of the world isn’t reduced to a kind act performed a long time ago. No, He continually pours Himself out for us.

The Bible also tells us to accept God’s love and to love Him in return (1 John 4:19). In other words, since God loves you, love Him back! It works much like an electric circuit. When the circuit is broken, electricity will not flow. It’s the same with love. When we love God in return, the circuit is complete, and there is an endless flow of love between God and us (John 14:21). The Bible says we return God’s love in two ways—directly, by loving God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, and indirectly, by loving others (Matthew 22:36-40). When we return God’s love, we become the embodiment and expression of His very nature. It sounds like an amazing place to be, doesn’t it? It is!

It’s called life. God invites us to have it!

But, alas, our circuit is broken. Sin causes the break in our circuit. And sin and death go hand in hand (Romans 6:23a). That’s the bad news. But there’s good news! God has made a way to complete the circuit! If we believe in God’s Son, Jesus, we can complete the circuit (Romans 6:23b). Believing in Jesus is more than just acknowledging that He exists. Believing in Him looks like this:

  • We admit that we sin.
  • We ask God to forgive our sins.
  • We turn away from our sins and seek to stop sinning.
  • We completely trust that Jesus came to earth to restore love and life to us—to repair the break in the circuit.
  • We completely trust and openly proclaim Jesus as the Lord of our life.
  • Repeat steps 1-5 over and over again, every day!

That’s the truth. And that’s good news!  But there’s more! Inside every truth is the YouTruth. God personally invites you to repair the break in the circuit and become part of His true love, His true life, in Jesus.

For God pours out His endless loving nature upon you by giving His one and only Son for you, that if you believe in Him, you shall no longer be dead, but you shall be truly alive, an active part of the embodiment and expression of God’s loving nature now and for all eternity.

That’s the YouTruth—for God so loves you.