Archive for September, 2012

How to Be Born From Above

Preaching Notes  September 30, 2012

John 3:1–18 (ESV)

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” 

Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”

Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’  The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?”

Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? 

Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony.  If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?  No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.  And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up,  that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.


I.    From Problems to Solutions 

God’s Two Desires – Titus 2:14 – Jesus gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

God desires salvation and sanctification

Dealing with Romans 3:23 – “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”

Even the saved keep sinning

Nicodemus and Jesus

An educated old-school enquirer reveals a lack of knowledge and faith

Jesus’ drives the conversation

Seeing and Entering the Kingdom of God

Requires rebirth

II.  What Does It Mean to be Born Anothen

Born again …

Born from above …

Not a new concept – see Ezekiel 36:25-28 and Jeremiah 31:28-31

The old way has not and will not work

Christian hell, fire, and damnation

The importance of worship

God does not want us to fail, thus He helps us to succeed

We have to accept the help

We accept God’s help, through faith, not through personal effort

// kids, I want to do it by myself

III.  How to Be Born from Above

The work of the Spirit – John 3:5-8

A God-initiated transformation of our lives

// to the work of the wind (another word for spirit)

Comes at its will, works at its will

Effects are felt and seen

Powerful effects in small ways

Spirit work predicated on work of Jesus

Jesus promises the Spirit to come after Him

The work of the Son – John 3:10-14

The work of Jesus

To die for the forgiveness of our sins

Nicodemus – knew about need for forgiveness, atonement

This may be part he genuinely did not get

Jesus work predicated on work of God

The work of God – John 3:16-18

The work of God was His love for the world

Generous, gracious, steadfast merciful love

Nicodemus knew – Hesed

These 1st three works built on each other

Revealed by God over time

The work of the Believer – John 3:15, 16, 18

Final work or action ==> salvation

Individual coming to faith in Jesus

Belief or faith – also the work of God

But is one which must be received

Irresistible Grace – core of reformed theology

Faith is a gift received through an open heart

Hard hearts are closed to God’s work

IV.  What about You?

DA Carson

God’s ultimate purpose is the salvation of those in the world who believe in him. Whoever believes in him experiences new birth, has eternal life, and is saved.  The alternative is to perish, to lose one’s life, and to be doomed to destruction. There is no third option

God has done His work, we need to receive it in faith, which is believe and trust

Read Full Post »

You inhabit a fallen, disjointed world, 

where things are constantly unraveling around the edges. (1)

This is what drives me nuts about life, I can neither contain nor control what happens around me, much less what happens to me.

You may have noticed that I have not written a daily devotional for two weeks now.

You might be wondering why I have become so lazy.

My problem is not laziness, it is busyness.  Things keep unraveling around me and I am frantically trying to sew everything back together.

If we let the edges keep unraveling, won’t the center eventually unravel?

Thus, I have been distracted tending to the edges of life, rather than finding sustenance at the center of all life.  This is not good.

It is better to be still in the center of life with God, than to be depleted while tending to edges which life and Satan unravel.

The further I am from God, the quicker the edges of my life unravel.

It is good to be near God, I have made the Lord God my refuge. (2)

+ + +

  1. Young, Sarah (2004-10-12). Jesus Calling – Deluxe Edition: Enjoying Peace in His Presence (p. 274). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
  2. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Psalm 73:28.

Read Full Post »

John 2:12–16 (ESV)

After this Jesus went down to Capernaum, with his mother and his brothers and his disciples, and they stayed there for a few days.

The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.  In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there.  Making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen.  He poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables.  He told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of robbers.”

We usually gloss over passage believing it is not about us

But it is because it is about worship

Worship is main event

Everything that happens in the church

Begins and ends with our worship

The Setting


One of the three annual pilgrim feasts

that all Jewish men were to celebrate in Jerusalem

All leaven must be removed from the houses of His people.

It was a time rigorous examination

Lest one defile the worship of the people

Leaven refers to covetousness, extortion and idolatry.

Colossians 3:5

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

The outer court of the Temple

The Gentile Court

Where the outsiders came to worship

This is where the selling of animals and coin exchange was now placed

The statement of Jesus

Do not make my Father’s house a house of robbers

Is from Jeremiah 7:11

To understand the phrase house of robbers

We need to listen to Jeremiah 7:1-11

Jeremiah 7:1-11

The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 


“Stand in the gate of the Lord’s house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the Lord, all you men of Judah who enter these gates to worship the Lord.  


Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Amend your ways and your deeds, and I will let you dwell in this place. Do not trust in these deceptive words: ‘This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord.’ 


“For if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly execute justice one with another, if you do not oppress the sojourner, the fatherless, or the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own harm, then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your fathers forever.


“Behold, you trust in deceptive words to no avail. Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, ‘We are delivered!’ only to go on doing all these abominations?  Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? 

House of robbers

Is not about money

It is about the desecration of worship

By the people of God in His house

Since this is God’s House 

We ought to ask ourselves:

What would Jesus overturn in the church today?

How do we desecrate worship?

How might we misuse the sanctuary and desecrate worship?

A. W. Pink wrote:

God is inflexibly righteous as well as infinitely gracious. God is holy as well as merciful. 

We must ask ourselves:

How must God now regard the desecration of the many places, hearts and times which have been consecrated to His name?

A. W. Pink, again:

The desecration of these “houses, times, and hearts of prayer” leave them devoid of spirituality and strangers to the power of God.  The Lord will not tolerate an unholy mixture of worldly things with spiritual.

Calvin wrote:

Nothing is more dangerous than hypocrisy. While we deceive ourselves by empty flatteries, we imagine that God is blind like ourselves. 

MW Smith song

Here I am to Worship

When we come to worship, we need to ask ourselves

What are the spiritual purposes of the worship?

Does my behavior and spirit mirror the purposes of a Holy Godwhen I come into His house?

Calvin wrote:

We ought always, therefore, to keep before our eyes the majesty of God, which dwells in the Church, that it may not be defiled by any pollutions; and the only way in which its holiness can remain unimpaired is, that nothing shall be admitted into it that is at variance with the word of God.

Read Full Post »

The 1st Sign: From Water to Wine 

Preaching Notes John 2:1-11

John 2:1-11

1  On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.  2  Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples.

3  When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.”

4  And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me?  My hour has not yet come.”

5  His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

6  Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.  7  Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.”  And they filled them up to the brim.  8  And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.”  So they took it.

9  When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew).  The master of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine.  But you have kept the good wine until now.”

11  This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

I.  Miracles

Miracles, we love them, and we pray for them

We focus on the what more than the who 

Miracles reveal spiritual truth about Jesus, there is Christological significance in each miracle. They reveal Jesus’ oneness with God the Father

The 7 Miracles in John’s Gospel

1.  The turning water into wine at Cana – John 2:1-11

2.  The Cure of the officer’s son – John 4:46–54

3.  The healing of the lame man at the pool – John 5:1-15

4.  The feeding of the 5000 – John 6:1-15

5.  The walking on the lake – John 6:16-21

6.  The cure of the blind man – John 9:1-41

7.  The raising of Lazarus – John 11:1-44

Their purpose in John’s Gospel

Miracle stories in John’s Gospel are called signs and reveal information about Jesus for the purpose of leading people to believe in Jesus as Messiah, Christ, anointed, Chosen One, Son of God, Son of Man

By believing ==> you might have life in his name  –

John 20:30-31

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

II.  The Signs of the Miracle at the Wedding Feast in Cana

First public event of Jesus’ ministry at a semi-private event

Private 7 day Wedding Feast

Cana – small village in Galilee not a populous or crowded place to create buzz

Wedding at Cana Most mundane as far as miracles there

Jesus turned 120-180 gallons of water into wine for small party

=> What’s going on

A.  Weddings in the Bible – 

Genesis 2:18-25, Matthew 22:1, Mark 2:19-22, Revelation 21 

Genesis 2:18-25 – Institution of marriage, before the Fall

Matthew 22:1

The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son

Revelation 21 – Consummation of Creation’s restoration at a wedding

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people

Weddings are – foundational for imagery of the church as the bride of Christ

This is the Messianic wedding feast

B.  Rites of Purification in the Old Testament

People used stone jars in rites of purification because they did not attract impurities

The great annual purification from sin of the people was on the Day of Atonement

Jesus – a man without impurities

The vessel of God’s grace has no impurity

He is fit to be the atonement

C.  Significance of wine in the Old Testament

5 Cups of Wine Passover/Seder Meal – Exodus 6:6-7 and Malachi 4:5

The Cup of Sanctification – I will bring you out

The Cup of Deliverance – I will free you

The Cup of Redemption – I will redeem you

The Cup of Restoration – I will take you as my own people

A fifth is poured saved for the return of Elijah, see Malachi 4:5

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes.”

This points to Jesus pouring out the cup at the Lord’s Supper

Wine is a symbol of joy

Mark 2:19-22 Parable about the kingdom where the setting is a wedding feast

Wine points to the Lord’s Supper

Purification will come, not by the being washed in water, but through the blood of Jesus

D.  The Best Wine Now

Usually serve the best first, but the best comes last

The new covenant with God, established before creation is revealed at this time

The sheer quantity, 120-180 gallons – in the prophets, as abundance of wine

Reveals the lavish provision, never failing provisions of God’s Kingdom

III.  The Sign is for You about who do you believe Jesus is?

John 2:11 – This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory.  And his disciples believed in him. 

Event => manifestation of Jesus’ glory

Who witnessed the miracle?

Disciples and servants only

Could have included Mary

Who saw Jesus’ glory?


Perhaps the servants

Who believed in Jesus?

Only the disciples

Not everyone believed

This is normative – many see, but do not understand

John 12:37-43 (edited)

Though Jesus had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, … For again Isaiah said, “The Lord has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart.” …  Nevertheless, many …  believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God. 

==> ??? Do you believe in Jesus?

Verbally, most of us would say, “Yes, I believe!”

Are you more attracted to the glory of man instead of the glory of God?

Do you believe that you have found life in Jesus?

Read Full Post »

Set us afire, Lord, stir us, we pray.  

While the world perishes, we go our way, 

purposeless, passionless, day after day.  

Set us afire, Lord, stir us, we pray! (1)

How far do you live beyond yourself?

I am a huge fan of Apple products, but there are two things about the company that bug me.

First , is the initial moniker “i” which identifies their smart phone, tablet computer, music library, and podcast player.

Second, is the “@me.com” network identifier for their email service.

The egocentric nature of these identifying names and titles reminds me that for most of us, our world’s are quite small.  For many the outer limits of our universe is the reach of our arms, or perhaps, the reach of our personal digital imprint.

The Civil Rights Movement has evolved into a Personal Rights Movement.

Community and Team have become secondary to the me, myself, and I.

We have become an entitlement society.

All the while, the world perishes.

When I was a child heroes were those men and women who risked their lives to save others in need.  Today, you are a hero if you have a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame or if you win a Reality TV Show contest.

Instead of loving others and dying for them, we expect others to love us and to die for us.

Jesus said, “There is no greater love than to lay down your life for another!” (2)

+ + +

  1. The author of this prayer is unknown, from Kenneth W. Osbeck, Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1996), 267.
  2. John 15:13

Read Full Post »

Coming to Faith in Jesus

Preaching Notes – John 1:35-51

John 1:35–51 (ESV)

35 The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, 36  and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!”  37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.

38 Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?”

They said to him, “Rabbi, where are you staying?”

39  Jesus said to them, “Come and you will see.” So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour.

40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.  41 He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ).  42 He brought him to Jesus.

43 Jesus looked at him and said, “So you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).

The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.”

44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”

46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”

Philip said to him, “Come and see.”

47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!”

48 Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?”

Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”

49 Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”

50 Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” 

51 Jesus said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”


I.  Pointing and Inviting

Helpful criticism from last Sunday

Hunting but not gathering

Why did I not invite?

Our biggest failure – pointing without inviting

II.  4 Men, 4 Stories, 1 Faith

Andrew – John 1:37-41

Prepared and unperplexed

A child well parented

Simon PeterJohn 1:42

From reckless emotionalism to rock-solid faith

The easily discounted

PhilipJohn 1:43-46

Found by Jesus

Our favorite form of evangelism

Ask a successful farmer about volunteer plants

God does not always work alone

NathanaelJohn 1:46-49

Cynical Skeptic confronted and saved

Expect questions, opposition, and rejection

Don’t wither quickly

Give God a chance

III.  4 Varied Steps From Here to There

1.  InvitedJohn 1:36, 41, 43, and 45

Point and invite

The right/best invitation

Invitations are better than dissertations/lectures

2.  EngagedJohn 1:37, 41, 43, 45

Engaging Jesus (not you, church …) is the goal

Then let Jesus take over

3.  RevealedJohn 1:38-39, 42, 45, and 49

Jesus/God will reveal himself

4.  BlessedJohn 1:50-51

You will God

VI.  The Invitation

You cannot invite, unless you have surrendered

If you have surrendered you will invite

Invitation to The Table

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: