Look to Jesus and Live

© All rights reserved; by Kat T; Photo
symbolizing the new birth in Christ
Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus was packed with symbolism. He compared salvation to a second birth and likened the Holy Spirit’s work to the wind. But then the Lord used an Old Testament illustration that might seem odd to modern readers— He said the Son of Man must be lifted up, just as Moses lifted the bronze serpent (Num. 21:1-9).

Nicodemus would have been familiar with the story: en route to the Promised Land, the Israelites once complained about going the long way around enemy territory. God responded by sending poisonous snakes into their midst. A bite victim would die unless he or she looked at the bronze serpent hanging from a pole in the camp. The statue was a symbolic representation of God’s presence among the Israelites as well as a reminder that He was their deliverer.
While we might not mix spiritual birth and a snake on a pole in one testimony, Jesus did so for a good reason.

These metaphors describe related events. The Messiah was explaining that He must be lifted onto the cross as a sacrifice for all of mankind’s wrongs. A new birth is impossible unless somebody pays the price for our sinful condition. Those who look to Jesus and believe will be forgiven, saved, and born again.

Jesus’ message to Nicodemus becomes clear when we understand how the pieces fit together. The Savior is saying that He must die on the cross so that sinful human beings can be born again. Have you looked to Jesus Christ for salvation? He is the only way to new life.


Religious But Lost

© All rights reserved; by MaiKoh
Nicodemus would probably be welcome at any church today. He seems like an ideal member—principled, knowledgeable, morally upstanding, courteous, and humble. However, Nicodemus had two big problems despite all of that outward religious appeal: first, he was blind to the truth, and second, he was spiritually dead.

The man was lost. That is, he did not have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. As a Pharisee, Nicodemus adhered to strict Jewish codes and laws, so he was certainly religious. But the problem of the lost person is not attitudes, conduct, or even character. We can change and control those things through sheer determination, and many folks do. What people really need is a change of their basic nature. We come into this world with a natural “bent” away from God.
Jesus explained to the observant rabbi that all his outward goodness couldn’t erase, replace, or change his nature. Instead, every person who desires to serve God must be born again. The Lord promised that if Nicodemus received Him as Savior, then he would enter into a brand-new life. His old sinful nature would be transformed so that he could have a real relationship with God. Instead of appearing to be a religious man, Nicodemus would be a true believer.

No one gets into heaven on the strength of good works and kind behavior. When we stand before God, the only thing that will matter is whether our old sin nature has been replaced. We want to show Him the living Spirit we received when Jesus came into our life.


Walking Away from God

© All rights reserved; Walking Away by by Zolashine

Like the father of the prodigal son, our heavenly Father will not force us to remain with Him. If we ignore His guiding Holy Spirit and insist on following an ungodly path, He’ll let us go our own way. Examining the parable, we learn what happens if we move outside of God’s plan.

• Our fellowship with the Father is significantly affected. The wayward son was no longer in close contact with his dad; their relationship was not as important to him as it had been. If we wander and make ourselves higher priority than the Lord, we will also experience a disconnect with our heavenly Father. As Christians, we cannot move off God’s chosen path without first closing our mind and heart to His truth and His call on our lives.

• Our resources—time, talent, and treasure—are wasted. The son squandered his money on frivolous things and ended up worse off than the laborers at his father’s house. God has bestowed spiritual gifts and material resources to build His kingdom, and He’s also provided His Spirit to offer guidance. Pursuing our own plan wastes what He has given us.

• Our deepest needs go unmet. Chasing after dreams that are outside of the Lord’s purposes will lead to discontent. Only in Christ can we find true fulfillment.

A great weariness will overtake us if we live apart from God. Poor choices can result in lifelong regrets, but they don’t have to dictate our future. The heavenly Father will welcome us with great joy and love when we repent and turn back to Him. Have you wandered away? He’s waiting for you.
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