Tuesday, August 27, 2013

John Community Chapter 3: Shake It Off and Dance

Clearly there is no greater “good” news than what we see in John 3:16. I'm guessing you can recite this verse on command at any given time. You grew up with it, hearing it every Sunday morning or at least every summer at VBS.

But I love what is snuggled up directly beneath verse 16. It says, "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" (ESV).

See, THIS is why Romans 8:1-2 is true! By the way, that says, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death" (ESV). I'm thinking that should be all caps and definitely end in at least five exclamation points!!!!!

This is a big deal! It's a big deal for you, and it's a big deal for me! Because I am anything but without sin. I drip sin on any given day. Align the morning just right with an ear piercing screamer of a 3 year old, a whiny 5 year old, an empty coffee creamer bottle--and that right there is the perfect recipe for a Cara who is a little less than lovely! (Come on, you know you have a recipe, too!) 

Seriously, though--this missing condemnation bit is about the best news I have found in the Bible aside from the fact that Jesus came in the first place. Over and over as we explore who Jesus is and what He did while visiting us, we see that He loved us, came and found us right where we were in the middle of our consistent sin, and then He did something that no one human or god had ever done--He died and was raised to life again so that we didn't have to pay for those consistent sins. And He didn't stop there. Because He took care of it ALL, not only are we forgiven, but we don't even have to carry the shame of those sins. They don't have to touch us.

I don't know about you, but I've sat in a puddle of shame, and I don't want any more of that. No condemnation. This doesn't mean that we never were condemned. By coming to rescue us, Jesus showed us that we certainly were condemned, but if we believe in Him as John 3:16 explains, we don't have to keep wearing that around. We can shake it off, dance with the weightlessness of our new beginning.

And I'm so needy for all this, aren't you? I wish I could say that I "get" this every day and can live, untouched by shame. But most days all this seems like a happy ending for everyone...everyone but me. Because it seems like grace can cover everyone else's sin a lot easier than my own. Most days I don't exude the grace of God, so I certainly don't deserve it! Most days I have hit a wall by 9:00 am, where I already can't see past my own selfishness. Maybe not most days, but plenty of days for sure. Can you relate?

But this week I'm soaking in this chapter and I'm purposing to latch on to its beautiful undeserved promise--that even while I sat in my sin, Jesus Christ was so full of love and mercy that He came and even searched me out, asking me to trade my own rags of sin for His brand new, rich garments. If you have traded your rags in as well, then all this is true for you, too! And if you have not traded with Him yet, why not now? He isn't complicated or hard to find. He doesn't tease us with unfulfilled promises. He said He will make us clean, and He does. Not just for one thing, but for ALL our sins...even the ones we have yet to stupidly commit! There's no magic phrase, wand wave, or secret handshake. It's simple. "Whoever believes in Him..." 

If we believe in Him, then we trust Him. 
If we trust Him, then we will follow Him. 
And if we follow Him, that's how we know we truly believe in Him...see the circle?

The "good news" is really the best news, isn't it? Let's enjoy it together!

Peace of Christ to you,

18 comments:

  1. Jessica ChancellorAugust 29, 2013 at 9:49 AM

    This is one of my favorite chapters in John, specifically v. 17 as you have shared and v. 30. "He must become greater; I must become less." I can be very selfish and this verse is a great reminder - focus on HIM - not me.

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    1. Yes! I have always loved verse 30 also! Thanks for sharing, Jessica!!

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  2. John 3, a chapter many of us are familiar with. We remember Nicodemus coming to Christ with his questions. As I read this chapter again yesterday and today I was reminded that there is no question too simple for Christ. Nicodemus asked the question at least twice in different ways. Christ answered with patience, kindness and compassion. Always pointing to the truth. The very foundation of the Christian Life. John 3:!6 a verse all of us know. This verse never grows old and I trust it never will. Why? Because God loved us so much he GAVE his SON to pay for our sins. As I think about the sacrifice, the cost of someone dying for my sin. I am overwhelmed by this sacrifice given for me to receive freely. If I kept this truth in the forefront of my mind how often would I rethink sinning? Remembering when tempted that the perfect, spotless Son of God was given unto death so that I might have life eternal. Coming to know the Lord at an early age and growing up in the church its easy to become complacent and forget the sacrifice that was given for my sin. Sacrifice, a word our culture that doesn't value. We live in a culture promoting a "you can have it all mentality." We don't really know what it means to sacrifice. Obedience always involves sacrifice. Yet obedience always yields BLESSING.

    I am reminded of my grandmother, the one who impacted my life the deepest. She grew up very poor, her mother dying when she was only 12 while giving birth to her sixth child. My grandmother had to quit school and raise the five younger children, one who was a newborn. She had to sacrifice, it was hard yet she knew there was no choice. I am also reminded of the sacrifices she made throughout her life. if it weren't for her I never would have had the opportunity to attend college. Her life was about others. Her life was about serving. Her life was a reflection of what God had done for her. She understood sacrifice. A woman with an 8th grade education who had nothing but gave everything willingly. A picture of sacrifice.

    John 3 goes on to say, "there is no condemnation to those who believe..." How often do we fall into the trap of listening and believing Satan's lies. Christ wants us to have freedom through him. We have to evaluate the thoughts that we allow into our hearts and minds and discern whether they are from God or from Satan. What an awesome promise, no CONDEMNATION!!!

    Christ is the light of the world and in him is no darkness. Yet when we sin we want to hide, we desire darkness. WHY? Our sins will be exposed. We will be found out. To live in truth is to live in the light. To live in darkness is to live in lies. The choice is ours.

    Verse 30- "He must become greater; I must become less." A challenge for all of us as believers. We want to be number one, we want greatness. Yet God's way is in direct opposition to our human nature. He wants to be the center of our lives. I trust as I continue living out my faith Christ increases in my life and my desires, my selfishness decreases. This is the journey to contentment and obedience.

    We begin living out this faith. On our journey of faith Satan comes along causing us to doubt the truths of God. Yet we are promised again, There is NO CONDEMNATION.. NO CONDEMNATION!!! AT the end of the chapter the challenge is He must increase and I must decrease. I must always be on the path of checking my heart to be sure Christ is in the center. Salvation is a one time experience but living out our faith is a daily, moment by moment discipline.

    I am reminded of the old hymn:

    I need thee every hour, Most gracious Lord; no tender voice like Thine can peace afford
    I need thee every hour, Stay Thou near by; Temptations lose their power when Thou are nigh
    I need thee every hour, In joy or pain; Come quickly and abide, or life is vain
    I need thee every hour,Most Holy One; O make me Thine indeed, Thou blessed son.

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    1. Debby - all of this is so true and spot on. Thank you so much for sharing!!!!

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    2. Oh this was rich, Debby. Thank you. I loved the part about your grandmother. I had a very special grandmother also, which I know you and I have discussed! :) I love that her life was a reflection of what God had done for her!! So perfect.

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  3. I am so enjoying this online study and reading how the Lord is speaking to everyone. I love John 3:16-18 and how it speaks to eternal freedom but also freedom in this life. It is truly amazing. I have always found the story of Nicodemus and his conversation with Jesus so very interesting. I love how he came at night and that the things that Jesus said challenged him at his core. You know how can a man go back into his mothers womb. As I read that statement I laughed out loud because of the fight that would happen if a grown man told his mother that she needed to carry him in her womb again. I love that Christ made sure to clear that part up and that it was a birth in the Spirit. He has so much to impart to us and his ways are not ours.

    The part that spoke to me the most was about John the Baptist and his followers. First, John and Jesus were not hanging out together. They were not having lunch and socials to get their followers together. John was still doing his God given job. He continued with his calling even though Jesus was in the area. John's followers were disturbed by someone else baptizing because it was drawing people away from John's ministry. They did not realize that this was Jesus' ministry and John was a vessel. He was doing his job or calling. Just like the best man is there for groom, John was there for Jesus and his it was his joy. John was attending to Jesus by doing his job and his joy was full at seeing and hearing Jesus. There was no competition for followers or power it was all about Jesus. John was to call out and let people know that the Messiah was here. It reminds me as I do life and ministry to remember I am here for a job to let people know about Jesus. I need to remember that I should not be comparing this ministry, class, small group, or church to another. We are a team and the glory is His not ours. I need to find my joy in the job or calling that God has for me.

    My calling in this season is to be Donnie's best friend, a stay at home mom, homeschool teacher for my kids, a servant and participant at Celebrate Recovery, and a small group leader for women. None of these say who I am but what I am doing. Who I am is "I am a child of the one true king". This is a line from the song Redeemed by Big Daddy Weave. Have a blessed day!!! In Christ Twila Bickford

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    1. Twila, thanks for sharing all that it is so helpful to me right now, love ya lady

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    2. Oh how I loved this, Twila. Thank you for sharing. YES--I need this reminder! Why is it so easy to slip into this ridiculous mindset that we are competing with one another...and even worse, that we are competing with Jesus Himself!!! How preposterous. And I know I've done it. How we end up there is by letting ourselves lose focus ON CHRIST Himself, and start focusing on ourselves. What a convicting post, friend!! Thanks so much for this!

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  5. Thank you all for sharing. Cara, your post was a perfect explanation of the Gospel. I pray that I never grow tired of hearing the truth of Jesus' death, burial and resurrection and that daily I will walk in the truth of my salvation that comes from Him.
    I, too, was taken by the encounter between John and his disciples. What strikes me is that they were jealous of Jesus and His ministry, even though John had been proclaiming that Jesus is the Messiah. I would like to think that if my rabbi was telling me that someone we knew and could see was the Messiah that I wouldn't get upset about him baptizing people. But, I know all too well that as much as I would like to think that I would respond better than those presented in this story, I most likely would not. How often do I get upset about trivial things that get in my way? How often am I bothered by the inconveniences that come along? This is such a great reminder that His Kingdom is the most important. I am only here as a servant. Oh if only I could let my stubbornness die and live fully in this truth!!!!

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    1. You and me both, Hillary! I can literally be IN the moment of a selfish fit and know good and well what I'm doing. Does it stop me? Usually, no. I have an immense amount of growing up to do!!

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  6. I am so enjoying ALL the comments. I had a hard time finding it today(probably my fault,not much of a computer person) but I finally got here.Thank you everyone

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    1. Love that you're reading along with us!! Love you!

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  7. I love all the contrasts. Nicodemus (a sinner) went in the darkness to see Jesus (the sinless), The Light. Then God's love for the world is displayed in giving His Only Begotten Son, the kind of love we can find no where else. Everlasting life found in believing in Jesus. Jesus, The Lamb, The Lasting Sacrifice paid for our sins. Less of me and More of Him. Reminds me of 2 Corinthians 12:10: in my weakness His power is perfected.

    A love that is not condemning or judging. This is VERY good new for a self-condemner like myself. So to say that Jesus came into the world to NOT condemn the world... "I mean like wow!" (sorry, movie quote :)). Jesus doesn't condemn me, then why do I continually condemn myself?! Something to take back to the author and perfecter of my faith!


    When Nicodemus asks how a man can be born again typically makes me giggle a little each time. Then I realize that there are times I ask silly questions and have absurd ideas not understanding God at all. Thankful for His patience in teaching and guiding and filling with His truth!

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    1. Amen, Reba. We have no ground to stand on in condemning ourselves if the Judge of the world doesn't do it toward us. Thanks for sharing. I love the part about the contrasts. I hadn't thought about it like that!

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  8. I am enjoying seeing how the Word is living and touching each one in a way that is important to them at this point in their life. It truly is amazing.

    John 3:16 has been in my mind since the day my son was born. To know the love of a parent to a child is absolutely astonishing. The day he was born this verse went through my mind. I assume because because I didn't know that such a love existed and God was saying something to me like "see this love, I love you that much and even more".

    "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." (NIV). I know that everyone is familiar with this verse and most have had it memorized since they were a child. Until my son was born I don't think I realized the true sacrifice and selflessness of this act. God GAVE His son to the world so that the world could be saved. A living sacrifice for the world. And when he was given to the world God knew how it would end. With his son suffering and dying on a cross for the world's sin (of course to rise again!!). The love for his son, and for us, is absolutely amazing. I cannot imagine that amount of love. I know that the only way to truly experience this love is through Jesus...the gift given by God.

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    1. Lindsey, your comment gives me chills. For God to whisper that to you on the day you had YOUR son. To remind you that He gave up HIS for YOU. Wow, I love this. Thank you so much for sharing that. I'm so glad you are reading along with us and sharing!! I enjoy your comments!

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  9. The "Gospel in a Nutshell"; that is how I remember John 3:16.
    Sometimes at various times I feel like I need to be " born again" or re-baptized when I fail. I guess we all do at times.
    Life and its day to day trails can so easily cause us to lose focus on what is important that we prefer the darkness versus the "Son"light.
    Our choices determine our destiny every time.

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