Today is February 23, our sixth day in our journey through the season of Lent.
During this 40 day season we are going to be doing two things. First, each day we will be reflecting on a portion of the Nicene Creed – one of the historic statements written by the early church identifying the essential beliefs of the Christian Faith.
We will also be reading the Gospel of John together in a unique way over the course of these 40 days. In order to read the entirety of John, our scripture readings will be longer than normal. More importantly, rather than our pastors writing a reflection or providing additional commentary, at the end of your reading, we want to invite you to ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you in the words of the scriptures that we share.
We want the words of John’s Gospel to be the sole focus of these minutes you invest each day.
We know that for some this may sound intimidating, You may be thinking, “what if I do this wrong?” “What if I don’t hear anything?” This may be a new practice for some so here are a few words of encouragement.
• First, the less you “work” to do this right, the more meaningful this time will be. Being still and ready to listen are the most important things you can do. Embrace this as an act of faith, a daily opportunity to submit yourself to Christ’s leading in your life trusting that Christ wants to give you life.
• Secondly, recognize that there will be days that you may not hear anything. The Spirit may speak to you later that day or at an entirely different time altogether. This discipline is about placing our lives before the scriptures and trusting that the Holy Spirit is alive and at work in our lives. Here is another way of thinking about it. Whatever you may hear or experience in your reading, none of this time will be a waste.
I want to invite you now to prepare your heart and mind for the reading of God’s word. As you do, allow this prayer to lead you into your time with God today.
Holy and loving God, open my heart and my mind to your word today. Jesus, I pause in these moments to be still and listen to you. Holy Spirit, speak a word of life into my life this day. Amen.
We continue our focus on the Nicene Creed with these words today,
I believe God made all that is seen and unseen.
We hear these words from Colossians 1:16
For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.
We open our hearts and minds now for our reading today from John’s Gospel chapter 3, verses 1-21.
Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
4 “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
9 “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.
10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11 Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”
16 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. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
We believe this is the word of God for the people of God. We say, “thanks be to God.”
I now want to invite you to ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you today through the reading and hearing of this word.
As we now prepare to take this time of reading and reflecting into the day ahead, we once again surrender ourselves to Christ in the sharing of this prayer.
Father, help me, use me, send me. Help me to carry these words into this new day, that I may be who you are calling me to be, knowing that I am never alone on this journey. Amen.
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