The answer to Nicodemus’ question, “How can a man be born when he is old?” is: Only when he is willing to die to everything in his life, including his rights, his virtues, and his religion, and becomes willing to receive into himself a new life that he has never before experienced (John 3:4). This new life exhibits itself in our conscious repentance and through our unconscious holiness.
“But as many as received Him. . .” (John 1:12). Is my knowledge of Jesus the result of my own internal spiritual perception, or is it only what I have learned through listening to others? Is there something in my life that unites me with the Lord Jesus as my personal Savior? My spiritual history must have as its underlying foundation a personal knowledge of Jesus Christ. To be born again means that I see Jesus.
“. . . unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God ” (John 3:3). Am I seeking only for the evidence of God’s kingdom, or am I actually recognizing His absolute sovereign control? The new birth gives me a new power of vision by which I begin to discern God’s control. His sovereignty was there all the time, but with God being true to His nature, I could not see it until I received His very nature myself.
“Whoever has been born of God does not sin. . .” (1 John 3:9). Am I seeking to stop sinning or have I actually stopped? To be born of God means that I have His supernatural power to stop sinning. The Bible never asks, “Should a Christian sin?” The Bible emphatically states that a Christian must not sin. The work of the new birth is being effective in us when we do not commit sin. It is not merely that we have the power not to sin, but that we have actually stopped sinning. Yet 1 John 3:9 does not mean that we cannot sin— it simply means that if we will obey the life of God in us, that wedo not have to sin.
|AUGUST 15, 2014
My Hidden Tattoos
” … the LORD’s declaration. ‘I will put My teaching within them and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people.'” Jeremiah 31:33b (HCSB)
I didn’t mean to stare, but I couldn’t help it.
After exchanging a quick smile, she continued placing grocery bags into her cart, while my eyes glanced back at her arms.
Tattoos covered every inch of skin from her tiny shoulders to her delicate wrists.
Images of hearts, religious symbols, quotes and names of those I imagined she loved over the years. Woven together in a tapestry of flesh and ink.
Some of the designs had faded with time, while others popped with fresh, bold colors. Forever inscribed with permanent ink from a tattoo machine.
It was obvious she had a passion for art … and a relationship with a trusted tattoo artist.
If I ever wanted to get a tattoo, how could I possibly decide on one design? I thought to myself.
As she gathered her things and left the store, I wondered about the sting of the tattoo gun and how it must have hurt.
Lord, if I chose to go through the pain, where should my special tattoo be placed?
To my surprise, today’s key verse from Jeremiah immediately came to mind:
“I will put My teaching within them and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people.”
As a grin emerged from my soul, I whispered to Him, Thank You, Lord, as I pictured my heart covered with colorful tattoos.
Inscribed Scriptures placed ever so carefully with great detail. Engraved instructions written by the holy finger of my Heavenly Father.
Some had faded over the years. Weathered by life’s trials.
Others were stained with bold, fresh colors. Some were recently tattooed as I had claimed new promises.
It was a fresh perspective right there in the grocery checkout line! Something totally unexpected, but wonderful at the same time. A teachable moment. His heart connecting with mine.
Originally, God’s teachings were written on tablets of stone (Exodus 31:18) and scrolls made from parchment or papyrus (Jeremiah 36:2). This was established under the old covenant.
But as believers under the new covenant, God has chosen to place His Word on our hearts, at the very center of our being, making it familiar and readily available to us. He carefully positions His promises over our hearts to protect our emotions, desires and perceptions of ourselves and others.
As life moves on and years go by, I long for the Master Artist to continue etching His Word on my heart until every inch is covered. Inside and out. I hope you do, too.
Although these special tattoos aren’t visible for everyone to see, I know they are there and that’s what is most important to me.
I can’t wait to see my tattooed heart when I get to heaven one day. As I kneel before God and if I dare to ask, “Lord, do You have a tattoo?” I won’t be surprised if He reaches out, and there in the palm of His hand, my name beautifully inscribed for all of eternity. A tattoo, of sorts, that will never fade away or be removed.
“Can a mother forget her little child and not have love for her own son? Yet even if that should be, I will not forget you. See, I have tattooed your name upon my palm.” (Isaiah 49:15b-16, TLB)
Lord, Thank You for placing Your Word on my heart so that it’s always available to me. When life is difficult and nothing seems to go right, help me remember You are near and Your promises are true. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions
Revelation 16:15 Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.
The king of the birds was looking in the mirror one day and was disappointed to see that his feathers were not as bright as they were once. “I am getting old,” he said, “I think it will soon be time to choose a new king”. He decided to announce that on a certain day, all the birds will gather and present themselves before him so that he would be able choose from among them the most beautiful of all to be their next king. The crow got wind of the king’s plans and began to fret. “There are so many beautiful birds in the kingdom and I am only a colorless crow. I don’t have a chance at becoming king.” Suddenly, he had a terrific idea. He began to search through the woods and fields for colorful feathers fallen from the wings of his companions, and stuck them in amongst his own.
When the appointed day arrived and all the birds had assembled before the king, the crow also made his appearance in his array of fine found feathers. When the aging king spotted the crow and all the beauty of his plumage, he immediately chose him to be king. As the crow pranced down the isle with pride to accept his crown, the birds began angrily plucking out their feathers from between his, leaving the crow nothing but an old black crow.
Too often, we try to “improve our worth” by adorning our selves in “pretty” things. Fine clothes, cosmetics, jewelry, friends, money, power, fame among others, top the list. But there is really only one way to improve our appearance. Putting our faith in the Lord and walking wholeheartedly with Him. Despite what the world around us thinks, only He can improve our fallen condition and our search for happiness.
Those feathers we find aren’t going to fool anyone — especially our King. Let’s come to God as we are today and ask Him to adorn us with the treasures he desires, peace, patience, love, joy and all the fruits of the Spirit.
by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions
Luke 5:3-11 Then He entered into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat. When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, nevertheless at Your word I will let down the nets.” When they had done this, they caught such a great quantity of fish, and their nets began to break; so they signaled to their partners in the other boat that they should come and help them. And they came and filled both of the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Yeshua’s (Jesus’) feet, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” For he was astonished, and all that were with him, because of the catch of the fish which they had taken, And so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Yeshua (Jesus) said to Simon, “Fear not, from now on you will catch men.” So when they brought their ships to land, they forsook all and followed Him.
Sukkot is a festival about rejoicing in the blessings that God has provided, but let’s be sure our focus is on the Lord of blessing – instead of the blessings!
We read in Luke that Yeshua (Jesus) told His disciples to go into the deep waters and let down their nets for fish. When they did, their nets were filled up with fish to the point of breaking. Being fishermen and businessmen, they may have been tempted to start doing business. I mean, think how much they could make!
But God had a different purpose. The disciples’ occupation as fishermen was just a vehicle for God to demonstrate His great power and love. He wasn’t blessing them with fish so that they would get excited about fishing — He was blessing them with fish so that they could get their eyes off their fishing and on to the greater call He had for them! Thankfully, they left the fishing business and went off with the Lord to do great and mighty things.
Let’s make sure we’re not getting up wrapped up in fish! We seek the Lord for His blessings, prosperity, and success. But true discipleship is focusing not on the blessings of the Lord, but on the Lord of the blessings!
We can rejoice in our blessings this Sukkot season, but let’s not dwell on them! Let’s set our eyes on the Lord and the calling He has for us. When He sees that we have pure and willing hearts, He will be faithful to use us to accomplish His glorious plan!
by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions
John 12:36-38 While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” These things Jesus spoke, and departed, and was hidden from them. But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him, that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke: “Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”
The apostle John quotes Isaiah 53:1, saying to whom has the z’roah [arm] of the Lord been revealed? It’s a question that God answers throughout the rest of Isaiah 53, describing in detail the life of Yeshua (Jesus) and the ultimate price He would pay for the sins of the world.
The word translated, “revealed” (in Hebrew: “galah”) actually has a more negative connotation. One of its meanings is “to be stripped naked in a disgraceful way”. It also means “to be treated like a captive”, and “to be carried away into exile”, or, “to be shamelessly uncovered”. So the Lord is not simply revealed, but stripped, humiliated, and deeply degraded in order to save us. The cost He paid was terrible.
It’s never easy for us to remember this or to think much about it, since it’s hard enough to imagine an innocent human being suffering so much; but then to realize that I had some part in it… Yet, we should remember; because the reality of the Lord’s cross belongs to us in every way, and we may yet be called to endure our own share of suffering with Him and for Him. Remembering His sufferings will prepare us for whatever may lie ahead.
Remember the Lord’s sufferings. It will keep you spiritually honest, and prepare you for your own small share in them — His memory will also draw out your love and gratitude, and keep your heart tender toward Him and everyone else.