A New Heart
Day 1: Confidence is a funny thing. We long to have confidence in our education, work, our parenting, how we should treat our spouse. Ultimately, we want to have confidence that we are living a fulfilling life, a worthwhile life or at the very least that we “know what we are doing”. Nicodemus sought this confidence. As a Pharisee, it was more than his job. Nicodemus’ confidence in the Jewish law and traditions became his status and even his identity. This confidence moved to certainty, he became so certain in what he thought he knew, he almost missed Jesus. The Apostle Paul had confidence Read Phil. 3:4-6. Oxford Dictionary defines certitude is defined as “absolute assurance or conviction that something is the case”. When have you been certain about something lately? Did your certainty make you more or less loving?
Day 2: Nicodemus, a man of certainty. Or was he? Despite his religious pedigree, he came to speak with Jesus. He wanted to learn more about him. As Jesus does so well, he pierced Nicodemus’ heart. He challenged Nicodemus’ certainty and religious framework. “No one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again”. What, born again? Where in his vast educational experience has he learned about being born again? He was confused. Good chance Nicodemus left this interaction with Jesus having more questions than when he came. How do we handle our doubts? Do we push them away? Do we seek to find simple, tidy answers? Do you have doubts about God and do they draw you closer to Jesus or push you further away? Jesus can handle our doubts. What emotions accompany the doubts that you have? Express your doubts. Nicodemus did. Has someone once told you with certainty that doubt and faith are opposites?
Day 3: Like Jesus did with Martha, he confronts Nicodemus and his thinking. Read John 3:16-18 in the context of this conversation between Nicodemus and Jesus. Eternal life comes not from a religious set of standards or a confidence of one’s adherence to religious practices. That is what Nicodemus knew. It only comes through knowing and believing that Jesus was the Son of God. This results in a changed heart because of a daily life-changing relationship with Jesus. How has Jesus changed your heart? How is Jesus changing your heart? Take some time to consider this. Ask a friend the question. Also, consider how you see Jesus changing the heart of someone close to you? Thank Jesus for being in the heart changing business.
Day 4: After Nicodemus’ late night conversation, he must have repeated Jesus’ words over and over. Consider this Old Testament passage. Read Ezekiel 36:25-27 in the eyes of Nicodemus and his conversation with Jesus. Nicodemus discovered that eternal life comes through a new heart and a new spirit. Somehow we are transformed from the inside. If Nicodemus had read this passage outside of his certainty, how could it have informed some of his questions? Nicodemus continued to pursue Jesus. He was leaving his legalistic ways in the past, and following Jesus. Discipleship is always a journey, even for Nic. In what specific ways are you following Jesus today? Are you pursuing Jesus with the help of others thru a small group and through your own disciplines? With the summer approaching, do you have a plan? Write down your plans and be intentional to encounter Him during the summer.
Day 5: Read John 19:38-42. Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea are making the preparations to bury the body of Jesus. Think about them applying the incense and wrapping with cloths his beaten and mangled body. Reflect on Nicodemus’ first interaction with Jesus. John 3:1-21. As he is wrapping Jesus’s lifeless body, do you think Nicodemus had a new perspective on eternal life and pondered the words, “born again”? Even in His death, Nicodemus encountered Jesus. Take a few moments and sit in silence. Surrender your heart and open your hands. Jesus, as I encounter you now, is there something that you want to say to me?