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I Follow the Way of Jesus.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Stumbling in the Dark 09-16-2012

Stumbling in the Dark

          What do you think about when you hear the words “Stumbling in the Dark”?  Is it something about being up in the middle of the night and trying to find your way around?  Walking into furniture, stepping on toys, or trying not to step on your pet?  Or have you ever considered the possibility of stumbling in the dark in broad daylight?  Think about that for a minute.  We all do it each and every day.  Whether it's day or night we all stumble around.  Not knowing what's around the next corner, what's right or wrong, or what will happen the next day, week, month, year.  What I want to talk about is even more frightening, because it has eternal ramifications.  It's Spiritual Darkness.
          Jesus made Spiritual Darkness a reality.  To show this we are going to John Chapter 3 verses 1 through 21 and we're going to look at this in sections.  So from the New Living Translation we read: 
1 There was a man named Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader who was a Pharisee.  2 After dark one evening, he came to speak with Jesus. “Rabbi,” he said, “we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you.” 
I want to stop right there to point out two very important facts.  First, it was after dark that Nicodemus came to see Jesus.  He arrived under the cover of darkness.  Secondly, Nicodemus didn't even start with a question. 
          Okay so, Nicodemus has come under the cover of night, to talk with Jesus, whom he believes is sent from God.  He's trying to find out more about Jesus, but doesn't want too many people knowing this.  Many of us like to hide what we do in the dark.  It's convenient and comfortable.  In the dark: No one can see what we look like, No one can see who we are talking to, No one can see what we do,  No one can see who we hurt, No one can see the scars, No one can see that we are hurting, No one can see the tears.   There is another type of darkness that we can hide in, it's called Spiritual Darkness or Ignorance.  Are you in spiritual darkness? 
          Nicodemus didn't know he was living in spiritual darkness, at least not yet.  Lets continue on with the reading for a moment: 3 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”  4 “What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?”  5 Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.  6 Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life.   7 So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’  8 The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.”
9 “How are these things possible?” Nicodemus asked.
          He's living in spiritual darkness and ignorance.  Now he's opening the door to a change.  He's no longer content to live in darkness and he's trying to see what's out there.  What he's missing.  Jesus is guiding Nicodemus towards the truth.  Now remember, Nicodemus didn't even ask a question to begin with.  He just said we know you are sent from God.  Nicodemus is asking Jesus a question without actually asking, What am I missing?  What am I lacking?  What do you have to offer besides these miraculous signs?  Nicodemus, being a sage man of the ruling council, thought discretion to be the right way to go about this.  Jesus didn't think so.  He cut right to the chase and side stepped all the pleasantries.  When truth is on the line Jesus doesn't mince words.  He comes right out and shines a light on the situation.
          Jesus is telling him right here, what's the secret to eternal life.  What everyone in the whole wide world needs to know.  He says be born again.  Born of the Spirit.  Have your eyes opened to the light so that you aren't stumbling around in the dark any more.  You want to know the truth?  Well you can handle the truth.  It's just not what you are expecting.  You're probably expecting something, like clean you feet first and your head last, that will make you acceptable to God.  Or how about this one, take your shoes off because everywhere you step is Holy Ground, God made it.  It's the truth.  Or, Kiss every child you come upon and make sure that all of them are being taken care of, for they inherit the Kingdom of God.  Instead it's the simplest thing in the world, Be Born of the Spirit.  But Nicodemus doesn't get it.  His response is along the lines of “What?!”, “That's not possible!”, “This is crazy talk!”  He was in a word, incredulous.  So Jesus' reply is one of the most famous passages of scripture John 3:16 -21: 16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.  17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.  18 There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.  19 And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil.  20 All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed.  21 But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.”
          So, 2000 years later and none of it's changed.  We stumble around in the dark.  To some of us it can be like a warm blanket.  It can be frightening to others.  None of us want our sins to be cleansed, because it might hurt, or because it's embarrassing.  We don't know, or sometimes don't care, that only Jesus can fill us up inside.  That He is what we ache for.  Not the next person, not the next new car, next new job, or World Series, or Super Bowl or Olympics.  It's all fleeting and useless.  It's temporal and meaningless.  Do you know what's permanent and what's meaningful?  Life in Christ!  Nicodemus found that out.  He came to Jesus at night, with a veiled question, hiding behind truth and fact.  He left a believer.
          We need to shine the Light of Truth in the darkness and find the strength to walk through dark places, so we can help shine the light of Jesus.  Why?  Because there's only one way to heaven and Jesus is it.  What more do you need?  The alternatives are Sin and Hell.  In John 8:12 (NLT)   12 Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”   We need to stop stumbling around in the dark.  It's not healthy.
          Here's four things to help you not Stumble in the Dark: 1.  Spend time in the Word of God.  2.  Read your Bible daily.  And don't just read it.  Anybody can do that.  What you need to do is really read it and listen to what it's saying to you.  I mean, it's God talking to You.  3.  Pray about what you read.  Think about what you read.  Absorb what you read.  If you take the time to do that you'll get more out of it.  It'll lead you down the path you need to go in life.  4.  Talk with other Christians about what you read and what it means to you and listen to what they have to say.  It'll help you grow, not only mentally, but also spiritually.  You'll see life in a whole new way.  Not that life won't have its own ups and downs.  It's just that you will have an assurance about your life that no one can take away.  Let me leave you with this verse from John 12:35-36 (NLT)   35 Jesus replied, “My light will shine for you just a little longer. Walk in the light while you can, so the darkness will not overtake you. Those who walk in the darkness cannot see where they are going.
36 Put your trust in the light while there is still time; then you will become children of the light.”

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